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Happy New Year – From ISIS to Russia: How War Changed in 2015 – The Atlantic January 1, 2016

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One of the great fears in all this is that a gray-zone conflict—involving, say, U.S. and Chinese military vessels sparring in the South China Sea, or Russia threatening to deploy its nuclear arsenal—could tumble into an open one when some party miscalculates.

Hbomb-detonation-colorizedMore likely, however, is that the patterns on display in 2015 will become more pronounced in the coming year. According to Laura Jackson, China sees the sea, and the earth generally, as only the start of its Three Warfares campaign—a testing ground for ambitions to control portions of outer space, which Chinesemilitary and legal thinkers see, in the words of one Chinese official, “as a natural extension of other forms of territorial control.” Russian military theory envisionsthe wars of the future moving from “direct clash to contactless war,” from “direct annihilation of the opponent to its inner decay,” from “war in the physical environment to a war in the human consciousness and in cyberspace.” In June, aNew York Times investigation uncovered how a series of web campaigns tried to sow panic in the United States by spreading fake Twitter messages, Wikipedia pages, and online news reports about everything from an ISIS attack in Louisiana to Ebola outbreaks and police shootings in Atlanta. This was not the work of mere pranksters, but targeted disinformation operations launched from a Kremlin-backed “troll farm” in St Petersburg. They were perhaps some of the first skirmishes in what Russian military theorists believe to be the battleground of the future: the minds of men and women, where every business deal, retweet, and Instagram post becomes a way of influencing what these theorists call “the Psychosphere.”

It’s a brave new war without beginning or end, where the borders of peace and war, serviceman and civilian have become utterly blurred—and where you and I are both a target and a weapon.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/12/war-2015-china-russia-isis/422085/

Destined for War: Can China and the United States Escape Thucydides’s Trap? – The Atlantic September 30, 2015

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ChinaUSAPuzzleWar, however, is not inevitable. Four of the 16 cases in our review did not end in bloodshed. Those successes, as well as the failures, offer pertinent lessons for today’s world leaders. Escaping the Trap requires tremendous effort. As Xi Jinping himself said during a visit to Seattle on Tuesday, “There is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides Trap in the world. But should major countries time and again make the mistakes of strategic miscalculation, they might create such traps for themselves.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/united-states-china-war-thucydides-trap/406756/

The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War September 15, 2014

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The U.S. has so far been prepared to act as the guarantor of international stability, but may not be willing—or able—to do so indefinitely.

Though the era just before World War I, with its gas lighting and its horse-drawn carriages, seems very far off and quaint, it is similar in many ways—often unsettlingly so—to ours, as a look below the surface reveals. The decades leading up to 1914 were, like our own time, a period of dramatic shifts and upheavals, which those who experienced them thought of as unprecedented in speed and scale. The use of electricity to light streets and homes had become widespread; Einstein was developing his general theory of relativity; radical new ideas like psychoanalysis were finding a following; and the roots of the predatory ideologies of fascism and Soviet communism were taking hold.

Hbomb-detonation-colorizedGlobalization—which we tend to think of as a modern phenomenon, created by the spread of international businesses and investment, the growth of the Internet, and the widespread migration of peoples—was also characteristic of that era. Globalization can also have the paradoxical effect of fostering intense localism and nativism, frightening people into taking refuge in the comfort of small, like-minded groups. One of the unexpected results of the Internet, for example, is how it can narrow horizons so that users seek out only those whose views echo their own and avoid websites that might challenge their assumptions.

While history does not repeat itself precisely, the Middle East today bears a worrying resemblance to the Balkans then.
It is tempting—and sobering—to compare today’s relationship between China and the U.S. with that between Germany and England a century ago. Now, as then, the march of globalization has lulled us into a false sense of safety.
Like the world of 1914, we are living through changes in the nature of war whose significance we are only starting to grasp.

Read on at http://www.brookings.edu/research/essays/2013/rhyme-of-history

A Simple Explanation For The Mess We Are In July 13, 2014

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So, today, you have three basic systems: order provided by democratic, inclusive governments; order imposed by autocratic exclusivist governments; and ungoverned, or chaotically governed, spaces, where rickety failed states, militias, tribes, pirates and gangs contest one another for control, but there is no single power center to answer the phone — or, if they do, it falls off the wall.

