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Signs of the Times for Mon, 06 Nov 2006

Joe Quinn
Signs of the Times
06/11/2006

At the time, much was made of the capture of Saddam Hussein. Touted by the US government-controlled American mainstream press as a fatal blow to the insurgency that would lead to rejoicing in the streets of Baghdad, the reality, as we have seen, has turned out to rather different. Iraqis, logically enough, seem to be less concerned about Saddam's capture and trial than about the fact that a brutal US military force of occupation has essentially taken possession of their country and its resources and has caused the deaths of 655,000 of their fellow citizens.

After his initial capture in December 2003, Saddam was paraded in front of the press at his first court appearance in July 2004 where he stood accused of up to 12 crimes, including the alleged gassing of the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988. But fate (and in Iraq these days "fate" wears the red white and blue ) has decreed that "Saddam" will not suffer the ignominy of answering those particular charges because his first trial for the killing of 148 people in a Shiite town in 1982 was enough, it seems, to convict and sentence him to death. The sense of relief in the White House over the fact that the "gassing" allegation will not have to be dissected is surely palpable, given that, if Saddam gassed anyone, it was with the chemical weapons supplied to him by the US government.

When he first appeared in court in 2004, Saddam was weak and pale and could be hardly heard. Strangely, the US military instituted a severe clampdown on media coverage of the proceedings which were not broadcast live. Frustrated members of the press had to wait until after the event to receive just FOUR minutes of audio and just a few seconds of video of the occasion. Furthermore, Saddam's lawyers claimed that they had been denied access to their client and that they had received death threats from members of the Iraqi government. While no mainstream media outlet at the time offered an explanation of these strange occurrences, logic would suggest that there is something about the man that appeared in court that the US military did not want the Iraqi people and the rest of the world, to see, or hear. It is one thing to present a few seconds of specifically chosen footage of a possibly drugged or mind programmed Saddam lookalike on television and thereby half-convince Iraqis that knew Saddam that the person in court is the real deal. It is a much more difficult task however to make an impostor's voice sound like the real Saddam's. There is also the danger that the impostor might suddenly and unexpectedly reveal his true identity. It seems likely that it was for this reason that the US military had to limit and edit the audio coverage and then "clear" it for broadcast.

Saddam's second "public" appearance came in May 2005 in the form of sensationalist pictures of the former dictator in US custody in his underpants.

In US custody, half-naked Saddam

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
MAY 20, 2005

LONDON: A British tabloid has run a humiliating, half-naked photo feature on Saddam Hussein, the prisoner firmly in US military custody, sparking fears of an Arab backlash and an investigation into possible human rights abuses.

The US authorities have promised to investigate how and when the intimate photographs of the former Iraqi dictator wound up in The Sun , Britain's best-selling newspaper. The tabloid, frontpaged on Friday a photograph of a bare-chested Saddam standing in white underpants and folding a pair of trousers.

The photograph is headlined 'Tyrant's in his pants' and sets the tone for still more humble ones inside the tabloid. The inside photographs show the man who once had a palace in every part of Iraq meekly washing his clothes by hand. Yet another photograph shows Saddam asleep on his bed. The Sun , which refused on Friday, to reveal where, when and how it came by the sensational photographs of the Butcher of Baghdad, would only quote American military sources to say they handed over the photos in the hope of dealing a body blow to the resistance in Iraq.

"Saddam is not superman or God, he is now just an ageing and humble old man. It's important that the people of Iraq see him like that to destroy the myth," the American source is quoted to say. The source added, "Maybe, that will kill a bit of the passion in the fanatics who still follow him. It's over, guys. The evil days of Saddam's Baath Party are never coming back - and here's the proof." But a furore has erupted over the release of the photographs, with presumed American logistical support, from Saddam's American-run prison, at a compound near Baghdad since his December 2003 capture.

British military experts pointed out that the photographs, which may or may not be up to one year old, could still be deemed to have contravened Saddam's rights as a prisoner and could have violated the Geneva Convention.

West Asian observers said the photographs of the toppled dictator wearing nothing but white underpants risked re-igniting the Arab sense of burning rage over the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. Under the Geneva Convention, Iraq's invaders, the US-UK-led military alliance, are not allowed release photographs and details about prisoners of war such as Saddam.

