Jul 012015
 

Three weeks ago in “Beef Prices Hit Record: Up 30% In The Past Two Years,” we noted that although the Fed may continue to claim inflation is non-existent, for those Americans who can’t afford a house and thus have to rent, inflation is all too real.

The soaring cost of housing is a topic we’ve covered extensively and indeed, as we showed in “America’s Housing Problem: Buying And Renting Are Both Unaffordable,” many Americans face the rather harrowing prospect of not being able to afford a downpayment (even at the token 3% level now allowed by Fannie and Freddie) while facing an inexorable rise in rents, meaning, in WSJ’s words, that many households are“stuck between homes they can’t qualify to purchase and rentals they can’t afford.” 

In the latest example of the soaring cost of living in America, Manhattan apartment prices just hit a record, with average sale prices leaping 11% to an astounding $1.87 million in Q2, the highest in the quarter or so century of record keeping.

 Bloomberg has more:

The average sale price of all co-ops and condominiums was $1.87 million, up 11 percent from a year earlier and the highest in 26 years of data-keeping, according to a report Wednesday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Resale apartments and units in new developments each set their own price records amid interest from both investors and buyers who intend to live in the homes.

 

Buyers clamoring to own property in Manhattan found few choices on the market, pushing them into bidding wars, especially for resale apartments. Listings totaled 5,730 at the end of June. While that’s up 1.3 percent from a year earlier, the inventory is still 20 percent below the 10-year average, according to Miller.

 

Resellers have been hesitant to list their homes because rising prices may leave them unable to trade up, Miller said. At the same time, developers adding new units to the market have focused on building ultra-luxury towers aimed at billionaire investors as a way of recouping their high land costs.

Yes, a boom in “ultra-luxury” units “aimed at billionaires”, a sure sign (not really) of a healthy market and further evidence that thanks to seven years of global QE and ultra-accommodative monetary policy that has served to balloon the assets of the wealthy, the super rich (and perhaps a few oligarchs) are now clamoring for ways to spend it all and once you’ve added to your $100 million home collection and bought a few Picassos at Christie’s, we suppose a luxury unit or two overlooking the New York skyline is just as good a place as any to park a few million. Here’s Bloomberg again:

The owners of a co-op at 360 W. 20th St. sold the property last month for $700,000 more than they were seeking after a bidding war broke out among 14 interested buyers, said Meris Blumstein, the Corcoran Group broker who sold the Chelsea property.

The sellers listed the renovated two-bedroom apartment near the High Line in March for $2.5 million, the lowest they were willing to accept. A month later, the unit, which includes a 650-square-foot (60-square-meter) yard and temperature-controlled wine storage for 240 bottles, went into contract with a buyer who agreed to pay $3.2 million.

Another seller in the neighborhood, Victor Vecchiariello, listed his West 23rd Street condo for $999,000, and attracted several bids at an open house held on a snowy day in March. On the advice of his broker, Scott Harris of Brown Harris Stevens, Vecchiariello held a second open house and ended up selling the 754-square-foot apartment for $1.28 million.

One or two of the bidders “might have said, ‘I’m going to step away,’” said Vecchiariello, a partner in Ernst Young LLP’s tax division. “But most of them came back. They upped their offers a bit.”

So there you have it America, you are being priced out of homeownership by the bored billionaire crowd thanks in no small part to the lunatics in the Eccles Building who, if asked, will swear that any day now, the fabled “wealth effect” will finally begin to trickle down, and maybe then, you too will be able to afford to purchase a home or, at the very least, scrape together enough to pay rent on your one bedroom apartment which, as we’ve shown, may currently be a rather monumental task.

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Jul 012015
 

Gazprom has confirmed the suspension of gas supplies to Ukraine from 10:00am MSK on July 1. Russia’s gas monopoly will not supply gas to Kiev without prepayment, no matter what price, said company CEO Aleksey Miller on Wednesday.

