Midnight approaching over Syria?

It is now two and a half minutes to midnight. The closest the world has ever been, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, to a probable “global catastrophe”.
Global Research, April 23, 2017

To the elation of the western corporate media, Neocons like John McCain and Democons like Hillary Clinton – who had only just called for Trump to attack Syria 24 hours before he obliged – the US President unilaterally ordered the US Army, on April 6, to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat near Homs. And managed to appease the entire ‘establishment’ he promised to oppose during his presidential campaign — that so vehemently attacked him for everything he did during his short time in the White House, previous to the attack.

Just to put their ‘elation’ into perspective: Of the top 100 newspapers in the US, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a media watch group based in New York City, reports that 47 ran editorials on the attack; 39 clearly in favour of it, seven ambiguous (although some may argue that they too were in favour), and only one opposing it. Journalist Brian Williams, who was caught lying about going to Iraq with a Navy Seal team in a helicopter that was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, described the images of the cruise missile launch as “beautiful pictures” live on MSNBC. What he didn’t mention was that the missiles in those “beautiful pictures” killed seven Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers and 7 (or 9) civilians according to reports.

The attack was justified by the US saying (without conducting an investigation or presenting any evidence) that President Assad had used chemical weapons on Syrians in Idlib. This is precisely what the Russian government and others protested in the emergency UN Security Council meeting, called after the attack. Asking, why the US would not wait for the United Nations or other agencies to complete their investigations to find out what had really happened before acting?

Especially after the Russian Ministry of Defence released information about a Syrian army airstrike in Idlib on a rebel warehouse allegedly housing chemical weapons which, according to them, released the chemicals resulting in the deaths that were being used to vilify President Assad. And after what had happened in East Ghouta in 2013 when the US almost went to war with Syria, accusing President Assad of having used chemical weapons (similar to now), which was later proven to be false by many different agencies and individuals — including Pulitzer Prize winning Journalist Seymour Hersh, Former UN Weapons Inspector Richard Lloyd, the UN and its former Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte (which was blacked out of the mainstream media).

Ray McGovern, who was head of the Soviet Foreign Policy branch of the CIA, reminded everyone in an interview with journalist Lee Stranahan right after the recent alleged chemical attack, that back in 2014, the UN Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had confirmed the destruction of all declared chemical weapons held by the Syrian government on board of a US maritime vessel, under UN supervision, following the East Ghouta incident. Moreover, in January 2016, the OPCW had again certified that the Syrian government was free of all chemical weapons.

Despite the mainstream media’s failure to report on all of these and more, what it most criminally failed to do is point out the illegality of the US strike on Syria, perhaps unsurprisingly, as has been the case starting with the (illegal under international law but ‘humanitarian’) NATO-US bombing of Yugoslavia in 1995.

Marjorie Cohn, Professor Emeritus at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, wrote in Consortium News,

“Regardless of who is responsible for the Khan Sheikhoun chemical deaths…Trump’s response violated both US and international law”.

This is because the US War Powers Resolution act only authorises the President to introduce US Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities in three situations, according to the professor:

First, after Congress has declared war, which has not happened in this case; second, in ‘a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces,’ which has not occurred; third, when there is ‘specific statutory authorisation,’ which there is not”. Making it illegal under US laws.

Meanwhile, the UN Charter prohibits the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”, except for in two cases. One, when done in self-defence after an armed attack (the US was not attacked). Two, after getting approval of the UN Security Council (which was not even sought). Making it illegal under international law as well.

The US administration had to, of course, be fully aware of this. And of the fact that Russia already had some armaments and military personnel placed in Syria to fight ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and the 50 other shades of extremists running rampant in the country, alongside the SAA, which the US attacked — despite risks of sparking a greater conflagration — although, reportedly, only after informing the Russians about it.

And what was the Russian response? To immediately suspend its flight safety memorandum over Syria with the US. Which, according to veteran journalist and correspondent-at-large of Asia Times, Pepe Escobar, meant that Russia, “if it chooses”, could “intercept any Pentagon flying object” from then on. Additionally sending its frigate — Admiral Grigorovich — into the Eastern Mediterranean, towards the location of the US destroyer that launched the cruise missiles into Syria.

