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Articles by: Kathy Kelly

 Camp Bucca, Abu Ghraib and the Rise of Extremism in Iraq

 Camp Bucca, Abu Ghraib and the Rise of Extremism in Iraq

Yesterday morning, President Trump announced the death of Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi and three of his children. President Trump said Al-Baghdadi, the founder of ISIS, was fleeing U.S. military forces, in a tunnel, and then killed himself by detonating a suicide vest he wore. In 2004, Al-Baghdadi had been captured by U.S. forces and, for ten months, imprisoned in both[Read More…]

Trident Is the Crime

Trident Is the Crime

  On October 24, following a three-day trial in Brunswick, GA, seven Catholic Workers who acted to disarm a nuclear submarine base were convicted on three felony counts and one misdemeanor. The defendants face 20 years in prison, yet they emerged from their trial seeming quite ready for next steps in their ongoing witness. Steve Kelly, a Jesuit priest who[Read More…]

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The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 activists at oceanfront in Georgia
Photo credit: Kings Bay Plowshares

Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition

My friend Marianne Goldscheider, who is 87, suffered a broken hip in July, 2018 and then, in June 2019, it happened again. When she broke her hip the first time, she was running, with her son, on a football field. After the second break, when she fell in her kitchen, she recalls her only desire as she was placed on[Read More…]

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Strike with_Creativity cartoon - Sean Reynolds

Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen

“Strike with Creativity” proclaims Raytheon. Writing about his visit to the world’s largest weapons bazaar, held in London during October, Arron Merat describes reading this slogan emblazoned above Raytheon’s stall: “Strike with Creativity.” Raytheon manufactures Paveway laser-guided bombs, fragments of which have been found in the wreckage of schools, hospitals, and markets across Yemen. How can a weapons manufacturer that[Read More…]

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Arriving in wheelchairs to receive duvets/ Photo credits:  Dr. Hakim

The Wounds of War in Afghanistan

Recovering from a broken hip, peace activist Kathy Kelly reflects on her experiences with people disabled and traumatized by war. Its economy gutted by war, Afghanistan’s largest cash crop remains opium. Yet farmers there do grow other crops for export. Villagers in the Wazir Tangi area of Nangarhar province, for example, cultivate pine nuts. As a precaution, this year at[Read More…]

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A Morning in Afghanistan

A Morning in Afghanistan

Amidst political posturing, aerial terrorism and street bombings, Afghan citizens pursue their daily work toward peace. On a very warm September morning in Kabul, several dozen men, women, and children sit on the carpeted floor of a room at the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ Borderfree Center. The women cluster together. All wear burqas, but because of the heat they push the[Read More…]

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The Ongoing Dread in Gaza: So Many Names, So Many Lives

The Ongoing Dread in Gaza: So Many Names, So Many Lives

“I felt shaky and uneasy all day, preparing for this talk” – Jehad Abusalim, a Palestinian from the territory of Gaza Jehad Abusalim, a Palestinian now living in the United States, grew up in Gaza. In Chicago last week, addressing activists committed to breaking the siege of Gaza,  he held up a stack of 31 papers. On each page were names of[Read More…]

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Remnants of War

Remnants of War

Intense fighting and hideous attacks battered Afghans throughout their country last week as negotiators in Qatar weighed the benefits and costs of  a peace agreement that might stop the bloodshed. In Kabul at least 40 people, including one child, were killed in a complex Taliban attack. Dozens of children whose school was partially collapsed by a massive car bomb were[Read More…]

 An Honorable Course in Iran: End Sanctions, Resume Dialogue

 An Honorable Course in Iran: End Sanctions, Resume Dialogue

The greatest outlier in terms of possessing nuclear weapons is the U.S.  Last week, Elham Pourtaher, an Iranian graduate student at the State University of New York in Albany, wrote about how U.S. policies cause suffering and trauma far beyond U.S. borders. Her diabetic father, for example, is in danger of losing access to medicines because sanctions against Iranian banks[Read More…]

 Judging U.S. War Crimes

 Judging U.S. War Crimes

Chelsea Manning, who bravely exposed atrocities committed by the U.S. military, is again imprisoned in a U.S. jail. On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019, she was incarcerated in the Alexandria, VA federal detention center for refusing to testify in front of a secretive Grand Jury. Her imprisonment can extend through the term of the Grand Jury, possibly 18 months,[Read More…]

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Children in Street Kids School, Kabul, March 2019  Credit:  Maya Evans

 Can We Divest from Weapons Dealers?