Why is this happening now? Well, just as I’ve argued that “average is over” for workers, now “average is over for states,” too. Without the Cold War system to prop them up, it is not so easy anymore for weak states to provide the minimums of security, jobs, health and welfare. And thanks to rapid advances in the market (globalization), Mother Nature (climate change plus ecological destruction) and Moore’s Law (computing power), some states are just blowing up under the pressure.

via The World According to Maxwell Smart, Part 1 – NYTimes.com.

In the long run, wars make us safer and richer – The Washington Post May 3, 2014

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“The 10 most dangerous words in the English language,” Reagan said on another occasion, “are ‘Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’ ” As Hobbes could have told him, in reality the 10 scariest words are, “There is no government and I’m here to kill you.”

So yes, war is hell — but have you considered the alternatives? When looking upon the long run of history, it becomes clear that through 10,000 years of conflict, humanity has created larger, more organized societies that have greatly reduced the risk that their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for higher living standards and economic growth. War has not only made us safer, but richer, too.

WarWhatIsItGoodForWhile we a gone from World Wars to Cold Wars this book review, which is continued from the “more” link overlooks the ongoing danger of  even a “small” thermonuclear war, between emerging powers, annihilating our 10,00 years of “progress”. The miscalculations of rising powers has contributed to most wars of the Industrial age.

We are now moving into a world of what I call Soft Wars, waged by guerrilla tactics of cyber and economic warfare. And now with so many empowered transnational bad actors on the world stage, it will be hard to determine who really hit you and how do you counter.

 

via In the long run, wars make us safer and richer – The Washington Post.

Syrian Conflict Goes Back 13 Centuries September 11, 2013

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The eastern Roman Empire was half alive, half gobbled up by the Arabs. And Iran — well, it had been wiped out as an enlightened, ancient empire a century before, in 651. After that, the Arabs took a long rest on the borders of Sogd modern-day central Asia, with its capital in Samarkand, which they began to conquer only in 712.

Why the rivalry? Why did the conquerors the Arabs so loathe the conquered the Iranians? That’s where the eighth century comes in. A hundred years after the Arabs destroyed Iran, their own empire, which stretched from Spain to the Chinese border, was a teetering wreck, being devoured from the inside by rivalries and bad government.Then, in 747, a revolt began in Iran that would eventually overthrow the Umayyad dynasty, replacing it with the Abbasids. The Abbasids would go on to build Baghdad and rule the huge Islamic caliphate for 500 years — until the arrival of Genghis Khan and his Horde.Yes, the Abbasids were Arabs, but their scribes, builders and literati were Iranians and the Arabs who cared to learn from them. As a result, the Iranians gradually all but took over their conqueror’s empire from the inside

InfadelHere is the crucial bit: The Arab-Iranian divide is far more than cultural. In the eighth century, subjugated Iran was also abandoning its ancient religion — Zoroastrianism — and creating its own, unique strand of Islam, Shiite, that stood in opposition to the dominant Sunni strand favored by the Abbasids.

A historian would tell us to remember that today’s conflict in Syria can be traced back to an Arab-Iranian — Sunni-Shiite – – rivalry that is 13 centuries old

via Syrian Conflict Goes Back 13 Centuries – Bloomberg.

Nasty, Short and Brutish January 28, 2013

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Conventional cultural anthropology’s thinking was that tribal people were peaceful, that Darwinism had nothing to say about human behavior and culture, and that material resources were the cause of conflict.

Current Science is refuting all 3 assumptions. Mortality from violence is very common in small-scale societies today and in the past. Almost one-third of such people die in raids and fights, and the death rate is twice as high among men as among women. This is a far higher death rate than experienced even in countries worst hit by World War II. Thomas Hobbes’s “war of each against all” looks more accurate for humanity in a state of nature than Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “noble savage,” though anthropologists today prefer to see a continuum between these extremes.

A Darwinian explanation of warfare would imply that similar kinds of violence might have evolved in other group-living animals. In recent years, Richard Wrangham of Harvard University has described chronic intergroup violence among chimpanzees.

But what is the motive for such killing? Robert Walker of the University of Missouri, Columbia, and Drew Bailey of Carnegie Mellon University last year published a survey of “Body Counts in Lowland South American Violence” and concluded that motives include revenge for previous killings, jealousy over women, capture of women and children and, less often, theft of material goods. Come to think of it, sounds just like the Trojan War

via Mind & Matter: Noble Savages Points to Resolution in Study of War – WSJ.com.

