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Bakken pipeline links and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 02, 2015 at 09:51:19 AM CST

The proposed Bakken pipeline is one of the most urgent issues facing Iowa's environmental community. The Texas-based company Energy Transfer Partners wants to build the pipeline to transport crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois, crossing eighteen Iowa counties in the process. Governor Terry Branstad has made clear he won't support any legislative action to stop the pipeline. That will leave the initial decision up to the Iowa Utilities Board, though approval by other state and federal agencies would be needed later; more details on that are below.

Two dozen non-profit groups have formed a coalition to fight the pipeline. You can keep up with their work on Facebook or at the No Bakken website. I'm active with several of the coalition members and enclosed the full list after the jump. The Sierra Club's Iowa chapter outlined some of the key concerns concisely and explained how members of the public can submit comments.

Former state legislator Ed Fallon, who ran for governor in 2006 and for Congress in 2008, is kicking off a 400-mile walk along the proposed pipeline route today, starting from southeast Iowa and heading northwest over the next several weeks. I've enclosed below an excerpt from his first e-mail update about the walk, in which Fallon recounts a conversation with Lee County farmers whose land lies along the proposed pipeline route. Click here to view upcoming events, including a public meetings for residents of Lee County this evening, for Van Buren County residents in Birmingham on March 5, and for Jefferson County residents in Fairfield on March 6.

The latest Iowa poll conducted by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics found that a majority of Iowans support the Bakken pipeline, but a larger majority oppose using eminent domain to seize land for the pipeline. Excerpts from the Iowa poll findings are at the end of this post.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. - The company that wants to build the pipeline has claimed "the project would have an Iowa economic impact of $1.1 billion during two years of construction, creating enough work to keep 7,600 workers employed for a year." Economist Dave Swenson explained here why such estimates are misleading.

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IA-Gov: Jonathan Narcisse announces, Ed Fallon endorses Jack Hatch

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 14:50:00 PM CST

At least two Democrats will run for governor this year. Jonathan Narcisse, a former Des Moines School Board member and third-party gubernatorial candidate, announced his candidacy this morning at the African-American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids. I don't have a video from today's event, but after the jump I've posted a speech Narcisse gave last month when he announced the creation of his exploratory committee. Among other things, he proposes to provide free college education for Iowa students who agree to do community service during the summers and to stay in the state for a certain number of years after graduation. Bleeding Heartland posted more background on Narcisse here. He received a little less than 2 percent of the vote in his independent campaign for governor in 2010.

Narcisse will be a big underdog in the Democratic primary, where State Senator Jack Hatch is better known, has more political experience, and will have the resources to run a more extensive statewide campaign. Hatch just reported raising nearly $300,000 for his gubernatorial campaign in 2013, plus $140,000 in loans from himself and his wife. At year-end, his campaign had $236,943.18 cash on hand.

This morning, former State Representative Ed Fallon endorsed Hatch, saying he "has been a strong progressive voice fighting for a better Iowa" for decades. Fallon represented areas of central Des Moines in the Iowa House for twelve years; during part of that time, Hatch served in the state House and Senate. Fallon ran for governor in 2006 and finished third in the Democratic primary for governor with about 26 percent of the vote. I've posted part of his e-mail blast after the jump.

Any comments about the governor's race are welcome in this thread. UPDATE: Added clips on the Narcisse announcement below.

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Fallon planning "Great March for Climate Action"

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 10:09:00 AM CST

Memo to politics-watchers: read carefully before speculating. Last week, Ed Fallon announced that he would roll out a new "campaign" on his 55th birthday, March 1. While some people jumped to the conclusion that the former candidate for governor and Congress was planning another bid for public office, others realized that Fallon might have in mind a campaign to raise awareness or money for some cause.

Last night Fallon revealed his plans: "This is a campaign to mobilize 1000 people to march coast-to-coast, demanding action on climate change - action from both the American people and from our public officials. The Great March for Climate Action will set-out from the west coast one year from today and arrive in Washington, DC the weekend before the mid-term election. It will be the largest coast-to-coast march in our nation's history."

The full announcement is after the jump. Organizing a march on that scale will be a tall order.

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IA-03: Democrats recruiting whom? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:20:00 AM CST

The well-informed Shira Toeplitz reported this week at Roll Call that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee may have a challenger to ten-term Republican Representative Tom Latham in Iowa's third Congressional district.

I figured that before too long, Democrats would float some possible candidates for IA-03 in 2014. I didn't figure that the leading recruit would be someone I'd never heard of.

