WikiLeaks gag order: open justice is threatened by super-injunctions

Richard Ackland
theguardian.com
30 July 2014

Australian courts have increasingly been issuing suppression orders preventing the publication of legal proceedings – and an implicit dislike of the media is partly to blame

Last month, an Australian judge issued a super-duper injunction preventing the reporting of bribery allegations which involved south east Asian political figures, and in some cases their family members.

The allegations have arisen in a criminal case before the supreme court of Victoria. The super-injunction, which not only prevents publication of the allegations, but the detailed terms of the injunction itself, only came to light because WikiLeaks published the intimate details on July 29.

So while WikiLeaks, anonymous blogs and social media are buzzing with the details of these sweeping court orders, which apply Australia-wide, the mainstream media cannot trespass in this territory for fear of facing proceedings for contempt of court. This is the ludicrous nature of overreaching suppression orders, and this one is to last for five years unless earlier revoked.

The internet has made them so porous as to be useless. Only those who publish above the radar with sizeable assets and readily identifiable journalists and executives (at least ones that are not corralled in foreign embassies) are effectively injuncted from publishing. Read the rest of this entry »

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The politics and business of bank mergers

Terence Gomez
KiniBiz
22 July 2014

Malaysians were informed on July 10, 2014 that a major bank consolidation was in the pipeline, involving CIMB Group Holdings, RHB Capital and Malaysian Building Society. With this union, CIMB will emerge as Malaysia’s largest banking enterprise, in terms of assets, as RHB Capital owns RHB Bank, currently the country’s fourth largest bank.

According to media reports, the merger will enhance CIMB’s goal of becoming Southeast Asia’s leading Islamic finance institution with the capacity to expand its interests in this sector to other parts of the world. However, one core issue remains unmentioned in the press: this consolidation will tightly entwine the interests of political and business elites in the banking sector. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dutch experts still unable to get to MH17 crash site

The Malay Mail Online
JULY 31, 2014

KIEV, July 30 — Dutch police yesterday said it was unlikely they would be able to access the site of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash in east Ukraine because of on-going combat.

The head of the Dutch recovery mission in Ukraine, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, also said 68 Malaysian experts and police officers were expected in Kiev today to join the group.

The Malaysians will then travel to Kharkiv in east Ukraine, closer to the crash site.

“Unfortunately, we don’t expect the security situation to improve enough over the next few days,” Aalbersberg told reporters in Kiev.

“This makes it less likely that we will reach the crash site in the immediate future. There is still too much fighting in the area,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tampered MH17 site not likely to yield new clues, experts say

The Malay Mail Online
JULY 29, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 — After over 12 days of exposure to looters, amateur searchers, and now debris from nearby battles, experts on the ground believe that evidence from MH17’s crash site in eastern Ukraine may be too contaminated to be of much use to investigators.

According to CNN, one frustrated official labelled the site “one of the biggest open crime scenes in the world” after a team of Dutch and Australian investigators were forced to turn back yesterday due to nearby clashes between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists.

The 45-member team, which was accompanied by officials from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), were left frustrated by the fighting which, according to reports from wire agencies, may have destroyed parts of the site where the aircraft’s remains still lie.

AFP reported Vladimir Antyufeev, the self-styled deputy chief of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” as saying that the Ukrainian army has now “taken over part of the crash site”.

The situation on the ground now “is very complicated, it is not a secret”, the rebel leader added, AFP added.

OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw told CNN that on-site experts are growing “sick and tired” of being delayed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Clashes again force investigators to abort visit to Malaysia Airlines crash site

By Carol Morello
Washington Post
July 29 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — An international team of forensics experts and investigators does not expect to reach the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 before Wednesday or even Thursday, two full weeks after it was shot down by an antiaircraft missile fired from rebel-held territory, an official said Tuesday.

Negotiations for access are underway with both the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels in control of the debris field in eastern Ukraine, said Ertugrul Apakan, head of a monitoring team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that is accompanying the experts.

“We expect in a short span of time, tomorrow or the [next] day, to be able to reach the crash site,” Apakan told reporters in Kiev.

Heavy fighting around the site forced a team of about 50 Dutch and Australian experts to abandon a planned visit Tuesday for the third straight day.

