Three Legged Stool

3leggedstoolSome would have us all believe we are in a ‘post racial society’, those who say this with a straight face are either delusional or simpletons. Others would have us believe women have achieved equality or something closely resembling it, I say those who say this, ‘you are beyond half bent over and should return to whence you came, 1890 perhaps’. I would like to note, if the person uttering this nonsense are of my gender, they are likely being paid well for the garbage dripping from their lips. What keeps us in line is the distinct and bright line of money, or the lack thereof. Let us call it what it is, poverty; we live in a society where money buys your way through life, if you ain’t got it you ain’t going to get it. Those born with it are working hard to keep it and keep it out of the hands of others.

It is a three-legged stool, an ugly and nasty stool. One we have been sitting on and pondering our navels from for far too long.

One from which we watch and shrug our shoulders as our African-American brothers and sisters die, as they are shot in the streets, as they are beaten in jail cells, as their children die of preventable disease for lack of access to health care. One from which we watch our schools crumble and our children fail even basic educational skills. One from which we watch as women/mothers struggle to make ends meet, while the fathers of their children languish in corporate prisons for the crime of trying to pay the rent. One from which we refuse to acknowledge there is a problem and it is called institutional racism, we are a part of it. We inherited it, we continue it, we benefit from it if we are White.

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One from which we watch and shrug our shoulders as our sisters are raped and beaten, we make excuses for their rapists rather than protect our young women in the military and on college campuses. One from which we watch as women who once had the right to agency to choose to protect their reproductive health through birth control and yes, even the right to choose abortion if necessary no longer have this agency, as men strip them of their adulthood of their rights over their own bodies and push them further back into poverty and dependency. We watch as women are paid less than men in every field of endeavor and our leaders at every level of government refuse to acknowledge the inequity. We watch as women struggle to gain parity and representation without success.

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We watch and shrug, refusing to acknowledge the widening gap between those who have and those who have not. We uphold the wealthy as heroes to be propped up, while we lose more of our own small value in the market. We watch the gap widen every year without demanding changes to the very systems of inequity that created the abyss we are unable to cross, no matter how many jobs we hold or how many hours we work. We watch as our neighbor loses their home, shrug and are grateful it isn’t us that lost our job to outsourcing or the latest free market con. We shrug as our neighbor drives away never drawing the line to it could be us next time given our abysmal lack of compassion last time we voted. We blame everything without ever considering the agenda of the person or group who has put forth the illogical Meme of the week for why we are sinking in to the chaos of poverty, why our neighborhood is losing market value, why the middle-class is shrinking, why we don’t have any damn money.

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We are a nascent society, with the emergence of social media and our use of cell phones and other means of communication there is at least one thing changing and rapidly. Can you guess? We are beginning to talk, we aren’t saying much yet but we are beginning to talk. We are beginning to look at each other and see humanity rather than enemy. We are beginning to see violence against another person, not like us, and challenge the violence rather than challenge those who protest the violence. We are beginning to look across the road and at a burning church and pick up a bucket full of water.

It isn’t all of us, not yet but some of us are beginning to say, ‘no more’. Some of us are beginning to challenge racism, challenge historical structures and challenge symbols with the truth. It isn’t all of us, but it is more of us, more of us are asking the question, “What can I do? How can I help?” It matters, that we ask, that we see and that we are offended and aren’t afraid to offend those who sit and shrug.

It isn’t all of us but some of us are beginning to challenge women’s ‘proper place’ and why we are taking steps backward rather than forward, how we are losing ground. It isn’t all of us, but some of us are asking the questions, stepping forward fearlessly with our stories and demanding to be heard. It isn’t enough of us yet, but some of us are standing up and saying we will be heard, we must

a demonstrator after the Eric Garner Grand Jury announcement Mark Makela/Getty Images

a demonstrator after the Eric Garner Grand Jury announcement
Mark Makela/Getty Images

be heard, we must be represented in State Houses, in Board Rooms, in Congress. Women cannot afford to sit back, to lose the rights our mothers and grandmothers laid down their bodies, their reputations and even their lives to gain for us. Yet, we are bleeding them out again in back alleys; it isn’t all of us but some of us are beginning to stand up and take up the fight for our agency.

