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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 112946 times)
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #10770 on: May 29th, 2014, 09:44am »

SYS ~ ET. AL. ~ grin ...THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ONE GRABS THE DOG BY THE TAIL wink

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« Reply #10771 on: May 29th, 2014, 2:23pm »

Pacific Standard

The Shakespeare Fanatic Who Introduced All of the Bard’s Birds to America

By Scott Keyes & Daniel Karp
May 29, 2014 • 8:00 AM

Over 100 years ago, Eugene Schieffelin set out to introduce every bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays to America. Today, one of those birds is causing irreparable crop damage.

If Shakespeare is in heaven today, looking down at the damage he wrought—more than $800 million in crop damage every year, helping spread disease, even causing a fiery plane crash—would he still stand by that off-hand avian reference in Henry IV?

Of course, as brilliant as Shakespeare was, even he had no way to foresee the cascading series of events that would unfold from the moment he lifted his quill from the word “starling.” Nor, for that matter, could Eugene Schieffelin, a 19th-century drug manufacturer and Shakespeare fanatic, have properly understood the law of unintended consequences when he unveiled his master plan: Gather every bird referenced in Shakespeare’s plays and introduce them into the United States.

It was a crisp morning on March 6, 1890, when Schieffelin and his servants entered Central Park with cages holding a collection of loud, stocky black birds never before seen on North American soil. One by one, they opened the cages, and 60 starlings flew off into the wintry New York sky. Schieffelin repeated the stunt the following year with another 40 starlings, imported from Europe at great expense.

Schieffelin’s plan was conceived with the most benevolent of intentions: to pay homage to Shakespeare. Of course, the Bard was already wildly popular around the world at the time. “The sheer level of deification in the 19th century is incomparable,” says Stephen Marche, author of How Shakespeare Changed Everything. Shakespeare “was global popular culture at the time.”

What transformed Schieffelin from a mere Shakespeare aficionado to an active fanatic, though, was his membership in the American Acclimatization Society, a New York City group founded with the purpose of importing European plants and animals to the United States. Bringing birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays to American soil was Schieffelin’s personal and public tribute to the Bard. Starlings made a brief appearance in Shakespeare’s work: Act 1, Scene 3 of Henry IV. “Nay, I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak; Nothing but ‘Mortimer,’ and give it him,” Shakespeare wrote, a single line of script where a soldier is ordered, by the king, never to mention his brother-in-law’s name again, leading the soldier to dream of buying a starling that will repeat the name over and over. Starlings, after all, are incredible mimics, adept at copying everything from other bird songs to car alarms to human beings.

The idea that it could be problematic to introduce a new species into a foreign area was not widely understood at the time. In fact, Marche argued, the very notion was reviled. Victorians took great umbrage at the Darwinian concept that nature was cruel, finding it contrary to their religious sensibilities. The belief, therefore, that you could impact—much less hurt—a natural environment by releasing a new bird in it was ludicrous. Until the beginning of the 20th century, there was an Outback Steakhouse approach to ecology: No rules, just right.

A decade after Schieffelin’s ill-fated act, the federal government began taking steps to prevent the introduction of new species to the United States. In 1900, Congress passed the Lacey Act, which allowed the Secretary of the Interior to ban the importation of animals that could threaten people, industry, or the environment. Starlings were soon prohibited, but by then it was too late.

Initially, it seemed as though starlings would meet the same fate as other Shakespearean birds, including bullfinches and skylarks, which Schieffelin and his colleagues had imported: rapid death. Indeed, within a few years, just 32 of the original 100 starlings were still alive. However, starlings had several factors working in their favor. They’re not picky eaters, willing to feast on a wide array of insects and plants. They also roost almost anywhere, from tree holes to cliffs and burrows to building alcoves. These unique advantages allow them to easily live alongside humans, whether in cities, suburbs, or farms.

Before long, those hardy 32 birds began to spread rapidly. They took hold in New York City during the 1890s. Within a couple of decades, they’d reached the Mississippi River. Fifty years after gingerly emerging from Schieffelin’s cages, they could be found in every state. Today, starlings can be found everywhere from Alaska to Mexico.

Perhaps as impressive as their range is their population size. From just 32 starlings in the early 1890s, there are around 200 million birds in North America today. Ask any ecologist, farmer, or person interested in keeping plane engines intact, and they will tell you what an impact 200 million starlings can have.

Starlings are estimated to cause at least $800 million in crop damage in the United States every year, devastating everything from cherries to cattle feed.