The Ukrainian military is in the midst of a major offensive against the rebels, and some of the fiercest fighting has been in the general area where the plane came down in pieces on July 17. The Malaysian Boeing 777 was carrying 298 passengers and crew en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ukraine troops nearing MH-17 crash site; U.N. opens war-crime probe

By STEVEN ZEITCHIK, CAROL J. WILLIAMS

Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2014

Ukrainian government forces recaptured three towns from pro-Russia separatists and were pressing toward the Malaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine where the separatists accused of downing the plane have obstructed international disaster investigators, officials said Monday.

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, meanwhile, said at a news conference in Geneva that the shooting down of MH-17 and the deaths of all 298 people on board were being investigated for possible war-crime charges.

Pro-Russia militants who seized a dozen towns and cities in eastern Ukraine in March and April have seen the territory under their control reduced by more than half during the past few weeks and are now holed up in their embattled strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk. The separatists also control the miles-wide crash site strewn with debris and victims’ remains but face an advancing government offensive emboldened by international outrage over the plane’s destruction.

Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told journalists in Kiev on Monday that government troops had recovered control of Shakhtarsk, about 20 miles from the center of the crash site.

“Our troops entered Shakhtarsk, Torez and Lutuhyne,” Lysenko said, claiming government control of towns on roads leading to the wreckage strewn among sunflower fields.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Sticking together through cobwebs and rendang

Dyana Sofya
The Malaysian Insider
July 26, 2014

Dyana Sofya suffers from dysania and is using her superpowers to pen down her thoughts late into the night. Political Secretary to Lim Kit Siang by day and she tweets from @dyanasmd.

JULY 26 — Seated in the passenger seat, I try to collect my thoughts as old memories flash by. My eldest brother is driving the car and we are cruising steadily on the North-South Expressway en route to our hometown of Ipoh to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Now that all four of us siblings are grown up, it is a rare occasion for us to travel together. Hence, this particular ride was a proverbial trip down memory lane.

Prior to his retirement, my workaholic father would refuse to take early leave before Raya. As a result, it was always a frantic rush back to Ipoh on Raya eve. However, our manic moments would disappear the instant we arrived home to be greeted by the smell of wonderful, aromatic rendang. As usual, my mother would return a few days earlier to make preparations for the celebration.

After devouring our traditional late supper on Raya eve, my brothers would start spring-cleaning the house while I would devote myself to kitchen duties to prepare more (last minute) Raya goodies. Read the rest of this entry »

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What is Impian Malaysia?

Wan Hamidi Hamid
The Malaysian Insider
26 July 2014

Once upon a time, a political party was formed. Its name was Democratic Action Party or DAP, and it wanted to promote the idea of a Malaysian Malaysia.

It was meant to be an idea for a united nation, a country for all Malaysians, regardless of race and religion. Hence, Malaysia would never be a monopoly of any particular race, religion or ideology, as enshrined in the original Federal Constitution.

The idea was born almost a half century ago. It may sound obsolete to some, it may even sound obscene to some racist-minded people.

However, despite its noble intention, the Alliance and its successor Barisan Nasional under the control of Umno through their controlled media had portrayed the ideal as something evil, especially for the Malays. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to review all flawed judgments by the Malaysian judiciary whether because of racial bias or corruption in the past 26 years after the first judicial crisis of 1988

After the 13th General Elections of May 5, 2013, the country was shocked with the appearance of a former member of the judiciary making racist and seditious statements and speeches undermining the unity, harmony and goodwill among the different races and religions in the country.

One of the most racist and seditious speeches in the nation’s history was made by the former Court of Appeal Judge Mohd Noor Abdullah at the forum titled “GE13 post-mortem Muslim leadership and survival” organised by UiTM Malaysia Alumni Association and Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semanjung in Kuala Lumpur in May 2013 where Mohd Noor warned that the Chinese Malaysians must be prepared for a backlash from the Malay community for their “betrayal” in the recently concluded 13th general election.

He said: “The Chinese betrayal towards the Malay’s hand of friendship – that is true. Because they plotted to seize political power even though they already have economic power”.
Mohd Noor’s racist and seditious speech was defended on the ground that it was “as a whole constructive and within the boundaries of what is in the federal constitution”, and in line with his expertise as a former judge.

