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Retracted autism study an 'elaborate fraud,' British journal finds

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by JPV, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. shannah

    shannah Senior Member

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    If this is the same piece I watched with Anderson Cooper, I thought he was absolutely brutal with Wakefield. I often find AC to be quite fair while asking very direct questions. During this interview, I found him to be very combative, constantly interrupting, very rude and it seemed to me that he already had decided Wakefield's guilt. It would appear that Sanjay Gupka had as well in a later segment so perhaps they both pow-wowed beforehand.

    I thought the attack was unfair and the Skype connection wasn't the best to hear Wakefield's responses in their entirety.
  2. ggingues

    ggingues $10 gift code at iHerb GAS343 of $40

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    Anderson Cooper is a hack, so is the network he is on!
  3. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    A specific point to Urbantravels before I get started: what you say might make some sense in the US, but if you knew anything at all about the reality of libel law in the UK, you would know that it is not a realistic option for anyone but the super-rich, so please don't go concluding anything about the truth of the matter if Dr Wakefield is unable to fight back effectively.

    Brilliant summary Angela, I see it exactly the same way. If only I could be so succinct as you... :)

    Pretty much everything I want to say has already been said very well by others, especially by Angela and Wayne, but I'll add my personal perspective because the points Angela makes do illustrate how this whole issue has disturbing parallels with our own situation.

    So my perspective is this. When I came on to this forum just over a year ago, I reckon if you'd asked me my opinion on MMR/autism I'd have said it was pretty much disproved as far as I could see, and that Wakefield and others had perhaps behaved a little recklessly. I've never really paid the subject much attention since I don't have kids myself (and probably never will, to my great regret), so I can't exactly remember what I thought about it. But the case seemed relatively straightforward to me: probably just a mistake.

    Then in the context of an ME/CFS discussion I was pointed at one link: an interview by a journalist with Dr Wakefield himself (I think I'll keep calling them Dr no matter what is done to such people btw).

    I was shocked to the core by what I read. What disturbed me so much was that despite the blanket media coverage, and despite all the other lengthy articles I read elsewhere (including Deer's pieces), there was clearly a whole other side to this whole story that I'd never heard. And riddled through that other side to the story were some really powerful points which - even regardless of whether the facts presented there were really true - gave me enormous pause for thought.

    I quickly realised that I had only ever heard one side of the story, and that the other side cast the allegations in a whole new light.

    Angela has much more backplot in the ME world than I do, so I can confirm that what she says about her having developed a radar for the tactics of The Lobby is absolutely true: you need to keep a sharp eye out for the signature behaviours of these people, because they are pros at what they do.

    In short: they are masters of spin, manipulation of information, presentation of arguments in a misleading way that gets past your critical faculties and seeps into your brain somehow, through relentless pressure. Ad hominem arguments - attacks on all the individuals around the issue, subtle and not-so-subtle malignments of their character, aggressive expressions of contempt and anger, sneering insinuations about people's intelligence - those things seem to surround everything. Compelling and well-referenced evidence is convincingly presented, in such a powerful way that it's only when you come to sit down with the help of the counter-argument, and ask yourself what that evidence actually amounts to, that you realise it's all circumstantial, tangential, and irrelevant to the important points. A character assassination, basically, and a clever distraction from the real issues.

    The thing is: however well-written and well-referenced and well-researched, Deer's work presents only one side of a very complex story - and the other side is simply not presented to the public at all. Deer never even asked Wakefield for his side of the story, and never presented it: he didn't seem to need it; his work was one-sided from day one.

    This whole approach is all brilliantly articulated on the current Bad Science thread on this subject, by a number of posters. The argument runs like this...

    (Sigh) And I suppose this particular part of the media is now going to ask for 'the other side of the story'. Journalists always feel like they have to present both sides. But that isn't appropriate here. In this case, we have the Scientific Truth on one side, and a load of old rubbish on the other side. If you present both sides of the story, when one side is truth and the other side is lies, you'll only confuse people. This obsession with letting everybody present their side of the story gets abused, because it means that the people who are wrong have to get equal airtime with the people who are right.

