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TBR News May 27, 2018

May 27 2018

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C. May 27, 2018: “In an age when a growing dissatisfaction with systems of governance, the public has become more and more interested in conspiracy theories that purport to expose various misdeeds of governance and its various organs and purported accomplices and its various organs and accomplices.

We have seen an enormous body of revisionist literature arise, dealing with the assassination of President Kennedy, and as that topic slid down from public interest, another issue rose to prominence speculation and fictive writing. This was the September 11, 2001 attack by Saudi terrorists on various targets in the United State.

Invented stories about “robot aircraft,”  “’Nano thermite’ controlled explosions,” and other theories, many verging on the lunatic, sprang up and proliferated. While most of these entertainments were the product of inventive minds and eagerly accepted by a public that felt betrayed by their government and the upper levels of the national economic structure, a number of stories were very obviously clever insertions of deliberate disinformation from the very same power elite.

One of the recurring themes of the conspiracy claques is that of the existence of a secret society, or organization, that is somehow able to exert powerful but behind-the-scenes control over all aspects of governance. One of the favorites has been the Illuminati. This was originally a German association, formed in 1776 by one Adam Weishaupt, a Freemason and law professor at the University of Ingolstadt in Bavaria.

The original Illuminati, then called the Order of Perfectibilists, and became a secret society dedicated to the overthrow of both established governments and religions, specifically the Catholics. Eventually, Weishaubt made enough noise that the Bavarian Elector, Karl Theodor, outlawed them and forced Weishaupt to move to Gotha where he finished his life by writing books and abstaining from anti-establishment activities.

Weishaupt’s disbanded organization has become the inspiration for several generations of conspiracy inventors and because Weishaupt spoke of a single world government, ruled by men of honor and intellect (obviously impossible in any age), the conspiracy people have talked about a New World Order which might be satisfying and even desired but would be impossible of execution. To this mythic entity is ascribed all manner of manipulations and plottings.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • President Trump lied more than 3,000 times in 466 days
  • Trump’s assault on the department of justice is an attack on the rule of law
  • Trump’s ‘Spygate’ is a ‘diversion tactic’: Senator Flake
  • Trump ‘flips off’ the rest of the world, losing friends and allies
  • Moon Jae-in says North Korea is still committed to US summit
  • Britain’s May refuses to relax Northern Ireland abortion rules
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls

President Trump lied more than 3,000 times in 466 days

May 9, 2018

by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

CNN

(CNN) — The Washington Post’s Fact-Checker blog has been keeping a strict count of President Donald Trump’s many misstatements, untruths and outright lies. And, over the weekend at a rally in Michigan, Trump hit a(nother) milestone: He topped 3,000 untrue or misleading statements in 466 days in office.

That means that, on average, Trump says 6.5 things that aren’t true a day. Every. Single. Day. (Trump is actually picking up the pace when it comes to not telling the truth; he has averaged nine untruths or misleading statements a day over the past two months, according to the Post’s count.)

The problem with Trump’s penchant for prevarication is that it’s hard to contextualize it. We’ve never had a president with such a casual relationship to the truth. We have no count of how many lies Barack Obama or George W. Bush told per day because, well, they weren’t as committed to saying and then repeating falsehoods as Trump quite clearly is.

In an attempt to put some context on just how often Trump lies, I looked up a few other things we do (or are supposed to do) a certain numbers of times per day.

The closest corollary I found is urination. Yes, peeing. Scientists and health experts say you should go between six and seven times a day. Think of it this way: Every time you go to the bathroom, Donald Trump is saying something that is either a stretch of the truth or a complete break with the truth. Every time.

Here’s another way to think about it: You are supposed to drink eight glasses (of eight-ounce) water per day. Most of us don’t make it all the way to eight. So, lets say you drink six glasses. Every time you finish off that last drop of water in your glass, the President of the United States has said something that isn’t true.

It’s remarkable. The sheer rate of Trump’s untruth-telling is staggering. It is unprecedented. And, it is very, very hard to stop.

Fired FBI Director James Comey, in a town hall late last month with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, described the challenge of rebutting all of Trump’s false claims nicely.

“(Trump’s) style of conversation was a series of assertions about great things he had done. The challenge I found was that they wash over you like a wave and even if you disagree, the waves keep coming. But that is the style, it’s ‘I’m great, I’m great, I’m great.'”

Comey’s point is that if you were going to try to correct every exaggeration, distortion or falsehood that came out of Trump’s mouth, you would have to interrupt him on a near-constant basis.

That challenge is amplified if, like me and my friends at the Post’s Fact Checker site, you are a member of the media. Trump has spent reams of rhetoric attacking the media’s credibility that many people — especially who voted for and/or still support the President — believe 100%.

So, saying that he isn’t telling the truth — and he isn’t — won’t have any effect on how these people perceive him. In fact, the more the media fact-checks Trump, the more his supporters believe him. It’s through-the-looking-glass stuff.

Regardess. Truth matters. Facts matter. And the next time you go to the bathroom today, remember that Donald Trump has just said something that isn’t entirely (or even mostly) true.

 

Trump’s assault on the department of justice is an attack on the rule of law

This dangerous and despicable action demonstrates yet again that the president is richly deserving of impeachment

May 27, 2018

by Lawrence Douglas

The Guardian

It is by now familiar that Donald Trump has turned organized lying into a first principle of governance. Michel de Montaigne’s observation that the “reverse of truth has a thousand shapes and a boundless field” could serve as the future epithet of the Trump presidency.

But this week the president has gone one step further. In forcing the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into “whether Obama’s FBI and DoJ infiltrated or surveilled our campaign for political purposes”, Trump has demonstrated his power to create durable institutional realities out of politically charged falsehoods.

