SOVEREIGN COMMENTARY

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A thoughtful compilation and analysis of some important, but underreported and under-researched news stories, with particular focus on keeping the People informed about all Enemies, Foreign and Domestic.

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BY ALFRED WEST

(AKA THE SOVEREIGN EDITOR).
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    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Federal Government Jails Border Patrolers for Doing their Job; Offers Drug Dealer/Illegal Alien Immunity

    How are we supposed to defend our border from encroachment by illegal Mexican immigrants and drug traffickers if our own federal government is working on the side of these people?

    In a recent and bizarre turn of events, the federal government of the United States prosecuted and sentenced two border patrol agents to lengthy prison terms. Their crime was to shoot at a fleeing drug runner who ignored commands to stop. He escaped into Mexico. The United States government pressed charges against the agents who shot at him. The "victim" was Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, who was illegally in the United States with a van carrying 800 lbs. of marijuana.

    The United States government paid Osbaldo's medical bills and offered him complete immunity if he would testify against the border patrol agents who shot him while he was committing a crime. This is really not right.

    In addition, it turns out that border patrol agents aren't allowed to chase fleeing criminals. How are they supposed to do their job if they can't pursue?

    They were convicted, in part, because the United States Supreme Court has reportedly decreed it to be a violation of someone's Fourth Amendment rights to shoot an unknown person in the back while they're running away if you're not sure they're armed.(1)

    I guess that's why no charges against Deval V. Bullock, who shot and killed Sal Culosi. Mr. Bullock knew exactly who Dr. Culosi was and was reasonably sure that he was not armed. Also, it is likely that Mr. Bullock shot Dr. Culosi in the side, and not in the back.(2) But I digress.

    How are we supposed to guard our border with our own government working against us?



    ____________________________

    (1) "Border Patrol agents sentenced to prison," WorldNetDaily.com, 2006 October 20, http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52545.
    (2) see: The Sovereign Editor. "More on the Unprovoked Killing of Dr. Culosi by Virginia Police" Sovereign Commentary, http://sovrealm.blogspot.com/2006/05/more-on-unprovoked-killing-of-dr.html; and ibid, "Paramilitary style police squad shoots unarmed optometrist," http://sovrealm.blogspot.com/2006/03/paramilitary-style-police-squad-shoots.html.


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    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    Be Careful What You Write. Libel Suits Are No Laughing Matter.

    You may have noticed that I make an effort to document every important fact I assert here. The reason for this is three-fold. First, I find that proper documentation makes it easier for third party readers to verify what I say; second, proper documentation makes it easier for me to use my old research in future writings; third, and perhaps most important, it provides a prima facie case that I base what I say about individuals and organizations on established fact -- and that is important in a world where defamation suits against bloggers are becoming more numerous.

    In the first successful suit of this type, a blogger was ordered to pay $50,000 in damages to a person whom the court deemed he had slandered on his web site.(1) In a more recent suit, "[a] Florida woman has been awarded $11.3 million in a defamation lawsuit against a Louisiana woman who posted messages on the Internet accusing her of being a 'crook,' a 'con artist' and a 'fraud.'"(2)

    When you write something unfavorable about someone, the way to avoid being subject to a potential libel suit is to make sure that what you say is 1.) true, and 2.) provable. If something is true and you can prove it, go ahead and say it. Otherwise, keep your thoughts to yourself unless you want to be on the losing end of a law suit. Remember, even if what you are saying is true, it does you no good if you can't prove it.

    ______________________________
    (1) Laura Parker. "Courts are asked to crack down on bloggers, websites," USA Today, 2006 October 02, para. 4, http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-10-02-bloggers-courts_x.htm.
    (2) Laura Parker. "Jury awards $11.3M over defamatory Internet posts," USA Today, 2006 October 11, para. 1, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-10-10-internet-defamation-case_x.htm.