After trilateral Russia-EU-Ukraine gas talks in Vienna failed on Tuesday, Ukraine’s Naftogaz reported it would cease purchases of Russian gas starting from Wednesday as it didn’t agree on the price. The three parties gathered in Vienna to discuss the terms of the gas deal for the next three months as the previous ‘summer package’ expired.

The Ukrainian company stressed that Kiev would continue gas transit to Gazprom’s customers in Europe “in accordance with the existing transit contract”.

Russia offered Ukraine a discount of $40 per thousand cubic meters on Monday. The price of Russian gas with the discount was $247.18 per 1,000 cubic meters. The same price Ukraine bought gas in the second quarter.

However, Naftogaz refused to sign the deal, saying Kiev was dissatisfied with the price and the discount.

Ukraine’s wish to get more than a 40 percent discount is “groundless”, Russia’s Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak told Rossiya 24 TV channel on Wednesday.

 

Ukraine’s decision to halt gas purchases from Russia is politicized, not justified by economic reasons, he added.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow could no longer provide generous gas discounts to Kiev due to low crude oil prices in the world.

On April 1, 2015 Russia and Ukraine signed a ‘summer package’, deal on gas supplies for the second quarter. The agreement replaced a similar ‘winter package’ signed at the end of October, 2014.

Russia switched Ukraine to prepayment terms last summer after the country’s ‘chronic’ failure to pay its massive debt. Naftogaz paid Gazprom $247.18 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas. The price included a $100 discount.

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Jul 012015
 

Tony Montana: Black market lord, servant to the international oligarchy.

Tony Montana: Black market lord, servant to the international oligarchy.

Greece is now in the news for the left socialist Syriza Party caving (predictable) to the IMF’s economic terrorism, resulting in bank runs and capital controls.  Echoing the previous two bail outs back to 09 and 10, the new “plan” will undoubtedly result in more collateral seizure of Greek assets for the engineered debt crisis shock doctrine that controls virtually all nations.  Nothing new here, but it is illustrative for understanding the global banking structure that emerged from World War II at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944.  However, as we will see, the real structure extends further back into the shadows of World War I.

Originally Bretton Woods’ plan tied to the U.S. dollar-backed by gold, in 1971, the dollar became fiat (Nixon shock), resulting in a global fiat system centered around command and control large-scale economic planning and fixed exchange rates.  Under he guise of economic stability, the ruse was sold that this system would provide “security” and prevent rampant speculators from wrecking economies due to tying them to central banks.  While there is some truth to this position of regulation limiting rampant speculation, the limitations of central banks only works if central banks are independent and national, printing their own currency.  Of course, they are not, and the ability of the megabanks to own national economies through bailouts and being “too big to fail” shows however well-intentioned or effective that may have been in the past, it is no longer the case.

The Marshall Plan was an aspect of this Bretton Woods restructuring for Europe, and in regards to the incorrect myth of western conservatives concerning the ridiculous notion that the U.N. was a “Soviet Plot” (when the land was donated by the Rockefellers), Dr. Kerry Bolton cites Quigley:

The eminent American historian Carroll Quigley, Foreign Services School, Georgetown University, Harvard and Princeton, describes the post-war situation leading to the Cold War, stating that the immediate policy of the USA rested on free trade and aid via the Marshall Plan which would have included assistance for economic recovery to the Soviet bloc. However the USSR saw this as a means for the USA to establish its pre-eminence in the post war era. Quigley, a liberal globalist who saw the “hope” of the world being through a world government, wrote:

On the whole, if blame must be allotted, it may be placed at the door of Stalin’s office in the Kremlin. American willingness to co-operate continued until 1947, as is evident from the fact that the Marshall Plan offer of American aid for a co-operative Europe recovery effort was opened to the Soviet Union, but it now seems clear that Stalin had decided to close the door on co-operation and adopted a unilateral policy of limited aggression about February or March of 1946. The beginning of the Cold War may be placed at the date of this inferred decision or may be placed at the later and more obvious date of the Soviet refusal to accept Marshall Aid in July 1947.[14]

Quigley refers to the American initiative for atomic energy “internationalization” and how this arguably very dangerous scenario for world domination was again scotched by Stalin:

