Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST October 23, 2007

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Forwarded from Ron Mills


Last week we announced we would be posting video of a round up of the SundaySpinning Heads Shows on Monday mornings. This week we are posting a specialGOP debate edition.

You would have thought that Hillary was on the stage and they were debatingher.

Visit http://RonMills.us to watch the video


Entire Town Switches From Republican To Democrat

Monday, October 22, 2007

The entire membership of the all-Republican governing body in Lyndhurst NewJersey will switch from Republican to Democrat tomorrow. Nearly 60% ofLyndhurst's Republican County Committee will become Democrats too.

The party realignment, first reported in PoliticsNJ.com last summer, is fargreater in scope than speculated. It represents, perhaps, the most massiveshift in Party affiliation of elected and Party officials in a singlecommunity in one day. "It's safe to say something like this certainlydoesn't happen in politics everyday," said Lyndhurst Mayor Richard DiLascio.Lyndhurst has long been considered a swing town in general elections overthe last twenty years.

Read more...... http://ronmills.us/


The New York Times


Do Voters Value Candor?

October 22, 2007

Mario M. Cuomo had a problem when he ran for governor of New York in 1982.Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, was a vigorous opponent of the death penalty. And hewas running against opponents from both parties who strongly supportedreinstating capital punishment -- a view that was shared by a vast majorityof New York voters.

But Mr. Cuomo did not duck the issue. Indeed, he talked about it wherever hewent, explaining why he opposed it (he advocated, instead, life withoutparole) and why he would veto any death penalty legislation sent to hisdesk.

Rather than harm him politically, Mr. Cuomo contended over dinner with a fewreporters one night a few weeks before Election Day, that strategy hadhelped carry him to victory over Edward I. Koch in the Democratic primary.He would go on to win the general election, giving added weight to hisbelief that voters value candor and authenticity more than almost anythingelse, seeing those traits as more important than any one particular issue.That is a lesson that might apply as well to the presidential candidacy ofRudolph W. Giuliani, who not incidentally, is also from New York andobserved Mr. Cuomo's success there. Indeed, the concept outlined by Mr.Cuomo - the value of actually telling voters something they do not agreewith --- is emerging as one of the dominant themes in the Republicanpresidential contest.

Senator John McCain of Arizona has seen it from both sides. Mr. McCain,whose history of defying party orthodoxy and popular opinion had made him anappealing candidate to many independent voters, went on the decline when heappeared to be calibrating his politics to win broader support within theRepublican party, agreeing, for example, to appear with Jerry Falwell, thereligious leader, after attacking him as a threat to the party in 2000. Therecent spate of stories suggesting that the old John McCain is back -- andthe implication that he is benefiting -- is based on the perception that hehas reverted to his straighter talking ways.

Mr. Giuliani got a chance to put the power of this dynamic on displaySaturday morning in Washington, when he appeared before thousands ofChristian conservatives at a "Voters Values" Summit held by the FamilyResearch Council. It could not have been a more unreceptive crowd, given Mr.Giuliani's support of abortion rights and gay rights gay rights, and apersonal history that includes divorces, public affairs and estrangementfrom his son. Mr. Giuliani could have been forgiven for skipping the event.

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The New York Times


The Long, Dark Night

October 23, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


I was making small talk with Dan and Sharon Brodrick in a waiting areafilled with anxious-looking patients on the first floor of St. ThomasHospital. Mrs. Brodrick seemed tired, but she managed a smile. Her husband,a former truck driver who is now an ordained minister, was the talkativeone.

"We found out five days after her 56th birthday," he said. "How's that for ahappy birthday?"

While maintaining a pleasant facade for the outside world, the Brodricks,married 37 years and still deeply in love, are spinning toward the abyss.

"We're in big trouble," said Mr. Brodrick.

Mrs. Brodrick learned last May that she had cancer of the duodenum, and ithad already spread to her liver and pancreas. Not only is the prognosisgrim, but the medical expenses will soon leave the couple destitute. Mrs.Brodrick has no health insurance.

