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Old 01-05-2018, 03:25 AM   #201
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Another Country James Baldwin 1962

I don't think I've ever given up on a book like 2/3rds the way through before, but I think I'm doing it now. It's well written and there's a lot of internal life for the characters which is good. The introduction of past episodes and transitions between settings and characters is artful. Interesting social issues are at the fore. The drama is somewhat compelling. But, it's like too nasty between characters and I think I've had enough.
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Old 01-05-2018, 03:30 AM   #202
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Can't wait to see a review of Fire and Fury
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Old 01-05-2018, 08:05 AM   #203
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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Old 01-05-2018, 10:58 AM   #204
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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Originally Posted by SuperUberBob View Post
Can't wait to see a review of Fire and Fury
I think we've already read the book. It is full of anecdotes showing that Drumpf is narcissistic, chaotic, mean and stupid. The only real news is that all the people closest to him are fully aware of his unfitness. The behind-the-scenes is what we'd expect for a guy who presents as Trump.

Guardian review.
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Old 01-21-2018, 02:18 PM   #205
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

The Dispossessed - Ursula Le Guin (1974)

I'm not doing any real plot summary as it's pretty hard without spoilers. The main character's world has a society based on anarchism. The economy is anarcho-syndicalist. Here's something Le Guin said about writing the book:

Quote:
But, knowing only that I didn’t want to study war no more, I studied peace. I started by reading a whole mess of utopias and learning something about pacifism and Gandhi and nonviolent resistance. This led me to the nonviolent anarchist writers such as Peter Kropotkin and Paul Goodman. With them I felt a great, immediate affinity. They made sense to me in the way Lao Tzu did. They enabled me to think about war, peace, politics, how we govern one another and ourselves, the value of failure, and the strength of what is weak.
The subtitle of this book is "an ambiguous utopia" which is apt. The Anarchist world is Utopian for sure, but she doesn't gloss over difficulties. It is not a perfect world.

Like many political novels it suffers a bit from heavy handed dialog (and narration of character thoughts) where text better suited to a political treatise or something is wrestled into a conversation. So, that keeps the book from being an A+ or anything like that, but it was still quite good and despite the lack of intense emotion regarding anything, and a bit of the juvenile sexual fantasy common in scifi, it was a pretty compelling and dramatic story.
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Old 01-23-2018, 11:47 PM   #206
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

RIP Ursula Le Guin
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Old 01-24-2018, 02:55 AM   #207
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Oh that was strange timing. RIP. A great writer. I have read The Dispossessed but it was long enough ago that I don't have much intelligent to say about it. I remember being annoyed that

Spoiler:


The Earthsea series I am extremely fond of, because I grew up on them. The matter-of-fact view of the patriarchal society in the original three is kind of interesting coming from Le Guin. Her efforts to redress that in the later books felt a little forced to me. I like the philosophy of them (it's a version of Taoism, basically). I think a quality film of the first one would be really good, unfortunately it will probably never happen.
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Old 01-24-2018, 11:00 AM   #208
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Chris,

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Old 02-16-2018, 11:38 PM   #209
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays by Joan Didion

Picked it up cheap on sale and I had heard something about it being the quintessential long form reporter essay of its time. Unfortunately a lot of it just wasn't interesting. It wasn't bad, but it just didn't grab my attention.

I did think this was a good quote as part of the introduction

Quote:
My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out.
The longest piece and the one from which the collection shares its name does portray the hippy movement in pretty grim detail as basically drop out kids and young parents doing incredibly stupid things such as giving their children drugs and wasting their lives away. Hippies generally get portrayed as left wing but from the article the underlying current is that these people were more disconnected and removed from general society more than anything. They didn't have any politics, they didn't really involve themselves in the world at all.

Some quotes that I thought were interesting

On California

Quote:
The future always looks good in the golden land, because no one remembers the past.
On why a tankie communist lead his grinding life of handing out pamphlets, yelling at the normies about capitalism, reading endless Marx, and by extenstion other evangelical movements

Quote:
So much security may seem curious when one considers what the members of the cadre actually do, which is, aside from selling the People’s Voice and trying to set up People’s Armed Defense Groups, largely a matter of perfecting their own ideology, searching out “errors” and “mistakes” in one another’s attitudes. “What we do may seem a waste of time to some people,” Michael Laski said suddenly. “Not having any ideology yourself, you might wonder what the Party offers. It offers nothing. It offers thirty or forty years of putting the Party above everything. It offers beatings. Jail. On the high levels, assassination.”

But of course that was offering a great deal. The world Michael Laski had constructed for himself was one of labyrinthine intricacy and immaculate clarity, a world made meaningful not only by high purpose but by external and internal threats, intrigues and apparatus, an immutably ordered world in which things mattered.