We are beginning to recognize we are losing ground, all of us. We are losing our voice, the voice we each have the right to express through our vote. Money has stolen our voice, through a bought and paid for SCOTUS and Congress we have seen our vote being slowly eroded. Through Voter ID Laws, through Super Pacs, through other egregious acts by our acting leadership we have handed over our voice. Now, some of us have recognized how bad it is and we are beginning to fight back.

Poverty comes in many ways, as a nation our worst form of poverty is that of spirit. We have suffered a terrible loss of spirit, of national soul. We have sold ourselves for a dream, to slick talkers with the promise that if we allowed those at the top to lift themselves without limitations or consequence for bad acts, we would somehow be lifted with them. It was a lie, it was always a lie and we were warned but were blinded by the con of free money. Now we are paying for our desire for something for nothing.

I can only say, if you haven’t already WAKE THE FUCK UP!

No Success Without the GRIND

valentinelogar:

Finding new inspiration, always a great way of starting any day. Struggling with writers block, blogger block .. hell everything block then reading this brings things into focus. Worth the read.

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike. Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.

What do you want? How badly do you want it? What are you willing to sacrifice? These are the questions we must ask not once, but daily. There is no success without the GRIND.

Or perhaps, the G.R.I.N.D.

Give

Every day we have something to give that will keep propelling us forward. I love, love, love the movie Rocky. This is among my favorite quotes:

The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and…

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Invisible

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I remember, a touch on my skin

Trails of cool against my heat

Whispered demands for more

Indolent breezes scented with twilight

Remind me, of you of something

I remember, a cry in the night

   Sighed across bruised lips

Joined by your own glad call

Rhythms of the rain on my window

Remind me, of you of something

I remember, the touch of silk

Wrapped on my wrist

Binding me to your need

Salted caramel skin and crashing waves

Remind me, of you of something

Of disappearing, of being invisible

Signature

Spanish Fly

witches chair 2We are a people who fail to consider consequences just as we fail to consider the linear notes of our history. It seems it is impossible for some of us too reason, for us to see where we have been and acknowledge the whys and wherefores of how we arrived at where we are today. We only see the right this minute and think somehow this is all there is, this bubble of bullshit somehow represents the entirety of our social make-up, there is nothing else, we got to this moment in time without all of the transcendent moments before this too pile upon.

Really? Are we really, as a people this stupid, this blind? Can this truly be possible?

I swore I was not going to discuss the issue of Bill Cosby and his heinous acts against women and I am not. What I am going to talk about is why so many, men and women alike came to his defense. We watched Bill Cosby and Larry King and we laughed right along with them, a nation thought their discussion of drugging women was funny.

Why did so many turn their backs as women came forward to accuse Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) of being a sexual predator? Because we accept his actions, it is simple. Why so many, shrugged their shoulders and thought to themselves even when not thinking it aloud, ‘boys will be boys and those women were probably asking for it’.

I said I wouldn’t discuss Bill Cosby, I won’t. What I will discuss, is why anyone would think to defend him or his sexual molestation and rape of twenty or more women. Why anyone would think it was okay for Bill Cosby to drug young women so he could sexually molest and rape them. I know why, but I wonder if most understand how far back our disdain for women goes.

 If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24

There is of course more, but this is a good place to start with the very framework of those who lay the foundation of a nation in Biblical literalism. Starting with the Pilgrims and moving to the Puritans, not a single one of those who first came to these shores believed women were of equal value to men, in fact most believed they were of far less value.  In all cases, women could not own property, not even their own children unless they were widowed and never remarried. Even within the context of those much vaunted and hallowed documents of Independence and Democracy were women considered, only men are given a voice; not women and just to be clear, only White Men.

