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Special Peace Train Youth Summit - Sharon Katz & The Peace Train
Posted in News

International Performers Visit Teaneck & Englewood
Sharon Katz & The Peace Train - South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors
November 29th & 30th, 2012 give workshops to students in our schools
Special Peace Train Youth Summit
7pm Friday November 30th at Puffin Cultural Forum

Sharon Katz, founder of The Peace Train in South Africa in 1992, mounted a countrywide tour around South Africa by train, shortly after the release of Nelson Mandela from South African prisons, and before his election as President of South Africa in 1994. She tours the world teaching Peace & Reconciliation and the anti-bullying messages contained in this historic and triumphant story.
Teaneck’s Puffin Foundation, Ltd. has invited Sharon Katz and her singing partner Wendy Quick, to present workshops on South African music, dance, history and culture at Grieco Elementary School in Englewood NJ, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin Middle Schools in Teaneck NJ on November 29th and 30th. 2012 Their educational workshops will culminate in a presentation at the Puffin Cultural Forum on 7pm on Friday, November 30th.
The Peace Train Youth Summit performance will feature students from the three schools who have participated in the workshops. Students will present songs and dances of South Africa with Sharon Katz & The Peace Train and they will also have an opportunity to express their ideas and hopes for a peaceful world.

The presentation at the Puffin Cultural Forum is free of charge.
Kindly reserve your seats by phoning 201-836-3499
Puffin Cultural Forum is located at 20 Puffin Way, Teaneck, New Jersey.
Since seating is limited reservations will be on a first come first served basis.
For More Information about The Peace Train please visit:
We look forward to meeting you!


Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner For Perry & Gladys Rosenstein
Posted in News

In the spirit of community, we have postponed the Bergen Museum of Art & Science Lifetime Achievement Award dinner so that our guests and supporters can recover from the recent storm with their families and friends.

New Date : Wednesday, Nov 28th, 2012 at the Il Villaggio in Carlstadt, NJ
Tickets are $100 in advance. To purchase tickets online:

Puffin President & Executive Director Honored for work...
Posted in News

The Bergen Museum of Art & Science 2012 Life Time Achievement Award in the Arts recipients are Perry Rosenstein and Gladys Rosenstein in recognition of their accomplishments fostering the arts and culture in Bergen County.

The award commemorates and acknowledges the Rosenstein’s life time body of work enriching the community through their remarkable gifts, their work establishing public private partnerships and nurturing the growth of cultural capital.

The award will be presented on Wednesday, 6:00 PM November 28 followed by a 4 course dinner and champagne toast at Il Villaggio’s Restaurant located at 651 Route 17 North, Carlstadt, NJ 07072.

Tickets are $100 and can be purchased online at: or call James Waldron at 201-618-3077

Int'l Day of Peace Celebration
Posted in News

Dear Friends:

You are invited to join us and other members of the Teaneck community who are lovers of Peace, on Friday, September 21st at we walk 2 miles from the Puffin Foundation Ltd in Teaneck to the United Methodist Church in Leonia. The program at the Puffin Foundation Ltd. starts at 4 P.M. with speakers in front of the peace pole that was placed there in 2011. At 5 P.M. those who are able will walk to the peace pole in Leonia and others will drive. Arriving around 6 P.M.. we will join with the Leonia community in celebrating the United Nations International Day of Peace which will conclude at 7 P.M. We will have rides available for the walkers to get back to their cars in Teaneck.

The walk will begin from the Puffin Foundation parking lot after a short ceremony led by Jules Orkin, to the United Methodist Church at 391 Broad Ave., at the corner of Woodbridge and Broad Ave in Leonia. The walk is 2 miles (partly up hill) with the option to walk 1.3 miles (with no hill) to Overpeck parking lot. Please register if you plan to walk all or part of the way. Contact Jules Orkin at 201-566-8403. Directions to the Puffin Foundation can be found at

The International day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations general assembly. In 2001, the UN established September 21 as an annual day of non-violence.

In 1976 the idea of placing the peace message and prayer on poles started. To date over 100,000 peace poles have been dedicated in over 190 countries around the world.

