Lies, Damn Lies 

  Lies, Damn Lies 

Posted by FoM on March 01, 2002 at 18:55:24 PT
By Philip Smith, DRCNet 
Source: AlterNet 

It has been almost a month since the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) issued a breathless press release trumpeting an update to research on the economic impact of drug abuse. "Illegal Drugs Drain $160 Billion a Year from American Economy," shouted the headline on the press release. "Drug Czar Details 'Direct Threat' to US Economic Security," it continued. The press release, touting "The Economic Costs of Drug Abuse in the United States, 1992-1998," which purports to precisely calculate the impact of drug use on the economy, continued with dire warnings from newly-appointed Drug Czar John Walters. 
"Illegal drugs are a heavy drag on the American economy," said Walters. "This new report proves that the costs of tolerating drug use can be measured directly in dollars lost, work hours missed, and pink slips handed out. Drugs are a direct threat to the economic security of the United States," he continued. "This study provides some grim accounting, putting a specific dollar figure on the economic waste that illegal drugs represent." No major media outlets bit at the drug czar's press release, but readers can rest assured that they will be hearing that figure in the future. Like other imaginary numbers, such as the mysterious "50,000 annual deaths from drug abuse," the $160 billion economic cost figure is sure to become another arrow in the quiver of drug war propagandists. The study's authors break the costs down into three broad categories -- productivity losses, health costs, and "other," primarily crime-related, costs -- and then breaks down losses within each category. Productivity losses, for example, include losses from premature death, drug abuse-related illnesses, institutionalization and hospitalization, crime victims' loss of productivity, and losses due to incarceration and criminal careers. Productivity losses constitute 69 percent or $110 billion of the study's calculated $160 billion total costs. "Other" costs, as noted above, are primarily law enforcement-related, and include criminal justice system funding and private costs, such as private legal defense and property damage to crime victims. These costs amounted to 22 percent of the total estimated costs of drug abuse. Looking at such figures, drug abuse does indeed appear to be a detriment to the US economy. There's only one problem: The study is bunk. It is rife with methodological problems and questionable assumptions, but one huge flaw, admitted by the authors, screams out at the serious reader: The study conflates the economic costs of "drug abuse" (which in fed-speak means any use of proscribed drugs) with the costs of enforcing prohibition. In other words, if you are arrested for smoking pot, the wages of the police officer who arrested you, the district attorney who prosecuted you, the judge who sentenced you, the guards who jailed you, the functionary who drug-tested you, and the parole officer who supervised you all become part of the cost of drug abuse. And the fact that you could not work while you were in jail? Those lost wages are also considered a cost of drug abuse, not prohibition. The study's authors admit this up front: "In the context of this report, the phrase 'drug abuse' is used to refer to the consequences of using illicit drugs, as well as societal costs pertaining to the enforcement of drug laws." But don't count on President Bush, Drug Czar Walters or their fellow drug warriors to make that distinction. Instead, be prepared to hear the number repeated like a mantra whenever drug policy is on the agenda. "This is a piece of propaganda that demands to be answered," said David Duncan, chairman of the National Association for Public Health Policy's Council on Illicit Drugs. "I think the study is useful only if you assume at the outset that the current prohibitionist policy is the only reasonable policy to pursue," he told DRCNet. "On the other hand, if you understand that many of the costs are related to drug prohibition and not directly to drug use, then the study is less useful. This study fails to disaggregate drug abuse costs and drug prohibition costs, but the fact is that prohibition itself creates the law enforcement costs and increases the health care and productivity costs," said Duncan. "That's a problem only for someone interested in what costs would look like without all that enforcement," said Dr. Peter Reuter, founder of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and currently professor of public affair and criminology at the University of Maryland. "But the question the study poses is what, under current policy, is the cost of drugs, including drug control," Reuter told DRCNet. Boston University economics professor Jeffrey Miron was not as sanguine as Reuter. "This study is completely useless," said the researcher on drug market economics. "It is totally tautological to say that the money we are spending on drug enforcement is a cost of drug use. That's crazy," he told DRCNet. Miron also had a harsh word for the study's authors, who were careful in the fine print to note some of the study's problems. "The authors still have to know that their work will be used for propaganda purposes, so they deserve to catch some flack, too," said Miron. Aside from the fundamental flaw of including prohibition costs as part of drug abuse costs, the study is replete with serious methodological problems, say all three experts. "The authors seem to assume