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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
Rep. Kucinich Rebukes Obama: "Once We Believe In The Inevitability Of War, War Becomes A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy."
Following a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement:
“Yesterday, our president mused about the inevitability of war, war’s instrumentality in the pursuit of peace and just wars. It is important for us to reflect on his words, because once we believe in the inevitability of war, war becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once we are committed to war’s instrumentality in pursuit of peace, we begin the Orwellian journey to the semantic netherworld where War IS Peace, where the momentum of war overwhelms hopes for peace. And once we wrap doctrines perpetuating war in the arms of justice, we can easily legitimate the wholesale slaughter of innocents. The war against Iraq was based on lies. Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are based on flawed doctrines of counter-insurgency. War is often not just; sometimes it is just war. And our ability to rethink the terms of our existence, to explore the possibility of peace without war, may well determine whether we end war, or war ends us.”
We Need A Step Program
by Missy Comley Beattie
“The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”
--Chris Hedges: War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
In 1935, Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson founded Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) with its principles to overcome the denial that characterizes the disease of alcoholism. Since its inception, AA has proven to be salvation for countless individuals and families. Its 12-step program has translated to many areas of pathology in reaching those with other dependencies.
I can think of a huge area of pathology—this landmass in which we reside—the USA. Our drug-addicted nation has been brought to its knees by a consumption-based lifestyle and a power grab to underwrite the excesses. If this intemperance continues, we will be lost. We may be already. With this in mind, I propose a step program. However, in the interest of separation of church and state, I’m going for a non-theistic approach, one abridged, and which I slightly amended, by the American Psychological Association:
- Admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion
- Recognizing a greater power that can give strength
- Examining past errors
- Making amends for these errors
- Learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior
- Helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions
I'm biting my nails waiting for the Supreme Court's ruling in 'Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission' -- here's why you should be too.
I thought that headline would get your attention. And it's true.
I'm biting my nails waiting for the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which could come down as early as Tuesday. At issue: whether corporations, as "unnatural persons," can make contributions to political campaigns.
The outcome is foregone: the five GOP appointees to the court are expected to use the case to junk federal laws that now bar corporations from stuffing campaign coffers.
Technically, there's a narrower matter before the court in this case: whether the McCain-Feingold Act may prohibit corporations from funding "independent" campaign advertisements such as the "Swift Boat" ads that smeared John Kerry. However, campaign finance reformers are steeling themselves for the court's right wing to go much further, knocking down all longstanding rules against donations by corporate treasuries.
Allowing company campaign spending will not, as progressives fear, cause an avalanche of corporate cash into politics. Sadly, that's already happened: we have been snowed under by tens of millions of dollars given through corporate PACs and "bundling" of individual contributions from corporate pay-rollers.
The court's expected decision is far, far more dangerous to U.S. democracy. Think: Manchurian candidates. Read more.
President and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States Barack Obama delivered his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance address in Oslo on December 10, which has immediately led to media discussion of an Obama Doctrine.
With obligatory references to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi (the second referred to only by his surname) but to no other American presidents than Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy - fellow peace prize recipients Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter weren't mentioned - the U.S. head of state spoke with the self-assurance of the leader of the world's first uncontested superpower and at times with the self-righteousness of a would-be prophet and clairvoyant. And, in the words of German philosopher Friedrich von Schlegel, a prophet looking backward.
Accompanied by visionary gaze and cadenced, oratorical solemnity, his comments included the assertion that "War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man." Unless this unsubstantiated claim was an allusion to the account in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible of Cain murdering his brother Abel, which would hardly constitute war in any intelligible meaning of the word (nor was Cain the first man according to that source), it is unclear where Obama acquired the conviction that war is coeval with and presumably an integral part of humanity.
Paleontologists generally trace the arrival of modern man, homo sapiens, back 200,000 years, yet the first authenticated written histories are barely 2,400 years old. How Obama and his speechwriters filled in the 197,600-year gap to prove that the practice of war is as old as mankind and implicitly inseparable from the human condition is a question an enterprising reporter might venture to ask at the next presidential press conference.
