Arab League Enters Syria as Violence Rises. Syria’s Deficit Spending Explodes but Government Hangs On

Arab League monitors are visiting a number of restive Syrian towns and cities, including Hama, Idleb, and Deraa.

Though Syria has made some concessions to the monitors since they began work Tuesday, government forces have at the same time been pressing ahead with attempts to put down peaceful protests in Hama, Homs and other parts of the country. Activists said at least 39 people have been killed by security forces in the two days since the observers arrived.

The government released 755 prisoners following a report by Human Rights Watch accusing authorities of hiding hundreds of detainees from the observers. It was the second concession in two days to the Arab League.

On Monday, the army pulled some of its troops back from the city of Homs after bombarding it for days and killing scores of people. It allowed the monitors to visit and as they came, tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets, chanting calls for the execution of President Bashar Assad.

The crisis in Syria was officially internationalized when members of the Arab League’s observer force arrived in Syria last Thursday. The following day, two car bombs exploded in front of state security offices in Kfar Sousa, Damascus, killing 44 and injuring another 100. The issue of who was responsible for the attack remains in dispute. Three days later, a second group of Arab League monitors arrived in Syria as violence in the central city of Homs intensified. Charged with monitoring the Syrian government’s implementation of the Arab League’s peace plan, the monitors have thus far been met with mixed emotions and varying levels of violence and disorder.

20% Deficit next year? Economy – EHSANI writes:

I think this Syria Steps article is extremely important coming from an economics expert at Damascus University. Usually, a budget deficit of nearing 10% of GDP starts to become a problem. This note claims the following:

1- Tax revenues next year will be less than half of what they were (50% drop).

2- Income from oil sale and the public sector will also drop.

3- The budget deficit as a result will be syp 529 billion out of a total budget of syp 1326 billion. In other words, 40% of expenditures will be unpaid for by revenue.

4- The resulting deficit of syp 529 billion is nearly $9 billion or 18% of GDP and this is assuming a GDP of $50 billion. The actual deficit/gdp ratio could top 20%.

5- The government has no access to credit markets. It never developed a local bond market and it can never access the international credit markets.

6- And here is the shocking solution: Force powerful companies, banks and even large car dealers to lend to the government especially that many made “enormous profits during the economic reform and liberalization process”. The way to do this would be through “tashreei” or passing laws that specifies the amounts, rates and tenor of these loans per company and even “individual”.

7- let me summarize it in simple terms: The state is only able to collect 60% of every syp it spends. It cannot borrow to bridge the gap. The only way to bridge the gap is to go to those companies, banks , car dealers, etc. that are thought to have benefited in the past and force them to lend to the state at rates and amounts that the government itself specifies.

The value of the Syrian Pound to the US Dollar has stabilized in the last few days on the back of the decision of the Central Bank to bring the national currency’s official rate closer to its black market value. The US Dollar now trades at around 59 Pounds per US Dollar from above 60 Pounds at the end of last week. (From Syria Report)

Government to Cut Overhead Expenses by 25 Percent – by Jihad Yaziji at Syria Report, 26-12-2011

The Syrian Prime Minister has issued instructions to all State administrations requiring them to reduce all their overhead expenses by 25 percent, excluding salaries.

The letter, which was issued by Adel Safar on December 18, says that the cuts must be made in various accounts including transport, stationery, office equipment, subscription to publications, staff bonuses, advertising, public relations and maintenance of equipment.

Both investment and current expenses are targeted by the measure.

The 2011 budget approved at the end of last year projected a budget deficit of 5.8 percent of GDP. However, a range of expenditure measures has been approved since last March by the Government in a bid to appease the protesters that have been taking to the streets across the country, leading to a significant hike in expenses. There is no estimate on how much these measures are going to increase the fiscal deficit.

The Syrian President also enacted last week the 2012 budget that forecasts a 58 percent increase in expenses to SYP 1,326 billion. This large increase is mainly due to the fact that expenses previously not accounted for in the state’s budget, namely energy subsidies, are now taken into account. The actual year-on-year difference in expenses with this year is ‘only’ 15 percent, according to the Minister of Finance.

