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St. Paul City Council elections Wards 1-3

by Dan Burns on August 24, 2015 · 0 comments

Saint_paul_mnAs with the Minneapolis city elections a couple of years ago, I’m just looking to provide a handy guide with links to websites, etc. My intent is not very partisan, though given the purpose of this website if a candidate seems un-progressive I’ll generally say so.
I’m getting my information on who’s running from this webpage. Filing closed on August 11. Here’s a legible map of the wards.

Commenters (or, for that matter, community bloggers) are welcome to extol their candidates, discuss the issues, and so forth. Scurrilous personal attacks directed at anyone will not be posted. What constitutes a “scurrilous personal attack” is determined by me, and the bar is set low.
Ward 1
Trahern Crews is the Green Party candidate. Here’s his Facebook page.

– DFLer Dai Thao is the incumbent. Facebook here.


Ward 2
The incumbent, Dave Thune, is not running, and the DFL did not endorse. This one looks like a blast.



clowncarWho is still worth paying attention to? Just Trump. Trump! Trump! Go Trump!
OK, got that out of my system. On to who we actually need to care about enough to follow, just in case Democrats have to face them in a general election, either for president or, secondarily, some other office. However, there are 17 making the cut to be included in some debate, and I can’t follow that many. I suspect I speak for many reading this when I say that having a life outside of politics, or at least outside of the presidential race, I can’t follow that many. Yes, the whole point of this exercise is concern that really good stuff to bring up when persuading voters next year will have gone down the memory hole when 2015 is past. But accumulating the pratfalls of 17 clowns or, as the media likes to call them, the deepest GOP bench in a long time (what does that say about the state of that party?) is quite the commitment of time I don’t have. So I have to narrow, and I have to admit my attempt to be purely objective about it failed. There just isn’t enough objective data, so I’m going to play pundit and pretend my gut feelings are data. Just like the pros! Though hopefully with more accuracy.
What I’m actually going to do is narrow down who we should follow and who we can ignore based on three criteria. What objectively can be said about their campaigns; my subjective opinion of their odds of being nominated; the chance of facing these candidates for some other office, regardless of their odds of becoming president. If I judge a candidate not worth following, I simply won’t spend any time on them again. I plan to fight the temptation to highlight the stupid things they say because they just aren’t worth the investment in time.
Feel free to disagree with my specific choices, but be aware that not all candidates have a future as the nominee or in other public office, so they’re not worth your time to comment on articles, post links on social media (#ThisGuyWantsToBePresident on Twitter), or write your own blogs about. And why can’t you write your own blogs? Am I that much smarter than you? Go to the upper right, click the “log in” link, start an account and start writing. That’s all it takes to start.
Seven of the seventeen candidates were relegated to the “kiddie table” debate by Fox News. I don’t really know how important that was, and I suspect all it really does is tell us where candidates were in the polls at the time, but it is objectively true they missed the cut. So for these first seven, take that as said.

Rick Perry
Objective: He’s low in the polls, and his campaign is so low on cash that he can’t pay staff. He has his billionaire backers helping on the dark money side so he’s not completely done.
Subjective: Has anyone come back from being unable to meet payroll? Perry is a strong campaigner in Texas, so his flailing on the national level surprises me, but there it is. He looks probable to be the first one to drop.
Other offices: After embarrassing himself so badly on the national stage, I can’t believe he’d get another shot in Texas. He could have run for Senate if he’d wanted, but he didn’t run. I think this is it.
Worth following: No.
Bobby Jindal
Objective: He’s stuck in the low single digits. His efforts to sound extreme aren’t helping him move up.
Subjective: I have strong doubts Republicans are ready for a non-white presidential nominee. Yes, they nominate non-white candidates for lower office, and I’m guessing they’re close to nominating a non-white candidate who is sufficiently conservative. Maybe Jindal will ease my doubts, but someone with such a terrible record as governor probably isn’t the candidate to do that.
Other offices: He’s the incumbent governor, but his term ends this year. He might run for Senate, which would be laughable if he weren’t in so safely Republican a state.
Worth following: Yes, but only for possible future runs for lower office.


