5 November, 2018 09:04

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Monday, November 5, 2018 which is American Football Day (Go Pats!), National Gunpowder Day (or Guy Fawkes Day), National Love Your Red Hair Day and National Doughnut Appreciation Day.

This Day in Legion History:

  • Nov. 5, 1968: Richard M. Nixon, a U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve veteran of more than 20 years who served in the Pacific Theater of World War II and eventually retired as a lieutenant commander, is elected 37th president of the United States. A member of Whittier, Calif., American Legion Post 51, he is a frequent speaker at national American Legion conventions and events through his years of political office. He is now the namesake of American Legion Post 679 in Yorba Linda, Calif., which meets at the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, on the same property as Nixon’s childhood home.

This Day in History:

  • On this day in 1994, George Foreman, age 45, becomes boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion when he defeats 26-year-old Michael Moorer in the 10th round of their WBA fight in Las Vegas. More than 12,000 spectators at the MGM Grand Hotel watched Foreman dethrone Moorer, who went into the fight with a 35-0 record. Foreman dedicated his upset win to “all my buddies in the nursing home and all the guys in jail.”
  • On this day in 2009, 13 people are killed and more than 30 others are wounded, nearly all of them unarmed soldiers, when a U.S. Army officer goes on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in central Texas. The deadly assault, carried out by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was the worst mass murder at a U.S. military installation.
  • Democrat Woodrow Wilson is elected the 28th president of the United States, with Thomas R. Marshall as vice president. In a landslide Democratic victory, Wilson won 435 electoral votes against the eight won by Republican incumbent William Howard Taft and the 88 won by Progressive Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt. The presidential election was the only one in American history in which two former presidents were defeated by another candidate.


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Army Times: Utah mayor who served in Army National Guard killed in insider attack in Afghanistan
By: Michelle Tan   23 hours ago
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The U.S. service member killed Saturday in an apparent insider attack in Afghanistan has been identified as Maj. Brent Taylor, a Utah Army National Guard soldier who also served as the mayor of North Ogden, Utah.
Taylor, 39, was a military intelligence officer with Utah’s Joint Force Headquarters. He was serving with the Special Operations Joint Task Force in Afghanistan when he was killed, the Utah Guard said in a statement.
Another soldier was wounded in the same attack in Kabul. That soldier was reported to be in stable condition after receiving medical treatment at Bagram Airfield.
Initial reports indicate the attacker was a member of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement Saturday morning.
The attacker was immediately killed by other Afghan partner forces, according to reports received by USFOR-A.
The incident is under investigation.
“We are devastated by the loss of our mayor and friend, Brent Taylor,” according to a statement on the North Ogden City Facebook page. “Our hearts and thoughts go to Jennie, their children, and other family members as they deal with this tragic loss. We love them and hope they will feel the love and support of all of us in North Ogden.”
The site went on to describe the “profound influence” Taylor had on the community, a city of more than 17,000 people about 45 miles north of Salt Lake City.
“He was the best of men with the ability to see potential and possibility in everything around him,” according to the post. “We feel blessed to have had him as our mayor.”
Taylor deployed in January as part of an advisory team to train members of an Afghan commando battalion, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. He often posted updates on Facebook of the work he was doing with the Afghan soldiers, the newspaper reported.
His last Facebook post, on Oct. 28, highlighted a successful election in Afghanistan.
Taylor, a graduate of Brigham Young University, was commissioned in July 2006. He was on his fourth deployment, according to the Utah Guard. He deployed twice to Iraq, in 2006 and again in 2007, and served in Afghanistan in 2012.
He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, according to the Utah Guard.
On this most recent deployment, he deployed to Afghanistan as a combat adviser to the Afghan border police.
“Today we mourn the loss of a remarkable American,” said Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, the adjutant general of the Utah Guard, in a statement. “Major Brent R. Taylor was a patriot whose personal life resonated with excellence. From his commitment to education, to his passion for politics, Brent was dedicated to making a difference.”
“Devastating news,” Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox wrote on his Facebook page. ""I hate this. I’m struggling for words. I love Mayor Taylor, his amazing wife Jennie and his seven sweet kids. Utah weeps for them today. This war has once again cost us the best blood of a generation. We must rally around his family."
“Brent was a hero, a patriot, a wonderful father, and a dear friend,” U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said on Twitter. “News of his death in Afghanistan is devastating. My prayers and love are with Jennie and his 7 young children. His service will always be remembered.”
The speaker of the Utah House of Representatives also paid tribute to Taylor.
“This is unbelievably tragic. Brent was the only person I personally knew who was able to share his deployment on social media,” Speaker Greg Hughes wrote on Facebook. "His pictures and descriptions gave me a deeper understanding of our military’s service and sacrifice. The last post I read was about Afghanistan’s free and open elections. Today, the humbling reality that freedom isn’t free is a bitter pill to swallow. God Bless Mayor Taylor and his family. We love, cherish and support you.”
This was the latest in a series of apparent insider attacks in Afghanistan in recent months. Just last month, an insider attack where Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was present, killed a key Afghan general and wounded an American one-star general.
In September, the senior enlisted soldier of 3rd Squadron, 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade was killed in an insider attack. Another soldier from the SFAB was killed in July, also in an insider attack.
Military Times: Here are the rules of engagement for troops deploying to the Mexican border
By: Tara Copp   2 days ago
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President Donald Trump on Thursday told troops deploying to the border they could shoot migrants who might throw rocks at them.
[Editors note: President Trump appeared to walk
back his remarks
about rules of engagement on Friday.]