Afghanistan to Resume Civil War? July 13, 2012

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A long sobering look at the strong possibility of a return to Civil War in Afghanistan, after we leave.

Nasir celebrated the American invasion in 2001, and, in the decade that followed, he prospered, and fathered six children. But now, with the United States planning its withdrawal by the end of 2014, Nasir blames the Americans for a string of catastrophic errors. “The Americans have failed to build a single sustainable institution here,” he said. “All they have done is make a small group of people very rich. And now they are getting ready to go.”

These days, Nasir said, the nineties are very much on his mind. The announced departure of American and NATO combat troops has convinced him and his friends that the civil war, suspended but never settled, is on the verge of resuming. “Everyone is preparing,” he said. “It will be bloodier and longer than before, street to street. This time, everyone has more guns, more to lose. It will be the same groups, the same commanders.” Hezb-e-Wahdat and Jamiat-e-Islami and Hezb-e-Islami and Junbish—all now political parties—are rearming. The Afghan Army is unlikely to be able to restore order as it did in the time of Najibullah. “It’s a joke,” Nasir said. “I’ve worked with the Afghan Army. They get tired making TV commercials!”

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/07/09/120709fa_fact_filkins#ixzz20VVwuHd5

What We Believe – Poll August 31, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, Lifestyle, News and politics.
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The latest 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll, which surveyed 847 adults by telephone nationwide earlier this month, tracks Americans thoughts on a variety of topics from Afghanistan and illegal drugs to Mel Gibson and sexual harassment at work.

Some highlights:

— 33% of people think ghosts are likely to actually exist; while another 30% voted for the existence of U.F.O.’s. A smaller percentage of folks think vampires, the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot could exist. Sadly, King Kong and Godzilla did not make the list.

— Nearly 90% of Americans would not try LSD, ecstasy, heroin, crystal meth or crack one time — even if  there was no possibility of harmful physical consequences, criminal charges or addiction.

The October 2010 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll | The Magazine | Vanity Fair.

The Balfour Declaration: The Origin of the Arab Israeli Conflict August 8, 2010

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According to Schneer (London 1900), an expert in modern British history at Georgia Tech, intrigue and British doubledealing defined the 1917 Balfour Declaration of British support for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine as much as bravery and vision, leading to the disillusionment, distrust, and resentment that still dominate the region today. British Jewish chemist and Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann orchestrated the campaign to persuade powerful men that support for Zionism would benefit Britain’s wartime cause and the ensuing peace. Perhaps most shrewdly, Weizmann lobbied former prime minister Arthur James Balfour, then a member of Britain’s War Council. Meanwhile, Grand Sharif Hussein and his sons had won British backing for an Arab kingdom, which would presumably include Palestine, and with British encouragement rebelled against the Ottomans in 1916. Through British duplicity, the French also believed they had a interest in Palestine. And three months after the Balfour Declaration, British prime minister Lloyd George proposed a separate peace with Turkey, with the Ottomans remaining in Palestine.

via Amazon.com: The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the….

Afghanistan: Why The Russians Are Jealous December 25, 2009

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Because it’s Winter, and very difficult for the Taliban to just hide out in the hills until the troops leave. The American heat sensors can more easily spot groups of men up in the hills, especially if they build a fire. Even hiding out in a cave won’t protect you. Traditionally, Afghan warriors take the Winter off, and devote their efforts to obtaining enough food and fuel to survive the cold and snow.

via Afghanistan: Why The Russians Are Jealous.

Why is There Peace? August 30, 2009

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Violence has been in decline over long stretches of history, and today we are probably living in the most peaceful moment of our species’ time on earth.

When the archeologist Lawrence Keeley examined casualty rates among contemporary hunter-gatherers—which is the best picture we have of how people might have lived 10,000 years ago—he discovered that the likelihood that a man would die at the hands of another man ranged from a high of 60 percent in one tribe to 15 percent at the most peaceable end. In contrast, the chance that a European or American man would be killed by another man was less than one percent during the 20th century, a period of time that includes both world wars. If the death rate of tribal warfare had prevailed in the 20th century, there would have been two billion deaths rather than 100 million, horrible as that is. Read on with the link below.

via Greater Good Magazine | Why is There Peace?. (more…)

Future Predictions From Geography May 22, 2009

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People and ideas influence events, but geography largely determines them, now more than ever. To understand the coming struggles, it’s time to dust off the Victorian thinkers who knew the physical world best. A journalist who has covered the ends of the Earth offers a guide to the relief map—and a primer on the next phase of conflict.

via Foreign Policy: The Revenge of Geography.

