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ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 19, 2004

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  • Anton Hein
    ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 19, 2004 Mon, Jan. 19, 2004 [Religious Freedom] Orthodox Jews fight condo rules in Supreme Court
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 19, 2004
      ReligionNewsBlog.com, Jan. 19, 2004

      Mon, Jan. 19, 2004
      [Religious Freedom] Orthodox Jews fight condo rules in Supreme Court
      Orthodox Jews who live in a luxury Montreal condominium will ask the Supreme
      Court of Canada today to consider whether they bargained away their rights
      to religious freedom when they signed their deeds of purchase. Several
      religious organizations will side with five families as they argue that a
      condo rule barring them from putting huts on their balconies for about a
      week each year to celebrate a fall religious festival contravenes the
      Charter of Rights. The case is considered one of the most significant in
      the court's winter session because the outcome could determine whether
      private contracts can override the charter and human-rights legislation.

      [Jehovah's Witnesses] Fifth man alleges sexual abuse at Placer congregation
      A fifth man is contending in court documents that he was sexually abused as
      a youth at a Jehovah's Witness congregation in Placer County. The filing at
      the Historic Courthouse in Auburn by the plaintiff identified by a first
      name and last initial follows a lawsuit by four men in November alleging
      sexual misconduct. The allegation involves the same unnamed defendant
      beginning in the 1980s and continuing for a decade at Jehovah's Witnesses
      congregations in Loomis and Rocklin.

      [Hate Groups : Scientology] Cruise: `Psychiatry should be outlawed'
      Cruise follows the line of thinking adopted by his religion, the
      controversial Church Of Scientology, and refuses to accept psychiatry as a
      legitimate form of self-improvement. [...] The "Last Samurai" star, 41,
      says, "I think it's an utter waste of time. There's nothing scientific about

      1) Cruise thinks there's nothing scientific about psychiatry.
      2) Cruise adheres to the nutty, unscientific fantasies of the
      Scientology business.
      See what Cruise believes: http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/OTIII/
      3) Now you know why Scientologists hate psychiatry.

      [Psychics] Psychic Uri Geller: Jackson denied under hypnosis that he abused
      Psychic Uri Geller defended his friend Michael Jackson on Sunday, saying the
      pop singer denied under hypnosis three years ago that he had sexually abused
      children. Geller, best known for his claimed telekinetic ability to bend
      spoons, told Israel's Army Radio that he hypnotized Jackson when the two
      were alone in a recording studio at an undisclosed location. The hypnosis
      would have taken place before Jackson is alleged to have molested a
      cancer-stricken boy invited to his Neverland Ranch.

      [The Body] Deprogrammed mom ready to go on trial for cult killing of son
      Those close to Attleboro cult mom Karen Robidoux say she's finally emerged
      from the fog of the brainwashing sect that swallowed 14 years of her life.
      But on Wednesday, she will go on trial for allegedly systematically starving
      her son to death to fulfill a bizarre cult prophecy nearly five years ago.
      ``In light of what she's been through, I would have predicted she'd be in
      far worse shape,'' cult deprogrammer Robert Pardon said of Robidoux, who is
      charged with second-degree murder for the 1999 death of her son, Samuel.
      ``She is really coming to grips with what occurred to her. She is as much a
      victim as Samuel.'' Robidoux's husband, Jacques Robidoux, is already
      serving a life sentence without parole after being convicted last year of
      first degree murder for starving the couple's 18-month-old son. Karen
      Robidoux has since distanced herself from the Attleboro-based fundamentalist
      sect - known as The Body. She is free on $100,000 bail and living in a
      southeastern Massachusetts group home for people who've fled high-control

      [The Body] Ex-sect mom's trial set to start Tuesday
      The highly-anticipated infanticide trial of Karen Robidoux is due to begin
      this week. Robidoux's infant son starved to death almost five years ago,
      allegedly because of cult-based religious beliefs. Her husband, Jacques,
      was convicted in June 2002 of first-degree murder in Samuel Robidoux's death
      and sentenced to life in prison. The couple were members of a small,
      Attleboro-based sect called "The Body." The sect, which was led by Jacques'
      father, Roland Robidoux, rejects modern medicine, courts, government and