The most critical example of the Soviet refusal to co-operate and of its insistence on relapsing into isolation, secrecy, and terrorism is to be found in its refusal to join in American efforts to harness the dangerous powers of nuclear fission.[15]

This was the reason for the Cold War, and while the dialectic was in a sense managed, it another sense it was not.  The atomic race is connected to this, as the Baruch Plan was rejected by the USSR, as the U.S. sought to use energy dominance as a means of overt control. Aside from these matters, the Cold War was also fueled economically as a race to further hedge control on the part of the Anglo-American Atlanticists through shadow banking power.  Targeting Russia as the continual “Great Game” foe, the Atlanticists’ global economic structure allowed the West to establish the means of economic terrorism through the IMF and other entities, as I have highlighted with Yeltsin and Russia in the 90s, and the Ukraine coup more recently.

Bolton again comments on Bertrand Russell and the Fabian Atlanticists genocidal attitude towards CIA and NGO operations against Russia, even in the Stalinist regime:

Pacifist guru Bertrand Russell wrote in 1946 in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, expressing frankly the liberal internationalist attitude towards the USSR, which was anything but benign. Russell, who was to play a key role along with many other eminent liberals and leftists as Stalin-hating Cold Warriors in the CIA founded Congress for Cultural Freedom,[26] makes it plain that the atomic bomb represented the ace card to the forcible establishment of a world state:

The American and British governments… should make it clear that genuine international co-operation is what they most desire. But although peace should be their goal, they should not let it appear that they are for peace at any price. At a certain stage, when their plans for an international government are ripe, they should offer them to the world… If Russia acquiesced willingly, all would be well. If not, it would be necessary to bring pressure to bear, even to the extent of risking war.[27]

Seen in this context, the 2009-2015 Greek financial crisis can be understood as a maintenance of the Greek participation in the EU, as well as making sure Greek does not pivot towards Russia.  Syriza’s leftist socialism even appears to play into the oligarchical cabal by putting on a front of opposition to the IMF’s shock therapy, while caving within no time in surrendering a platform that was all centered around further IMF loan sharking.  This is why the banking oligarchs have perpetually funded and supported leftist, socialist and internationalist movements, as they have a common universalist impetus – the so-called humanitarian human rights initiative.  As Plato noted, democracy leads to tyranny and mob-ocracy, run by oligarchs. Why might this be?

“Democracy” is premised on the lowest common denominator as a cult of conformity. Built within it are the seeds of its own self-consuming destruction, as the bar for universalist “unity” is continually lowered and mass marketed based on the appeal to baser and baser appetite fulfillment of the utilitarian “happiness” principle. Of necessity, it must politically force the false equalitarian conformism it’s based on universally, leaving total destruction in its path.  This is why the mega-banks and their NGOs, think tanks, shell companies, intelligence agencies and social engineers constantly foist endless color revolutions, terror groups, hashtag revolutions, terror groups, etc., because the wrecking ball power these destabilizing groups have are tremendously advantageous to centralized (banking) interests seeking consolidation of national assets, economies and pensions (as well as running black markets!).

At the apex of this public structure is the Bank for International Settlements, the central bank of central banks.  Ironically, the BIS issues reports that are at times accurate, warning the policies of their dozens of member banks are rather destructive, even mentioning the toxic nature of public-private debt mixing scams. Admitting the perpetual debt-based hole is unsustainable, the banker members don’t seem to pay much attention to these “warnings” – in other words, reading a little between these lines, the policies parasitically wreck and loot the host nations.

A bankster-dominated speculative economy that is government-backed by the collateral of the people’s savings and wealth quickly devolves from a production-based economy to a financial gambler’s speculative economy.  As we read concerning the BIS’ own statement, it becomes evident the global government was in the process of consolidation at the time of even World War I through the Young Plan and the BIS as a management of reparations (a World War prior to Bretton Woods, the IMF and World Bank).  The real reason it was established was a secretive CIA-Swiss enclave for world management where the Swiss government has no jurisdiction.  Throughout the Cold War, this oligarchy was emboldened to expand into international control through the continual looting of Russia or any of its potential allies:

“Established on 17 May 1930, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is the world’s oldest international financial organisation. The BIS has 60 member central banks, representing countries from around the world that together make up about 95% of world GDP.