Impoverished people living in numerous countries today would stand a far better chance of survival, and risk far less trauma, if weapon manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Raytheon stopped manufacturing and selling death-dealing products. About three decades ago, I taught writing at one of Chicago’s alternative high schools. It’s easy to recall some of their stories—fast-paced,[Read More…]

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What it Really Takes to Secure Peace in Afghanistan

What it Really Takes to Secure Peace in Afghanistan

Constant military surveillance of Afghans yields almost no real intelligence about the problems they face each day. An unusual group of volunteers uses a far different approach. Hossein, a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APV), which hosted my recent visit to Afghanistan, rolled up his sleeve to show me a still-healing three-inch wound. Thieves had broken into his family[Read More…]

PPM members meet Afghan Peace Volunteers outside UK Embassy in Kabul/
photo credit Dr Hakim

Defying War and Defining Peace in Afghanistan 

On January 27th, 2019, the Taliban and the U.S. government each publicly stated  acceptance, in principle, of a draft framework for ongoing negotiations that could culminate in a peace deal to end a two-decade war in Afghanistan. As we learn more about the negotiations, it’s important to remember others working toward dialogue and negotiation in Afghanistan. Troublingly, women’s rights leaders[Read More…]

A Shift: Repudiating War on Yemen

A Shift: Repudiating War on Yemen

The horror of the Yemen War is changing minds at last Twenty years ago, a small delegation organized by Voices in the Wilderness lived in Baghdad while U.S. cruise missiles attacked more than 100 targets in Iraq. Following four days of bombing, known as “Operation Desert Fox,” our group visited various Iraqis who had survived direct hits. One young girl[Read More…]

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Photo by Almigdad Mojalli

Seeing Yemen from Jeju

Several days ago, I joined an unusual skype call originated by young South Korean founders of “The Hope School.” Located on Jeju Island, the school aims to build a supportive community between island residents and newly arrived Yemenis who seek asylum in South Korea. Jeju, a visa-free port, has been an entry point for close to 500 Yemenis who have[Read More…]

 The Long, Brutal U.S. War on Children in the Middle East

 The Long, Brutal U.S. War on Children in the Middle East

  On November 28, sixty-three U.S. Senators voted in favor of holding a floor debate on a resolution calling for an end to direct U.S. Armed Forces involvement in the Saudi-UAE coalition-led war on Yemen. Describing the vote as a rebuke to Saudi Arabia and the Trump Administration, AP reported on Senate dissatisfaction over the administration’s response to Saudi Arabia’s[Read More…]

U.S. Is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen

U.S. Is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen

  On August 9, a U.S.-supported Saudi airstrike bombed a bus carrying schoolchildren in Sa’ada, a city in northern Yemen. The New York Times reported that the students were on a recreational trip. According to the Sa’ada health department, the attack killed at least forty-three people. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, at least twenty-nine of those[Read More…]

Photo credit: Witness Against Torture 
Photo caption: Witness Against Torture activists protest at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates on January 9, 2018.

God Only Knows

“If they would just confirm to us that my brother is alive, if they would just let us see him, that’s all we want. But we can’t get anyone to give us any confirmation. My mother dies a hundred times every day. They don’t know what that is like.” In July of 2018, an Amnesty International report entitled “God Knows[Read More…]

Girls and mothers, waiting for their duvets, in Kabul Photo credit: Dr. Hakim

On Purpose, In Kabul

Writing this week for the Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman called a U.S. Government report on the war in Afghanistan “a chronicle of futility.” “The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction” report says the U.S. spent large sums “in search of quick gains” in regional stabilization – but these instead “exacerbated conflicts, enabled corruption and bolstered support for insurgents.” “In short,” says[Read More…]

Banner held outside of Nuclear Submarine Base, King’s Bay, GA

Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament

In the state of Georgia’s Glynn County Detention Center, four activists await trial stemming from their nonviolent action, on April 4, 2018, at the Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay. In all, seven Catholic plowshares activists acted that day, aiming to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.” The Kings Bay is home port to six nuclear[Read More…]

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A Mile in Their Shoes

A Mile in Their Shoes

  One of several murals being created by Kabul’s “ArtLords” painters to welcome the Helmand to Kabul peace walkers. This past Friday in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, Hazara girls joined young Pashto boys to sing Afghanistan’s national anthem as a welcome to Pashto men walking 400 miles from Helmand to Kabul. The walkers are calling on warring parties in Afghanistan to[Read More…]

Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper

Here in Kabul in early June, outside the home of several Afghan Peace Volunteers, a large drilling machine is parked on what was once a lovely garden. To this now muddy patch, workers will soon arrive for another noisy, dusty day of digging for water. The well dried up a week ago. As of today, the household has no water. Ongoing[Read More…]

Cartoon by S. Reynolds/ CC BY-SA 4.0.