that if illicit drugs ceased to exist, these costs would not exist," said Miron. "But people would in fact do something. They would look for substitutes. They might turn to alcohol or gambling. The authors do not do the counterfactuals that would account for all these things." Assigning precise figures to productivity losses attributed to drug abuse also raised flags. "They are trying to estimate a number which is neither useful nor possible to estimate," said Reuter, who recently co-authored "Drug War Heresies: Learning from Other Places, Times and Vices" and who had published a critique of an earlier version of the study. "When you ask how much is productivity reduced by drug use, my answer is pick your estimate. There is a wide range of figures. The broad problem is that these estimates are very sensitive to what drug use measure is used, statistical techniques, and what years are involved." In his earlier critique, Reuter identified a number of methodological problems in the study. There are "inherent uncertainties" in the numbers because "for almost none of the components of cost is there a strong empirical base," he wrote. There are "inconsistent findings" from studies with contradictory results, he noted. And some estimates, such as those for drug-related homicides when a large percentage of murders are unsolved, are no more than a "good guess." Miron accused the study's authors of a "one-sided assessment" of the evidence. "Take the relationship between drug use, lower wages, and lost productivity," he said. "There are a huge number of studies that find a positive association between drug use and wage levels, not a negative one, but the study dismisses those estimates showing positive effects and only uses the ones showing negative effects." Duncan agreed. "They are using one study that showed lower wages in persons who smoked marijuana," he said. "In fact, better studies since then have found either very weak relationships or no relationship between drug use and wages or any other measure of productivity. Whether there is any significant association between drug use and productivity is questionable." But Reuters, for all his even-handedness, delivered the most devastating critique of the study. "Is the question important?" he asked. "One test is to see how these estimates have been cited in the past." Reuters found that "almost universally the study is cited simply as evidence that alcohol and/or drug abuse had large economic costs. In each instance, it was a prop for a policy argument, which would hardly have been affected if the number had been only half as large or twice as large." So, the study is essentially a propaganda tool. It will be used as one. Drug reformers who wish to confront the study's findings might also find the following mental exercise useful. Let us attempt to disaggregate the numbers, separating the costs of drug abuse from the costs of drug prohibition. This will necessarily be a quick and dirty exercise using some approximations and assumptions about the roles of individual drug users and prohibition itself in generating economic costs. The study estimates drug abuse health care costs at $14.9 billion for 2000. Assuming that all prevention costs and half of treatment costs are drug abuse-related (assuming that roughly half of all treatment slots are filled by court mandates) and that individual drug users should shoulder half the burden of drug-related diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C (some disease costs are generated by prohibition, i.e. lack of availability of clean needles), we see that of that $14.9 billion, about $7 billion is fairly attributable to direct consequences of drug use. The study estimates productivity losses at $110 billion for 2000. Again, assuming that drug users should take half the responsibility for premature death, drug-related illness, and hospitalization and half the blame for costs associated with "crime careers," and assuming that 90percent of drug-related crime is prohibition-related, we find that productivity losses fairly attributed to drug use shrink dramatically. Incarceration is the single largest productivity loss factor, pegged at $35 billion, but that is clearly a prohibition-related cost. Of the $110 billion productivity loss then, approximately $40 billion comes from drug use and $70 billion from drug prohibition. The study estimates "other" costs, primarily law enforcement, at $35 billion in 2000. Generously assuming that 10percent of these crime costs are related to the psychobiology of drug use, with the rest related to the functioning of black markets, we see that prohibition-related costs account for $31.5 billion of the $35 billion in "other" costs. Applying this analysis, we see that costs directly associated with drug abuse account for about $50 billion in economic costs, not an insignificant figure. But it pales in comparison with the $110 billion in costs imposed by prohibition. These figures are, of course, only rough estimates, but they illustrate the magnitude of the price society pays to maintain drug prohibition. Finally, under its own definitions, the cost of producing "The Economic Impact of Drug Abuse in the United States, 1992-1998" is yet another drug abuse-related cost. Source: AlterNet (US Web)Author: Philip Smith, DRCNetPublished: February 28, 2002Copyright: 2002 Independent Media InstituteWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:DRCNet Link in Drug Ads Whips Up Backlash'Drug War' Opponents Blast White House Policy New Low in the War on Drugs - A. Huffington 