    If you check out BS for the relevant quotes I'm referring to, you couldn't ask for a more explicit exposition of how dangerous the (amateur) philosophy of these people is. It's a fair assumption that they have a rather better understanding of (their area of) science than they do of politics or philosophy, and another fair assumption that they live and operate within a pretty sheltered world, to be coming out with stuff like this.

    It's really no exaggeration to describe the sort of philosophy I've described above as a form of totalitarianism, censorship, oppression. Extremist, materialistic, atheistic establishment scientists who believe that any other way of looking at the world than their own needs to be censored and oppressed, should set VERY loud alarm bells ringing to anybody who's familiar with the history of totalitarian movements, and the history of the involvement of such scientists in helping to bring those horrors into the world.

    Their argument boils down to this. This other guy should not have the right to reply to these allegations, because the allegations are true, they are right, and he is wrong. Therefore nobody should be allowed to hear his dangerous words, because most people aren't as clever as me, and they might believe what he says, to their own detriment.

    Running through that whole argument is a form of elitism, arrogance, anti-democratic sentiment, and contempt for the general population, that is oh so familiar to me, and it just fills me with disgust. My own life and career was already restricted even before I got ME, because I just can't bear to be around people like that for very long - I haven't the patience, I'd probably end up maiming one of them. Such people really do believe that they are the guardians of true knowledge, that they are so intelligent they need to be put in charge, that the ordinary idiots need to be protected by them from the dangers that freedom and democracy might bring them. And they really do just know they are right, and so is everyone else around them in positions of power.

    I might add that, as specialists in an education system that encourages/enforces specialisation and elitism at an early age, they share a common education, a common set of assumptions, a common contempt for anything outside their in-group's philosophy, a relatively homogeneous community in their 'ivory towers' protected from the wider world, status, wealth and privilege associated with their positions, an almost total financial, personal and political investment in the status quo,
    and communities like Bad Science where they can publicly and privately discuss with each other how to further their own beliefs.

    So given all that, calling them a kind of conspiracy isn't too far fetched, semantically - despite the associations that the word 'conspiracy' has acquired over the years. They meet and discuss amongst themselves, in a huge international community, they organise together, they have shared radical and extremist assumptions and objectives, almost nobody has ever heard of them, many of them are in positions of great power and influence, they have access to a vast archive of information that the general population isn't allowed to see (published science, and unpublished info from their mates, kept from the population on the argument that "they wouldn't understand it and they wouldn't be interested in it")...they tick all the boxes for me. The only part that makes it confusing is: they would never in a million years see themselves as a 'conspiracy' - so they can easily laugh with contempt at the idea that there is such a thing as a conspiracy, without ever realising that they are it!

    And it's frighteningly easy for anybody to manipulate this army of pseudosceptics by pointing them in the direction of something outside the mainstream they would like them to attack.

    So...this is basically what I've learned over the last year. I started out with a fairly conventional view, accepting the view that the media had fed me regarding MMR/autism/Wakefield. I came across the other side of the story and realised that I had not been given all the information fairly, and not been allowed to make up my own mind because some people think I'm not smart enough to be trusted to do so. I read the other side of the argument more carefully and analysed the attacks on Wakefield, and I couldn't find anything substantial in them that didn't have a powerful rebuttal, and I couldn't find anything that really addressed the scientific questions - though as Angela rightly explains, it proved incredibly difficult to pick out the substance of the question from the mass of circumstantial smearing and sneering that surrounded it.

    (Hey, that's a thought - do these people have a secret bible called "Smear and Sneer"?)