      [Transcendental Meditation] Peace, and Kucinich, Gets a Chance
      In this little pocket of Iowa, houses are built to face the rising sun,
      something called yogic flying is a popular pastime and Dennis J. Kucinich is
      a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Even as
      much of the country still struggles to pronounce his name (it's
      koo-SIN-itch), Mr. Kucinich has become a phenomenon in Fairfield, population
      9,500. His proposals to promote world peace, universal health care and
      environmental sustainability arguably resonate here as in no other place in
      America. [...] Mr. Kucinich, a vegan, who has proposed a cabinet-level
      Department of Peace, is not a typical candidate. And Fairfield, despite its
      picturesque town square and fluttering American flags, is not a typical
      Iowan town. The home of Maharishi University of Management and a center of
      the Global Country of World Peace, Fairfield and the surrounding area is
      home to 2,000 practitioners of Transcendental Meditation who began settling
      there in the early 1970's.

      [Transcendental Meditation] Kucinich gains loyal following in Fairfield area

      He doesn't get as much press as Howard Dean or Dick Gephardt, and polls
      consistently rank him in the single digits, but Democratic presidential
      candidate Dennis Kucinich has developed a devoted following in Fairfield,
      due in part to members of the Transcendental Meditation community. He's
      been endorsed by John Hagelin, three-time presidential candidate for the
      Fairfield-based Natural Law Party.

      [Islam] Hamas: Women who shame family can be bombers
      Last week, Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin praised the woman who
      killed herself and four Israeli security men at the Erez checkpoint. But it
      turns out Yassin's militant Islamist organization does not unequivocally
      support the use of women in terror attacks - it is especially hesitant about
      the deployment of married mothers. Senior Hamas figures who have consulted
      about the subject recently are inclined to support only the use of women who
      have desecrated rules of "family honor."

      [Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Calvert wants to say sorry
      Premier Lorne Calvert would like to offer an apology to Richard Klassen and
      his family, but says he can't while the matter is still before the courts.
      During a conference call Friday, Calvert said since the province has
      appealed the malicious prosecution lawsuit, he is not prepared to apologize
      during that process. "It would be inappropriate for myself as premier to
      intervene in that legal process," said Calvert. But at the end of the legal
      process, if the initial finding is upheld, "I would want to be the first to
      make an apology, but that, at this moment, is not an option that is
      available to me," said Calvert.

      [Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Police chief apologizes to Klassen
      Saskatoon Police Chief Russell Sabo on Wednesday apologized in person to
      Richard Klassen, who, along with 11 others, last month won a malicious
      prosecution lawsuit against Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck. [...]
      Klassen, Diane Kvello and members of their families won the judgment last
      month against Dueck, Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga and therapist Carol
      Bunko-Ruys, who were involved in prosecuting them in the early 1990s on
      false accusations of sexually abusing foster children.

      [Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Justice system under fire
      The Saskatchewan justice system must give equal time to cases of injustice
      and crimes against marginalized citizens, said the sister of Neil
      Stonechild, who spoke at a demonstration outside Premier Lorne Calvert's
      Saskatoon constituency office Wednesday. Later in the day, Saskatoon police
      Chief Russell Sabo did just that. He apologized in person to Richard
      Klassen, who, along with 11 others, last month won a malicious prosecution
      lawsuit against Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Dueck.

      [Satanic and/or ritual abuse] Saskatchewan Party rips province for backing
      The provincial government is "fundamentally wrong" to support a defamation
      lawsuit against a man wrongly accused of ritual child abuse, the
      Saskatchewan Party said on Tuesday. The province announced last week it
      would appeal Court of Queen's Bench Justice George Baynton's malicious
      prosecution judgment against justice and police officials rather than settle
      with the 12 innocent plaintiffs. The government is also appealing Baynton's
      dismissal of a defamation lawsuit brought against plaintiff Richard Klassen
      by Crown prosecutors Matthew Miazga and Sonja Hansen.