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Comment #23 posted by FoM on March 02, 2002 at 12:56:42 PT
Just a Note
I'll leave this thread as it is because I don't want to remove anymore comments at the moment and the worst ones are gone I think. I'd have to take out responses too so it's easier for me to leave it as long as no one minds. Let me know if you do. Not responding when we know it's a flame would make my responsibility much easier. Sorry for the trouble but someone seems mad and trying to cause problems. Thanks everyone.
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Comment #22 posted by DdC on March 02, 2002 at 10:30:18 PT
If a ruler hearken to lies...
...all his servants are wicked. 
(Prov. 29:12) Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 
(Matt. 15:11)In the later times, some shall speak lies in hypocrisy commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving. For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 
(Paul: 1 Timothy 4:1-5)And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. 
(Ezekiel 34:29) Deceptions terrorist
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on March 02, 2002 at 09:01:04 PT
Dr. Russo
Happy to see you made it safe and sound and thanks for dropping in. Bring us back lots of good information!
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on March 02, 2002 at 08:25:12 PT

It's the same person
 I'm doing my best to keep them deleted. He's using multiple identities. If he keeps it up I'll get in touch with Matt and he can take care of it. He keeps re registering. Please don't respond because then I might need to delete more comments because they'll look strange. Thanks everyone. 
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Comment #19 posted by ekim on March 02, 2002 at 08:13:14 PT:

Gee FOM we must be getting to them
Have a great day FOM. For if there was anybody that lets different point of views it would be you. Much happyiness and good health to all C-news viewers. 
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Comment #18 posted by MikeEEEEE on March 02, 2002 at 08:12:24 PT

Did this tread somehow go off on a tangent? Oh well.FoM, I believe as you do, what is taken from nature it will take back in some shape, way or form. It's only a matter of time before something happens. I live in the North East and we're having record- breaking warm weather and there's a drought, this can't be a coincidence. Dr. Russo, Europe has stated many times their dissatisfaction with American policies. At the rate things are going, if not already, America will become an island of morality, the word united will be for the history books.
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Comment #17 posted by arrested on March 02, 2002 at 07:46:12 PT:

3 phone calls
I'm serious. This counts as my last phone call. Spread the word to the world, goneposthole. Don't smoke and drive.
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Comment #15 posted by goneposthole on March 02, 2002 at 07:26:56 PT

Arrested, hairy hippie chick, DirtyDreads
Sober up. Alcoholics Anonymous is just around the corner.
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Comment #13 posted by Dirty Dreads on March 02, 2002 at 07:04:46 PT:

Jamaica mon
Yah mon. Look at the wonders smokin pot has done for me country. Pot has been the fuel that has propelled us from an impoverished third rate country to an economic and military power house. Peace and love mon. T.B.
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Comment #12 posted by hairy hippy chick on March 02, 2002 at 07:00:01 PT:

I just wanted to say I do meth., uppers, downers, heroin, crack, PCP, Mescal, and pot and I've never noticed any side effects. I won't eat meat though. Its so unnatural. Its tofu and hummus all the way for me. T.B.
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Comment #11 posted by The GCW on March 02, 2002 at 05:57:52 PT

Thank God for cannabis / kaneh bosm
Psalms 107: 8-11, 15, 17-18, 22, 37; Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness And for His wonders to the sons of men! For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, Prisoners in misery and chains, 
Because they had rebelled against the words of God And spurned the counsel of the Most High. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! ... Fools, because of their rebellious way, And because of their iniquities, were afflicted. Their soul abhorred all kinds of food, And they drew near to the gates of death. Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, And tell of His works with joyful singing. And sow fields and plant vineyards, And gather a fruitful harvest. But He sets the needy securely on high away from affliction, And makes his families like a flock. The upright see it and are glad; But all unrighteousness shuts its mouth. Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things, And consider the lovingkindnesses of the LORD. 
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Comment #10 posted by Ethan Russo MD on March 02, 2002 at 03:49:02 PT:

The View from Abroad
Hello from CannaTrade 20002 in Bern, Switzerland. I am here to speak at this trade show about clinical cannabis.The difference between attitudes and policies on cannabis in Europe as compared to the USA is palpable. Relative freedom exists here. It was warm a couple of days ago, and every 100 meters or so as I walked along, the smell of cannabis was evident. A plant is often visible in apartment windows. Everyone behaves, and no one minds, or gets in trouble.Europeans have a difficult time understanding the American political atmosphere, and why it is so repressive. They prefer rational approaches and harm reduction as the proper policies. We are light years behind. Americans deserve the same freedoms as our birthright.

