Saturday, March 19, 2011

Arianna Huffington: The Men And The Madness

I did a lot of reading on Zsa-Zsa last night and, aside from the lying and NewAge cultism, what stood out for me is the whoring-your-way-to-the-top ethos, and the men she used (or was used by) to get there. Here's a break down of what the "Greek Goddess" has been doing in the real world:
In 1971, Arianna appeared on the BBC classical-music quiz show “Face the Music.” One of the other panelists was Bernard Levin, a columnist for the London Times. A lifelong bachelor, he was forty-two; she was twenty-one, and an admirer. (She clipped his columns from the paper, underlined them, and saved them in a special file.) By the end of the taping, according to Huffington, Levin had invited her to dinner. “All I remember is that I spent the week prepping, getting myself up to date on Northern Ireland, the latest developments in the Soviet Union, and the latest Wagner recordings,” Huffington wrote later.

Her cramming paid off, and she continued to immerse herself in Levin’s highly ritualized world: the theatre, opera, lobster, Wexford every year. “He used to say that going to bed with him was a liberal education,” Huffington, who still refers to Levin as “the big love of my life,” has said. Her writing from the era—her next book, “After Reason,” was a byzantine polemic against “political salvationism”—reflects his libertarian politics and orotund style. “It was just like everything was so delicious about him,” she told me.

The couple eventually embarked on a period of metaphysical inquiry that alienated some of their friends and colleagues as much as it entertained the press. Christopher Hitchens wrote, “Let the record show that in October 1979. . . Bernard Levin achieved the total state of self-absorption towards which he had been moving for so long. The venue was the Café Royal: amid incense and vaguely Oriental music, flanked by his companion, Levin rose and told a large invited audience how they could be ‘changed,’ by investing £150 in a 50-hour ‘Insight training.’ ” (Insight was founded by the spiritual leader John-Roger, with whom Huffington has remained affiliated. Huffington denies that incense and Oriental music played a role in the event.) When Levin died, in 2004, his obituary in the Times noted that Huffington’s “interest in mystic cults . . . was to lead him into one of the more embarrassing episodes of his journalism—his hyperbolic praise through a number of columns of the self-promoting guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.”
So Arianna Huffington got what was, by all accounts, a brilliant and successful man and, by the time of his death, had turned him into a laughing stock. Great.

Arianna Huffington became a disciple of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose cult practiced open sexual intercourse among its members, and with its leader, as a central sacrament of their faith. This cult later moved to America’s West Coast and attempted to take over an Oregon town. Bhagwan devotees were directed to purchase what eventually became 139 white Rolls Royces for their leader. As Judith Miller and two other New York Times investigative reporters recounted in their 2001 book Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War, the Rajneesh cult spread potentially lethal Salmonella bacteria in this town. Rajneesh cult members did this as a way of infecting and incapacitating town residents on election day so that cult voters could win control of the local government. The Bhagwan died in 1990.

“It was like knowing there was another dimension to life and that I wanted to experience it, knowing that nothing else mattered as much,” Huffington later told Stephanie Mansfield of the Washington Post about this time of her life. “It took me over completely.”
Has anyone ever asked Arianna if she was part of the effort to poison the town? Of course, she'd lie about it, but has anyone ever asked?

Fueled by his father’s money and his wife’s ambition, Texas millionaire Roy Michael Huffington Jr. is trying to buy his way into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 1996, after brief stops in the House and the Senate. He hasn’t quite made it to the latter yet. That’s why the first-term California congressman, who moved to Santa Barbara from Texas only in 1991 and has almost no legislative record—he’s on his way to spending more money on a campaign than anyone ever has in the history of the Senate, perhaps $25 million, to unseat the Democratic incumbent, Dianne Feinstein. And that’s only one part of the Huffington story.
“If anyone thinks she hasn’t seen herself in the White House yet, then you don’t know Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington,” says Peter Matson, a former literary agent of the Greek-born, Cambridge-educated author. “Michael was searching for himself, and Arianna found him,” says a friend who knew them before they were married. “My illustration for them is ‘Driving Michael Huffington’: Arianna wearing a cap behind the wheel and Michael sitting in the backseat looking perfectly bewildered.”