This is a disgraceful but not surprising assault on the independence and integrity of the justice department. The refusal or inability to tolerate the independence of law enforcement officials remains the source of Trump’s most persistent problem. In firing James Comey for refusing to indulge Michael Flynn’s crimes and unwind the Russia investigation, Trump invited Robert Mueller’s appointment. Mueller, as we all know, has been looking into whether this firing constituted obstruction of justice. Now piling deflection on obstruction, Trump seeks to distract attention from his prior malfeasance by turning the tables on his investigators. They are the true criminals.

The strategy is not without its shrewdness. With his slanders parroted by the likes of Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy and amplified by his satraps at Fox News and Breitbart, Trump has successfully eroded confidence in the neutrality of the independent counsel. A recent CBS News poll shows that a majority of Americans (53%) believed the Mueller investigation to be politically motivated. This most toxic and divisive of presidents has largely succeeded in turning justice into a partisan issue.

As a second matter, in demanding that the justice department investigate the bogus claim of campaign infiltration, Trump manoeuvred the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, into a perilous position. Rosenstein could have resigned out of protest, a result that certainly would have been agreeable to Trump, who despises Rosenstein precisely because he has largely refused to knuckle under to the president. As any possible future firing of Mueller would have to go through the deputy’s office, forcing Rosenstein to resign would perhaps pave the way for Trump to appoint an official more willing to do his dirty work.

In point of fact, Rosenstein has not resigned. Rather, he referred the matter to the department’s inspector general with the statement: “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.” This stopped short of launching a criminal investigation, still it handed Trump a victory. He has succeeded in investigating his investigators.

Trump’s manoeuvres are no less odious for their shrewdness. His brazen attempt to discredit federal investigators by frontally attacking the Justice Department’s independence is a dangerous and despicable attack on the rule of law that should be added to the ledger of the president’s impeachable offences.

Which does not make the attack criminal. Trump’s firing of FBI director Comey arguably obstructed justice, a criminal act. Mueller’s investigation will shed light on this matter, though obviously not to the satisfaction of those who insist the president enjoys plenary control over all executive appointees and thus can fire whom he wants, when he wants and for whatever reason he wants – including to frustrate an ongoing criminal investigation of the president’s own activities.

But no such charge can be levied against the president here. In ordering the investigation of his investigators, Trump has committed no crime. No law bars the president from doing what he has done. Rather, we are in the world of norms, precepts essential to the functioning of a constitutional democracy.

In a recent article, the law professors Bruce Green and Rebecca Roiphe ask: “Can the president control the Department of Justice?” The question is a bit like asking: “Can you drive 95 miles per hour?” On one level the answer is clearly no. But on another, things are murkier; if there are no police around to stop you, you can drive as fast as you please.

In the president’s case, long-standing practice and long operative norms counsel that the president must respect the independence of the Department of Justice. A president who, for example, demanded that federal prosecutors file trumped up charges against a despised journalist would be guilty of a grave violation of these norms. But can he do it? We are back to our reckless driver. Who can stop him? Prosecutors might balk from following the directive; they could resign rather than do the president’s biding.

During the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon notoriously ordered the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Both attorney general Elliot Richardson and deputy attorney general William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than execute Nixon’s directive. Cox was ultimately fired by then-solicitor general Robert Bork, but the fallout from what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre made impeachment all but inevitable, hastening Nixon’s resignation.

And so we are left with impeachment. We have grown accustomed to endless debates about the questions implicitly raised by the ongoing Mueller probe. Can the special prosecutor compel the testimony of the president by subpoena? Can a sitting president be indicted? Those who claim to offer unequivocal answers to these questions are simply making things up. The fact is, we don’t know the answers because we’ve never had to deal with the issue directly. The idea that the constitution, in its lapidary formulations, offers clear instruction is utterly fatuous.

But all the talk about whether indictment can proceed or must follow impeachment creates the impression that a president can only be impeached for having committed crimes and not, say, for his relentless demagogic assaults on constitutional norms and on the rule of law. This is false.

Half a century ago, the great political thinker Hannah Arendt wrote: “In constitutionally ruled countries, the political realm has recognized, even in the event of conflict, that it has a stake in the existence of men and institutions over which it has no power.” This is a lesson entirely lost on our current president. And for that reason alone he has demonstrated himself richly deserving of impeachment.

Lawrence Douglas is professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought at Amherst College, Massachusetts

 

Trump’s ‘Spygate’ is a ‘diversion tactic’: Senator Flake

May 27, 2018

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who has not ruled out running against Donald Trump for the White House, on Sunday criticized as a “diversion tactic” the president’s unsubstantiated allegation last week of an FBI “spy” being planted in his election campaign.

Flake’s comments, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” put him again at the forefront of very few Republican lawmakers willing to openly challenge Trump over his attacks on law enforcement officials who are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.

The investigation was begun by the FBI in July 2016, but handed over by the Justice Department to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

Flake said Trump’s unfounded allegations about FBI spying on his campaign, which the president has called “Spygate,” came amid escalating, behind-the-scenes concern in the U.S. Senate that the president may try to stop the probe by firing Mueller or the person who appointed him, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“The president had this diversion tactic, obviously, with so-called Spygate,” Flake said of Trump’s assertions last week. “There is concern that the president is laying the groundwork to move on Bob Mueller or Rosenstein. If that were to happen, obviously, that would cause a constitutional crisis.”

Some senior Republicans, including Flake, have sounded similar warnings in recent weeks as the Mueller investigation has plowed forward, drawing frequent denunciations from Trump.

Mueller is also investigating any possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Trump and the White House have repeatedly denied any collusion by the campaign, or any other wrongdoing.

The White House has also said it is not considering firing Mueller.

In a tweet on Sunday, Trump called the investigation a “phony Russia Collusion Witch Hunt” – reiterating his oft-stated resentment at the probe that has clouded his presidency.

After Trump demanded an inquiry into his “spy” claim, the current FBI Director Christopher Wray and Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s probe, held two classified briefings on Thursday for senior lawmakers of both parties on the matter.

Democratic Representative Adam Schiff was among those briefed. Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, he said, “There is no evidence to support that spy theory. This is just a piece of propaganda the president wants to put out and repeat.”