But what troops will actually be able to do — or should do — is tightly governed.
Experts on domestic military deployments said the president’s words would not offer protection to forces in the case that troops fire upon a migrant and cautioned that troops must know and follow the rules of engagement specific to this unique deployment.
“My understanding is that the president’s comments are irrelevant in a legal judgment about whether using lethal force was appropriate. There is a right to self-defense but there is a high bar against taking action against just rockthrowing,” said Center for Strategic and International Studies senior adviser Mark Cancian.
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Army Gen. Martin Dempsey also took a hard and unusually public position on the rocks comments, saying forces won’t respond so disproportionately.
In the initial operations order to forces deploying under “Operation Faithful Patriot,” U.S. Army North gave the following guidance to troops:
Standing Rules on the Use of Force
Each domestic deployment of troops to any of the 50 states or U.S. territories are governed overall by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3121.01B, “Standing Rules of Engagement, Standing Rules for the Use of Force by U.S. Forces.” Two annexes, L and N, are specific to Defense Department missions in support of civilian authorities.
However each mission is unique and the rules can be slightly adjusted at a commander’s request.
“It’s imperative that it’s crystal clear” what the specific rules of engagement, or what Pentagon officials refer to as rules for the use of force in domestic deployments, are to this mission, a defense official said on the condition of anonymity. “I’m confident we are in a good place on that, based on the specific tasks we’ve been given.”
Each service member will undergo a required briefing on the rules for the use of force, and will be required to carry a card outlining precisely when they are and are not authorized to use lethal force.
Who can be armed?
This week. U.S. Northern Command chief Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said only forces required by their specialty to carry weapons will be allowed to be armed.
The operations order backs that up, directing that “except for law enforcement, force protection, and security personnel who carry an issued firearm for duty on a routine basis, DoD personnel are not authorized to carry individual service weapons during a [defense support for civilian authorities] mission, unless specifically authorized by the [Secretary of Defense.]”
In addition, all ammunition and weapons must be transported in sealed containers, and no service member is authorized to bring a personal weapon.
The Posse Comitatus Act
All active duty forces dispatched to the border are governed by the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids troops from carrying out law enforcement duties inside United States territory unless Congress grants an exemption.
Under the act, federal military forces are prohibited from engaging in direct law enforcement, which includes making arrests, conducting searches, seizures, apprehension, evidence collection, interrogations, security patrols, seizures, stop and frisks, surveillance, crowd and traffic control, enforcement of a quarantine or isolation, or other similar police functions.
Congress has amended that act some to increase the authorized level of support the military may provide for drug interdiction and to support border patrol.
According to the Congressional Research Service, under the extended support, the military may provide "assistance in maintenance or upgrade of equipment; transportation of personnel; establishment and operation of operations or training bases; training of law enforcement personnel; detecting and monitoring traffic within 25 miles of the border; road and fence construction; light installation along smuggling corridors; the establishment of command and control centers and computer networks; the provision of linguist and intelligence analysis services; and aerial and ground reconnaissance.”
