Tribe time: Krugman hears the hoos!

MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2012

Kristof says they’re crazy: Paul Krugman’s new column is very important. It would be a very good thing if people were exposed to its content.

For that reason, we would say this: It’s too bad about his opening:
KRUGMAN (3/26/12): Florida’s now-infamous Stand Your Ground law, which lets you shoot someone you consider threatening without facing arrest, let alone prosecution, sounds crazy—and it is. And it’s tempting to dismiss this law as the work of ignorant yahoos. But similar laws have been pushed across the nation, not by ignorant yahoos but by big corporations.

Specifically, language virtually identical to Florida’s law is featured in a template supplied to legislators in other states by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed organization that has managed to keep a low profile even as it exerts vast influence (only recently, thanks to yeoman work by the Center for Media and Democracy, has a clear picture of ALEC’s activities emerged).
Truly, that’s an astonishing statement. Because we’re discussing a Florida law, Krugman says it’s “tempting to dismiss it as the work of ignorant yahoos.” He rejects the idea because similar laws have been pushed (and adopted) “across the nation,” in various other states.

Is that really what Krugman meant? It’s fairly clear that that’s what he said. But then, how about Nicholas Kristof’s offhand assertion in last Thursday’s column:
KRISTOF (3/22/12): Of course, political debates aren’t built on the consumption of roadkill. But they do often revolve around this broader moral code. This year’s Republican primaries have been a kaleidoscope of loyalty, authority and sanctity issues—such as whether church-affiliated institutions can refuse to cover birth control in health insurance policies—and that’s perhaps why people like me have found the primaries so crazy.
You’ll have to read the full column for context. But Kristof seems to say he finds it “crazy” when Republicans ask “whether church-affiliated institutions can refuse to cover birth control in health insurance policies.” Can that really be what he meant? It seems to be what he said.

(For the record, President Obama has given his answer to Kristof’s question: Yes! For better or worse, “church-affiliated institutions can refuse to cover birth control in health insurance policies.” Is Obama crazy too?)

Kristof’s remark was a bit of a flippant aside. Krugman’s presentation strikes us as an unfortunate ongoing drift in his work. But Krugman’s column today is very, very important. Just a guess, and your results may differ: Ruminations about regional yahoos increase the chances that Krugman’s content won’t make its way outside the tribe.

“Stand Your Ground” laws have been adopted in states all over the nation. Such laws are most prevalent in the red states, but some analysts include Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire and Washington among the states which have adopted such laws. That said, even if such laws were confined to the brightest red of the red states, dismissive remarks about ignorant yahoos are a striking form of journalism, especially when they contain a regional cast.

Krugman has long been our side’s MVP. In our view, this jibe doesn’t help—and it carries a hint of the northeastern yahoo, a familiar type to various folk in various parts of the land.

28 comments:

  1. According to wiki, SYG laws are even more prevalent than Krugman says:

    More than half of the states in the United States have adopted the Castle doctrine, stating that a person has no duty to retreat when their home is attacked. Some states go a step further, removing the duty of retreat from any location....

    "Stand your ground" governs U.S. federal case law in which self-defense is asserted against a charge of criminal homicide.


    I well understand the prejudice Bob focused on. After growing up in the New York City area, I remember being shocked to discover that a student in my freshman class from Texas was very smart.

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  2. We have a few issues here:

    1) IS there in fact a "yahoo sensibility" in America? Does the world of "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" -- nativism, anti-intellecualism, gun culture, primitivist religious beliefs, racism, astonishing levels of factual ignorance about the world, etc. -- referenced in an earlier Krugman column, exist among tens of millions of American citizens, or is it a liberal calumny of sneering coastal elites?

    2) if it DOES exist, are its antagonists supposed to pretend it doesn't? Are they allowed to comment on it, but only in a less insulting fashion? And less insulting to whom? The actual yahoos, or their political manipulators who pretend outrage?

    3) is there any evidence that Krugman or any other nominal liberal changes minds in the American heartland? If not, why is Bob's concern important?

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  3. ^ comical irony ^

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  4. We have yet another issue, as well.

    Dr. Krugman, useful and informative as he is on so many occasions, seems to have gotten the law wrong.

    He claims that "Florida’s now-infamous Stand Your Ground law" "lets you shoot someone you consider threatening without facing arrest," which "sounds crazy."

    And that does sound crazy --dangerous, even. After all, if there are large swathes of the population in some areas of the country who, because of certain stereotypes, consider others threatening merely because of who they are, then the law as Dr. Krugman describes would gives the ignorant the right to kill based on their bigotry, which would be insane, if true.