Republican Senator Marco Rubio told the same program that so far he has seen no evidence to support the president’s assertions about a campaign “spy.”

“What I have seen so far is an FBI effort to learn more about individuals with a history of bragging about links to Russia that pre-exist the campaign. If those people were operating near my office or my campaign, I’d want them investigated,” said Rubio, who ran unsuccessfully against Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary campaign.

“If it turns out to be something different, we want to know about it. But it is the FBI’s job to investigate counterintelligence,” Rubio said.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January 2017 that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to meddle in the U.S. election campaign, included seeking to help Trump win. Moscow has denied the charge.

Flake delivered a blistering attack on the president when he announced last October he would not run this year for re-election to the Senate. Asked if would run for the White House in 2020, he said: “It’s not in my plans, but I’ve not ruled anything out. I do hope that somebody runs on the Republican side other than the president, if nothing else simply to remind Republicans what conservatism is and what Republicans have traditionally stood for.”

Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by Frances Kerry

 

 

Trump ‘flips off’ the rest of the world, losing friends and allies

May 27, 2018

by David Lindorff

RT

With a White House riven by policy feuds, Trump has been tearing up agreements and treaties right and left, as well as threating military action and sanctions. This has left its allies wondering if the US is, in fact, an ally.

On the same day that China and the US announced a temporary “moratorium” on trade sanctions by both countries on each other’s exports, China Daily, the English-language official newspaper of the Chinese government, ran a full-page article about how the US was losing the confidence of friends and allies around the globe as the Trump administration tears up one longstanding international or bilateral agreement after another.

And then there’s Der Spiegel, the leading weekly news magazine in Germany – a key US NATO ally – which recently ran a cover depicting Trump as a raised middle finger ‘flipping the bird’ at Europe. It’s a jarring visual image of how European governments and citizens are viewing Trump’s decision to pull the US out of a UN-approved six-nation agreement, largely negotiated by the prior Obama administration, to halt Iran’s nuclear fuel enrichment program for 15 years in return for a lifting sanctions on that country.

To a globe-trotting journalist (fresh from visits to the Philippines and Hong Kong, and headed for Europe in July), it certainly looks like the US is doing its best to antagonize just about every friend it has in the world. That’s with the singular exception of Israel, of course, where the US is offering unflagging support for that country’s brutal slaughter-by-sniper of over a hundred unarmed Gazan Palestinian protesters and the deliberate maiming of thousands of others – an atrocity that is being blasted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission and most nations of the world.

Der Spiegel’s May 11 issue also featured a stinging editorial, which referred to the summary withdrawal by the US from the so-called P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, following US threats of trade sanctions against key trading partners in Europe, and Trump’s earlier withdrawal from the 2016 global climate agreement reached by virtually all the nations of the world. It described this as a kind of final blow to decades of close friendship between the nations of Europe and the United States.

The editorial stated that Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal “marks the temporary suspension of the trans-Atlantic alliance,” bringing “chaos where there was once order.”

It proceeded to say: “Our relationship with the United States cannot currently be called a friendship and can hardly be referred to as a partnership… The West as we once knew it no longer exists. It is impossible to overstate what Trump has dismantled in the last 16 months.”

The Iran deal fall-out could prove increasingly serious for US-European relations as time goes on, with Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton threatening US penalties for European companies that trade with or invest in Iran in violation of a US – not UN – embargo. European countries understandably see such a threat as a violation of their own sovereignty and a breach of an international agreement. Trump’s new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also upping the ante, vowing that the US will “crush” Iran economically, in what is being widely viewed as a “regime-change” threat against Iran – something no European NATO nations have signed up for. Indeed, European countries are looking at ways to defuse any US sanctions threats against their companies by bypassing the US financial system in their dealings with Iran.

However, the damage being done to US relations with other countries is not limited to Europe. China, significantly, has shown no interest in supporting any unilateral US boycott of Iran, and is reported to be negotiating for long-term contracts that could lock in lower prices for Iranian oil for the oil-hungry Chinese economy – contracts that would be financed in Chinese renminbi instead of dollars.

Trump also flipped off North Korea, first pushing for a summit meeting with Kim Jong-un on July 12, and then – after Kim had both released three American prisoners and blew up the most of the country’s plutonium and bomb-testing infrastructure as a sign of good will – turned around and said he would not meet with the North Korean leader.

There are also reports that Japan, another staunch US ally since the end of the Second World War, is making overtures to China for better relations as Tokyo loses confidence in the reliability of the US. Even as early as mid-April, seeing the writing on the wall and facing threats of trade sanctions from its long-time ally across the Pacific, Japan began trying to reset its often tense relations with China to put them on a friendlier footing. It seems unlikely that Japan, another country that imports almost all of its oil, would comply with any US-led boycott of Iranian oil as long as Iran’s price is right.

The carnage in US global relations is even broader, however. The re-election earlier this week of Nicolas Maduro as president of Venezuela, for example, which the US is calling a fraud, has sparked calls in Washington for a boycott of Venezuelan oil. Again, such a boycott, particularly at a time of rising oil prices (now trading above $72 a barrel globally), is unlikely to win much support from US allies in Europe, Asia or especially Latin America, where heavy handed US economic policies are increasingly viewed with disgust.

All this comes at a time that US-Russia relations are in the toilet, following US placement of offensive military equipment along Russia’s western border, continued calls from Trump administration officials for Russia to return Crimea to Ukrainian control, and the US bombing of Syrian government positions backed by Russia. Even President Nixon’s former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has long been advising Trump to accept the “re-integration” of Crimea with Russia, but the Trump administration continues to bluster, insisting on the peninsula’s “return” to Ukraine. It is also supporting renewed Ukrainian military action against the secessionist provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

It is hard to fathom what Trump and US policymakers are up to in the midst of the president’s Korean peace deal and his hopes of winning a Nobel Peace Prize hitting the rocks following his national security adviser’s threatening call for a “Libyan model” for North Korean denuclearization; as well as a threatened trade war with China merely postponed by a face-saving moratorium on mutual trade sanctions, but with no real resolution of differences; and with countries around the world up in arms over what is seen as unseemly unilateralism by the administration regarding the rejection of already agreed-upon trade and treaty arrangements.