Military Times: ‘I didn’t say shoot’: Trump says migrants will be arrested, not shot, if they throw rocks
By: Tara Copp   2 days ago
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President Donald Trump said Friday that if migrants approaching the U.S. border throw rocks at U.S. military or border patrol personnel like they did with Mexican authorities, they will be arrested, not potentially shot.
Trump was clarifying his previous remarks from the day before and appeared to walk back the suggestion that he would authorize the use of lethal force against a rock thrower.
“[The military] won’t have to fire. What I don’t want is these people throwing rocks …. What they did to the Mexican military is a disgrace. They hit them with rocks. Some were very seriously injured, and they were throwing rocks in their face.”
“They do that with us, they’re going to be arrested, there are going to be problems. I didn’t say shoot. I didn’t say shoot. But they do that with us, they are going to be arrested for a long time,” Trump said Friday.
The comments seemed to de-escalate remarks he made Thursday at a White House press conference where he said any rock thrown by a migrant would be considered the same as if they were wielding a rifle against law enforcement or the military.
“I told them, ‘consider that a rifle,’" Trump said Thursday. “When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say ‘consider it a rifle,” the president said.
Trump’s comments Thursday were widely criticized as an authorization for troops to consider stone-throwing proportional to the use of a firearm, and respond with equal levels of lethal force.
The distinction is critical because the rules of engagement that the U.S. military follows determine precisely what level of force individual service members will use in various situations, including self-defense.
Also, on missions on U.S. soil, where they are serving in a support role to civilian government agencies, the military can not perform law enforcement duties, such as arrests, if the incident occurs outside of federal property such as a military base.
On Friday Trump said border patrol or U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement would perform the arrests.
Hours after Trump’s remarks on Thursday, the Nigerian Army cited his comments to justify the recent fatal shooting of rock throwers in Nigeria.
Military Times: Veteran unemployment falls across the board
By: Natalie Gross   2 days ago
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Veterans of all service periods fared better in the workforce in October compared to the previous month, even as unemployment among nonveterans remained stagnant, the latest federal data show.
The veteran unemployment rate fell from 3.4 to 2.9 percent last month, the lowest it’s been since October 2017, according to Bureau of Labor and Statistics figures released Friday.
For post-9/11 veterans, the unemployment rate was 3.1 percent, down from 3.9 percent in September. The unemployment rate for nonveterans was 3.5 percent for the second month in a row.
Experts warn against putting too much stock in the monthly employment figures, especially for veterans, whose data is drawn from a much smaller sample size than the overall population. Still, annual averages show a downward movement since 2010, when veteran unemployment in the 21st century was at its peak, and so far, the average for 2018 continues that trend.
The national unemployment rate in October was unchanged at 3.7 percent, as the U.S. added 250,000 jobs, primarily in the healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing industries.
Military.com: Burn Pit Vet’s Widower: Memos Show that Illness Didn’t Need to Happen