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Comment #9 posted by dbetty1111 on March 01, 2002 at 23:45:32 PT:

Comment #2 posted by dbetty1111 on February 24, 2002 at 18:48:48 PT:
Amercians is the knowlege and use of this knowledge to missrepresent, extort billions of $$$ through the chemical imbalance of Americans through once legal drugs, The Tobacco Companies are "SAINTS" compared to our Leaders and their Products, "Undercover the Coverup!"For Christs sake we have right now in Amercia a repeat of the Civil War, Brother aganist or Amercian aganist Amercian through our so called "WAR ON DRUGS", shit the Goverment is in Bed with Mexico, sold guns to the Arabs for Coke and shit-during the Clinton Administration, hell rent the Movie "TRAFFIC" how many sides do you count in the ring of Drugs, 2 from our side, 2 from Mexico's sid withing the Goverment, and 2 from the Dealers, sure a lot of players for a 2 player game the Good Guy's and the Bad Guy's, hey the only side that can count is the dealers??? thats a joke, however before you respond see the movie otherwise I really can't respond to an unarmed contestant. There is so much truth in that Movie, I'm sure even though Kirk Douglous stars, we won't hear too much more about it - it's not Good for Moral + too many questions however no one of importance cares to acknowlege this sort of trash, if they did the$$$ surly would stop flowing kind of like Monica and Clinton, behind the scenes, ya know. And believe me the goverment has no intention of winning this alledged war, cause then we loose demand and any good businessman knows that in order for product to be needed you need the demand for product first, and GOD only know there is no shortage of demand, shit Amercia is soly responsible for (guessing) at least 72% of all ilegal drug consumption, so there you have it Civil War, the diffrence Civil war-Blacks-Slaves, Amercia split on Keep Slaves/Free Slaves, New Civil War-Drugs/Illegal Drugs, Amercia split Keep Drugs Illegal/Legalize Drugs, the # of Amercians killed yearly through the use of drugs the illegal distribution and all the family and friends affected- oh yeah a big mess with Big Brother sitting innocently on top of the stack of $$$$, saying yeah we are winning, you bet ya, howver look a little deeper they are winning, ???, winning what??? cause this strageity does only one thing - creates more users, and if you are lucky enough to get caught you can also pay big brother for your mandated recovery by living in a  SLE Home, SLE aka SOBER LIVING ENVIORMENT! Slick! now most of these folks are still on drugs double billing$$$$$. Economics quick course- for every (1) wealthy person (x=?) poverty/poor must exist . I don't exactly what the amount is that is why i used x=? however I do know that it does work like that so for the sake of arguement for every Howard Hughes you need 1,000 poor. So I imangine that's how welfare got started you get xx dollors for every child you have up to 10, ten children. Let's see the Projects remind me a little of the white mice in the petshop, feeders for Snakes.  Projects, feeders for Drug Czars, aka Big Brother, or Snakes same difference. ???  I worked for the Postal Service and every Sat. we had a 1 hr. stand-up meeting for the entire Station one meeting always stuck with me it was this:  3rd class mail, carriers are not delivering 3rd class mail, Carriers "THE BREAD AND BUTTER OF THE POSTAL SYSTEM IS 3RD CLASS MAIL, NOT 1ST CLASS, THE 3RD CLASS MAIL IS "THE BREAD AND BUTTER" , SO ANY CARRIER CAUGHT NOT DELIVERING 3RD CLASS MAIL WILL BE WROTE UP ONCE 2ND FIRED!!!" lets see welfare =3rd class mail =bread and butter=demand=supply, gets a little sticky i'm too tired but do some research on the issue of Cocaine sold over counter in Amercia until 1907, made illegal 1907, however 1930 high content of Cocaine for 10years a decade, ok here come the good part chemical structure after 30 days of Cocaine/Methamphenine use changes the body's chemical structure , and remains new structure until 30 days of drug absent, then change back to original chemical structure. Now how do we change alter breeds of dogs, cats, we add in new every time breed for 10 yrs until a new breed is established--lets see chemical structure "Jackpot" we can breed users simply THE PROJECTS and this is not volentary is is uneducated and oppressed. Do a little research chemical structure simple book paperback about 150 pages called 30 days to recovery from COCAINE, i believe it is 4"x7" paperback white with red block letters on cover i think, also go on internet look up RED COCAINE scary! now i don't use spell check forgive typos and spelling. PS Seems to me some hot-shot attorney could get a hold of this one and do like they did to the tobacco industry, but this is even better cause you have scandal cover-up intent deceit murder, sounds like a "CONSPIRCESIY THEORY" or a "JAMES BOND MOVIE"Amercians aganist the abuse of power (site ring) 

In My Loving Memory Of:
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on March 01, 2002 at 22:37:49 PT

Thanks MikeEEEEE 
I believe that article. When I'm not looking for drug policy news I turn CNN or one of the other news channels to make sure nothing catastrophic has happened then I watch different channels like Discovery on the satellite. We can look at ancient history and be humbled very quickly. Civilizations have disappeared just like they never existed. We are no different. We are abusing mother nature and it will rebel. I believe it will happen. You can't abuse and neglect what you need to live and we have in our modern world.
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Comment #6 posted by MikeEEEEE on March 01, 2002 at 21:04:38 PT

