Somali pirates seize American ship, crew; Update: Crew overpowered pirates

posted at 9:28 am on April 8, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The issue of piracy in the Gulf of Aden hit home for Americans today.  A US-flagged ship and 21 Americans on board got taken by Somalia-based pirates.  The US Navy confirmed the attack this morning (via Mitch Berg):

The Kenya-based diplomat identified the vessel as the 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama and said all the crew members are American. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The U.S. Navy confirmed that a U.S. flagged ship with 21 members of crew was hijacked early Wednesday off the eastern coast of Somalia.

Spokesman Lt. Nathan Christensen said the attacked happened in the early hours of the morning hours, about 280 miles (450 kilometers) northeast of Eyl, a town in the northern Puntland region of Somalia.

Mitch scornfully refers to this as a “new chance for dialogue”.  What would Janet Napolitano call it?  A stowaway problem?  On-demand course correction?

The Somali pirates have operated in this region for a few years.  Thus far, the world has seemed disinclined to put pressure on the pirates of Aden Gulf, despite the headlines they have grabbed lately.  The US Navy now has an entree into the fight, and it will be interesting to see how the Obama administration reacts.  The US has downlook satellites and a treasure trove of assets with which they can track down the Maersk Alabama and its crew.

Will Obama use that to send the pirates a message about attacking American shipping?  Or will this be a “new chance for dialogue”?

Update: Score one for American merchant marines!  The Maersk Alabama is back under the crew’s control, as the Boss notes in her updates:

American crewmen have regained control of a hijacked U.S.-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Africa, according to CBS News. …

Late Wednesday morning, military sources told CBS News that the crew has regained control of the vessel by overpowering the pirates, taking one pirate into custody and throwing three overboard.

Hopefully they dropped some chum into the water to signal the sharks.  Kick ass, Maersk Alabama!


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This is a ‘teachable moment’. I propose that we teach them to duck.

fluffy on April 8, 2009 at 9:29 AM

This is Obama’s “Iranian Hostage” moment.

amkun on April 8, 2009 at 9:29 AM

“Gee, why can’t we all just get along?”

That will be the official White House response.

coldwarrior on April 8, 2009 at 9:29 AM

I believe Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson would like to have some words with the pirates.

Flyover Country on April 8, 2009 at 9:29 AM

Yet another fulfillment of Jolted Joe Biden’s prophecy!

jgapinoy on April 8, 2009 at 9:31 AM

I’m sure all they want is for Obama to bow to them like he did the Saudi Monarch and all will be forgiven.

jp on April 8, 2009 at 9:31 AM

It is time to allow vessels in international waters to carry arms. It was a foolish policy to begin with.

Vashta.Nerada on April 8, 2009 at 9:32 AM

Flyover Country on April 8, 2009 at 9:29 AM

How about Mr Northrop & Mr Grumman?

fluffy on April 8, 2009 at 9:32 AM

This is happening because America has treated pirates with arrogance.

Doughboy on April 8, 2009 at 9:33 AM

The Muslim Pirates attack us, because we are over there!

/paultard logic

jp on April 8, 2009 at 9:33 AM

At least Jimmah Carter tried to rescue the hostages. If Dear Leader doesn’t do anything, The One will be the biggest wuss ever. And then it’ll be up to the next president to reassert American power, at the cost of many more lives than what would be lost here.

Send in the SEALs. And remember guys, no prisoners.

rbj on April 8, 2009 at 9:34 AM

Call Jimmah, he has experience with things like this!

Mr. Joe on April 8, 2009 at 9:35 AM

The hell with imitating Lincoln, Soetoro needs to get some Thomas Jefferson sized cajones……. I know, I know….. my coffee is too srong….

MNDavenotPC on April 8, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Someone please tell them Obama apologized for our aggression and arrogance.

Thanks.

artist on April 8, 2009 at 9:36 AM

I’m wondering if I know any of the crew. I graduated from the USMMA, and know a bunch of guys who sail as engineers for Maersk Lines Ltd.

Jim T on April 8, 2009 at 9:36 AM

I am not saying a couple of seal teams are on the way but…..

Well they would be if I were in charge, since I am not, it is more likely clinton is on the way with a harshly worded letter.