The deficit should rise to SYP 335 billion in 2012. On the basis of this year’s Gross Domestic Product, the deficit would represent some 12 percent of GDP. It is not clear whether the 25 percent reduction in expenses required by the Government enters into account in this budget.

Current expenses are inceasing to SYP 951 billion and investment allocations standing at SYP 375 billion.

Many analysts had predicted the Syrian economy would collapse on the back of the political unrest, the economic downturn and the significant hikes in Government expenses. However, to this date the Syrian authorities have managed to keep a lid on inflation and to limit the decline of the Syrian Pound

Because of the absence of any data and the overall lack of transparency it is difficult to explain the performance of the Government. The decline in investment and spending has reduced imports and therefore reduced pressure on the national currency, while the good raining season has led to good crops, which in turn helped limit price increases.

Other analysts argue that the Government has been receiving outside help in the form of capital transfers from Iran or Iraq but there is no tangible evidence to confirm these assertions.

However, the closing weeks of 2011 have been difficult with the first large scale shortages of heating oil and domestic gas affecting Damascus. The Syrian capital is also facing daily power cuts of up to 3 hours, while until mid-November it was still largely void of any cut.

The last few weeks of the year have also seen increasing calls for strikes and boycotts. While the impact of these calls are discounted by Damascus-based analysts, in the countryside and many other cities they are relatively well enforced contributing to the general decline in business activity and government revenues.

Military repression in Homs is changing. Video of two T72s shelling Bab Amro sent by Thomas Pierret

This seems to be the first recording of tank fire or shelling of a Syrian city by a tank or heavy artillery. Earlier claims of tanks shelling Hama or ships shelling Latakia cannot be verified.

U.S. quietly preparing to support Syria opposition: report, December 29, 2011, The Daily Star

BEIRUT: White House officials are quietly preparing options to aid the Syrian opposition, Foreign Policy magazine reported.

In a blog posted Wednesday, the current affairs publication quoted two administration officials as saying the National Security Council (SNC), a body that aids the U.S. president in weighing national security policies, has commenced an informal, quiet interagency process of discussing options to assist the Syrian opposition.

Only a few select officials from the departments of State, Defense, Treasury and other agencies are engaged in the discussions headed by NSC Senior Director Steve Simon, the magazine reported.

The two officials, who were not taking part in the NSC meetings but familiar with the proceedings, said options being considered include setting up a humanitarian corridor or safe zone for civilians in Syria along the Turkish border, providing humanitarian assistance to the Syrian rebels, offering medical aid to Syrian clinics and engaging more with the external and internal opposition.

The interagency is now looking at options for Syria, but it’s still at the preliminary stage,” Foreign Policy quoted one official as saying. “There are many people in the administration that realize the status quo is unsustainable and there is an internal recognition that existing financial sanctions are not going to bring down the Syrian regime in the near future” the official said….. Obama Secretly Preparing for Syria Intervention, 2011-12-29

Members of the Obama Administration are confirming tonight that the National Security Council has been instructed to begin seeking options for US intervention in Syria, including what they call the “unlikely” option of setting up a no-fly zone. …

….Abdo said many students in Idleb had stopped going to school and were instead on the streets calling for the downfall of the 41-year-old Assad family dictatorship.

“We are planning to close the international roads which link Aleppo with Damascus, Lattakia with Aleppo, and Idleb with Turkey in the near future,” he said. “We will do everything that hurts the Assad regime….

SNC president Dr. Burhan Ghalioun addresses the nation on Christmas and New Year -“The regime must be stopped by any means possible…”

U.S. arms sale to Iraq will proceed: Despite the recent political turmoil in Baghdad, the United States will sell nearly $11 billion worth of equipment and training to its military.