Their destruction is particularly acute because they often congregate in massive flocks, known as murmurations, which can number in the hundreds of thousands. In 1960, an Eastern Air Lines flight departing from Boston struck one such murmuration seconds after takeoff, shorting the plane’s engines and sending it careening into Winthrop Bay. All but 10 of the 72 passengers were killed. A recent study found 852 instances of airlines striking either starlings or blackbirds were reported to the FAA between 1990 and 2001, causing both danger to passengers and more than a million dollars in damage.

Starlings also carry dozens of diseases that are deadly to both livestock and humans. They host tick-borne diseases, such as Borrelia, and have been linked to histoplasmosis and toxoplasmosis. Of particular concern is the possibility that they could cause widespread outbreaks by spreading foodborne diseases like Salmonella and E. coli from farm to farm.

Their impact is not limited to humans, either. Starlings often bully native birds out of their nests, which over time can lead to population decline. One researcher, after painstakingly observing 96 breeding pairs of Red-bellied Woodpeckers, counted starlings in half their nests by the end of the breeding season. The impact of their nest bullying is still unclear. While biologists have found that most species are still abundant after starlings move in to a new area, some species, such as sapsuckers, have declined in numbers.

This is not a trivial concern. “Apart from the beauty and fascination in watching them, birds offer an array of practical services, such as crop pollination, pest control, seed dispersal, and other key benefits,” says Gretchen Daily, a professor of biology at Stanford University. Still, Daily says, “They’re not all as great as made out in Shakespeare, however—and the starling is a strong case in point!”

For nearly as long as the starlings have proliferated, there have been communities launching campaigns to stop their spread. One hundred years ago, Marche noted, Hartford citizens tied scarecrow-esque teddy bears to trees and launched rockets at starlings’ nests. Unsurprisingly, the plan failed.

Subsequent efforts were similarly unsuccessful, though no less creative. In the 1930s, the federal government tried (and failed) to convince Americans to eat starlings, even proposing sample meat-pie recipes. Officials in Washington, D.C., have tried everything to drive out the birds, from fake owls to itching powder to electrified wire laid across parts of the Capitol building. (Starlings quickly figured out where they could safely perch.) Not even the White House was spared from the starling onslaught, with groundskeepers using speakers to blast out distress calls in an attempt to drive starlings to nearby trees that had been coated with an irritating chemical. Millions have been poisoned—and millions of dollars have been spent in the process—but to little avail.

Though Schieffelin couldn’t have known that he was unlatching Pandora’s Box that cold winter morning in Central Park more than a century ago, the ramifications of his well-intentioned—and incredibly ill-conceived—gesture to the Bard continue to this day. In a way, it’s a fitting tribute to the famous Macbeth line Shakespeare penned 400 years ago: “What’s done cannot be undone.”

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/nature-and-technology/shakespeare-fanatic-introduced-bards-birds-america-82279/

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #10772 on: May 30th, 2014, 09:50am »

GOOD MORNING grin

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Wired UK

SpaceX hopes Dragon V2 will be Nasa's ISS 'space taxi'

30 May 14 / by Katie Collins



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SpaceX has unveiled the cutting-edge Dragon V2 Vehicle that it hopes will beat off two competitors to be the chosen craft to transport Nasa astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The capsule, which is conical in shape but is rounded at the top rather than pointed, was revealed by SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk in an event in California on Thursday. The spacecraft is designed to be flown by a crew of seven in low-Earth orbit and can return to Earth at around 25 times the speed of sound.

It has been in development for many years now and has four retractable legs that can withstand temperatures as high as 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit thanks to a heat shield. Even if two of the Dragon's four engines fail, it should be able to land reliably, and as accurately as if were a helicopter. SpaceX has been doing lots of tests recently on reusable rockets that can return to Earth as easily as they take off. Musk believes firmly that the ability to reuse vehicles will transform the affordability and availability of space travel.

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-05/30/spacex-dragon-v2-space-taxi

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #10773 on: May 30th, 2014, 09:57am »

Syracuse New Times


2014 UFO – Current Sighting Trends

by Cheryl Costa
Friday, May 30th, 2014

Global sightings are up 12%

We are nearly half way through 2014 and the current sighting trends for UFOs have increased.

When I started researching data for this blog in early 2013, the average daily global sightings for UFOs was about 12 sightings a day. Presently the sighting trend is still on the increase with a global daily average of about 25 sightings a day.

Current sighting trends for UFOs around the globe in May 2014 are up 11% over April. As well, this year’s global sightings are up 12% over 2013. New York State is number six in the nation for UFO sightings. This is not news to those who have been tracking the trend of increased UFO sightings.