Yet Huffington has already managed to win once with the help of his wife, who frequently spoke in his place and who has been dubbed “the sir Edmund Hillary of social climbers.” In 1992 he spent 5.2 million - $43 a vote – and gave many thousands more in donations to cultural and charitable institutions in his Republican district in a slash-and-burn campaign aimed first at turning out nine-term congressman Bob Lagomarsino and the at defeating his Democratic opponent. Now, he’s in the process of spending five times that on the Senate race against Feinstein, and rapidly depleting his $70 million share of the money from the sale of Huffco, the oil-and-gas company his father created, in 1990. And he’s doing it all on TV, where everything is scripted for him and where he doesn’t have to talk to the press or to voters.

“He’s a media projection. When the cameras go away, nothing is there,” says political reporter Nick Welsh, who contributes to a popular column in The Santa Barbara Independent, in which Huffington is routinely referred to as “the alleged congressman.” Indeed, Michael Huffington could easily become the Chauncey Gardiner of the 90s—the man who says nothing to great acclaim. “Huffington has never stood up for anything: I’ve never seen a position paper, a press conference, even an ad where he’s said anything,” declares Santa Barbara Republican activist Hazel Richardson Blankenship. “Once in a while you can actually get a complete idiot elected to the U.S. Senate, and it could happen again.”

“They’re scary,” one of Michael Huffington’s former legislative aides told me. “They’re scary because it’s a process taking place in America. Democracy for the average guy isn’t there, because these guys buy elections, and they buy them on ego.”

In Paris in the late 70s, Arianna Stassinopoulos was ordained a minister in the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness. In 1984 she was baptized in the river Jordan. M.S.I.A. is a New Age church to its followers but a mind-manipulating cult to many of those who have left it. In her ordination, Arianna, who attained the highest level of secret initiation, “Soul Initiate,” swore devotion to a curious divinity. The document of ordination reads: “We do this through the order of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Office of the Christ, the Mystical Traveler, Preceptor Consciousness, and into God. This delineates for you the divine line of authority.” In other words, the instigator of a Senate campaign preaching traditional values has long been beholden to a most untraditional form of religion, led by a guru who considers himself more powerful than Jesus Christ. M.S.I.A. ministers believe that the Mystical Traveler, the chosen one of God on earth at any given time, is now John-Roger, the founder of M.S.I.A. They believe that the Preceptor Consciousness, which is embodied on the planet only every 25,000 years and is therefore higher than Christ, is personified by John-Roger. Soul Initiates such as Arianna are required to pray by chanting the secret names of God that John-Roger gives them. They either follow the rules or renounce the ministry, which is fully accredited in California and which allows them to perform weddings and baptismal ceremonies. Arianna Huffington, who has followed the diminutive John-Roger all over the world for two decades, has never renounced her ministry. She told me, “That’s not necessary. Because to me a ministry is something of being of service . . . not about performing baptisms and weddings.” When I asked Arianna if she still chants the names of God that John-Roger gave her—a dead-bang giveaway, according to ex-M.S.I.A. members, as to whether or not someone still believes—she replied, “These are sacred questions . . . I pray. I’m not going to discuss how I pray.”

Records filed with the California attorney general show that between July 1990 and June 1993 Arianna Huffington contributed $35,000 to the Foundation for the Study of Individual and World Peace, formerly the John-Roger Foundation. John-Roger, or J-R, the 60-year-old Utah-born former schoolteacher based in Los Angeles, was born Roger Hinkins but metamorphosed during a nine-day kidney-stone-induced coma into a self-proclaimed god. He has been accused in various media exposés, notable in the Los Angeles Times in 1988, of mind control, electronic eavesdropping, and the sexual coercion of male acolytes—charges he denied. He encourages his 3,000 or so followers to tithe, i.e., give 10 percent of their income to him. Ex-member Susan Roberts remembers Arianna during an M.S.I.A. retreat in upstate New York in 1987, standing up and saying, “‘Dahlings, if you want to marry a rich man like I did, then tithe!’ Everyone whooped and hollered.”