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Boswell dropping defamation case against Fallon

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 15:26:42 PM CST

Representative Leonard Boswell is dropping his defamation lawsuit against his 2008 Democratic primary challenger Ed Fallon, both sides confirmed today.  
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Long weekend open thread, with inauguration and MLK links

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 10:15:00 AM CST

What's on your mind this long weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread. I posted some links below to get a conversation going.

UPDATE: Scroll down for excerpts from the inaugural speech and some reaction from Iowa political figures.

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Gronstal, Jochum to lead Iowa Senate Democrats

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 07:39:16 AM CST

Iowa Senate Democrats caucused at the state capitol yesterday to choose their leaders for the next legislative session. As expected, Mike Gronstal remains Senate majority leader. The big change will be Pam Jochum of Dubuque as Senate president to replace Jack Kibbie, who retired last year.

After the jump I've enclosed background on Jochum and details on the rest of the Iowa Senate leadership team. Republicans elected leaders of their Senate caucus last week. Both parties will announce committee assignments before the end of the year.

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Department of long-shot lawsuits (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:35:00 AM CDT

JANUARY 2013 UPDATE: Boswell dropped this lawsuit.

I don't know whether anyone connected to Representative Leonard Boswell dangled a job in front of Ed Fallon in early 2008. But I'm confident that the defamation lawsuit Boswell filed against Fallon won't end in a courtroom victory for the man who won the contentious 2008 Democratic primary in Iowa's third Congressional district.  

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Guilty verdict in second trial of Iowa Occupy protesters

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 17:31:12 PM CDT

A Polk County District Court jury returned a guilty verdict this afternoon in the trespassing trial of Hugh Espey and David Goodner. According to the Des Moines Register, jurors deliberated for nine hours before reaching a verdict. It was the second prosecution of Occupy protesters arrested last October on the state capitol grounds. Last month a Polk County jury acquitted former State Representative Ed Fallon on the same trespassing charge, accepting his First Amendment defense.

Background on this week's trial is after the jump. UPDATE: Defense attorney Sally Frank is likely to appeal. Scroll down for details.

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Jury acquits Ed Fallon of trespassing during Occupy protest

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 13:41:57 PM CST

A jury of six women and men found former State Representative Ed Fallon not guilty today of trespassing in connection with last October's Occupy protests on the state capitol grounds.
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Weekend open thread: See you in court edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 10:51:38 AM CST

Lots of court-related news is on my mind this weekend. I've posted links on upcoming trials and likely future lawsuits after the jump.

All topics are welcome in this open thread. History or photography buffs may enjoy the Retronaut's post featuring pictures of photographers holding their most iconic images.

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Weekend open thread: Farewell to Iowa Independent

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Nov 19, 2011 at 22:43:50 PM CST

The CEO of The American Independent News Network announced plans this week to cease publication of most of the network's state-based sites. That appears to include the Iowa Independent blog, a fixture on the Iowa political blogosphere since early 2007.
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Iowa Democrats set caucus date for January 3

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 06:49:32 AM CDT

The State Central Committee of the Iowa Democratic Party voted unanimously last night to hold the 2012 caucuses on January 3, beginning at 6:30 pm. I've posted the IDP's press release after the jump. The Republican Party of Iowa set their caucuses for January 3 earlier this week. Traditionally Democrats and Republicans have coordinated their caucus schedule to prevent voters from gaming the system by participating in both parties' events.

Iowans can change their party registration on caucus night. Former State Representative and Congressional candidate Ed Fallon has encouraged Democrats to become Republicans for a day. I recently ran into one active Democratic volunteer in my precinct who plans to caucus for Representative Ron Paul in January.

I would advise Democrats to stick with their own party's caucus. It's a good way to meet like-minded people in your neighborhood as well as an opportunity to influence the party machinery. Precinct caucus attendees elect county convention delegates and approve platform resolutions.  

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At least 30 Occupy Iowa protesters arrested in Des Moines (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 09:24:58 AM CDT

Iowa state troopers arrested at least 30 people outside the state Capitol building late last night in order to break up a protest by people supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement across the country.

UPDATE: Monday evening's protest in Des Moines didn't lead to any arrests. Further details are below.

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IA-03: New Boswell-Vilsack primary speculation thread

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 02, 2011 at 19:15:07 PM CST

It's been a while since the Bleeding Heartland community discussed a possible 2012 primary between Representative Leonard Boswell and Christie Vilsack. Everywhere I go in Polk County, Democrats are talking about this race, so I thought it's time for a new thread on the subject.