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Oddly, I read an article last year that stated that UFO sightings were at an all-time low and had been on a steep decrease since the 1980’s. Further the authors tried to suggest that perhaps UFOs were just an urban myth. My question to them is; what data are they looking at?

Now, there are some factual articles over the past year that point out that there was a dip in sightings in 2013 but this was after an unusually high sighting year in 2012. The 2013 numbers seemed to level off and were similar to what was seen in 2010 and 2011. But that was then, things are cooking in 2014 and sighting counts are up that’s for sure.

more after the jump:
http://www.syracusenewtimes.com/2014-ufo-current-sighting-trends/

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« Reply #10774 on: May 30th, 2014, 10:06am »

More on Elon Musk

(It must be nice to have more money than you know what to do with and think up neat ways to spend it.....)


The Dragon V2 is just one of many futuristic ideas that Musk has dreamed up. From the Hyperloop transportation system to the Tesla Model S, here are some of the innovator's most visionary — and riskiest — ideas.

Cargo spacecraft

The precursor to Dragon V2, Dragon V1, launched its maiden flight in 2010. At the time, only three countries had built spaceships that could enter low Earth orbit. But Musk envisioned a space taxi that was affordable to more than just the ultrawealthy. He poured much of his fortune into founding SpaceX in 2002 to spur commercial spaceflight.

The smaller Dragon capsule is less powerful than the latest version and cannot support human passengers, but it has been used to transport cargo to the International Space Station since 2012, at a fraction of the cost of other craft.
Still, Musk wasn't happy that the first version of the Dragon, like conventional launch vehicles, landed using parachutes and would be discarded after delivering supplies.

"As long as we continue to throw away rockets and spacecraft, we will never have true access to space — it will always be incredibly expensive," Musk said at the news conference.

Ultrarapid transit
In 2013, Musk unveiled an idea that he claimed would revolutionize rapid transit. The superspeedy Hyperloop, a sleek pod, would shoot passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles inside a low-pressure tube on a cushion of air, like an air-hockey puck. The capsules would travel at just under the speed of sound, or 760 mph (1,223 km/h), and would depart San Francisco (or Los Angeles) every few minutes. The trip, which now takes more than 6 hours by car, would take about 30 minutes on the Hyperloop.

Musk claimed the whole concept could be built for less than the $70 billion that the proposed high-speed train line for the region would cost, but not everyone is convinced that the Hyperloop concept is workable. Because of the incredible speeds reached, the track would have to be incredibly straight to keep slowing friction forces at a minimum. And even if the technical challenges could be overcome, it's not clear whether the costs could be made up by demand for the service, experts have said.

Electric car
Musk has also been instrumental in developing high-end electric vehicles at his company, Tesla, named after the brilliant inventor Nikola Tesla. The company has developed luxury sedans and sports cars, and plans to unveil a cheaper, $30,000 so-called Bluestar model electric car sometime in the future. The company is also building a series of charging stations throughout the country in hopes of making the car more feasible. Musk has said his goal is to create energy-efficient, sleek cars that are fast, sexy and greenhouse-gas-emissions free. Lowering the price tag on these cars will require a complete reinvention of the battery technology inside, and so far, the company hasn't made a profit.

Submarine car
In October 2013, Musk unveiled an idea straight out of a James Bond film: a submarine car. Musk apparently bought the Bond prop, used in "The Spy Who Loved Me," at auction and planned to turn it into an actual car — a transformable one, that is, according to news reports. The idea is to press a button and have the car, which would be equipped with a Tesla electric powertrain, convert completely into an underwater vehicle, according to CNN.

So far, there's been no word on when or whether this idea will leave the dock.

Hyperspeed jet
One of Musk's more fantastical ideas is a hyperspeed jet that would travel faster than sound and would take off and land vertically, like a rocket. The inventor mused about the rapid transport system in a video chat in August 2013.

Still, lots of people have dreamed up similarly outlandish ideas, and it's not clear whether Musk has any plans to pursue this one more wholeheartedly.

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« Reply #10775 on: May 30th, 2014, 3:03pm »

Feeding Poor and Homeless being Treated as Crimes.


It is a well known historical trend that as discontent and dissent spread within a society, the power structure will look to demonize unpopular or weak minorities in order to deflect frustrations away from the true culprit, the power structure itself. Many feared in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 that Muslims would serve as such a scapegoat, and indeed in many ways this occurred, although not to the extent that many feared. In my opinion, it is homeless people that are being increasingly demonized and treated as subhuman. I think that if we want to see how the state and crony corporate status quo will treat everyone in the future, all you have to do is look at the current “war on the homeless.”