      [Taliban] Taleban drugs control 'effective'
      The Taleban's fight against opium production in Afghanistan was the "most
      effective" drug control policy of modern times, research suggests. During
      the 1990s, Afghanistan was the main source of the world's illicit heroin
      supply. But a UK study has found a Taleban crackdown on drugs led to global
      heroin production falling by two-thirds in 2001. However, it notes that
      such draconian methods could not be used elsewhere.

      [USA] Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?
      Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?
      A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men - fifteen of them Saudi Arabians -
      hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings in New York
      and Washington, killing 3,000 innocent people.

      Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?
      A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of
      the Taliban.

      Q: Aren't the Taliban those bad radical Islamics who chopped off people's
      heads and hands?
      A: Yes, that's exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people's
      heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.

      Q: Didn't the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million dollars back
      in May of 2001?
      A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job
      fighting drugs.

      Q: Fighting drugs?
      A: Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium

      Q: How did they do such a good job?
      A: Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would
      have their hands and heads cut off.

      [Falun Gong] Final warning letter issued to Falun Gong
      The Home Ministry has issued a final warning letter to the Falun Gong sect
      in the country, ordering it to stop interfering in China's internal affairs
      or face the consequences. Sin Chew Daily, in an interview with Deputy Home
      Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung, reported that the ministry had been
      monitoring the sect's website and observed that the sect here wanted to use
      Malaysia as a launching pad to go against the Chinese Government. "Their
      news on the website stating that the organisation had received approval from
      the Registrar of Societies are also false," he said.

      [Hate Groups] Ex-Klan leader now promotes acceptance
      Clad in his signature white sheet and hat, Johnny Lee Clary and his fellow
      Ku Klux Klan members showed up at the home of black civil rights leader the
      Rev. Wade Watts, whom Clary had met earlier on a radio show, and proceeded
      to terrorize him. [...] Now, Clary has done a complete about-face. He's in
      Rocky Mount until Monday, visiting area churches, schools and the Holiday
      Inn Gateway Convention Centre on Sunday to spread his message of love and
      acceptance. His new tell-all book, "Beneath the Sheets: The Ku Klux Klan
      Exposed," is for sale through his Web site, www.johnnyleeclary.com. He's
      appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Geraldo," "Sally Jesse Raphael" and
      "The Jerry Springer Show," both as a Klan spokesman and later as a
      motivational speaker against the same hate groups he once advocated.

      [Aum Shinrikyo] Cults in the Subway
      The lethal behavior of the Aum Supreme Truth has been covered by several
      works of nonfiction, most notably the Kaplan/Marshall "The Cult at the End
      of the World." Now, thanks to Stew Magnuson, we have a fictional account as
      well. Beside the strange fictional relationship between Tamara and her
      cultist boyfriend, the book addresses something that has yet to be fully
      publicized: How much did the Japanese police know about Aum, and what
      dissuaded them from taking action against the cult before it could paralyze
      the transit system with sarin? Was it inertia, incompetence, laziness or

      NOTE: Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi write:
      :===Begin Quote===
      Reliable reports since 1995 have shown that Japanese authorities were
      actually not just overly cautious, but negligent and deferential, if not
      protective, regarding criminal activities by Aum, because of its status as
      an NRM. ''Some observers wonder what took the Japanese authorities so long
      to take decisive action. It seems apparent that enough serious concerns had
      been raised about various Aum activities to warrant a more serious police
      inquiry prior to the subway gas attack'' (Mullins, 1997, p. 321). The group
      can only be described as extremely violent and murderous. ''Thirty-three Aum
      followers are believed to have been killed between ...1988 and
      ...1995...Another twenty-one followers have been reported missing [and
      presumed dead]'' (Mullins, 1997, p. 320). Among non-members, there have been
      24 murder victims. One triple murder case in 1989 and another poison gas
      attack in 1994 which killed seven have been committed by the group, as well
      as less serious crimes which the police was not too eager to investigate
      (Beit-Hallahmi, 1998; Haworth, 1995; Mullins, 1997). So it is safe to
      conclude that religious freedom was not the issue in this case. Nor is it
      likely, as some Aum apologists among NRM scholars have claimed, that this
      lethal record (77 deaths on numerous occasions over seven years) and other
      non-lethal criminal activities were the deeds of a few rogue leaders.
      Numerous individuals must have been involved in, and numerous others aware
      of, these activities.
      - http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c59.html
      :===End Quote===

