Thursday 19 May 2016
Photo, left: Malcolm X in March 1964. Today would have been his ninety-first birthday.
Malcolm Little was born May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, the fourth of seven children of Grenada-born Louise Helen Little (née Norton) and Georgia-born Earl Little. Earl was an outspoken Baptist lay speaker, admirer of Pan-African activist Marcus Garvey, and local leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA); he inculcated self-reliance and black pride in his children. Because of Ku Klux Klan threats—Earl's UNIA activities were "spreading trouble"—the family relocated in 1926 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and shortly thereafter to Lansing, Michigan. There the family was frequently harassed by the Black Legion, a white racist group. When the family home burned in 1929, Earl accused the Black Legion.
. . . Later Malcolm was called "Detroit Red" because of the reddish hair he inherited from his Scots maternal grandfather.
When Little was in prison, he met a fellow convict, John Bembry, a self-educated man he would later describe as "the first man I had ever seen command total respect … with words". Under Bembry's influence, Little developed a voracious appetite for reading and became that wonderful sort of person, an abecedarian.
At this time, several of his siblings wrote to him about the Nation of Islam, a relatively new religious movement preaching black self-reliance and, ultimately, the return of the African diaspora to Africa, where they would be free from white American and European domination. He showed scant interest at first, but after his brother Reginald wrote in 1948, "Malcolm, don't eat any more pork and don't smoke any more cigarettes. I'll show you how to get out of prison", he quit smoking and began to refuse pork. Little, whose hostility to religion had earned him the prison nickname "Satan", became receptive to the message of the Nation of Islam.
In late 1948, Little wrote to Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad advised him to renounce his past, humbly bow in prayer to Allah, and promise never to engage in destructive behavior again. Though he later recalled the inner struggle he had before bending his knees to pray, Little soon became a member of the Nation of Islam.
. . . In April 1964, with financial help from his half-sister Ella Little-Collins, Malcolm X flew to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as the start of his Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca obligatory for every Muslim who is able to do so. He was delayed in Jeddah when his U.S. citizenship and inability to speak Arabic caused his status as a Muslim to be questioned. He had received Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam's book, The Eternal Message of Muhammad, with his visa approval, and he contacted the author. Azzam's son arranged for his release and lent him his personal hotel suite. The next morning Malcolm X learned that Prince Faisal had designated him as a state guest. Several days later, after completing the Hajj rituals, Malcolm X had an audience with the prince.
Malcolm X later said that seeing Muslims of "all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans," interacting as equals led him to see Islam as a means by which racial problems could be overcome. . . .
"[L]istening to leaders like Nasser, Ben Bella, and Nkrumah awakened me to the dangers of racism. I realized racism isn't just a black and white problem. It's brought bloodbaths to about every nation on earth at one time or another. Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant—the one who wanted to help the [Black] Muslims and the whites get together—and I told her there wasn't a ghost of a chance and she went away crying? Well, I've lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping black people. Something like this kills a lot of argument. I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then—like all [Black] Muslims—I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me twelve years. That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days—I'm glad to be free of them. . . ."
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-hosts: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board & host of Opinion Journal on WSJ Video. Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents.
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 1, Block A: Claudia Rosett, FDD, in re: Why Hasn't Obama Fired Ben Rhodes? – he actually bragged to the New York Times that he had lied to the world about Pres Obama’s policies and deeds. 1. “A crowd of moderates had come to power in Iran” -— even though the WH knew that that was a lie. 2. That the Iran deal was transparent —which conspicuously it was not. / Normally, one would expect contrition or apology and probably a resignation or firing. Not here. Just cynicism. Rhodes is now 38. A large part of the media fought the Iran deal articulately and consistently, still do. He expressed contempt for people who don’t control levers of power: for the press, for people with real experience in the field. Rhodes was “message coordinator” at the WH the night that the US ambassador to Libya died in Benghazi. This is part adolescent mockery, part scorn for anyone with whom they don't agree. Democratic process depends on a written constitution, and also on a great deal of good faith. The latter doesn’t matter to this president. “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor”; Iran nuclear deal; the Benghazi “video”; the IRS scandal targetting conservative groups. All fraudulent.