Syria’s Torture Machine – BBC 4

An investigation into the detention and torture of Syrian civilians, featuring shocking video evidence of men, women and children being subjected to beatings, whippings and more elaborate…

Des Libyens épaulent les insurgés syriens Figaro – Libyans have gone to Syria to fight.

Syria’s deep divide A group of Syrians gather in The Cafe to debate their country’s future. al-Jazeera

Max Weiss brings us Tha’ir Deeb interview on Jadaliyya

MA: What do the Syrian people have to do, in terms of escalation, in order to put an end to this regime, the most tyrannical in the Arab world? Put differently, when might this regime surrender?

TD: What the Syrian people need to do is continue the revolution, without violence, sectarianism, and asking for international intervention. This path, which seems long and heavy with casualties, is in fact the shortest and has the least casualties. What the Syrian opposition needs to do is to stop wasting time and jumping around from one place to another. It has to dare and put forward visions and practices right here and now in order to help dismantle the stumbling blocks of the Syrian people’s intifada. One stumbling block, for example, is the notion that the intifada is a “rural” one, meaning that it is “regional” and limited to certain classes and segments of society, that it needs to become more urban and adequately patriotic, with an acceptable platform and a clear program. The opposition also needs to stop imitating other experiences in spite of the importance of benefitting from them. A lot of people thought our trajectory was going to be similar to that of Egypt and Tunisia. However, with the exacerbation of this barbaric repression, they proceeded to pander to the Libyan model instead of standing first and foremost with the Syrian model—which has no equal…..

The Syrian Model

MA: You mentioned distinguishing the Syrian revolutionary model and how it differs from the Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan models. Can you elaborate on this?…..

Syrian unrest forces Hamas to plan for uprooting leadership across Mideast,  Associated Press, December 28

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Alarmed by bloody unrest in Syria, the Hamas militant group has pulled out many of its lower-level cadres from its Damascus headquarters and made contingency plans to move its leadership to locations across the Middle East, senior Hamas members have told The Associated Press.

NCB Announcement

The National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria [NCB] reports that a meeting was held in Cairo in the past two days between delegates of the NCB and the Syrian National Council [SNC], to continue the work of unifying the Syrian opposition. The atmosphere between the delegates was positive and co-operative during two sessions, and as a consequence they established a basic understanding about the tasks and rules for the expected transitional phase regarding multiple political and procedural aspects.

The most important agreement under discussion between the two delegations was to establish a Syrian General Congress under the auspices of the Arab League, to bring together representatives of the opposition of both of the blocks outside and inside Syria, public figures and independents, as one opposition group so that a Committee would emerge with a unified voice to officially represent the opposition in all forums…

The NCB Delegation in Cairo
27 December 2011

Comments (469)

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451. Tara said:

21 killed by the regime in Syria today. The AL’s mission should stop. No point of continuing. It did not prevent the killings and that is that. Now or in 2 or 3 more weeks, the observers observed what they were planning to observe and should now go home. Next phase please.

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January 4th, 2012, 4:31 pm


452. irritated said:

KSA first step in the social evolution of women rights:

Saudi women in lingerie shop victory

No more hanky panky with men in lingerie shops!

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January 4th, 2012, 4:41 pm


453. majedkhaldoun said:

Haytham Maleh is a good syrian citizen,those who call him traitor they themselves are traitors, he is also very smart,

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January 4th, 2012, 4:56 pm


454. Tara said:

Finally, a sane statement from someone who matters.  AL’ delegate lacks experience from the UN.  Hopefully after Sunday meeting, the observers mission will come to a halt and we will enter the next phase of the Syrian suffering.
Qatar Prime Minister Says Arab League Monitors Made Mistakes
January 04, 2012, 5:28 PM EST

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) — Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Bin Jaber Al Thani said Arab League observers dispatched to Syria to monitor President Bashar al-Assad’s compliance to a peace plan lack experience and may require technical support from the United Nations.

“This is the first time the Arab League is involved in sending monitors, and there are some mistakes,” he told reporters in New York. “They tried their best. They have less experience. We need the experience from the UN and we need to see how we can evaluate if they go back, how they will work.”