Professor Richard J. Jensen

Recently I have come across multiple references to what widely seems to be a losing battle between a conservative history revisionist and a child history buff, regarding the 19th century.  This is significant not only because the kid pretty thoroughly spanks the old white duffer, but because revisionist history is a key political agenda item for the right, ranging from their policies to propaganda.


It must sting, being routed by a mere girl,  a liberal.


In particular denial of very real discriminatory and violent victimization of certain groups, such as native Americans, blacks, progressive waves of voluntary immigrants, and those persecuted for religion (Catholics, Jews and Mormons, and more recently Muslims) is a key point on which the right are relentless.  The past intolerance of conservatives haunts them, even as they continue that intolerance and bigotry in the present against all of those groups as well as against women.  Consistently, bad historians like Jensen want to discredit the very real bigotry these groups suffered, while at the same time consistently playing the bogus white victim card. Jensen is very keen on ‘nativism’, which is the bias of established immigrants and their descendants, against new immigrants.


This provides a fascinating lens through which to view a range of controversies, from the revisionist history the right has attempted to foist on advanced history classes in high schools for qualification for college credit, to the political campaigns on the right dealing with issues of discrimination in voting rights and on the topic of immigration.


The two adversaries in this particular informational and intellectual battle are a 14 year old girl in the 8th grade at the same school attended by the Obama daughters, Sidwell Friends, which some might consider a bastion of elite liberal education.  While the retired professor was previously predominantly teaching in Illinois – the state from which Obama was elected president.  Professor Richard Jensen taught at the University of Illinois, Chicago, from 1973 to 1996.


Jensen is also an editor at Wikipedia, which notes he has strong ties as well to Conservapedia, a right wing revisionist source noted for errors of fact and for promoting widely disputed and discredited theories.  (Pithily put, Conservapedia is a sh*t source.)


President Obama taught at the very prestigious University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004, and began his career in state government representing Chicago in the state legislature from 1997 to 2004.  While it is impossible to know if the two men ever met, they clearly represent the opposite sides of both the educational and the political spectrum from that geographic area, a difference now being continued by a new generation.


I find this new battle over revisionist history particularly interesting from a personal perspective, because when I took high school honors history around the same age, back in the days of the dinosaurs, as it seems now, my own teacher, a PhD in history, REQUIRED that we do research into primary sources, much like that done by this 14 year old, ‘for fun’.


In doing similar research, I found not only very much the same information as this young woman, but additional primary source material in the historical museums at the state and local level, that documented fear and discrimination against most of the large waves of immigrants that tended to overwhelm those who were already established. I’ve SEEN this kind of evidence myself, at her age, on this topic (more generally on 19th century anti-immigrant bias) without using google, seeking out primary sources.  So this story particularly resonated for me.


Each wave received its own discrimination, not only the Irish, but also Germans, Scandinavians, southern and eastern Europeans, and the Chinese, to name a few, with additional religious bias against Catholics and Jews associated with the southern Mediterranean and eastern European / Russian Jews getting singled out for particularly virulent bias.  As a general rule, anyone who was not a native speaker of English as their first language was targeted then, as now, by those who were bent on bigotry and fear of the ‘other’.  Anyone who was more WASP – (perceived as)white anglo-saxon protestant (Christian) – received less demonizing than those who were perceived to be more different in key categories.  For example, up until the last century or so, Irish immigrants were not considered ‘white’, to give an example of crazy justification for bias, even though they are clearly primarily a Caucasian ethnicity, and spoke an accented English dialect. From wikipedia (ironically) by way of Upworthy.   (Let me know if this looks like ethnic and racial bigotry to you that would likely lead to job discrimination, of the kind Jensen is denying, that would carry over into employment as well as other aspects of normal civil life.)  If you can read the small print, note the references to superior/inferior races:


Or did you know that the Irish weren’t even considered “white” until the last hundred years? So while you probably won’t witness much Irish racism in 2015, the reverberations from that suffering surely still exist.

The evidence for these waves of discrimination are frequent, and obvious. To deny them or to ignore them requires a massive effort of ideology driven intellectual dishonesty, which is what we are consistently seeing from the right, and it is more extreme the further to the right the ideology. This is nothing less than a denial of large collections of evidence.  This is on a par with claims that slavery was benevolent and good for black Americans in history, and denials of the facts of evolution or that the earth is only 6,000 years old. They might as well claim the earth is flat, or that the sun orbits the earth.


