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Old 05-20-2013, 01:55 AM   #1
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Default Syrian war is escalating. Syrian forces and Hezzbolah attack border town together in heavy fighting

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_...01-200513.html

ISTANBUL- Bolstered by Russia, Iran and regional Shiite forces, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces have been making steady gains against the rebels over the past weeks. They are by no means about to win the civil war, which has claimed more than 90,000 lives in just over two years (not least because much of northern Syria remains in opposition hands), but if a peace push next month, sponsored jointly by the United States and Russia, fails, it is very likely that the chaos will grow further and perhaps spill into neighboring countries

On Sunday, units of the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hezbollah launched an attack on the town of Qusayr near the Lebanese



border, resulting in what Reuters described as "the heaviest fighting yet involving [the] Lebanese armed group". As of Sunday night, it appeared that the fall of the town, which straddles a major smuggling route contested by the rebels and Hezbollah, would only be a matter of days or hours.

Ok so basically now its Lebanon and Syria, backed be Russia and Iran battling Al Queda rebels and other islamic extremists backed I guess by the USA and NATO? Are we backing them? aren't we? does anyone really know? But with the way this govt handled Egypt and Libya you wonder if they do anything or just sit back and watch the chaos unfold. Is it a genius plan or is Obama playing with a dangerous foreign policy?

90 thousand dead. When Isreal bombs are the helping assad or the rebels or themselves? Its possible they fear the rebels more. At least with Hezzbollah they know how to make deals with. You know take a prisoner, we give you some of ours and we call it even. Then we fire some missiles here and there. But with Assad gone who knows what crazy govt would take over.

What a friggin mess. Funny thinking back to one of my favorite movies THE BEST OF TIMES with Kurt Russel and Robin Williams. When they try and say something smart out to dinner with wives by saying. Wow the middle east. What a mess! its always a ****ing mess! I guess a peace effort will be made but its obvious without bigtime help from the USA this thing is not going to end well for the rebels. Not with the Soviets....ERRRRRRR I mean the Russians stepping up and putting their reputation on the line.

If I was Putin I would look at it this way. Unless we save Assad we can't influence other 2 bit dictators to side with Russian influence. If he does save them he can tell other leader see I will stand up to the Americans and NATO. Egypt and Libya not aligned close with us and they paid the price. Syria chose wisely and Assad strengthens his grip. The Alwawites are saved by the communists......er I mean the Russians.
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Old 05-20-2013, 07:18 AM   #2
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It's a civil war. None of our business. We should try to provide humanitarian aid, which appears to be what we are doing, along with the rest of the UN. I was listening to a discussion among retired military leaders yesterday who agreed that it is basically an unwinnable situation and the only resolution will be a political one. What are we, the global maid service? Every mess that happens is not ours to clean up. Hell, we've spent the last hundred years trying to clean up the global messes of the Europeans.
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:39 PM   #3
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It's a civil war. None of our business. We should try to provide humanitarian aid, which appears to be what we are doing, along with the rest of the UN. I was listening to a discussion among retired military leaders yesterday who agreed that it is basically an unwinnable situation and the only resolution will be a political one. What are we, the global maid service? Every mess that happens is not ours to clean up. Hell, we've spent the last hundred years trying to clean up the global messes of the Europeans.
When other countries start fighting along side its becoming far more then just a civil war. If Israel gets pulled in it's far more then just a civil war.
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:32 PM   #4
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Well, let's hope the final battle doesn't take place at Tel Megiddo.
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:32 PM   #5
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Why ain't nobody talking Nigeria?
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:34 PM   #6
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Well, let's hope the final battle doesn't take place at Tel Megiddo.
No ****
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:36 PM   #7
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Why ain't nobody talking Nigeria?
Nobody cares about Africa I guess. The powers in the area don't seem powerfull enough to start a war that spreads into US concerns? Really I haven't a clue except those guesses? Also unless the journalists do stories on the war and hammer it to us we don't care.
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:39 PM   #8
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If Obama was smart he would just end all the scandals by saying they are using chemical weapons and then attack. Hell i bet that is the plan now and soon we will be attacking Syria.
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Old 05-21-2013, 03:41 AM   #9
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Why ain't nobody talking Nigeria?
Because it not a sexy war like in those in ME for the media. Both events are important.
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Old 05-22-2013, 02:19 PM   #10
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It's a civil war. None of our business. We should try to provide humanitarian aid, which appears to be what we are doing, along with the rest of the UN. I was listening to a discussion among retired military leaders yesterday who agreed that it is basically an unwinnable situation and the only resolution will be a political one. What are we, the global maid service? Every mess that happens is not ours to clean up. Hell, we've spent the last hundred years trying to clean up the global messes of the Europeans.
A Senate panel voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to send weapons to rebels fighting Syria's government, but it was not clear who would get the arms even if the bill succeeds, as Washington struggles to deal with its response to the conflict.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...94K1AG20130522
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Old 05-22-2013, 03:12 PM   #11
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Rand Paul: My Colleagues Just Voted to Arm the Allies of al Qaeda

By John Hudson

May 22, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -"Foreign Policy"
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blasted members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday, which voted overwhelmingly to arm elements of the Syrian opposition in a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). "This is an important moment," Paul said, addressing his Senate colleagues. "You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda. It's an irony you cannot overcome."