I know this is off topic but it seems important.Here's another link related to what they're doing:

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Comment #5 posted by MikeEEEEE on March 01, 2002 at 21:00:12 PT

There's decent in the Bush ranks:

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Comment #4 posted by SoberStoner on March 01, 2002 at 20:58:34 PT

Hmmm..lets take a deeper look here
"Illegal drugs are a heavy drag on the American economy," said Walters. "This new report proves that the costs of tolerating drug use can be measured directly in dollars lost from taxes we could collect, work hours missed from people rotting in a prison cell, and pink slips handed out because of anti-drug in the workplace policies. Drugs are a direct threat to the economic security of the United States," he continued. "This study provides some grim accounting, putting a specific dollar figure on the economic waste that illegal drugs represent." You're right Johnny boy, illegal drugs are wasting our money..imagine how much money we could make if they were legal and regulated..oh wait, your programming doesnt allow for that does it? This is Enron-onomics at it's finest everyone.  When the numbers arent in your favor, just change them..who cares if they arent right? And we all know what happened to Enron...I havent had any cash lately so I havent been able to make my contribution to the money campaign..Plus i need to think what i will put on it..i was going to put this website down, but antis or people that are undecided wont visit it just because it has cannabis in the name..i was thinking maybe? We cant make people read the truth, but those that are curious may be surprised at what they discover.

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Comment #3 posted by p4me on March 01, 2002 at 20:46:30 PT

Is this included in that $160,000,000,000.00
This is a very good article that everyone needs to read: story above is about an out of control deal with the federal government and illegal searches by California LE. It shows the heavy handed tactics the feds are willing to pay to continue the disgrace they call the WOD. Some dimwit sat outside a hydroponics store and wrote down some license plates and assumed everyone was growing marijuana. If you read the article it will talk about the people that did not and are suing the lying bastards that will end up costing the taxpayers more money. Does cost of the inevitable settlements for the stupidity and evil of law enforcement belong in that $160 billion? At the same time there is legislation pending to support the growers of cancer and death here in the US. Some tobacco farmers will sell there crop to tobacco companies for $8 a pound. The bill in Congress sent to prop up the American governments drug of choice will buy up excess production at $4 a pound and cost $15 billion. What honesty and wisdom we have from our politicians in solving America's drug abuse problem? What honesty and wisdom indeed.VAAI
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on March 01, 2002 at 20:37:36 PT:

anyone hear that the head of EPA quit
I heard that on NPR tonight. The BBC said that it was over clean air and how the EPA was worried that efforts to curb new standards were being watered down.
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Comment #1 posted by p4me on March 01, 2002 at 20:21:36 PT

U R all crap Walters
Why elaborate when it is all *ullshit anyway. They refer to the cost of drug abuse and leave out alcohol and tobacco again. How about this brief paragraph from the Hempcity website in the UK that appearred yesterday talking about how alcohol is bankrupting the country. And the answer is---Marijuana.ALCOHOL ABUSE COSTS HEALTH SERVICE £3BILLION 
               A report warns that alcohol misuse is costing the NHS up to £3 billion
               a year. It says more than 28,000 hospital admissions are caused by
               alcohol dependence or poisoning. Doctors say the NHS is paralysed by
               alcohol problems and will collapse unless the problem is tackled. The
               report, Your Very Good Health, says alcohol is implicated in 33,000
               deaths a year - a 33% rise since 1984. One in six people attending
               accident and emergency units has alcohol-related injuries or problems.
               Some 25% of acute male admissions to hospital relate to alcohol while
               over 5,000 people a year die in England and Wales as a direct result
               of drink. The report is being launched at a special one-day summit for
               primary care health workers, staged by Alcohol Concern in Birmingham.
               The charity says improvements need to be made in detecting alcohol
               abuse and that GPs need more support in managing problem drinkers.
               Dr Chris Luke of Cork University Hospital, says the NHS will collapse
               unless lifestyle issues such as alcohol are tackled. He said: "Alcohol
               accounts for 1 in 4 acute male admissions and therefore is an
               incredibly important issue for the NHS. Alcohol typifies overload in the
               NHS." I saw a few more bills with "Marijuana is medicine" on them today. How about you?Does anyone remember the article 3 or 4 weeks ago that said that the people in Columbia that are planting coca plants were destroying the environment? That is what this crap reminds me of. And where is the president on this? Can he not speak or is it to complicated for him to figure out that things are screwed up?VAAI VAAI
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