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The New York Times


Lawbreaker in Chief

October 23, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

New Haven

AT his confirmation hearings last week, Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush'snominee for attorney general, was asked whether the president is required toobey federal statutes. Judge Mukasey replied, "That would have to depend onwhether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authorityof the president to defend the country."

I practiced before Judge Mukasey when I was an assistant United Statesattorney, and I saw his fairness, conscientiousness and legal acumen. Butbefore voting to confirm him as the nation's chief law enforcement officer,the Senate should demand that he retract this statement. It is a dangerousconfusion and distortion of the single most fundamental principle of theConstitution - that everyone, including the president, is subject to therule of law.

It is true that a president may in rare cases disregard a federal statute -but only when Congress has acted outside its authority by passing a statutethat is unconstitutional. (Who gets the last word on whether a statute isunconstitutional is something Americans have long debated and probably willalways debate.)

But that is not what Judge Mukasey said. What he said, and what many membersof the current administration have claimed, would radically transform thisaccepted point of law into a completely different and un-American concept ofexecutive power.

According to Judge Mukasey's statement, as well as other parts of histestimony, the president's authority "to defend the nation" trumps hisobligation to obey the law. Take the federal statute governing militarycommissions in Guantánamo Bay. No one, including the president's lawyers,argues that this statute is unconstitutional. The only question is whetherthe president is required to obey it even if in his judgment the statute isnot the best way "to defend the nation."

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The New York Times


U.S. Prosecution of Muslim Group Ends in Mistrial

October 23, 2007

DALLAS, Oct. 22 - A federal judge declared a mistrial on Monday in what waswidely seen as the government's flagship terrorism-financing case afterprosecutors failed to persuade a jury to convict five leaders of a Muslimcharity on any charges, or even to reach a verdict on many of the 197counts.

The case, involving the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development andfive of its backers, is the government's largest and most complex legaleffort to shut down what it contends is American financing for terroristorganizations in the Middle East.

President Bush announced he was freezing the charity's assets in December2001, saying that the radical Islamic group Hamas had "obtained much of themoney it pays for murder abroad right here in the United States."

But at the trial, the government did not accuse the foundation, which wasbased in a Dallas suburb, of paying directly for suicide bombings. Instead,the prosecution said, the foundation supported terrorism by sending morethan $12 million to charitable groups, known as zakat committees, whichbuild hospitals and feed the poor.

Prosecutors said the committees were controlled by Hamas and contributed toterrorism by helping Hamas spread its ideology and recruit supporters. Thegovernment relied on Israeli intelligence agents, using pseudonyms, totestify in support of this theory.

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The New York Times


New to Being Dry, the South Struggles to Adapt

October 23, 2007

ATLANTA, Oct. 22 - For more than five months, the lake that providesdrinking water to almost five million people here has been draining away ina withering drought. Sandy beaches have expanded into flats of orange mud.Tree stumps not seen in half a century have resurfaced. Scientists havewarned of impending disaster.

And life, for the most part, has gone on just as before.

The response to the worst drought on record in the Southeast has unfolded inultra-slow motion. All summer, more than a year after the drought began,fountains sprayed and football fields were watered, prisoners got twoshowers a day and Coca-Cola's bottling plants chugged along at fullstrength. On an 81-degree day this month, an outdoor theme park began tomanufacture what was intended to be a 1.2-million-gallon mountain of snow.

By September, with the lake forecast to dip into the dregs of its storagecapacity in less than four months, the state imposed a ban on outdoor wateruse.

Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia declared October "Take a Shorter Shower Month."And Saturday, Mr. Perdue declared a state of emergency for more than halfthe state and asked for federal assistance, though the state has not yetrestricted indoor water use or cut back on major commercial and industrialusers, a step that could cause a significant loss of jobs.

