September 12, 2017

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (091217)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: The brutal, powerful 9/11 stories of Catholic priests

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From New York City:

Sep 11, 2017 / 12:20 pm

On the clear, sunny morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Fr. Kevin Madigan heard an explosion overhead.

He grabbed oils for anointing, ran out the door of St. Peter’s parish in New York City, and wandered towards the center of the commotion – the World Trade Center only a block away.

Fifty blocks uptown, Fr. Christopher Keenan, OFM watched with the world as the smoke rising from the twin towers darkened the television screen. Looking to help, he went to St. Vincent’s Hospital downtown to tend to those wounded in the attack – but the victims never came.

All the while, he wondered what had happened to a brother friar assigned as chaplain to the firefighters of New York City: Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, named by some the “Saint of 9/11.”

Sixteen years ago on this day, hijackers flew planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. In a field in southern Pennsylvania, passengers retook control of the cockpit and crashed the plane before it could reach its intended target, presumed to be in Washington, D.C.

The consequences of the attacks have rippled throughout the United States as the attacks spurred a new global war on terror and irreversibly changed the country’s outlook on terror, security, and international engagement.

For Fr. Madigan, Fr. Keenan and Fr. Judge, the day changed their own lives and ministries, as a pastor lost nearly his entire congregation, and a friar put himself in harm’s way to take on a new position – an assignment he only received because another friar gave the ultimate sacrifice as the Twin Towers came down.

“This experience has seared our soul and our spirit and our life, and it has so seared our spirit and our life that it has penetrated our DNA,” Fr. Keenan told CNA.

“It has changed our lives and we will never be the same,” he said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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September 11, 2017

Airline Travelers and Employees: Lena Dunham Promises That ‘I Hear All and See All’

Among the unhinged, actress Lena Dunham is vying for front-row occupancy. The former creator and star of HBO’s Girls series has tried to make a name for herself among leftists in a variety of ways during the past several years. Dunham’s most recent attempt last week involved telling the world that people around her at airports (and surely elsewhere) will have to conduct themselves as people in Communist East Germany had to during that era’s horrible Stasi secret police, i.e., watch every word they say, lest Comrade Lena expose, amplify and perhaps even invent their alleged speech transgressions.

(more…)

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Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (091117)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Among the Things to Never Forget About 9/11 …

Filed under: National Security,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:59 am

… Palestinians celebrating the 9/11 attacks:

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9/11 Remembered: Rick Rescorla Was a Soldier

Filed under: National Security,Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:58 am

This post is a BizzyBlog 9/11 tradition.

______________________________________

RescorlaInUniformRescorlaVietnamIn retrospect, it’s astonishing that the death toll from the 9/11 attacks wasn’t much higher. Vietnam War hero Rick Rescorla is one of the main reasons.

The following is excerpted from an item originally posted at Mudville Gazette in 2003 (Warning: Strong language):

… Rescorla’s office was on the forty-fourth floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. The firm (Rescorla was vice-president in charge of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter — Ed.) occupied twenty-two floors in the south tower, and several floors in a building nearby. In 1990 Rescorla and Dan Hill, an old Army friend, evaluated the security, identifying load bearing columns in the parking garage as a weak point. A security official for the Port Authority dismissed their concerns. On February 26, 1993, a truck bomb exploded in the basement.

Rescorla ensured that every one of his firm’s employees was safely evacuated, and was the last man out of the building.

.. (on 9/11, Rescorla friend) Dan Hill was laying tile in his upstairs bathroom when his wife called, “Dan, get down here! An airplane just flew into the World Trade Center. It’s a terrible accident.” Hill hurried downstairs, and then the phone rang. It was Rescorla, calling from his cell phone.

“Are you watching TV?” he asked. “What do you think?”

“Hard to tell. It could have been an accident, but I can’t see a commercial airliner getting that far off.”

“I’m evacuating right now,” Rescorla said.

Hill could hear Rescorla issuing orders through the bullhorn. He was calm and collected, never raising his voice.

… the Port Authority was telling him not to evacuate and to order people to stay at their desks.

“What’d you say?” Hill asked.

“I said, ‘Piss off, you son of a bitch,’” Rescorla replied. “Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it’s going to take the whole building with it. I’m getting my people the f*ck out of here.”