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Why Hasn't Obama Fired Ben Rhodes? It's a good bet that by now the entire foreign policy cosmos -- from "the Blob" to the 27-year-old reporters -- has read the New York Times magazine profile of Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes, "The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama's Foreign-Policy Guru." The reporter, David Samuels, had extraordinary access to the White House, multiple well-placed sources and, in his 9,500 word piece, he provides plenty of attribution, including quotes from Rhodes himself. We get a detailed look, behind the White House facade, at Rhodes, "master shaper and retailer of Obama's foreign policy narratives," complete with his contempt for Congress, the press and the public; his manipulation of the media; and a case study of his "narrative" of lies concocted to grease a path for Obama's signature foreign policy achievement — the unpopular, murky, amorphous and deeply dangerous Iran nuclear deal.
Freighted with the far-reaching effects of a major treaty, the Iran deal was never submitted by Obama to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. Framed as an agreement with Iran, it was never signed by Iran. Sold by the administration as a transparent deal, it is turning out to be a slush heap of secrets. The real blob in this drama is the rolling sludge of presidential overreach, White House fictions and raw abuse of public trust that has brought us everything from the indigestible "Affordable Care Act" to the Benghazi "video" narrative, to the Iran deal.
As the Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo reports, leading members of Congress are calling on President Obama to fire Rhodes "over accusations the White House intentionally misled lawmakers and the American public about the contents of last summer's comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran."
In a letter to Obama, Senators Mark Kirk, John Cornyn and John Barrasso cite Rhodes's statement to the New York Times that the White House peddled a phony narrative to sell the Iran deal because he considered it "impossible" for elected lawmakers to have "a sober, reasoned public debate, after which the members of Congress reflect and take a vote." They note, if Rhodes "had conducted himself this way in a typical place of business outside Washington, where American taxpayers work, he surely would have been already fired or asked to resign."
So, why does Ben Rhodes still have his job?
The broad answer involves the moral vertigo of modern Washington, the Instagram attention span of too many members of a Twitter-driven press corps, and the self-abasements of a culture in which the old American spirit of individual responsibility and free enterprise has been devolving — with many a prompt from President You-Didn't-Build-That — into a selfie-snapping contest for "safe spaces" and "free stuff."
In that context, dude, what difference does it make if Boy Wonder Ben Rhodes, speechwriter and "strategic communicator," mind-melded with the President, carries on manufacturing and marketing the "narrative" that passes these days for foreign policy? Once you dispense with the baggage of reality, and its knock-on effects for those multitudes of lesser mortals who have never flown on Air Force One, what's left is former White House staffer Tommy Vietor ("Dude, this was like two years ago"), buddy of Ben Rhodes, techno-chatting to one of Washington's best reporters, Eli Lake (who knows plenty) that he's sure most folks outside of Washington think the Rhodes profile was just a "fascinating profile of a brilliant guy with a really cool job."
All these things matter. But there's a far more direct answer to the question of why Rhodes still has his job.
Quite simply, Rhodes still has his job because President Obama likes it that way. In the caudillo calculus of Obama's White House, that's about all that really matters. It's part of the fundamental transformation of America.
Under the old rules of American politics, for a top White House staffer to get caught betraying the public trust (and then gloating over it) would have been a firing offense. Not anymore. For this president, with his pen, phone and proclivity for executive diktat, the priority is not the rights of the American people, or their elected lawmakers in Congress, or fidelity to the truth. What matters is loyalty to Obama and his agenda — however radical that becomes, and whatever it might require in lies, manipulation and disregard for democratic process.