John-Roger has told his followers that they have the power to change weather patterns and dismantle nuclear weapons. Yet Arianna has always defended him, though now she consistently minimizes how close they have been and insists, in interviews about John-Roger’s multimillion-dollar empire, there is “nothing that you join.”

“Of course there’s something to join. You have to enroll in the discourses in order to be an initiate of the Traveler,” says Susan Roberts. “She’s a very lying woman.” Another ex-follower, Dodie Brady, who participated in more than a dozen M.S.I.A.-sponsored events with Arianna on three continents and who witnessed her baptism in the Holy Land, agrees. “When we were in it, we all considered it our church. I don’t know why Arianna is lying about it.” Now that Arianna is courting Christian conservatives, touting her Greek Orthodox religion, and appearing with televangelist Rober Schuller on his Sunday-morning show to extol her husband’s advocacy of prayer in the schools, her allegiance to John-Roger is definitely something to keep hidden. “If the Christian right knew what M.S.I.A. was about, ” says Dodie Brady, “they wouldn’t be endorsing Arianna and Michael Huffington.”

Arianna told me that John-Roger is merely “a friend,” that “there is nothing I participate in,” that “I have not spent many years in his training,” and that “he has never been a guru—nobody’s been a guru to me.” There is no acknowledgment of him in her current book. Ex-followers of John-Roger with whom I spoke were incredulous at these denials. Jim Brady, the ex-head of John-Roger’s Insight training seminars in the Northeast, told me that in 1986, when Michael Huffington worked for the Department of Defense, he was called by Arianna as a fellow M.S.I.A. minister to bless her rented house in Georgetown. “It was just the two of us. It took about an hour, and you have to pray first, invoking John-Roger: ‘Light of the Mystical Traveler, Preceptor Consciousness, be with us now.’ I blessed every room, from all the way down to the wine cellar up to her office on the top floor.” Arianna denied that any blessing ever took place.

When I pressed her repeatedly about whether John-Roger was higher than Jesus Christ, she refused to answer directly five times and professed not to know what I meant about the Preceptor Consciousness. “That part of it doesn’t interest me.” “Arianna,” I said, “I have talked to people who believe that you have been in a cult for over 20 years.” She gave me another nondenial denial: “Well, did I do anything ever that made you think that I am a member of a cult?” I mentioned that I had been told that she recruited people and J-R paid her to do this, which she also denied, although many of the social elite of New York and Los Angeles met John-Roger at dinner parties she threw. Art-book dealer Dagny Corcoran, for instance, told me that on a number of occasions she was seated between J-R acolytes and that of course she met John-Roger. “It was like trying literally to sell things to your friends. I’d never had that happen to me.”

Arianna was key to John-Roger, who, says an ex-follower, “can read what drives you and feed it . . . Her purpose fit hand in glove with J-R’s. She got to satisfy her power lust, and it was absolutely what ‘God’ wanted.” Not only was Arianna passing along stock tips she had gleaned from one of the rich men she was trying to land at the time, financier David Murdock, she was also able to introduce John-Roger to such people as Peter Jennings, her close friend Barbara Walters, who was a bridesmaid at her wedding, and the actor Raul Julia. In exchange, John-Roger allegedly paid her “consulting fees” to help support her costly, over-the-top, debt-ridden lifestyle. One of his checks to her was for $10,000. “I was there in his bedroom when they discussed the money for Arianna,” says Victor Toso, one of the several former members who have charged they were pressured to submit to sex with J-R. Arianna flatly denied receiving any such payments, and says she lived off lecture fees and her sizable book earnings. Finally, after I brought up the hierarchy yet again, she said, “It’s like saying to me Jesus Christ is higher than this table or something. I don’t express myself that way. Of course there is no comparison between Jesus Christ and John-Roger. That is absurd.”

Within the last year, Arianna was seen at the $5,000-a-plate Founders Circle dinner, which John-Roger presides over for his inner circle. When I asked her why she gave him money, she was finally direct: “Because I believe in the work that he’s doing with people—his teachings.”