    Next I looked at the studies that debunked the MMR/autism claim, having noted after examination of the detail that (very much like the idea that the WPI are claiming XMRV causes ME/CFS), Wakefield himself never actually made the claim that he's so angrily vilified for making. I read those studies in light of the understanding that the hypotheses around XMRV had suggested to us. And I found that none of those studies had any bearing whatsoever on the actual scientific issues, that all of them were examining a question that was obviously not the point, that they over-reached their evidence when summarising their findings (another hallmark of the spinners), and that they were being misused by being taken as evidence that the original paper was false and should not be investigated. Crucially, the whole line of scientific inquiry, it seemed, must not be investigated any further - because it had supposedly been disproven. (And I'm very concerned, incidentally, that the final shot seems to have been fired by one Dr. Lipkin, in a study that even I can see was not at all conclusive in the way he seems to have interpreted it...oh yes, that does worry me a lot...)

    And by the way, just as with the WPI, I see rumours and disinformation which I now know to be untrue and/or misleading being repeated by all sides of the argument, even on this thread. Once these memes take hold, and when one side of the argument struggles to be heard, the disinformation just lives on and on.

    So here's where I end up. I'm not a retrovirologist, as it happens. I'm not an expert in these particular areas of science. I have some knowledge and I study whatever I can get my hands on, but it's not my specialism. I therefore can't form a strong opinion as to whether Wakefield was right or wrong based on the science.

    What I can conclude with confidence, is that this entire argument, and whole areas of science related to it, are surrounded by dishonesty, dirty tricks, nastiness, and elitist anti-democratic philosophies. I've witnessed the hysteria whenever the word vaccine is innocently mentioned, and it's immediately obvious that there are some hypotheses in science that just don't get equal airplay, and are rounded on and suppressed by a dishonest mob whenever the mere thought arises. There are some things that are not allowed to be said; there are some questions that are not allowed to be asked - and the suppression of anyone who crosses those lines is ruthless. And so it's quite obvious to me that the spirit of objective, balanced and open-minded scientific inquiry is NOT alive and well, in this area at least, and therefore the body of established science is inevitably going to be skewed by these fears and prejudices.

    And so while I started out by not believing in Dr Wakefield, it's the behaviour and arguments of his enemies that have convinced me that he might have a point. In fact I'm rather beginning to suspect that the quickest route to the truth is to follow these so-called sceptics and find out what they're attacking today. Because the more it gets under their skin, the more hysterical and unreasonable their persecution of it is, the more likely it is that it's a truth that they just daren't face up to - and they have the power to make sure that the vast majority of the UK population don't get to even hear the other side of the argument.
  4. aquariusgirl

    aquariusgirl Senior Member

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    What I can't figure out is why the BMJ published a piece of investigative journalism.
    I mean did the journal vet it, factcheck it, before putting its imprimatur on it?
    It's kind of unusual, isn't it for a medical journal to do this.
    Investigative journalism belongs in newspapers, doesn't it?
    I haven't followed the debate too much..maybe this has been explained somewhere.
  5. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hi everyone, I am not defending Wakefield, I have no idea if he was right or a fraud, and I have not followed this debate much over the years. But consider this ....

    If (and I mean IFF) xmrv is a cause of autism, and found in vaccines, then not all vaccine batches are likely to be contaminated, and there may even be very little virus. So many vaccines wont cause autism, and many doses of a specific batch might not either. Unless he comes out and admits he was guilty of fraud, we therefore cant prove it was fraud under this model.

    There is still room for doubt, but I think Wakefield's name is so discredited that it will be hard for him to make a comeback, even if we can find good evidence he was right.

    bye

    Alex
  6. Mark

    Mark Acting CEO

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    I dunno Alex, if it turns out that he was right, I would think he would end up as some kind of superstar! People won't really care about the smears, which when they stop and think back about what they were, don't amount to anything really, if he was right.

    And I don't see how you could prove fraud here, either: there's some vague circumstantial evidence (like the fact he was getting paid by lawyers - and even that point has been twisted and caricatured) but circumstantial evidence doesn't get a conviction, it's only useful for hypothesising and smearing.