....

You see what the world of Michael Laski is: a minor but perilous triumph of being over nothingness.
On white hipsters who were dessed in blackface trying yelling in a park to other white people about the evils of America trying to explain cultural appropriation to black people

Quote:
“Just beginning to get annoyed, are you?” one of the Mime Troupers says. “Don’t you think it’s about time?” “Nobody stole Chuck Berry’s music, man,” says another Negro who has been studying the signs. “Chuck Berry’s music belongs to everybody.” “Yeh?” a girl in blackface says. “Everybody who?” “Why,” he says, confused. “Everybody. In America.” “In America,” the blackface girl shrieks. “Listen to him talk about America.” “Listen,” he says helplessly. “Listen here.” “What’d America ever do for you?” the girl in blackface jeers. “White kids here, they can sit in the Park all summer long, listening to the music they stole, because their bigshot parents keep sending them money. Who ever sends you money?” “Listen,” the Negro says, his voice rising. “You’re gonna start something here, this isn’t right—” “You tell us what’s right, black boy,” the girl says.
On forgetting

Quote:
We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.

Last edited by Huehuecoyotl; 02-16-2018 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 03-01-2018, 07:08 PM   #210
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Can I place a book review request?
The New Arabs. Just got it. Prolly take me 2-3 months to read it. Still reading No Good Men Among the Living.
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Old 03-04-2018, 12:01 PM   #211
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Reading Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason now.

also have The Ecology of Freedom by Bookchin up next on my list. Looking forward to that one.

microbet, you mentioned in one of the other threads that your views on trade differ from most of the board. Could you recommend a book on trade that has helped shape your thinking?
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Old 03-04-2018, 12:10 PM   #212
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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Originally Posted by SuperUberBob View Post
Can't wait to see a review of Fire and Fury
I read it, and it was good/entertaining, but honestly if you've been following the ****show fairly closely (ie Trump thread on here and such) very little of it will come as a surprise. It's basically one of the WaPo/NYT pieces sourced by 20 people saying "This is a complete circus" for 300 pages.

One thing I did find interesting was the more detailed portrayal of the warring factions, and that helped to explain some of the contradictory stuff we've seen on policy from the administration.
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Old 03-04-2018, 01:10 PM   #213
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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Originally Posted by Paul McSwizzle View Post
Reading Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason now.

also have The Ecology of Freedom by Bookchin up next on my list. Looking forward to that one.

microbet, you mentioned in one of the other threads that your views on trade differ from most of the board. Could you recommend a book on trade that has helped shape your thinking?
I reviewed this itt

Bad Samaritans - The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism - by Ha-Joon Chang

So, that, although by then it was more agreeing with things I had already read. Those were more on history and politics or articles. Joseph Stiglitz would be another economist. A lot of my formative reading was about NAFTA and CAFTA.

Basically

Free Trade is really not what the free trade deals are as they still have plenty of protection for the powerful nations

Protection of infant industries has been key in every developed economy when they were developing and developed economies always always try to force currently developing economies to drop protections.

Little or no protection is probably best between developed economies like US to EU.

We should allow/encourage protection and subsidy, help with subsidy, of industry in the developing world rather than increasing their debt which is the current tool used to force them to keep their markets open and their raw materials and labor cheap.

"Free Trade!" is really "America First!". I guess that's fine for a nationalistic zealot, but the liberal suits of this world like to think they are doing God's work when they open up Honduras' markets to some healthy competition (though still, read the fine print, there's always plenty of protection for influential US industries).

Dunno if I'm coining this term, but 'liberation economics'.

The biography of Henry A. Wallace I reviewed itt thread was good in a way too. People often attribute the success of the global green revolution to economic policy when technology should be given most of the credit and neither the technology nor the economics were liberal (in the free market neo-liberal sense). And a final thought I've mentioned before is that the invention of the intermodal shipping container is overlooked as a, or perhaps the, key contributor to the explosion of global trade, rather than economic policy.

Last edited by microbet; 03-04-2018 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:48 PM   #214
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Thread was getting props today, which I appreciate, so I'll bump with some semi-reviews.

Chalice and the Blade Riane Eisler (1987) Ok, this is simultaneously interesting and super boring. It's a look at the origin of patriarchy and posits that history has misrepresented and ignored important developments of non-patriarchial societies including notably the Minoan Civilization from about 2600 to 1100BC. I don't really know how fuzzy the case is, but the author goes to great lengths to justify her positions and it gets a bit tedious. I read this a while back, but passed on doing a review because I didn't think anyone would be interested.

Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman
I passed on reviewing this when I read it because I figure all of you who were interested in it would have read it. This is stuff that I'm interested in and have read a few things along these lines - so, I enjoyed it, but it seemed like old news a bit. In fact it's possible I read this book when it came out. It's embarrassing to not be sure, but that's the case. It was very familiar and I discovered that I had a copy after I had checked it out at the library. Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink was not as good or probably reliable, but it's worth a read imo and good to go together with this book.

I've been spending a lot of time going through Revolutions Podcast by Mike Duncan (which I pretty highly recommend) and reading a little less lately.
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:10 PM   #215
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Unbelievable Katy Tur

After Fire & Fury I was mostly just chasing the dragon when I picked up this book. It's a decent blow-by-blow retelling of the Trump campaign and an account of what life is like as a cub reporter on the campaign trail, but I don't think anyone here will learn anything they didn't already know.
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Old 03-13-2018, 12:05 AM   #216
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Thinking, Fast and Slow is very good imo. I'd call it the seminal popular work on cognitive biases etc.
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Old 03-22-2018, 01:32 PM   #217
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics, by Lawrence O'Donnell. For a political newb like myself, this was a really interesting book. It covers JFK's assassination through Nixon's impeachment as context for the bizarre 1968 conventions and election, and seems really well-researched. O'Donnell does a pretty good job of describing how revered the Kennedy clan was, while not really painting them in a very good light. A couple takeaways: 1) Dems have been politically inept for a lot longer than this election cycle. 2) It's amazing and depressing how huge racial animus has been as a factor in politics for the entire history of this country.

Picked it up because someone (ITT?) recommended it, and O'Donnell regularly spits fire on CNN
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Old 03-22-2018, 01:36 PM   #218
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

How many pages before a mention of?



Civilisation may be lost...
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Old 03-25-2018, 01:22 AM   #219
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Recently finished The Current Affairs Mindset - https://www.amazon.com/Current-Affai.../dp/0997844728

Collection of essays from Current Affairs the magazine (the magazine itself is excellent, worth subscribing to in print, and "someone I know irl" has a mildly humorous correction printed in the latest issue). There's takedowns here from the left of Bush, Obama, Huffington, nuclear holocaust, The West Wing (a great one, also available online but I like print), Broadway's Hamilton (love this too), etc.

They write for clarity; the editor Nathan Robinson has written articles in which he's lamented the fact that the right wing produces many books that are false or conspiratorial garbage, yet highly readable, entertaining, and convincing. Current Affairs goes for that, except from the left and not made up.

I'm now reading the aforementioned Nathan J. Robinson's Trump: Anatomy of a Monstrosity - https://www.amazon.com/Trump-Anatomy.../dp/0997844779

I'd give both books 5 stars as of now; the only question on the Trump one is whether the "how the Democratic party needs to fix itself with actual progressive policies instead of algorithms" argument is one that you feel you're already up to speed on.
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Old 03-25-2018, 06:33 AM   #220
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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How many pages before a mention of?



Civilisation may be lost...
Ironically, Marx is perhaps the worst Marxist to read.
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Old 03-25-2018, 11:57 AM   #221
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Ironically, Marx is perhaps the worst Marxist to read.
I hear ya, but it's worth the effort/study. Most books about Marx/Kapital have their own agenda, best go to the source.
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Old 03-25-2018, 12:13 PM   #222
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Maybe someday I'll go back. I got through the first part (3 or 4 chapters) which is supposedly just before it gets better and gave up.
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Old 03-25-2018, 03:06 PM   #223
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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I hear ya, but it's worth the effort/study. Most books about Marx/Kapital have their own agenda, best go to the source.

There are plenty of Marxist theorists that come after Marx, nearly all of them are a better read than Marx and much more useful. They have much better exegesis on key concepts.
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:05 PM   #224
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad

Reading a few of other articles over the meta about the book is it was an implicit rebuke to what a lot of science fiction defenders were saying in that a lot of science fiction books' ideas were just ideas and shouldn't be applied to the real world. Think the militarism, sexism, and mysogony found in some right wing science fiction novels of Heinlein.

Spinrad acts like a counterweight by writing a sci fi book that's the classic hero coming to save a fallen land except the hero is a Nazi and the fallen land is a stand in for Germany and the supposed author is an alternative time line Hitler.

The effect is an uneasiness recognizing familiar sci fi tropes but turned into tropes used by the Nazis. You have the super human hero but of course the hero is of pure Heldor (the standin for Germany) blood and the fallen land is a land overrun by impure mutants and ruled over by the shadowy cabal of mind controlling Dominators (the Jews) who have replaced, via mind controlling Heldor's leaders, the previous racial purity laws with laws letting in mutants and preaching multiculturalism ( You will not replace us!) And of course the purification of the fallen land involves eradicating the impure and conquering the world.