The No. 2 commanding general in Afghanistan acknowledged Wednesday that a NATO-led attack the day before in eastern Afghanistan possibly resulted in civilian deaths.
The statement that some civilians might have been killed in the attack comes amid fears among Afghan citizens that the 30,000 fresh U.S. troops being deployed to the war will result in more violence and deaths of Afghan citizens. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has ordered troops to minimize civilian casualties, which undermine Afghan support for the war against the Taliban.
Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the No. 2 man, told reporters in the capital that the attack, which involved coalition and Afghan troops, was a "confusing operation." Read more.
Despite our Founders' vision of independent powers exercising checks & balances to prevent a "tyranny of the majority," every branch of the federal government acted last month to cast its lot with torturers. But even though President Obama, Congress and the Court have united to hide evidence of high-level crime, Americans of conscience continue to resist, arguing that sweeping human rights abuses under the rug is a greater threat to national security than dealing with them openly and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
This Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in Department of Defense v. ACLU that the Defense Department could maintain secrecy over photos documenting pervasive torture. While disappointing, the decision was more or less inevitable in the wake of the Obama administration's latest reversal. Read more.
Homeland Security Embarks on Big Brother Programs to Read Our Minds and Emotions
Half-baked Homeland Security is spending millions to develop sensors capable of detecting a person's level of 'malintent' as a counterterrorism tool.
By Liliana Segura | AlterNet
In the sci-fi thriller Minority Report, Tom Cruise plays a D.C. police detective, circa 2054, in the department of "pre-crime," an experimental law enforcement unit whose mission -- to hunt down criminals before they strike -- relies on the psychic visions of mutant "pre-cogs" (short for precognition) who can see the future. It may be futuristic Hollywood fantasy, but the underlying premise -- that we can predict (if not see) a person's sinister plans before they follow through -- is already here.
This past February, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded a one-year, $2.6 million grant to the Cambridge, MA.-based Charles Stark Draper Laboratory to develop computerized sensors capable of detecting a person's level of "malintent" -- or intention to do harm. It's only the most recent of numerous contracts awarded to Draper and assorted research outfits by the U.S. government over the past few years under the auspices of a project called "Future Attribute Screening Technologies," or FAST. It's the next wave of behavior surveillance from DHS and taxpayers have paid some $20 million on it so far.
Conceived as a cutting-edge counter-terrorism tool, the FAST program will ostensibly detect subjects' bad intentions by monitoring their physiological characteristics, particularly those associated with fear and anxiety. It's part of a broader "initiative to develop innovative, non-invasive technologies to screen people at security checkpoints," according to DHS.
The "non-invasive" claim might be a bit of a stretch. A DHS report issued last December outlined some of the possible technological features of FAST, which include "a remote cardiovascular and respiratory sensor" to measure "heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration rate, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia," a "remote eye tracker" that "uses a camera and processing software to track the position and gaze of the eyes (and, in some instances, the entire head)," "thermal cameras that provide detailed information on the changes in the thermal properties of the skin in the face," and "a high resolution video that allows for highly detailed images of the face and body … and an audio system for analyzing human voice for pitch change." Read more.
[Thursday Afternoon Update: The Obama administration’s surge math: In his speech on Tuesday night at West Point, the president announced a surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan in the coming months. That sounded way higher than a lot of Democrats might have wanted, but still below the optimal figure -- 40,000 -- that Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal had requested. (or, depending on how you read the various leaks and news stories of the last months, perhaps demanded). Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post now reports, however, that the President granted Secretary of Defense Robert Gates the right to “increase the number by 10 percent, or 3,000 troops, without additional White House approval or announcement.” Think of it, in restaurant terms, as the equivalent of a surge tip. In addition, DeYoung adds that an unnamed “senior military official” claimed “that the final number could go as high as 35,000 to allow for additional support personnel such as engineers, medevac units and route-clearance teams, which comb roads for bombs.” So now, in surge math, we’re at 35,000 U.S. troops. Add in the expected NATO contribution of about 5,000 extra troops and -- voilà -- you have 40,000 on the button. No wonder the Afghan War commander is reportedly satisfied. Tom]
Victory at Last!