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    Congress Finally Takes Interest on Theft of National Property by Sandy Berger

    It seems that someone is finally noticing that Sandy Berger's theft of documents from the national archives is a crime. Maybe someone will try to get him sent to prison.
    A group of House Republicans called Wednesday for a congressional investigation into the improper handling of classified documents by President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger. . . [who] admitted last year that he deliberately took classified documents out of the National Archives in 2003 and destroyed some of them at his office. He pleaded guilty in federal court to one charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material and was fined $50,000.(1)

    I have said it before and I'll say it again; the fact that Sandy Berger is not in prison shows that the government officials involved in his case were derelict in their duty to uphold the laws of these United States. When ordinary citizens do this sort of thing, the federal prosecutors do their level best to send them to prison.(2) I will not begin to have faith in the institution of the Federal government until Berger is in prison where he belongs.

    My only complaint about this is that it comes during campaign season... which makes me think that the Republicans, just like the Democrats, care more about politics than doing the right thing. Character is doing the right thing even if no one is looking. Both parties are short on this.
    ______________________________
    (1) Erica Werner. "GOP Leaders Seek Probe of Berger Papers," The Associated Press, 2006 October 11, paras. 1-2, http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/10/11/D8KMJE502.html
    (2) Karlyn Barker. "Va. Man Admits to Stealing, Selling Documents From National Archives," The Washington Post, 2005 March 08, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15566-2005Mar7.html


    * * *

    What I Have Said On This Topic:
  • Sandy Berger Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Material from the National Archives

  • Virginia Man Steals Documents From National Archives, Faces Jail Time

  • Sandy Berger Participated in a National Security Panel Discussion at Purdue University

  • Known Criminal, Sandy Berger, to Speak at Purdue



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    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Bank of America Has Bad Check Recipient Arrested; SFPD Complicit

    Are you considering switching banks? If so, avoid Bank of America. I was considering switching to Bank of America because they pay slightly better interest than my bank. I will, however, no longer be considering Bank of America. Apparently, Bank of America thinks that the proper way to treat someone who has been paid with a fraudulent check is to have them arrested. And for some reason, the police just do this without even bothering to compare Bank of America's story to the story of the person to be arrested. If you think that I'm exaggerating, consider the following story.
    San Francisco resident Matthew Shinnick tried to sell a pair of mountain bikes on Craigslist. . . [an apparent potential buyer] said he was going to cut a check on his company's Bank of America business account and arrange to have the bikes shipped north. Shinnick said he received a check for $2,000 shortly after Christmas and was informed that the extra cash was to cover shipping costs "and for my trouble."(1)
    Mr. Shinnick was suspicious of the large check, and wanted to make sure it didn't bounce.(2) So he did what any responsible merchant would do -- he attempted to verify the check with Bank of America before cashing it.(3) His big mistake in all of this was trusting Bank of America to assist him in detecting a fraudulent check from one of their accounts. When he asked the Bank of America teller if the check would clear, she told him that "it was a valid account and that there were funds to cover it" (to be fair to Bank of America, they did not have knowledge at that time that anything was wrong with the check).(4)

    Mr. Shinnick should have had no further reason to be suspicious in this case. The bank teller would have told him if a check turned out to be fraudulent, right? Not Bank of America. Instead, when the Bank discovered that the check was fraudulent, they called the police -- they did not inform Mr. Shinnick that he had been scammed. The business account was real, but the check was phony, and the branch manager called the police to have Mr. Shinnick arrested.(5)

    This is where possible misconduct by the San Francisco Police Department comes into play. The arresting SFPD officers did not read Mr. Shinnick his rights.(6) They also may not have bothered to confirm the circumstances under which Mr, Shinnick came to endorse a phony check -- you know, the sort of thing they might do to make sure that they, in fact, had probable cause to make an arrest. It is only a crime to pass a bad check if you know it's a bad check (unless it's one of those crimes that don't require criminal intent -- like selling alcohol to a minor who has a really convincing fake ID). It should be noted that the police discussed the situation with Bank of America employees for about 45 minutes(7), so odds are, they were aware of all of the relevant facts.