Its Prime Minister, clearly unhappy with where things were headed, said that the attack put the US “on the verge of a military clash” with Russia. Meaning that if nothing else, what the attack did manage to do was “push the doomsday clock closer to midnight”, shattering hopes of de-escalating tensions following Trump being voted into the White House (as his campaign rhetoric had indicated towards a possible reconciliation with the Russian and Syrian governments). 

The key point about the current situation, however, was stressed on by President Putin. That trust between the two nations, because of the attack, was at its lowest since the end of the Cold War. And what that does is increase chances of ‘accidental collisions/conflicts’ or worse, which can quickly get out of hand, unleashing a chain of events that both sides may not live to regret.

And that is why cooler heads need to prevail and fast. That dialogue between the two nuclear armed powers have resumed since the attack is a positive step towards the de-escalation of tensions. However, the international community must point out that the habit of unilateral aggression, illegal under international law, adopted by the US and its allies ever since the end of the Cold War, is both unacceptable and unhelpful when it comes to solving crises around the world.

And as the Russians have vehemently been saying for a while now, will only be tolerated by countries on the receiving end for so long, before they start to take things into their own hands. At which point, you will have nuclear armed powers pointing their nukes at each other with hands on triggers, wondering whether they will and when, be forced to do the unthinkable — start a nuclear war/Armageddon. [Israel also has nuclear weapons]

It is now two and a half minutes to midnight. The closest the world has ever been, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, to a probable “global catastrophe”.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a member of the Editorial team at The Daily Star.

Day of Mother Earth, April 22, 2017 — “we are first and foremost children of the Mother Earth”

From the Association of World Citizens
Sent by Russia & America Good Will Association (RAGA.org)

by Rene Wadlow
2017-04-22 11:34:44

The United Nations General Assembly in 2009 through resolution A/RES/63/278, under the leadership of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, designated 22 April as the International Mother Earth Day. The Day recognizes a collective responsibility, set out in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with Nature so as to achieve a just balance among economic, social and ecological needs of the present and future generations.

erth01_400In traditional Indian culture, according to texts as early as the Vedas, the Earth is home to all living species that inhabit it and must not be excluded as they all contribute to the planet’s welfare and preservation. Therefore, human beings must contribute to the web of life of which they are a part and find ways of using the elements to produce food without damaging other life forms as far as possible.

World Citizens stress that Earth is our common home and that we must protect it together. Loss of biodiversity, desertification, and soil loss – all are signs that there must be renewed efforts to develop socio-economic patterns that are in harmony with Nature.

World Citizens highlight that the protection of Mother Earth is a task in which each of us must participate. However, there have always been traditions that stressed that a more enlightened group of humans would come to show the way. One tradition was among the Natives of North America. The more enlightened were thought of as “The Rainbow Warriors” – the warrior being one who protects rather than one who goes abroad to attack others. Nicola Beechsquirrel recalls this tradition in her poem, a tribute to Mother Earth.

The Rainbow Warriors
Nicola Beechsquirrel

Come, all who ever loved our Earth
Who lived in peace amongst her creatures
Gentle, loving, caring folk
With healing hands, and wisdom in your souls.
Come, incarnate once more
Come to Earth in her greatest need.
Help us rid her of her burdens
Cleanse her of all poisons
Close up the deep sores on her sacred body
And cover it once more in soft green.
Walk amongst us again
That we may relearn ancient skills
And long-forgotten wisdom
And tread lightly upon our Mother Earth
Taking from her only what we need
Living her ways in love and joy
Treating her creatures as equals.
Teach us how to reach those who exploit her
How to open their souls to the beauty of Life
That they may destroy no longer.
Come to us, Rainbow Warriors
Share with us your wisdom
For we have great need of it.


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

— Few fish biting in Monterey Bay on opening day of recreational salmon fishing

From Monterey Herald

April 1, 2017

Moss Landing >> How slow was opening day of recreational salmon fishing in Monterey Bay?