    But let's look at the law to which he does not link, and from which he does not quote, and see what it actually says:

    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0776/Sections/0776.013.html

    The 2011 Florida Statutes

    Title XLVI
    CRIMES

    Chapter 776
    JUSTIFIABLE USE OF FORCE

    776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—

    (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    Go ahead, read the whole law for yourself.

    Clearly the statute doesn't allow for people to just "shoot someone you consider threatening," it stipulates first and foremost that one must be "attacked" in order to have the right to defend oneself with no duty to retreat.

    Instead of a bigots' blank pass to "shoot someone you consider threatening," the law rejects an older, 1970s-era legal doctrine called "Duty to Retreat," which

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_to_retreat

    "is a specific component which sometimes appears in the defense of self-defense, and which must be addressed if the defendant is to prove that his or her conduct was justified. In those jurisdictions where the requirement exists, the burden of proof is on the defense to show that the defendant was acting reasonably. This is often taken to mean that the defendant had first avoided conflict and secondly, had taken reasonable steps to retreat and so demonstrated an intention not to fight before eventually using force."

    Now, because I'm a liberal Democrat, and because I support gender equality, I happen to have paid attention to how "Duty to Retreat" laws have been used to prosecute women who were attacked in their homes by serially violent husbands, and who killed their abusers in self-defense, as in the case of Weiand v State of Florida.

    As it happens, I think that "Stand Your Ground" legal doctrine isn't about issuing racists license to kill, it's about recognizing the right of those who are violently attacked to use deadly force in defense of their lives. As it happens, I think that liberal Democrats like me ought not to talk about a "rape culture" in the United States whilst simultaneously arguing against the right of self-defense being written into law.

    But what I think and what Dr. Krugmman thinks are best for victims of violence is a different question than what what the law actually allows, and, unfortunately, he is misinformed as to what it actually says, despite how well that misinformation lines up with self-affirming stories about "yahoos" and their racist laws.

    In all of his passion and zeal to combat fact-less, crazy rightism, Dr. Krugman apparently forgot to read the law.

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    Replies
    1. The law as you've quoted it affirms principles which are highly troubling in precisely the way Krugman indicates.

      This statute establishes that citizens are entitled to kill an actual or perceived attacker, even if retreat or avoidance of further conflict is readily available as an option. This is what's supposed to be a civilized society.

      Even more to the point, the police conduct in this case perfectly illustrated what the real intent of the law is, and the manner in which it will be enforced.

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    2. Perhaps Krugmnan's statement about the law had more to do with how the Sanford PD interpreted it in determining that charges against Zimmerman weren't warranted.

      Remember, Martin did not attack Zimmerman.

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    3. According to the police report, eyewitnesses, and today's news reports, Martin did attack Zimmerman.

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    4. The above quote is highly misleading as it leaves out key aspects of the FL law:

      1. Unlike most states - the law permits use of deadly force if you witness someone committing or about to commit a "forceable felony"

      2. Unlike most states - The law does not appear to preclude the instigator of an altercation from using the defense.

      3. Unlike most states - The burden of proving self defense does not rest on the defendant. Instead, the prosecution must prove that self defense did not occur.

      This is what distinguishes this law and makes it so dangerous.

      Zimmerman apparently followed Martin for several blocks, putting Martin in fear of his own life. Zimmerman then confronted Martin. It appears that, at some point, Martin did "attack" Zimmerman - justifiably - in my opinion.

      However, under this set of facts, Zimmerman cannot be convicted unless the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did not have a reasonable fear of severe bodily when he shot Martin. This is a difficult hurdle.

      In other states, Zimmerman would be easily convicted because (1) he instigated the confrontation, (2) any force used by Martin was justified, and (3) Zimmerman would have the burden of proving that he had a reasonable fear of great bodily harm at the time he shot Martin.

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    5. "This statute establishes that citizens are entitled to kill an actual or perceived attacker, even if retreat or avoidance of further conflict is readily available as an option."

      No, it's pretty clear that there's no "perceived attacker," whatever that is, only "a person" "who is attacked," which is the literal language of the law.

      The legal right respond to a violent attack upon your person with potentially deadly force is not at all the same as a law that "lets you shoot someone you consider threatening." Dr. Krugman didn't describe the law accurately. That's an unfortunate fact.

      "This is what's supposed to be a civilized society."