Sponsors of this walk to date are:
Puffin Foundation Ltd,
New Jersey Peace Action
Veteran’s for Peace Chapter 21,
Military Families Speak out,
Teaneck Vigil
Occupy Bergen County

Perry Rosenstein, President
Gladys Miller Rosenstein, Executive Director
Neal Rosenstein, Vice President
Jules Orkin, Puffin Peace Fellow


Puffin and Community Celebrates International Peace Day
On September 21, the U.N. International Day of Peace, the Puffin Foundation celebrated its second year as a participating member of the International Peace Pole Organization. A group of peace activists met in front of the Foundation building. Representatives from the Puffin Foundation NJ Peace Action, Veteran's for Peace, Chapter 21, Military Families Speak Out, Teaneck Vigil, Occupy Bergen County, and the Teaneck Board of Education spoke of the importance of working for peace. The group then began their three mile walk, led by Jules Orkin, the Puffin Peace Fellow, to join the Leonia Peace Activist for a ceremony at the United Methodist Church on Broad St. in Leonia.

Perry Rosenstein, President of the Puffin Foundation

Jules Orkin, Puffin Peace Fellow

Brian Lehrer Show Looks for Your Input on Activist New York
Posted in News

The Brian Lehrer Show is featuring photos from the Activist NY exhibit and looking for your comments.  The exhibit is in the new Puffin Foundation Gallery at the Museum of the City of NY.  Take a look.

The Museum of the City of New York has a new exhibit, “Activist New York”, exploring the rich history of how New Yorkers push for change. We’ll post a few a week for the next few weeks. Share them widely and tell us what you notice about these images and what they tell you about New York’s activist history. See more here:


ALBA-Puffin Human Rights Award for 2012: New Yorker
Posted in News

The New Yorker

News Desk

Notes on Washington and the world by the staff of The New Yorker

June 9, 2012

The Documents and the Murderers

Posted by


How do you bring tolerance and democracy to a country in which a murderous military, which over the years killed some two hundred thousand of its own citizens, is effectively still in power? You hold elections—sure, elected governments are a good place to start—but what about the past, the brutal back-story? What about a country in which forty-five thousand of the murdered simply disappeared? Do you turn the page, or do you insist on an accounting? And if so, how?

These questions ran through discussions at the Museum of the City of New York recently, both before and after the Puffin Foundation—an arts and human-rights organization—and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), an educational organization dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the American volunteers to the Republican side of the Spanish civil war, gave their hundred-thousand dollar Human Rights Award to Kate Doyle and Fredy Peccerelli, two activists working in Guatemala, the country in question.

The Puffin/ALBA award is perhaps the world’s largest human-rights award. Last year—its initial year—it was given to Baltasar Garzón, the embattled Spanish judge and champion of transnational justice. Sebastiaan Faber, professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin, and chairman of the Board of Governors of ALBA, called Doyle and Peccerelli “brave, persistent, and innovative.”

Doyle, a document expert who worked with the National Security Archive in Washington, has spent many years working with a surprising trove of documents that had been considered lost. In 1997, as part of the peace accords, the Guatemalan National Police was disbanded—peace negotiators considered them to be so deeply implicated in the violence that a new force should be established from scratch. In 2005, a routine inspection of a complex of abandoned buildings turned up the complete archives of the disbanded police force—some eighty million pages in all—which detailed the surveillance, detention, torture, and disposition of numerous victims.

When first discovered, Doyle says, “it was a horrifying graveyard of documents. Windows were broken. Bats, rats, and cockroaches were everywhere. Mold was everywhere.” Seven years later, workers funded by the U.N.’s Transitional Justice Program have scanned and organized fourteen million pages. To Doyle, the most notable outcome of the project is the degree to which it is “shifting what we know about the war and helping Guatemalan society as a whole to rethink and reconstruct what they know about the violence.”

The documents made possible the 2011 conviction of two police agents for the kidnapping, in 1984, of a labor activist, Edgar Fernando García. García’s remains have never been found, but based on evidence of the two policemen’s involvement in the kidnapping, they were sentenced to forty years each. The courts have now also indicted their superior officers.

Doyle told me that at the trial, former colleagues of García’s came out and openly testified about their membership in the Guatemalan Communist Party. “Everyone was surprised at people’s willingness to discuss such things,” Doyle said. “That’s completely new in Guatemala. All these developments have allowed a completely new national debate to take place.”