The legislation, which would authorize the shipment of arms and military training to rebels "that have gone through a thorough vetting process," passed in a bipartisan 15-3 vote. Paul offered an amendment that would strike the bill's weapons provision, but it was rejected along with another Paul amendment ruling out the authorization of the use of military force in Syria. (Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy was the only senator to join Paul in support of the weapons amendment.)

Paul's two amendments constituted his first legislative act to soften the Menendez-Corker bill, which earned the support of powerful lawmakers from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) to Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to Marco Rubio (R-FL) -- all of whom rejected Paul's allegations. "I don't think any member of this committee would vote for anything we thought was going to arm al Qaeda," said Rubio. "Al Qaeda, unfortunately, is well-armed," added Menendez. "That is the present reality in Syria."

The dispute centers on the issue of whether the United States could properly vet Syrian rebels so that weapons and body armor would not fall into the hands of extremist groups, such as the al Qaeda-aligned al-Nusra Front. The Pentagon's top brass has vacillated about whether it's logistically possible to keep track of weapons as they enter a conflict involving a complex mix of opposition groups, as the new bill would require.

Corker added that not arming rebel groups such as the more moderate Free Syrian Army would ensure the dominance of the better-equipped al-Nusra Front. Paul responded, saying, "It's impossible to know who our friends are ... I know everyone here wants to do the right thing, but I think it's a rush to war."

To get a sense of how adamant the committee is to authorize more aggressive intervention in Syria, an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) to limit the types of weapons delivered to rebels was forcefully rejected as well. "The senator from New Mexico wants to use shotguns against SCUD missiles," McCain said dismissively.

The bill now includes an amendment by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), that would "require the administration to impose sanctions on entities that provide surface-to-surface or surface-to-air missiles, like the SA20s or S300s, to the Assad regime," according to a press release -- a clear reference to Russia, which has vowed in recent weeks to proceed with sales of advanced missiles that would extend the range and sophistication of the Syrian regime's anti-aircraft systems.

The Menendez-Corker bill next moves to the Senate floor, but an aide to Menendez said it was uncertain when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose office did not respond to a request for comment, will take up the legislation.

Observers say the bill's chances of passing in its current form are slim, but it does increase the pressure on the administration to intervene more aggressively. As Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy noted earlier this month, "If you want to pressure the president into acting, it's a pretty good bill ...The last time the Hill moved on Syria was sanctions on Syrian oil in the summer of 2011. That pressured the president to move, and this could too."

All contents ©2013 The Foreign Policy Group, LLC
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Old 05-22-2013, 03:15 PM   #12
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We are led by lunatics and worse...sociopaths.
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Old 05-22-2013, 11:34 PM   #13
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I agree with Gaff on this one. Wow did i just say that. When will we learn that the enemy of our enemy is sometimes also our enemy.

its like we can't help ourselves if Iran and Russia are supplying the other side.

The only sane reason for this is because CIA said wow govt starting to win it could be over soon. Then Obama says hmmm we don't want that just yet lets even up the playing field with some shoulder fired missiles to thwart helicopters and armor.
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Old 05-22-2013, 11:35 PM   #14
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Seriously Obama has his work cut out for him on this one. Who knows what to do. Sitting out completely could mean a larger war we get sucked into anyways. Getting involved could be worst. Who knows but with the advanced weapons Russia sending to Syria it will be tough to root out the Alawites without a no fly zone.
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:13 PM   #15
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Russia Strikes Back in Syria

By Juan Cole

May 23, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -"TruthDig"
- President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation has drawn a line in the sand over Syria, the government of which he is determined to protect from overthrow. Not since the end of the Cold War in 1991 has the Russian Bear asserted itself so forcefully beyond its borders in support of claims on great power status. In essence, Russia is attempting to play the role in Syria that France did in Algeria in the 1990s, of supporting the military government against rebels, many of them linked to political Islam. France and its allies prevailed, at the cost of some 150,000 dead. Can Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pull off the same sort of victory?

