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Letter from America

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Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:14 am

While I know that most here are British, Scottish, Welsh, or Irish by birth, Ivan and I decided to include this little corner for those who might be curious about life in the US ... or at least, my version of it. This isn't going to be a diary. You won't learn about what I had for breakfast or who I have a crush on by reading here. I know, I know ... I'm sure you were all dying to know, but you'll have to read the tabloids to get that kind of information.

Instead, I plan to just post my random thoughts, opinions, stories I hear, and perhaps the occasional anecdote if I feel it has a point worth mentioning. Of course people are free to comment or PM if they so desire. Some may be specific to the US, others may simply be observations about people in general, which may highlight both our commonalities and our differences as two different cultures.
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July 4th, 1776

Post by Shirina on Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:29 pm

Most Americans and, indeed, most British children are taught that the United States declared its independence from Britain on July 4th, 1776.

Wrong. July 4th was merely the date when the Founding Fathers went public and announced to the world that America wished to be an independent nation. The actual start date of the American story began on July 2nd, 1776; it was on that day when the final decision was made to extricate the 13 colonies from British rule. The Declaration of Independence was not signed until August 2nd, 1776.

Incidentally, the copy of the Declaration of Independence that one can see in the National Archives is not the original copy. In fact, the original working copy of the Declaration of Independence has yet to be found. The original was copied via printing press and distributed to each of the 13 colonies and to a number of George Washington's generals. This is why the occasional copy of the DoI will sometimes turn up on eBay and why Thomas Jefferson had a copy hanging in the entrance way of his private residence at Monticello. There are only around 200 of these original copies but only 26 of them have been located; they are valued at around $8 million. Yet the original copy, the one written by Jefferson's own hand, is missing - and has been missing for a very long time.
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The Emancipation Proclamation

Post by Shirina on Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:56 pm

History is replete with commonly accepted facts, but commonly accepted does not mean they are correct. One of these centers around the Emancipation Proclamation, the famous document issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to finally free the slaves. But did it? In truth, this document had no teeth and only when slavery was outlawed via a Constitutional Amendment were the slaves actually freed. So what was the real purpose behind the Emancipation Proclamation?

First it should be known that Lincoln, often touted as our greatest president, couldn't have cared less about freeing the slaves. His primary concern was preserving the union, and he said so himself in a letter written to Horace Greeley:

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that." -- Abraham Lincoln, August 22nd, 1862

It should also be known that many historians debate whether or not the American Civil War was, in reality, a "civil" war. The Confederate States of America, or "The South," was a sovereign nation. It had its own duly elected president, its own congress, its own capital and seat of power, its own currency, and its own distinct culture. This is where the victors writing the history books has tainted the reality of history. The Confederates were not "rebels." This war was NOT the same as the Libyan people fighting each other as we see today. The American "Civil" War saw two sovereign nations fighting one another just as surely as America and Japan were two sovereign nations at war.

So what use was the Emancipation Proclamation? This law had no power within the Confederate States of America (CSA) and no one south of the Mason-Dixon line had any obligation to adhere to it. Lincoln could no more make laws for the CSA than it could for Britain, Germany, or Brazil. The Civil War had been raging for two years by the time the Emancipation Proclamation was signed which means that the CSA was firmly entrenched in its own independence from the USA. In addition, slavery was essential for the economy of the South, thus signing the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War only meant that southerners would fight that much harder to preserve their way of life - such as it was. Did this document do anything to help save the Union (USA)? No ... and in fact made it more clear to the Confederates that losing this war meant losing their economy. Except ... there was a matter of those pesky Europeans.

Ever since the United States broke away from Europe, authors, historians, and most importantly, the great noble houses of Europe, looked across the Atlantic with a great deal of trepidation. It was predicted by many that, if left to their own devices, the Americans would eventually rise to world dominance, supplanting the long-established European ruling families with American rule. The first chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck declared:

"The division of the United States into federations of equal force was decided long before the Civil War by the high financial powers of Europe. These Bankers were afraid that the US, if they remained as one block, and as one nation, would attain economic and financial independence, which would upset their financial domination over the world."-- Otto von Bismarck, 1872

The bottom line here is that Europe wanted America divided, and while there is no concrete evidence to suggest that Europe caused the Civil War - or even if it fanned the flames - one thing is for certain: Europe saw a golden opportunity to help keep the American people squabbling among themselves. Britain led the way, most famously by providing arms to the Confederates, bypassing the North's naval blockade by running guns up through Mexico and Texas. Mexico didn't mind, of course, because it was ruled by France under the puppet Emperor Maximilian I. More importantly, however, Britain was sending observers and advisers into the Confederacy in order to determine if Britain, and subsequently France, would directly intervene militarily on the South's behalf. The last thing Lincoln wanted was to see thousands of British troops swarming down from Canada (a British colony at the time) and the huge British navy doing battle with American ships blockading the Southern states. Nor did Lincoln wish to see thousands of French troops swarming up from Mexico during one of those rare moments when Britain and France actually got on well with each other. A war on two fronts would have doomed the Northern cause.