4 Nov 2018
Fox News | By Perry Chiaramonte
It was in 2009 when Brian Muller first met his wife, Amie.
"We actually met at a music venue. And at the time I was playing music in a band and she had some friends there that were at the event," Muller, 45, from Woodbury, Minn., recalls in a recent interview with Fox News. "Her friends forced her to go out. I forced myself to go out and just to see some music."

He remembers how they discussed her service with the Minnesota Air National Guard.
"We ended up talking about what she does with the military," he says, "and at that time, she was doing a project to make video memorials for gold star families. Families that lost loved ones in Iraq or Afghanistan or any type of war."
"She asked me to write a song for those videos. And that’s how we kind of started our relationship, as– friends, and then it developed from there."
Brian has never served in the military but was impressed by Amie’s service — including her two tours in Iraq.
"She wanted to fly, and she joined the Air Force. And she got deployed and had her life kind of uprooted there for a while."
Amie was stationed at the Iraqi air base in Balad during both of her tours in 2005 and 2007. While her active service was already behind her, the effects from her time on that base still lingered.
"She didn’t really want to talk about her time over there," Brian says. "Anytime a door would slam or a loud noise, she’d get startled very easily. She had a lot of PTSD [episodes] from just little things."
A decade after returning from Iraq, Amie’s physical health also suffered. She was diagnosed with Stage III Pancreatic Cancer.
"I still remember Amie getting the call, and she looked at me," Muller says about the day they found out about her diagnosis back in April 2016.
"We walked around the corner just to make sure the kids didn’t see. I could tell by the look in her face how scared she was. And I just kind of listening in to the call. And we just started shaking.
Both she and Brian believed it was related to her exposure to open-air burn pits used to destroy trash generated on the base. Nearly every U.S. military installation in Iraq during the war used the crude method of burn pit disposal, but Balad was known for having one of the largest operations, burning nearly 150 tons of waste a day.
The smoke generated from these pits hung above Amie’s barracks daily.
"She talked about the burn pits even before she got cancer," Muller recalls, "and how the fact that they would change the filters on these ventilation systems quite frequently. And every time they’d change it would just be this black soot, so thick that you would think you’d have to change it every hour."
"After she told me what they were burning, you know, all I thought about is all the campfires that we had in our backyard. You don’t burn Styrofoam. You don’t burn plastic. We all know that, but they were burning all those things. Highly toxic."
As early as Operation Desert Storm in 1991, burn pits were used at U.S. military bases in Iraq. At the height of the Iraq War in 2005, more than 300,000 troops were stationed there and potentially exposed to the smoke and fumes from burn pits.
Thousands of veterans and former contractors returned from the Middle East and have developed rare cancers, respiratory problems, and blood disorders from what they claim are their exposure to toxins from the flaming pits. More than 140,000 active-service members and retirees have put their names on a Burn Pit Registry created by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
After Amie was diagnosed and her treatment began, she and her family went public with her story in the hopes that it would bring awareness to the dangers she and countless veterans faced after what they believe was a result of burn pit exposure.
Amie succumbed to her illness just nine months after she first diagnosed.
In her absence, Brian continued Amie’s work in raising awareness by sharing her story. He also worked closely with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., toward getting "The Helping Veterans Exposed To Burn Pits Act" — a bipartisan bill recently presented in Washington and signed by President Trump — passed.
The bill will help fund a new center by the Department of Veterans Affairs that will study the effects of burn pit exposure and eventually assist with treatment plans. He also started the Amie Muller Foundation, which helps other veterans who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
"I just hope that our vets are going to get the help they need," Brian says, "and it’s not going bring back Amie, my wife, but it’s going to get veterans the help they need."