… Hill turned back to the TV and, within minutes, saw the second plane execute a sharp left turn and plunge into the south tower. Susan saw it, too, and frantically phoned her husband’s office. No one answered.

About fifteen minutes later, the phone rang. It was Rick. She burst into tears and couldn’t talk.

“Stop crying,” he told her. “I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”

Susan cried even harder, gasping for breath. She felt a stab of fear, because the words sounded like those of someone who wasn’t coming back. “No!” she cried, but then he said he had to go. Cell-phone use was being curtailed so as not to interfere with emergency communications.

From the World Trade Center, Rescorla again called Hill. He said he was taking some of his security men and making a final sweep, to make sure no one was left behind, injured, or lost. Then he would evacuate himself. “Call Susan and calm her down,” he said. “She’s panicking.”

Hill reached Susan, who had just got off the phone with Sullivan. “Take it easy,” he said, as she continued to sob. “He’s been through tight spots before, a million times.” Suddenly Susan screamed. Hill turned to look at his own television and saw the south tower collapse. He thought of the words Rescorla had so often used to comfort dying soldiers. “Susan, he’ll be O.K.,” he said gently. “Take deep breaths. Take it easy. If anyone will survive, Rick will survive.”

When Hill hung up, he turned to his wife. Her face was ashen. “Sh*t,” he said. “Rescorla is dead.”

The rest of Rick Rescorla’s morning is shrouded in some mystery. The tower went dark. Fire raged. Windows shattered. Rescorla headed upstairs before moving down; he helped evacuate several people above the 50th Floor. Stephan Newhouse, chairman of Morgan Stanley International, said at a memorial service in Hayle that Rescorla was spotted as high as the 72nd floor, then worked his way down, clearing floors as he went. He was telling people to stay calm, pace themselves, get off their cell phones, keep moving. At one point, he was so exhausted he had to sit for a few minutes, although he continued barking orders through his bullhorn. Morgan Stanley officials said he called headquarters shortly before the tower collapsed to say he was going back up to search for stragglers.

John Olson, a Morgan Stanley regional director, saw Rescorla reassuring colleagues in the 10th-floor stairwell. “Rick, you’ve got to get out, too,” Olson told him. “As soon as I make sure everyone else is out,” Rescorla replied.

Morgan Stanley officials say Rescorla also told employees that “today is a day to be proud to be American” and that “tomorrow, the whole world will be talking about you.” They say he also sang “God Bless America” and Cornish folk tunes in the stairwells. Those reports could not be confirmed, although they don’t sound out of character. He liked to sing in a crisis. But the documented truth is impressive enough. Morgan Stanley managing director Bob Sloss was the only employee who didn’t evacuate the 66th floor after the first plane hit, pausing to call his family and several underlings, even taking a call from a Bloomberg News reporter. Then the second plane hit, and his office walls cracked, and he felt the tower wagging like a dog’s tail. He clambered down to the 10th floor, and there was Rescorla, sweating through his suit in the heat, telling people they were almost out, making no move to leave himself.

Rick did not make it out. Neither did two of his security officers who were at his side. But only three other Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated.

Blackfive’s Greyhawk notes that over 2600 employees of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter walked out of the south tower and in to the rest of their lives that morning thanks to Rick Rescorla.

Despite his post-9/11 brag that the attacks worked out better than he had expected, Osama bin Laden, with his background in construction, almost surely knew that the jets would level the Twin Towers, and was thus anticipating well over 10,000 deaths. By reducing the horrible toll, people like Rick Rescorla, the rescuers at the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the heroes of Flight 93 prevented bin Laden from achieving a much grander ambition, and demonstrated that while America may have appeared to be a paper tiger before the attacks, that would no longer be the case, beginning on September 12, i.e., “tomorrow, (when) the whole world will be talking about you.”

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A Tribute to Initial 9/11 Media Coverage

Filed under: National Security,Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

This post is a BizzyBlog 9/11 tradition.

____________________________________

From the Media Research Center:

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September 10, 2017

AP, Media Show They Can Dish It Out But Can’t Take It in Trump EPA-Harvey Spat

As of late Sunday afternoon, the Associated Press’s coverage of potential contamination resulting from Hurricane Irma in Florida, certainly a legitimate issue, was remarkably measured. That tone starkly contrasts with how the AP, without genuine basis, went after the U.S. EPA after Hurricane Harvey, and how childishly it reacted when Trump’s EPA pushed back hard against the wire service and reporter Michael Biesecker, who had not only filed a fake news story about Trump administration EPA head Scott Pruitt in late June, but who appears to have a personal vendetta against Pruitt.