Scourging Yemen

  On May 10, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia informed the UN Security Council and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Saudi Air Defenses intercepted two Houthi ballistic missiles launched from inside Yemeni territory targeting densely populated civilian areas in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. No one was killed, but an earlier attack, on March 26, 2018, killed one Egyptian worker[Read More…]

Teen Solidarity Against the Merchants of Death

Teen Solidarity Against the Merchants of Death

Here in Kabul, as the rising sun begins to warm our chilly rooms, I hear excited laughter from downstairs. Rosemary Morrow, a renowned Australian permaculture expert, has begun teaching thirty-five young students in a month-long course on low-resource farming. In war-torn Afghanistan, there’s a desperate need to rebuild agricultural infrastructure and help people grow their own food. People verging on[Read More…]

A Treacherous Crossing

A Treacherous Crossing

  On January 23rd an overcrowded smuggling boat capsized off the coast of Aden in Southern Yemen. Smugglers packed 152 passengers from Somalia and Ethiopia in the boat and then, while at sea, reportedly pulled guns on the migrants to extort additional money from them. The boat capsized, according to The Guardian, after the shooting prompted panic. The death toll,[Read More…]

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41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo

41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo

  January 11, 2018 marked the 16th year that Guantanamo prison has exclusively imprisoned Muslim men, subjecting many of them to torture and arbitrary detention. About thirty people gathered in Washington D.C., convened by Witness Against Torture, (WAT), for a weeklong fast intended to close Guantanamo and abolish torture forever. Six days ago, Matt Daloisio arrived from New York City[Read More…]

A hospital guard looks out on the impact crater, less than a meter away from the wall of the emergency room. "We didn't know where we would take the injured or the dead, this was the only hospital we had." He recalls doctors setting up make shift areas to treat the injured. "It was nothing short of the apocalypse, it was hell."

Remaining Peaceful Was Their Choice

  People living now in Yemen’s third largest city, Ta’iz, have endured unimaginable circumstances for the past three years. Civilians fear to go outside lest they be shot by a sniper or step on a land mine. Both sides of a worsening civil war use Howitzers, Kaytushas, mortars and other missiles to shell the city. Residents say no neighborhood is[Read More…]

Let Yemenis Live

Let Yemenis Live

On May 2, 2017, before becoming Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as Minister of Defense, spoke about the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, a war he orchestrated since March of 2015. “A long war is in our interest,” he said, explaining that the Houthi rebels would eventually run out of cash, lack external supplies and break apart. Conversely,[Read More…]

The Quality of Mercy

The Quality of Mercy

During the spring of 1999, as part of Voices in the Wilderness’s campaign to end indiscriminately lethal U.S./U.N. economic sanctions against Iraq, the Fellowship of Reconciliation arranged for two Nobel Peace laureates, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire, to visit the country. Before their travel, Voices activists helped organize meetings for them with a range of ordinary Iraqis affected by[Read More…]

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When Afghan Mothers Speak, The World Must Listen

When Afghan Mothers Speak, The World Must Listen

  Masoumah invites Afghan mothers to speak about difficulties they face On a recent Friday at the Afghan Peace Volunteers‘ (APV) Borderfree Center, here in Kabul, thirty mothers sat cross-legged along the walls of a large meeting room. Masoumah, who co-coordinates the Center’s “Street Kids School” project, had invited the mothers to a parents meeting. Burka-clad women who wore the[Read More…]

Wrongful Rhetoric And Trump’s Strategy on Iran

Wrongful Rhetoric And Trump’s Strategy on Iran

  Mordechai Vanunu was imprisoned in Israel for eighteen years because he blew the whistle on Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program. He felt he had “an obligation to tell the people of Israel what was going on behind their backs”  at a supposed nuclear research facility which was actually producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. His punishment for breaking the silence[Read More…]

Great Hunger

Great Hunger

Earlier this year, the Sisters of St. Brigid invited me to speak at their Feile Bride celebration in Kildare, Ireland. The theme of the gathering was: “Allow the Voice of the Suffering to Speak.” The Sisters have embraced numerous projects to protect the environment, welcome refugees and nonviolently resist wars. I felt grateful to reconnect with people who so vigorously[Read More…]

At Every Door

At Every Door

Billions, perhaps trillions, will be spent to send weapons, weapon systems, fighter jets, ammunition, and military support to the region, fueling new arms races and raising the profits of U.S. weapon makers. But, we can choose to stand at the doors of our leaders and of our neighbors, honoring past sacrifices and the innocent lives we were unable to save, as we redouble efforts to stop war makers from constantly gaining the upper hand in our lives.