The real story here is not Rhodes. It's his boss. Rhodes is no rogue element on Obama's staff. We've heard no protest from the White House over Rhodes's statement in the Samuels profile that, "I don't know any more where I begin and Obama ends."
What's come out of the White House instead is an article by Rhodes on "How We Advocated for the Iran Deal"; now coupled with a rejection by the White House of an invitation from Congress for Rhodes to come testify on that very topic, at a hearing held earlier today. A prime distinction between these two poles is that Rhodes, when writing an article, controls the narrative from his keyboard (dispensing with assorted inconvenient truths on grounds that "I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to respond to those topics in the weeks and months to come"). In front of the likes of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, there's the awkward chance that Rhodes might lose control of his narrative.
The White House argued that the invitation for Rhodes to testify "raises significant constitutional concerns rooted in the separation of powers." That would be more persuasive had the president shown any such concern for the Constitution while ramming through the Iran deal. That was not solely a matter of peddling the Rhodes-Obama narrative. Obama also raced to get United Nations Security Council approval for the deal before Congress had a chance to delve into it. Recall Obama's lead negotiator, Wendy Sherman, ridiculing the idea that the administration should take the position — "Well, excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress." (Yes, Wendy, this being America, that is exactly how it should have worked).
The White House further argues that "the appearance of a senior presidential adviser before Congress threatens the independence and autonomy of the President, as well as his ability to receive candid advice and counsel in the discharge of his constitutional duties." Fine, if the White House is dealing with Congress and the public in good faith. But when the candid advice and counsel consist of concocting and packaging lies — excuse me, "narratives" — designed to neuter Congress and mislead the public, where does that take us?
Yes, America's system comes with checks and balances. But these depend on more than the written codes. They also depend on a basic measure of good faith from the chief executive, the figure in the bully pulpit. As my old boss, the late Robert L. Bartley, former head of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, liked to say: character matters. When an administration is caught deliberately spinning lies, when a White House official paid to uphold the public trust is exposed as deriding and manipulating that same public, the response needed for the healthy working of democracy is apology, contrition and a real remedy. If the official does not have conscience enough to resign, the president should do the honors, by firing him. Or her.
Under Obama, it has become standard procedure that such firings do not take place. Obama shrugs off the news, doubles down on the narrative and bulldozes ahead. Once the scandal is consigned to last week's news cycle, for purposes of this Administration it is down the Memory Hole. Obamacare, with its partisan vote, indecipherable text, soaring costs and disastrous website rollout; an American economy choking under regulations; the disintegration of Libya, the vanishing red line in Syria, the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, the rise of ISIS, North Korea's nuclear tests, Iran's ballistic missile tests, China's military buildup, Russia's turf grabs — the Obama narrative says it is all under control. Nothing much to see here, move along. Or, to quote Obama's first Secretary of State, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"
In the resulting vacuum, absent ethical or responsible leadership at the very top, we're left to amuse ourselves with the chatter of the echo chamber — home to the infinitely malleable narratives of Rhodes and his boss. Last Wednesday, seeking to mollify the reporters so roundly insulted by Rhodes, the White House spokesman Josh Earnest and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough took a box of donuts to the White House press corps, calling their visit "press appreciation day." Earnest assured reporters that Rhodes would revise the contemptuous statements about the press, "given a chance." Does that mean Rhodes will now disavow, in the White House inner chambers, that "candid advice and counsel" so prized by the president?
Samuels, for his part, has followed up his Rhodes profile with another New York Times piece, "Through the Looking Glass with Ben Rhodes." In this article, Samuels says he stands by everything in his original article, but now he wants us to know that "Ben Rhodes is the bravest person I've ever met in Washington." Samuels now tells us that his story was simply "a portrait of an honest, dedicated person with a great deal of power in Washington who happens to be deeply critical of the press — not out of cynicism or anger, but out of regret over the seemingly vanishing possibilities of free and open discourse."