Saddam's status as a high-profile prisoner of the West makes the photographs particularly sensitive because Arabs might feel the West is poking fun at it.

Western diplomats said the photographs could spark a new wave of violence against the West.

The photos of Saddam also appeared in the New York Post, which - like the British tabloid 'The Sun' - is owned by die-hard Israeli supporter and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. It was also of note that the release of the pictures was designed to deal a "body blow" to the Iraq insurgency, the clear implication being that the Iraq insurgency is made up of Saddam loyalists, which is of course completely untrue. Since then, the insurgency has gone from strength to strength, despite the attempts by Israeli and US covert intelligence to demonise them through the use of "false flag" operations. Yet it suited the US and Israel very well for the world to believe the lie that the Iraqi insurgents are a fringe group of supporters of an evil tyrant rather than the truth: that they are, in fact, ordinary Iraqis attempting to oust a foreign occupying power.

At his second day in court (his third public appearance), again the world and even his lawyers were denied the opportunity to hear "Saddam" give evidence in his own words, and were provided with only short video segments with the former dictator's words interpreted for us by the US military.

Saddam Back In Court

Tuesday June 14, 2005
The Guardian

Appearing by turns pensive and quizzical, Saddam Hussein returned to public view yesterday when Iraq's special tribunal released video images of the former president being interrogated.

The first official pictures since his court appearance last July were mute but a tribunal statement said he was being questioned about a 1982 massacre at a Shia village north of Baghdad, one of the cases expected to arise at his trial.

Saddam's chief lawyer, Khalil al-Duleimi, said he would have to view the video before commenting. The tribunal said Mr Duleimi was present during the filming.

However, a London-based member of the defence team, Giovanni di Stefano, said the former president was without legal assistance during the video and that it would be inadmissible in the trial.

The defence team has accused the tribunal of denying it proper access to the ousted dictator, withholding documents and leaking information to the press.

Since that time, the trial of "Saddam" has resembled a south American soap opera more than a credible trial, with constant adjournments and outbursts from just about everyone involved in the show, not to mention the untimely and suspicious deaths of several of "Saddam's" lawyers, the murder of the only witness to Saddam's alleged mass graves, and the testimony of one of Saddam's lawyers that he was psychologically disturbed, terrified about his possible execution, urinated on himself several times during the interview and broke into tears without reason. Par for the course, I suppose, in the judicial system of a country that is entirely controlled by the psychopathic leaders of another.

But let's back up a little to the time of the actual capture of "Saddam". You may remember images of the unearthing from a "rat hole" of some old bugger on a farm in the village of al-Dwar near Saddam's home town of Tikrit in December 2004. This, we were told, was "Saddam", finally captured more than 7 months after Bush had bravely declared "Mission Accomplished" from the safety of an American aircraft carrier docked in an American port. Images of the capture scene revealed a hole in the ground and a prone and disheveled santa-claus-type character with a burly American soldier poised over him for the 'money shot'. The money as it happens, was produced soon thereafter, $750,000 in crisp $100 dollar bills in a nice metal box, but it wasn't long before suspicions were raised by the presence of yellow dates on a tree at the entrance to the "rat hole" (below). You see, In Iraq, dates grow and ripen between March and August, with harvesting taking place between August and October. It is unlikely therefore that any variety of date would still be hanging on a tree in mid December in Iraq. At the very least, this information allows us to conclude that in all probability, "Saddam" was not captured in December as alleged by the US government, and that we are dealing with some sort of staged show for the general public.


Indeed, it seems that a planned and staged "capture" of "Saddam" was common knowledge in political circles in Washington in 2004:

McDermott in Hot Water for Saddam Quip

By MATTHEW DALY
Associated Press Writer
December 15, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., who earned headlines across the globe last year for criticizing President Bush while in Baghdad, is enmeshed in a new controversy over remarks he made about the capture of Saddam Hussein.

In an interview Monday with a Seattle radio station, McDermott said the U.S. military could have found the former Iraqi dictator "a long time ago if they wanted."

Asked if he thought the weekend capture was timed to help Bush, McDermott chuckled and said, "Yeah. Oh, yeah."