Last week Politico's Alex Isenstadt reported that Vilsack "has been meeting with top state labor leaders, party strategists and donors as she gauges support and maps out a potential House campaign." A bunch of Iowa insiders and Vilsack loyalists told Isenstadt about the former first lady's strengths as a candidate. She's good on the stump, has high name recognition and could raise a lot of money quickly. She refused to comment for his article, but Boswell told Isenstadt that he has informed Vilsack "that he had no plans to retire and that he would run again in his Polk County political base."

Most Polk County Democrats I've spoken to expect Vilsack to run against Boswell in the new third Congressional district rather than in the redrawn second district, likely to contain Vilsack's hometown Mount Pleasant. I would be surprised to see her run against Dave Loebsack in IA-02, but it could happen if the new IA-03 has a strong Republican tilt (say, containing lots of counties to the south and west of Polk but not Democratic-leaning Story, Marshall and Jasper counties). In that case, a primary against Loebsack could be more appealing than a general election against Tom Latham. I don't have a good sense of the activist base's commitment to Loebsack in IA-02, so I hope Bleeding Heartland readers who live in the area will weigh in. I believe many activists in IA-03 are ready for a change and would support a new candidate in a primary against Boswell.

Vilsack would be a much tougher opponent for Boswell than Ed Fallon was in 2008. The entire Democratic establishment and most allied groups like organized labor supported Boswell against Fallon. Some Democratic activists thought Fallon was unelectable or refused to consider supporting him because he had endorsed Ralph Nader's presidential campaign in 2000. In addition, Fallon was unable to match the incumbent in fundraising.

Christie Vilsack has none of Fallon's baggage and should have no trouble raising enough money to make the race competitive. She may even raise more than Boswell, who had just $65,276 in his campaign account at the end of 2010. (No word on how much Boswell raised at his big campaign fundraiser last month, featuring Senator Tom Harkin.) Although Boswell has a good record on women's issues, many activists would be excited about making Vilsack the first Iowa woman to go to Congress.

During the 2008 primary, Boswell's campaign kept Fallon on the defensive, questioning his ethics and slamming his record on ethanol and meth. The Nader trump card was played again and again. Boswell is good at "winning ugly," as he showed last year against Brad Zaun. But I don't see how he goes hard negative against Vilsack in a primary. My sense is that would backfire.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Who would have the edge in a Boswell-Vilsack primary? How bad would the IA-03 map have to be to send Vilsack running against Loebsack on more friendly Democratic turf?

UPDATE: On February 3 Boswell announced the hiring of Julie Stauch as his Iowa chief of staff, beginning in March. (Sally Bowzer recently retired from the position.) Stauch is a veteran Iowa political operative and managed Boswell's 2002 re-election campaign. In 2004, she managed Lois Murphy's unsuccessful challenge to a Republican Congressional incumbent in Pennsylvania. In 2006, she managed Mazie Hirono's successful Congressional bid in Hawaii. Most recently, Stauch has been chief public affairs officer for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

FEBRUARY 4 UPDATE: Senator Harkin seems to be trying to discourage Vilsack:

"I don't see that happening," Harkin says. [...]

"Look, I have great respect for Christie Vilsack. I've known [her] a long time," Harkin says.  "Since I'm so heaviy into education, here's someone who has been in education all her life, so I have a lot of respect for her and her abilities. She has a lot of talent and a lot of support in the state of Iowa, but I do not see a primary with her and Congressman Boswell."

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Attack mailers target Ako in Iowa House district 66

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 08:05:16 AM CDT

A critical Democratic primary contest is taking place in House district 66, where Clair Rudison is challenging two-term State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad. I discussed this race here. A Bleeding Heartland reader who lives in the district sent me images of direct-mail pieces Rudison's campaign has sent out during the last week or so. I've posted the images after the jump. One says marriage is a "building block of our community," noting that Clair Rudison wants to "let the people vote" while Ako Abdul-Samad "has consistently voted against allowing the Iowa House to bring this matter to the people." Another points out that Ako voted for increasing vehicle registration fees. A third says Ako voted for creating the Iowa Film Office and therefore "opened the door for your tax money to be stolen by Hollywood producers." The fourth piece draws a contrast between Ako and Rudison on all of the above issues (Iowa Film Office, vehicle fee increases, and allowing Iowans to vote on marriage).