This is Through the Looking Glass, indeed. Rhodes by this latest account sounds much of a piece with the Walrus, who in tandem with the Carpenter, in Lewis Carroll's classic, lured along those luscious little oysters to their doom:
"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
Why would Obama fire Rhodes? If nothing else comes clear from this saga, it is that Rhodes has served for years as one of the chief ideological bagmen of Obama's presidency. If, under their ministrations, the possibilities of free and open discourse are vanishing in Washington, replaced by bully pulpit narratives bouncing around the echo chamber, wasn't that the reason Obama gave Rhodes all that power in the first place?
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 1, Block B: Mary Kissel, WSJ, in re:
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 1, Block C: Terry Anderson, PERC Montana, Hoover, and Forbes, in re: Energy rich but income poor. Western res are in desolate country surrounded by non-Indians, have no cash flow but lots of iron ore, uranium and oil underground. The land is “held in trust” by the Federal govt add so wrapped in red tape – cannot mine, or thus tap into huge energy resources. Energy deposits on reservations are huge, yet almost all of it is undeveloped. Fort Berthold res: feds sandbag development because of ”archaeological deposits.” The anti-fossil fuel drive has created what the chair of the Crow tribe calls “a war on our people.” Fort Peck in Montana: slowed drilling to a halt. Another tribe: Corps of Engineers wouldn’t allow a terminal through which the Crow tribe could ship its oil. Why is there a disastrous national silence on the [genuinely horrible] conditions? The bureaucracy thrives when indigenous people are poor. The bureaucrats demand to spend more money on housing; but if Indians had control of their own resources, they’d be fine. Dawes Act, 1887, ostensibly gave Indians control over their res; in fact, it was designed to allow a lot of homesteading of non-Indians. Lost half their lands to Washington depredations then Indian Reorganization Act held all Indian lands in trust in perpetuity! Massive violation of civil rights. In Canada, Manning Jewels is a spokesman; no one comparable in the US. 80% of the mineral wealth on Indian lands is undeveloped. Banks won't lend because these reserves are held in trust by the [evil –ed.] Bureau of Indian Affairs. President Trump: give tribes the right to decide if they want to remain under your thumb; if not, let them be autonomous.
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The Native American Coal War. When the Indian Wars ended after Custer’s demise at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Native Americans found themselves relegated to reservations. Thereafter followed their next war, one to stave off poverty and protect what little wealth they had left. / Of course, battles between tribes are nothing new—the dreaded Blackfeet and Comanche were noted for stealing horses and people from other tribes—but the stakes today are much higher. When it comes to energy resource like those of the Crow, western tribes are energy rich but income poor. In 2012 the Department of the Interior estimated that Indian lands have the potential to produce 5.35 billion barrels of oil, 37.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 53 billion tons of coal. Yet 86% of Indian lands with energy or mineral potential remain undeveloped.
Bureaucratic red tape Part of the problem in Indian Country emanates from federal trusteeship over reservation lands and energy. For example, developing a hydraulic fracturing well on the Ft. Berthold or the Ft. Peck reservations sitting atop the Bakken play typically requires going through four federal agencies to get approval for 49 permits. Frustrated with such bureaucratic red tape, Stoney Anketell from the Ft. Peck Reservation said, “It takes too long to get leases approved, to get lease assignments approved, to get rights of way approved. . . . We’re not shortchanging the need for archaeological reviews, but on land that’s been farmed for 70 years? It’s been tilled, plowed, planted, harvested. There’s no teepee rings.”
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 1, Block D: Dr Sebastian Gorka, Major General Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory. Marine Corps University; in re: Search and rescue teams have found debris floating in the Mediterranean Sea about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of where an EgyptAir flight crashed in the early hours of May 19, news executive reported. While no official announcement about the cause of the crash has been issued, it is beginning to appear increasingly likely that a terrorist attack may have brought it down. According to a senior Egyptian security analyst, Egyptian authorities believe that a suicide bomber set off a primitive improvised explosive device (IED) onboard, one composed of components passengers are allowed to bring on a flight. Even a relatively small and unsophisticated IED in either the passenger cabin or the cargo hold could significantly damage an airplane at cruising altitude, leading to flight complications or a crash.