McDermott went on to say, "There's too much by happenstance for it to be just a coincidental thing."

When interviewer Dave Ross asked again if he meant to imply the Bush administration timed the capture for political reasons, McDermott said: "I don't know that it was definitely planned on this weekend, but I know they've been in contact with people all along who knew basically where he was. It was just a matter of time till they'd find him.

"It's funny," McDermott added, "when they're having all this trouble, suddenly they have to roll out something."

State Republicans immediately condemned McDermott's remarks, saying the Seattle Democrat again was engaging in "crazy talk" about the Iraq war. [...]

In these troubled times, the truth is labeled "crazy talk". Remember that Mc Dermott wasn't the only US politician to hint that the was more to the capture of Saddam than the public were being told.

LaHood: Hussein's capture imminent

Pantagraph Staff
Tuesday, December 2, 2003

BLOOMINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood held his thumb and forefinger slightly apart and said, "We're this close" to catching Saddam Hussein." [...]

A member of The Pantagraph editorial board -- not really expecting an answer -- asked LaHood for more details, saying, "Do you know something we don't?"

"Yes I do," replied LaHood. [...]

So on the 2nd December 2003, a full 11 days before "Saddam" was actually "captured" by US troops, LaHood all but admitted that Saddam had already been captured. Are we to believe that he was left lying in his "rat hole" under vegetables for so long? If not, where was he?

Let's pause for a moment and have a closer look at the physical evidence for the claim that the real Saddam was captured almost three years ago. Consider the following images of "Saddam" and Saddam, paying close attention to the teeth of both men:

Is this the same man?

Check out the teeth

Notice anything?

Is this the same man?

While I am not claiming that these images provide conclusive proof that we are dealing with two different men, it does seem reasonable to suggest that there is cause for significant doubt. The source of the problem here is the fact that the US government had only to claim that this man is the real Saddam for the vast majority of people to accept it as fact. In the months prior to his capture, news reports were increasingly informing the public that US troops were searching for Saddam and were "closing in" on him. Then, when anticipation was deemed to be at its height: "Bingo" "We got him!" With such a build up of expectation among the general population that Saddam would "soon be captured" there was no real chance that anyone was going to look closely at the details when the event finally occurred. The fact remains however that when all of the evidence IS scrutinized, we are led to the conclusion that it is highly improbable that the man that was "caught" in a "rat hole" in December 2003, appeared in court in July 2004, was splashed across the British tabloids in May 2005, and yesterday was sentenced to death, is in fact the real Saddam Hussein.

Indeed, is laughable to suggest that Saddam would ever have allowed himself to be demeaned in this way. Indeed, it is laughable that the Americans would have allowed Saddam to be demeaned in this way. While Saddam was a tyrant, and no worse than the many other tyrants that the US placed in power (or those currently in power in the US), he was first and foremost one of the power brokers of this world who controlled on one of the world's largest oil reserves. We should remember that Saddam was placed in power by the US and, for a long time, was flavor of the month in the US even receiving the keys to the city of Detroit in 1980 and serving as a US ally in the Middle East until 1991 when he was baited to invade Kuwait and provide justification for the first Gulf War. After that he was allowed to remain in power until he could be used again, and for the last time, as the boogey man to facilitate a direct US invasion of Iraq.

For such service there are surely some rewards. So if this is not the real Saddam but a useful idiot and stand in, where is the real Saddam? Well, if we are to believe the words of Donald Rumsfeld (for once) just prior to the 2003 Iraq invasion, the most plausible answer is that, for the last 3 years, the real Saddam has been living it up in Belorussia, having been flown out by the USAF just before Baghdad was "taken".

Iraqi Commander Swears he saw USAF fly Saddam out of Baghdad

Bill Dash
Alamo Christian Ministries Online
10/16/2003

Film will soon be made public of an Iraqi Army officer describing how he saw a US Air Force transport fly Saddam Hussein out of Baghdad. The explosive eyewitness testimony was shot by independent filmmaker Patrick Dillon, who recently returned from a risky one-man odyssey in Iraq. In the film, the officer, who told Dillon that he commanded a special combat unit during the battle for Baghdad airport and whose identity is temporarily being withheld, explains in detail how he watched as the Iraqi dictator and members of his inner circle were evacuated from Iraq's capital by what he emphatically insists were United States Air Force cargo planes. [...]