If you think about, the homeless actually serve as the perfect scapegoat for a former American middle class slowly being driven into serfdom. Still completely mesmerized by the religion of consumerism, how is a population losing its freedom and financial well-being supposed to feel better about itself. The easy answer is to look at an even more destitute class and treat them like the “elites” treat everyone else. Like a superfluous and unfortunate outgrowth of humanity.

I strongly believe that it is just as important to show compassion for the least fortunate within society as it is to fight against the incredibly corrupt establishment. Failing to do so makes you no better than they are.

From ThinkProgress:


After feeding the hungry in a Daytona Beach park every weekend for more than a year, it’s just as easy to imagine Chico and Debbie Jimenez given a ticker-tape parade as what they actually got: a slew of citations and a permanent ban from the park.Chico and Debbie Jimenez, a husband and wife team, aren’t handing out food in the Florida heat every Wednesday because of a court order or for a paycheck. They do it because they believe helping the poor is their religious duty.



Every Wednesday, the Jimenezes feed more than a hundred people a hearty lunch with dishes of chicken patties, macaroni salad, and fresh vegetables, among others. The meals are entirely funded by private donations and staffed with volunteers.



However, Daytona Beach is one of a handful of cities that enacted ordinances barring individuals from serving food in public. Last week, nearly a half-dozen police officers showed up at Manatee Island Park, where a long line of people had queued to get a meal, and served citations to the Jimenezes and volunteers.



According to the group’s Facebook page, Chico and Debbie, along with four volunteers, were each given multiple 2nd degree misdemeanor citations. The fines totaled $373 per person, $2,238 for the group. The police also permanently banned the group from Manatee Island Park. “We both have made a lot of good friends in the park and are devastated that we are banned the Manatee Park forever,” Debbie wrote. “I am heartbroken.”

Can’t arrest a single banker, but police sure are good at stopping citizens from feeding the hungry. Sick.


Daytona Beach is just the latest city to crack down on groups that feed the poor in city parks. Other recent examples range from Birmingham to St. Louis to Raleigh to Philadelphia to Orlando. A 2010 report from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty identified more than a dozen other cities with restrictions and found an uptick in the number of new ordinances.



The Jimenezes, who both left jobs more than a year ago to focus on ministry full-time, were upset about the developments, but told the News-Journal that they planned to challenge the citations rather than pay them. “We are ‘ NOT Criminals ‘ and feeding ‘ Hungry folks ‘ is not a crime,” the couple said.

I’ve written several articles on this theme in the past. I suggest checking them out:

The Homeless in NYC Are Now Living in Tiny Spaces in the Frame of the Manhattan Bridge

Illinois Church Told by City Officials it Can No Longer Provide Homeless People Shelter

South Carolina City Implements Law That Requires a $120 Permit to Feed the Homeless

Acting as a decent human being is increasingly becoming criminalized in America.

To update George Orwell’s famous statement for modern times:

In a world of universal narcissism, being a compassionate person is a revolutionary act.
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #10776 on: May 30th, 2014, 3:56pm »

That’s a brilliant post SYS, I wont say much as this poverty that is world wide gets my blood boiling, one thing though guys apart from that could be you tomorrow , the homeless have something we lost a long time ago and that is community spirit.
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« Reply #10777 on: May 31st, 2014, 09:32am »

GOOD MORNING grin

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LA Times

Officials tighten criteria for stopping and searching private aircraft

By Dan Weikel
May 31, 2014, 6:00 AM

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said Friday they have tightened their practices for stopping and searching private aircraft in an effort to reduce law enforcement encounters with innocent pilots.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Eddie Young, a top official with Customs' Air and Marine Operations unit, said several changes have been put in place to better handle the detentions of pilots whose flights are deemed suspicious by the agency's radar tracking center in Riverside.

They include ongoing evaluations of the criteria for determining when aircraft should be detained, training for customs officials and more guidance for local law enforcement agencies called on to check on pilots and planes when they land.

Young said a significant number of pilots have complained about what they believe have been overly aggressive tactics used by local police when responding to tips from the agency.

"Preventive measures are being taken to be less intrusive with law-abiding pilots," Young said. "We are educating local law enforcement in pockets around the country on what approaches to take."

Customs officials said that during the last 11 months, 25 flights were intercepted out of 474 that were monitored, resulting in seven arrests on criminal charges and a regulatory case that was referred to the Federal Aviation Administration. The 32% success rate, they said, is an improvement over the 18.3% rate of the previous 31/2 years.

The tracking operation, which is based at March Air Reserve Base, became controversial several months ago when the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn., a national organization, complained that some of its members had been improperly detained during flights in the United States.