Peter McWilliams, a best-selling author who split from John-Roger only last March and who is embroiled in a lawsuit with M.S.I.A.—he has recently published Life 102: What to Do When Your Guru Sues You—remembers many times when Arianna would publicly share intimate details of her life with Michael, who evidently keeps his distance from John-Roger. McWilliams has met Michael Huffington several times, was Arianna’s houseguest last year, and recently received a fund-raising letter from Michael saying that “it’s never easy to ask for money from friends.” He was also one of about 50 people on a special computer mailing system with J-R. According to McWilliams, Arianna would complain that Michael didn’t want to pay for a big mansion in Santa Barbara because he preferred Texas, and at one retreat several years ago she beseeched the guru to tell her how to get her husband to impregnate her again. “And John-Roger would answer these questions,” says McWilliams, “something like, ‘You know, dahlin’, we made a deal here. . . and if you’re looking for a romance in the bargain, you’re being stupid.’” Arianna seems to have absorbed so much from John-Roger that even the image of her life as being on a train appears on John-Roger’s tapes. The title of the talk show she currently hosts, Critical Mass, on the Christian-conservative-endorsed National Empowerment Television, is also taken from a New Age concept and John-Roger’s statement that “a critical-mass change in consciousness creates possibility, liberating us from the idea of impossibility.” In Washington, Arianna has become the source of titters and endless gossip for her peculiar “Critical Mass” dinners, where she presides as moderator for guests who are not told that they are being tape-recorded, and where Michael, if he shows up, remains virtually silent.

Several of the nine sources I spoke with who had been with Arianna in M.S.I.A. told me that John-Roger guided her every step in her pursuit of Michael Huffington, whom she had met through the socialite Ann Getty, even as to how to negotiate their prenuptial contract. “He was perfect. He was rich and he had no point of view, so she could mold him,” says a source. “It happened incredibly fast.” Before and after every date, Arianna would check in with the guru by telephone, to see “what would God do next.” McWilliams says, “It was like the Machiavelli brothers telling the princess how to win the war.” For his own amusement and that of “the guys” who tended him, J-R would put Arianna on the speakerphone so that they all could hear the travails of her sex life, which she also “shared” in retreats and seminars.

Before Michael Huffington, Arianna had made plays for former California governor Jerry Brown, est founder Werner Erhard, developer and publisher Mort Zuckerman, and billionaire David Murdock. Arianna’s major crushes were Erhard and Brown. “She very much wanted Jerry. She was a liberal Democrat then,” says a close friend at the time. “She felt he could become president with her behind him.” According to Peter Matson, “She was telling lots of people there was a wedding in the offing. In those days it was definitely Democratic politics. She raised money for Gary Hart. I met Gary Hart for the first time in her living room.”

“She had an event at her house, a big dinner for my Senate election, but I couldn’t go, so my parents went, “says Jerry Brown, who considers Arianna “very intelligent and very interesting—a lot of fun.” Of course, Brown, Zuckerman, and Murdock all met John-Roger. Jerry Brown says, “I had an uncomfortable feeling about him.” While Mort Janklow was Arianna’s agent, he met John-Roger at one of her dinners. “I was astounded she was so impressed with him,” he says.

The imperial sense of entitlement that so many feel Arianna Huffington displays in her work and her dealings with people was surely strengthened by being in such close communion with John-Roger. “When you think you are living under the power of the living Jesus, you lose perspective,” says M.S.I.A. dropout Walter Ligon. “‘I’m going to take care of you for the rest of your life-just chant my name.’”
So, first, we have the murderous Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and later came tyrannical Werner Erhard (of est and The Landmark Forum fame) and finally the John-Roger cult. And, let's not forget, exploiting another successful man - Michael Huffington - to ingratiate herself into American politics, reducing him as well to a joke, courtesy of John-Roger. But she really wanted Jerry Brown.

Lovely woman.

The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (or MSIA, sometimes pronounced "messiah") is a 501(c)(3) non-profit religious corporation, incorporated in California on June 25, 1971. Prior to incorporation, the group was founded in California in 1968 by John-Roger (formerly Roger Delano Hinkins). The church has about 5,000 active students, mainly in the United States, as well as in 32 countries around the world. MSIA is alleged by some sources to be a religious cult.