Dillon says his film lends major support to what many have believed for years: that Saddam was little more than an american tool, a stage-managed "evildoer", just one in a long line of useful villains bought and paid for by the United States in order to better manipulate international politics and commerce. [...]

Hussein Given Safe Haven in Belarus?

The World Tribune - 25 April 2003

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has obtained safe haven in Belarus, several intelligence agencies believe.

Western intelligence sources said several intelligence agencies in the Middle East and Europe base this assessment on new information about a March 29 flight from Baghdad to Minsk. They said the flight of a chartered cargo plane could have transported Saddam, his sons and much of his family to Belarus.

"There's no proof that Saddam was on the plane but we have proof that a plane left on that day from Baghdad airport and arrived in Minsk," a senior intelligence source said. "If you can think of anybody else who could obtain permission to fly out of Baghdad in the middle of a war, then please tell me."

U.S. officials and Iraqi opposition sources said Saddam and his sons appear to have escaped two assassination attempts during the war. But they did not confirm the registration of a cargo flight from Baghdad to Minsk on March 29, Middle East Newsline reported.

The sources said the cargo aircraft took off from an unspecified Baghdad-area airport and entered Iranian air space on the flight toward Minsk. They said Iran did not attempt to interfere with the Iraqi flight.

About two weeks later, a registration of the cargo flight was found by the U.S. military in wake of the capture of the airport and the rest of the Baghdad area. Baghdad International Airport was captured on April 4.

U.S. officials said Saddam had been exploring the prospect of fleeing to Belarus over the last year. They said the Iraqi ruler was in close contact with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and that Minsk became a major military supplier to Baghdad.

Within hours after the departure of the cargo flight to Minsk on March 29, the Saddam regime was awash with rumors that the president had escaped. Intelligence sources said the rumors spread rapidly throughout the military command and among field officers.

"There was a significant decline in Iraqi combat strength starting from around March 31," an intelligence source said. "In interviews with coalition interrogators, Iraqi commanders have attributed the decline in combat to the feeling that Saddam had fled."

While the above article is interesting and informative, it fails to draw one critical conclusion: Given that coalition forces had complete mastery over Iraqi airspace, the US government must have authorised Hussein's flight out of Iraq.

Saddam may find refuge in Belarus Says Rumsfeld

Ottawa Citizen
31.12.2002

The former Soviet republic of Belarus has emerged as a possible refuge for Saddam Hussein after American officials hinted that the Iraqi leader might be allowed to flee into exile to avert a U.S. assault on Baghdad.

A visit to Iraq by a presidential delegation from Belarus last week coincided with a suggestion by U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that Mr. Saddam and his family could "leave the country."

Mr. Rumsfeld said in a television interview: "If he doesn"t care to give up his weapons of mass destruction, then he"s got the choice of leaving."

As military preparations intensified with the mobilization of two more aircraft carrier battle groups and a 1,000-bed hospital ship, U.S. officials emphasized that no deal had been struck to allow Mr. Saddam to escape.

Mr. Rumsfeld's remark may have been no more than a psychological gambit intended to stir confusion in Baghdad.

Yet the Belarus visit heightened American suspicion that Mr. Saddam might be making contingency plans for a last-minute dash.

While it remains far from certain that the Iraqi dictator would flee, Mr. Rumsfeld recently singled out Belarus as one of the few countries that might offer him sanctuary.

"If Saddam Hussein is in a corner, it is because he has put himself there," he told a congressional committee.

"One choice he has is to take his family and key leaders and seek asylum elsewhere. Surely one of the 180-plus countries would take his regime - possibly Belarus."

The former Soviet republic has become a pariah state under the dictatorial rule of President Alexander Lukashenko and is suspected of violating United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

Saddam in Belarus?

debka.com

However, according to our information, the deposed ruler and his sons were carried to safety in Minsk in late March aboard two chartered airliners. This week, the Polish news agency PAP sent a team of reporters to the Belarus capital to check on this account. They quote Natalia Pietkiewicz, spokesperson at President Aleksandr Lukashenko's bureau, as evading a direct reply when asked if the former Iraqi ruler was in the country. She said: "We have no information that Saddam Hussein is in Belarus." This is a long way from a flat denial.