Here is one link of many to the specific story from the Smithsonian:



abandoned2The U.S. Senate has passed the Every Child Achieves Act, and the House has passed Rep. John Kline’s (R-MN) Student Success Act. They are now trying to reconcile the two, and produce something that President Obama will sign. Whether they’ll succeed in the first of those objectives, much less the second, remains an open question. Anyway:

The (Every Child Achieves Act) also modernizes the Charter Schools Program (Title V), ensuring the opening of new charter schools, the replication and expansion of the most successful of charter school models, and support for facility financing and authorizer quality. We applaud the committee for strengthening this program that has been critical to the growth of charter schools nationwide.
(National Alliance for Public Charter Schools)

First, the SSA expands America’s already-successful charter school system and allows federal funds to follow low-income students to the public school of their parents’ choice, not the school dictated by district lines.
(National Review)

And what could be wrong with more resources directed to charters, at this time? Just a handful of items; one could go on all day:
Charter schools are cheating your kids: New report reveals massive fraud, mismanagement, abuse (Salon)

How Wall Street’s Greedy Tentacles Sank Into Schools, Trapping Them in Massive Debts (AlterNet)

Charter schools struggling to meet academic growth (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Education “reform’s” big lie: The real reason the right has declared war on our public schools (Salon)

Charters do potentially have a place, which is to deal with very challenging students via specialized approaches and services. Currently, the charter movement, through no fault of its teachers or students, is too often being used to undercut traditional public education, and line the pockets of odious, despicable greedheads. What needs to be fundamental in American education is a great public school in every town and every city district. Period.
Comment below fold.

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Support for unions continues to grow

by Dan Burns on August 19, 2015 · 2 comments

I’m not in the habit of paying a lot of attention to witless ninnies, unless I have to. I did happen to notice something about Republican presidential candidate and disastrously failed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker having made a campaign stop in Minnesota. I’m passing this along, about support for unions continuing to rise, that I saw at Daily Kos.

Gallup did the polling.

Support for universal access to safe, legal abortion has also been rising, and presumably the plethora of assaults on those rights is also part of the dynamic on that.

The problem is getting this kind of support to consistently manifest, electorally. If everyone eligible would vote, based on where they’re at on the issues, two elections in a row (it would actually take three, six years, to clean out the U.S. Senate, but two would go a long way), right-wingers would be out of power at the federal level, and in all but 10-15 states, with massive benefits for practically everyone. It doesn’t seem like that should be so much to ask. Apparently, it is.
Comment below fold.


Time to Point the Stinky Blame Finger

by Dog Gone on August 18, 2015 · 1 comment

This dedication to job creation has been a promise made not only by Boehner and McConnell, and the right wing members of Congress.


It is a promise made as well by the various governors and members of state legislatures on the right.


NONE of them have delivered.


States like Kansas, Wisconsin and Louisiana, with right wing supermajorities and control of the governor’s chairs, are all at the bottom of the lists for job creators, at the top of lists of sweetheart deals and give-aways to big business and to the wealthy 1%. These states are all in poor health by most metrics, including schools, infrastructure such as bridges and roads, lowered credit ratings for the state, and worst in budget deficits to pay for necessary services.

In contrast, liberal states are tending to do much better.


This is what the face of failure looks like. This is the face of failure of economic policy and right wing ideology. This is the face of failed values expressed in government action and inaction.


This is EPIC failure of the most endemic, systemic and pernicious kind. It is an indictment of right wing governance and belief. It is a failure to live up to promises. Only those who seek to vote against their own interests and the interests of the nation would continue to vote for these people and policies.


It is time to hold not only the politicians and policy-makers accountable, it is time to hold those who vote for them accountable as well. This means underlining these failures to conservative family and friends, and pointing the stinky blame finger at them for voting for these people and for supporting these failed policies and legislative failures. Those voters enable the actions of the failures of and in government.
Comment below fold.