The head office is in Basel, Switzerland and there are two representative offices: in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and in Mexico City.

The mission of the BIS is to serve central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability, to foster international cooperation in those areas and to act as a bank for central banks.”

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Jul 012015
 

Source: CNBC

As the Fourth of July weekend looms and Americans prep their grills and ready their fireworks, some citizens are packing their bags.

A recent online poll of more than 2,000 adults by TransferWise, a peer-to-peer money transfer service based in the United Kingdom, revealed that 35 percent of American-born residents and emigrants would considering leaving the United States to live in another country.

This percentage greatly increases for those age 18 to 34. More than half of millennials, a whopping 55 percent, said that they would consider leaving the U.S. for foreign shores. Among them, 43 percent of men and 38 percent of women noted that a higher salary would be a factor in their relocation decision.

While a high percentage of Americans would entertain the idea of expatriation, only .001 percent of the population actually renounced citizenship in 2014.

Read More…

 

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Jul 012015
 

In this video we will do the following to this original 1981 Rock-Ola Jumpbug Arcade game during Retore Part #6

#1 – Prep, sand, and paint an arcade game coin door
#2 – Apply a hammered finish to a coin door
#3 – Remove side art on an arcade game
#4 – Sand the sides of an arcade game smooth
#5 – Fix swelling particle board / MDF on an arcade game
#6 – Patch holes in an arcade game with dowel rods, wood glue, and bondo

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Jun 302015
 

Source: Jubilee Debt Campaign

Ahead of the payment of €462 million by Greece to the IMF on Thursday 9 April, figures released by the Jubilee Debt Campaign show that the IMF has made €2.5 billion of profit out of its loans to Greece since 2010. If Greece does repay the IMF in full this will rise to €4.3 billion by 2024.

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. Photo: IMF Staff Photographer/Michael Spilotro

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. Photo: IMF Staff Photographer/Michael Spilotro

The IMF has been charging an effective interest rate of 3.6% on its loans to Greece. This is far more than the interest rate the institution needs to meet all its costs, currently around 0.9%. If this was the actual interest rate Greece had been paying the IMF since 2010, it would have spent €2.5 billion less on payments.

Out of its lending to all countries in debt crisis between 2010 and 2014 the IMF has made a total profit of €8.4 billion, over a quarter of which is effectively from Greece. All of this money has been added to the Fund’s reserves, which now total €19 billion. These reserves would be used to meet the costs from a country defaulting on repayments. Greece’s total debt to the IMF is currently €24 billion.

Tim Jones, economist at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said:

“The IMF’s loans to Greece have not only bailed out banks which lent recklessly in the first place, they have actively taken even more money out of the country. This usurious interest adds to the unjust debt forced on the people of Greece.”

 

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Jun 302015
 

Source: Counterpunch

Back in January upon coming into office, Syriza probably could not have won a referendum on whether to pay or not to pay. It didn’t have a full parliamentary majority, and had to rely on a nationalist party for Tsipras to become prime minister. (That party balked at cutting back Greek military spending, which was 3% of GDP, and which the troika had helpfully urged to be cut back in order to balance the government’s budget.)

Seeing how unyielding the opposition was, Syriza’s stance was: “We would like to pay. But there’s no money.”

This kept throwing the ball back into the troika’s court. The Institutions were so unyielding that Syriza’s approval rating in the polls rose by 13% by June. Greek voters became increasingly incensed at the Troika’s demand for further pension cuts and privatizations.

Tsipras and Varoufakis were willing to pay the IMF with the IMF’s own funds, in what V. called “extend and pretend.” But their only interest in keeping current on debt was to obtain additional funding that could be used to pay domestic pensions and other basic government budgetary expenditures.

The basic tactic in such tensions between creditors and debtors is clear: once debt repayments exceed new loans, stop paying.