Here are the most relevant paragraphs from the AP’s Sunday afternoon story by Tamara Lush and Jason Dearen (bolds are mine throughout this post):

IRMA BRINGS FEARS OF SURGE, SEWERS AND TOXINS TO TAMPA AREA

… Toxic waste sites in the Tampa Bay region also pose risks to public health if they are flooded or damaged.

Florida has the nation’s largest phosphorus mining industry, and it’s based in the area. A byproduct of the industry is 27 hill-sized piles of waste containing low levels of radiation and other toxins, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Some of the piles are 500 feet tall.

The region is also home to more than half of Florida’s 51 Superfund sites … Many are old chemical or oil storage facilities that left behind a legacy of dangerous contamination in soil and groundwater. State and federal government agencies have been working to clean them up for decades.

Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection said it would be testing groundwater as soon as it’s safe to do so after the storm. EPA said it will also be on the ground after the storm.

EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham said in an email that “these facilities will be properly assessed to ensure there are no potential adverse impacts to human health and the environment.”

Note that the AP included a comment from the U.S. EPA.

In earlier, unexcerpted text, it also included a quote from a company which saw millions of gallons of its contaminated mine wastewater flow into the Floridan Aquifer last year after a sinkhole occurred. The company involved stated its belief that its “efforts to reinforce and strengthen the [sinkhole] seal in anticipation of the hurricane are proving effective.”

This is not how the AP went about its business earlier this month in Texas, when it all but told its readers and subscribing outlets that the EPA was asleep at the switch.

The wire service’s original September 2 report (since revised) did not include a comment from the EPA. But AP ambushers, I mean reporters, Dearen and Biesecker went ahead and decided to accuse the EPA of negligence anyway, as they breathlessly claimed: “Toxic waste Superfund sites near Houston flooded, EPA not on scene”:

Floodwaters have inundated at least seven highly contaminated toxic waste sites near Houston, raising concerns that the pollution there might spread.

The Associated Press visited the sites this past week, some of them still only accessible by boat.

… On Saturday, hours after the AP published its first report, the EPA said it had reviewed aerial imagery confirming that 13 of the 41 Superfund sites in Texas were flooded by Harvey and were “experiencing possible damage” due to the storm.

The statement confirmed the AP’s reporting that the EPA had not yet been able to physically visit the Houston-area sites, saying the sites had “not been accessible by response personnel.”

Leaving aside the issue of how reporters can claim to have genuinely “visited” places that are fenced in with “No Trespassing” signs (as seen here), the AP reporters seem to have forgotten that aerial photography, conscientiously performed and reviewed, can often reveal quite a bit about an underwater contaminated site’s condition and the degree of water pollution that may be occurring. It’s also a lot less dangerous than sending officials out in motorboats in waters containing all sorts of items which might clog the engines or run them aground.

We should also recall that two years ago, the EPA was in the process of “cleaning up” a toxic site and made a “mistake” which turned the Animas River in Colorado and New Mexico bright orange with a million gallons of toxic waste. Poking around in a Superfund site which is currently flooded intuitively seems like a bad idea. If so, what’s the point in having EPA officials take a boats to these sites in dangerous conditions when high-resolution, zoom-in aerial photography is available?

On Sunday, September 3, the Trump administration’s EPA struck back hard in a press release, in the process reminding AP that individual reporters living in glass houses shouldn’t be throwing stones:

EPA Response To The AP’s Misleading Story

Yesterday, the Associated Press’ Michael Biesecker wrote an incredibly misleading story about toxic land sites that are under water.

Despite reporting from the comfort of Washington, Biesecker had the audacity to imply that agencies aren’t being responsive to the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. Not only is this inaccurate, but it creates panic and politicizes the hard work of first responders who are actually in the affected area.

Here’s the truth: through aerial imaging, EPA has already conducted initial assessments at 41 Superfund sites – 28 of those sites show no damage, and 13 have experienced flooding. This was left out of the original story, along with the fact that EPA and state agencies worked with responsible parties to secure Superfund sites before the hurricane hit. Leaving out this critical information is misleading.