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 2, Block A: Jon Huenemann, VP, U.S. and International Corporate Affairs, Philip Morris International; in re: . . . merging of organized crime and terrorist communities: black-market criminals generate cash for weapons. Hundreds of millions of dollars; funds global criminal operations – Middle East, Africa , South America, Asia. Massive source of terrorist finance. Tomorrow, DHS and Treasury will join a conference on the implications for US natl security of the “black economy.”
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 2, Block B: Emanuele Ottolenghi, senior Fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies; expert at its Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance focussed on Iran; in re: the predatory regime of Iran. The cynicism of the Obama Administration – how they disdain us. The interview and profile speak for themselves. What came through were the arrogance and self-assurance of the Administration taking a victory lap before the end of the term. A bit like outing a mistress. Rhodes called the press “sycophants,” so some reporters took umbrage. Regardless of what the WH says, the P5+1 are all on board, so they bank on that consensus; want to re-enter the European and Asian economies — reopen the doors to rich trade. Want to do this PDQ so that if a less-friendly US Administration comes in power it'll be too late to undo. . . . The regime would never have signed this deal had it not seen it as a way to enhance its economy. The Ground Zero of the agreement is the aviation sector: multi-billion-dollar contracts betw Iran and Airbus (120 planes, to become 500 in a decade), and others (20 more from Italy, and Canada and Brazil). Talks about Boeing. How will Iran pay? Is this a real deal? Will the planes be used for innocent flights, or also for nefarious purposes – ferrying military troops and weapons, to support terrorism?
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 2, Block C: Oren Kessler, deputy dir for research & Fellow at the FDD; in re: Egypt is the only nation in the umma; all the others are tribes. ISIS targets Egypt; cutthroats out of Raqqa in Libya; powerful in Africa, plenitude in Sinai – but Egypt? ISIS in Egypt, esp in Sinai: 14 ISIS members issued videos calling el Sisi an apostate and close the US and the Jews. What are they up to? . . . Sis’s popularity has eroded – in 2013 he had a lot of political capital, could even cut subsidies. Now, the economy is badly faltering and the Sinai insurgency is not quelled, nor even the one on the mainland. Perhaps ISIS thinks this is the right time to attack: from Sinai, Libya, Gaza, and . . . Libya may be the most fertile soil (sands) for ISIS – several thousands there now. Why would Sisi now get involved with Netanyahu? At the demand of Kerry or Blair? He spoke warmly of the benefits that peace with Israel has brought to Egypt. Arab leaders just don't say these things, incl, “If Israelis and Palestinians can find peace, it’ll be even better.” Concerns over freedom of expression, of speech, or religion, in Egypt – Washington disapproves. Does the outside world understand that Egypt is under attack?? Cairo sees that the Obama Adm is not sympathetic, but it doesn’t really understand the threats that Egypt faces. Israelis have said something similar; incidentally, so have some Jordanians and many other Middle Eastern leaders [Saudis, Yemenis, Emiratis, almost everyone]. A few years ago, pix of Putin around Egypt; the friendship continues to grow. Russia will help bld a power plant. Tourism takes a back seat since the tragedy in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 2, Block D: Steve Linde, outgoing editor-in-chief of Jerusalem Post; in re: in New York to run the annual Jerusalem Post conference on Sunday 22 May at Marriott Marquis hotel, from 9 AM on. Israeli politics: the presenting mystery of the PM’s cabinet proposals – what role to Avigdor Liberman? Was in negotiations with Labor Party; talks broke down. Defense to Liberman; Foreign Ministry to Yaalon? Death penalty for terrorists? Cabinet mtg on Sunday, the day of our conference. Zionist Union (Herzog) probably won't join the coalition. It’s said that Liberman has a close relationship with Putin; his party attracts support of Russian emigres to Israel. Bibi soon visit Moscow again to discuss Syria. The current US Administration doesn’t really get it – didn't see that Mubarak was an ally, or that Sisi needs and well deserves support. Bibi and Yaalon disagreed strongly; esp a fellow who compared Israel today and pre-Nazi Germany.