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The New York Times


Bush Administration Urges Iraqi Kurds to Help End Raids Into Turkey

October 23, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 - Scrambling to forestall a threatened Turkishretaliatory attack in northern Iraq, the Bush administration pressed Iraq'sKurdish leaders on Monday to rein in the Kurdish group whose raids intoTurkey have heightened tensions along the border.

But American officials acknowledged that neither the United States nor Iraqhad done much recently to constrain the Kurdish group, known as the KurdishWorkers' Party, or the P.K.K. Current and former Bush administrationofficials said a special envoy appointed by the Bush administration in 2006,Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, who had retired from the military after serving asNATO's supreme allied commander, had recently stepped down in frustrationover Iraqi and American inaction.

The United States lists the P.K.K. as a terrorist organization, but Americanmilitary commanders in Baghdad have long resisted calls by Turkey to devoteAmerican military resources to going after the group in mountainous northernIraq. The commanders say they have barely enough troops to deal with theinsurgency in Iraq, so using them to contain the P.K.K. has never been aserious option.

The United States has no significant military forces near the Iraqi borderwith Turkey, in a mountainous part of the autonomous Kurdish region. Inconcerted messages on Monday, which the State Department spokesman SeanMcCormack referred to as a "full diplomatic press," the White House and theState Department both sought to emphasize that at this point it was up toIraqi Kurds to demonstrate that they did not want a war with Turkey.

President Bush discussed Turkey's concerns with Prime Minister Nuri Kamalal-Maliki of Iraq during a video conference on Monday. "The prime ministeragreed with President Bush that Turkey should have no doubt about our mutualcommitment to end all terrorist activity from Iraqi soil," said a WhiteHouse spokesman, Gordon Johndroe.

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The Washington Post


This Cracks Me Up

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 23, 2007; 9:07 AM

When I landed that world-exclusive interview with Stephen Colbert about hispresidential bid, I figured the whole effort was more about getting laughsthan votes.


Not only was the guy on "Meet the Press" Sunday, but some pundits are openlydebating how many votes he'll get in South Carolina.

As Jake Tapper put it on ABC's "World News" (!), Colbert is the onlypresidential candidate who knows he looks ridiculous. Maybe he will appealto those who find politics a theater of the absurd.

What does Colbert stand for? He's running on both the Democratic andRepublican lines. When I asked him, he sung the praises of South Carolinapeaches and shrimp and went negative on John Edwards (for moving out of thestate when he was a year old). When I impudently observed that he hasn'tlived in the Palmetto State for years, Colbert retorted that he stillvacations there and that his wife is a native. We'll have to see whether anybroader themes emerge if Colbert actually hits the hustings (as opposed torunning from a Manhattan studio).

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The Washington Post


Forecast: Heavy Weather

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, October 23, 2007; A19

"I've seen fire, and I've seen rain," James Taylor sang sweetly, back when Iwas in college and both of us had more hair.

If Taylor were writing that song today, given that much of the country isexperiencing severe drought, he might want to rethink the "rain" part."Fire" would still resonate with listeners, though -- especially out inMalibu, where some of the nation's most picturesque and expensive realestate is in flames.

Atlanta is so parched that it's running out of water. The canyons ofSouthern California are ablaze. Here in Washington, temperatures have beenclimbing into the 80s -- in late October. Can all this be blamed on that"inconvenient truth" that Nobel laureate Al Gore keeps warning us about? Isclimate change -- often imprecisely called "global warming" -- loosingplagues upon the land?

No. Not exactly. Maybe. Probably not. Could be. Nobody knows. You can prettymuch take your pick, since it's not possible to link any specificmeteorological event -- the strength of the fire-fanning Santa Ana winds inSouthern California this year, for example, or the rainfall deficit in theSoutheast, or an unusually balmy fall in the Northeast -- withclimatological changes that take place over decades or centuries and spanthe globe.