But wait, there's more! The North did not stand alone. The Czar of Russia, Alexander II, also saw the latent power in the United States, but instead of wanting it divided, he wanted it reunified. Russia had a tense relationship with Britain and France and worried that war with these two nations was looming. After Russia's loss in the Crimean War, Russia needed allies, and America, it was hoped, would be that ally. In addition, Russia feared revolution, and Alexander II saw the Confederates as revolutionaries that might spark a worldwide revolt against the ruling powers - including himself. The Czar felt it was in his own best interests to ally himself with the North. Therefore, Alexander II sent both his Atlantic and Pacific fleets to American ports to avoid having his ships trapped in port during the winter months and to bolster the North's navy against Britain and France. If Europe wished to send troops to fight against the North, it would have to fight a naval battle with the North's and Russia's navy first. If Russia wished to send troops to fight against Britain, France, and the Confederacy, it had to ensure the seaways were open and free of a British/French blockade.

Lincoln saw that things were spiraling out of control; massive European involvement seemed inevitable, and who knew how much American land would be gobbled up by Europeans should Lincoln be forced to sue for peace. Would there even be an independent America left? Imagine history rewritten with Russia, later the Soviet Union, having a foothold on the North American continent during the Cold War? Or even WWII? In any case, something had to be done ... and the Emancipation Proclamation was the answer.

The Emancipation Proclamation was nothing less than one of the most brilliant pieces of political legislation ever signed by an American president. There is a scene in the movie Gettysburg (1993) featuring Confederate General James Longstreet explaining to Lt. Arthur Fremantle of the British Coldstream Guards, "Your government would never ally itself with one that has the institution of slavery. We should have freed the slaves *then* fired on Fort Sumter." Whether those words were ever said or not is unclear, but one thing is for certain: The ideas are true.

The American Civil War was not about slavery. It was about state's rights - the right for each individual state to decide if it wished to practice slavery. Even now, the issue of states' rights is a hot button political topic. When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, it pushed slavery to center stage and into the spotlight. With a law freeing slaves now on the table, ready to be applied to the South when it was defeated, any nation fighting on behalf of the South would now be fighting on behalf of slavery. That was unacceptable to both Britain and France especially since Britain had only freed its slaves Empire-wide just 30 years before. Longstreet was absolutely correct; the peoples of Europe would never support a war in defense of slavery. That is what kept Britain, France, Russia ... and perhaps other opportunistic nations ... out of American affairs.

The Emancipation Proclamation did nothing less than prevent WWI from occurring half a century earlier than it did ... and on American soil.

And if you happen to be British and managed to read through all of this, then you now know more about American history than most Americans.
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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:07 am

Keep in mind that I am happy to field any questions or discussion points anyone may have concerning anything I write. I'm certainly not advocating that I just spew whatever I want and be immune to questions, dissenting opinions, or discussion.

In addition to this feedback thread, anyone is free to PM me about what I write in a blog, and if there seems to be enough interest, I will actually reproduce a topic from the blog on the general board and we can take it from there.

Being one of only three Americans who post here with any frequency, some or all of what I say may not even be of interest, much less relevance, to the majority of British posters. I really don't expect there to be a voracious appetite to discuss and dissect in depth much of what I may write. But if there is enough interest in a particular topic, there are three ways in which to continue the discourse.
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“The American Civil War was not about slavery. It was about state's rights”

Post by ROB on Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:54 pm


The American Civil War was not about slavery. It was about state's rights

Close, but not quite accurate. The Civil War was about states' sovereignty, inclusive of but a bit more than just states' rights.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people" (United States Constitution, Amendment 10, ratified 15 December 1791).


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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Sat Oct 15, 2011 10:01 pm

Sovereignty was a better word to use, true enough, but fortunately it doesn't change the premise of my post.
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“The American Civil War was not about slavery. It was about state's rights”

Post by ROB on Sat Oct 15, 2011 10:18 pm

Shirina wrote:
Sovereignty was a better word to use, true enough, but fortunately it doesn't change the premise of my post.
True twice. The key misconception is that slavery was the issue, when in fact slavery was the spark point which brought the issue, states' sovereignty, beyond compromise and to the forefront of US and world history.

Healing is possible, but it will require separating forevermore slavery and Jim Crow from the underlying still nagging issue. See my edit (addition) above; the 10th Amendment makes it clear that states' sovereignty is constitutionally-guaranteed.

Such separation needs to occur first in the minds of all parties. The Confederate Battle Flag was hijacked and adulterated by the KKK and, despoiled unto its won sinister purpose, just as surely as the Bible they hold high while celebrating the burnings of trussed up live Black men hanging from trees with nooses round their necks. Both "sides" need to counteract this usurpation with truth. Your blog is a start.


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Political Cartoons from the USA

Post by Shirina on Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:17 am

If this one isn't so true ...



By R.J. Matson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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I Am America

Post by Shirina on Tue Oct 18, 2011 6:46 pm

Recently, the Tea Party has adopted the song 'I Am America' (by Krista Branch) as their theme song. The lyrics are hardly profound and rank little higher than the standard pop fluff exhibited by any run-of-the-mill diva. It's only after listening to what the songwriter claims the song is about do the lyrics make any real sense. For a song ostensibly about politics, one would have thought that the accused would be directly named, but that is not the case. It's almost as if Krista doesn't want anyone to really know who it is she is harpooning with her lyrics or, perhaps, she is embarrassed at being an idiot. I vote for the latter.

Instead, Mr. Branch said, “I got out there and busted my rear,” editing videos and doing other odd jobs while working as a youth pastor at a Bixby, Okla., church. “We needed a hand up, not a handout,” he said. “It baffles me, the track this country is on, offering people more and more entitlements. I believe entitlements are leading to the death of the American dream.”