Witches and Puritans

Witches and Puritans

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.

Exodus 21:7-11

We are without moral ground, it is power and control and it is right there in the very book so many within this nation claim as their guiding light, their shining beacon. How could we not ignore rape, ignore or worse still, blame the victims of rape in favor of the rapist. How could we not look at the victim of rape and ask these horrible questions:

6371058_G“What were you wearing?”

“How many sexual partners have you had?”

“What did you do to entice your rapist?”

“How much did you have to drink?”

“Why were you at that restaurant, bar, party?”

Of course there is any number of other questions the victim is asked, making them party to their own violation. Making them at fault for their rape, not a victim of violence at all, rather a willing participant and someone to be victimized, ostracized and humiliated further by society, the criminal justice system and too often family and friends.

It is estimated there are 400,000 untested rape kits sitting in evidence rooms across the nation. Rape victims, waiting for justice, who have submitted to invasive examinations of their bodies so Untested-Rape-Kits-1000x600police can collect DNA evidence, in most cases they do nothing with. The decision to test those kits, at a cost of $500-$1,500, is usually left to the investigating officer. The officer or the District Attorney, who too often are making the decision the case is ‘too hard to prove’, or worse have decided the rape didn’t happen, who are all too often searching for consent, searching for a reason not to prosecute and thus serving the rapist.

How did we get here? We have always been here, this is what we have always been. This is not new, we have not reached some new sociopathic low. The difference is women have started to speak out, started to say enough and no more. The difference is social media and the ability to connect with other victims, to compare stories and begin to understand the true nature of rape, the damage rape does to us, not just the initial damage to our bodies but the long-term horror the rape victim suffers.

In the past rape was a silent crime, the victim was silent and thus after the fact consented. Perhaps, if they were fortunate they had family or friends who were supportive and loving, this wasn’t always the case though. There was a reason rape victims’ names were masked from the public, it was to protect them from being humiliated and ostracized by the community, to prevent the community from dragging them to the gates and stoning them.

images‘What were you wearing?’

Blue jeans, a tee shirt and tennis shoes; I was eleven years old. I was silent for far more than twenty years because my rape humiliated my mother.

Recent Stories: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/07/16/untested-rape-kits-evidence-across-usa/29902199/

Private Programs to end the backlog: http://www.endthebacklog.org/backlog/what-backlog

On the Floor: Reprise and Challenge

valentinelogar:

Frank’s fabulous challenge. Read the original, read all the alternative endings, comment or write your own. Such fun.

Originally posted on A Frank Angle:

The story below is the revised version of my first attempt at fiction. I issued a challenge to develop a new ending: a) after “The music ends” and b) in 75 words or less.

New endings will either be posted as comments on this post or as the whole story with the new ending the reader’s blog with links to this post. See the Challenge page for more information as long as it remains published.

I  encourage others to read all the endings. Do you have a favorite ending? Thanks for participating.

aFaShortStoryChallengeThe music starts – its tempo and rhythms define the dance. He approaches her table, and extends an inviting hand. She accepts. They take to the floor. He offers a hand and a frame. Again, she accepts, but looks away while in hold as if to say, “I’ll dance – but I’m not interested.”

They move to…

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Battered

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Fear rises up through haze and history

Ask me what I cannot tell you

You chipped at the ice encasing me

Feelings tumble from my lips, uncensored

I fling them outward, unthinking

Uncaring of their trajectory

Now I am afraid of their landing

Will they fall softly, lightly welcomed

Caught by a heart ready for my utterances

Or will they damage a fragile bond

As if you are their only target

Through the haze of history my words run

My fears manifest become your pain

Unknowingly twist both our souls

Expressions unrestricted by walls we battered

Will our hearts survive, I wonder

Do you wonder too

Signature

12-July-2015

Grace and Truth

ORIG_15003_022_use_1Language has always been powerful, words from a young age the panacea for skinned knees or the bludgeon worse than leather belts or closed fists. We see the world through words, soft words, hard words, correct words and changed words. The words of a world that defines us and confines us, a world that wishes us to be different than we are or more accepting of our position within it. Our world expands or contracts based upon how we are defined, how we define ourselves within the narrow confines of a language that may not be our own, yet is the only one we know.