      [Yoga] Yoga stretches far, from India to San Francisco
      Bringing together world-renowned faculty and yoga practitioners, Yoga
      Journal magazine is hosting its second annual West Coast conference. [...]
      As with any industry, yoga's supercharged growth has translated into an
      exhilarating and lucrative ride for some and a new beginning for others,
      such as small-business people. Its pervasiveness has also created -- or
      created an interest in uncovering -- controversies. There are, for starters,
      the alleged sex scandals. Last year, Yee was sued by a former employee who
      claimed she was denied the opportunity to teach at his studio after she
      approached him about his alleged sexual affairs with students. (Yee was
      unavailable to comment on the lawsuit, but according to his Piedmont Avenue
      studio manager, Lisa Stewart, "the case was settled out of court to the
      satisfaction of all parties.") The paradox between yoga's spiritual roots
      in India and the United States' capitalistic ethos has caused strains, too.

      [Psychics] Psychic institute helps let those true colors glow
      Rich Powers was sitting on a folding chair with his eyes tightly shut when
      something brought him to full attention. "Hey, Ray," he said, "there's a
      little bit of stuck energy behind you. It's a rust orange color, maybe some
      family energy. As the translucent blue comes in, though, it's cleaning out
      the rust." [...] Such is the tenor of conversation on almost any day at
      Anaheim's Southern California Psychic Institute, where people let their
      colors show. In fact, said Joel Hipps, who co-directs the place with his
      wife, Barbara, checking auras is a daily routine. [...] Aided by 10
      teachers, they now instruct as many as 100 people a month at nonprofit
      psychic centers in Santa Monica, Costa Mesa and a business suite in Anaheim.
      [...] For some, being psychic has a spiritual aspect. At least once a month,
      Hipps said, the institute, which he also calls the Church of the Rose, holds
      a religious service for students and certified clairvoyants. "We're a
      nondenominational Christian psychic church," he said. "We see Jesus as a
      psychic, and basically we're trying to learn to perform all the miracles he
      did." A few miracles already have been mastered, Hipps said.

      [Media] The Porn Star and the Evangelist Help Push Surreal Life to Success
      Ron Jeremy is basking in the glow of mainstream media attention as the WB
      network flexes their PR arm for the Surreal Life 2, which debuted on January
      11 to set network ratings records for the it's timeslot on WB. [...] And the
      Hedgehog living in the same house as evangelist Tammy Faye Messner should be
      energetic enough for anyone. Throw in a bitter Vanilla Ice, who now goes by
      Rob Van Winkle, former Baywatch babe Traci Bingham, Erik Estrada of CHIP,
      and Canatella and the kinetic potential of the show is endless. [...] A
      quick review of commentary on the show suggests that the opposite polarity
      of Messner and Jeremy is one of the most intriguing aspects of the show.
      Jeremy previously told AVN.com that Messner and he got along great, and that
      she was a "sweetheart" and surprisingly open minded.

      [Cloning] Experts demand human cloning proof
      Scientists have received the news that a human embryo has been cloned into a
      woman with a large dose of skepticism and are challenging the maverick
      fertility expert to prove it. U.S.-based Dr Panos Zavos said on Sunday some
      secrecy had to be maintained in his work and he stood by his announcement
      that he had transplanted the embryo into a 35-year-old-woman less than two
      weeks ago. The claim bore a striking resemblance to an announcement made
      last year by the Raelian Movement -- a cult that believes life on Earth was
      engineered by visitors from outer space -- saying it had produced the
      world's first cloned human. It never came up with any scientific evidence
      but managed to whip up huge publicity around the world. Scientists are now
      throwing down a similar gauntlet to Zavos, urging him to publish his results
      so they can be reviewed by experts.