But recent findings show that the Pentagon was aware of the dangers of burn pits during the height of the war in Iraq.
Fox News recently obtained a series of memos drafted by top officials at Balad during the same years that Amie served at the base. The authors of the documents — which include commanding officers as well as environmental officials — stated that the operation of burn pits was a danger to those stationed there and that precautions needed to be taken urgently to improve conditions.
"In my professional opinion, there is an acute health hazard for individuals," reads a line from one memo written by a Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight Commander and the Chief of Aeromedical Services at Balad in 2006. "There is also the possibility for chronic health hazards associated with the smoke."
The memo also includes an assessment of the pits in Balad where one environmental inspector said that Balad’s burn pit was "the worst environmental site I have personally visited."
After inquiries by Fox News regarding the memos, Officials for the Department of Defense said that they would look into the matter and explained their procedural policy and that open-air burn pits are to be operated in a manner that prevents or minimizes risk.
"DOD does not dispose of covered waste in open-air burn pits during contingency operations except when the combatant commander determines there are no feasible alternative methods available," reads the statement provided by a Defense Department spokeswoman. "DOD minimizes other solid waste disposal in open-air burn pits during contingency operations. Generally, open-air burn pits are a short-term solution. For the longer term, we use incinerators, engineered landfills, or other accepted solid waste management practices whenever feasible."
Muller finds the memos troublesome.
"I don’t understand why they didn’t do something," he says after being shown a copy of the memos. "These are people that volunteered to serve our country, and it just disgusts me to see memos like that, from high ranking officers that expressed this concern."
Muller adds that the underlying issue is a lack of accountability.
"The issue is they were doing something they shouldn’t have done, that they constantly warned was an environmental hazard," he says. "And our vets are getting sick. Our vets are dying."
"You know, there was a fellow that did a video–‘Delay, Deny and Hope You Die.’ And that’s kind of what’s been going on. They’re delaying this as long as possible so that they won’t have to deal with as many claims, because most of them will die before they do anything about it."
Muller also believes that Amie would have never fallen ill if it wasn’t for the fact that she was stationed at Balad.
"I don’t think she would have gotten cancer. I really don’t. Maybe she would have later in life. Maybe it would have been some other type of cancer. I don’t know," he says. "But something caused inflammation — for something to grow in her body for a long period of time before it was ever seen and diagnosed. There was something going on with all of the vets when they got back."
In a recent interview with Fox News, Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. Central Command and Multi-National Force-Iraq in 2007, offered an explanation when asked about why burn pits were used on military bases, conceding that the realities of war kept concerns about how to dispose of waste a low priority at that time.
"At that time we weren’t worried about burn pits," The general said back in September. "We were worried about just getting enough water for our troops in the really hot summer. We were looking forward to the time where we might get some real food, real rations, as opposed to MREs and so forth."
The general also expressed that the U.S. has a commitment toward helping those veterans.
"It’s a sacred obligation," Petraeus said. "But comparing what our VA does to any other country’s care of veterans … this is the gold standard. Certainly, a gold standard that can always improve, without question. This is an issue, though, where we have a sacred obligation, and we need to meet that obligation."
Muller believes the general’s recent comments to be a sign of a move in the right direction.
"When you start seeing men in uniform, or women in uniform, people higher up in the military starting to voice their concerns, you know we’re making progress."
Stripes: USS Cole victims opposed at Supreme Court by unlikely partners: Sudan and US