Over time, words change and with those changes, our view of the world may be moved. The things we once believed, thought were written in concrete become mud and we are left wondering if all our preconceived notions of the world must be reexamined in light of our new understanding. These changes of course, this reexamination requires first a heart and mind willing to consider new ideas. It also requires the intellect to see through the barriers of history and how society uses language and symbols to create new meanings, divisions and sometimes-even reconciliation.

Occasionally, we are thrown out of our comfort zones by language. Other times we co-op language to make others uncomfortable, or perhaps simply to force a change in perception. We tend to combine language and symbols, making connections with those we might otherwise have nothing in common with or who we might otherwise choose never to associate with. The only thing drawing us together, our common language and adherence to the symbols we claim as defining us as a group, as our stake in heritage and pride, whether national or otherwise.

Whether these symbols and the language surrounding them are flags, guns, uniforms, a badge or some other mark of distinction; they set us apart. In many cases what once were used to define boundaries and defy a world finally are being exposed for the symbols of ignorance, subjugation and violence they always were, without the whitewashed language that has surrounded them for fifty plus years. The language, the words to describe this symbol of horror were many, most were lies yet we all turned away allowing the lies to stand until finally they could stand under the glare of historical truth no more.

Battle Flag of the Confederacy

Battle Flag of the Confederacy

Of course, these truths were always there, always right before our eyes we simply allowed the lies to stand. We, as a nation allowed a small minority to change the truth, to rewrite history and fly their symbols of hate, bigotry, fear and slavery over public buildings and within state flags without saying a single word to expose the truth. We, the people of this nation turned away from the truth without a word, we shook our heads and allowed a lie to stand for nearly sixty years even knowing the insidious nature of the lie, we allowed it to stand to infect another generation and become accepted as a truth. That is the nature of language, of words and of allowing the defeated to rewrite history.

I grieve at our willingness to continue the lie generation to generation. The language we use to hide the truth of our terrible history and its continued impact today. I am dismayed at the hubris of so many who believe they can rewrite our terrible history, deny its truth and the ongoing truth of racism, hate, intolerance this nation continues to support. Words, language how we use them tend to ultimately define us, ultimately show who we are. This is true even when we attempt to change the meaning of things, the meaning of symbols and the words surrounding them.

We have watched this play out over the past weeks with the Confederate Battle Flag. We have watched the defenders using language of “Heritage not Hate” and “States Rights”. We have seen the Memes slide across social media about the secession of the southern states not being about protecting their right to own human beings. Those of us who understand the truth of that flag, the history of that flag tried to educate, tried to refute these lies and some of us lost friends. Many who revered the Confederate Battle Flag they didn’t know this wasn’t anything more than a Battle Flag, they didn’t know it was only unfurled in 1961 in protest of Civil Rights. They didn’t know the true history that this battle flag was unfurled in protest of the undoing of Jim Crow laws in the South, of not being able to subjugate, abuse and lynch the former slaves their ancestors had turned traitor to keep enslaved.

I mourn this nation, we buy pabulum fed to us without challenge and despite the evidence to the contrary allow lies to stand as truth.

Grace, something we need heaped upon us. The President spoke of Grace when he sent State Sen. Clementa Pinckney home with a powerful eulogy. On the floor of the South Carolina House as they debated the removal of the Battle Flag, this was the most compelling fifteen minutes I heard, I hope you will listen.

Grace, we need it. We need to find the language to heal this nation. We need to find the words to lift ourselves up from the mire of the lies we have told ourselves. We need to start pulling the threads of truth from the great ball of bullshit we have rolled up and allowed to stand in our proverbial town square as truth. We must knock down the memorials to traitors and begin to lift up the true heroes of our nation, begin to tell the true stories of our nation, begin to learn from them and progress toward a future that lifts all of us up.