Ben Salmon, Patron of Conscientious Objectors, Courtesy of Father William Hart McNichols, www.frbillmcnichols-sacredimages.com

“Ain’t No Such Thing as A Just War” – Ben Salmon, WWI resister

  Several days a week, Laurie Hasbrook arrives at the Voices office here in Chicago. She often takes off her bicycle helmet, unpins her pant leg, settles into an office chair and then leans back to give us an update on family and neighborhood news. Laurie’s two youngest sons are teenagers, and because they are black teenagers in Chicago they[Read More…]

10-year-old Afghan Street Kid Mubasir smiles despite his difficulties

What Does War Generate?

  She read to us. “The Works of Mercy:  Feed the hungry; Give drink to the thirsty; Clothe the naked; Visit the imprisoned; Care for the sick; Bury the dead.” And then she read: “The Works of War: Destroy crops and land; Seize food supplies; Destroy homes; Scatter families; Contaminate water; Imprison dissenters; Inflict wounds, burns; Kill the living.” The following[Read More…]

“Would You Like A  Drink Of Water?”  Please Ask A Yemeni Child

“Would You Like A  Drink Of Water?”  Please Ask A Yemeni Child

This week, in New York City, representatives from more than100 countries will begin collaborating on an international treaty, first proposed in 2016, to ban nuclear weapons forever. It makes sense for every country in the world to seek a legally binding ban on nuclear weapons. It would make even more sense to immediately deactivate all nuclear weapons. But, by boycotting[Read More…]

Feed The Hungry, Treat The Sick: A Crucial Training

Feed The Hungry, Treat The Sick: A Crucial Training

  On June 15, 2017, theNew York Times reported that the government of Saudi Arabia aims to ease the concerns of some U.S. legislators over U.S. weapon sales to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis plan to engage in“a $750 million multiyear training program through the American military to help prevent the accidental killing of civilians in the Saudi-led air campaign against[Read More…]

Afghan Peace Volunteers at work in their permaculture plot in Kabul

Courage For Peace, Not For War, In Afghanistan

  When activists like me return from visiting the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, Afghanistan, young seamstresses there often entrust each of us with about fifty sky-blue scarves. The word “Borderfree” is carefully embroidered, in English, on one end of each scarf; on the opposite side, they’ve stitched the translation in Dari, the language they speak. The scarves express their[Read More…]

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In Yemen, Shocked to His Bones

In Yemen, Shocked to His Bones

  The ruins carpeted the city market, rippling outwards in waves of destruction. Broken beams, collapsed roofs, exploded metal shutters and fossilized merchandise crumbled underfoot. In one of the burnt-out shells of the shops where raisins, nuts, fabrics, incense and stone pots were traded for hundreds of years, all that was to be found was a box of coke bottles,[Read More…]

The Shame of Killing Innocent People

The Shame of Killing Innocent People

  On April 26th, 2017, in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, the Saudi-led coalition which has been waging war in Yemen for the past two years dropped leaflets informing Hodeidah’s residents of an impending attack.  One leaflet read: “Our forces of legitimacy are heading to liberate Hodeidah and end the suffering of our gracious Yemeni people. Join your legitimate government[Read More…]

Angry, Desperate, Rejected

Angry, Desperate, Rejected

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his boldest and perhaps most defining speech. It alienated liberal allies in the North and the Northern press, plus many in King’s own civil rights movement, and prompted President Johnson to withdraw King’s secret service detail. Exactly one year later, forty-nine years ago on April 4, he was assassinated. He said, “As[Read More…]

Reality And The U.S.-Made Famine In Yemen

Reality And The U.S.-Made Famine In Yemen

This week at the Voices for Creative Nonviolence office in Chicago, my colleague Sabia Rigby prepared a presentation for a local high school. She’ll team up with a young friend of ours, himself a refugee from Iraq, to talk about refugee crises driven by war. Sabia recently returned from Kabul where she helped document the young Afghan Peace Volunteers’ efforts[Read More…]

Friendship in Defiance of War

Friendship in Defiance of War

  Before making their home in Damascus, Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak had regularly visited Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, where they developed lasting friendships and deepened cultural awareness. Iraq was steadily deteriorating under thirteen years of U.S./UN imposed economic sanctions. Despite iron clad determination by U.S. policy makers to isolate Iraq, Gabe and Theresa repeatedly challenged the economic sanctions[Read More…]

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Divest From War, Invest In People