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Puppy/kitty-mill bill isn’t getting it done

by Dan Burns on August 18, 2015 · 0 comments

dogsFirming it up needs to be a priority, when DFLers take back the legislature. Getting anything was a hard row to hoe. Big Ag legislators kept coming up with bizarre, slippery-slope fantasies, apparently honestly believing that the next step would be making farmers sing their cows lullabies at night. Wingnuts are weird and paranoid.

The state’s breeder’s law, however, is proving to be regulation without a whole lot of teeth. In fact, it contains no limit on the number of dogs a kennel can house and breed.
Minnesota’s Commercial Dog and Cat Breeder Law, which went into effect was last July, dictates that breeders must provide daily enrichment for their furry charges, meaning positive physical contact with people and other well-adjusted animals at least twice daily. It also requires operators to monitor animals’ health and well-being daily, thus ensuring proper care. Or least that’s the idea…
Almost 90 names make up the list of Minnesota’s Commercial Dog and Cat Breeders. Included is Valley View Kennel, which was designated as “one of the worst puppy mills” in the country in 2013 by the United States Humane Society. So are Renner’s Kennels, owned by John and Lyle Renner, and Wanda Kretzman’s Clearwater Kennel, Inc.
The latter two made the Humane Society’s “Horrible Hundred 2015″ puppy mill list.
(City Pages)

There was a protest, and a counter-protest, at a breeding operation in Eden Valley, on Saturday.


On Trump: The Deafening Silence of Dick Cheney

by Invenium Viam on August 16, 2015 · 0 comments


“It is time the president and his allies faced some hard truths: America remains at war, and withdrawing troops from the field of battle while our enemies stay in the fight does not ‘end’ wars.” The Collapsing Obama Doctrine. ~ Dick Cheney (WSJ 6-19-14)


“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.” The Art of War ~ Sun Tzu


Iraq War architect and unindicted war criminal — former GOP Vice President Dick Cheney — has been nowhere heard or seen since Donald Trump pushed aside heir-apparent to the Throne of Conservatism, Jeb!, to lead in the polls.


Not even The Donald’s® latest heretical statement last Friday in New Hampshire that Iraq2 was a huge mistake and that Bush&Co. were to blame for a debacle of historic proportions — all because they weren’t very smart — has prompted Troll Cheney to venture out from under the bridge, cudgel in hand.


At the same time, Trump also managed to criticize his own party, once again with utter impunity: “We have had so many opportunities to do some real productive work and Republican politicians don’t have the guts to do it,” he said. “They should be ashamed of themselves.”


Heresy. Somebody should burn. Someone not rich.


Of course, all of this had GOP spinmeisters on mop-up patrol over the weekend like a bunch of hapless pledges after a frat party on Homecoming Night.


Yesterday, Trump went after Bush for his new posture of playing dumb on Iraq:


“Jeb Bush is a puppet to his donors, there is no question about it. He’s got lobbyists … I know them … he’s got lobbyists, and you know, he’s made statements over the past couple of days that are incredible, trying to justify the war in Iraq … can’t be justified … and then he said ‘Skin in the game.’ I don’t know if you saw his recent statement, he said the United States has to prove to Iraq that we have ‘Skin in the game.’ We spent $2 trillion … thousands of lives lost … wounded warriors who I love all over the place, and he said we have to prove we have ‘skin in the game.’ I think it may be one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever heard. Skin in the game! We don’t have to prove anything … it was one of the dumbest things that ever … and I think what happened is that his brother probably said ‘Hey, you’re killing me!’ That was his war, and he looks very bad. So this is how Jeb Bush tried to push back, but when he said we have to prove to Iraq that we have skin in the game and we lost those lives and all that money, I think he should apologize to the families of the people.” PoliticsUSA


Trump’s indictment of Jeb! must have Dick Cheney seething, notwithstanding the truthiness that Jeb!’s statement was unforgivably stupid. So where’s Cheney?


After all, it was only 14 months ago that Cheney fired the opening salvo of a new Media War in the June 19, 2014, Wall Street Journal over who is going to shoulder the blame for The Iraq2 Debacle. Entitled “The Collapsing Obama Doctrine,” Cheney attempted to lay the failure of Iraq2 at President Obama’s feet in a cynical attempt at revisionist history in the service of his own foul legacy, as well as to establish a platform — well in advance of the 2016 presidential election — that The Establishment’s anointed candidates could argue from that the whole Iraq War thing went south under Obama’s watch. Of course, fellow Iraq War architects Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice, Bremer, Kristol and a few Lesser Neocons were quick to back Cheney’s play. That’s how they sold Iraq2 to mainstream media to begin with, using a media full-court press to lend gravitas to the lie and create hotlinks in Google search. It must’ve felt good to see the Old Gang out on the field again.