Clearly with a critical by-election looming that could see Democrats winning control of both houses of Congress in November, Trump is playing to his hard-core political base of frustrated working-class voters and super-nationalists by doing what he said he would do in his campaign: ripping up trade agreements that he calls “bad for America,” and acting decisively in contrast to what he called President Obama’s weakness in places like Ukraine and Syria. How that actually helps the US economy or the American people is difficult to comprehend.

Clearly too, though, the Trump administration is in chaos, with his top trade negotiators Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chief Trade Negotiator Peter Navarro observed having a vulgar screaming match outside their Beijing hotel, and with Bolton undermining weeks of work on a possible Trump-Kim summit which the president clearly wants to go well, but which now may end up being canceled by an angry Kim.

If the US ends up sanctioning China, Japan, major European countries, Venezuela, Iran and any country that doesn’t go along with those sanctions – all of which could happen – it’s hard to see what markets US exporters will have left open to them.

Meanwhile, tariffs resulting from US import sanctions will devastate Americans who rely on cheap imports from China and other countries to stretch budgets strained by years of stagnant incomes.

Despite recent polls showing that most Americans are sick of the country’s endless wars and military interventions, the Trump administration keeps threatening more conflict, whether it’s in Afghanistan or North Korea, Eastern Europe, or even over Taiwan and China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Again, it’s difficult to see how the US economy can achieve a promised 3-percent-or-greater growth track while the government is spending over $1 trillion a year on its over-extended military – something that Trump once criticized but now enthusiastically endorses. This will be especially difficult if hard-liners in the White House continue pressing for “regime-change” wars against both Iran and North Korea, even as the Syrian conflict and the war in Afghanistan continue to fester.

The self-styled “greatest deal maker” Trump has long boasted of his ability to close a deal, but he has little or nothing to show for it a year and a half into his presidency. For a man who reportedly loved to show off his face on magazine covers to young women he was bedding in hotel suites, all he’s got to show lately is a cartoon image of himself depicted as a raised middle finger on the cover of a German news weekly.

 

Moon Jae-in says North Korea is still committed to US summit

South Korean president Moon Jae-in has told reporters that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was committed to “complete denuclearization.” The announcement came after a surprise meeting between the two Koreas.

May 27, 2018

DW

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Sunday that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un still intended to hold a meeting with the US, breathing new life into the June summit that had been canceled earlier this week by President Donald Trump.

“Chairman Kim and I have agreed that the June 12 summit should be held successfully, and that our quest for the Korean peninsula’s denuclearization and a perpetual peace regime should not be halted,” Moon said at a news conference in Seoul.

A statement from North Korea’s state news agency KCNA confirmed what the South Korean president said. KCNA reported that Kim had expressed “his fixed will” on the possibility of meeting Trump at the June summit.

Moon said Kim saw the June 12 summit in Singapore as a pivotal opportunity to end decades of confrontation.

“He… expressed his intention to put an end to the history of war and confrontation through the success of the North-US summit and to cooperate for peace and prosperity,” Moon told reporters in Seoul on Sunday.

Trump responded to reporters’ questions about the summit saying that it was “moving along very nicely.”

“We’re looking at June 12 in Singapore. That hasn’t changed,” Trump added.

US and North Korean officials met at the border on Sunday in preparation for the summit.

“A US delegation is in ongoing talks with North Korean officials at Panmunjom,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, referring to a village in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). “We continue to prepare for a meeting between the President and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said a “pre-advance team” left for Singapore on Sunday morning to work on logistics for a possible summit.

Moon Jae-in as key negotiator

Trump had abruptly cancelled the meeting in a letter to Kim Jong-Un on Thursday, citing North Korea’s “open hostility.” Since then, President Moon has raced back and forth between both parties with the hope of keeping the summit alive.

After meeting with Trump in Washington on Thursday, the South Korean president returned home and held a surprise in-person meeting with Kim on Saturday in the demilitarized zone.

Moon told Kim of Trump’s “firm will” to end the hostile relationship with North Korea and pursue bilateral economic cooperation.

The meeting with the North Korean leader appeared to go very well, as it yielded future meetings between the two countries and raised the possibility of rescuing the Singapore summit.

“What Kim is unclear about is that he has concerns about whether his country can surely trust the United States over its promise to end hostile relations (with North Korea) and provide a security guarantee if they do denuclearization,” Moon cautioned.

Defining denuclearization

The Trump administration’s main demand from North Korea is that it shut down its nuclear weapons program completely and irreversibly.

The months-long war of words between Kim and Trump in 2017 had to do with their disagreement over North Korea’s nuclear program. Denuclearization remains the central issue of a possible June 12 summit.

President Moon maintained that Kim is committed to “complete” denuclearization, but acknowledged that Pyongyang and Washington may have differing expectations of what denuclearization means.

“Even though they share the same resolve, there need to be discussions regarding the roadmap for how to make it happen, and that process could be tough,” he said.

The South Korean president called on both sides to hold working-level talks that may help resolve these differences.

 

 

Britain’s May refuses to relax Northern Ireland abortion rules

May 27, 2018

by Andrew MacAskill

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a showdown with ministers and lawmakers in her Conservative party after refusing to back reform of Northern Ireland’s highly restrictive abortion rules after neighboring Ireland’s vote to liberalize its laws.

Voters in Ireland, a once deeply Catholic nation, backed the change by two-to-one, a far higher margin than any opinion poll in the run up to the vote had predicted.

The prime minister is facing calls from within her cabinet and from opposition parties to scrap the strict rules on abortion in Northern Ireland, bringing the law in the province in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Penny Mordaunt, Britain’s women and equalities minister, said the victory to legalize abortion should now bring change north of the Irish border.