    What is even more troubling is the police report, which says Shinnick "was taken into custody 'for the safety of the bank employees as well as the bank customers.'"(8) Why did they think he posed a threat to the bank? From Mr. Shinnick's perspective, it is more like the bank assaulted him (by having him arrested instead of trying to help him get to the bottom of the check problem), not the other way around. Of course, it could be that the police had reason to believe that he might feel antipathy toward the bank in the face of the treatment he had received. But the trouble is, this is like a police officer arresting someone who has just been punched in the face out of fear that he might retaliate against the person who assaulted him. This whole thing stinks and there has been, as far as I can tell, no investigations by the media into the reasoning used by police officers to decide that they had probable cause for an arrest. This is just another example of a pro-police bias in the media.

    To my knowledge, San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong has not disavowed the actions of these officers, so I must conclude that she supports them (under the doctrine of respondeat superior, the police officers are her agents and she is therefore responsible for their actions).

    Matthew Shinnick was able to clear his name, but not before spending about 12 hours in jail and spending about $14,000 in legal fees.(9) He has asked Bank of America, as a good faith gesture, to cover his legal fees, since it was their malfeasance that caused those fees to be paid. Bank of America Vice President William Minnes (for whose actions Chairman, CEO, and President Kenneth D. Lewis should ultimately answer, if not legally, at least in a PR sense) has stated that the bank will not pay and cannot be compelled to. Minnes says that Bank of America "has no legal liability in the case because of the 2004 [California] Supreme Court ruling . . . [in] Hagberg vs. California Federal Bank."(10)
    "The court wants to protect people when reporting criminal activity," said Paul Glusman, a Berkeley attorney who has written about the Hagberg case. "But this can be abused. At this point, there's nothing that will protect ordinary citizens from a false police report."

    Jennifer Becker, a San Francisco attorney who specializes in malpractice cases, stressed that the intent of the court's decision is important. There shouldn't be repercussions for reporting a suspected crime, she said.(11)

    I concur with the sentiment that we don't want to discourage people from reporting crimes, and therefore, I presume the ruling in Hagberg to be correct, and therefore unassailable through practical means. Perhaps if Mr. Shinnick were to show malice on the part of Bank of America he would have a shot. Frankly, though, I think he has a better shot at suing the San Francisco Police Department. If it was not for their arresting him, he would not be out $14,000 (I am assuming that the expenditure was unavoidable, it may actually not have been). If they knew all of the facts, they might have reached the same conclusion as the judge -- that no crime was committed here. I don't think they reasonably could have thought that they had probable cause to arrest him (unless the Bank of America branch manager filed charges against Mr. Shinnick, in which case he should try to have the manager arrested for filing a false police report).

    There is one true thing that has come out of this mess. Bank of America's true nature is on display for all of us... and it's not pretty. So far, the closest they have come to an apology is to say that "clearly and without equivocation, Bank of America regrets what occurred."(12) William Minnes also said that "Bank of America can certainly understand that [Mr. Shinnick] is angry at the bank."(13) My concept of "being sorry" requires a personal compulsion to want to make things right if possible; I am not seeing that attitude from the bank. Bank of America believes that Hagberg sheilds them from liability in this case, and they're standing firm on that principle. Consumer advocate Clark Howard has launched a national challenge to Americans to withdraw their money from Bank of America, which I wholeheartedly support.(14) As of October 4th, 2006, it is reported that nearly $30,000, 000 has been withdrawn from Bank of America over this matter.(15) (Please note that due to the data input mechanism, the method for determining how much money Bank of America has lost may or may not be accurate).