      [Islam] Questioning Islam
      "Why can't girls lead prayer?" "Why would the prophet Muhammad have
      commended his army to kill an entire Jewish tribe when the Koran supposedly
      came to him as a message of peace?" Her irate teacher wouldn't give her
      answers and instead told her to read the Koran. When she tried to look
      elsewhere for help, the school did everything it could to keep her out of
      its library, where women didn't belong. [...] Now, in her own book "The
      Trouble With Islam," a jolting look at the faith she has held on to since
      childhood, Manji, who has since become a prominent lesbian television host
      in her home country, offers some answers to those questions she asked as an
      adolescent and many more that have puzzled her along the way.

      [Islam] Al-Qaeda launches online terrorist manual
      Al-Qaeda has issued a chilling new call to arms to recruits who remain
      undetected by security agencies. In a terrorist manual published on the
      internet, Osama bin Laden says: 'After Iraq and Afghanistan will come the
      Crusader invasion of Saudi Arabia. All fighters all over the world must be
      ready.' [...] The manual is an internal al-Qaeda document and will be of
      enormous interest to security agencies. The fact that al-Adel, a former
      special forces colonel in the Egyptian army, has risked discovery to publish
      it is an indication of its importance.

      [Church and State] Conservatives influencing Park Service, critics say
      While the Park Service says these are unrelated incidents, reflecting no
      overarching political policy, a national alliance of public environmental
      workers says the efforts are evidence of a new program of "faith-based
      parks" promoted by the Bush administration with the strong support of
      conservative groups.

      [Islam] Muslim Radicalism Flowers in French Town
      Clean and green, this well-kept Lyon suburb has for three years running won
      the national competition for "Flowered Cities of France." But Venissieux
      also has a macabre claim to fame. Long plagued by urban violence, it is
      emerging as a breeding ground for Islamic radicals, some implicated in an
      alleged terrorist network that authorities say was preparing a chemical
      attack against Russian targets. [...] Venissieux first gained national
      attention two decades ago when its residents headed a march of 100,000
      mostly French Muslims to Paris in 1983 to demand equal rights and
      integration. Today, despairing Muslims are increasingly turning to
      religion. A more radical brand of Islam took hold about five years ago, said
      deputy mayor Bayrem Braiki. Muslim activists "have been stuffing the brains
      of our youth ... explaining that the only way out is religion," said Braiki,
      28, a practicing Muslim who grew up in Les Minguettes, this town's toughest

      [Anglican Church] Conservative Episcopalians meet to form new group
      Conservative Episcopalians are gathering Monday to establish an
      unprecedented nationwide organization to unite opponents of last year's
      consecration of their denomination's first openly gay bishop. Activists say
      the new Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes won't be a
      breakaway denomination or schism but rather a "church within a church."
      Nonetheless, it's a potentially serious challenge to Episcopal Church
      leaders. The two-day meeting to form the network involves bishops, clergy
      and lay delegates from 12 dioceses representing 235,000 members, a tenth of
      the nation's Episcopalians.

      [Michael Jackson] Farrakhan army flanks star
      The Nation of Islam's involvement in Michael Jackson's affairs was on very
      public display yesterday. [...] Their front-and-center presence raises new
      questions about whether Louis Farrakhan's group is secretly in charge of
      Jackson's empire. "They are in control. Their influence is very
      substantial," insists Stuart Backerman, who was ousted from Jackson's team
      two weeks ago. [...] Jackson was raised a Jehovah's Witness but left the
      faith in the 1980s. His brother, Jermaine, converted to Islam and is thought
      to be behind the Nation's involvement.