    But anyway, the point you make about the possibility of contamination of specific batches only is exactly the heart of the matter for me, and that was what struck me as the illogicality of the whole story: when I looked into it myself, it was precisely that possibility that was never entertained in any of the 'debunking' - it was just SO illogical and thoughtless. Especially because contamination of vaccine, batch by batch, by something unknown, and/or only affecting small subsets, was always more scientifically plausible than any other explanation. You may not have read much about it (I haven't read masses myself) but as usual I think you got to the heart of the matter there: if you check out the anti-papers, none (that I could find) even addresses those sort of possibilities, let alone disproves them.
  7. floydguy

    floydguy Senior Member

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    Hi Mark,

    I concur with much of what you are saying. If you spend time on blogs like Science Based Medicine, Bad Science, etc. you see that most of them seem to be promoting certain agendas and a lot of times they have nothing to do with "sound science".

    In addition, there appears to be quite a few journalists like Trine Tsouderos who seem to think they are assisting a population that needs to be protected from themselves and blindly go along with the agenda being set by some/many in the scientific and business community. It's troubling that people like Trine are deciding in effect not to provide an accurate "other side" of the story. It all appears to stem out of a belief system that not all stories deserve a balanced counter point. For example, the flat earth society shouldn't be taken that seriously and given the same weight as pictures from NASA showing a spherical planet.

    But who decides what is ridiculous and what could be possible, or what's the truth and what's not? It's starting to be like a non-government sanctioned Pravda. An elite group deciding what the population should think about certain topics. We've all experienced it with XMRV and I wouldn't be surprised the same has happened with autism.

    The real trick is to convince people that thinking against the "conventional wisdom" is only for the feeble minded. So when the agenda is set an appeal to authority can be made. Those going against the grain are just conspiracy theorists, ie idiots. Pretty neat trick...everybody falls in line.
  8. markmc20001

    markmc20001 Guest

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    Mark, I read your whole analysis. I agree with it most of it, if not all of it. Well said.

    This one paragraph quoted above stood out to me though.

    I would like to add to your paragraph above, that I believe, this same info gets drilled in to people through TV, newspapers, and now the internet. The best example I can think of is in politics here in the U.S. where the republicans get on TV and drill some idea into the general publics head by simply repeating it enough.All the republicans have the EXACT same "talking points". After the same talking points are pounded into the public for a few weeks, I start to notice even very smart people are regurgitating the same information without realizing that they are simply repeating republican talking points.

    It blows me away.... For instance, the republicans are saying that CEO's in the US aren't hiring because of fear out of the health law Obama has helped pass. Well I have also watched at least two CEO's get on TV and say they don't worry about the health care law. They say if they need employees and have the business, they hire people. Some have even said, they don't even pay attention to what lawmakers are doing, they are just running their business's.

    Especially in this day and age, companies just hire through temp agencies and let people go when the job is done. So if some law passes that makes it cost prohibitive to have an employee, the company can let the employee go tomorrow without saying anything more than the assignment is over.
  9. markmc20001

    markmc20001 Guest

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    two thumbs up on this last bit of info floydguy. They use the power of group think on us to make it uncomfortable to be in the minority.

    I would like to add, that many of the puppets like Trine (trine looks very young by the way) may be just trying to save their jobs and basically being doing what is socially acceptable or pleasing to the boss-man. The culture may dictate what kind of info get kudos, and which type of behavior doesn't get kudos. And of course, the editor and newspaper owner my also be approving the proposed articles.
  10. rwinsmom528

    rwinsmom528

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    I know personally (no media influence here) at least three CEOs who have told me that they were prohibited from hiring more workers at this time because of the health care law. In fact, one CEO was planning to hire someone who wanted a part time job who was already covered by her husband's health care plan, but the CEO would have had to buy insurance for her anyway. The extra cost of health insurance made it so he could not pay her a decent wage. (Small businesses don't get the reduced costs when buying health care that big companies get with group plans.)