    Despite the bad publicity and the loss of business Bank of America is experiencing in this matter, Bank of America has still refused to compensate Mr. Shinnick for the trouble and expense they caused him. Now that's dedication to principle. Mr. Shinnick's damages are only $14,000; Bank of America stands to lose millions. Clark Howard even offered to pay $7,000 himself if Bank of America would pay the other half. Senior Vice President Alexandra Trower refused on Bank of America's behalf.(16) Nice organization that's willing to take a huge financial hit just to avoid apologizing to a man they wronged.

    * * *

    "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."
    --Thomas Jefferson

    ______________________________

    (1) David Lazarus. "Check from a scammer bounces victim into jail," San Francisco Chronicle, 2006 August 30, paras. 1 & 8, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/08/30/BUGTGKRHSF1.DTL.
    (2) Ibid. para. 12.
    (3) Ibid. para. 13.
    (4) Ibid. paras. 14 & 18.
    (5) Ibid. paras. 18-19.
    (6) Ibid. paras. 19 & 21.
    (7) Ibid. para. 21.
    (8) Ibid. para. 20.
    (9) Ibid. paras. 1 & 30.
    (10) Ibid. paras. 32 & 34.
    (11) Ibid. paras. 37-38.
    (12) Ibid. para. 2.
    (13) Ibid. para. 31.
    (14) Clark Howard's Web Site, http://clarkhoward.com/; the audio clip of Clark Howard's Challenge is available at http://www.streamaudio.com/listen/cox.asp?station=clrk_ir&streamtype=
    archiveaudio&optin=no&filename=boa_challenge.asf
    .
    (15) Ibid; the Bank of America "Money Loss" Meter is available at http://clarkhoward.com/topics/boa_meter.html
    (16) Ibid. http://clarkhoward.com/shownotes/2006/09/25/#next


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    Bank of America deceives Customer, Has Him... (the Customer was Not Deceived Regarding the Endorsement Process)

    Please note that as far as I can tell, Bank of America did not deceive Matthew Shinnick to get him to endorse the check. This much is clear from the chronology. Bank of America did not know the check was fraudulent until after the endorsement. For accurate information, please see my current post.

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    Bank of America Lies to Customer, Has Him... (the Customer was not Lied to)

    Please note that Bank of America did not lie to Matthew Shinnick. Nor did Bank of America trick him into endorsing the check. This much is clear from the chronology. For accurate information, please see my current post.

    * * *

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    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    School Shootings: It's Time to Arm Our Teachers (or, more properly, allow teachers to carry)

    There have been three school shootings in the past week. One in Bailey, Colorado, one in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, and one in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Amish country).(1) And, in what seems to have become the normal response, there is a growing sentiment that there should be tougher gun control laws. Suggestions for such infringements on the Second Amendment are already creeping into the Pennsylvania legislature. Specifically, "[o]ne proposal expected to spark heated debate would limit handgun purchases to one a month for each individual."(2) In light of the national rash of shootings, it is only a matter of time before this sort of debate wells up again in the United States Congress.

    What I want to know is why calls for gun control are the almost automatic response to any horrible crime that involves guns. Gun control laws are not going to make our schools safer. Guns are not allowed at schools. In fact, guns are not allowed to such a degree that the very idea of guns is almost prohibited.

    For example, in Lee County, Florida, a student received a three-day suspension for carrying "a cap pistol onto his bus."(3) And this was in spite of the fact that the bus driver "could tell the cap gun wasn't real."(4) In a similar incident, in Kansas City, Missouri, a child was suspended for possessing "2-inch plastic squirt gun," which the people in charge of the school district over there decided, "is a simulated weapon and a class IV, which is the most serious school offense. . . an automatic 10-day suspension."(5)

    But it is not just harmless toy weapons that fall under the zero-tolerance shroud, it is also imagined ones; expressions of the concept of a weapon. In New Jersey, a public school banned the popular (and traditional) game of 'cops and robbers' "out of a fear that even imaginary weapons pose a threat."(6) The school is so afraid of imaginary weapons that they threaten students with expulsion if they are caught playing the game.(7) The New Jersey school's zero-tolerance policy obviously extends not only to weapons, but to "anything that can be perceived as a weapon" (for example, a finger used to simulate a gun in a playground game).(7)

    As you can see, guns are banned in schools and even the idea of guns is persecuted as if it were some sort of religious heresy and the school board were a theocracy. Yet school shootings happen. Obviously, school shootings are not deterred by rules. And therein lies the crux of the problem.