Subsequently, unreconstructed Neocons like Kristol have been trying to sell that Bogue Hokum to whomever in the media is dumb enough to buy it (yawn! FoxNews), along with their newest play in the Political Blame Game of referring to “… the Crash of 2009, when the Obama Administration was hemorraghing jobs at a rate of a half-million a month.” Conveniently forgetting, of course, that the Crash of 2008 began in September of that year and that it was the Bush Administration that bled-out jobs at a record rate of 450,000 a month for five full months prior to Obama ever taking office, culminating in a total loss of 2.9 million jobs in 2008 alone, the largest annual job loss of any administration in 60 years. That, after both Bush and McCain repeatedly told the American public in the months prior to the crash that the “economic fundamentals are sound.” Of course they want to lay the financial crash off on Democrats by calling it the “Crash of 2009.” It’s a timeworn ruse to blame your crime on the black man. But facts, as they say, are stubborn things.



Image result for scalpelAnyone can occasionally contradict themselves, or alternatively change their views and opinions.  But there is something unique to the hypocrisy on the right, the emphatic and even coercive “do as I say, not as I do” foundation of their ideology.  I would posit this hypocrisy is so intrinsic to the right wing ideology that it invalidates it.


At the end of July, presidential candidate and right wing extremist theocrat Ben Carson ranted and railed for the defunding of Planned Parenthood over the possible expansion of fetal tissue donations.  Pretty much all of the right winger candidates did so; it’s how they make their money.

From CNN:

My entire professional career as a pediatric neurosurgeon was dedicated to saving the lives of children and promoting their long-term welfare, as I took the Hippocratic Oath to “First, do no harm.” Protecting innocent life is a duty consistent with that solemn oath. Destroying or butchering them is particularly offensive to someone like myself who has operated on babies while they were still in utero. All human life is precious and should be preserved and protected with the utmost respect and care.
When we reach a point where we are so callous that we kill innocent little babies, what else won’t we do? Is there a limit to our barbarism? Human history is replete with examples of what happens when we devalue human life. Here in the United States of America, we have a history of compassion and kindness that characterizes a model citizen. It is time to reclaim our heritage and reject the purveyors of selfishness and callousness.
Congress should defund Planned Parenthood and consider having the IRS revoke its status as a 501(c)(3) organization. I believe deeply, as it is written in the Declaration of Independence, that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. First and foremost among these unalienable rights is life, and we created a government in order to protect it — not fund its destruction.

Even as he spewed these words, Carson knew damn well that he himself had been one of the ‘buyers’ of fetal tissue donations, or consumer of it, if you prefer.  He KNEW this, but did not happen to mention it, apparently hoping it would not come out and discourage donors to his campaign.

H/t to the Daily Kos for the link to the published paper that Carson produced from his research
  (that’s ol’ Dr. Ben there, third name in):

Colloid cysts of the third ventricle: immunohistochemical evidence for nonneuroepithelial differentiation.

Tsuchida T1, Hruban RH, Carson BS, Phillips PC.

As  the same Daily Kos piece noted:


Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who is seeking the GOP nomination for President, is opposed to foetal tissue research. He claims nothing can be learned from it that cannot be learned in another way. He has flogged this position on FOX News Channel and on Breitbart.

In point of FACT, there are forms of scientific research for which other tissue IS NOT suitable or as effective as the unique qualities of fetal tissue.  Asserting so is dishonest.


Regardless of facts to the contrary, regardless of science contrary to their beliefs, it is what the right wing nuts do to get money and votes from their anti-fact, anti-science, anti-truth base.


Planned Parenthood has approximately 4 clinics that currently provide that service to their clients.  No tissue is ever sold, nor has it ever been proposed for sale.  Dishonest conservatives tried to deceive people as to the fees involved in tissue collection, storage and transport, which in some respects resembles similar procedures for organs used in transplants.  It requires special equipment and procedures which entail additional costs over the disposal of medical waste.