      ... How much time and energy would you have to spend searching for the news
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      [Polygamy] Colorado City upheaval could be big break
      A feud that escalated this week between leading families of Colorado City
      and the escape of two 16-year-old girls might shed new light on allegations
      of child abuse and welfare fraud in the isolated, polygamous community, Gov.
      Janet Napolitano said Thursday. But Napolitano admitted to the Tribune's
      editorial board that years of investigation have failed to resolve frequent
      reports of underage girls being forced to marry older men at the behest of
      community and religious leader Warren Jeffs. Napolitano said a close-knit
      society, combined with the broad protections granted to parents under state
      law, has thwarted efforts to collect evidence of possible child rape and
      other crimes. "Don't just sit at the table and ask 'What are you going to
      do,' " Napolitano said. "Give me a suggestion. We are at wits' end unless
      you want to go in and declare martial law."

      [Polygamy] Colorado City runaway in state protective custody
      In the state's first case concerning runaways from polygamist families after
      the recent shakeup in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
      Day Saints, the Utah Attorney General's Office intervened Saturday morning
      in St. George to put a Colorado City girl in state protective custody. [...]
      "If the AG holds the ground," said Jay Beswick, a child protection advocate
      who has helped women flee polygamous marriages, "We'll see more runaways."
      Beswick, who has researched the FLDS church for more than three years,
      predicted a five-way split within one of the largest polygamist enclaves in
      North America. Jeffs, who is rumored to be building a compound in Mexico,
      will likely keep about 500 faithful, he said. A second group will follow
      Winston Blackmore, who now has about 800 polygamists in Canada, Beswick
      said. Blackmore came to Colorado City last week and spoke briefly Saturday
      before about 500 people at a funeral in St. George.

      [Polygamy] Court protects Colorado City runaways
      Like many Colorado City girls, Flora Jessop said she was ordered at age 14
      to marry a man with five wives. Unlike most Colorado City girls, she ran
      away. She walked about 60 miles on foot across the desert, only to be found
      on the streets in St. George and returned to her father. She would run four
      more times in the next four years, be locked up for three years, baptized
      nine times in public, sexually abused by her father, beaten repeatedly and
      mentally tortured. "The reality is, when these kids are turned over, they
      pay dearly," said Jessop, 33, who finally fled successfully in 1986.
      "Sometimes I wonder how I succeeded, too. Then I look around. I saw these
      kids. I succeeded so these kids don't have to go through what I went
      through." This is true for the two most recent runaways, Fawn Broadbent and
      Fawn Holm. In the aftermath of the recent shakeup in the Fundamentalist
      Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the two-16-year-olds fled in
      Jessop's van on Sunday, for fear that the Prophet Warren Jeffs would order
      them to marry older men. On Friday night, the girls received court orders
      from the Maricopa County Juvenile Court in Phoenix, protecting them from
      being returned to homes they no longer miss. With about 6,000 residents,
      Colorado City and its neighboring town, Hildale, are dominated by the FLDS
      church, an offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The
      FLDS church still teaches polygamy as a central tenet. Jessop, now a
      well-known anti-polygamy activist in Phoenix, helped secure the documents
      after several days of intense negotiations with Arizona Attorney General
      Terry Goddard, Arizona State Sen. Linda Binder, R-District 3, and Child
      Protective Services.

      [Lord's Resistance Army] Ugandan rebels kill 18 in northern village, says
      Ugandan rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) shot dead 18 people,
      most of them women, in a northern village last week, a priest said on
      Sunday. The cult-like rebel group has waged war against Uganda's government
      for 17 years and its fighters are feared for maiming civilians and abducting
      children for use as sex slaves and soldiers.

      [Islam] Minister blasts headscarf protest
      French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has criticised worldwide protests
      against plans to ban Islamic headscarves from state schools. Mr Sarkozy said
      the protests at the government proposals would only promote tension,
      misunderstandings and anger. Around 5,000 mainly Muslim marchers took part
      in a demonstration in Paris, which was fewer than expected. [...] Mainstream
      Muslim groups had distanced themselves from the action, advocating instead
      continued dialogue with the government. The demonstrations in Paris and
      other French cities were organised by a small group, the Party of French
      Muslims (PMF), which is regarded by many in France as a radical Islamist
      organisation, the BBC's Alan Little reports from Paris.

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