The association has received more than 50 reports from private pilots who stated that federal and local law enforcement officers — sometimes more than a dozen — surrounded them with guns drawn, held them for several hours and at times searched their planes and even their hotel rooms. None of those pilots were arrested.

Earlier this month, Customs' new commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske, and Assistant Commissioner Randolph D. Alles met with pilot association president Mark Baker. They discussed the agency's review of its practices and Kerlikowske's desire to avoid the detentions of innocent private pilots.

"We are encouraged that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has acknowledged that mistakes were made and is taking steps at AOPA's urging to put an end to overzealous law enforcement encounters," Baker said.

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-aircraft-detentions-20140531-story.html

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« Reply #10778 on: May 31st, 2014, 09:37am »

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« Reply #10779 on: May 31st, 2014, 09:41am »








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« Reply #10780 on: May 31st, 2014, 09:42am »

Hey Swamprat cheesy

Great picture!

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« Reply #10781 on: May 31st, 2014, 2:03pm »

LOVE THIS!

Crystal


~

Horse Nation

By Kristen Kovatch

Through the Wilderness: Heroes and Horses

An intensive program based in Montana uses the bond between horse and rider to give veterans a boost — in more ways than one.

Heroes and Horses founder Mark White is no stranger to mental and physical hardship. When a serious electrical accident left him at age 22 with burns and an amputated leg, he knew that life would continue on regardless of his personal suffering — sitting out and watching life go by simply wasn’t an option. Mark went on to become a professional backcountry outfitter, leading pack trips into some of the most remote wilderness in the lower 48 states and experiencing life in ways most of us might only see in a photograph. Inspired by his own father’s military service as well as the strength Mark found on horseback, he founded Heroes and Horses in Belgrade, Montana to help American veterans.

“Veterans are coming home and being told they’re sick, they’re given medicine,” states managing director Micah Fink, a former Navy SEAL. Often these veterans have difficulties adjusting back into civilian life, feeling isolated and marginalized by their experiences. While equine-assisted psychotherapy programs geared towards veterans are gaining momentum across the country, Heroes and Horses is different: the program follows its motto “change through challenge” by immersing veterans with physical and emotional scars in a world where they must rely on themselves and rediscover their personal strength and confidence.

To help these people renew their spirits, Heroes and Horses works in three phases. The first phase, also called “Stress Inoculation,” first puts a group of participants through an intensive two-day horsemanship camp where they learn the basics of saddling, riding and packing and handling a pack horse. The horsemanship session is followed by a four- or five-day wilderness pack trip, taking the entire group out into the Montana wilderness. “It’s not nose-to-tail riding,” Fink promises. “You’ll have a thousand-foot drop on one side and maybe a foot-wide margin of error. We use the raw power of the wilderness for recovery.” Participants work together to set up and break camp — but they also work closely, of course, with their horses. “It’s incredible to see the relationship between these guys and these horses,” marvels Fink.

The second phase sends the same group of participants back into the wilderness, this time as solitary individuals with the goal of meeting back up as a group and returning to the base ranch. The third phase and most recently-developed phase sends individual participants all over the country to working ranches for an intensive immersion in day-to-day work. The goal of this final phase is to integrate veterans into a working society out of their comfort zone, giving them the confidence they need to carry on a civilian life.

The program currently works almost primarily with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as single amputees and burn victims. The directors have developed accommodations in the saddle to allow amputees to ride and lead a pack animal safely and are currently working on developing special saddles for double amputees. Only a three year old program, Heroes to Horses supports 100% of the costs for its participants with help from monetary donations as well as the donation of horses, tack and equipment.

According to Fink, “recovery will define your life.” Heroes to Horses helps veterans return to the workforce and teaches participants that life goes on with mental or physical wounds. Veterans leave Heroes to Horses with renewed confidence and restored self-belief, found along the trail and in saddle.

Want to help? Heroes and Horses accepts donations to support the running costs as the program works to expand. Check out the program website (http://www.heroesandhorses.com/) or follow Horses and Heroes on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HeroesAndHorses) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/HerosandHorses).

http://www.horsenation.com/2014/05/26/through-the-wilderness-heroes-and-horses/


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« Reply #10782 on: May 31st, 2014, 3:26pm »






Project Tango: NASA SPHERES


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« Reply #10783 on: Jun 1st, 2014, 09:05am »

grin







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« Reply #10784 on: Jun 1st, 2014, 3:22pm »

dozens have left the Current Admininistration..which is not abnormal as its the best time to go into the private sector and from there continue the lobbies squeeze the taxpayer to death cycle. but the last one hit especially hard.
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