The big question is how did the trio and its following of several hundred manage to elude coalition air forces, by then in full command of Iraqi skies, a question which leads to another: How did the men at the pinnacle of enemy power come to survive the two wars the Bush administration fought in less than two years?

This last question is an excellent one and goes right to the heart of the matter. The simple answer is that these "enemies" were not enemies at all, but either useful idiots or actual agents of the US government. As such, when they were no longer useful, they were retired from service, with an excellent pension.

Consider also the testimony of Former Russian Prime Minister Primakov that Saddam had made a "pre-war deal" with the US...

'Saddam, US had pre-war deal'

24/06/2004 - (SA)
News24.com

Moscow - Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein cut a deal with the United States before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, former Russian prime minister Yevgeny Primakov said in an interview published on Thursday.

"There was an understanding with the Americans, as paradoxical as it may seem," Primakov told the Russian daily Gazeta in a lengthy interview.

"Why weren't the bridges of the Tigris blown up when the American tanks approached Baghdad? Why weren't Iraqi aviation and tanks used, and where are they now?" asked Primakov, a former head of the Russian secret service and a specialist in Arab affairs who was formerly on good terms with Saddam.

"Why was there an immediate ceasefire? Why was there practically no resistance a year ago?" he added.

Primakov, who now heads Russia's chamber of trade and industry, also cast doubt on the authenticity of footage of Saddam's reported capture that circled the world on December 14.

"They showed two soldiers with guns with palm trees in the background near the hole (where Saddam was reportedly hiding). At that time of year, date palms are never in bloom," he said.

"Finally, any man can tell you that such a long beard (as Saddam had when he was reportedly caught) could not grow in seven months," he said.

"All evidence suggests that Saddam surrendered earlier and the story of the hole was invented later," he said.

Primakov, who was also Russian foreign minister, made two secret trips to Iraq at the request of President Vladimir Putin, shortly before the invasion by US and British troops.

Iran then backed up the Russian Prime Minister's story...

Iran Media Leaks Secret US Deal with Saddam

Gulf News Apr 15, 2003

AN Iranian news agency close to top conservative military figures attributed the fall of Baghdad to a secret tripartite agreement between Saddam Hussein, Russia and the US.

According to the Baztab agency, 13 days after the start of the war, Saddam and Russian intelligence allegedly pledged to hand over Baghdad with minimal resistance to allied forces provided they spared the lives of Saddam and a hundred of his close relatives. The US, for its part, promised to safely send Saddam and his entourage to a third country.

Baztab added that Mohammed Saeed Al Sahaf, Iraqi Information Minister, was instructed to stay in Baghdad until the very last moments to lend the impression that everything in Saddam's camp was under control. The agency also claimed that Russia gained $5 billion to orchestrate this agreement. [...]

Saddam's wife could not recognize her husband

04/13/2004
Pravda.ru

Last week, American authorities arranged a meeting of the former Iraqi dictator with his wife.

She was the first of Hussein's relatives to meet with the ex-leader of Iraq at a new place, at the American military base in Qatar. Accompanied by Sheikh Hamad Al-Tani, Sajida Heiralla Tuffah has arrived from Syria on his private jet in the end of March.

The outcome of their meeting turned out to be quite scandalous. Sajina claims that the person she encountered was not her husband, but his double. If someone were to say for sure that it was not insinuation, it would have been easy to believe the wife with a 25-year experience. It is also possible to assume that Saddam has simply changed since the day of his sons' deaths, June 24 2003. This however is highly unlikely. In case we believe Hussein's wife, all DNA testing of the ex-Iraqi leader should be considered a mere fake. Overall, today there remain more questions then there are answers.

It is of note that since his capture, and with the exception, or perhaps because, of the above meeting, "Saddam" has not been allowed to see any family members, friends, or lawyers of his choice. Saddam's daughter, also appearing to recognise that something was amiss, stated at the time that the images of "her father" in court led her to believe that he was drugged that he was "not fully conscious". A few days after his capture, ordinary Iraqis reacted skeptically to the news that this was indeed the real Saddam.