By 12:30 p.m. Saturday only three salmon had been recorded at Moss Landing Harbor. And at Monterey Harbor only a few fish were landed.

The result was in keeping with predictions by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that reduced fishing opportunities will be the norm this season. That is linked to poor river conditions because of the drought.

Even so, a few fishermen came in with beautiful salmon.

“Every time someone’s come in they’re saying, ‘I got one, I got two,’ ” said Alex Callison of the Monterey Harbor Patrol.

A couple of boats were towed in by the Harbor Patrol because their motors failed, Callison said, but that’s not unusual.

At Moss Landing, Dave Parks of Hollister landed the first fish. It was a keeper (at least 24 inches long) and was a tagged salmon. Members of the Ocean Salmon Project of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife were on hand to record each fish and ask fishermen how long they had been out and how deep they were fishing.

Also on hand were Fish and Wildlife game wardens to check that fishing licenses were current.

The Ocean Salmon Project representatives knew the fish was tagged because a small fin had been removed just above the tail before it was released. These fish are also implanted with a tiny stainless silver pin in the head. It contains data on where it was hatched, its age and which run it was a part of.

The heads of these fish are sent to a Santa Rosa lab for research. More on that later.

WILD KING SALMON BITES

Fish No. 2 landed at 11:45 a.m. It was a wild king salmon. “Great, I get to keep the head,” one of the three fishermen said. The three took credit for the fish. They were trolling when it struck and one of them reeled in it.

But the fish were few and far between.

“I got one bite all day,” a fisherman said after loading his boat back on its trailer.

But 45 minutes later, the boat Sea Monkey docked with an 18¾-pound king salmon on board, inside a cooling bag.

Huy Nguyen of San Jose caught the fish. It was his first time salmon fishing. He said it took about five minutes to land.

…“We’ll eat well tonight,” Dang said. “A lot of salmon poki.”

Another boat landed with a catch of 10 rockfish. The opening of recreational salmon fishing and rockfishing coincided Saturday.

…By collecting data on the tagged fish, the CDFW and other fisheries agencies are able to determine how many salmon can be taken during a season and the length of the season.

On April 10, the Pacific Fishery Management Council will make those decisions.

The salmon season that opened Saturday is for the area from Horse Mountain south to the U.S.-Mexico border. The area north of Horse Mountain will remain closed this year because of the historically low number of Klamath fall Chinook salmon.

On March 1, at the Ocean Salmon Information Meeting in Santa Rosa, it was announced there are 230,700 Sacramento River fall run Chinook adults in the ocean this year and 54,000 Klamath River fall run adults. Both forecasts were lower than in recent years, with the Klamath run among the lowest on record.

Even though a poor season is predicted, the urge to reel in a fighting salmon is strong…

http://www.montereyherald.com/article/NF/20150514/NEWS/150519856

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Telebriefing by Arnie Gundersen on Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima — April 5, 2017 — register

From NIRS.org

Dear friend,

Please join us for a telebriefing on Wednesday, April 5, 8pm-9:30pm (EDT)/7:00pm (CDT).

Arnie Gundersen of  Fairewinds Energy Education will present Spring:The Season of Nuclear Disaster–Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima. 

This will be an opportunity to learn more about three of the most disastrous nuclear accidents and their global impact: Three Mile Island (March 1979), Chernobyl (April 1986) and Fukushima (March 2011). These dates mark the beginning of catastrophic events that will impact humanity for milinea to come.

As we move through the season that commemorates these events, join us as Arnie leads our disccussion on their far-reaching effects.

This national conversation is appropriate for newcomers unfamiliar with this history and seasoned activists alike! We will reserve plenty of time for your questions and short comments at the end of Arnie’s presentation.

The telebriefing is free, but registration is required. Your confirmation email will include the dial-in number.

We will begin promptly at 8:00pm (EDT)/7:00pm (CDT). We hope you will join in!

If you cannot attend, but would like to recieve the link to the recorded telebriefing, please register. We will send a link to the telelbriefing recording to all registered participants.