Monty Python in Afghanistan
By Tom Engelhardt
Let others deal with the details of President Obama’s Afghan speech, with the on-ramps and off-ramps, those 30,000 U.S. troops going in and just where they will be deployed, the benchmarks for what’s called “good governance” in Afghanistan, the corruption of the Karzai regime, the viability of counterinsurgency warfare, the reliability of NATO allies, and so on. Let’s just skip to the most essential point which, in a nutshell, is this: Victory at Last!
It’s been a long time coming, but finally American war commanders have effectively marshaled their forces, netcentrically outmaneuvering and outflanking the enemy. They have shocked-and-awed their opponents, won the necessary hearts-and-minds, and so, for the first time in at least two decades, stand at the heights of success, triumphant at last.
And no, I’m not talking about post-surge Iraq and certainly not about devolving Afghanistan. I’m talking about what’s happening in Washington.
A Symbolic Surrender of Civilian Authority Read more.
Despite campaign promises of increased transparency and accountability, the Obama administration has continued its predecessor's assaults on civil liberties and the rule of law. Many counter-terror policies that our country increasingly takes for granted permit the government to routinely invade the privacy of millions of law-abiding Americans, even without any suspicion of wrongdoing, and with grave consequences for our constitutional culture. And torture remains not only unpunished, but at risk of repetition since our nation has undermined the legal precedents deterring it here and around the world.
We at BORDC are disappointed by the striking absence of support for the rule of law in Washington. But together, we can change our country's course and bring America back to its founding principles.
Emergency Anti-Afghanistan Escalation Rally, Saturday, 12/12, 11 AM - 4 PM, Lafayette Square, White House
EMERGENCY ANTI-ESCALATION RALLY (Rain or Shine)
Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 • 11am-4pm • Lafayette Square/White House, Washington DC
We are a new coalition of antiwar organizations, peace and justice advocates, and citizens of conscience who challenge our elected leaders to end the US wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq and bring our troops home.
We call for active, non-violent non-cooperation with US war policy. As we vigorously oppose a military escalation in Afghanistan, we encourage mass political mobilization and high-profile antiwar political actions across the country. As America continues to commit war crimes for the profit of the few and at the expense of the many, we engage and energize our fellow citizens to become disablers of war party mentality. We reject defeatist thinking and futile rationales by promoting effective war protest. We break cycles of hopelessness by engaging in immediate and direct actions, consistent with our commitment to non-violence. We believe our actions will produce the best methods for securing peace in our country and the world, and we direct our allegiance to that end.
Our Supporters Are Associated With:
Mr. President, War Is Not Peace
By Norman Solomon
Eloquence in Oslo cannot change the realities of war.
As President Obama neared the close of his Nobel address, he called for “the continued expansion of our moral imagination.” Yet his speech was tightly circumscribed by the policies that his oratory labored to justify.
Lofty rationales easily tell us that warfare is striving for the noble goal of peace. But the rationales scarcely intersect with actual war. The oratory sugarcoats the poisons, helping to kill hope in the name of it.
A few months ago, when I visited an Afghan office for women’s empowerment, staffers took me to a pilot project in one of Kabul’s poorest neighborhoods. There, women were learning small-scale business skills while also gaining personal strength and mutual support.
Two-dozen women, who ranged in age from early 20s to late 50s, talked with enthusiasm about the workshops. They were desperate to change their lives. When it was time to leave, I had a question: What should I tell people in the United States, if they ask what Afghan women want most of all?
After several women spoke, the translator summed up. “They all said that the first priority is peace.”