“A historic and great day for Ireland and a hopeful one for Northern Ireland,” Mordaunt said. “That hope must be met.”

A spokeswoman for May said on Sunday changing the rules should only be undertaken by a government in Northern Ireland, which has been without a devolved executive since January last year after a power-sharing agreement collapsed.

May tweeted on Sunday to “congratulate the Irish people on their decision” but she made no mention of what the result would mean for Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe with even rape and fatal foetal abnormality not considered legal grounds for a termination. And unlike other parts of the United Kingdom, abortions are banned apart from when the life or mental health of the mother is in danger.

The penalty for undergoing or performing an unlawful abortion is life imprisonment.

Since the collapse of a power sharing administration in Northern Ireland, British officials have been taking major decisions in the region and this means the government could legislate directly despite health being a devolved issue.

But any moves to change the law could destabilize the British government by antagonizing the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party, which May depends on for her parliamentary majority.

DENIED RIGHTS?

The opposition Labour party called on the government to support legislation to extend abortion rights in Northern Ireland because women are being denied fundamental rights.

This is an injustice. No woman in the UK should be denied access to a safe, legal abortion,” said Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities.

More than 130 members of Britain’s parliament, including lawmakers in the ruling Conservative party, are prepared to back an amendment to a new domestic violence bill to allow abortions in Northern Ireland, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

Anne Milton, an education minister, on Sunday urged the prime minister to allow a free vote in Britain’s parliament and said she thought there would be “a significant majority” in favor of liberalizing the abortion laws.

Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the health select committee and a lawmaker in May’s party, said she would support the proposed amendment and said Northern Ireland should at least be given a vote to decide.

This creates a fresh headache for May who is already struggling to unite her top ministers over plans to leave the European Union and is facing the prospect of a series of rebellions in parliament over her Brexit plans.

Northern Ireland’s elected assembly has the right to bring its abortion laws in line with the rest of Britain, but voted against doing so in February 2016 and the assembly has not sat since the devolved government collapsed in January 2017.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Alexander Smith and Alexandra Hudson

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls

May 27, 2018

by Christian Jürs

Not even the year of Jesus’ birth is known although many theologians have concluded that Jesus was born sometime in the autumn, between 11 and 13 CE. Also, there is disagreement about where Jesus was born. Different theologians, as opposed to historians, argue Bethlehem in Judea, and Nazareth.

That was prior to certain archeological discoveries in the Dead Sea area.

From the Dead Sea scrolls, we learn that Jesus was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to an Egyptian Jewish father and Egyptian mother.

He was not born in a stable in Bethlehem nor were there any wise men visiting nor a special star hovering overhead.

The basis of all of this revisionist material is clearly set forth in a scroll found at Cave #3 on the Dead Sea in 1953.

It is on parchment (used only for important documents…the rest were on papyrus) and was written at the time of Jesus, about 50-55 CE.

The document is the only extant period reference to Jesus; all the others were created, often out of whole cloth, two hundred years later, and in the case of significant paragraphs in Josephus, later Christian forgeries.

This revealing scroll has been forensically tested as to age, type of ink, handwriting etc and was very clearly created at the time and place indicated.

The text of the Dead Sea Scrolls were written in four different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean.

The scroll in question here, from cave #3 is in Nabataean, used from the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE

From this we discover that Jesus was a Jew but born in Alexandria, Egypt, ten years after the date ascribed in the Gospels to his nativity.

‘Bar Nasha’(son of man) was Jesus name for himself.

Jesus was not a Nazerene, as is often stated in the New Testament, but an Alexandrian Jew. His parents immigrated to Palestine, and the young Jesus joined the Essene religious movement where Jesus’ elder brother was a member of this religious and agricultural cult.  He subsequently became heavily involved in their revolts against the occupying Roman power, was one of the leaders in a revolt attempt, fled when the Roman troops attacked in a pre-emptive strike, leaving many of his fellow cult members to be captured by the Romans and all later crucified.

He escaped with a small number of Essenes to the desert where he remained until he died.

The interesting aspect of this is that the Essene cult was an all-male agricultural commune and very specifically homosexual in nature and practice.

In the scroll, Jesus’ sexual orientation is specifically addressed and names of his male lovers covered.

It should be noted that the scrolls themselves were prepared by members of the Essene cult who were themselves homosexuals and therefore not critical of Jesus orientation.

During the Procuratorship of Antonius Felix (52 to 58 CE) Jesus amassed a mob of about 30,000 Palestinian Jewish dissidents, planning to attack Jerusalem and drive out the Roman garrison. One of Jesus’s Essene close associates, a man named Judas, informed Felix of the impending raid and it was stopped by Roman troops with a heavy loss of life for the rebels. Many were taken prisoner, tried and later crucified for rebellion against the Roman government but the period records show, very clearly, that their leader, Jesus from Alexandria, escaped and vanished into the desert.

Roman period writings show that this man came out of the desert with a force of 30,000 and went up the Mount of Olives in order to fall on the city of Jerusalem, expel the Roman garrison and become ruler. Felix engaged the Egyptian and his followers in battle and dispersed them, taking most of them prisoners.

Josephus, who lived and wrote during the period, wrote about this plot of an Egyptian Jew under the procurator Felix.

The history of Josephus is full of similar occurrences.,which show the state of mind of the Jewish population at the time of Jesus.

An attempted putsch by the Alexandrian Essene prophet, Jesus, would be fully in accord with it.

If we think of Jesus’ activism as such an attempt against Roman authority, the betrayal of the Essenes to the Roman authorities by Jesus’ co-conspirator, Judas, becomes understandable as well.

The Dead Sea scrolls are a collection of over 900 religious and secular texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 that consist of biblical manuscripts from Jewish religious sources as well as political writings of the period. These documents were found in a series of twelve caves around the site known as Wadi Qumran near the Dead Sea, in what is now the West Bank, initially by the Bedouin people and later by trained archeologists.