Please forward this invitation widely; there are tons of younger people who may have never heard of one or more of these nuclear disasters who have a right to know.  We need them to hear about these events, and to join the commitment to SHUT DOWN BEFORE MELTDOWN!

Thanks for all you do!
Mary Olson
Director, NIRS Southeast Office
NIRS holds quarterly tele-briefings. The next event will be in early June and the topic will be nuclear waste transportation—since there is a move to re-start the failed Yucca Mountain site in Nevada and a license application is in for consolidated storage in Texas. Watch for more info in May.

http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5502/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1388366

— Florida: Explosion and fire at Turkey Point nuclear plant; emergency alert declared; possible “serious safety consequences”; steam vented outside (VIDEO)

From ENE News

March 23, 2017

WSVN, Mar 22, 2017 (emphasis added): Officials looking into explosion at Turkey Point that hurt 1an alert was issued following the “arc flash” explosion… A plant worker was hurt in the explosion and treated at a local hospital…

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mar 20, 2017: Facility: TURKEY POINT… Emergency Class: ALERT… EMERGENCY DECLAREDALERT DECLARED FOR INDICATIONS OF FIRE IN SAFETY RELATED SWITCHGEAR… “Alert declared at 1119 EDT 3/18/17 based on… Fire or Explosion affecting plant safety systems. Fire alarms in the Unit 3 4kV switchgear rooms resulting in a loss of the 3A 4kV bus and trip of all three Reactor Coolant Pumps… Decay heat is being removed using feedwater and steam generator atmospheric steam dumps. One person was injured with a minor burn and possible sprained ankle and was taken to a local hospital… Notified DHS SWO, DOE, FEMA, HHS, NICC, USDA, EPA, FDA (e-mail), NWC (e-mail), NNSA (e-mail), and NRCC SASC (e-mail)… [UPDATE] Emergency Plan personnel at the Technical Support Center and Emergency Operations Facility were no longer required for support, the Operations Support Center was staffed for recovery efforts, and plant personnel were sufficient and capable for continuing mitigation efforts.

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mar 22, 2017: NRC To Conduct Special Inspection at Turkey Point Nuclear Plant… [A]n arc flash, or small explosion, also damaged a nearby fire door, which may have left other safety systems vulnerable had there been a fire. A plant worker who was in the room was injured and was treated at a local hospital. “This was an event that could have had serious safety consequences and we need to know more about what happened and why,” said NRC Region II Administrator Cathy Haney…

The Citizen (Florida Keys), Mar 22, 2017: Turkey Point fire shuts down reactor

ABC 10 News, Mar 18, 2017: Firefighters respond to electrical fire at Turkey Point — Firefighters responded to reports of a fire inside the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station… according to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department. Florida Power & Light reported there was an electrical fire… The incident didn’t… pose an immediate danger to the facility, according to FPL spokesman Peter Robbins…

Watch the ABC 10 broadcast here

http://enenews.com/tv-explosion-hits-us-nuclear-plant-officials-declare-emergency-alert-fire-shuts-down-reactor-govt-conducting-special-investigation-possible-serious-safety-consequences-video

— California: Sardine fishing could be banned for 3rd year in a row; “nosedive” — 95% below 2006; anchovies decline, lack of zooplankton

Zooplankton are not overfished.

San Francisco Chronicle

by Peter Fimrite
March 24, 2017

The once-thriving sardine population — made famous in John Steinbeck’s novel “Cannery Row” — has taken a nosedive along the West Coast, where regulators are considering a ban on reeling in the tiny bait fish for a third year in a row.

Sardine numbers have plummeted 95 percent since 2006, according to estimates released Friday by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The perilously low numbers give regulators little choice but to again close fishing starting July 1 from Mexico to the Canadian border.

If the initial estimate for this year remains in place, the fishery will be closed for the third straight year,” said Kerry Griffin, the staff officer for the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which makes policy along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. “We all want a healthy ecosystem, sustainable fisheries and healthy coastal communities that depend on fishing opportunities.”