Inside the War Against Robert Gates April 18, 2009

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It would take an idealist of John Lennon’s lyrical stature to predict a future in which terrorism — in all its low-tech and emerging high-tech forms — isn’t the predominant mode of conflict in a world undergoing twin paradigm shifts of its own: a religious “great awakening” (Imagine plenty more religion…) and the rise of history’s first truly global middle class of consumers (…and more possessions, too!). So while I’m not given to surrendering the future to John Robb’s “global guerillas” any time soon, I’m hard-pressed to locate a more gritty and realistic appraisal of the enemies America will persistently face in coming decades — as in, plenty to kill or die for.

Gates understands this nuance of modern warfare, too. So he wants to create a home for today’s warfighters — the Dances with Wolves guys who get stuck manning those tiny forts in southern Afghanistan. He wants the Pentagon to stop looking down upon them, to stop haphazardly welding so-called “hillbilly” armor onto vehicles that lacked such basic protection. He wants America to stop casually trading their lives in the here-and-now fight against real insurgencies for theoretical casualties in dreamed-up, there-and-then fights against, I dunno, the Chinese or something. He wants, ultimately, to show them the money.

In response to his “radical” vision, Gates is preparing for the Know Nothings — those same national-security figureheads who have long sung his praises from the Capitol — to put him through the meat grinder. He will be dubbed, with all appropriate indirectness, “naïve” and “reckless.” His opponents, all of whom fear that the loss of home-district defense jobs will ultimately end their congressional careers, will suddenly accuse Gates of disregarding this or that “disturbing trend.” Try not to laugh out loud when you spot these security neophytes on TV, spouting absolute nonsense fed to them by staffers smarted-up by Google searches.

Inside the War Against Robert Gates.

A Pandemic of Economic Violence February 26, 2009

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Combine these two World Bank findings — zero economic growth in the developing world and rising food prices — and you have a perfect recipe for unrelenting civil unrest and violence. The eruptions seen in 2008 and early 2009 will then be mere harbingers of a grim future in which, in a given week, any number of cities reel from riots and civil disturbances which could spread like multiple brushfires in a drought.

The Great Depression ended in a World War.

via Tomgram: Michael Klare, A Pandemic of Economic Violence.

No Jobs = No Peace February 14, 2009

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Just last week, the new United States director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told Congress that instability caused by the global economic crisis had become the biggest security threat facing the United States, outpacing terrorism.

High unemployment rates, especially among young workers, have led to protests in countries as varied as Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland and contributed to strikes in Britain and France.

Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009, according to the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency. The slowdown has already claimed 3.6 million American jobs.

via Rise in Jobless Poses Threat to Stability Worldwide – NYTimes.com.

The Real Story Behind The Surge February 8, 2009

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Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno was an unlikely dissident, with little in his past to suggest that he would buck his superiors and push the U.S. military in radically new directions.

Communicating almost daily by phone with retired Gen. Jack Keane, an influential former Army vice chief of staff and his most important ally in Washington, Odierno launched a guerrilla campaign for a change in direction in Iraq, conducting his own strategic review and bypassing his superiors to talk through Keane to White House staff members and key figures in the military. It would prove one of the most audacious moves of the Iraq war, and one that eventually reversed almost every tenet of U.S. strategy

via The Dissenter Who Changed the War.

Lawless Pakistan Arms Market February 3, 2009

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Click the link to see a documentary, shot in the lawless area of Pakistan, about a town dedicated to the armaments trade.more about “Pakistan Arms Market“,

Monetary Warfare December 31, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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What are the threats that could make the U.S. economy look less like America and more like Zimbabwe? He sees them everywhere – in the Chinese ownership of vast amounts of American debt, in Russia’s increased centralization of its economy, in Al Qaeda’s long-established fascination with damaging the U.S. economy.

Four of the scenarios keep him up at night (more…)

Who Started The Russia/Georgia War? – New Evidence November 10, 2008

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TBILISI, Georgia — Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.

via Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question – NYTimes.com

The New World Disorder September 13, 2008

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The world’s bullies are throwing their weight around. But history isn’t on their side.