She's an idiot because, like so many others who follow the Tea Party and ultra-conservative ideology, the only people to blame for any problem in our nation is the poor and the government. Even despite the fact that yet another high-profile, high-stakes white collar Wall Street criminal was just hauled off to jail just a week ago, the problem always remains on the shoulders of the poor and the government. The proverbial 800 lb. gorilla in the room has been growing in size almost exponentially and yet the only thing these people can see is the evil of entitlements and a government that, "coincidentally" enough, happens to be Democratic. I have a hunch that even if the gorilla became so large that Krista, and those like her, were squeezed into the far corner of the room, she would still point around it toward those despicable poor and those equally despicable politicians.

"I got out there and busted my rear," she says, and yet few things grind my gears more than anecdotal stories passed off as a general rule. A lottery winner could do the same thing. "I was persistent and worked hard buying those lottery tickets, and that's why I won!" Luck, I'm sure, had nothing to do with it and the 10 million losers who also worked hard buying lottery tickets must not have worked hard enough. That's the implication, at least.

Entitlements have not and do not cause the death of the American dream despite what Krista and her brainwashed cronies would like us to believe. We have had entitlements since the Roosevelt administration in the late 1930's and yet, for some mysterious reason, America reached its peak of prosperity 20 years later. If entitlements were the lynch pin of American failure, would it not have been a downward spiral since FDR? But history tells us otherwise.

What it really comes down to is greed wrapped in patriotism, and those of us with a bit of X-Ray vision can see through the red, white, and blue colored smoke to see the real truth. This is all about greed, personal greed, the kind of greed that would allow a person to save a few bucks on their taxes at the expense of others. If you look at what the Right largely oppose, it always comes down to money.

Let's take the controversial Global Warming theory. Why are so many conservatives taking such a sudden interest in meteorology and climate studies? After all, there are a lot of theories floating around in the scientific community: String Theory, dark matter, dark energy, multiple dimensions, alternate universes, Hawking radiation, the Higgs-Boson particle, etc., and yet none of these are making political news. Not even the Big Bang theory has received as much condemnation from the Right as Global Warming. So why isn't Global Warming "just another" theory? Because if the theory is accepted, it might cost them money in the form of new regulations or even new taxes. Thus even if it began raining sulfuric acid with Exxon's logo stamped on each droplet, they would do their measured best to discredit the theory.

They claim entitlements are bad, and that only stands to reason since, well, entitlements cost money in the form of taxes. Therefore, the ultra-right mantra is to demonize them. While I'm not suggesting that we encourage the truly lazy to be benefits scroungers, I don't trust the ultra-right not to throw the baby out with the bath water. For someone like myself who may well end up on disability, I do NOT want the system controlled by the ultra-right; I am certain that, should they even maintain a disability program at all, one would have to be paralyzed from the eyebrows down to collect one red cent. Most likely they'd want a person like me to rely on charity, but I missed the boat on that one. Perhaps if I had developed my condition at the age of 9, I'd be young and cute enough to qualify for charity.

They claim regulations on business are bad because, well, that costs money in the form of business capital and profits. I find this one to be ironic since this one is linked with the first two complaints. Given how opposed they are to both entitlements and pollution control, I wonder how pissed off the Right would become if an increasing number of people ended up on disability because of a deregulated company dumping all of their pollution and toxins into the ground or into our drinking water? Apparently the ultra-right have yet to figure out that sometimes their solutions only compound the problems they're trying to fix. This lack of understanding is evidenced by those conservatives who are simultaneously opposed to birth control, abortion, sex education, and entitlements. It's almost as if they believe that the presence of birth control and abortion actually causes people to get pregnant. I'm going to pretend that they don't think that because no high-functioning adult could possibly be that stupid. It would be the same thing as saying smoke alarms cause fires and seat belts cause automobile accidents ...

At any rate, entitlements are not causing the death of the American dream, and it's high time that the ultra-right acknowledges that corporations and the wealthy are part of the problem. It's ridiculous that these entities continue receiving a free pass as that 800 lb. gorilla keeps getting bigger. If I were living in my twilight years, I would vote Republican in 2012. Oh, not because I truly want one of the clowns they're running this term to win because of their ideology. No, it's because I am curious to know whether the Tea Party and others of their ilk would so viciously crucify the government if one of their own was sitting in the Oval Office. I have a sneaky suspicion that the Tea Party was formed for no other reason than as a political sabotage mechanism to undermine Obama's administration. After all, I find it no small coincidence that, as they preach about being tired of "government as usual," they are still backing the "same party as usual." Where is the Tea Party candidate? The lack of one proves beyond much of a doubt that this is as much anti-Democrat as it is anti-anything else, and that was a catalyst.

They also claim to be against the government bail-outs that occurred early in Obama's presidency. On this one, I do think they are being sincere. But all of the bail-outs combined have not generated anywhere near the same banshee wail decibel level of whining that entitlements for the poor have created; not even Bernie Madoff's scamming of over $80 billion created much outrage toward the unscrupulous rich. If you want to rile up a conservative, show them a picture of a welfare recipient with a cell phone. But what is even more interesting is how they've managed to deflect the issue of bail-outs away from the reality that bailed-out companies were using our tax dollars to fund exorbitant bonuses for CEOs and senior executives and tried instead to focus the American people's attention on how the bail-outs were socialist! You see? It was that evil Muslim, socialist, Marxist, non-American with the fake birth certificate Obama all along!