The initial discovery, was by a Bedouin shepherd, Muhammed Edh-Dhib, his cousin Jum’a Muhammed and Khalil Musa, and was made between November 1946 and February 1947. The shepherds discovered seven scrolls housed in jars in a cave at what is now known as the Qumran site.

Edh-Dhib’s cousin noticed the caves, but edh-Dhib himself was the first to actually fall into one. He retrieved a handful of scrolls, which were later identified as the Isaiah Scroll, Habakkuk Commentary, and the Community Rule, and took them back to the Bedouin camp to show to his family.

None of the scrolls were destroyed in this process, despite popular rumor. The Bedouin kept the scrolls hanging on a tent pole while they figured out what to do with them, periodically taking them out to show people. At some point during this time, the Community Rule was split in two. The Bedouin first took the scrolls to a dealer named Ibrahim ‘Ijha in Bethlehem. ‘Ijha returned them, saying they were worthless, after being warned that they might have been stolen from a synagogue. Undaunted, the Bedouin went to a nearby market, where a Syrian Christian offered to buy them. A sheikh joined their conversation and suggested they take the scrolls to Khalil Eskander Shahin, “Kando,” a cobbler and part-time antiques dealer.

The Bedouin and the dealers returned to the site, leaving one scroll with Kando and selling three others to a dealer for GBP7 (US$29 in 2003). The original scrolls continued to change hands after the Bedouin left them in the possession of a third party until a sale could be arranged. Arrangements with the Bedouin left the scrolls in the hands of a third party until a profitable sale of them could be negotiated.

That third party, George Isha’ya, was a member of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who soon contacted St. Mark’s Monastery in the hope of getting an appraisal of the nature of the texts. News of the find then reached Metropolitan Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, better known as Mar Samuel.

After examining the scrolls and suspecting their antiquity, Mar Samuel expressed an interest in purchasing them. Four scrolls found their way into his hands: the now famous Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule, the Habakkuk Pesher (a commentary on the book of Habakkuk), and the Genesis Apocryphon. More scrolls rapidly surfaced in the antiquities market, and Professor Eleazer Sukenik and Professor Benjamin Mazar, Israeli archaeologists at Hebrew University, soon found themselves in possession of three, The War Scroll, Thanksgiving Hymns, and another, more fragmented, Isaiah scroll .

Four of the Dead Sea scrolls went up for sale eventually, in an advertisement in the June 1, 1954, Wall Street Journal. On July 1, 1954, the scrolls, after delicate negotiations and accompanied by three people including the Metropolitan Museum, arrived at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. They were purchased by Professor Mazar and the son of Professor Sukenik, Yigael Yadin, for $250,000, approximately $2.14 million in 2014, and brought to Jerusalem.

The texts are of great historical and religious significance and include the earliest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents, as well as preserving evidence of great diversity in late Second Temple Judaism. They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean, mostly on parchment, but with some written on papyrus and bronze.

These manuscripts have been dated to various ranges between 408 BCE and 318 CE. Bronze coins found on the site form a series beginning with Hyrcanus 1 (135-104 BCE) and continue without a gap until the first Jewish revolt (66–73 CE) The scrolls are traditionally identified with the ancient Jewish cult.  .

The Dead Sea scrolls are traditionally divided into three groups: “Biblical” manuscripts (copies of texts from the Hebrew Bible), which comprise roughly 40% of the identified scrolls; Other manuscripts (known documents from the Second Temple Period like Enoch, Jubilees, Tobit, Sirach, additional psalms, etc., that were not ultimately canonized in the Hebrew Bible), which comprise roughly 30% of the identified scrolls; and “Sectarian” manuscripts (previously unknown documents that shed light on the rules and beliefs of a particular group or groups within greater Judaism) like the Community Rule, War Scroll, Pesher on Habakkuk and the Rule of the Blessing, which comprise roughly 30% of the identified scrolls.

In 1947 the original seven scrolls came to the attention of Dr. John C. Trever, of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), who compared the script in the scrolls to that of The Nash Papyrus, the oldest biblical manuscript then known, and found similarities between them. In March, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War prompted the move of some of scrolls to Beirut, Lebanon, for safekeeping.

On April 11, 1948, Miller Burrows, head of the ASOR, announced the discovery of the scrolls in a general press release.

Early in September 1948, Mar brought Professor Ovid R. Sellers, the new Director of ASOR, some additional scroll fragments that he had acquired. By the end of 1948, nearly two years after their discovery, scholars had yet to locate the original cave where the fragments had been found. With unrest in the country at that time, no large-scale search could be undertaken safely. Sellers attempted to get the Syrians to assist in the search for the cave, but he was unable to pay their price.

In early 1948, the government of Jordan gave permission to the Arab Legion to search the area where the original Qumran cave was thought to be. Consequently, Cave 1 was rediscovered on January 28, 1949, by Belgian United Nations observer Captain Phillipe Lippens and Arab Legion Captain Akkash el-Zebn.

The rediscovery of Cave 1 prompted the initial excavation of the site from February 15 to March 5, 1949 by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. The Cave 1 site yielded discoveries of additional Dead Sea Scroll fragments, linen cloth, jars, and other artifacts.

Cave 3, which contained the period references to Jesus,  was discovered on  March 14, 1952 and eventually yielded 14 manuscripts including Jubilees and the curious copper scroll, which lists 67 hiding places of valuable assets of the Essenes, mostly buried underground, throughout the Roman province of Judea (now the state of Israel). According to the scroll, the secret caches held astonishing amounts of gold, silver, copper, aromatics, and manuscripts.

The Essenes were known to be a wealthy cult.

These scrolls from Cave 3 were the specifically the product of Essene Jews living in Jerusalem, who hid the scrolls in the caves near Qumran while fleeing from the Romans during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

The scroll in question was found by an amateur archeologist from Syria in May of 1952 and was sold by him, through a dealer in antiques named John Meanen, a former CIA operative based in Brooklyn, New York. Mr. Meanen sold the scroll in 1955 to a Heinz von Hungen, MD who collected rare Catholic artifacts, among other valuable historical objects.