Divest From War, Invest In People

All Trump, all the time. With a punishing, disorienting barrage of executive orders, President Trump is reversing hard fought gains made in environmental protection, health care, women’s rights, immigration policy, and nuclear weapons reduction–with even more executive orders promised. In his inaugural speech, Trump proclaimed “America First”. The U.S. does rank first in weapon sales, in mass incarceration and in[Read More…]

White Silence Equals Violence: Awaiting A Verdict

White Silence Equals Violence: Awaiting A Verdict

This morning, here in Minneapolis, six jurors decided beyond a reasonable doubt that I am guilty as charged and my co-defendant, Dan Wilsonwas found innocent.  The court case stems from an action protesting the execution of Jamar Clark, age 24, who died in the early morning of November 15, 2015 outside a north Minneapolis apartment complex. Two Minneapolis police officers,[Read More…]

One of more than 750 crosses carried in a Chicago rally commemorating homicide victims on New Years Eve/ Photo By Ed Juillard

Eternal Hostility: A New Year’s Resolution

  January 1, 2017: This New Year’s Eve, 750 heavy wooden crosses were distributed to a gathering of Chicagoans commemorating the victims of gun violence killed in 2016. Rev. Michael Pfleger and the Faith Community of St. Sabina Parish had issued a call to carry crosses constructed by Greg Zanis. The crosses, uniform in size, presented the name and age[Read More…]

'This is not a gap between the tolerant and the intolerant,' writes Hedges. 'It is a gap between most of the American population and our oligarchic and corporate elites, which Trump epitomizes.' (Cartoon: Mr. Fish)

Steer Your Way

Since the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, I’ve given daily thought to the more alarming aspects of Trump culture.  Conversations among friends have been quite helpful, both here in the U.S. and in far- away Kabul from which I recently returned.  It becomes hard to envision constructive responses to Trumpism without a steadfast focus on[Read More…]

mothers and children inside a Kabul refugee camp Photo credit: Henrietta Cullinan

Human Rights Day, A Call To Care

December 10th marks the U.N. Human Rights Day, celebrating and upholding the indispensable and crucial declaration of universal human rights.On the eve of this event, I visited a refugee camp housing 700 families in Kabul. Conditions in refugee camps can be deplorable, intolerable. Here, the situation is best described as surreal. As I approach the entrance to the camp with my friends[Read More…]

Jamila, age 11, holds a neighbor’s newborn. Photo credit: Henrietta Cullinan

See How We Live

  Here in Kabul, I’m generally an early riser at the home of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, but I’m seldom alone. Facing exams, my young friends awaken early and then stay up late to study. Before sunrise this morning, eighteen year old Ghulamai sits in the kitchen, poring over his textbook. His efforts have made him number one in his[Read More…]

Where To Turn?

Where To Turn?

In July 1941, Albert Einstein, ten months a US citizen, wrote Eleanor Roosevelt asking her, as First Lady, to raise with the president the matter of lifting bureaucratic hurdles so that Jewish refugees threatened by Hitler’s final solution could be granted entry into the U.S. “I know of no-one else to whom to turn for help,” he wrote. But the U.S. government[Read More…]

A Good Beginning

A Good Beginning

It seems that some who have the ears of U.S. elite decision-makers are at least shifting away from wishing to provoke wars with Russia and China. In recent articles, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Thomas Graham, two architects of the U.S. cold war with Russia, have acknowledged that the era of uncontested U.S. global imperialism is coming to an end. Both analysts[Read More…]

Don’t Move! How USA Murders Unpeople

Don’t Move! How USA Murders Unpeople

Two major news stories here in the U.S., both chilling, point out how readily U.S. authorities will murder people based on race and the slightest possibility of a threat to those in places of power. On July 5th Baton Rouge police killed Anton Sterling in a Louisiana parking lot.  Sterling was a 37-year-old Black father of five selling CDs outside[Read More…]

What’s At Stake

What’s At Stake

In the historic port city of Yalta, located on the Crimean Peninsula, we visited the site where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, in February of 1945, concluded negotiations ending World War II. These leaders and their top advisors were also present at the creation of the United Nations and other instruments of international negotiation and non-military cooperation. Tragically, the creation of[Read More…]

Why Go To Russia?

Why Go To Russia?

Since 1983, Sharon Tennison has worked to develop ordinary citizens’ capacities to avert international crises, focusing on relations between the U.S. and Russia. Now, amid a rising crisis in relations between the U.S. and Russia, she has organized a delegation which assembled in Moscow yesterday for a two week visit.  I joined the group yesterday, and happened to finish reading[Read More…]

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