Even as Damascus pushes back against the rebels militarily, Putin has swung into action on the international and regional stages. The Russian government persuaded U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to support an international conference aimed at a negotiated settlement. Putin upbraided Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his country’s air attacks on Damascus. Moscow is sending sophisticated anti-aircraft batteries, anti-submarine missiles and other munitions to beleaguered Assad, and has just announced that 12 Russian warships will patrol the Mediterranean. The Russian actions have raised alarums in Tel Aviv and Washington, even as they have been praised in Damascus and Tehran.

The Syrian regime has been on a military roll in the past few weeks. It has made a bloody push into the hinterlands of Damascus, fortifying the capital. With Hezbollah support, it has assaulted the rebel-held Qusair region near northern Lebanon, an important smuggling route for the rebels and the key to the central city of Homs. The Baath government needs to keep Homs in order for Russia to resupply the capital via the Syrian port of Latakia on the Mediterranean. The Syrian government’s victories would not have been possible without Russian and Iranian help.

Regionally, a Moscow-Tehran axis has formed around Syria that is resisting Qatari and Saudi backing for the rebels. The increasing dominance of rebel fighting forces in the north by radical groups such as the al-Nusra Front, which has openly affiliated itself with al-Qaida, has resulted in a falloff of support for the revolution even in Saudi Arabia. Most Syrians who oppose the government are not radicals or even fundamentalists, but the latter have had the best record of military victories. Russian characterizations of the rebels as radical terrorists are a form of war propaganda; however, they have been effective. The Saudi and Jordanian plan to create a less radical southern opposition front at Deraa has met with a setback, since the regime recaptured that city last week. Doha and Riyadh are reeling from the Russia-backed counteroffensive.

At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pulled off a coup two weeks ago by persuading Kerry to support the international conference on Syria, to which both the Baath government and the rebels would be invited, as a way station toward a negotiated settlement of the conflict (Russia’s holy grail). The agreement represented a climb-down for the Obama administration, which had earlier insisted that Assad leave office as a prerequisite to a resolution, language that the joint Russian-American communique issuing from the Kerry-Lavrov meeting in Moscow conspicuously avoided. Lavrov, a South Asia expert and guitar-playing poet, speaks as though what happened in Yemen, with a negotiated solution and a government of national unity, is a plausible scenario for Syria. But so much blood has been spilled in the latter that a military victory by one side or the other now seems far more likely.

When sources in the Pentagon leaked the information that explosions in Damascus on May 5 were an Israeli airstrike, Putin appears to have been livid. He tracked down Netanyahu on the prime minister’s visit to Shanghai and harangued him on the phone. The two met last week in Moscow, where Putin is alleged to have read Netanyahu the riot act. Subsequently, the Likud government leaked to The New York Times that its aim in the airstrike had been only to prevent Syrian munitions from being transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon, not to help in overthrowing the Baath government. The Israelis were clearly attempting to avoid further provoking Moscow’s ire, and wanted to send a signal to Damascus that they would remain neutral on Syria but not on further arming of Hezbollah.

Putin, not visibly mollified by Netanyahu’s clarification, responded by announcing forcefully that he had sent to Syria Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles and was planning to dispatch sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft batteries. Both U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Israeli military analysts protested the Russian shipments. Although Netanyahu went on insisting that Israel would bomb Syria at will when it suspected supplies were being sent to Hezbollah, Putin had clearly just raised the risks of such intervention.

Russia’s motives have sometimes been attributed to the profits it realizes from its arms trade with Syria, going back to the Soviet era, but that business is actually quite small. Others have suggested that Syria’s leasing to Russia of a naval base at Tartous, Russia’s only toehold on the Mediterranean, is a consideration. Rather, Russia’s support of Assad is part of its reassertion on the world stage as a great power with areas under its control. Putin wants to raise Russia from the world’s ninth- to fifth-largest capitalist economy. Smarting from the aggressive American expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe and the planting of U.S. bases in Central Asia, Moscow is determined to recover its former spheres of influence. In addition, some senior Russian military analysts see “color revolutions” as a ploy by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to overthrow unfriendly governments and then to plunder the resulting weak states of their resources, a tactic they fear menaces Russia itself. Drawing a line at Syria, in this view, is a way of underscoring that Putin’s own neo-authoritarian regime will not go quietly.

Russia is only a 24-hour drive from Aleppo, Syria’s northernmost metropolis. Having crushed a Muslim fundamentalist uprising in Chechnya and Dagestan at the turn of the century, and having stood up a friendly Chechen state government in the aftermath, Moscow is wary of the spread of radical Muslim movements in the nearby Levant. Moreover, some 10 to 14 percent of Syrians are Christians, many of them belonging to the Eastern Orthodox branch that predominates in Russia itself. The Russian Orthodox Church, a key constituency for Putin, has opposed the overthrow of the secular Baath government, seeing it as a protector of those coreligionists.