Al-Thani said that the Arab League needs to wait to hear the reports “of the people who have been on the ground first” before mulling the next steps. He did not exclude action moving to the Security Council should the Arab League fail to convince the Assad regime to stop killing protesters.

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January 4th, 2012, 7:29 pm


455. Haytham Khoury said:

مسؤول كبير في وزارة الدفاع السورية يعلن انشقاقه ويكشف ان النظام السوري يرصد مبالغ مالية لشبيحة الاعلام ومنها إعلام حزب اللهWed 04 Jan 2012 – 9:14:00

أكد المفتش الأوّل بالجهاز المركزي للرقابة المالية برئاسة الوزراء السورية ومسؤول التفتيش
بوزارة الدفاع محمود سليمان حاج حمد، والذي أعلن انشقاقه عن النظام السوري، أنّ “عناصر “الجيش السوري الحر” يقومون بالدفاع عن الاهالي في سوريا من شبيحة نظام الرئيس السوري بشارالأسد”.
حاج حمد وفي حديث تلفزيوني لفت إلى أنه اطلع بصفته مفتشا ماليا في وزارة المال على رصد مبلغ ملياري ليرة تم صرفها على شبيحة حزب “البعث” وزيادة الاموال التي تعود إلى فروع المخابرات من اجل صرفها على شبّيحة النظام”.

وأكد أنّ “مبنى وزارة الدفاع يحيط به مراكز الامن وكنا نرى عناصر الشبيحة عندما يأتون بالناس معصوبي العينين ويدخلونهم إلى الفروع الأمنيّة، وأقبية المخابرات”.
الى ذلك حاج حمد شدد على أنّ “النظام السوري يرصد مبالغ مالية لشبيحة الاعلام ومنها إعلام “حزب الله” والمستشار الإعلامي لرئيس الجمهوريّة السابق إميل لحّود رفيق نصرالله واللواء المستقيل من الجيش اللبناني أمين حطيط، والنائب السابق ناصر قنديل، ووزير الصحّة الحالي علي حسن خليل كانوا جميعا ممّن يقبضون أموال من النظام السوري”،.
وأوضح حاج حمد أنّ خليل كان يقبض الأموال “قبل أن يكون وزيرًا في الحكومة الحاليّة”، مشيرًا إلى أنّهم “كانوا يقيمون بشكل دائم في فندق “Merdian” بدمشق وهم بذلك مجرّد موظفين لدى النظام السوري ويمكن القول إنّهم قتلة مأجورين”، وأضاف: “لدينا وثائق بهم وهي محفوظة”.
حاج حمد الذي أعلن أنه أتى “إلى القاهرة بصفة إجازة رسميّة”، لفت إلى أنّ “كل ما يوجد في سوريا من موظفين ووزراء هم معتقلون لدى النظام”.
وأشار إلى أنّ “النظام يعاني من الاهتراء من الداخل فهو لم يعد يستطيع أن يدخل بعض المدن مثل حمص والزاوية وبعض الأحياء في دمشق وما يقوم به سوى قصفها بالطائرات وان الاوضاع بدأت تخرج عن سيطرته”.

وشدّد حاج حمد على أنّ “80% من مسؤولي الدولة وموظفيها يريدون الانشقاق عن النظام ولكنهم يخافون على عائلاتهم”، كاشفًا عن أنّ “الوضع المالي للنظام سيّئ جدًا ويعتمد على ما يتلقاه من مساعدات من ايران والعراق وبعض التجار الكبار وعلى رأسهم رامي مخلوف”.

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January 4th, 2012, 7:31 pm


456. Haytham Khoury said:

TARA # 454.