      A) That's a different issue than what the law actually states,

      B) As a movement liberal, I don't consider a "Duty to Retreat" part of what it means to be "a civilized society" at all. See, unlike conservatives and centrists, us movement liberals support the expansion of civil liberties, amongst them being the rights of the accused. I would argue that a civilized society is one where, for example, women in their homes aren't prosecuted as murderers for not running away from their attackers, as described in the Marquette Law Review:

      Her husband was dead on the floor of their home. She had shot him after a violent argument, and now the jury was asked to determine whether it was murder or self-defense.' During closing argument, the prosecutor emphasized what the state believed was the critical legal point: Under the law, the jury could not consider the killing justifiable

      "
      unless [the defendant] had exhausted every reasonable means to escape the danger, including fleeing from [her] home."2

      The prosecutor continued:

      Did she do that? No. Did she use the phone that was two feet away? No. Did she go out the door where her baby was sitting next to? [sic] No. Did she get in the car that she had driven all over town drinking and boozing it up all day? No.3

      The prosecution obtained a second degree murder conviction against Kathleen Weiand in the killing of her husband Todd, bolstered in part by a traditional duty to retreat jury instruction that stated:

      "
      The fact that the defendant was wrongfully attacked cannot justify her use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating she could have avoided the need to use that force."4

      This is what's supposed to be a civilized society?

      We'll have to disagree on that, I suppose.

      Regardless, the law as written is not as Dr. Krugman describes, and, as members of the reality-based community, we should be able to agree on that fact, at least.

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    6. I don't really have all day to keep responding to these items, but...

      "The above quote is highly misleading as it leaves out key aspects of the FL law:"

      Well, perhaps you might be so good as to actually quote these key items from the law itself, so we might be able to have an intelligent discussion of the facts, instead of hearsay. Also, some more specific information on "most states" would be useful.

      "1. Unlike most states - the law permits use of deadly force if you witness someone committing or about to commit a "forceable felony""

      Really? That doesn't seem to be the case at all. From where are you obtaining this information?

      I say this because New York, the state in which I live, which does not have "Stand Your Ground" doctrine written into its law, and does specify a "Duty to Retreat" also permits the use of deadly force against the commission of forcible felonies:

      http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/article35.htm

      S 35.15 Justification; use of physical force in defense of a person.

      2. A person may not use deadly physical force upon another person under circumstances specified in subdivision one unless:

      (a) He reasonably believes that such other person is using or about to use deadly physical force. Even in such case, however, the actor may not use deadly physical force if he knows that he can with complete safety as to himself and others avoid the necessity of so doing by retreating; except that he is under no duty to retreat if he is:

      (i) in his dwelling and not the initial aggressor; or

      (ii) a police officer or peace officer or a person assisting a police officer or a peace officer at the latter`s direction, acting pursuant to section 35.30; or

      (b) He reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible sodomy or robbery; or

      (c) He reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary, and the circumstances are such that the
      use of deadly physical force is authorized by subdivision three of section 35.20.:


      I quoted the whole thing, even the parts that weren't terribly helpful, just in case you mistakenly thought I was misleadingly omitting something again, but here are the relevant items again for clarity:

      2. A person may not use deadly physical force upon another person under circumstances specified in subdivision one unless:

      (b) He reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible sodomy or robbery; or

      So: I don't know how you're getting 1), looking at the Fl law, I don't see what you mean by 2), and 3) isn't a terribly accurate description, either, but...so what?

      "This is what distinguishes this law and makes it so dangerous."

      Why is it so terrible for the burden to be on the prosecution to prove that a person who is a victim of violence defended themselves improperly? Why is that "so dangerous?"

      See, I'm a movement liberal, and we liberals generally agree with the notion of the law not discouraging people helping other people in dire circumstances. We want people to help each other. We want people to stop and help women who are being raped at gunpoint.

      Seeing laws that don't discourage people helping each other in tough situations as "so dangerous" sounds like conservatism, to me, so I'll have to disagree with you on that issue, discussion of the facts aside.

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    7. @stuart_zechman

      I've never heard anyone refer to himself so relentlessly as a "movement liberal"; which rather recalls all those "life-long Democrats" you find on comments pages and talk-radio, who nonetheless sound remarkably like Republicans.... But no matter, to the meat:

      The law as you quote it reads:

      ".... including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself."

      So yes, there may well be a "perceived" attacker, as opposed to a real one. All that's required is "belief" that one is being, or will be, attacked -- with, moreover, the belief that the attack will be lethal or result in "great bodily harm". The reality is apparently beside the point.