Up to now, Mohd Noor has not been able to quote chapter and verse as to which article or part of the Malaysian Constitution justified his making irresponsible, fictitious, inflammatory, racist and seditious allegations that the Chinese in Malaysia “plotted to seize political power even though they already have economic power” or his criminal and gangsterish threat of a “Malay backlash” to a completely non-existent “Chinese betrayal towards the Malay’s hand of friendship” ? Read the rest of this entry »

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Joko Widodo must not waste his mandate in Indonesia

Financial Times
July 23, 2014

The new leader has the chance to take the country to the next level

After an extended count lasting the best part of a fortnight, Joko Widodo, governor of Jakarta, has narrowly won the race to become president of this nation of 250m people. Initial fears that Indonesia’s second truly democratic passage of power might end in violence and chaos have proved exaggerated; the presidential baton has been transferred relatively smoothly. Opportunistic attempts by Mr Widodo’s opponent, former general Prabowo Subianto, to question the fairness of the process have fallen on deaf ears. Given the definitive nature of the result, Mr Subianto should do the graceful thing and concede in a way that confers legitimacy on the victor.

Mr Widodo, universally known as Jokowi, has much to prove when he takes office in October. One reason the result was so close was that he turned out to be a lacklustre candidate, far less organised and politically astute than his more ruthless and better-funded opponent. Things are unlikely to become any easier now the count is over.

Having campaigned against the old elites that have dominated Indonesian politics for so long, Mr Widodo must show that he can govern effectively without their patronage. In particular he must redeem his promise to avoid traditional horse-trading and appoint to his cabinet only those with the character and capacity to hold their offices. Given the new president’s lack of a reliable majority in parliament, this will require political skills of a high order – ones he has yet to demonstrate he possesses on the national stage. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zam, are you “Malaysian first, Malay second” or “Malay first, Malaysian second”?

Former information minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin wondered in his blog what if the roles were reversed in the case of a Malay woman threatening an elderly Chinese man with a steering wheel lock following an accident, how would the “Chinese press, Chinese social media, Chinese parties and Chinese NGOs reacted if the person punished was a Chinese”.

He asked: “Wouldn’t they have considered the punishment to be racist since it was a small case?” he asked in his blog posting.

Zainuddin was commenting on the Kuantan Magistrate’s Court decision to fine Siti Fairah Asyikin Kamaruddin, also known as Kiki, RM5,000 and ordering her to engage in 240 hours of community service.

Kiki landed in trouble after a video of her threatening the senior citizen Sim Siak Heong went viral online.

It is shocking and the height of irresponsibility for a former Cabinet Minister to frame an issue on law-breaking through such racial and even racist lens.

Even more reprehensible and deplorable is his dismissal of “Chinese press, Chinese social media, Chinese parties and Chinese NGOs” as communal organisations utterly bereft of Malaysian nationalism or patriotism.

Zainuddin should first answer whether he is “Malaysian first, Malay second” or “Malay first, Malaysian second”, for it is only when he regards himself as in the former category that it is worthwhile, useful and productive to engage in any discussion with him pertaining to any subject whether concerning nation-building or fostering harmonious and congenial inter-racial and inter-religious relations in our plural nation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysians must be reminded of motto “United we stand, divided we fall” and should talk the language of unity, moderation, tolerance and justice and not the language of division, extremism, hatred and injustice

Parliament reached rare unanimity yesterday when MPs from both sides of the political divide united to unanimously adopt a motion in an emergency meeting to condemn the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 last Thursday in Ukraine as a heinous and barbaric crime against humanity, killing 298 passengers and crew on board.

The rare unity shown by Members of Parliament yesterday mirrored the unity of Malaysians transcending race, religion, region or politics shown by Malaysians in the past week at the second airline disaster and tragedy to hit the national airline, Malaysian Airlines and the nation in less than five months – the MH 370 disappearance disaster with 239 passengers/crew on board on March 8 and the MH 17 disaster on July 17.

While Malaysians unite in grief and sorrow, extending condolences, support, sympathy and solidarity with the bereaved families, relatives and friends of the 537 victims of the two air disasters, as well as encouragement and support to the MAS employees so that they will be not be demoralised, all Malaysians should pause and ponder why we are only capable of unity when there is disaster and catastrophe but not during ordinary times.