No abortion is done for the purpose of providing medical specimens; rather this is a decision women have as an option to procedures they have already chosen.  The women donors receive no compensation or benefit.


Let’s look at the contradiction in Carson’s statements, courtesy of the Wa Po:


He told Fox New’s Megyn Kelly that fetal tissue research was basically useless and that the same things could be accomplished without it.

“And if you go back over the years, and look at the research that has been done and all the things it was supposed to deliver, very little of that has been done, and there’s nothing that can’t be done without fetal tissue”, Carson said.

and the big contradictions:


On Thursday, though, Carson told Weigel that the use of fetal tissue shouldn’t be banned. He declined to say whether Planned Parenthood should stop providing fetal tissue for medical research. So one one hand, Carson said the use of fetal tissue doesn’t produce results and is interchangeable with less morally fraught materials, and on the other he used it himself and now says it shouldn’t be banned.

Carson’s views on abortion appear to have long been complicated. In 1992, he appeared in an ad encouraging Maryland voters to oppose a law that would effectively keep abortions legal in the state if the Supreme Court overturned or weakened Roe v. Wade. He later appeared at a pro-abortion-rights activist press conference disavowing the ad, saying he didn’t realize he was making a political statement.

And the Huff Po gives us this additional information, quoting OB/GYN doctor and researcher Dr. Jen Gunter noting this research was on aborted fetuses, and giving the age of the fetuses.  Age and other descriptive factors are used to generate an emotional response rather than a logical one in propganda:


“…published a study with three other colleagues in 1992 that described using “human choroid plexus ependyma and nasal mucosa from two fetuses aborted in the ninth and 17th week of gestation.”

As a neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson knows full well that fetal tissue is essential for medical research. His discipline would have a hard time being [where] it is today without that kind of work. What is even more egregious than dismissing the multitude of researchers whose work allowed him to become a neurosurgeon is the hypocrisy of actually having done that research himself while spouting off about its supposed worthlessness.

and the Huff Po goes on to quote Carson — this relates to the age of the aborted fetal tissue HE himself used, underlining his hypocrisy:


Last month, Carson railed against Planned Parenthood and pro-choice advocates by describing a fetus in the 17th week of gestation.

“At 17 weeks, you’ve got a nice little nose and little fingers and hands and the heart’s beating,” he said on Fox News. “It can respond to environmental stimulus. How can you believe that that’s just an irrelevant mass of cells? That’s what they want you to believe, when in fact it is a human being.”

So, apparently Carson is all morally and ethically comfy with the ethics of fetal research on 17 week fetuses when HE is the one doing it, but it’s all “no!-wrong!-BAD!” and “don’t fund it” when anyone else does the research.


Stick a fork in ol’ Doc Ben; I would bet his campaign as the token right wing negro candidate, the Uncle Tom du Jour, like Hermann Cain’s in the preceding presidential campaign cycle, is concluded.  No loss, really; he would never have been elected by the racists on the right anyway.


Out-of-control CEO pay and other bad things

by Dan Burns on August 14, 2015 · 1 comment

greedUnfortunately, the myth of the “rock star CEO” isn’t dead.

Corporate apologists say CEOs and other top executives are worth these amounts because their corporations have performed so well over the last three decades that CEOs are like star baseball players or movie stars.
Baloney. Most CEOs haven’t done anything special. The entire stock market surged over this time.
Even if a company’s CEO simply played online solitaire for thirty years, the company’s stock would have ridden the wave.
Besides, that stock market surge has had less to do with widespread economic gains that with changes in market rules favoring big companies and major banks over average employees, consumers, and taxpayers.
Consider, for example, the stronger and more extensive intellectual-property rights now enjoyed by major corporations, and the far weaker antitrust enforcement against them.
Add in the rash of taxpayer-funded bailouts, taxpayer-funded subsidies, and bankruptcies favoring big banks and corporations over employees and small borrowers.
Not to mention trade agreements making it easier to outsource American jobs, and state legislation (ironically called “right-to-work” laws) dramatically reducing the power of unions to bargain for higher wages.

It’s the 1% that’s the problem, not any particular age group:

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