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 3, Block A: Michael Pregent, Fellow, Hudson Institute; in re: Censored 9/11 report. Saudi Arabia relations. The 28 pages (only 15 years later). “Tender” relations ‘twixt Saudis and US right now; Saudis may sell off $750 bil in US assets; this is the wrong time to annoy Saudis during serious fight with ISIS, and Yemen with Houthis, and many grave problems. Bob Graham, who saw the docs long ago, demands that they be released, raising eyebrows. Let's look at a necessary ally while were now in a real pinch. Of the 9/11 pilots only one was Saudi. Lawsuits open other countries to point out that Americans have joined ISIS and open more lawsuits. Brennans’s description that it's full of inaccuracies? Unverifiable, can't corroborate the stories; one walk-in source can't be verified. Recommend: increase intell-sharing efforts with the Kingdom (under the new, younger man in charge) — which now is doing so with Israel, Jordan and UAE because the US info is lacking. Is Yemen the Saudis’s Afghanistan? A slippery slope, could get mired; there are indications the Kingdom might get mired down; we need Saudis to help in Yemen and against ISIS and Iran. Saudi Arabia is up against the wall; trouble maintaining what they need to do with oil price low; under pressure from US to do everything with less while being accused of being complicit of 9/11 and the target of lawsuits.
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 3, Block B: Malcolm Hoenlein, in re: Iran has hired 7,00 new morality police to travel the streets and grab people to beat and jail Replacement of Mughniya’s successor: Soleiman went to Lebanon and dictated that Fouad Shukr (?), head of attacks against Israel, will be the new leader – not Mughniya’s nephew - and apptd two of his disciples as deputies. In Iraq: ISIS has continued to burn churches, and alive 45 of hteir own men who wert ring to flee, and a family of five burnt alive – IS in Iraq have killed hundreds; 520 killed in Baghdad in less than a month. Unimaginable brutality Bouteflicka is dying; ISIS and AQIM are poised to move in to Algeria. France – half of its army is deployed in French cities to prevent terrorism. Syria: al Nusrah (= al Q) recruiting from Jordan , Iraq, Lebanon, and hit European targets. US law allows US lawsuits against Iran, to take funds frozen here to repay victims of Iranian violence; now Iran’s majlis claims $50 bil from US going back to 1the 1950s
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 3, Block C: Dan Henninger, WSJ editorial, in re:
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 3, Block D: Peter Berkowitz, Hoover& Real Clear Politics, in re: "An Assault on Due Process at UC Berkeley"
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 4, Block A: Eric Trager, Washington Institute, in re: The disappearance of Flight 804 was Egypt’s third major air incident since October, further eroding confidence in the safety of the country’s air travel and delivering another blow to government efforts to revive a struggling economy and tourism sector.
EgyptAir said earlier in the day that bits of wreckage had been found near the Greek island of Karpathos, about 250 miles from the Egyptian coast. But a senior Greek air-safety official said on state television that the debris did not belong to the aircraft, and the airline later retracted its statement.
Investigators emphasized they were leaving open all possibilities, but a top Egyptian aviation official suggested that terrorism seemed more likely than a technical failure. (1 of 2)
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 4, Block B: Eric Trager, Washington Institute (2 of 2)
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 4, Block C: Peter Coy, Bloomberg Businessweek, in re: Larry Summers has something to say: The economy is really sick. Is he right? (1 of 2)
Thursday 19 May 2016 / Hour 4, Block D: Peter Coy, Bloomberg Businessweek (2 of 2)
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