Maybe even a rebuke to back it up.

sonofdy on April 8, 2009 at 9:36 AM

A strong POTUS would park a carrier battle group out there right where the savages can see it, launch every warplane it has to fly in formation nearby and line up the entire Marine contingent of an amphibious assault ship on the deck in full battle gear.

Then send a quick note demanding the release of the ship or the party will commence.

Bishop on April 8, 2009 at 9:36 AM

Well, now we have a REAL testing moment, as opposed to the grand theater and spouting of long-reaching theories as most foreign policy issues are. Let’s see how Obam’ter handles this one.

JamesLee on April 8, 2009 at 9:36 AM

I think that the appropriate message would be as follows: you have 24 hours to release everyone and everything onboard untouched, or Mogadishu burns. Will Obama say that? Hah.

flutejpl on April 8, 2009 at 9:36 AM

Shiver me timbers, Mon.

cntrlfrk on April 8, 2009 at 9:37 AM

Get the crew to safety, promising and delivering whatever’s reasonably requested.

Then bury these a**holes. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

BuckeyeSam on April 8, 2009 at 9:37 AM

A stowaway problem? On-demand course correction?

Certainly these pirates are just economically-challenged-redistributionist following Obama’s new social policies.

Rovin on April 8, 2009 at 9:37 AM

This is a softball for him; he can show everyone he’s a tough guy without having to worry about any blowback from a country.

Or, he can just do what the Europeans do in similar circumstances: Pay the kidnappers off and keep it quiet.

blue13326 on April 8, 2009 at 9:38 AM

Obama keeps apologizing for the US so these nations are emboldened because they know he wont do a thing. North Korea, Venezuela, Iran and now these pirates.

I wonder what’s next?

becki51758 on April 8, 2009 at 9:38 AM

We must open up dialogue with the Somali pirates; the days of ‘cowboy diplomacy’ are over. Time for us to find out just why the Somali pirates hate us. My guess is our American arrogance.

carbon_footprint on April 8, 2009 at 9:38 AM

Send them some old American movie DVDs. Just no Khartoum or Four Feathers or even, dae I say, Pirates of the Caribbean, since that might offend them.

Mr. Joe on April 8, 2009 at 9:39 AM

We do have Navy ships in the region. He needs to let them loose on these (muslim) pirates.

becki51758 on April 8, 2009 at 9:39 AM

I’m waiting to see just how strongly they word the White House statement referring this matter to the UN Security Council.

Loxodonta on April 8, 2009 at 9:40 AM

Second look at Jimmy Carter?

joey24007 on April 8, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Why not address the factors that lead these farmers and fisherman to take up piracy.

Well, at least they’re talking about it on HuffPo rather than ignoring it all together. One reply suggests an emergency Town Hall.

Marcus on April 8, 2009 at 9:41 AM

He’ll ignore the entire mess. Why should he do anything? The press will make any excuse for him and nobody on board that ship is as important as he is, anyway.

Life is not important to this man. He thinks babies should be left to die if they are inconvenient enough to be born alive during an abortion. What is the worth of 20 Americans to him? Less than pocket change.

No action. No Marines. More Americans seized, murdered, and dumped.

bonnie_ on April 8, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Obama will get right on this as soon as he finishes his next celebrity photo shoot. Let’s face it folks, this country has lost its respect, its power and its influence . . . to be a “paper tiger” would be an improvement.

rplat on April 8, 2009 at 9:42 AM

Send em a taxpayer funded bailout everyone else gets one.

Otherwise send barney Frank and Chris Dod out there, onboard to negotiate. Second thought trade those two bozos for the crew!
Sadly not even a Somali pirate would be dumb enough to take that trade.

dhunter on April 8, 2009 at 9:42 AM

NKO fires rocket: check

NKO takes US journos hostage: check

Iran reaches final nuclear stage: check

Russia says no to NKO sanctions: check

Iran charges US held journo: check

China confronts US navy ship: check

Pirates capture US flag ship: check

Barack Chamberlain in over his head: check

artist on April 8, 2009 at 9:43 AM

obama will most likely just pay the ransom or whatever it is they are asking and this will the begining of many such incidents against Americans. It’s kind of late for o to show backbone now though. The Somalis have these Americans and they are in the catbirds seat at the moment. All this kinda takes the shine off o’s European moment though. If the tarnish wasn’t obvious already, it is now. I (almost) feel sorry for our fledgling President as he ‘grows into the job’, but not as sorry as I do for the hostages on that ship.

jeanie on April 8, 2009 at 9:43 AM

They would have never done this if McCain was President.