So when The Institutions made it clear that no more credit would be forthcoming without Syriza adopting the old Pasok/New Democracy capitulation to Troika demands, Tsipras and Varoufakis decided it was time to call a referendum eight days hence, on Sunday, July 5.

Late Friday night and into the early Saturday morning hours, Greeks ran to the ATM machines to convert their checking and savings deposits into euro notes, expecting that the end game would involve a likely 30% depreciation of the drachma – and that indeed, the ECB would stop lending to support Greek banks (the only role the ECB wanted to play).

Syriza had no love for the banks. They were the vehicles through which the oligarchs controlled the Greek economy, after all. For a month, they had been discussing how to separate the banks into “good bank” and “bad bank,” either nationalizing them (wiping out stockholders) or creating a Public Option alternative.

Most important, once out of the eurozone, Greece could create its own Treasury to monetize its spending. The Institutions called this “scrip,” but the Greeks could establish it as their national currency. They would escape from euro-austerity – except, of course, to the extent that the ECB waged economic war on Greece by imposing its own capital controls.

By going through the sham negotiations with The Institutions, Syriza gave Greeks enough time to protect what savings and cash they had – by converting these bank deposits into euro notes, automobiles and “hard assets” (even boats).

Businesses borrowed from local banks where they could, and moved their money into eurozone banks or even better, into dollar and sterling assets. Their intention is to pay back the banks in depreciated drachma, pocketing a 30% capital gain.

What commentators miss is that Syriza (at least its left) wants to be transformative. It wants to free Greece from the post-military oligarchy that evades taxes and monopolizes the economy. And it wants to transform Europe, away from ECB austerity to create a real central bank. In the process, it demands a clean slate of past bad debts. It wants to reject the IMF’s austerity philosophy and refusal to take responsibility for its bad 2010-12 bailout.

This larger, transformative picture is at the center of Syriza-left plans.

I’m in Germany now (on my way to Brussels), and have heard from Germans that the Greeks are lazy and don’t pay taxes. There is little recognition that what they call “the Greeks” are really the oligarchs. They have gained control of the old coalition Pasok/New Democracy parties, avoided paying taxes, avoided being prosecuted (New Democracy refused to act on the “Lagarde List” of tax evaders with nearly 50 billion euros in Swiss bank accounts), orchestrated insider dealings to privatize infrastructure at corrupt prices, and used their banks as vehicles for capital flight and insider lending.

This has turned the banks into vehicles for the oligarchy. They are not public institutions serving the economy, but have starved Greek business for credit.

So one casualty apart from the credibility of the eurozone, the ECB and the IMF will be these banks. Syriza is positioning itself to provide a public option – public banks that will promote the economy, and a national Treasury that will spend government money INTO the economy, not drain it to pay the Troika for having bailed out French and other banks back in 2010-1.

The European popular press is as bad as the U.S. press in describing matters. It warns of “hyperinflation” if a central bank monetizes as much as one euro of government spending in the way that the U.S. Fed does, or the bank of England or any other real central bank. The reality is that nearly all hyperinflations stem from a collapse of foreign exchange as a result of having to pay debt service. That was what caused Germany’s hyperinflation in the 1920s, not domestic German spending. It is what caused the Argentinean and other Latin American hyperinflations in the 1980s, and Chile’s hyperinflation earlier.

But once Greece frees itself from the odious debts forced upon it at financial gunpoint in 2010-12, its balance of payments will be roughly in balance (subject to some depreciation of the drachma; 30% is a number I heard bandied about in Athens last week).

To mimic Margaret Thatcher, “There is No Alternative” to withdrawing from the eurozone. The terms dictated for remaining in it was to sell off all of what remained in Greece’s public sector to European and U.S. buyers, at insider prices – but not to Russian buyers, even for the gas pipeline that was to have been sold.

Evidently the eurozone financial strategists thought that Tsipras and Varoufakis would simply surrender, and be promptly voted out of power, thereby crushing their socialist policy agenda. They miscalculated – and are now hoping to create as much anarchy as possible to punish the Greek people. The punishment is for not continuing to support their client oligarchy, which has moved most of its assets out of reach of the government.