She has also testified at trials, and on two different occasions has been the recipient of documents that she was told would endanger anyone who had them in their possession in Guatemala. One of these, which she was handed just before boarding a plane to the United States, was “Plan Sofia,” a record of the military’s scorched-earth strategy for the Ixil Maya region. “It showed a chain stretching from Army high command to commanders on the ground and then reports from units on the ground back up to the top command,” Doyle said. “It was a rigid hierarchy, and it documents the burning of villages, the killings of civilians and of their animals, and the bombing of civilian refugees.”

Plan Sofia proved to be a central piece of evidence against Efraín Ríos Montt, an evangelical Christian Army general who, in 1982, seized power and then presided over the most violent period of Guatemala’s history. The truth commission set up after the peace accords found that ninety-three per cent of Guatemala’s violence was committed by state-security forces or allied paramilitaries, and that fully eighty per cent of the victims were Maya Indians. In 2008, after finding evidence that that Ríos Montt was informed, through his chain of command, that thousands of unarmed Maya were being killed, Spain’s National Court, the same court in which Baltasar Garzón once sat, ordered arrest warrants for Ríos Montt and seven others on charges of genocide. Ríos Montt was saved from extradition by an act of Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, but in 2012, Guatemala was stunned when one of its own courts indicted Ríos Montt of the same genocide charges—using much the same logic. “The extermination of the civilian population,” the judge, Carol Patricia Flores, wrote in her opinion, “was the result of military plans and those plans were executed under the command of Ríos Montt.”

Fredy Peccerelli, Doyle’s co-honoree, runs the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, an organization he founded in 1997 and which, since then, has done fourteen hundred and fifty excavations (initially for the truth commission, and later for prosecutors) and discovered the remains of some sixty-five hundred victims. He sees the foundation more as a scientific organization than as a human-rights organization. “We provide evidence to the justice system,” he told me. “How the victims died, how they were killed. We find ballistics, ropes tied around feet and necks.” He also sees part of what he’s accomplishing as rewriting history through science. “What happened in the conflict isn’t taught in schools, and we hope that all this will be used to educate people as to what happened.” He regularly receives death threats, and drives himself and his kids around in a bulletproof car with a permanent police bodyguard.

In the most recent election—November of last year—the winning Presidential candidate was Otto Pérez Molina, a retired general who campaigned on the promise to crack down on crime with a mano duro—an iron fist. Pérez Molina has an independent streak—he was a member of the military faction that, in the nineties, favored negotiations with the guerrillas. His own family has been subject to kidnapping attempts, and he has come out in favor of drug legalization as a way of dealing with Guatemala’s role as a transit point for narcotics bound for the United States. But during the war he held a significant command in the Ixil Maya region of Quiche province, a region where some of the worst massacres, disappearances, and human-rights abuses of the war took place. Of the excavated remains of massacre victims in the Ixil region, thirty-five per cent are children.

Peccerelli points out that Pérez Molina won by only three hundred and fifty thousand votes, and that his strongest demographic was urban eighteen-to-twenty-five-year-olds: “They don’t know the past; they don’t know about the violence.”

Coincident with the election of Pérez Molina—and potentially at odds with it—Guatemala is also experiencing a ground swell of demand for justice for human-rights abuses committed during the violence. In late 2010, Claudia Paz y Paz was appointed Attorney General, and has proceeded fearlessly against a variety of wrongdoers. She has prosecuted casino previously untouchable narco-traffickers, and even the sister-in-law of the President who appointed her. Most remarkable, however, has been her willingness to undertake a number of highly sensitive cases from the years of violence.

One that had languished for years was her successful prosecution of five officers from Guatemala’s feared special forces, the Kaibiles, for their roles in the 1982 massacre of two hundred and one citizens—including women and children—from the remote farming town of Dos Erres. (Pro Publica ran a piece on the case, as did This American Life.) The Kaibiles were deeply feared for their savagery. The new President, Pérez Molina, was not just a Kaibil officer himself, but ran one of their training camps. He has appointed a former Kaibil colleague as Minister of Defense, and put the Kaibiles themselves in charge of the fight against narco-trafficking; a number of Kaibil veterans have, meanwhile, gone on to become members of the Zetas, the Mexican drug gang, which has a significant presence in Guatemala.