Grace, we have little of it right now though what we do have comes far too often from those with the least reason to show it, to give it. It is time we begin to open the doors and windows and give it back, starting with an acknowledgement of truth.

Be Damned

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church sits at 110 Calhoun St. in Charleston, S.C.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church sits at 110 Calhoun St. in Charleston, S.C.

I am incapable of words to express my sorrow or my fury. I am at a loss where to begin to express my deep empathy for the families of those who were lost, the survivors, all victims of a terrible hate crime, a horrifying act of violence. I find I am at a loss at how to express my compassion for those left behind to survive the terrible repercussions of violence.

Where do you even begin?

Do we start with the grief that we have not risen from the past but instead nurture hate so closely it drives some among us to walk into places of worship and indiscriminately murder innocent people. How do we battle this cultural nightmare, this disease that continues to feast on heart, decimate soul and destroy future?

We did this, yes when I say we I am specific in my calling out. We, White Folks, those of us with the privilege of being born with skin the color of moonlight. Those of us who check the box, ‘Caucasian’,  or ‘White’ on the Census and all the other forms through our lives, we did this. It is ours, we own it and we have owned it from the first slave sold in this nation. From the Three-fifths Compromise to Dredd Scott, from Jim Crow to Separate but Equal and everything before, after and in between. Every step along the way, White People in power worked to keep those they considered ‘different’ and ‘less than’ powerless. Through economic, educational and justice policies, we have divided this nation’s people into cultural classes that not coincidently aligned along racial-color lines, keeping Black, Brown, White in their separate and unequal lanes.

Now, in this century, in this decade and after the election of the first Black President the hate and fear, the true ugliness of racism has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of political correctness and the result has been truly terrible to witness. Fear and fury rose up from the White community, from the dirt floor of the poorest house in the Appalachians to the polished marble floors of Congress, White Men rose up in protest at the Black Man in the White House. It was terrible to see, but we turned away. We shrugged our shoulders and said, ‘these are not the norm, these are the minority’. We did nothing, said nothing, demanded nothing be changed nothing be confronted.

Worse than the rising up has been our acceptance of this ‘new normal’. We see it, we witness the horror of violence, we turn away. We justify our apathy with, ‘but it isn’t me, I am not a racist’. We11164745_892454580813961_4783942740135091392_n watch in horror as another act of violence is carried out, another unarmed black man, woman or child is beaten or killed by police or civilians but we do nothing except perhaps wring our hands and pretend we don’t understand why. We listen to the nuanced language, the media spin trying to justify the horror show of murderous rampages by white thugs, whether cops or civilians, against those they deem unworthy of life, liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness in the land their ancestors helped to build in chains. We pretend we don’t see it, we forget within the next news cycle.

The state of South Carolina flies the Confederate flag, a symbol of all that is wrong, a symbol of traitors who fought to maintain the status quo of enslaving human beings. The Sons of the Confederacy can whitewash and bullshit all they like, can cry their tears of states’ rights, liberty and freedom as the driving factors of their ancestor’s reasons for secession from the lawful government and their own reason for continuing to worship the Stars & Bars. We should pull that scab off the wound that was the Civil War, demand the history books be revised to tell the truth and call those who would say otherwise damned liars. The war of secession was fought  to keep human beings enslaved and preserve a way of life for wealthy White men and women who did not wish to give up their privilege. The majority who died fighting in that war were poor, ignorant and fearful, they were convinced if the slaves were freed they would be displaced, their women would be raped and their jobs taken. The language of the traitors was eerily similar to those of the Tea Party today, hauntingly analogous to many of those who would be President.