Deceptive Progressive Call for Support of Obama's War
By Bruce Gagnon | Organizing Notes | December 2, 2009
This morning I got an email from a friend who tipped me off to a conference call for "progressives" to discuss Obama's Afghanistan speech last night.
The call announcement included this: "The narrative so far is that the left is against sending more troops and the right is for it,” said Jim Arkedis, Director of the National Security Project at the Progressive Policy Institute. “But that’s not the reality of the situation. There are reasons for progressives to take heart from much of the President’s new strategy, as well as reasons to tread carefully. We want to make sure all those voices are heard.”
This made me quite interested so I dialed in. The call began with everyone in the audience on mute as the following people made opening statements. Read more - scroll down page almost to bottom.
The reason it is so easy for the U.S. to declare wars, and to continue fighting year after year after year, is because so few Americans feel the actual pain of those wars. We’ve been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan longer than we fought in World Wars I and II combined. If voters had to choose right now between instituting a draft or exiting Afghanistan and Iraq, the troops would be out of those two countries in a heartbeat.
I don’t think our current way of waging war, which is pretty easy-breezy for most citizens, is what the architects of America had in mind. Here’s George Washington’s view, for example: “It must be laid down as a primary position and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government owes not only a proportion of his property, but even his personal service to the defense of it.”
What we are doing is indefensible and will ultimately exact a fearful price, and there will be absolutely no way for the U.S. to avoid paying it. Read more.
The Nine Surges of Obama’s War: How to Escalate in Afghanistan
By Tom Engelhardt | TomDispatch.com
In his Afghan “surge” speech at West Point last week, President Obama offered Americans some specifics to back up his new “way forward in Afghanistan.” He spoke of the “additional 30,000 U.S. troops” he was sending into that country over the next six months. He brought up the “roughly $30 billion” it would cost us to get them there and support them for a year. And finally, he spoke of beginning to bring them home by July 2011. Those were striking enough numbers, even if larger and, in terms of time, longer than many in the Democratic Party would have cared for. Nonetheless, they don’t faintly cover just how fully the president has committed us to an expanding war and just how wide it is likely to become.
Despite the seeming specificity of the speech, it gave little sense of just how big and how expensive this surge will be. In fact, what is being portrayed in the media as the surge of November 2009 is but a modest part of an ongoing expansion of the U.S. war effort in many areas. Looked at another way, the media's focus on the president’s speech as the crucial moment of decision, and on those 30,000 new troops as the crucial piece of information, has distorted what’s actually underway.
In reality, the U.S. military, along with its civilian and intelligence counterparts, has been in an almost constant state of surge since the last days of the Bush administration. Unfortunately, while information on this is available, and often well reported, it’s scattered in innumerable news stories on specific aspects of the war. You have to be a media jockey to catch it all, no less put it together.
What follows, then, is my own attempt to make sense of the nine fronts on which the U.S. has been surging, and continues to do so, as 2009 ends. Think of this as an effort to widen our view of Obama’s widening war. Read more.
John Yoo is being defended in court this month by the Administration. Not the Bush Administration. The Obama Administration. As with the lawsuits over electronic surveillance and torture, the Obama administration wants the lawsuit against Yoo dismissed and is defending the right of Justice Department officials to help establish a torture program — an established war crime. I will be discussing this issue tonight on MSNBC Countdown.
The Obama Administration has filed a brief that brushes over the war crimes aspects of Yoo’s work at the Justice Department. Instead, it insists that attorneys must be free to give advice — even if it is to establish a torture program.
In its filing before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department insists that there is “the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military’s detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict.” Instead it argues that the Justice Department has other means to punish lawyers like the Office of Professional Responsibility. Of course, the Bush Administration effectively blocked such investigations and Yoo is no longer with the Justice Department. The OPR has been dismissed as ineffectual, including in an ABA Journal, as the Justice Department’s “roach motel”—“the cases go in, but nothing ever comes out.” Read more.
The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues.