MSIA teaches a meditation technique known as Spiritual Exercises. Spiritual Exercises (or SEs) are an active meditation technique based on chanting specific sacred Sanskrit words internally, in a similar fashion to the Transcendental Meditation (TM) techniques. MSIA also offers its students a twelve-year study support subscription called Soul Awareness Discourses. Discourses are a program designed to educate students on the teachings of MSIA and assist readers stay focused on their spiritual practices. Both the tones and discourses are held sacred to each student.

The Founder John-Roger (formerly Hinkins) and John Morton are considered to be the leaders of the group and are both referred to as the "Traveler".

Often called a 'church without walls' by its members, MSIA is a religion per se, that provides a set of tools and techniques to teach Soul Transcendence. Soul Transcendence, as defined by MSIA, is the process of becoming aware of yourself as a soul and as one with God. The MSIA teachings draw primarily on the ministry of Jesus Christ ("The Christ Consciousness is the spiritual line of energy undergirding MSIA"); they also include elements of esoteric Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and the Sant Mat tradition.

Roger Delano Hinkins was born on September 24, 1934 to a Mormon family in Rains, Utah. Hinkins was raised in Utah and received a degree in psychology from the University of Utah in 1958 before moving to San Francisco to work as an insurance claims adjustor before getting a job teaching English at Rosemead High School in a suburb of Los Angeles.

According to Hinkins' official web site, he first attended the University of Utah, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology in 1958 and a Secondary Teaching Credential in 1960; he later performed post-graduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Southern California and California State University, Los Angeles. Hinkins also holds a California Secondary Life Teaching Credential, and a Doctorate of Spiritual Science from the Peace Theological Seminary & College of Philosophy, an unaccredited institution which Hinkins founded in 1977.

In the early 1960s Hinkins took a correspondence course with the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis [Just like Sirhan Sirhan!]and occasionally attended the Agasha Temple of Wisdom. Eckankar asserts that Hinkins also joined their group in 1967 and was given a second initiation by its founder Paul Twitchell in 1968 but this is disputed.

In late 1963 Hinkins underwent a kidney stone operation, which led to a nine-day coma and reputed near-death experience. Shortly after this, Hinkins visited two trance-channelers and claimed to have encountered a higher consciousness named 'John within himself', and began referring to himself as John-Roger.

In 1971 Hinkins formally organized MSIA, a new religious movement based in California, United States.

MSIA has been criticized by a variety of people over the years, but David C. Lane and Peter McWilliams provide the most substantive body of criticism, both of which focus on the role of founder John-Roger. The gist of Lane's criticism of Hinkins is that he uses spiritual teachings taken from Paul Twitchell's Eckankar, who in turn took them from Radha Soami Satsang Beas, with which Lane is actively involved. MSIA has also been referred to as an "offshoot" of Lifespring.

Ex-MSIA Minister Peter McWilliams wrote Life 102: What to Do When Your Guru Sues You,, which was critical of Hinkins. McWilliams also dismisses MSIA as little more than a personality cult. In his book Williams asserts that Hinkins suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, possibly due to his 1963 coma. At the time of writing the book McWilliams, by his own admission, was treating himself daily with medical cannabis for chronic nausea.

Williams chronicles his extended relationship with Hinkins, accusing him of various misrepresentations and improprieties. However, McWilliams later agreed to abandon the copyright to MSIA to settle libel litigation over the contents of the book, and later asked that the book be removed from circulation in a notarized letter, stating "the content of the book is no longer one with which I would like to have my name associated".

MSIA has frequently been accused of being a Cult of Personality. Whether or not MSIA should be labeled a cult is a matter of dispute. Both the movement and its founder have been through alleged scandals (published in People Magazine and the Los Angeles Times among other publications) suggesting financial improprieties as well as sexual misconduct by Hinkins. MSIA gained widespread attention during the senatorial campaign of Michael Huffington, whose wife, Arianna Huffington, denied that she was a member of MSIA.
Too many lies to keep track of - which is probably why so few have tried to do so - but, as a follower of John-Roger, this should come as no surprise. I mean, the guy claims he's God, changes his name, and then somehow gained a "Doctorate of Spiritual Science" from an unaccredited institution which he, himself, founded?

Why, they're both integrity personified!