Iraqis doubt real Hussein behind bars

Globe and Mail
December 18, 2003

Baghdad - Jassim Abu Ahmed almost spits his disgust at the television set showing yet another image of the dazed and bedraggled Saddam Hussein.

"It's not him," Mr. Ahmed says, waving his hand and looking away from the screen.

In an interview given to Deborah Moore in July 2004, one of Saddam's "lawyers", Giovanni Di Stefano, stated categorically that Saddam would not face execution and would not be handed over to Iranian authorities who are seeking his extradition for alleged war crimes during the Iran/Iraq war. When asked how he knew this he stated that he would not say anymore on the matter.

Interestingly, Di Stefano claims to have "the greatest respect" for Salem Chalabi, nephew of CIA asset and recently appointed Iraqi Deputy PM and "oil minister", Ahmed Chalabi. An article from the Arab-American Institute tell us that, not long after the "fall of Baghdad" (a misnomer if there ever was one):

Salem Chalabi established the Iraq International Law Group (IILG), which describes itself as "your professional gateway to the new Iraq." Assisting Salem in setting up the IILG was a partner Marc Zell (the IILG's website has been registered in Zell's name). Zell is an Israeli settler of the Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) stripe. Here the plot thickens.

Zell had for many years been Feith's partner in their Washington-Tel Aviv law firm, Feith and Zell (FANDZ). FANDZ had been set up when Feith left government to pursue the work of a "foreign agent" representing Turkey and some Israeli interests.

Following the Baghdad opening of the IILG, Zell soon opened, in the U.S., an office for Zell, Goldberg & Co., which promises to assist "American companies in their relations with the U.S. government in connection with Iraq's reconstruction projects." It is interesting to note that Zell, Goldberg still uses the website FANDZ, the site of the old Feith and Zell firm. So when Zell boasts his connections to government, businesses know exactly what is meant.

In the relatively short period of time since the fall of the Ba'ath Party regime, IILG and Zell, Goldberg have facilitated contracts in the tens, possibly hundreds of millions of dollars.

Salem Chalabi incidentally has also been appointed by the Coalition Provisional Authority to head the Iraqi tribunal that will investigate and prosecute the crimes Saddam and his cohorts committed against the Iraqi people. His uncle is meanwhile railing against the former regime's corruption and demanding the right to investigate profiteering and kick-backs he alleges occurred in the UN's food for oil program.

Feith and Calabi were at the forefront of the plundering of Iraq's resources in order to fill the coffers of American and Israeli big business. Feith also promised the Israelis and their U.S. supporters that, not only would post-Saddam Iraq trade with Israel, but it would resurrect the Iraq-Israel pipeline for oil export. Given that Chalabi is clearly in bed with the Neocons - the architects of the illegal Iraq war - AND the chief prosecutor of Saddam, it is a little troubling, although not at all surprising that one of Saddam's lawyers would have the "greatest respect" for Chalabi, or that Ahmed Chalabi met with "Saddam" for at least one little chat not long after he was "captured"

Ahmed Chalabi discusses the finer points of "acting under the influence" with "Saddam"

Even less surprising is the news that Di Stefano is a convicted fraudster with a client list of mostly mass murderers, and with his praise for a liar and thief like Chalabi who could be shocked to learn that Di Stefano may not actually be a lawyer at all.

Such sordid relationships between repugnant reprobates simply add to our suspicions that the entire Saddam capture, trial and now death sentence is nothing more than a carefully planned publicity stunt, employing a fake Saddam periodically pulled out on stage in order to maintain the illusion. The producers of this dodgy drama are, however, extremely careful to limit the exposure of their lead actor lest the truth that he is an imposter should become more apparent than it already is.

Despite the fact that "Saddam" has been sentenced to death, there is a potentially lengthy appeal process to be suffered before it is decided if he will actually face the hangman's noose, so we must wait to see if Di Stefano had some "inside" information in this matter. Perhaps Saddam's appeal will take approximately 2 years, with an execution date just happening to coincide with the next US elections, or, perhaps the US government has decided that, with the intial guilty verdict, there is little more in the way of propaganda to be extracted out of "Saddam", and with the help of the American mainstream media, the "evil dictator" will now fade from our collective awareness, whether we like it or not.


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