Gird your loins!

WisCon on April 8, 2009 at 9:43 AM

Second look at Jimmy Carter?

joey24007 on April 8, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Are you kidding?

I’d PAY for a 2nd term of Carter!

artist on April 8, 2009 at 9:43 AM

Don’t worry Hot Air readers, I’m sure Obama will go to the UN Security Council and draft a really strong letter stating his concern of these extra-territorial water operations. On that note, I’m sure the letter will eventually be water down to blaming Israel or something.

Lance Murdock on April 8, 2009 at 9:44 AM

It is time to allow vessels in international waters to carry arms. It was a foolish policy to begin with.

Vashta.Nerada on April 8, 2009 at 9:32 AM

It’ll never happen. Policies creating dependence for survival aren’t restricted to entitlement programs and are as long lived.

a capella on April 8, 2009 at 9:44 AM

Thomas jefferson, along with John Adams, reporting ot the continental congress in 1786 after meeting with an embassary from the Barbary States:

It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every muslim who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.

-Thomas Jefferson

Over to you, Obama. Please don’t bow to the Pirates like you did the Saudi’s

jp on April 8, 2009 at 9:45 AM

I do not understand why all crews traveling in that area of the world aren’t trained, and armed to the teeth!

No doubt we know what port the hijackers work out of. Our response, for starters, should be to say, “release the ship” or port X will cease to exist.” No doubt that is where friends and family are located. Civilians you say, tough sh*t!
No games, and no nonsense.

GFW on April 8, 2009 at 9:45 AM

And Obama’s next move: Re-register the ship to another country like say…Somalia.

Problem solved.

Damn, I’m feelin changey/hopey today.

Sapwolf on April 8, 2009 at 9:45 AM

We had a ship taken over by the Yugoslavian Army back in 2000, the M/V Delaware Bay.

I a friend of mine was the engine cadet on board, I don’t recall how this was resolved.

Jim T on April 8, 2009 at 9:46 AM

I agree that this is a moment that will define the level of “whimpiness” of this Presidents character. Jimmy Carter was tested and proved to be a pure limp dick. What will Obama do?

The world is watching…

Keemo on April 8, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Did any U.S. flagged ships ever get taken over while Bush was President? I don’t seem to recall any off the top of my head, and it seems that the pirates would know better than to mess with President Bush.

BadgerHawk on April 8, 2009 at 9:46 AM

How big a problem could this be for our “Let me be perfectly clear” President?

There is plenty of Tarp money to spread some wealth to the less fortunate, but deserving Somali pirates. They have been oppressed for decades and it is only right that the greatest nation in the world get down on its knees and pay servitude and homage to these downtrodden Somalis.

Our president is a weak man, not for his willingness to listen and engage, but for his natural inclination to apologize and throw away any leverage in negotiation. He’s a clown on the world stage and the leaders of other nations know it. Can you imagine the laughter during phone calls among Russian, Iranian, Chinese, and N. Korean diplomats? and leaders?

jdflorida on April 8, 2009 at 9:48 AM

Lance Murdock on April 8, 2009 at 9:44 AM

I’m pretty sure your scenario would wind up with the blame being firmly put on GW Bush…

Keemo on April 8, 2009 at 9:48 AM

I sure hope they don’t hoist up a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED flag that will reeeeaaaallly get the Liberals panties in a bunch. Chrissy Mathews might even pee in his.

dhunter on April 8, 2009 at 9:48 AM

I do not understand why all crews traveling in that area of the world aren’t trained, and armed to the teeth!

No doubt we know what port the hijackers work out of. Our response, for starters, should be to say, “release the ship” or port X will cease to exist.” No doubt that is where friends and family are located. Civilians you say, tough sh*t!
No games, and no nonsense.

GFW on April 8, 2009 at 9:45 AM

GFW

This is a civilian crew, U.S. Merchant Ships are typically unarmed.

I’ve been telling people about these pirates for a decade, and until they took over that tanker a few months ago, I was laughed at.