Krista Branch and the tea party sings, "I am America!" No you're not. You are PART of America, but only the most arrogant narcissist would claim they ARE America, especially when there are more people rallying behind Occupy Wall Street, and one only needs to see the pictures of the throngs of those turning out to protest Wisconsin governor Walker's union busting legislation to know that the Tea Party cannot even begin to claim ownership of the term "American." Not that this fact dissuades their dishonesty one bit. After all, their slogan has always been, "Let's take America back!" Back from whom, exactly? Foreign invaders? Or perhaps the more relevant question: Take America back FOR whom?

Because if you take America back, you're taking it back from someone else who, ostensibly, is also American. And I'm just as "American" as they are.
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Re: Letter from America

Post by astra on Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:37 pm

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/north-east-news/evening-chronicle-news/2011/10/18/jobs-fears-at-alcan-s-northumberland-plant-72703-29614850/2/

The above link takes you to the local Newcatle evening paper.

Alcan at Lynemouth Northumberland makes £50 million pounds a year profit, yet by 2013, RTZ say they must close the site, as with all of the modifications to the site for Global Warming legislation, those profits will be wiped out

It seems that the right wingers that Shirina talks about, desire/want the same things to happen in America as are happening here, and as the last Labour Government were as right wing as any Thatcher apprentice, this is what 31 years of right wing governance gives you.


This area/ corner of England depended on the Fishing industry, Coal Mining at Ashington, the coal fired power station at Blythe and each of these had a backroom full of mechanics, repair and logistical operatives.

We already run at 11% unemploymnt here, the highest figure in England and Wales and this Government spouting off how cosmopolitan they are, is only increasing the number of dole claimants who they nicely get to despise in the meantime.

Would the French let this happen, I think not

On the bright side(?) the cleared site will make a wonderfull Hotel and Golf Links course complex for Donald Trump!
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“I Am America”

Post by ROB on Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:29 pm

“I Am America” says little worth mentioning. If one comments upon it, one lends more credence to it than it deserves. I would much rather see commentary upon and credence lent to such songs as Curtis Mayfield’s “This Is My Country”, Henson Cargill’s “Skip A Rope”, and other songs of substance about my country.

Take a listen:



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Re: Letter from America

Post by astra on Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:58 pm

I notice with intrest that rather than comment on the blog, it gets slated.

Ridicule being the most poignant compliment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




For my part the poignant song in MY lifetime about america -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56xQiXxQM1w&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL65868982E7441244

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GX9viTYl9KA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0KsK-Ftzpg&feature=related
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Re: Letter from America

Post by astra on Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:15 pm

The MOST POIGNANT SONG of MY country in my lifetime


http://www.arrse.co.uk/northern-ireland-op-banner/163384-sgt-michael-willetts-gc-40-year-anniversary.html

if IF you watch this vid, note even in 1972, the OH so OPRESSIVE squaddies (soldiers) were NOT wearing hard hats

Please remember also that, it has be proven recently, that much of the ordnance they faced came from your own Camp LeJeune in North Carolina


http://www.victims.org.uk/camplejeune.html

Thanks!!

Kinda undoes all the angst I felt for Vietnam Vets.


Last edited by astra on Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:38 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : scratched an itch and drew blood!!)
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Re: Letter from America

Post by ROB on Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:16 pm

astra wrote:
Kinda undoes all the angst I felt for Vietnam Vets.

That’s a damned shame, but you’re free to undo in bitterness as you choose to undo.

I also am free to do as I choose to do; I choose to honor those whose supreme sacrifice renders them worthy of honor. Please excuse me while Sergeant Michael Willetts GC is honored sans the litter of your undone angst.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Michael Willetts, GC (13 August 1943 – 25 May 1971) was one of the first British soldiers to be killed during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and the recipient of a posthumous George Cross for his heroism in saving lives during the Provisional Irish Republican Army bombing which claimed his own.

Willetts was killed in Springfield Road RUC station by the Provisional IRA. A man in his mid-twenties emerged from a car and threw a suitcase containing a blast bomb into the lobby of the station. Willetts thrust two civilians into a corner and stood above them as the 30 lbs of explosives detonated seriously injuring him… Willetts was fatally injured by a chunk of metal from a locker which had struck him in the back of the head. As he was being removed by ambulance, he and the injured officers were jeered by local youths who screamed obscenities at them. Willetts died after two hours on the operating table at Royal Victoria Hospital.

The George Cross was awarded to Sergeant Willett's widow in June and the citation appeared in the London Gazette at the same time.

“The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the George Cross to: 2391067 Sergeant Michael WILLETTS, The Parachute Regiment.”

“Sergeant Michael Willetts was on duty in the inner hall. Hearing the alarm, he sent an N.C.O. up to the first floor to warn those above and hastened himself to the door towards which a Police Officer was thrusting those in the reception hall and office. He held the door open while all passed safely through and then stood in the doorway, shielding those taking cover. In the next moment, the bomb exploded with terrible force.”

“Sergeant Willetts was mortally wounded. His duty did not require him to enter the threatened area, his post was elsewhere.”

Retrieved 20 October 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Willetts


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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:21 pm

I would much rather see commentary upon and credence lent to such songs as Curtis Mayfield’s “This Is My Country”, Henson Cargill’s “Skip A Rope”, and other songs of substance about my country.

The Tea Party isn't using any of those songs as their theme song, so there wasn't anything to comment on, and I really don't want to use my blog as a music review section.
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“I Am America”

Post by ROB on Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:36 pm

Shirina wrote:
I would much rather see commentary upon and credence lent to such songs as Curtis Mayfield’s “This Is My Country”, Henson Cargill’s “Skip A Rope”, and other songs of substance about my country.