Peccerelli’s D.N.A. identifications played a crucial courtroom role in the Dos Erres trial, which ended with the convicted officers receiving sentences of six thousand and sixty years each—thirty years for each victim, plus thirty years for crimes against humanity. In August of 2011, on the day after the verdict, he was driving in downtown Guatemala City with the forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow when a car pulled up next to his. A man wielding a knife stepped out and slashed his tire. Peccerelli managed to escape into a parking garage. A few days later, a letter showed up at his sister’s house, which said that he’d pay for “every one of the 6,060 years. The tire was nothing. Next time it will be your face. We know where your family works and where your kids go to school. We’re going to cut you into pieces.” The letter went on to accurately document where all the witnesses who’d testified in the trial had been on a certain day.

Doyle and Peccerelli agree that what’s ultimately most important are not the legal cases but the sense of release for the families of the victims. Speaking of the police archives, Doyle describes families who come looking for records of their loved ones. “They spend days searching the archives for surveillance records, photos, and press clips,” she told me. Peccerelli sees part of what he does as the “dignification” of the victims and their families. “They come to us saying that their loved ones didn’t do anything to die that way,” he said.

Peccerelli has his own Guatemalan history. His father was a champion weightlifter who, during the 1980 Olympics, was president of the Guatemalan Weightlifting Federation. He was, as Peccerelli puts it, a high-school revolutionary, “one of many, many Guatemalans who believed in Leftist ideals but didn’t believe in taking up arms.” But when he returned from the Olympics, his friends were being killed, and he began receiving death threats. Eventually, when Peccerelli was nine, the family fled to the Bronx, where they initially lived a block and a half from Yankee Stadium (turning Peccerelli into a life-long Yankee fan), and later to Brooklyn. Peccerelli distanced himself from Guatemala but, after graduation from Brooklyn College, he developed a vague interest in archaeology. He went to a meeting of the American Anthropological Association which, that year, had a human-rights theme. “I’d never heard the term ‘human rights’ but I heard a lecture by Clyde Snow and saw his slides of unearthing mass graves, and it was as if I’d been hit by lightning.” He went back, and ended up staying. One of his sons is now the catcher for the Guatemalan national baseball team.

Photograph: Courtesy ALBA

Read the original article at

Activist New York: In These Times
Posted in News

Ladies Tailors union

Two strikers from the Ladies Tailors union stand on the picket line during the 1910 "Uprising of the 20,000" garment workers strike in New York City. (Bain News Service/Library of Congress)

Culture » June 14, 2012

Archivists as Activists

Curating social movements.

BY Sady Doyle

'Activist New York' does not just archive and reflect the city's activist history; it helps ensure that this history becomes part of the collective public memory.

Can curation be a form of activism? And how well do New Yorkers know, or value, their city’s activist past? These are two questions raised by “Activist New York,” the first exhibition at the newly inaugurated Puffin Foundation Gallery at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit is comprised of 14 separate booths, each devoted to a separate chapter of New York’s activist history; the booths are designed to be removed and replaced over time with new ones that document different chapters of this history. The causes the exhibit explores are eclectic. There’s Stonewall, of course, and the suffrage movement and abolitionism. There’s also space devoted to the recent fight for bike lanes—a cause which, I’m sure, is a grand and noble one, but which is also probably not on anyone’s list of Things That Are Just As Important As Slavery. There’s even a display on mid-20th-century conservative activism, a gesture so big-hearted that it might even be unnecessary, were it not that the pamphlets about welfare-leeching hippies are objectively hilarious.

The exhibit uses mixed media to tell its story. Artifacts from the time are arranged in glass cases, and screens project images of historic events. Scrolls on the wall explain the significance of the time period. An exhibit on the activist theater of the 1930s, for example, contains a bust of actor and civil rights activist Canada Lee. A table for gay rights contains scrolling images of protesters, including one young man holding a sign reading “GOD IS GAY.”