    The kind of person who would aggressively harm another is not the kind of person who follows rules. Law-abiding people, by definition, do follow rules. When we make rule banning guns in all forms, even in the abstract, in school zones, all of the law-abiding people will attempt to conform to the rule. And since the gun bans apply to everyone except law enforcement officers, that means none of the teachers or administrative staff who have conceal/carry permits may bring their guns onto school property. The result of a zero-tolerance anti-gun rule is an environment in which a predatory rule-breaker with intent to harm will be the only person with a gun, should that predator decide to go on a shooting rampage. This is exactly the conclusion regarding gun-free school zones that was reached by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms:
    All they have done [by mandating gun-free schools] is create target-rich, no-risk environments for monsters who have no fear of encountering an armed teacher or administrator, or a legally-armed private citizen who might happen to be in the building.(9)


    I think arming teachers and administrators is a good solution to the problem. Why do these types of shootings happen in schools instead of in residential neighborhoods? A plausible reason is because schools don't shoot back. In a neighborhood, there is no way to know who might be armed since there are no rules prohibiting the presence of guns (unless the neighborhood is in a high gun-control state like New York or California). Criminals don't like it when their intended victims can shoot back, so it stands to reason that they would prefer to attack a school campus where they know guns are prohibited. If we create an environment where the possibility exists for someone in the school to shoot back at a school-shooter, potential school-shooters might consider a school to be too risky a target.

    Create fear in potential predators by allowing, and even encouraging citizens to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. That seems like a sound plan. So why, every time there is s school shooting, do we have gun control advocates like the Brady Campaign(10), coming out of the woodwork demanding more laws restricting gun ownership? The only way they can believe that gun control laws will make us safer is if they believe that gun control laws deter criminals from acquiring guns. And that is simply not the case.

    Gun control laws might make it harder for criminals to find guns, but they do not keep criminals from getting them. Cocaine and heroin are completely illegal -- no one in the country can legally sell the stuff in ordinary commerce; and yet people get it. But still, groups like the Brady Campaign continue to push for laws to make it illegal for everyone but government law enforcement officers to have guns. Off hand, the only states I can think of where only the government and criminals have guns are police states. And I think that is what we will get if gun control laws become too pervasive.

    In my studies of history, I have noticed that once a government knows that its People can't shoot back at it, it tends to stop listening to them. Don't let that happen to us, and especially don't let the gun control fanatics use the deaths of children to so that to us. The interests of dead children will not be served by taking away their parents' ability to defend themselves.

    Perhaps the strangest thing of all of this is that the right of the People to keep and bear arms is codified in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Laws restricting it should be unconstitutional, yet we have them.

    * * *


    "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government"
    --Thomas Jefferson(11)

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    (1) Susan Jones. "Gun Control Group Urges Americans to 'Ask More Questions,'" Cybercast News Service, 2006 October 03, paras. 2-4, http://www.cnsnews.com/news/viewstory.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200610/CUL20061003a.html.
    (2) Associated Press. "P.A. Gun Control Debate Heat Up After Shooting," CBS 3, Philadelphia, para. 5, http://cbs3.com/topstories/local_story_276120934.html.
    (3) Dave Breitenstein. "2 bring BB, cap guns on school bus" The News Press, 2006 September 30, para. 4, http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060930/NEWS0104/609300498/1075
    (4) Ibid. para. 8.
    (5) "First-Grader Suspended Over Plastic Squirt Gun," KansasCityChannel.com News, KMBC-TV, 2006 September 19, paras. 3 & 5, http://www.thekansascitychannel.com/news/9887289/detail.html.
    (6) Matt Pyeatt. "Cops and Robbers? Not On This Playground" Cybercast News Service, 2002 March 20, para. 1, http://www.cnsnews.com/Culture/Archive/200203/CUL20020320b.html.
    (7) Ibid.
    (8) Ibid. para. 5.
    (9) Jones. para. 10.
    (10) Ibid. para. 1.
    (11)Thomas Jefferson, 1 Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334