The scroll was subject to forensic testing as to age and then photographs were sent to three different experts in the Nabataean language. The scroll itself was on a parchment and testing on this and on the ink along with the text itself, dated this at close to about 50-55 CE. This is the only period reference to Jesus. From the translated text it is set forth that Jesus was born, not in Bethlehem but in Alexandria, Egypt and that his father was Jewish and his mother Egyptian. He had two older brothers, one of whom later became a member of the Essene cult when the family moved to Judea. As a member of the Essenes, Jesus was called ‘Bar Nasha’ or the son of man. Jesus took this name when he joined the ranks of the Essenes.

Translation from the original Nabataean of significant portion of the scroll from Cave 3

(1) Of this Jesus we compile this recording of his wondrous deeds and his gathering many into the fold.

(2) He was born in Alexandria, the son of Yossef and that his mother was a woman of Egyptian parentage and that he had two brothers with him. Joseph and his family then removed themselves to the land of Caanan in the second year of the Prefect Aquila and prospered.

(3) Jesus then being young but of a strong religious cast, (blessing) was taken into the Brotherhood by his elder brother Jacob who instructed him and became his greatly loving partner and there did prosper greatly, becoming a great leader of the people and one who sought to expel the heathen (unbelieving) sons of Rome from the land.

(4) That Jesus, not being ill-favored and most eagerly was welcomed by the society and loved (taken to their souls and bodies) then by many.  He was given the name of ‘Bar Nasha’ (son of man). In the ritual bathing, he proved to be mighty and much beloved indeed and this because of the inspiration and teaching of John who was himself a much beloved person.

(5) And Jesus, not being ill-favored, was a most inspired (wondrous) preacher and went amongst the multitude and spoke with great and moving spirit about the brotherhood, causing many to come to its fold with joy and pleasure. And when age came upon him, Jesus went out into the land, preaching to the people and was himself greatly loved.

(6) In the rule of Felix, the time had come to throw off the Roman yoke (enslavement) and Jesus, and many others, did prepare a great undertaking against these Romans but they were betrayed by one Judas to the Romans and these came upon them suddenly and with great force. Many were seized but a few eluded the Roman police (soldiers) and removed to the secret place.

(7) Jesus was one of these and with him came Cephas, a most beautiful young man who was much beloved, of Jesus, who accompanied him to his secret place and loved him greatly.

Summation of  traslation:

Jesus father, Yossef,was born in Alexandria in 41 BC under Ptolemaeus XV Philopator Philomētor Caesar and in the seventh year of his rule (June 23, 47 BCE – August 23, 30 BCE), Jesus was born, also in Alexandria,  under Gaius Iulius Aquila,  Prefect of the Province of Egypt (10-11 CE). Jesus’ leading an Essene rebellion and his subsequent rapid departure from Jerusalem was under the Procuratorship of Antonius Felix (52 to 58 CE) in Judea. Jesus’ older brother, fellow Essene and Jesus’ lover was Jacob (or James.)

I assume, without fear of contradiction, that there were no children from this union.

Most current Biblical scholars generally believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus’s first followers had previously been followers of John.

John the Baptist is also mentioned by Jewish historian Josephus. Some scholars maintain that John was influenced by the semi-ascetic Essenes, who expected an apocalypse and practiced rituals corresponding strongly with baptism.

The baptism story has its roots in the extensive nude ritual bathing practiced by all the Essenes.

There also is mention of a younger, handsome man whom Jesus called Cephas, meaning “stone” in Aramaic and which is translated to “Peter.” Jesus said he would build his future church on this young man. References to him can be found in the Gospels and he is described as wearing scanty or no garments at all and associating very closely with Jesus. He was at the Mount of Olives putsch episode and ran away, naked, from the Romans.

This scroll was written by the Essenes residing at Khirbet Qumran. They composed many of the historically important scrolls and ultimately hid them in the nearby caves during the Jewish Revolt, sometime between 66 and 68 CE. The site of Qumran was eventually destroyed and the scrolls were never recovered by those that placed them there.

Josephus mentions the Essenes as sharing property among the members of the community, as does the Community Rule.

During the excavation of Khirbet Qumran, two inkwells and plastered elements thought to be tables were found, offering evidence that some form of writing was done there. More inkwells were discovered in nearby loci.

Several Jewish ritual baths were discovered at Qumran, which offers evidence of an observant Jewish presence at the site.

Pliny the Elder writing after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE describes a group of Essenes living in a desert community on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea near the ruined town of ‘Ein Gedi.

Parchment from a number of the Dead Sea scrolls have been carbon dated. The initial test performed in 1950 was on a piece of linen from one of the caves. This test gave an indicative dating of 33 CE, plus or minus 200 years, eliminating early hypotheses dating the scrolls to the mediaeval period.

Since then, two large series of tests have been performed on the scrolls themselves. The results were summarized by VanderKam and Flint, who said the tests give “strong reason for thinking that most of the Qumran manuscripts belong to the last two centuries BCE and the first century CE.”

Analysis of handwriting, known as paleography, was applied to the text on the Dead Sea scrolls by a variety of scholars in the field. Major linguistic analysis by Cross and Avigad dates fragments from 225 BCE to 50 CE. These dates were determined by examining the size, variability, and style of the text. The same fragments were later analyzed using radiocarbon date testing and were dated to an estimated range of 385 BCE to 82 CE with a 68% accuracy rate.

The scrolls were further analyzed using a cyclotron at the University of California, Davis, where it was found that two types of black ink were used: iron-gall ink and carbon soot ink. In addition, a third ink on the scrolls that was red in color was found to be made with cinnabar. There are only four uses of this red ink in the entire collection of Dead Sea scroll fragments. The black inks found on the scrolls that are made up of carbon soot were found to be from olive oil lamps. Gall nuts from oak trees, present in some, but not all of the black inks on the scrolls, was added to make the ink more resilient to smudging common with pure carbon inks. Honey, oil, vinegar and water were often added to the mixture to thin the ink to a proper consistency for writing. In order to apply the ink to the scrolls, its writers used reed pens.