This exhibit about activism and social change is designed to be active, and to change; to move and grow, both with time and with the visitor’s own participation. “It would be a terrible irony if an exhibit on activism allowed viewers to be passive,” says Museum of the City of New York’s chief curator Sarah Henry.

I attended the gallery on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. It wasn’t crowded, but the people in attendance were fully absorbed, peering into touch screens and glass cases. To further engage museumgoers, the exhibit allows people to upload photos of their own activist movements, which are both projected on a wall and visible on the museum’s blog ( This feedback loop allows the museum to reflect history in real time and democratically.

“Activist New York” is the brainchild of The Puffin Foundation, which, in addition to supporting individual artists and journalists at independent publications such as In These Times, has a long track record of working to ensure that America’s activist past is not forgotten.

“A lot of people, when they think of a museum, think of looking at history. Looking at paintings on the wall, looking at dinosaur bones is what likely comes to mind,” says Neal Rosenstein, the Puffin Foundation vice president. “But Puffin wanted this exhibit to be a testimony not only to the extraordinary struggles that have been made by activists and ordinary New Yorkers in the past, but also make a link to the activism that’s going on today.”

To that end, “Activist New York” features interactive booths at which visitors can participate in polls—for example, about their level of involvement or planned level of involvement in the issues at hand—and learn about contemporary organizations that are connected to historic causes. At the booth about slavery, you can learn about groups devoted to ending human trafficking. The exhibition makes room for the future to connect to the past.

This historical consciousness, this reflective questioning, is often missing in New York’s constant, attention-deprived focus on the present. And it’s already drawn criticism. Reporting on the May 3 opening of “Activist New York,” The New Yorker’s Lizzie Widdicombe quoted Occupy Wall Streeter Jessie Singer: “It’s activism. So looking back is the most dangerous thing. You know?” Singer wondered whether it might not be necessary to set up an encampment at the museum in protest.

However, an historical perspective helps one understand how social change is created. In the back of the gallery is a display that allows one to scroll through a timeline of various movements (“women,” for example, or “gay rights”) and to see when important events in that cause’s history occurred. This screen, more than anything, captured the essence of New York activism: The people who engaged in these causes weren’t just quietly conducting their separate activities. They were engaging with each other, and often fighting with each other, as episodes on the timeline make clear.

Gay rights activists’ protests against feminist Betty Friedan’s remark about a “lavender menace” (too much lesbian influence in the women’s movement) doesn’t just belong shamefully in a booth for feminism, or triumphantly in a booth for gay rights, but rightfully in our conception of both causes. This very idea of how social change works—bumpily, unevenly, and with conflict and connection being central to the process—should be useful to someone who’s taking part in a movement as diverse and wide-ranging as Occupy.

“There are very important lessons to be learned,” says Perry Rosenstein, Puffin Foundation president. “The first lesson is, why aren’t all of these issues in the museum being taught in schools?” Rosenstein says that the goal of the exhibit is not just to archive and reflect the city’s activist history, but to make sure that this history becomes part of collective public memory. He hopes to expand the exhibit into a book and into a curriculum that might be taught in schools. Curation, in this sense, is activism, a challenge to a normative view of history.

“The exhibit shows how people have made change for the better, how people were able to right wrongs, and how New York became a leader in making change,” says Gladys Miller-Rosenstein, Puffin Foundation executive director.

There will be more movements and activists as time goes on—and “Activist New York” may help create them. In order to produce change, one must first understand that change is possible. Seeing the shape of it, understanding the push and pull of how change has been created in the past, is one of the ways people can begin to envision their own resistance.

On the exhibit’s blog, there are plenty of pictures of Occupy and of the May Day movements. But there are also pictures of people tending community gardens or rallying against gun violence. And yes, there are pictures of bike lanes.

“It’s been our life to support every march against every negative thing that we’ve seen in society that we thought we needed to change,” says Gladys. And Perry adds, “This gallery is a milestone for activism.”

But no one, no matter how committed, can be part of every march in a city as big, as complex, and as passionate as New York.

The Museum of the City of New York, now, can be a part of every movement the people of New York deem worthy of recording.