... so there wasn't anything to comment on...

“I Am America” certainly isn’t “anything to comment on”, while “This Is My Country” and “Skip A Rope”, among others, are most certainly something “to comment on.”

Shirina wrote:
... I really don't want to use my blog as a music review section.

Your “I Am America” entry is in fact a music review.
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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:08 pm

Your “I Am America” entry is in fact a music review.

Actually it's not. It's a political review. If it had been a musical review, I would have spent my time discussing her singing voice in relation to other singers, the complexity of the music, whether or not the musicians knew how to play their instruments well, how the song ranks in comparison to similar music, and the like.

It was mostly a commentary on the presumption of the Tea Party to claim "I Am America" when they most certainly are not ... and as an answer to Krista Branch's inane comment about "busting her ass" and entitlements being the death of America.

I don't really see what that has to do with music.

The songs you mentioned ... definitely better songs, IMO ... do not carry with it the political ramifications of a party trying to assert right-wing radicalism onto this nation.
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Re: Letter from America

Post by ROB on Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:58 pm

Shirina wrote:
Your “I Am America” entry is in fact a music review.

Actually it's not. It's a political review. If it had been a musical review, I would have spent my time discussing her singing voice in relation to other singers, the complexity of the music, whether or not the musicians knew how to play their instruments well, how the song ranks in comparison to similar music, and the like.

I stand corrected. Your “I Am America” entry is in fact a lyrics review, which I am comparing to lyrics worthy of comment within songs that are thus worthy of comment, while the lyrics of “I Am America” are unworthy of comment within a song that is thus unworthy of comment.
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In God We Trust

Post by Shirina on Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:15 am

Here in the United States of Jesus, the House recently passed a resolution reaffirming that "In God We Trust" is still our national motto. Now, as a taxpayer who, at least in part, funds their salaries and their health care, I would like to believe that the Republican controlled House of Representatives is doing something more productive with their time. I remember discussing the 2010 congressional elections with right-wingers, and they were promising some kind of political revolution. Oh yes, now that the Republicans have the House, we're going to see REAL change, yessirree! The irony is that reaffirming a national motto that we already have isn't changing even THAT much. Why did it need "reaffirming" in the first place? Do the Christians among them feel so threatened by secularism that they have to waste time with "comfort bills" instead of actually doing something about the mess we're in? All I'm seeing out of them are a plethora of abortion bills, but the only thing they've done so far about the job situation is to block Obama's jobs plan. Hahaha. I can't help but laugh at that.

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The Lost Generation

Post by Shirina on Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:20 pm

The prospects for American youth look grim. Here are some recently published statistics:

"Rent is taking up nearly 33 percent more of young adults’ income than a decade ago -- at least for those who have their own place. But nearly 20 percent live with their parents. They are postponing buying a home, having children, even getting married."

"Despite accumulating historic piles student loan debt, nearly 50 percent aren't working in their chosen field."

"16.5 percent of U.S. adults don’t have a job, are being forced to take part-time work or have given up looking for work"

"About half of young Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 believe that a fundamental tenet of the American dream is broken — that the next generation will be better off than they are"

"Only half of young adult workers earn more money than they did four years ago, while only 47 percent earned more than $30,000 last year."

"Twenty percent of those in the 25-to-34 age bracket are only working part-time, while 12 percent say they've given up looking for work, assuming they have no prospects. Roughly 25 percent are uninsured."

"The report found that nearly 10 percent of undergraduate students leave school with more than $40,000 in debt and begin life saddled with a typical monthly payment of $460. Meanwhile, rent is devouring most young people’s paychecks. In 1980, rent consumed 23.7 percent of 18-to-24 year olds' pre-tax income. By 2009, that had jumped to 32.1 percent, with most of the increase hitting during the past decade. Meanwhile, the share of 25- to 34-year olds spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent -- a critical threshold often cited by landlords -- jumped from 28 percent to 41.3 percent over the same time period."

"In 1980, 10 percent of 25- to 34-year-old men lived at home. In 2010, 21 percent of that age group told the researchers that they'd lived with parents at some point during the prior year."

Now, knowing my own experiences finding work after I graduated, I have no issues at all believing these statistics. I couldn't even land a job as a writer for a small town newspaper and I would like to believe that my writing skills are top-notch. No, there was no journalism degree required. In fact, all you needed was a high school diploma. The irony is that this same newspaper published a few of my columns before I applied! It was an utter nightmare, one that eventually had me relocating to where I am now - North Carolina - a full day's drive from my family. My own eventual employment was a series of lucky happenstances. It wasn't due to "hard work" or "good planning" despite what many right-wingers say about how they made it in life. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and met the right person. I can only take credit for saying the right things - and even that was more akin to navigating a maze blindfolded than any coherent strategy. A lot of folks, especially of the right-wing persuasion, get lucky and then say, "I meant to do that!" Sometimes their hard work and planning really did make a difference, but sometimes not. It's still one big roll of the dice and you can't take credit for rolling a good number no matter how much you blow on or shake them.