During these years and around the time of her [Huffington]  involvement with John-Roger's religious group, she was involved with Democratic politician and then-governor (currently Attorney General) of California, Jerry Brown. It was during this time that Huffington (then Stassinopoulos) was first known as a liberal/left-wing/Democrat,  the position she returned to once again in the post-90s following the right-wing years of the 1980s to late 1990s.

She became a Republican when she married the gay Republican, Michael Huffington. Ed Rollins has publicly claimed that she offered to provide him with a prostitute if he would manage her husband's campaign. (The rumor is the prostitute was .......)

The couple divorced in 1997, and in 1998 Michael Huffington revealed that he was bisexual. A 1999 magazine article claimed that Arianna Huffington "entered the marriage... with full knowledge of Michael Huffington's sexual interests in men". The financial terms of their divorce agreement remain undisclosed. Arianna Huffington chose to retain her former husband's surname, although she had been known as Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington during the period of her marriage.

She took her gay husband's payoff - and started a blog with leftopaths and barely literate Hollywood celebs.

Here's Rollins in RCP 2003:

Every time I see her I can hear Ed Rollins' description of her ringing in my ears. Here is how Rollins, who managed Michael Huffington's 1994 California Senate run, described Arianna and her husband in his book "Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms": Since early July, I'd been working for two of the most unprincipled political creatures I'd ever encountered. One was such a complete cipher he gave empty suits a bad name. But his wife was even worse - a domineering Greek Rasputin determined to ride her husband's wealth to political glory at any cost....

Arianna Huffington had charmed me out of my socks to get me to manage her husband's campaign. But in a few short months, I'd come to realize that she was the most ruthless, unscrupulous, and ambitious person I'd met in thirty years in national politics - not to mention that she sometimes seemed truly pathological.
And yet, for some reason, the public is primed to applaud this shark's every conquest. Blood in the water can be pretty, I guess.

"I didn't out him," [David] Brock told Media Circus. "Huffington came to me and told me his story."

Here's a pared-down version of that story: Very, very rich Republican man spends $30 million -- the most ever spent on a nonpresidential campaign -- on a Senate race he doesn't want to win. Why? Because he's living someone else's life.
I wonder whose that would be?

6 comments:

  1. Superb summary of "Zsa Zsa"'s life of social climbing, manipulation and prevarication, as well as the cultic influences behind the scenes. I never bought her "conversion" to soft-Leftism as anything more than a change of strategy, and an attempted hostile takeover of a chunk of American political life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Speaking of Republican billionaires trying to buy elections without any particular position on or interest in the issues, Meg Whitman spent $142 million of her own money trying to buy the California governor's race, which surely beats Huffington's 30 million to set a new record.

    Aside from this minor correction, interesting article.

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  3. Wow Anonymous,

    Except for totally overlooking the point of my post, like I never even mentioned it, just so you can take a partisan dig - you know, ignoring the whole Arianna's an evil cult fruitcake thing - I see your point exactly:

    She and Whitman - who, as far as I know, never exploited anyone - are just alike.

    Gawd, I love Democrats. They're so smaaaart.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Except for totally overlooking the point of my post

    Hard to know what the point of "your" post actually was, since all you really did was here was republish Lauren Collin's original article from the Oct 13, 2008 issue of the New Yorker without giving her credit or even so much as a link:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/10/13/081013fa_fact_collins?currentPage=all

    How would you feel if someone else started selling your music on the internet and passing it off as their own?

    Does being a "conservative" give you the right to steal?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Four things:

    1) You must be new to the internet because, if you look at those red things, those are called "links" and they lead to the source for each quote. There are four of them in this post - not one - and the main one is from the late Tim Russert's wife, Maureen Orth. Both are/were liberals.

    2) People do sell my music online, without me making a dime, and, sorry, but it doesn't keep me up nights. In case you haven't noticed, I give 'em away myself. Also, I did comment on this post, so it is "mine". Also, I didn't notice the original articles, or the photos used, disappearing, so the idea of me "stealing" anything is bogus. Again - you must be new online.

    3) Attempting to change the subject isn't a defense.

    4) Anonymous commenters are also the most chicken shit.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I read so much useful data above!

    ReplyDelete

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