      Further when you write

      "As a movement liberal, I don't consider a "Duty to Retreat" part of what it means to be "a civilized society" at all. See, unlike conservatives and centrists, us movement liberals support the expansion of civil liberties...."

      it's hard to see how the freedom to kill, when killing is not necessary, counts as an essential human right, no matter how many Charles Bronson movies one might have seen.

      OTOH, if you seek to establish the right of battered women to protect themselves, the law could obviously be crafted to do just that, without giving this broad discretion to individuals, to gun down other individuals on the street, when we do have police departments to enforce the law.

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    8. So the NRA pushed "Stand Your Ground" laws on behalf of battered wives? Oh my!

      Secondly, whether Krugman is accurately describing the "letter of the law" is beyond the point. The conclusion he reached, based on this case, that it gave Zimmerman permission to shoot Martin because he perceived Martin as some sort of threat, not even to himself and his own property, is pretty much supported by the solid evidence that we DO know about this case.

      Third, the notion that Martin attacked Zimmerman is supported only by Zimmerman's word. We do not know who struck the first blow in whatever fistfight was supposed to have happened, but we do know that Trayvon Martin would not have been shot and killed had Zimmerman done what the police dispatcher told him to do and stayed in his truck, rather than get out and confront the kid.

      Next, this is the new Bob Somerby style. He calls Krugman's column "very important" and says people should be exposed to its contents.

      But then he picks out a couple of sentences and goes off the deep end about how wrong they are.

      And finally, if you consider it an "expansion of civil liberties" to allow gun toting vigilantes to kill kids for the crime of walking back from and convenience story and claim self-defense so easily, then no sir, you are no "movement liberal."

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    9. FYI, for those who may not have read Krugman's column, it's not about the Trayvon Martin cases. It's about the right-wing-funded ALEC and the laws it has gotten into the books, some of them verbatim as ALEC wrote them, in states from coast to coast, including "Stand Your Ground" laws.

      But you wouldn't know that if you only read Bob Somerby.

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    10. Jeebus!

      "I've never heard anyone refer to himself so relentlessly as a "movement liberal";"

      Maybe describing oneself as a "movement liberal" might give others the clue that one isn't a movement conservative, even if one disagrees with the author of "Conscience of a Liberal". Also, perhaps if more people on the left described themselves as liberal as "relentlessly" as I do, "liberal" might not be quite as much the "dirty word" it has become.

      "So yes, there may well be a "perceived" attacker, as opposed to a real one. All that's required is "belief" that one is being, or will be, attacked -- with, moreover, the belief that the attack will be lethal or result in "great bodily harm". The reality is apparently beside the point."

      Wow, that was confused.

      Look, again, this is the law:

      "A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be..."

      A person who is attacked. All that is required is that somebody be attacked. Not in their imaginations, but in reality.

      "...has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force..."

      Is not required to run away sufficiently in order to demonstrate that they weren't spoiling for a fight, and has the right to defend themselves.

      "...including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself...

      The person who is being attacked doesn't have to rule out pushing the attacker away, even if it means the possibility of the attacker falling down a flight of stairs to their deaths. Also, the person who is defending themselves is presumed able to determine whether they are in mortal danger from the knife-wielding attacker who is yelling "You move and I'll kill you," at the time.

      "...or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

      The person who is violently attacked can also defend their kid from attack, and can also defend themselves with potentially deadly force to stop a rape in progress.

      I hope that's less confusing.

      "it's hard to see how the freedom to kill, when killing is not necessary, counts as an essential human right"

      Really? "Freedom to kill?"

      We're not talking about the freedom to kill, we're talking about the freedom to defend your own person from violence.

      So yes, it doesn't take the macho-ism of Bronson films to see that the individual right to defend oneself is a basic human right, like speech, like privacy, like the right to determine what goes on in one's body, which is why it's implied (like privacy) in the Bill of Rights. It's a civil liberty. It exists for good reason.

      The question is: Who decides when deadly force is "necessary" when an innocent person has been attacked by a violent aggressor? Shouldn't the person who is being attacked be presumed to have some validity making that call?

      The organization RAINN (the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network), hardly a font of rightism, provides the outrageous statistic of a woman or girl in the United States being raped once every two minutes.

      http://rainn.org/get-information/statistics/frequency-of-sexual-assault

      Why are you more concerned with "giving this broad discretion to individuals, to gun down other individuals on the street" than you are with giving prosecutors the discretion to send victims of violence to prison for defending themselves?