But ... I digress. What I really wanted to illustrate in this post was the reaction to the above statistics. Here are a few pulled from Facebook:

"If you have marketable job skills, you have a job. If you have a degree in Communications, Psychology, Philosophy, English Lit, or other Crap, you are not going to get a job. Go to welding school. Learn to repair air conditioners. Learn SOMETHING that people actually want or need. Getting the education you want and expecting society to manufacture "Jobs" on demand is idiotic." -- Robert Platt Bell

Oh sure, Mr. Bell, welding sure is an attractive job for a female. Those male dominated jobs are horrendous for women with all kinds of sexual harassment, macho men believing women shouldn't be in the profession, and even if you went into business yourself, good luck getting people to hire a female welder. Sexism is alive and well, even if it is well hidden under the surface. If all of the unemployed youth went into a trade, we'd simply have a glut of tradesmen. In the worst economy since the Great Depression, just how much demand is there? It's not like there isn't 100 pages of plumbers, electricians, welders, carpenters, etc. in our telephone directory.

"The problem with the younger generation that I see all the time is they think they should start where the older generation is now. They don't want to start at the bottom and work there way up as we did. Not all young people are that way but the majority is." -- George Holmes

In this case, Mr. Holmes simply fabricated his opinion. No one believes that we should have a starting position equal to the position the last generation retired with. "Yes, Mr. Employer, I'll be happy to take over Mr. Jones' job as Senior Executive President of Finances when he retires. I'm only 24 with a degree in accounting with no experience, but I can fill his shoes just fine!" What a load of rubbish. By the way, Mr. Holmes, it is "their" not "there."

"Take off your mask. Go out into the world and do what you have to do to EARN SOME MONEY! Life is hard, wear a cup." -- Charles Matthew Turner

Duh, Mr. Turner. What do you think we're TRYING to do?

"The first thing they need to do is to get rid of this "I'm entitled to..." mentality. Work hard, do any job you can get, and make your own success is the key to a better life."
-- Roger Howell

Mr. Howell claims we should take "any job you can get." Apparently he didn't bother to read the article given that many young folks who are employed did exactly that. I took two nasty jobs right out of college that paid $5.25 and $6.50 an hour respectively. One of the jobs required a lot of heavy lifting (they didn't bother telling me that part), and I'm certain that working there caused my neuropathy. How else could I have gotten a pinched nerve? That's my reward for taking whatever job I can get ... the reward certainly wasn't a paycheck.

"I am 26 years old, married with a beautiful daughter, my husband and I both work in our chosen fields (accounting and IT), and we are paying a mortagage, not rent. We worked for what we have and didn't sit around waiting for someone to give it to us. There is a HUGE problem with entittlement in our generation. Ask those people that wanted to work more if they would do it at a fast food chain or the graveyard shift at a supermarket, or pay less rent in a smaller, older place; I'd be willing to bet that most of those same people won't take that offer."
-- Cherlyn Leger

I saved this one for last. There are few things more condescending than a person within my own generation turning around and giving a snobby attitude to her peers just because she was able to rise above the economic malaise. The lack of empathy and the "I got mine so I couldn't give a F" will be our society's undoing. It provides a never-ending source of amusement listening to blowhards like Mrs. Leger who hasn't quite grasped the fact that fastfood chains do not pay a living wage and only offer part-time work. My generation does not mind starting at the bottom, but it has to actually BE the bottom of something. But when you're working a job that doesn't even place your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder of success, well, of course we get angry. Just where does Mrs. Leger think we're going to go in life working fast food? It's not just the lack of jobs, it's the lack of opportunity. As for renting an older, smaller place ... good luck finding a cheap place that isn't in the middle of Crime Central. The cost of rent isn't just about the size and quality of the apartment. It also factors in the surrounding neighborhood ... and that is a big factor. Why doesn't Mrs. Leger take her "beautiful daughter" and go live next to the Projects on the cheap and see how she feels about hearing gun shots outside every other night. What a buffoon.

What puzzles me the most, however, is why so many people are taking such an adversarial position on just about everything. I suppose, in my own way, even I am doing the same. I sometimes ask myself ... why? Calling this country the "United" States of America is laughable at best seeing how every faction seems adamantly opposed to every other faction. It's the right vs. the left. Republicans vs. Democrats. Rich vs. Poor. Blue Collar vs. White Collar. Republicans vs. Unions. Christians vs. Gays. Atheists vs. Christians. Right-Wing Christians vs. Muslims. Natural Born vs. Immigrants. Now we have Young vs. Old (a lot of young people posted retaliatory messages against the older generation). Just how many ways can we think of to divide ourselves? And how long can it continue before this division becomes more than Facebook posts and Occupy Wall Street? With all of these factions, how can anyone take sides without betraying their own values? After one realizes just how many people one opposes, it really comes down to a single truism: It's everyone for themselves.

If you have made it this far in this rather long post, I will leave you with a quintessential message from Abraham Lincoln that I find very relevant in this era, perhaps even more relevant than in his own era:

We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.'" -- Abraham Lincoln, June 16th, 1858.

Link to the article containing the statistics:


http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/02/8586286-recession-threatens-generation-of-young-adults-inspires-occupy-protests
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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:35 pm

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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:45 pm

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Regarding “In God We Trust”

Post by ROB on Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:46 am

Shirina wrote:
Here in the United States of Jesus

I don’t recall Y’shua bar Yosef, Jesus son of Joseph, Y’shua Moshiach, Jesus the Anointed, commanding anyone to ordain and establish “the United States of Jesus.”

I do recall We the People of the United States ordaining and establishing “this Constitution for the United States of America.” Check it out.

United States Constitution, Preamble:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Shirina wrote:
… the House recently passed a resolution reaffirming that "In God We Trust" is still our national motto. Now, as a taxpayer who, at least in part, funds their salaries and their health care, I would like to believe that the Republican controlled House of Representatives is doing something more productive with their time.