Sady Doyle is an In These Times Staff Writer. She's also an award-winning social media activist and the founder of the anti-sexist blog Tiger Beatdown (

More information about Sady Doyle

Link to In These Times and the original article

Indypendent Reviews Activist New York
Posted in News


----------- a FREE PAPER for FREE PEOPLE -----------

Rebel City
June 13, 2012
Issue #

“Activist New York”
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Through August 2012

"Vote Yes on Woman Suffrage.” “Apathy is Fatal to Freedom.” “The Other 99%.” These declarations charting the trajectory of social justice movements in the city can be found at the exhibition “Activist New York” as part of a digital display showing several generations’ worth of sloganeering buttons.

The show begins with the Flushing Remonstrance, a 1657 petition to Peter Stuyvesant, director-general of the Dutch colony in New York in which several citizens requested an exemption to his ban on Quaker worship. Though their appeal was denied, the document is celebrated as an early signal flare of religious freedom in the United States.

While the exhibition also highlights other social justice events in the 18th and 19th centuries, including New York’s role in the Abolition struggle, it’s when it enters the 20th century that things start to feel deeply, sometimes weirdly, familiar. The suffragettes, who took to the streets at the start of the century, utilized costumes, street performance and printed ephemera to play with perceived gender roles and take advantage of a nascent, spectacle-hungry mass media (one photo shows protesters dressed as maids, their sign reading “Are Politics Dirty? Then Call in the Cleaning Woman”). Elsewhere in the show, a 1970 photo portrays a clash between left-wing protesters on Wall Street and workers constructing the new World Trade Center.

This sort of show — an artifact-laden historical overview — runs the risk of becoming stale and overstuffed, but “Activist New York” stays compelling due to a careful selection of images and objects and an effort to find ­a through line straight into the present. The section devoted to early 20th-century labor includes a vintage shirtwaist — the thing forever associated with the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire — a loose-fitting garment meant to be physically freeing for working women, symbolizing all at once the blessings and yokes of the industrial age. Nearby, there’s a haunting rendition of “Die Fire Korbunes (The Fire’s Sacrifices),” a 1911 song about the Triangle fire, as performed by Metropolitan Klezmer just last year.

“Activist New York” insists that art has long been linked to activist struggle. A section on Depression-era political theater gives a quick glimpse of the radical arts community that inspired definitive American dramatists like Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller and Orson Welles. In the section on mid-century civil rights, there’s a poster for a massive benefit show at the Apollo, meant to help Harlem residents get to the now-legendary 1963 march on Washington. (Among many others, the concert included Thelonius Monk, Art Blakey, Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder. Not bad.) Personally, my favorite moment in the exhibition is Clay Lancaster’s 1966 slideshow of sun-drenched Brooklyn streets, which he would present as a sort of simulated walking tour for the sake of historical preservation.

So, what about right-wing activists? Yeah, they’re in there, too. A section on mid-19th-century anti-immigrant politics includes a stomach-turning assortment of beautifully drawn newspaper cartoons promoting vile racial stereotypes. And a section on ’60s-era counter-radicalism includes National Review pro-Vietnam editorials and anti-pornography flyers (“We’ve had enough smut”).

Coming into the present, a section on bicycle advocacy includes digital videos from the environmentalist group Times Up!, with sweaty Critical Mass rides and noisy police aggression — the internet-ready quickness of these videos make for an interesting contrast with the more stoic documentary films of earlier eras. The exhibition ends at Park51, with vitriolic anti-Islam flyers reminding us that beneath the facade, ours is a city of open wounds.

“Activist New York” gets its strength not from the major touchstones so much as from the little bits and pieces — the things that look like they could’ve been picked up off the street, coming to us now after decades of careful archiving. From the handwritten “freedom diplomas” of civil rights-era school boycotts, to the DayGlo pins of ’70s gay rights ralliers and the grainy videos of protesters in Union Square. Throughout the show are computers linked to current organizations like Make the Road New York, Planned Parenthood and the Association for Union Democracy. It becomes clear that modern activists are building on past efforts, even when those past efforts weren’t always successful.

If you’ve ever spent all day in the rain at a protest that had a lackluster turnout, or spent weeks opposing a dangerous new bill that ended up getting passed into law without a hitch, then this show is for you; it’s so you can remember that these actions, ultimately, mean something. The city is a better place for it.

—Mike Newton

Link to the Indypendent and the original article here.


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