    The irony of it all was that she was already covered under her husbands policy so the second policy would have been wasted money anyway. The CEO would have been forced to buy insurance that was not necessary. Huge companies can afford to just pay the fine and not bother to provide health care. Many small businesses cannot afford to do either one. (And our country is made of mostly small businesses.)
  11. lancelot

    lancelot Senior Member

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    I don't know if wakefield's original study was a fraud or that he was initially and knowingly pulling off a medical scam. He may have started out with a good theory and good intentions.

    But i do know he has been proven wrong by scientists around the world over the years. No one and no study has proven that MMR vaccines is connected to autism in any way. He is wrong and he is a fraud for holding on to a false uproven theory and hurting the autism community. We should learn from this in our own commnunity where certain doctors(weasel) hold onto false theories for personal gains while hurting milllions. Science will always point to the truth even if man sometimes slows that down.

    BTW: isn't wakefied british?
  12. Rosemary

    Rosemary Senior Member

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    Autism Fraud? Researcher a Victim of Yellow Journalism

    Modern Day Yellow Journalism

    The series of articles launched by conventional media outlets yesterday were instigated by the so called investigative journalism of Brian Deer. Not surprisingly, Mr. Deers investigation was paid for by the The Sunday Times of London and the UKs Channel 4 Television network.

    Guess the identity of some of the biggest advertisers of these two media giants?

    How about the very same vaccine manufacturers that stand to lose big unless Dr. Wakefields research is discredited as completely as possible and his credibility and career utterly decimated.

    You see, if the pharmaceutical companies themselves paid for this tainted investigative piece, the public would have cried foul. Indirectly paying for Deers modern day style of yellow journalism as a big fat advertiser for a conventional media source is much more accepted and rarely if ever questioned.

    Indirect control of content with huge advertising dollars? You betcha. Thats the name of the Big Pharma game.

    It aint over til its over. And, this fight is definitely not over.

    more from ....Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com

    http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist....aud-researcher-a-victim-of-yellow-journalism/
  13. floydguy

    floydguy Senior Member

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    I'd be careful here. At least Autism is recognized by most MDs as a legitimate medical issue, unlike CFS. There is a Vaccine Court that has given money to people that have suffered from vaccine injuries such as with Hannah Poling, a young girl who got autism or at least autism like symptoms after vaccination. The other day I heard an Autism advocate mention a study at SUNY Stony Brook that made some connection between vaccinations and autism.

    Yes, Wakefield is British. Don't warning bells go off that the same medical establishment that is trashing XMRV trashed Wakefield?

    I don't know enough about Autism but I do know it's very suspicious that kids (I know several) and many CFSers have had major declines in health shortly after getting vaccinated. In fact, I had my own problem after the measles shot: I got a horrible case of the measles immediately after the shot.
  14. WillowJ

    WillowJ Senior Member

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    so true. As a side note, you can try to correct your records. I had a nice (but clueless) doctor agree to change "patient is deferring any treatment for CFS at this time" to add a correcting note that this meant I'd been offered another kind of stimulant and decided that wasn't a prudent course for me at this point in time (adverse reaction to last one, and I can crash quite nicely on my own without artificially upping my activity level; fatigue of ME/CFS is not the same as fatigue of MS and won't necessarily respond to the same sort of medication).

    Even if the doctor doesn't agree to correct, you should still be able to have your own letter of explanation included in your official records.
  15. lancelot

    lancelot Senior Member

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    I don't disagree that certain vaccines have hurt people such as the HPV vaccine-gardisil and people should be compensated. This have been proven by scientific rigor and worldwide concensus. While the MMR vaccines or any vaccine can produce side effects in some individuals, it has not been proven by scientist worldwide to cause disease or autism(not just side-effects). In fact the MMR vaccine have saved hundreds of millions of lives if not billions. Who are you to believe in this matter or any controversial health problem? Sometimes it takes time and alot of time to come to the truth based on science. yes, there are conspiracies and coverups by certain doctors, big businesses, private institutions, government agencies and even a entire government. However, i do not believe there can be a WORLDWIDE conspiracy nor can science support that kind of conspiracy. there are just too many good people that will blow the whistle or get down to the truth of the matter.