These crews generally have flashlights and firehoses to protect themselves, the Master my have a revolver up in a safe, but that’s usually it. The pirates have AK-47′s and know where the valuable cargo is.

Jim T on April 8, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Next move? Watch for Russia this spring/summer

jp on April 8, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Will Obama use that to send the pirates a message about attacking American shipping? Or will this be a “new chance for dialogue”?

Do you really have to ask? There is a reason why the pirates chose to wait until Obama became President to seize an American-flagged ship.

Those tests that Joe Biden promised are continuing apace, and the F’s are piling up.

steveegg on April 8, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Testing… tyro doofus… testing… testing….

profitsbeard on April 8, 2009 at 9:51 AM

My guess is the Obama Administration will issue some statement saying what bad people they are and this was a bad thing they did. Unfortunately I believe that will be the extent of it, but if President Obama does to a forceful response immediately then my respect for him will increase.

JeffinSac on April 8, 2009 at 9:52 AM

The world is watching…

Keemo on April 8, 2009 at 9:46 AM

And laughing.

They smell weakness and opportunity.

We are in BIG trouble.

artist on April 8, 2009 at 9:52 AM

Cough up the ship or we send in the Cuda!

Sapwolf on April 8, 2009 at 9:53 AM

I’ll predict the 21 American hostages will be held until Sarah Palin is innaugerated. Sorta just like Carter/Reagan.

Jed1899 on April 8, 2009 at 9:53 AM

Why not address the factors that lead these farmers and fisherman to take up piracy.

Well, at least they’re talking about it on HuffPo rather than ignoring it all together. One reply suggests an emergency Town Hall.

Marcus on April 8, 2009 at 9:41 AM

I think I’ve got that one figured out for the Huffpo boneheads. Piracy is more profitable than farming and fishing. They will keep doing it until they are stopped with force.

forest on April 8, 2009 at 9:53 AM

Prayers for the crew, and that this can be resolved without the loss of the crew.

I “hope” Obama will respond from a position of strength, but acknowledge that would be a “change” from his recent behavior.

cs89 on April 8, 2009 at 9:53 AM

There was a time when Old Glory was respected by the world if not feared. Waffle Boy has taken that down in less than 90 days, I am sick to my stomach that we have no leadership in our nation’s capitol.

thomasaur on April 8, 2009 at 9:53 AM

I’m pretty sure your scenario would wind up with the blame being firmly put on GW Bush…

Keemo on April 8, 2009 at 9:48 AM

How could I forgot W. I’m sure Obama will hold a town hall meeting somewhere in Africa with a bunch of students and blame the Bush Administration for causing all of Africa’s misery.

Lance Murdock on April 8, 2009 at 9:54 AM

Did any U.S. flagged ships ever get taken over while Bush was President? I don’t seem to recall any off the top of my head, and it seems that the pirates would know better than to mess with President Bush.

BadgerHawk on April 8, 2009 at 9:46 AM

The tyrants of this world have absolutely no fear of or respect for Obama . . . steel yourselves because this is only the beginning.

rplat on April 8, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Weakness invites aggression. Obama bends over for the Saudi King, he’ll bend over for these thugs too.

Somali pirates – I’m pretty sure that means BLACK and MUSLIM. Poor victims, no wonder they attacked a US ship. Time for reparations and redistribution and they know Obama will bend over for them, too.

Fishoutofwater on April 8, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Next move? Watch for Russia this spring/summer

jp on April 8, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Does Putin have a blog?

I want to register just to read all the LOL’s.

Sapwolf on April 8, 2009 at 9:55 AM

jp on April 8, 2009 at 9:45 AM

The founding fathers knew then how dangerous the readers of the koran can be.

becki51758 on April 8, 2009 at 9:56 AM

And people think if Texas secedes Obama would stop them?

Dream on. Long live the new Republic of Texas.

Sapwolf on April 8, 2009 at 9:57 AM

Clearly we must expand islamic nation building from just Iraq and Afghanistan to Somali.

Seriously, if a nation is incapable of dealing with some Somali pirates, how can anyone with any degree of perceptive reasoning have more than a faint hope that nation can deal with Iran, Pakistan or North Korea.

However, maybe we could farm out dealing with Somali pirates to the French.