The weird weather does tend to concentrate the mind, though. Even George W.Bush acknowledges the scientific consensus that climate change is real. Mostpeople, even conservatives, now have no problem taking the next step andacknowledging that human activity -- the burning of fossil fuels and therelease of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere -- is causingclimate change, or at least accelerating it.

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The Washington Post


Romney's Dilemma

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007; A19

Let's say it unequivocally: Mitt Romney's Mormon faith should not be anissue in this presidential campaign. Period.

And then let us explore why the Mormon "issue" may be unavoidable -- andwhat Romney and the rest of us should do about it.

Romney's biggest problem is that he is running in a Republican Party thathas been saturated by religion in recent years. Other than Sunday's debateon Fox News, the biggest GOP event during the weekend was the straw poll atthe Values Voter Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council. These arethe venture capitalists of the religious conservative movement.

Romney won the poll very narrowly over former Arkansas governor MikeHuckabee, who is an ordained Baptist minister. Romney needed to win becausehis strategy rests on reassembling "the house Ronald Reagan built," as heput it in the Fox debate, and that most definitely includes social andreligious conservatives.

The one thing Romney cannot do to put the Mormon issue aside is to say thatreligion shouldn't matter in politics, since so many of those whose votes heseeks believe otherwise. Romney thus speaks often about faith, but in verygeneral terms. "The values of my faith are much like, or are identical to,the values of other faiths that have a Judeo-Christian philosophicalbackground," he said this month in New Hampshire. "They're American values,if you will."

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The Washington Post


Giuliani's War

By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, October 23, 2007; A19

I have a weakness for wars with colorful names. My favorite, mentioned twiceby me this year alone, is the War of Jenkins' Ear, which occupied Britainand Spain from 1739-41 and ended in a stalemate. This brings me to thecoming war with Iran that Rudolph Giuliani has solemnly vowed he wouldlaunch should, God forbid, Iran get nuclear weapons and he become president.It will be called the War of Rudy's Mouth.

Rudy's mouth, as anyone in New York can tell you, is a formidable weaponthat, when turned on a target, can vaporize the person, leaving just a smallmound of dust and maybe a false tooth or two. An oft-cited example is thepoor fellow who called the then-New York mayor's radio show and asked whythe law prohibited the keeping of ferrets as pets. "There is somethingderanged about you," the mayor said.

Not surprisingly, the Republican front-runner -- an astounding phrase -- istreating Iran as a nation of ferret owners. He has vowed to strike theIslamic republic militarily should it develop a nuclear weapon -- not a merethreat, he has added, but "a promise." This, of course, is both a cliche andthe kind of rhetoric of the "bring 'em on" variety that suggests Giulianihas learned nothing from the Iraq fiasco. Since making that remark, Giulianihas sounded this theme often, including during a GOP presidential debateSunday. The other Republican candidates do not, for the most part, disagree.

Similar statements have come in recent days from the White House. PresidentBush, an exceedingly slow learner, has suggested that a nuclear Iran couldresult in "World War III" and Dick Cheney, chastened not a bit by a recordof heroic mistakes and misleading statements, promised Iran "seriousconsequences" if it proceeds with its nuclear program. By now, I think,Tehran has gotten the message.

Sadly, it is simply not possible to dismiss the Iranian threat. Not only isIran proceeding with a nuclear program, but it projects a pugnacious,somewhat nutty, profile to the world. Various intelligence agencies assureus that Iran is a sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere, andits president is the voluble and bizarre Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, come tothink of it, looks a bit like a ferret. The time may indeed come when theonly way to deal with Iran is with force. In the meantime, it might not hurtto lower our voices and try some old-fashioned diplomacy.