Under the shadow of the two air disasters in less than five months, with the country still reeling from the shock and trauma at being the epicentre of these two catastrophes with world-wide repercussions, Malaysians must be reminded afresh of the truth and power of the adage “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Phone Diplomacy in Ukraine Crisis Lifts Malaysian Leader’s Standing

By KEITH BRADSHER, CHRIS BUCKLEY and DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
New York Times
JULY 23, 2014

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Intervention on Flight 17 Pays Off

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — It was not an aide or a diplomat on the phone with pro-Russian rebels, trying to get them to relinquish the bodies and the “black boxes” from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine — it was the leader of Malaysia himself.

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia played an unusual personal role, holding a series of cellphone conversations with a rebel leader and then coaching a Malaysian colonel on what to say as he passed through nearly a dozen rebel checkpoints on his way to the crash scene, according to a person who was with the prime minister much of the time.

Mr. Najib’s success has at least temporarily restored his standing at home, where his government was battered by accusations of incompetence after the disappearance in March of another Malaysia Airlines jet, Flight 370. The arrival of most of the bodies and the flight data recorders from Flight 17 at a Ukrainian military base on Tuesday brought an outpouring of relief and praise in Malaysia.

But Mr. Najib’s willingness to negotiate directly with Alexander Borodai, the rebel leader, has prompted disquiet outside the country about whether the prime minister had lent unwarranted legitimacy to a man the Ukrainian government has condemned as a terrorist. Read the rest of this entry »

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Flight MH 17 – Some Questions & Answers

Sri Lanka Guardian
Ruwantissa Abeyratne
July 23, 2014

( July 23, 2014, Montreal, Sri Lanka Guardian) When the aircraft operating Flight MH 17 was shot down last week, I was vacationing in Melbourne. The ever vigilant media lost no time in tracking me down from my home in Montreal all the way to Australia within a few hours of the disaster with a list of questions. I thought I would share with the reader the questions that were put to me and my answers.

Q. Would the International Civil aviation Organization (ICAO) be able to issue warnings about a route related to potential dangers from violence/war? Would ICAO be able to issue warnings about a route related to potential dangers from violence/war?

A. ICAO has no mandate or competence to issue warnings based on political and war situations. This is entirely dependent on the State concerned which has the responsibility to issue what is called a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) which advises aircraft which airspace to traverse and which not to. If a pilot traverses many airspaces he/she has to consider all relevant NOTAMs .

The Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) prescribes in Articles 9 and 12 this principle of the right of States to prescribe where aircraft should go and should not, in accordance with requirements set by such States. Article 12 on rules of the air provides that where flights over the high seas are concerned the rules prescribed under the Chicago Convention shall prevail. Those rules are contained in Annex 2 to the Convention. Read the rest of this entry »

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Analysts say justice for MH17 victims will be very difficult

Tom Allard
Sydney Morning Herald
24th July 2014

The battle to bring to justice the perpetrators of the apparent missile attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 will be extremely difficult, not least because Russia is in a position to thwart any attempt to bring it or its citizens before any international or domestic court, analysts said.

The hurdles are immense even after Russia this week endorsed a strongly worded United Nations convention pledging its commitment to hold those responsible to account, analysts said on Wednesday.

Whoever was behind the downing of MH17 remains uncertain, although US intelligence officials believe the most likely scenario was pro-Russian separatists hit the plane by accident, mistaking it for a Ukrainian military transport plane.

There also has been speculation that Russia supplied the Buk-M1 surface to air missile system, also known as a SA-11, to the rebels and trained the separatists in how to use it.

Russia and the separatists deny the accusations, blaming Ukraine – which also has the SA-11 – for the downing of MH17. If an investigation finds Russia and the separatists culpable, it will be a massive challenge to bring the matter to a court, let alone get a conviction. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ukraine Says 2 Fighter Jets Are Shot Down as Clashes Intensify

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and ANDREW HIGGINS
New York Times
JULY 23, 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — Fighting intensified in the rebel-controlled region of Ukraine on Wednesday, with military officials reporting that two Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jets had been shot down near the village of Dmytrivka in the east.

Few details of the latest downings were available. But the news was reported as Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council in Kiev said the military operation to suppress the insurgents was advancing in the east, with government troops having retaken two cities in the Luhansk region as they continued an aggressive push from the north and west.

Officials said rebels had blown up a road bridge, a railroad bridge and train tracks in the city of Gorlivka, and they reported continued fierce fighting along a section of the border with Russia that remains porous. Ukrainian forces are increasingly desperate to seal that border to prevent resupplies of weapons or new fighters from entering Ukraine.

A Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said Russia had strengthened its troop presence along the border and cross-border gunfire had increased.

The reported downing of the two fighter jets was a serious blow to the Ukrainian military, which has limited air power. Read the rest of this entry »

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The danger of a former judge dressing up opinions as facts

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
23 July 2014

Want to know what has troubled the Malaysian judiciary all these years? Why it is the butt of jokes and why it has as much credibility as Datuk Ibrahim Ali?

Look no further than former chief justice (CJ) Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad (pic).

This is a man who shades the truth: who spews half-baked nonsense and tries to dress it up as fact. But most alarmingly, this is a man who is not averse to using his standing in society to divide Malaysians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia Flight 17 prosecution faces major evidentiary and legal obstacles

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post
July 22 2014

Despite mounting evidence that Russian-backed separatists downed a commercial aircraft over Ukraine last week, Western diplomats and law enforcement officials face significant obstacles prosecuting the culprits, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that they have not yet identified the separatists who operated the missile system that apparently destroyed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, presenting investigators with their first and perhaps most daunting challenge.

But in a briefing with reporters, the officials continued to build the Obama administration’s case of Russian complicity in a shoot-down by separatists. The officials provided intelligence material on the path of the missile, voiceprint analysis of separatists discussing bringing down a plane, shrapnel markings on the aircraft, and material from social-media sites to back administration claims.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, also identified a Russian military installation as a training hub for the separatists and a conduit for weapons to be sent into eastern Ukraine.

Even if the perpetrators are identified, determining their motive and proving their guilt would pose evidentiary and legal challenges for which there is little precedent, according to experts in international law. Establishing a venue for a trial would almost certainly entail intense diplomatic wrangling. Moreover, as crimes scenes go, the area in eastern Ukraine where the plane’s wreckage fell is a prosecutor’s nightmare, amid reports of looting and tampering with evidence by separatists. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cockpit of MH 17 found sawed in half at crash site in Ukraine

By Filip Warwick and Doug Stanglin
USA TODAY
Detroit Free Press
July 22, 2014

HRABOVE, UKRAINE — International monitors who gained full access to the Malaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine said Tuesday the Boeing 77’s cockpit inexplicably had been sawed in half while under the control of Russian-backed separates.

The monitors said large parts of the cockpit — and every part of the fuselage — were carried off. They said they are not sure why such vital pieces of evidence from the downed plane were tampered with.

Flight 17, carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew members, crashed Thursday after being hit by what U.S. officials suspect was a surface-to-air missile launched from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

U.S. officials said Tuesday that intel suggests separatists shot down the plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and that no link to Russia was found.

The cockpit was found in a section of the crash site that had been immediately cordoned off during the first two days after the plane went down. Witnesses tell USA TODAY that this was also the area where the first bodies were removed.

The cockpit apparently was cut in half with diesel-powered saws. Read the rest of this entry »

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After Karpal’s sedition conviction, IGP Khalid wants my “scalp”, knock me out of Parliament and even jailed for sedition?

The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, probably hopes to get the second scalp of a DAP leader to be jailed and be disqualified and knocked out of Parliament for conviction of sedition – targeting me after Karpal Singh’s most unwarranted conviction for sedition and RM4,000 fine which would have ejected Karpal from Parliament if he is still alive and his appeal against conviction or sentence had not been overturned.

I was surprised when I first learned that the Police was coming after me under the Sedition Act, although I was nonplussed as to what seditious statement I had made to warrant a police investigation against me under the Sedition Act – especially when the Police had been infamously passive and notoriously inactive when there had been a crescendo of seditious utterances and threats by extremist individuals and NGOs inciting racial and religious hatred, including May 13 threats about racial riots uttered at least thrice this year alone!

Malaysians must commend the Malaysian Police for having the outstanding qualities not to be found in other police forces in the world, i.e. its enormous ability to turn the blind eye to flagrant criminality right in their faces when committed by certain privileged groups of people but extraordinary ability to discern crime or sedition when they don’t exist when another targeted group of people is involved!

In a buka puasa event last night, Khalid announced that the police will record a statement from me for my recent comment on the fifth death anniversary of Teoh Beng Hock (TBH) that Beng Hock had been murdered and that the killers are still at large. Read the rest of this entry »

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