Rudison implies that "a majority of Iowans" oppose Ako's stance on marriage equality, but the latest KCCI poll suggests a majority favor same-sex marriage rights. House district 66 contains some of the most gay-friendly neighborhoods in Des Moines (Drake area, Sherman Hill, "East Village"), so it's far-fetched to portray Ako as out of step with his constituents.

Rudison unfairly alleges on one mailer, "Instead of tax dollars being spent to fight crime, improve education or increase access to health care, Ako gave our money to Hollywood." During Ako's two terms in the Iowa House, Democrats have allocated lots of money to fighting crime, improving education and expanding access to health care, especially for children. I'm no fan of the film tax credit, but the money we wasted on that program didn't stop Democrats from expanding children's health care and voluntary preschool for four- and five-year-olds. I was amused to read that Rudison claims to have "opposed creation of the Film Office." Is there a public record of that? Only one member of the Iowa House and two members of the Iowa Senate voted against creating the film tax credit. Rudison was a pastor in Fort Dodge at the time.

In an overview of this race at Iowa Independent, Jason Hancock noted that Rudison "has focused his campaign on issues like education and the state budget, pointing to the Forrest Avenue Library's decision to close on Fridays and Saturdays due to budget cuts [...]." Although Rudison hasn't said much about gay marriage, the Iowa Family PAC (which is connected to the Iowa Family Policy Center) is supporting his campaign. Activists on the religious right have reason to support Rudison because no Republican has a prayer of winning House district 66. In addition, the only House Democrat who has consistently voted with Republicans on marriage issues (Dolores Mertz) is retiring. House Republicans would love to have Rudison join the Democratic caucus so they can continue to claim bipartisan support for their efforts to bring a constitutional amendment on marriage to a vote.

Ed Fallon represented House district 66 for 14 years and knows the area well. I share his assessment that Ako "should win this [primary] easily, but he's not taking anything for granted, which is smart." Ako has strong roots in the community, and he won a seat on the Des Moines School Board before running for the state legislature. He's been making lots of voter contacts and has the endorsement of AFSCME. One Iowa's political action committee, the Fairness Fund, has an organizer working in the district too. However, Rudison has been campaigning actively, and I don't doubt there are many voters upset about budget cuts affecting their families, schools and local library. If you or any of your Democratic friends live in this district, please do what you can to get out the vote for Ako on Tuesday.

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Culver won't have a primary challenger after all

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 06:51:10 AM CDT

Jonathan Narcisse told the Des Moines Register's Kathie Obradovich yesterday that he won't run against Governor Chet Culver in the Democratic primary. He plans to register for the ballot as an independent candidate.

Narcisse says he collected enough signatures to get on the ballot (the deadline is Friday), but he said his changed his mind about filing based on what he heard from Iowans as he's traveled around the state.  "They really want an independent voice," he says, someone not tied to either party.

I asked Narcisse if he would be willing to release the signatures, because otherwise people will be skeptical that he was able to collect them. He didn't outright refuse but he also didn't say he would release them. He said he's used to dealing with skepticism from the media but he's focused on making his case to voters around the state.  But if he's going to say he's collected them, he should prove it.

Obradovich posted a press release from Narcisse, which explained his decision and thanked the volunteers who "helped me obtain the signatures that I needed to be on the June 8th primary ballot."

Ever since Narcisse announced plans late last month to run for governor as a Democrat, many political observers have privately predicted that he would not be able to meet the signature requirements. Narcisse can speak knowledgeably about public policy for hours, but his campaign manager is a management consultant and former teacher with no previous political experience. Democrats seeking statewide office in Iowa had to submit more than 4,000 total signatures (0.5 percent of the party's statewide vote in the 2008 presidential election), including at least 1 percent of the party's vote total in that election in at least 10 counties. (Statewide Republican candidates needed to meet the same percentage targets, but that worked out to fewer total signatures because Barack Obama did so much better than John McCain in Iowa.)

A strong statewide organization could collect more than 4,000 signatures on short order; Republican candidate Rob Gettemy's campaign collected 3,000 in the second Congressional district in just two weeks. I agree with Obradovich that observers will remain skeptical about Narcisse's campaign if he doesn't release his nominating petitions. Republican blogger Craig Robinson writes today that Narcisse's story has shifted dramatically in the last three days. He concludes, "The inability for Narcisse to get on the Democratic primary ballot is a deadly blow to any credibility he may have had as a candidate."