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    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    The Chinese Military Has Used Lasers to Attack US Spy Satellites

    Back in February, when the Islamic world was enraged over the Mohammed political cartoons, there was something else going on. You may not have noticed, but the Chinese were busy building a high frequency radar at the South Pole. There was some concern among analysts at the time that China could use that location as a base for anti-satellite lasers aimed at US satellites.(1)

    Well, it turns out that it was a well-founded concern. Well founded because, not only has China "secretly fired powerful laser weapons designed to disable American spy satellites by 'blinding' their sensitive surveillance devices," but they have had this capability for awhile now.(2) "According to senior American officials: 'China not only has the capability, but has exercised it.' American satellites like the giant Keyhole craft have come under attack 'several times' in recent years."(3)

    I have said it before and I'll say it again -- China is not our friend. Our government knows this, and yet bends over backwards trying to keep this information from We the People. The Bush Administration made the decision to keep the attacks secret "for fear that it would damage attempts to co-opt China in diplomatic offensives against North Korea and Iran."(4)

    I'm sorry, Mr. Bush, but ignoring a larger threat while expending our resources fighting smaller threats is not acceptable. And to all the naysayers out there, China is a threat. In addition to their military activities, they are also engaged in very aggressive spying against the United States. "China is engaged in a large-scale espionage effort against American high-tech firms working on projects such as the multibillion-[dollar] DD(X) destroyer programme."(5) Our eagerness to trade with them, especially high-technology, will hurt us in the long run. Unfortunately, the President Bush will likely continue to let China's misbehavior go unpunished, all in the name of profit:
    Peter Morici, a former chief economist for the U.S. International Trade Commission, said that President Bush is reluctant to hurt large companies such as General Electric, Caterpillar and General Motors, which are making large profits in China.(6)

    I feel sorry for those companies, and for the workers, but doing business with the totalitarian, imperialist People's Republic of China has certain risks associated with it. If these companies were unaware of the risks, then they were negligent, perhaps criminally so. There are other countries like India that they can do business with. You know... countries that don't want to go around conquering people?

    If the Bush Administration really cared about the U.S. economy, he would back the FairTax Bill.(7) If the FairTax passed, the United States would literally become the largest tax haven in the history of the world. We couldn't keep businesses away from our shores. In that kind of environment, we would not be economically beholden to China, which, in my opinion, is preferable to the current status quo.




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    (1) The Sovereign Editor. "China Poised to Kill US Spy Satellites?" Sovereign Commentary, 2006 February 02, http://sovrealm.blogspot.com/2006/02/china-poised-to-kill-us-spy-satellites.html.
    (2) Francis Harris. "Beijing secretly fires lasers to disable US satellites," Telegraph, 2006 September 26, para. 1, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/09/26/wchina226.xml.
    (3) Ibid. para. 6.
    (4) Ibid. para. 2.
    (5) Ibid. para 13.
    (6) James Rosen. "Senators may force vote on trade sanctions on China," The Herald (Rock Hill, SC), 2006 September 27, para. 13, http://www.heraldonline.com/109/story/7190.html.
    (7) See: H.R. 25; S. 25; and the Americans for Fair Taxation (the FairTax) Web Site, http://www.fairtax.org/.



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    "If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

    --Samuel Adams
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