But instead of Syriza losing credibility, it is the ECB – which refuses to create money to finance economic recovery, but only to pay the oligarchs’ banks so that they can continue to control the government. This control is now being weakened precisely because their banks are being weakened.

Greece’s Parliament last week released its Debt Truth Commission report explaining why Greece’s debts to the IMF and ECB are odious, and were taken on without a popular referendum approving these loans. Indeed, Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy obeyed Mr. Obama and Geithner when the latter insisted at a G8 meeting that the ECB ignore the IMF economists’ analysis that Greece could not pay its debts, and bail out the banks. Geithner and Obama explained that U.S. banks had placed big financial bets that Greece would pay its private bondholders, so the ECB and IMF had to lend the government the funds to pay – but had to overthrow the country’s Prime Minister Papandreou who had urged a referendum on whether Greek people really wanted to commit economic and political suicide.

Financial technocrats were put in place to serve the domestic oligarchy and foreign bondholders. Greece was under financial attack just as deadly as a military attack. Finance is war. That is this week’s lesson.

And for the first time, debtor countries are realizing that they are in a state of war.

This is why markets are crashing on Monday, June 29.

* * *

Eurozone financial strategists made it clear that they wanted to make an example of Syriza as a warning to Spain’s Potemos party, and anti-euro parties in Italy and France. The message was supposed to have been, “Avoid our austerity and we will cause chaos. Look at Greece.”

But the rest of Europe is interpreting the message in just the opposite way: “Remain in the eurozone and we will only create money to strengthen the financial oligarchy, the 1%. We will insist on budget surpluses (or at least, no deficits) so as to starve the economy of money and credit, forcing it to rely on commercial banks at interest.”

Greece has indeed become an example. But it is an example of the horror that the eurozone’s monetarists seek to impose on one economy after another, using debt as a lever to force privatization selloffs at distress prices.

In short, finance has shown itself to be the new mode of warfare. Resisting debt leverage andfinancial conquest is as legal as is resisting military invasion.

Michael Hudson’s book summarizing his economic theories, “The Bubble and Beyond,” is now available in a new edition with two bonus chapters on Amazon. His latest book is Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. He can be reached via his website, mh@michael-hudson.com

 

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Jun 302015
 

Source: The Intercept

The State Department announced it will lift its freeze on arms sales to the repressive government of Bahrain on Monday, despite the country’s myriad human rights abuses in recent years, including arbitrary detention of children, torture, restrictions for journalists and a brutal government crackdown on peaceful protestors in 2011.

“The Administration has decided to lift the holds on security assistance to the Bahrain Defense Force and National Guard that were implemented following Bahrain’s crackdown on demonstrations in 2011,” wrote John Kirby, a State Department spokesperson, in a press release on Monday.

Human rights groups were quick to criticize the decision. “There is no way to dress this up as a good move,” Brian Dooley, a program director at Human Rights First, said in a statement. “It’s bad for Bahrain, bad for the region, and bad for the United States.” Dooley said Obama should be “doing everything to stop sectarianism in the Middle East, rather than send more weapons to bolster a military drawn almost exclusively from Bahrain’s Sunni sect.”

Bahrain’s Sunni government rules a country where the majority of the population is Shiite.

Just three weeks ago, the State Department condemned the Bahrainian regime for convicting a leading opposition figure, Ali Salman.

“We do not think that the human rights situation in Bahrain is adequate,” the State Department said.

But some things are evidently more important: “Bahrain is an important and long-standing ally on regional security issues, working closely with us on the counter-ISIL campaign and providing logistical and operational support for countering terrorism and maintaining freedom of navigation.”

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

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Jun 252015
 

On the 65th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War James is joined by James Perloff of jamesperloff.com to discuss his in-depth article, “The Korean War: Another Conflict that Served the Illuminati Agenda.” From deals with the Soviets to protection for the Chinese to pulled punches and “missed” opportunities, we examine how the pretext for the war was created, why it was thrown, and who was behind it.

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