Approximately 85.5 – 90.5% of these scrolls were written on parchment made of processed animal hide known as vellum papyrus (estimated at 8.0 – 13.0% of the scrolls), and sheets of bronze composed of about 99.0% copper and 1.0% tin for approximately 1.5% of the scrolls. For those scrolls written on animal hides, scholars with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, by use of DNA testing for assembly purposes, believe that there may be a hierarchy in the religious importance of the texts based on which type of animal was used to create the hide. Scrolls written on goat and calf hides are considered by scholars to be more significant in nature, while those written on gazelle or ibex are considered to be less religiously significant in nature.

In addition, tests by the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Sicily, have suggested that the origin of parchment of select Dead Sea scroll fragments is from the Qumran area itself, by using x-ray and particle induced x-ray emission testing of the water used to make the parchment that were compared with the water from the area around the Qumran site.

The Dead Sea scrolls that were found were originally preserved by the dry, arid, and low humidity conditions present within the Qumran area adjoining the Dead Sea. In addition, the lack of the use of tanning materials on the parchment of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the very low airflow in the Qumran caves also contributed significantly to their preservation.

Some of the scrolls were found stored in clay jars within the Qumran caves, further helping to preserve them from deterioration. The original handling of the scrolls by archaeologists and scholars was done inappropriately, and, along with their storage in an uncontrolled environment, they began a process of more rapid deterioration than they had experienced at Qumran.[ During the first few years in the late 1940s and early 1950s, adhesive tape used to join fragments and seal cracks caused significant damage to the documents.

The Government of Jordan had recognized the urgency of protecting the scrolls from deterioration and the presence of the deterioration among the scrolls. However, the government did not have adequate funds to purchase all the scrolls for their protection and agreed to have foreign institutions purchase the scrolls and have them held at their museum in Jerusalem until they could be “adequately studied”.

In early 1953, they were moved to the Palestine Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem and through their transportation suffered more deterioration and damage. The museum was underfunded and had limited resources with which to examine the scrolls, and, as a result, conditions of the “scrollery” and storage area were left relatively uncontrolled by modern standards.

The museum had left most of the fragments and scrolls lying between window glass, trapping the moisture in with them, causing an acceleration in the deterioration process. During a portion of the conflict during the 1956 Arab-Israeli War, the scrolls collection of the Palestinian Archaeological Museum was stored in the vault of the Ottoman Bank in Amman, Jordan. Damp conditions from temporary storage of the scrolls in the Ottoman Bank vault from 1956 to the spring of 1957 lead to a more rapid rate of deterioration of the scrolls. The conditions caused mildew to develop on the scrolls and fragments, and some of the fragments were partially destroyed or made illegible by the glue and paper of the manila envelopes in which they were stored while in the vault.

By 1958 it was noted that up to 5% of some of the scrolls had completely deteriorated. Many of the texts had become illegible and many of the parchments had darkened considerably.

Until the 1970s, the scrolls continued to deteriorate because of poor storage arrangements, exposure to different adhesives, and being trapped in moist environments. Fragments written on parchment (rather than papyrus or bronze) in the hands of private collectors and scholars suffered an even worse fate than those in the hands of the museum, with large portions of fragments being reported to have disappeared by 1966.In the late 1960s, the deterioration was becoming a major concern with scholars and museum officials alike. Scholars John Allegro and Sir Francis Frank were some of the first to strongly advocate for better preservation techniques. Early attempts made by both the British and Israel Museums to remove the adhesive tape ended up exposing the parchment to an array of chemicals, including “British Leather Dressing,” and darkening some of them significantly.

In the 1970s and 1980s, other preservation attempts were made that included removing the glass plates and replacing them with cardboard and removing pressure against the plates that held the scrolls in storage; however, the fragments and scrolls continued to rapidly deteriorate during this time.

In 1991, the Israeli Antiquities Authority established a temperature controlled laboratory for the storage and preservation of the scrolls. The actions and preservation methods of Rockefeller Museum staff were concentrated on the removal of tape, oils, metals, salt, and other contaminants. The fragments and scrolls are preserved using acid-free cardboard and stored in solander boxes in the climate-controlled storage area.

Since the Dead Sea scrolls were initially held by different private parties during and after the excavation process, they were not all photographed by the same organization nor in their entirety.

And because the contents of a number of the known scrolls were, at the least, very controversial, contrary to Christian opinions, and damaging to their public image, there has been some considerable control over publication of any such revisionistic material.

At the time of their writing the area was transitioning between Greek and Roman dominance. The Jewish Qahal (society) had some measure of autonomy following the death of Alexander and the fracturing of the Greek Empire among his successors. The country was long called Ιουδαία or Judæa at that time, named for the Hebrews that returned to dwell there, following the well documented diaspora. Most scholars believe the Jews actually redacted the Biblical stories due to the pressures of losing their ethnicity in Babylon, and picked up the square script there. The majority of Jews never actually returned to Israel from Babylon and Persia according to the Talmud, oral and archeological evidence.

Most of the Dead Sea scrolls are currently under the ownership of the Government of the state of Israel, and housed in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum.

The official ownership of the Dead Sea scrolls is disputed among the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Israel, and the Palestinian Authority

A list of known organizational ownership of Dead Sea Scroll fragments:

Azusa Pacific University  Number held  5

Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago Number held  1

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Number held  1

Rockefeller Museum – Government of Israel Number held   ca 15,000

The Schøyen Collection owned by Martin Schøyen Number held   60

The Jordan Museum – Government of Jordan Number held  25

Approximately 30 other scrolls, or portions of scrolls, are in private hands, having been purchased early on through various antiquarian organizations and individuals. Many of the contents of these privately-held scrolls are presently unknown..

 

 

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