Fishery biologists blamed the collapse on natural fluctuations — which recent sediment studies show have been common throughout history — and changing ocean conditions. Conservationists, however, believe overfishing made a bad situation worse.

There would have been a decline anyway, but we made the decline worse by continuing to fish,” said Geoffrey Shester, senior scientist for Oceana, an international advocacy group that has been fighting to lower the annual sardine take and implement stricter regulations. “Scientists in the agency warned about a collapse, but the managers of the fishery didn’t pay attention to that and, in fact, took a much higher percentage of the existing stock.”

The 14 voting members of fishery council, which will meet April 10 to discuss the issue, are required by federal law to close ocean fishing if the number of fish do not reach conservation objectives.

Griffin defended management of the fishery, arguing that sardine populations were very high from 2005 through 2007, just before their numbers began to decline. Fishing is allowed under council rules until the population falls below a certain threshold, which didn’t happen until 2015.

Look, we have this harvest control rule that is quite conservative and protective of the stocks,” Griffin said. “When the numbers fall below the cutoff, we close the fishery.”

The dilemma harkens back to the mid-1950s when the Monterey Bay canneries of Steinbeck fame began failing, mostly as a result of overfishing. Stiff quotas and catch limits required by the federal 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act helped save the sardines.

The population of the tiny epipelagic fish increased throughout the 1990s and Monterey Bay once again became the Bay Area hub of sardine fishing, with a large population also thriving off the coast of San Francisco.

Huge quantities of the nutrient-rich fish were being hauled up at the Channel Islands in Southern California and along the Oregon coast, where fishermen were catching as much as 65 tons a day of the schooling pilchards and bringing in between $10 million and $20 million in annual revenue from sales, Shester said.

The sardine population peaked in 2007, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But then sardine numbers — which can only be measured using their collective weight — dropped, from 1,037,000 metric tons in 2007 to the estimate of 86,586 metric tons scientists found this year. That’s well below the 150,000 metric ton threshold required for commercial fishing.

What’s most troubling to me is that you have this clear story where we’ve made the same mistakes we made during the cannery row days, and yet we have the unwillingness of the management bodies to reform and make changes that could have avoided this,” Shester said. “We have to change the way we manage these fish.”

The fishery collapse isn’t isolated to sardines. Anchovies, which thrive in cold water, have also declined over the past decade due largely to fluctuating ocean temperatures and a lack of zooplankton, their food of choice.

The result has been record numbers of starving sea lions washing up on beaches in California over the past few years because there haven’t been enough sardines and anchovies for pups to eat.

Brown pelicans, too, have suffered from mass reproductive failures and are turning up sick and dead in California and Oregon. A 2010 study found that many of the starving and emaciated pelicans are eating worms and other prey inconsistent with their normal diet of anchovies and sardines.

This does hurt coastal communities,” Griffin said. “Sardine fishermen can typically fish for other stocks like squid, mackerel and anchovy, but when one or more of those stocks is down, the impact is real.”

Despite some efforts, including among local Indian tribes, to promote the scaly creatures as a healthy local delicacy, sardines are mostly sold for bait. The fish are generally frozen in big blocks for use in commercial long-line fishing and for feed at Australian and Japanese blue fin tuna farms.

Peter Fimrite is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: pfimrite@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @pfimrite

http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Sardine-fishing-could-be-banned-for-3rd-year-in-a-11026667.php

Posted under Fair Use Rules.

— California: Yuba River salmon numbers drop again

No mention of ocean conditions.

From YubaNet.com

By South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL)

March 16, 2017,

Less than 4,000 salmon spawned in the Yuba River in 2016 according to a Monitoring Update from the Yuba Accord River Management Team. Such low numbers have not been seen since the California Salmon Stock Collapse of 2007 and 2008 when the estimated total for the Yuba River was 2,604 and 3,508 salmon, respectively. Over the last 30 years, the average annual estimate exceeds 15,000 salmon, with occasional runs above 30,000. No surveys precede the construction of Englebright Dam in 1941, which blocks access to historic spawning habitat in the watershed. However, fisheries historians have estimated that the salmon run in the Yuba River watershed originally comprised up to 15% of the historical abundance of Central Valley Chinook, or roughly 100,000 salmon.