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The Washington Post


The Price of Admission
The White House will share details on telecommunications firms' immunity,but only with those who agree with it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007; A18

ONE OF THE most contentious issues in the debate over rewriting the foreignintelligence surveillance law is whether to give retroactive immunity frombeing sued to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Bushadministration's warrantless wiretapping. As it happens, we tend to agreewith the administration that the companies deserve some protection here. Butwe also believe that it is important for lawmakers to understand preciselywhat conduct they are immunizing. The Bush administration seems to be takingthe indefensible position that it will only share this information withthose who have already agreed to agree with it.

The Senate intelligence committee "showed a willingness to want to includein their legislation retroactive liability protection for companies thatwere alleged to have helped the United States in the days after 9/11," WhiteHouse press secretary Dana Perino said during Friday's briefing. "Becausethey were willing to do that, we were willing to show them some of thedocuments that they asked to see." As to whether other lawmakers -- membersof the House intelligence committee or the two Judiciary committees -- wouldbe given access, Ms. Perino said, "I think that we'll wait and see to seewho else is willing to include that provision in the bill." When we askedthe White House for clarification, spokesman Tony Fratto explained that "thequestion of the executive sharing documents with a committee has to do withCongress's inherent legislative function." If a committee has "no intentionof legislating in this area," he added, "then it's hard to make the casethat they have a need for relevant documents."

This stance reflects a misunderstanding of the legitimate needs of lawmakersin revising the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and misconstrues evenmore badly the congressional role. The administration has asked lawmakers toapprove retroactive immunity. Congress is legislating in this area whetheror not it grants this request. There is no excuse for the administration togrant access only to those inclined to agree with it. Moreover, much as theadministration may wish it were otherwise, Congress has a critical oversightrole in understanding what transpired in the warrantless surveillancewhether or not it is passing specific legislation. Whatever their positionon immunity, no lawmakers should accept this high-handed dismissal ofCongress's legitimate needs.

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The Washington Post


Turkey's Wise Hesitation

An invasion of northern Iraq would benefit no one but Kurdish extremists.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007; A18

IT IS NOT merely statesmanlike restraint or responsiveness to U.S., Europeanand Arab appeals that have so far prevented Turkey from launching a militaryinvasion of northern Iraq. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and hismilitary commanders are also acutely aware that such an operation would playinto the hands of the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, the insurgent groupthat is dug into the rugged, mountainous terrain along the Turkish-Iraqiborder. Twelve Turkish soldiers were killed and eight others captured in aPKK ambush inside Turkey on Sunday; if there were an invasion, Ankara'slosses would be much higher, while the chances that PKK bases inside Iraqcould be wiped out are small. Meanwhile, Turkey's gains in integrating itsethnic Kurd population -- a large part of which voted for Mr. Erdogan'sparty in recent elections -- could be nullified.

What Turkey really wants is to pressure the United States and Iraq intotaking action against the PKK. Diplomats argue that the regional governmentof Iraqi Kurdistan and the U.S. military are responsible for curbing theKurdish insurgents and have the means to do so. The first part of thatargument is certainly true, and some U.S. officials concede that the Bushadministration has probably not put enough pressure on its Iraqi Kurdishallies to move against the PKK. Unfortunately, the second part of theTurkish argument is questionable. It's not clear that Kurdish forces innorthern Iraq are strong enough to take on the PKK guerrillas, and U.S.commanders in Baghdad are understandably loath to divert hard-pressedAmerican units from operations against al-Qaeda and Shiite militias to yetanother front.

The reality is that the PKK threat cannot be quickly eliminated by militarymeans. Iraqi Kurdish leaders, especially regional president Massoud Barzani,should pressure the PKK to cease any operations across the Iraqi border andto release any Turkish prisoners held in Iraq. The Bush administrationshould make clear to Mr. Barzani that failing to apply such pressure willendanger relations between the United States and Kurdistan. At the sametime, Mr. Erdogan should lower his country's expectations and his ownregarding how much can be done immediately to eliminate the Iraqi bases ofthe PKK -- which is, after all, a Turkish insurgent group that has beenactive for decades. Neutralizing it will require closer cooperation betweenTurkish and Iraqi Kurdish authorities, more effective Turkish militaryoperations inside Turkey, and more political reforms in both countries.