العزيز رضوان:

أنت تعرف أن الإتفاق مع هيئة التنسيق لا يعني شيئاً. ضعوه على الرف و إنسوه. هناك إستحقاقات كثيرة آتية يجب التركيز عليها. أهمها تقرير لجنة المفتشين الأسبوع القادم. نريد من جامعة الدول العربية أن تحول الملف السوري إلى مجلس الأمن الأسبوع القادم. مشروع قرار مجلس الأمن ينتظر موقف الجامعة العربية. روسيا قبلت بأغلب التعديلات الغربية (تحديداً العقوبات غير العسكرية)، هي تراهن على أن يأتي القرار من صالح النظام لتفادي التصويت عليه. و لكن توقعاتي أن حمد بن جاسم يجهز للافروف مفاجئة مهمة، بعدها روسيا ستضطر لقبول العقوبات العسكرية أيضاً.

لك تحياتي

لا تضيعوا و قتكم بما لايفيد.


Haytham Khoury
Jan 1 (3 days ago)

to ghalioun
الدكتور الجزيل الإحترام برهان غليون:
أنا أعرف أنكم كنتم مضطرون للتوقيع على الإتفاق مع هيئة التنسيق لأنه جزء مت المبادرة العربية. الآن و قد وقع يجب أن ننسى حيثياته ونركز على إيصال المبادرة لغايتها الأساسية و التي هي مجلس الأمن.

مع أصدق تحياتي.


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January 4th, 2012, 7:42 pm


458. Tara said:


Exactly! We need to move on. Besho the murderer and his clique unfortunately understand one single language: the language of power. Once he knows that Syria file is referred to the UNSC, he might start bargaining to save himself. I hope prince Hamad does not disappoint us.

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January 4th, 2012, 7:57 pm


459. jad said:

عزيزي المهستر هيثم
تضرب إنت وهالرسالة التافهة
انضرب إنقبر إهتم بالطب والبحث تبعك أحسن من هالتحف يلي عم تفلجني فيا
لك تحياتي

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January 4th, 2012, 8:06 pm


460. Haytham Khoury said:


We offered Bashar the carrot (the Russian initiative), but he did not accept it.

Now, it is time for the stick.

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January 4th, 2012, 8:06 pm


461. Haytham Khoury said:


Believe me, we tried the carrot.
Please see my previous post.

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January 4th, 2012, 8:25 pm


462. Tara said:

I am beyond certain that some people on SC are paid mukhabarats. They are extremely resourceful in Arabic language propaganda. They have composed propaganda articles in English and in Arabic when they didn’t find any relevant material and attributed to unknown names without adding a link. They usually have immediate links to discredit fabricated pictures I suspect the regime tries to propagate to discredit the opposition. Their vocabulary is vulgar just like their bosses.


Please do not reveal sensitive info you may have on SC, and please do not be bullied. Please trust my judgement.

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January 4th, 2012, 8:29 pm


463. Jad said:

What more sticks you want to use on Syrians you criminal? NATO and Americam smart bombs? Killing millions for your Zibaleh and his traitors likes to have party over Syrians misery.
Be sure that nobody is going to be safe from what you and your scums of friends are calling for.
Go to hell along every one calling for NATO.

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January 4th, 2012, 8:29 pm


464. zoo said:

‘Syrians being killed by gangs and defectors’
Published: 4 January, 2012, 15:50
As Syrian forces reportedly continue to kill civilian protesters, armed rebels have threatened to step up their own attacks. Middle East expert Dr. Jeremy Salt says there is tunnel vision when it comes to deciding just who is doing the killing.

­The commander of Syria’s armed rebels threatened to step up attacks on President Bashar al-Assad’s forces on Wednesday, according to Reuters. He said he was frustrated with Arab League monitors’ lack of progress in ending a government crackdown on protests.

On Tuesday, the Arab League called for an emergency meeting to discuss whether to withdraw the group’s monitors from Syria, amid concerns that the observers’ presence is doing little to deter government forces from continuing to kill protesters, AP reports, citing an Arab official.

Middle Eastern politics expert Dr. Jeremy Salt says figures about numbers of deaths, even from official sources, differ too much to be reliable.