Administrator Pruitt already visited Southeast Texas and is in constant contact with local, state and county officials. And EPA, has a team of experts imbedded with other local, state and federal authorities, on the ground responding to Harvey – none of which Biesecker included in his story.

Then the EPA got personal:

Unfortunately, the Associated Press’ Michael Biesecker has a history of not letting the facts get in the way of his story. Earlier this summer, he made-up a meeting that Administrator Pruitt had, and then deliberately discarded information that refuted his inaccurate story – ultimately prompting a nation-wide correction.

More background on Biesecker’s made-up meeting is here. This was a major botch on Biesecker’s part.

The EPA is absolutely right in stating that Biesecker was perched in Washington for the above dispatch. The fact that Dearen and/or perhaps other AP photographers were “on the scene” questionably claiming to have made genuine “visits” doesn’t change that fact.

Much of the press, including the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, took serious offense at the EPA’s conduct after the AP’s story appeared. But after reciting a fuller litany of the agency’s experience with Biesecker, I would suggest that most observers would agree that the EPA’s response was perfectly defensible. In addition to the meeting that didn’t happen described above:

  • In June, Biesecker and another AP reporter posted a story about how (quoting from that story) “Pruitt coordinated with fossil fuel companies while serving as Oklahoma’s state attorney general, a position in which he frequently sued to block federal efforts to curb planet-warming carbon emissions.” Imagine that. As an editorial in The Oklahoman noted, “The fact Pruitt regularly corresponded and dealt with energy industry officials as attorney general of a state where energy is the No. 1 industry should not be surprising nor should it, by itself, be considered nefarious.”
  • (Quoting Temple) “In June, Biesecker forwarded to the EPA press office a news release from Investigative Reporters and Editors announcing that Pruitt had won the organization’s “Golden Padlock” award ’recognizing the most secretive U.S. agency or individual.’ Noted the EPA official via email, ‘this unnecessary email reiterates his dislike for Mr. Pruitt.’” This isn’t “reporting” (as if Pruitt didn’t know this already, or even that he would have cared if he didn’t know). This is flat-out harassment and trolling by a supposedly “objective” journalist.

After episodes such as these, that ”the EPA pulled Biesecker from its master email list”? An even better question is how Biesecker has managed to avoid visible negative consequences for him or his career as a result of his conduct. It seems long overdue.

Wemple is offended, likely along with many of his colleagues in the press, that the EPA went after not only “a news outlet, but a specific reporter. With attitude too.” He will only admit that the original AP headline noted earlier (later changed to “Toxic waste sites flooded in Houston area,” according to Wemple) “was a touch on the harsh side.” No, Erik. It was bogus.

Of course, as CBS News has reported, “The AP is standing by its story and its reporters.” Biesecker tweeted the AP’s full response, but EPA Associate Administrator Lisa Bowman had the best take on all of this in the final paragraph of that September 3 press release:

“Once again, in an attempt to mislead Americans, the Associated Press is cherry-picking facts, as EPA is monitoring Superfund sites around Houston and we have a team of experts on the ground working with our state and local counterparts responding to Hurricane Harvey. Anything to the contrary is yellow journalism.”

Biesecker’s pattern of reprehensible conduct has, from all visible appearances, resulted in no negative consequences for him or his career.

The Associated Press and its reporters are coming off as determined, powerful bullies who instantly morph into childish whiners when they’re on the receiving end of legitimate and justifiably harsh criticism.

The more measured AP report from Florida could be a sign that the wire service has learned something. We’ll see, but don’t get your hopes up.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (091017)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: How visiting prisoners can change your life (and theirs)

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Denver:

Aug 31, 2017 / 06:15 am

Sometimes people surprise us for the better.

For Lorenzo Patelli, leader of one of the Communion and Liberation (CL) communities in Denver, and a man called “J,” a former inmate who is now on parole, the surprise of friendship turned into a deep encounter with Christ through one another — all in the setting of prison ministry.

But the meeting had just happened to fall on Patelli’s lap. At that time, J had been in prison for several years and requested the CL magazine, Traces, in German to learn the language, only to find that he also needed the English one to help him better translate with his German dictionary.

J contacted the Human Adventure Corporation, the legal entity the CL movement uses in the U.S. to run Traces and other various events, to ask about getting the English subscription.

“We got a phone call or an email from [a woman] saying, ‘Hey, I got this request to send Traces to this prison in Colorado, I have no clue who this person or prison is, I can definitely send the magazine, but you guys want to get in contact with him?’” Patelli said.