The Washington Post


Mozambique's Ex-President Wins $5 Million African Leadership Prize

By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 23, 2007; A10

JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 22 -- Former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano won a$5 million leadership prize Monday that promoters hope will encourage otherAfrican heads of state to rule wisely, without overstaying their welcomes.

Chissano, who turned 68 on Monday, helped bring "peace, reconciliation,stable democracy and economic progress to his country," former U.N.secretary general Kofi Annan, who headed the prize committee for the MoIbrahim Foundation, said during a ceremony in London.

In 2005, Chissano stepped down at a time when political analysts believed hecould have won another five-year term. And although Mozambique remains poorand corrupt, he is seen as having led it through a treacherous era by endinga 16-year civil war and overseeing the transition to democracy.

Mo Ibrahim, a British telecommunications tycoon born in Sudan, created andendowed the Achievement in African Leadership award to recognize goodgovernance on a beleaguered continent, but he did not participate in theselection of Chissano. That job fell to a six-person committee led by Annan.

Only former African leaders were eligible for the prize, which organizersbilled as the world's largest cash award. The Nobel Peace Prize pays $1.5million.

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Chicago Tribune


Oral Roberts: Devil won't steal university

BC-Oral Roberts Scandal,0377
Oral Roberts says 'devil is not going to steal' namesake school rocked byallegations

5:08 PM CDT, October 22, 2007

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Oral Roberts returned to his namesake university Mondayand denied the lurid accusations that have threatened to engulf the school,telling students and employees in a chapel service that "the devil is notgoing to steal ORU."

Making his first visit to Oral Roberts University in three years, Robertssaid at the service that his son Richard Roberts, who took a leave ofabsence as the school's president last week, eventually will return to hisposition, the Tulsa World reported.

Three former professors sued the university Oct. 2 for wrongful termination,claiming they were dismissed after they turned over to the board of regentsa copy of a report documenting moral and ethical lapses on the part ofRichard Roberts and his family.

Oral Roberts, 89, said in the chapel service that he has moved back to Tulsafrom California, where he has lived for several years. The crowd gave himstanding ovations.

The 5,700-student Bible Belt university will begin mediation this week withthe three former professors, he said. Their lawsuit and attached reportaccuses Richard Roberts and his wife, Lindsay, of lavishly spendinguniversity funds and improperly asking that students get involved in a localpolitical race.

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The Boston Globe


China's grip on Tibet
By H.D.S. Greenway
October 23, 2007

LHASA, Tibet
THE CHINESE have never really understood why the West makes such a fussabout Tibet. China has crushed Tibet, and brought in settlers to swamp itsculture. But by their lights they have brought modernity and a better lifeto a feudal society groaning under the rule of lamas.

They call the exiled Dalai Lama a "splittist," which sounds comic to Westernears, but carries all the deep Chinese fears that forces are conspiring tosplit up the ancient domain of China which, through the ages, has oftendisintegrated into warring factions, only to be reunited again when Chinawas strong.

Tibet has for centuries been considered a satrapy of China, although it hadvirtual independence when China was weak. Tibet is not internationallyrecognized as an independent country. Not even the Dalai Lama himselfinsists on independence. Yet China trembles.

For although the Chinese physical grip on Tibet is unyielding, in the battleof imagination they haven't a chance. Westerners, for hundreds of years,have been intrigued by Tibet as the most remote place on earth, "the roof ofthe world," a hidden and holy land where an esoteric form of Buddhism waspracticed, producing miracles such as flying monks and the ability to sitnaked in the snow and raise your body temperature by powers ofconcentration.

"Through all ages Tibet has held a paramount position among those regions ofthe world which have been popularly invested with a veil of mystery becausethey are inaccessible and unknown," wrote Sir Thomas Holdrich in 1906.

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