      We "do have police departments to enforce the law," and yet once every two minutes the law against sexual assault doesn't get enforced.

      I'd suggest that your priorities are misguided, perhaps.

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    11. "whether Krugman is accurately describing the "letter of the law" is beyond the point"

      Oh.

      My bad, I guess.

      I thought that accuracy in journalism was kind of important, and that Dr. Krugman has a sort of responsibility to describe things with more fealty to the truth than, say, Fox News.

      Sorry, I'll just get back to work now!

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    12. Thanks to Anonymous who posted at Mar 26, 2012 12:55 PM to attempt to get the "jail house lawyers" on track! Krugman's post was about the pernicious and corrupting influence of ALEC and their ability to write laws for their corporate masters through ignorant and irresponsible state legislators.

      We are debating the wrong issues above. The discussion ought to be about how to stop these organizations and individuals from snatching our democracy and way of life away from us.

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    13. @Stuart_Zechman

      It's just as well that those holding your views on this subject don't advertise themselves as "movement liberals"; such views are likelier to lose more votes than they attract.

      In any event, your point is clear: 1) these laws are really all about protecting women, though there's no evidence that the entities which promote these statutes nationwide, including the NRA and the aforementioned ALEC, have any such purpose in mind, and in which case the law is incompetently crafted, and 2) you're perfectly content with outcomes which lead to mortality, even when prudent and reasonable action on the part of the "attacked", might and would have averted a killing.

      And further, you see this law, which exempts the "attacked" from the duty to be prudent and reasonable, as a vital affirmation of civil liberty. No need to repeat these views: they're perfectly clear.

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    14. Excatly, 1:55, and this is what Somerby wrought. By diverting attention away from the core subject of a very important column by concentrating on a couple of things Krugman said that didn't suit him, Somerby did exactly what he accused others of doing, especially to Al Gore.

      And now we got a self-identified "movement liberal" no less parsing the law to "prove" how wrong Krugman was! Good grief!

      Incidentally, Mr. Zechman, Krugman very accurately described how the Sanford police applied "stand your ground" in this case, and this is according to facts that are not in dispute.

      Zimmerman identified a kid he felt threatened by, the kid winds up dead, and no charges are filed.

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  5. Gun toting neighborhood watchmen walking back to their cars who are jumped knocked down and having their heads bashed on the sidewalk should be allowed to use their gun in self defense.

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  6. Nice, as always, to pay a visit to The Daily Hairsplitters.

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  7. You know, I'm getting echoes of the Emma Sullivan/Sam Brownback fiasco of last fall as some people try to focus attention on everything Trayvon Martin did wrong that ended in his death and excuses Zimmerman of any wrongful act.

    You might recall that Sullivan was the kid who tweeted that she told Brownback "to his face" that he sucked during some sort of school function in Topeka. Well, Brownback's staff caught the tweet putting the governor's name in a search, tracked the kid down, and she winds up in the principal's office the next day, with the principal suggesting a letter of apology.

    Instead, the story hits the Wichita Eagle and KC Star, then goes viral, and Brownback winds up apologizing to Sullivan.

    Well, after the apology came the push back. We had all sorts of opinin pieces, including a rather ridiculous one in the Washington Post by Ruth Marcus, all of whom carried the same meme that Sullivan was a rude, little brat who had no right to say what she said to her 60 Twitter followers.

    Well, didn't work then. Let's hope the "Trayvon Martin did wrong" meme fails as well.

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  8. Interesting interview with black TV reporter, fromer CNN anchor, Joe Oliver, who turns out to be a close friend of Zimmerman.

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/former-reporter-joe-oliver-defends-friend-george-zimmerman-on-fox-news/

    Oliver defends Zimmerman, but gives too few details for me to evaluate his comments.

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    1. I am very interested in learning more about Mr. Oliver, who has suddenly emerged as Zimmerman's BFF.

      Although that could be true, I also believe that the timing the be very curious of the emergence of a very articulate black man speaking on behalf of Mr. Zimmerman at the very time the right-wing pushback against Trayvon Martin begins.

      His only credential seems to put him on TV screens from coast to coast be that he is some sort of friend of Zimmerman's. I'd like to know how long and how deep that relationship is.

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  9. Hi

    I read this post two times.

    I like it so much, please try to keep posting.

    Let me introduce other material that may be good for our community.

    Source: Police officer interview questions

    Best regards
    Henry

    ReplyDelete