Not long after, another member of Patelli’s Denver community reached out to J by letter and said that the group wanted to visit him in prison. After a long process of applications and verification, eight from the community were added to J’s list of people he was allowed to see in prison, although he couldn’t see more than four at once. So they rotated.

A surprising friendship

Patelli recalled that at first, he didn’t want to know J’s crime, but then realized that not knowing someone’s full story “is like not even knowing your name.”

“We were really struck by his story and so I knew at that point, even if he had told me he killed 200 people, I would have been, not fine, but, ‘Okay, this is it,’” Patelli said. “But before, I didn’t want to have the opposite thing, looking at him with his crime in my mind. And a beautiful friendship started.

“I thought I was going to find someone desperate or really struggling. And I remember we met a man who was busy, certain of his faith more than me and all of us together, and it was immediately clear to all of us that we didn’t go to help him, but that something was given to us,” Patelli continued. “[We left] every time way more aware of the love of God for us. That God could have said, ‘J I free you right now,’ and he was not doing that, but yet, J was loving his life.”

“Think about J” became a saying in the community to one another when they were struggling with things big and small.

“He became a presence, a something in our mind,” Patelli said. “Everything took a new perspective.”

For both J and Patelli, as well as the others that visited him, the friendship was a surprising encounter, Patelli said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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September 9, 2017

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090917)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: After three years of ISIS occupation, the Mass returns to Mosul

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Mosul, Iraq:

Aug 30, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Following the liberation of Mosul, Iraq, from the hands of the Islamic State, Christians are cautiously returning to the city. And as they return, so does the Mass.

Fr. Luis Montes, a priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, celebrated Mass earlier this month at Saint George Monastery. The priest traveled to Mosul to record part of a documentary entitled Guardianes de la Fe (Guardians of the Faith), which seeks to show the reality of life for Christians in Iraq and Syria.

In a video posted on the Amigos de Irak (Friends of Iraq) Facebook page, Fr. Montes said that the Mass was celebrated Aug. 9 – a month after Mosul’s liberation – on the feast day of St. Edith Stein, who died a martyr in a Nazi concentration camp.

The priest said it was “a great gift of God” to be able to celebrate the feast day of a martyr in the monastery, which “surely gave many martyrs to the Church.”

Pointing to the damage to the monastery entrance, he said that he believes the lower level may have been “used as a prison at some time, (as) the Christians left their names there written on the walls as a witness.”

Located in the eastern part of the city, the monastery was badly damaged by ISIS militants.

“Rubble everywhere, the stone facing on walls knocked off, all the religious statues destroyed,” Fr. Montes said. “The grotto of the Virgin Mary destroyed…Crosses set into the walls were chopped off with sledgehammers so no trace would remain of anything that is Christian, of anything that is Jesus Christ.”

In the chapel where they celebrated Mass, the altar was stripped of its marble adornments, and the walls had been damaged.

The experience of celebrating the Eucharist amidst so much devastation was awe-inspiring, Fr. Montes said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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September 8, 2017

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090817)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: Chicago archdiocese to receive relic of Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Chicago, Illinois:

Aug 31, 2017 / 05:20 pm

On Sept. 5, Saint Mark’s Parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago will receive a first class relic of Saint Teresa of Calcutta for public veneration, which will then be permanently kept in the church.

The relic, which consists of some of Mother Teresa’s hair, was requested from the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity by St. Mark’s pastor Father Martin Ibarra, and parishioner Fernando Iñiguez.

Iñiguez said that they had asked for the relic to help promote the life and virtues of the recently canonized saint.

“Also, so that the parishioners will be inspired with fervor and a new prospect of evangelization on the parish level and that the will same occur throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago,” Iñiguez told CNA.

On September 5, Fr. Ibarra will celebrate Mass at the parish at 7:00 p.m. to mark the one year anniversary of the canonization of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and in thanksgiving for the arrival and installation of her relic. Missionaries of Charity sisters will be present at the celebration.

In the following days, the parish will organize pilgrimages, novenas, and other events at parishes that would like to have the relic visit.

Saint Mark’s Church will be the only parish with a relic of Mother Teresa in the archdiocese. It is also the only church that has a first class relic of Padre Pio, which consists of a vial of his blood. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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September 7, 2017

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090717)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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