As a voter who votes every two years for my representative (note ownership) to the House of Representatives, I hold my representative (note ownership) accountable at the polls for representing me (note purpose to which I hold my representatives accountable).

My representative (note ownership), in voting to reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the national motto of my country (note ownership), has voted as I desire, has well represented me, and has increased the probability that I will vote for her/him in 2012.
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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:37 am

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Racism Alive And Well in the USA

Post by Shirina on Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:17 pm

I always like to think the best of the American people - kind, generous, warm-hearted folks. Most of them, I'm sure, are precisely that. Yet every now and again, something comes along to test that assessment, and today is one of those days.

Lately on MSNBC there has been a series of news stories concerning the tragic death of a child or teen. I don't mean violent deaths but deaths resulting from a long battle with a terminal illness such as leukemia or other conditions that I can't even pronounce much less spell. At the bottom of these stories there is usually a place to post comments, and they have been overwhelmingly sympathetic to the deceased children and their families. There are pages and pages of comments like, "My prayers go out to the family of that courageous little girl," or "He's with the angels now," and "Oh how awful for the parents and family of such a brave child!"

But then this story comes along:

MAUMERE, Indonesia -- A 10-year-old girl was swallowed by a crocodile as her father watched helplessly, Indonesian officials said. The girl, named Juraida, was hunting for turtles with her father and brother in East Nusatenggara province when a giant saltwater crocodile sprang up from a river and pulled her in, The Jakarata Post reported.

One would expect similar comments to a story like this one. But no. Many people wrote things like, "This isn't even news" or "Why is this even being reported?" Others made jokes about not going to Indonesia for a vacation, others debated about the behavior of crocodiles ("Crocodiles don't eat their victims right away. Instead they stuff the bodies under a rock and wait for the salt water to tenderize the meat") and still others tried to form a conspiracy theory around it ("Has anyone considered the possibility that the father did this on purpose?" and another said "Maybe the father killed the girl and blamed it on the crocodile"). One person went on a tirade using this story as a springboard to bash environmentalists and animal rights activists. A couple of people brought up population density ("One less mouth to feed!" or "Perhaps when the US has a billion people, life won't be as valuable here, either.") To this last person, I just want to yell at him - it's Indonesia, you moron, not China. The US has more people than Indonesia! But what do you expect from people like this. Intelligence? Of course it goes without saying that, judging by the comments, the value of life here has already been downgraded several times. How angry would an American become if someone from Indonesia said, "Well, perhaps if we had 310 million people in our country, we wouldn't care about our children, either."

And then the inevitable happened. Finally, after a lot of scrolling, I found the very first sympathetic comment: "That's the most horrifying thing I've ever heard!" While that's certainly not as sympathetic as, "She's in the arms of the angels now," I suppose it's still better than, "One less mouth to feed!"

But the response to that sympathetic comment was what was inevitable: "Even more horrifying than Obama being re-elected?"

*sigh*

And so it went...

Perhaps if an American child had been devoured in front of her parents - especially a white child - the comments would not have been so callous or irrelevant. No doubt she would be receiving a hug from God right about now. But, because this girl was Asian in a far away country, who really cares, right?

After all, this isn't news.
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Re ‘Racism Alive And Well in the USA’, blog by Shirina

Post by ROB on Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:01 am

Shirina, on her blog, ‘Racism Alive And Well in the USA’, wrote:
Lately on MSNBC there has been a series of news stories concerning… tragic… deaths resulting from a long battle with a terminal illness such as leukemia or other conditions that I can't even pronounce much less spell. At the bottom of these stories there is usually a place to post comments, and they have been overwhelmingly sympathetic to the deceased children and their families. There are pages and pages of comments like, "My prayers go out to the family of that courageous little girl," or "He's with the angels now," and "Oh how awful for the parents and family of such a brave child!"

But then this story comes along:

MAUMERE, Indonesia -- A 10-year-old girl was swallowed by a crocodile as her father watched helplessly, Indonesian officials said. The girl, named Juraida, was hunting for turtles with her father and brother in East Nusatenggara province when a giant saltwater crocodile sprang up from a river and pulled her in, The Jakarata Post reported.

One would expect similar comments to a story like this one. But no. Many people wrote things like, "This isn't even news" or "Why is this even being reported?" Others made jokes about not going to Indonesia for a vacation, others debated about the behavior of crocodiles ("Crocodiles don't eat their victims right away. Instead they stuff the bodies under a rock and wait for the salt water to tenderize the meat") and still others tried to form a conspiracy theory around it ("Has anyone considered the possibility that the father did this on purpose?" and another said "Maybe the father killed the girl and blamed it on the crocodile"). One person went on a tirade using this story as a springboard to bash environmentalists and animal rights activists. A couple of people brought up population density ("One less mouth to feed!" or "Perhaps when the US has a billion people, life won't be as valuable here, either.") To this last person, I just want to yell at him - it's Indonesia, you moron, not China. The US has more people than Indonesia! But what do you expect from people like this. Intelligence? Of course it goes without saying that, judging by the comments, the value of life here has already been downgraded several times. How angry would an American become if someone from Indonesia said, "Well, perhaps if we had 310 million people in our country, we wouldn't care about our children, either."

Shirina,

The accurate term is “crypto-racism.” If the child had been a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, ivory-skinned, ten year old American USV girl swallowed by an alligator in Okefenokee or the Everglades while on vacation, the cry would be heard from coast to coast, from the Rio Grande to the Great Lakes, and in Alaska and Hawaii.