“Government Overreach”

10407515_10203057948409525_2425821899359663210_n“Preservation of Constitutional Values”

“Preserving Liberty and Freedom”

Yes, familiar rhetoric isn’t it. The hubris of those who would preserve a way of life built upon the blood and misery of others is exceeded only by the ignorance necessary to believe the lies. The amount of money spent to divide us, keep us separate, maintain the horror of racism and ignorance exceeds the budgets of some nations, yet we allow it to continue without rising up. We, owe ourselves better than this, better than more blood, more hate, more division based on ignorance. We must demand a change, an accounting; we must say no more.

We, each of us with the privilege of our Whiteness intact must stand up and demand the same privilege for those not born with skin the color of moonlight. We must demand history books tell the truth of America, of slavery, of Jim Crow, of enslavement through poverty, miseducation, unequal justice and incarceration; we must demand an accounting and we must apologize for our own ignorance and blind acceptance of the lies we have told to preserve our own power. We must rise up and against hate and hate groups, we must stop turning away and instead call them what they are, Domestic Terrorists. We must demand an accounting of media that uses their power to criminalize Black victims while whitewashing even celebrating White murderers. We must begin to call things and people what they are, we must hold accountable those who refuse to do so.

We must stop giving a pass to any person who refuses to stand up and call out Hate Crimes and Racism for what they are. We must hold those who would lead to the highest standard and demand they call the nation towards healing, towards justice, towards equality and fairness. Those who will not stand up and call racism what it is, who will not call out their followers for their racist remarks and acts, they do not deserve leadership roles, certainly don’t deserve to be President.

Dead at the hands of a terrorist, racist thug.

Dead at the hands of a terrorist, racist thug.

We all need to start demanding better, doing better, teaching our children better and demanding of our leaders better than they are today. For the lives that have been lost, we need to give them names and bear witness to their tragedy. For those who took their lives, we need to give them no name but murderer, thug, terrorist we need to give them no excuse for their act but the one they gave, racism and hate.

Cynthia Hurd, 54

Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49 Myra Thompson, 59
Clementa Pinckney, 41 Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45 Susie Jackson, 87
Ethel Lee Lance, 70 Daniel L. Simmons Sr., 74

Tywanza Sanders, 26

Opinion: Washington Needs To Tell The Truth About Police Violence

valentinelogar:

It truly is time, until we begin to demand an accounting nothing will change. Perhaps it is easy to ignore the one-off, certainly seems this is the case. But when we start to see more people killed in the first half of the year in the US by police than in a decade in other nations, shouldn’t we start to demand change?

Originally posted on The Militant Negro™:

Mr MilitantNegro™ Jueseppi B Mr MilitantNegro™
Jueseppi B

Screenshot (6396)

From The Washington Post By DeRay McKesson

Opinion: Washington needs to tell the truth about police violence

There have only been 9 days this year when the police have not killed somebody.

Some news outlets put the number as high as 500 dead in the past six months, according to both The Guardian and Killed by the Police.Net.The Washington Post’s own investigation showed nearly 400 dead as of the end of May.

We know these numbers because activists have searched tirelessly to find instances where the media has reported that someone was killed by police. Yes, newspaper articles are currently the most consistent source of information on nationwide police killings because police departments are not required to collect or report this information.

We live in the age of big data and analytics, yet we have no systematic way of collecting even the most elemental data…

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Don’t Ask Me

sad-angel-1

Don’t ask me to stop

Not today, when things are needed

Don’t ask me to be still

Not when the world spins

You are not here, when promised

Don’t ask me to peel away strengths

To forget who I am, who I fought to be

To feed your need to take care of me

I do not need to be taken care of

Not as I once thought I did

In yesterday’s fraught with fear and lies

Of living on my knees

I rose up through the filth

I fought through my monsters

Caging them in a perfect mind

Dancing with them to exhaustion

I rose up victorious even in pain

Don’t ask me to stop and wait

Don’t ask me to be less

Tell me instead you embrace my strength

Run to catch me, laughing in celebration

Signature

16 June 2015

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