The only problems I have with the book is its too long so it drags and it overfits the story of the rise of the Third Reich so that I found myself skimming parts recognizing "oh here's the Beer Hall Putsch", oh here's the "Reichstag". It doesn't follow it exactly but close enough. It would have been better on my opinion to tell a sci fi romp but keep the world view explicitly Nazi without the echos of history to be a spoiler.

The good parts is that the interior dialog and worldview are from the point of a Nazi so it's not a sly nod that this hero is a Nazi, it's woven into everything. The hero finds impurities disgusting and gives lurid descriptions of the hideousness of imperfections, so you start to find them repulsive too. He sees the glory of a pure and restored land with long speeches of the future greatness of the land and what it could be if only hero succeeds, so you start buying into it to. The evil Dominators are scheming mind controllers who hate everything the hero stands for so you want them to fail. Even though you know the hero is a Nazi you get wrapped up into the worldview and hero's tale and you find yourself rooting for him until that part that was in the back of your mind rushes forward yelling "the guy's a Nazi!"

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Old 04-16-2018, 10:32 AM   #225
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

An inconvenient death, how the establishment covered up the david kelly affair, miles goslett

This is a new book covering events in the UK in 2003 when a prominent scientist Dr David Kelly died in suspicious circumstances. This book examines all the evidence at the time and since and is a fantastic and compelling piece of investigative journalism. The author generally writes for right wing papers but this text isn't of right wing or left wing persuasion, the author leaves speculation and interpretation to the reader and let's us know when he deviates from fact to give his own speculative opinions. The theme hinted at by the title is kept honest throughout - that there was a cover up is indisputable fact; what we don't know is who this inconvenienced, who orchestrated the cover up and why.

I thought I would write a little review as I recommended this but then on searching for reviews could find only one in the daily express which was OK, and another in the times by David aaronovitch which was a shambles.

Kelly was a biological and chemical weapons expert who had worked in Iraq to help ascertain Sadaam Husseins capability of deploying 'weapons of mass destruction'. Kelly worked on a dossier for the government which was used to partially justify the invasion in March 2003. In this document was the claim that sadaam could within 45 minutes launch a rocket loaded with a chemical warhead which could hit a British city, leading many tabloids to print front page headlines, '45 minutes until doom' and such. Who inserted this false claim? Kelly met a BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan to discuss the dossier, Gilligan later claimed, without naming his source, on BBC radio that the dossier was 'sexed up' by the government to provide a stronger argument for invading Iraq. Blair's chief spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who had a long running spat with Gilligan, went ballistic. There followed foreign and intelligence select Committee hearings involving kelly where it was established that Kelly had said no such things to Gilligan, rather there was a second unnamed source. Goslett doesn't elaborate on this but it seems unlikely anybody other than Kelly gave information to Gilligan. Following these events David kelly was found dead in a remote area near to his home. The official narrative is that due to the pressure of the press and investigations by his employer the ministry of defence, david kelly took his own life by slashing his wrists and bleeding to death. This was established by a public inquiry which was called by Tony Blair and chaired by Lord Hutton. The inquiry is widely thought of as a whitewash. As Goslett explains very clearly, a public inquiry, particularly one as limited as the Hutton Inquiry, is a poor substitute for a coroners inquest. The reason why an inquiry replaced a full inquest was due to the then Lord chancellor Charles Falconer using an obscure piece of legislation passed in 1988 which allows the Lord chancellor to bypass a local coroner in certain circumstances. There has never been a full inquest into the death of David kelly contrary to the claim of david Cameron in the commons in 2011 when questioned by one of his own MPs.

There are so many inconsistencies and inadequacies in the Hutton inquiry and report I can't do justice here without going through the book, but here are a few stand out facts:

- no finger prints were found on the knife Kelly is said to have killed himself with, or on other items found on the ground next to the knife. This was never brought forward to the inquiry

- more than 20 key witnesses never gave evidence to hutton

- Kelly's dental records went missing from his dentist surgery for 2 days before re appearing. Evidence not submitted to Hutton inquiry.

- Kelly's body was found by volunteer searchers propped up against a tree. In the later police report he was lying on his back a few feet from the tree.

- Kelly had a long term issue with his right arm which was severely weakened, the witness who could testify that Kelly could not possibly cut into his wrist with a blunt blade was never called to Hutton.

The main outcomes from Hutton was the resignations of bbc staff including Greg dyke the director general and gilligan himself. In my opinion the bbc has never recovered from this. The other reasons I believe all this is relevant today is firstly because individuals have never been held to account, Campbell, Blair, Falconer, Hutton and others, and secondly because the falsehoods continue around 'weapons of mass destruction'.
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