By ROBERT BARNES | The Washington Post | Published: November 4, 2018
The road to recovery has been a long one for David Morales, who was injured during the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole 18 years ago last month. And he knew it would be difficult to collect the nearly $315 million that he and others wounded in the attack were awarded in their suit against the Republic of Sudan.
But he didn’t expect the case to go all the way to the Supreme Court, and he certainly didn’t think he would see the Trump administration aligned with Sudan on the other side of the legal battle.
"I thought the United States would be on the side of its veterans," Morales said in a recent interview. "It was very surprising, especially with Mr. Trump in office. It seems like he is in support of veterans. It kind of hurts."
Years of litigation and millions of dollars in awards are on the line this week as the Supreme Court addresses a seemingly mundane question: whether notices of the lawsuits against Sudan were sent to the wrong address eight years ago.
The notices were addressed to the Sudanese Embassy in Washington at 2210 Massachusetts Ave. NW, where an employee signed for them. One federal appeals court has decreed that was adequate.
But Sudan says that federal law, as well as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, requires papers to be served on the foreign minister at his official address, which in this case is in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. A different federal appeals court has agreed with that interpretation.
Into this legal and diplomatic quagmire has stepped, ever so gingerly, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco. He, as well as Saudi Arabia and Libya, filed an amicus brief agreeing with Sudan, one of four nations the State Department lists as sponsoring terrorism.
"The United States deeply sympathizes with the extraordinary injuries suffered by respondents, and it condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist acts that caused those injuries," Francisco wrote in his brief to the Supreme Court.
But "litigation against foreign states in U.S. courts can have significant foreign affairs implications for the United States," he continued, "and can affect the reciprocal treatment of the United States in the courts of other nations."
Washington lawyer Kannon Shanmugam represents those wounded in the attack in the lawsuit being considered by the Supreme Court, and, in a separate suit, the families of those killed. It has been put on hold pending the court’s decision.
"It is mind-boggling that the government has decided in this case to side with a state sponsor of terrorism and against men and women who are seeking to recover for grievous injuries suffered in the service of our country," Shanmugam wrote ina brief to the court.
"In any event, this court should reject the government’s sloppy analysis and its dubious bottom line."
The lawsuits arise from the deadly incident on Oct. 12, 2000, when al-Qaida suicide bombers in a fiberglass boat detonated explosives near the naval destroyer USS Cole, which was refueling at a harbor in Yemen.
The blast killed 17 American sailors – 15 men and two women – and wounded 42 others. Years later, the suits were filed against Sudan under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, alleging Sudan had supplied material support to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, who lived in the country for a time.
In the case involving the wounded that the Supreme Court is hearing Wednesday, Republic of Sudan v. Harrison, the plaintiffs filed suit in federal court in the District, and asked the clerk to send the documents to Sudan’s foreign minister at the embassy in Washington.
Someone at the embassy accepted them. But Sudan never responded to the suit, nor did its representatives put on a defense. (Sudan’s culpability is not an issue the Supreme Court is considering.) District Judge Royce Lamberth held an evidentiary hearing and entered a default judgment against Sudan in the amount of $314,705,896.
The judgment was registered in New York in an attempt to access Sudanese assets held in three banks there. It was at that point Sudan filed notice in the case, telling the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit that the judgment should be vacated because the service at the embassy did not comply with the law.
At issue is the part of the immunities act that details what a party must do to file suit against a foreign government. Relevant here is that the notice "be addressed and dispatched by the clerk of the court to the head of the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign state concerned."
Lawyers representing Sudan say that is most naturally read to mean the package be sent to the foreign minister in that country, not to its diplomatic mission in Washington. In addition, serving process at an embassy violated an article of the Vienna Convention that says "the premises of the mission shall be inviolable."
Those"inviolability" provisions "constitute bedrock principles of international diplomacy, are enshrined in international law and practice, and are widely accepted in the United States and beyond as prohibiting service by mail on or through a diplomatic mission," Washington lawyer Christopher Curran, one of Sudan’s lawyers, told the Supreme Court in a brief.
Sudan is supported by a group of international law professors and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is implicated in the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Turkey. "As much as any foreign state, the Kingdom has a strong interest in preserving the inviolability of foreign missions, including the longstanding prohibition against serving legal process at mission premises," it tells the court.
More important is Sudan’s support from the United States. It does not accept notice at its embassies around the world, and ruling against Sudan would endanger the government’s "continued ability to successfully assert that it has not been properly served in these instances," Francisco wrote in the government’s brief.
The 2nd Circuit, hearing the case of those wounded in the attack, ruled for the plaintiffs, reasoning that the notice was not served on the mission in Washington, but to the foreign minister via the personnel there. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in the case involving the survivors of the dead, disagreed, and said the judgments should be vacated.
That is hard to explain to Lorrie Triplett, whose last glimpse of husband Andrew was in her rear-view mirror, as the sailor rode a bike she had bought him back to the Cole when it was still docked in Virginia.
The money she would receive would go to care for her two daughters, whose memories of their father are faint, she said.
"To say that we don’t deserve something that should have been, it’s beyond me," she said.

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