The thinking of the Russian foreign ministry is clear from its Saturday press release on the revival of the radical Sunni insurgency in Iraq in recent weeks. Complaining about what it termed terrorist attacks in Mosul and Baghdad, the ministry’s website said, according to a translation done for the U.S. government’s Open Source Center, that “We are particularly concerned about growing sectarian tensions in Iraq, which are turning into a direct armed confrontation between radical elements in the Shi’a and Sunni communities. This is largely due to the crisis situation in neighboring Syria and the spread of terrorist activities of militants operating there.” In other words, Russia sees the Syrian revolution as dominated by al-Qaida-linked groups such as the al-Nusra Front. Moscow views the civil war as a destabilizing event with the potential for radicalizing the Middle East, which it views as its soft underbelly.

The momentum of the Syrian rebels has palpably slowed in the last month, as Putin’s riposte has stiffened the resolve in Damascus and given its military the wherewithal to regain territory. The Russian president is weaving a protective web around his client, fending off the Wahhabi winds of Muslim fundamentalism blowing from the Arabian Peninsula. He has also pushed back against opportunistic Israeli intervention, worried that it might further destabilize Damascus. At the same time, he has impressed on Washington the need for a negotiated settlement, an idea that President Obama, long skittish about sending troops into further possible Middle East quagmires, has begun to tolerate. Putin’s supply of powerful new weapons systems to Assad’s military, and his dispatch of warships from the Russian Pacific fleet through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean, make clear that the full force of Russian military might is, if need be, at the service of its Baath client. Putin’s gambit may or may not prove successful, but he is indisputably demonstrating that the age of the sole superpower and of American unilateralism is passing in favor of a multipolar world.

Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:15 PM   #16
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The real question is why the US is allowing Saudi Arabia to spread its extremist Wahhabist version of Sunni Islam by trying to topple Assad's Shi'ite regime.
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Old 05-23-2013, 07:44 PM   #17
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The real question is why the US is allowing Saudi Arabia to spread its extremist Wahhabist version of Sunni Islam by trying to topple Assad's Shi'ite regime.
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:10 PM   #18
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I hope Putin succeeds on this. I'll gladly support a tyrant like Assad if it means eliminating a another oppurtunity for political Islam to take root. That is an absolute non starter. The alternative, no matter how unappealing must remain in power, at least until a secular and stable alternative can be found.
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:31 PM   #19
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We should have stepped on this Arab Spring way back in Egypt. If we do help the rebels I bet it won't be enough to help them win.
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:01 AM   #20
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I hope Putin succeeds on this. I'll gladly support a tyrant like Assad if it means eliminating a another oppurtunity for political Islam to take root. That is an absolute non starter. The alternative, no matter how unappealing must remain in power, at least until a secular and stable alternative can be found.
On strictly humanitarian grounds, I can't agree. For one thing, Putin is the most repugnant thug I can think of. Unfortunately, there seems to be no good alternative. Who knows what will come out of this civil war? Totally unpredictable. I can't agree with the policy of stability at all costs, though. Usually, the foundation of such a policy is simply the old dictum, "What's good for business..." Human beings have to start looking for other philosophical foundations for policy making. It's simply more greed-based thinking. I do agree that we have to exterminate religious fundamentalism. It's time to leave the Medieval world behind.

America has a hard time letting other countries decide their own fates. We need to start working on that. If we would become more energy self-sufficient, we would find that what happens in places like Syria is pretty much unimportant to us on most levels. I'm afraid we'll stick our noses in it just because Israel has such a long and successful history of dragging us into its business. We should provide humanitarian aid where possible. That's it.

I wonder when the American government is going to start nation-building in America?
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:02 AM   #21
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We should have stepped on this Arab Spring way back in Egypt. If we do help the rebels I bet it won't be enough to help them win.
You just crack me up sometimes.
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:11 AM   #22
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Rho wants to cool the Earth but nation building sounds to hard and expensive.
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Old 05-24-2013, 09:12 AM   #23
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We should have stepped on this Arab Spring way back in Egypt. If we do help the rebels I bet it won't be enough to help them win.
I guess freedom is only good if you live in the US or Western Nation

It is messy but democracy is what we should be promoting everywhere and at all times. If you want less war and human abuse, then we need to continue to support the democratic process.
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Old 05-24-2013, 09:33 AM   #24
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Slippery slope statement there, Elsid.
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Old 05-24-2013, 10:15 AM   #25
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I guess freedom is only good if you live in the US or Western Nation

It is messy but democracy is what we should be promoting everywhere and at all times. If you want less war and human abuse, then we need to continue to support the democratic process.
I think we should perfect our own democracy before we try to ship it overseas. Ours could use a major overhaul. In case you haven't noticed, we've become a corporatocracy; Of, for and by the one percent. Hosting an economy with one of the worst economic disparities in the world is a bit of a marketing problem, don't you think?
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