    In the case of autism, i believe there are enough studies now from scientists around the WORLD not associated or funded by the pharm industry that proves wakefied is just wrong. He came up with a good theory that needed to be proven but to hold on to it any longer is a travesty to the autism community. To expend anymore monies and time to this MMR/autism controversy takes away from funding and finding the real cause and cure. To a much lesser degree, this reminds me of dr amand still holding onto his guanifesin treatments when he has been proven wrong again and again. He was sincere in his initial theory and treatment but he will not let go now even after being proven wrong so he continues to hurt patients now to save his reputation.

    You can believe the scientific (+4,000) studies and the majority of non-UK CFS specialist worldwide that have proven ME/CFS is a physical disease, but you can't believe the same scientific studies and worldwide scientific community that have proven wakefield is wrong? Science doesn't lie only people lie.
  16. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    I dont know if he's innocent or guilty but will certainly keep an open mind as there are witch hunts which go on out there when it comes to big pharma, governments or whoever it is, wanting to cover things up.

    Many years ago now, I knew someone online in some groups I was in who ended up having a baby. This baby was gorgeous (I sent some little socks with Aussie animals to America for him), and mum used to post his pictures online... happy baby, full of smiles and laughs.

    After vaccination... this babe never smiled again (mother said she felt like she had a completely different baby within 24 hrs of that vaccine) and ended up being diagnosed as severely autistic. I was so sad. (and of cause mum blamed the vaccination thou she hadnt previously believed in such things). Who knows how many this happens to but the evidence is there with the vaccine damaged children. Something certainly changed this baby to the joyful little thing he was to something which was silent and just sat there and staring into space and not looking at the camera or into his mothers eyes no more.
    ....................

    My own child and myself have Asperger's syndrome.. as it is my youngest child, I know it wasnt caused by vaccines as I refused to get my second child ever vaccinated with any after my first child got a bad reaction from one (and got what the vaccine was meant to prevent from the vaccine).

    Ive also seen a false epidemic made up.... many years back they said there was a whooping cough epidemic in my country town, it made all the news headlines. My (unvaccinated) daughter was in the towns childcare centre, along with also going to preschool at the time and when she developed just a cold, they put her down in their whooping cough statistics, no testing was done to vertify and she was better within days without any meds. Im positive it wasnt whooping cough at all (it didnt even sound like it either). They falsely diagnosed many many children.... I think in a bid to create what appeared to be a false epidemic and encourage more vaccination.

    So i now dont trust a lot I hear when it comes to vaccination.
  17. Angela Kennedy

    Angela Kennedy *****

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    It is certainly far more complex than this simplistic generalisation you've given, and the evidence has not 'proven Wakefield wrong' because in science, 'proof' hardly ever happens. The original paper was so tentative and careful in its conclusions, yet was retracted later as if it had said ludicrous and/fraudulent things, which it had not. There has also been papers supporting Wakefield's hypothesis. If all things were equal, this science would just proceed with conflicting findings etc.

    As I have already said here, there are a number of different issues in the MMR/Vaccine debates, which are extremely complex even without the political vested interests in play. But the issue here is of the latest attack on Wakefield. If we take away the 'Wakefield is evil and stupid' meme that's been doing the rounds for all these years, we've got just another scientist doing work which may or may not see hypotheses supported. It's the way Wakefield has been spectacularly demonized, and anybody who has supported him or is grateful for the work he has done on their children for example, denounced as deluded etc.etc. that is highly significant.

    As this has similarities to the way ME/CFS is treated, and as we know 'science' is often subject to abuse by various parties, those of us sceptical of these latest claims of fraud (mostly based on the poor, vague information and therefore apparently unsustainable claims given by Brian Deer in the BMJ, by the way) should be sceptical: it doesn't mean we're suffering from confirmation bias, which is what you've inaccurately implied here.
  18. Rosemary

    Rosemary Senior Member

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  19. Angela Kennedy

    Angela Kennedy *****

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  20. floydguy

    floydguy Senior Member

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    Well said. I agree.

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