Such lawsuits ask courts to second-guess presidential decisions and pose "the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military's detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict," Justice Department lawyers said Thursday in arguments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Other sanctions are available for government lawyers who commit misconduct, the department said. It noted that its Office of Professional Responsibility has been investigating Yoo's advice to former President George W. Bush since 2004 and has the power to recommend professional discipline or even criminal prosecution.
The office has not made its conclusions public. Read more.
Billions More in Easy Money for Wall Street -- Are We Too Ignorant About Finance to Stop It?
A permanent security blanket for big boys of finance will further inflame public opinion. Only the public isn't likely to know.
By William Greider, The Nation | Alternet
The sale pitch for financial-reform legislation pending in the House claims it would put an stop to "too big to fail" bailouts for the leading banks. The reality is the opposite. The federal government would instead be granted unlimited authority to spend whatever it takes to prop up the big boys when they get in trouble. Only in the next crisis, Congress won't have to be asked for the money. The financial rescues will be funded by the secretive Federal Reserve, not the Treasury, with money the Fed itself creates.
And the emergency lending could be pumped into any financial institution in trouble--not just behemoth commercial banks but investment houses like Goldman Sachs, insurance companies, hedge funds or any other pools of private capital whose failure regulators believe would threaten the system.
This sounds nutty and it is. A permanent security blanket for big boys of finance will further inflame public opinion. Only the public isn't likely to know. The crucial terms for Fed financing are set by an innocuous-sounding amendment offered by Representative Brad Miller of North Carolina. Any financial holding company designated as a "systemic risk" and subject to stricter regulatory standards "shall have the same access to the discount window lending of an appropriate Federal Reserve Bank as is available to a member bank of each Federal Reserve bank."
This last-minute amendment, if included on final passage, solves a huge problem for the Obama administration--how to pay for the next bailout if another financial calamity unfolds. Read more.
Nearly everything is a sad reminder for Mélida Arredondo: the news on TV, stories in the paper, speeches of Barack Obama and others who talk about a war that seems to have lasted so long and affected so many lives, those lost as well as those left behind.
"Did your son like the Marine Corps?" I ask her.
"Yes," she replies. "He loved it."
"And why did he join?"
"Too poor to go to college," Mélida Arredondo says.
Alexander Arredondo enlisted at 17 and was killed at 20 in Najaf during his second deployment in Iraq. He died on his father's birthday, Aug. 25, 2004, when Carlos Arredondo turned 44.
"My husband almost killed himself in grief," his wife says. "The day [the Marines] came to tell us Alex was dead, he poured gasoline all over himself and all over the inside of [their] car and lit it on fire. He survived ... physically." Read more.
Yeah, we know the old poster said $100,000, but it just doubled! Doubled to $200,000!
New Warnings to New War President
By Colleen Rowley, Former FBI Special Agent
Today marked another day of protests in Minneapolis in opposition to Obama's decision to escalate the war on Afghanistan/Pakistan. Instead of the "taking to the streets" in downtown Minneapolis the night after the President's announcement, today's protest was held in early afternoon so there was much better light to display people's messages on a variety of homemade signs and large banners. Numerous speakers made it clear that no one in the crowd, which appeared to mostly consist of extremely disappointed Twin Cities residents who had previously supported and/or helped elect Obama, believed the flimsy justification he put forth in his speech that 100,000 troops are necessary to deal with the 100 Al Qaeda fighters which remain in Afghanistan-Pakistan. Speaker after speaker instead detailed how tripling the troop level made no sense strategically, militarily or politically and would prove horribly counterproductive to the goal of reducing terrorism.
Gossip from an Iraqi taxi driver was a key source for Tony Blair's 'dodgy dossier'.
A report by a respected MP claims that the unlikely secret agent was one of MI6's top sources when it was building a case to justify the invasion.
He provided the information that Saddam Hussein could fire chemical weapons at British targets within 45 minutes.
The revelation comes as the death toll of British troops in Afghanistan reaches 100 this year alone following the shooting of a member of 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in a gun battle with the Taliban.