Ed Fallon had been recruiting some Democrat other than Narcisse to challenge Culver, but nothing materialized. In my opinion, Culver didn't deserve a primary challenger despite the many complaints you hear about him from Iowa Democrats.

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Wayne Ford announces retirement; House district 65 open

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 16, 2010 at 10:43:13 AM CDT

State Representative Wayne Ford announced today that he will not seek an eighth term in the Iowa House. He plans to "to devote more time to expand statewide, nationally, and internationally" the non-profit organization Urban Dreams, which he founded 25 years ago. After the jump I posted Ford's press release, which recounts some of his accomplishments. His work on a 2007 law requiring blood screenings for lead poisoning has benefited thousands of Iowa families and will spare many children from the many harmful effects of lead exposure, which may even emerge decades later.

During this year's legislative session Ford introduced a bill to restore the use of Tax-Increment Financing to its original intent: redeveloping urban, blighted areas. Unfortunately, it didn't go anywhere, but it was a great idea that would also have saved the state money.

Yesterday Ed Fallon alleged that Iowa Democratic Party officials were trying to keep Ford's retirement secret in order to avoid a competitive primary in House district 65. Candidates have until Friday to file nominating papers with the Secretary of State's office. The Democratic primary will in effect determine Ford's successor because of the district's strong partisan lean.

UPDATE: Former Iowa teacher of the year Ruth Ann Gaines becomes the first declared candidate to succeed Ford.

LATE UPDATE: IowaPolitics.com covered Ford's farewell speech to the House. Worth a read.

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We may need a new candidate in Iowa House district 65

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 15, 2010 at 18:04:47 PM CDT

Ed and Lynn Fallon's I'M for Iowa organization sent out an e-mail blast today containing the following tidbit:

Monday, 1:00 - 4:00 pm, we talk about politics, and expose what appears to be a sneaky effort in the 65th House District in Des Moines to keep Wayne Ford's retirement a secret so party insiders can hand-pick a successor. We also talk about the Des Moines Register's love affair with Senator Grassley, Jonathan Narcisse's love affair with himself, and Iowa Senate Republicans' burning love for coal.

Tom Beaumont's latest piece on Chuck Grassley for the Des Moines Register was egregious. He depicted Grassley as an old-fashioned bipartisan hero instead of the disingenuous double-dealer he has become. But that's a topic for another post. I'm more interested in Fallon's take on Iowa House district 65, which covers a heavily Democratic area of Des Moines (map here).

Jason Hancock listened to today's radio show and wrote up the story for Iowa Independent. Fallon alleges that seven-term incumbent State Representative Wayne Ford has decided to retire, but is keeping his intentions secret so that there won't be a competitive Democratic primary in the district. Republicans have no chance of winning House district 65, but in a Democratic primary with multiple candidates, someone other than the party insiders' choice might win.

Hancock contacted the Iowa Democratic Party for a reaction and got this comment from communications director Ali Glisson:

"Whatever a member of the legislature decides to do, it is a personal decision that I will not speculate about," she said. "But, I can assure you that the Iowa Democratic Party is not something out of Bond movie. No 'cover up' is going on.  We remain confident that the Iowa House will remain under Democratic control."

In high school debate we would have called that a "non-response." Did Fallon say the IDP was like something out of a Bond movie, or that they were "covering up" wrongdoing? No, he's saying they don't want to roll the dice on a competitive primary and would rather hand-pick someone to succeed Ford. And Fallon's allegation regarding House district 65 has nothing to do with whether the Democratic Party will retain an Iowa House majority. This is about who will determine Ford's successor, if he retires: voters or insiders. If Ford wants another term, he should say so. If not, he should give other Democrats time to start a campaign.

Whether or not Ford plans to retire this year, it wouldn't be a bad idea to for a progressive Democrat to collect 50 signatures (plus a few extra) in time to file nominating papers by this Friday. Community organizer Tyler Reedy won about 36 percent of the vote in his primary challenge against Ford in 2008. He worked hard in that campaign and deserves another shot if he is willing to run again.

Share any other suggestions or opinions in this thread.

UPDATE: Ford could have put this matter to rest by answering Dave Price's question about whether he plans to run again. Four days before the filing deadline, he refused to say. If he isn't running, he owes it to his Democratic constituents to give other potential candidates an opportunity to file for an open seat.

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Culver campaign news roundup (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:37:39 AM CST

While Governor Chet Culver visited Iowa reservists serving in Iraq this week, several developments back home may affect his re-election campaign.

Links and analysis are after the jump.  

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