The low salmon run size for the Yuba River appears to be part of another regional salmon collapse. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife point to preliminary data from the Sacramento River that indicates salmon runs have also dropped to record low levelsAccording to Dan Bacher’s reporting, last year’s salmon run on the Klamath River was a 38-year low, and estimates for the Sacramento River basin in 2016 suggest the need for fishing restrictions that would have a devastating impact on an already beleaguered salmon fishing industry. Salmon live a 3-4-year life cycle, and we are likely seeing just the beginning of a period of low returns resulting from five years of drought

Gary Reedy, SYRCL’s consulting salmon expert reports that “A new crash for the Central Valley Chinook salmon is not unexpected.” “Efforts to restore salmon habitat have been small compared to the ongoing impacts of water diversions, dams, invasive species and hatcheries. We need to really step up restoration efforts or else we are going to lose one of the most valuable components our watershed ecosystems and our natural heritage.”

There is also news in the Yuba River Monitoring Update from the Yuba Accord River Management Team regarding Spring-run Chinook salmon, the rarer form of Yuba Salmon that is officially threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act, and historically dependent on habitats in the upper watershed. Prior to August when the run shifts to predominantly fall-run salmon, only 148 salmon were found migrating up the Yuba River.  And yet some help for spring-run salmon is coming.  In the one-mile below Englebright Dam, 89 salmon redds or salmon nests were found in spawning gravel put in the river by the Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate for the impacts from their dams, a program which only recently began, thanks in large part from SYRCL’s advocacy. And another spawning habitat project, near Timbuctoo Bend, is expected to begin in fall 2017. The spawning habitat created below Englebright supports Spring-run Chinook because those are the salmon which have the stronger urge to spawn further upstream.  Of course, the ultimate help for these imperiled fish would be passage and restored flows to habitats upstream of the dam.

The estimate for total salmon in 2016 (3565 total salmon with a 95% confidence interval of 3,136 – 3,897) was made by counting, marking and recapturing carcasses. Hatchery fish, likely originating from the Feather River hatchery, marked with clipped adipose fins comprised 24% of all carcasses inspected, however, the total proportion of hatchery fish that stray into the Yuba River is actually higher because most hatchery salmon are not marked. Hatchery practices that allow such rampant straying are a “Road to Salmon Collapse” as described by FishBio who conclude: “It is time to decide whether we want to base our salmon production goals on sheer numbers of genetically similar hatchery fish, or on diverse, wild fish naturally supported by our local rivers.”

Amidst ongoing impacts — dams, hatcheries, drought, stripped bass and poor habitat downstream – what can be done to help wild Yuba River salmon? SYRCL is working with local stakeholders to aggressively restore conditions in the Lower Yuba River so that juvenile salmon can leave the Yuba in the very best condition to survive their migration to the ocean and return. SYRCL is developing Lower Yuba River Restoration Action Plan that builds on work already underway – for example, the Hammon Bar Riparian Enhancement Project and the Hallwood Side-Channel Project — to chart a restoration course and gather support for the large-scale restoration vision necessary to recover wild and self-sustaining Yuba River salmon.

SYRCL is also promoting a longer-term vision that would involve volitional fish passage to habitats in the upper Yuba River watershed currently above dams. SYRCL participates in the River Management Team (RMT) along with three other non-governmental organizations, the Yuba County Water Agency, PG&E and state and federal agencies. The purpose of the RMT is to both monitor and evaluate conditions in the Lower Yuba River and to identify and support enhancement actions. SYRCL is holding the Army Corps of Engineers accountable to an effective Ecosystem Restoration Program for the Yuba River. SYRCL also works in the regulatory process to ensure dam operators in the watershed are contributing to better conditions for salmon.

https://yubanet.com/regional/yuba-salmon-numbers-drop-again/

Posted under Fair Use Rules.