Senior intelligence officials have told the MP that the cabbie falsely claimed Saddam Hussein had acquired long-range missiles after listening to Iraqi commanders chatting in his taxi two years before the invasion. Read more.
In a disgraceful example of bullying and intimidation, Marc Falkoff, a law professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law, who has been a lawyer for 16 Guantánamo prisoners since 2004, was forced to call off a talk about Guantánamo at a college in Illinois last week after receiving threats of violence to himself and his family. In Sunday’s Northwest Herald (“Local news and video for McHenry County, Illinois), Professor Falkoff wrote a guest column explaining what he would have said had the event not been called off, which I reproduce below, as it is not only a ringing endorsement of the right to free speech, but also a concise explanation of why it remains important for those who see beyond the Bush administration’s rhetoric about Guantánamo — that it holds “the worst of the worst” — to be able to discuss the many reasons that this claim is a blatant lie.
“What I would have said about Gitmo”
By Marc Falkoff
Several months ago, I was invited to speak at McHenry County College about my experience representing Guantánamo detainees.
The event was scheduled to take place last week, but after I received a slew of threats of violence to myself and my family, it’s not going to happen.
In blog postings and expletive-filled messages left on my personal cell phone, I was called a traitor, asked how I slept at night, and told that I would burn in hell. My clients were called murderers, and my family was threatened. After consultation with the Crystal Lake Police Department, the college understandably chose to cancel my talk.
It’s a shame. A handful of people, purporting to be patriots, have silenced the community’s right to hear a different perspective on our national detention policy. So I’d like to tell you some of what I would have said about Guantánamo at MCC last week. Read more.
Chris Soghoian, whose post on 8 million times the government has used GPS tracking on Sprint’s customers in the last year, has apparently flushed out the spying policies of many of the nation’s telecoms. Cryptome has them posted – though (as Mary points out) Yahoo has freaked out and initiated take-down proceedings.
Yahoo isn’t happy that a detailed menu of the spying services it provides law enforcement agencies has leaked onto the web.
Shortly after Threat Level reported this week that Yahoo had blocked the FOIA release of its law enforcement and intelligence price list, someone provided a copy of the company’s spying guide to the whistleblower site Cryptome.
The 17-page guide describes Yahoo’s data retention policies and the surveillance capabilities it can provide law enforcement, with a pricing list for these services. Cryptome also published lawful data-interception guides for Cox Communications, SBC, Cingular, Nextel, GTE and other telecoms and service providers. Read more.
On the night of June 10, 2006, three Guantanamo detainees were found dead in their individual cells. Without any autopsy or investigation, U.S. military officials proclaimed "suicide by hanging" as the cause of each death, and immediately sought to exploit the episode as proof of the evil of the detainees. Admiral Harry Harris, the camp's commander, said it showed "they have no regard for life" and that the suicides were "not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare aimed at us here at Guantanamo"; another official anonymously said that the suicides showed the victims were "committed jihadists [who] will do anything they can to advance their cause," while another sneered that "it was a good PR move to draw attention."
Questions immediately arose about how it could be possible that three detainees kept in isolation and under constant and intense monitoring could have coordinated and then carried out group suicide without detection, particularly since the military claimed their bodies were not found for over two hours after their deaths. But from the beginning, there was a clear attempt on the part of Guantanamo officials to prevent any outside investigation of this incident. To allay the questions that quickly emerged, the military announced it would conduct a sweeping investigation and publicly release its finding, but it did not do so until more than two years later when -- in August, 2008 -- it released a heavily redacted reported purporting to confirm suicide by hanging as the cause. Two of the three dead detainees were Saudis and one was Yemeni; they had been detained for years without charges; one of them was 17 years old at the time he was detained and 22 when he died; and they had participated in several of the hunger strikes at the camp to protest the brutality, torture and abuse to which they were routinely subjected. Perversely, one of the three victims had been cleared for release earlier that month. Read more.