Within the past couple of years (I can’t find it, as the key words escape me), a young Black girl was abducted and is still missing. The tragic story has received very little media attention. I found out because I often listen to Steve Harvey, Tom Joyner, and especially Michael Baisdon (I hope he’s still on), who each, from time to time, point out the disparity between coverage of this story and coverage of White girls who have been abducted. Neither these radio hosts nor I wish the coverage to decrease for abducted girls like Elizabeth Smart, we want the coverage to increase for the girls who do not have blonde hair, blue eye, and ivory skin.

This type of crypto-racism is attitudinal, and thus resistant to laws, court decisions, and economic pressure. To rid America USV of this debilitating disease requires changing people’s hearts.

A quick observation: Our Canadian neighbors don’t seem to harbor this sort of crypto-racism. Note the difference in the receptions of the (I believe) 27th Governor General of Canada on 27 September 2005 and the 44th President of the United States on 20 January 2009.  
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Re: Letter from America

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:41 pm

This is not a new phenomenom, one of the standard "jokes" among newspaper reporters is a headline like "Earthquake in China - no British victims. (page 18)"

Obviously people feel more involved when an event is local, and therefore more personal.
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Feedback on blogs - Re ‘Racism Alive And Well in the USA’, blog by Shirina

Post by ROB on Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:08 pm


OW,

I believe that even this "joke" is crypto-racist. Do similar "jokes" read "Earthquake in New Zealand - no British victims. (page 18)?"
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Re: Letter from America

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:34 pm

Racist, schmacist. It's Tribalism, an inherent part of human self-belief.
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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:52 pm

Racist, schmacist. It's Tribalism, an inherent part of human self-belief.
I think it's more than that, OW, and Rock's post about the media disparity between white and black abductees speaks volumes. Whether white or black, a missing child is still an American child, so the tribal differences must be split conveniently parallel with skin color.

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Re: Letter from America

Post by ROB on Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:01 pm

oftenwrong wrote:
Racist, schmacist.  It's Tribalism, an inherent part of human self-belief.

Given that "race", as commonly referenced, is a myth, "racism" is "tribalism", not just as an equivalent, but as an identity. In fact, "race" is identical to "tribe."


Last edited by RockOnBrother on Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:54 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Letter from America

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:35 pm

Yeah, everybody's Special.
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Feedback

Post by Scarecrow on Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:52 pm

Shirina , I was expecting Alistair Cooke's Letter from America sort of thing in your letter from America section , your posts are extremely informative and yes I was aware of Walter Cronkite ha ha ha
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Feedback on USA blog

Post by Shirina on Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:49 pm

I just use the blog to post either tidbits of American trivia or maybe a few anecdotal life experiences living in this country. And of course political commentary. I need to put more things into it, though. I get too wrapped up in some of the debates and have neglected it as of late.
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One more reason why America needs NHS

Post by Shirina on Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:41 am

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are investigating three shadowy pharmacies in Maryland and North Carolina for diverting critical but scarce drugs from patients to wholesalers, who are then able to resell the medicine at sometimes big markups.

Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, began a probe in October to discover why certain companies were selling cancer drugs at more than a hundred times their normal cost.

The Food and Drug Administration has said the number of drugs in short supply, which also include anesthesiology and nutrition medications, had risen to 220 in 2011 from 56 in 2006.

"It's shocking to the conscience that anyone because of their greed would deny medicines to patients, who are in many instances in critical condition," Cummings said in an interview.

I don't know what else I can say about this. It speaks for itself. Capitalism and medical care are two things that just do not mix.

LINK
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Feedback on 'Letter From America'

Post by oftenwrong on Wed May 02, 2012 10:33 pm

Probably due to a mis-spent youth, I have a singular view of myself, and I am consequently somewhat confused when other people make a point of identifying with many things simultaneously.

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.


Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82

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Ghosts From Another Life

Post by Shirina on Wed May 09, 2012 8:25 am

This video was uploaded to Youtube by my father a few years ago - it was the only way he knew how to get a video to me here in the States (he currently resides in the UK). I had forgotten about it until I stumbled across it quite by accident while searching for a completely unrelated topic.

This is the first and only time in my life when my British and Indian families were actually together for one single Christmas. My parents divorced literally months after this video was made, and neither side communicated after that. Later that week, my mother, aunt, cousin, and I returned to India.

I'm the little girl in the blue and red outfit. The other little girl is my cousin ... who I haven't heard from in over 10 years now. She's the one doing most of the talking in the video - if you think I'm outspoken, well ...

My Indian (biological) mother can be seen briefly sitting in the chair; my British father is the one sitting on the floor near the box. You really can't see him well except for his hands holding the dog near the end of the video. This is the dog that ended up getting loose and running away (think I mentioned that somewhere on this board).

Also, everyone calls me Shirina since that is my actual middle name, and my mother insisted I be called by that name. Believe it or not, what I would be named was a big point of contention between my parents (it was largely a cultural issue), so those in India call me by middle name, those in Britain call me by my first name. This ridiculousness still persists even today.

The point of the video speaks for itself, but it was one of those ghosts from the past that reached out and hit me hard during the sleepless wee hours I sometimes experience. I just wasn't expecting it, and I became rather emotional when I saw it.

So I thought I would share it.

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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Wed May 09, 2012 9:49 pm

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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Wed May 09, 2012 9:53 pm

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Re: Letter from America

Post by Shirina on Wed May 09, 2012 10:00 pm

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