“In its report, the Human Rights Council said 4,000 [people have been killed in Syria to date]…but there was no information about where they got that figure from,” he said. “A few days later, Navi Pillay, who is the UN Human Rights Commissioner, stood up in the Security Council and said 5,000 – and the figure echoes around the world,” he told RT.

“I think it lodges in the popular imagination as 5,000 people being killed by the Syrian government – by the security forces, by the military – whatever. Whereas in fact, I don’t think there’s any doubt at all that a large number of military, of civilians have been killed by armed gangs and by defectors,” Salt explained.

The Middle East politics expert believes the figures need to be disaggregated.

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January 4th, 2012, 10:37 pm


465. zoo said:

SYRIA – Egypt’s Permanent Representative to AL: We Reject any Foreign Interference in Syria’s Internal Affairs
Jan 03, 2012

CAIRO, (SANA)- Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the Arab League Afifi Abdul Wahab stressed his country’s rejection of any foreign interference in the Syrian internal affairs.

In a press statement on Tuesday, Abdul Wahab said that Egypt supports Arab consensus to resolve the crisis in Syria, as was earlier confirmed by its foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr that Egypt backs the Arab solution to the crisis, rejects any foreign interference or resorting to a military solution and considers the political solution that is based on dialogue under the umbrella of the Arab League as the right way to solve the Syrian crisis.

The Egyptian Representative pointed out that the priority for the Egyptian diplomacy now is the necessity of preventing more bloodshed, ending all forms of killing and violence, preserving the unity and sovereignty of the Syrian state and its people’s resources and supporting the Syrians’ right to freedom and reform.

Abdul Wahab noted that Egypt is participating in the Arab League observer mission to Syria with a 10-member delegation and was the first Arab country to present a list of the names of its delegation to the League.

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January 4th, 2012, 10:48 pm


466. zoo said:

Eman Ayad leaves Al-Jazeera accusing the channel to incite violence and murder in the Arab world: a woman of honor, proud and strong.

(Not much reported in english media)

Eman Ayad ? Femme fière et forte ! C’est le cas de le dire. Quitter un poste, alors qu’on est n°1, plébiscitée dans tout le monde arabe, reconnue pour son professionnalisme,

Eman Ayad, considérée comme la meilleure journaliste arabe, a donc claqué la porte de la chaîne qatarie, Al-Jazeera. Un acte fort, quand on sait ce que ça représente comme argent. J’en sais quelque chose, pour avoir bossé pour la chaîne.

La journaliste d’origine palestinienne démissionne de la chaîne tout en accusant cette dernière de prêcher la violence et le meurtre dans le monde arabe. C’est d’ailleurs ce que nous avons toujours dit ici. Si les “éditocrates” et propagandistes – prétendus journalistes- qui pilulent dans nos médias s’inspiraient un peu de cette femme d’honneur, l’information serait meilleure. Hélas, ce n’est pas le cas.

Eman Ayad est un présentatrice princiale depuis 1998 de la chaîne Al-Jazeera, pilote le magazine “Harvest of the Day». Elle a couvert de nombreux événements internationaux importants, tels que la guerre d’Afghanistan ou de Gaza, les attentats de New York (9 / 11) ou encore l’assassinat de Rafic Hariri au Liban. En 2006 notamment, elle a été désignée comme étant le meilleure présentatrice de télévision arabe lors du Festival des médias arabes.

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January 4th, 2012, 11:07 pm


467. Jad said:

A new post is on

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January 4th, 2012, 11:11 pm


468. zoo said:

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January 4th, 2012, 11:30 pm


469. jna said:

“An Arab League official said the observers have not reported or complained about being misled by the regime. He said the Syrian opposition is making pre-emptive statements, fearing the regime might try to mislead the monitors.”

In other words…Opposition is conducting a misinformation campaign…no matter what the observers see, for the self-infatuated opposition it’s only their tales that matter, heads I win, tails you lose.

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January 5th, 2012, 6:51 pm


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