Our world is both safer and more dangerous. It is safer because the self-interest of the great powers is very much tied to the overall prosperity of the global economy, limiting their desire to rock the boat. But it is more dangerous because capitalist autocrats can grow much richer and therefore more powerful than their communist counterparts. And if economic rationality does not trump political passion (as has often been the case in the past), the whole system’s interdependence means that everyone will suffer.

We should also not let the speculations about an authoritarian resurgence distract us from a critical issue that will truly shape the next era in world politics: whether gains in economic productivity will keep up with global demand for such basic commodities as oil, food and water. If they do not, we will enter a much more zero-sum, Malthusian world in which one country’s gain will be another country’s loss. A peaceful, democratic global order will be much more difficult to achieve under these circumstances: Growth will depend more on raw power and accidents of geography than on good institutions. And rising global inflation suggests that we have already moved a good way toward such a world. They Can Only Go So Far – washingtonpost.com

Georgia started this fight — Russia finished it August 18, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News.
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Blowback From Bear-Baiting – HUMAN EVENTS

American charges of Russian aggression ring hollow. Georgia started this fight — Russia finished it. People who start wars don’t get to decide how and when they end.

Russia’s response was “disproportionate” and “brutal,” wailed Bush.

True. But did we not authorize Israel to bomb Lebanon for 35 days in response to a border skirmish where several Israel soldiers were killed and two captured? Was that not many times more “disproportionate”?

Russia has invaded a sovereign country, railed Bush. But did not the United States bomb Serbia for 78 days and invade to force it to surrender a province, Kosovo, to which Serbia had a far greater historic claim than Georgia had to Abkhazia or South Ossetia, both of which prefer Moscow to Tbilisi?

Is not Western hypocrisy astonishing? Americans have many fine qualities. A capacity to see ourselves as others see us is not high among them. -Patrick Buchanan

(more…)

Coming Climate Conflicts Avoidable? February 11, 2008

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Foreign Policy: The New Myth About Climate Change
Environmental refugees will in turn spark political violence in receiving areas, and countries in the “global North” will erect ever higher barriers to keep culturally unwelcome—and hungry—foreigners out.

The number of failed states, meanwhile, will increase as governments collapse in the face of resource wars and weakened state capabilities, and transnational terrorists and criminal networks will move in. International wars over depleted water and energy supplies will also intensify. The basic need for survival will supplant nationalism, religion, or ideology as the fundamental root of conflict.

Dire scenarios like these may sound convincing, but they are misleading. Even worse, they are irresponsible, for they shift liability for wars and human rights abuses away from oppressive, corrupt governments. Additionally, focusing on climate change as a security threat that requires a military response diverts attention away from prudent adaptation mechanisms and new technologies that can prevent the worst catastrophes. (more…)

Buried WMD Scoop – WSJ.com February 1, 2008

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Buried WMD Scoop – WSJ.com

Now that ’60 Minutes” has broadcast their interview with Saddam’s interrogator the inconvenient implications have been ignored by the media. It is easy to 2nd guess the Iraq war in hind-site and assume that since no WMDs were found and the occupation mismanaged that there was never a credible threat in the first place. This interview should remind us why the US Senate voted unanimously under Bill Clinton’s presidency that “Regime Change” was the stated policy of the United States. From the transcript:

Mr. Piro: “The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there.”

Mr. Pelley: “And that was his intention?”

Mr. Piro: “Yes.”

Mr. Pelley: “What weapons of mass destruction did he intend to pursue again once he had the opportunity?”

Mr. Piro: “He wanted to pursue all of WMD. So he wanted to reconstitute his entire WMD program.”

Mr. Pelley: “Chemical, biological, even nuclear.”

Mr. Piro: “Yes.” (more…)

Saddam Planned To Re-Start WMDs : Interrogator January 24, 2008

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Interrogator: Invasion Surprised Saddam, Tells 60 Minutes Former Dictator Bragged About Eluding Capture – CBS News
Piro spent almost seven months debriefing Saddam in a plan based on winning his confidence by convincing him that Piro was an important envoy who answered to President Bush. This and being Saddam’s sole provider of items like writing materials and toiletries made the toppled Iraqi president open up to Piro, a Lebanese-American and one of the few FBI agents who spoke Arabic.

“He told me he initially miscalculated… President Bush’s intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998…a four-day aerial attack,” says Piro. “He survived that one and he was willing to accept that type of attack.” “He didn’t believe the U.S. would invade?” asks Pelley, “No, not initially,” answers Piro. (more…)

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