MB4 on April 8, 2009 at 9:58 AM

Did any U.S. flagged ships ever get taken over while Bush was President? I don’t seem to recall any off the top of my head, and it seems that the pirates would know better than to mess with President Bush.

BadgerHawk on April 8, 2009 at 9:46 AM

The tyrants of this world have absolutely no fear of or respect for Obama . . . steel yourselves because this is only the beginning.

rplat on April 8, 2009 at 9:55 AM

It’s likely a target of opportunity and has nothing to do with Obama, this is the 6th ship seized by pirates in a week.

We don’t hear about this stuff because we have there is no US Flagged Merchant Fleet to speak of, less than 200 deep sea vessels.

Jim T on April 8, 2009 at 9:58 AM

What will the man with the spine of tin foil do now?

JammieWearingFool on April 8, 2009 at 9:58 AM

The important thing is that we not let the actions of a few extremists distort our view of that great and noble calling. Piracy is a lifestyle of peace.

AdrianG on April 8, 2009 at 9:58 AM

I guess Barack is getting plenty of on-the-job training. Let’s just hope they can figure this one out without anyone losing their life.

therightscoop on April 8, 2009 at 9:58 AM

6 ships in 3 days now.

rob verdi on April 8, 2009 at 9:58 AM

How have these been resolved in the past? Won’t the company that owns the ship buy off the pirates and they go away?? And then do it all over again in a month or so?

BigWyo on April 8, 2009 at 9:59 AM

Send an eyepatch to Obama.

He needs to understand the motivations of the poor pirates.

From little ACORNS…

profitsbeard on April 8, 2009 at 9:59 AM

jaimewearingfool,
pray the company pays the ransom to make the problem go away so he won’t look weak.

rob verdi on April 8, 2009 at 9:59 AM

Time for a “Trojan Horse” cargo ship full of heavily armed U.S. Marines.

Tony737 on April 8, 2009 at 10:00 AM

And people think if Texas secedes Obama would stop them?

Dream on. Long live the new Republic of Texas.

Sapwolf on April 8, 2009 at 9:57 AM

Actually he would be cheered by the left and the world when he attacks his own country.

thomasaur on April 8, 2009 at 10:01 AM

This is a ‘teachable moment’. I propose that we teach them to duck.

I’d rather teach them how to lie down for a very long time.

Like, eternity…

karl9000 on April 8, 2009 at 10:01 AM

NKO fires rocket: check

NKO takes US journos hostage: check

Iran reaches final nuclear stage: check

Russia says no to NKO sanctions: check

Iran charges US held journo: check

China confronts US navy ship: check

Pirates capture US flag ship: check

Barack Chamberlain in over his head: check

Add Cyberspies penetrate electrical grid: check.

We’re in deep trouble.

JammieWearingFool on April 8, 2009 at 10:01 AM

Obama will announce he’s willing to talk to Jack Sparrow without preconditions. “shared history” and “mutual respect” will likely be key elements of his overtures.

cpr on April 8, 2009 at 10:01 AM

Tony737 at 10:00 AM-

+100!

profitsbeard on April 8, 2009 at 10:01 AM

Current conversation in the oval office: “OK, how can we pin this on Bush?”

Alden Pyle on April 8, 2009 at 10:02 AM

Allah Akb-aaarrrrrrrrrr

OneGyT on April 8, 2009 at 10:02 AM

TOTUS will apologize for the Americans occupying the pirates waters.

mwdiver on April 8, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Current conversation in the oval office: “OK, how can we pin this on Bush?”

Alden Pyle on April 8, 2009 at 10:02 AM

Obama inherited this crisis, dontcha know?

BigD on April 8, 2009 at 10:04 AM

If Obama had a thimble of guts, there’d be MSRP (Maritime Special Purpose Forces) Marines, SeALs (Sea, Air, Land) and/or a Special Forces dive team from AFRICOM or CENTCOM out there already, turning this into a slaughter, then quietly disappearing into the sea before anyone could find out what happened.

Virus-X on April 8, 2009 at 10:04 AM

Does Putin have a blog?

I want to register just to read all the LOL’s.

Sapwolf on April 8, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Yes I most certainly do but for now the yuks are all mine. I have considered opening it up to the public maybe even with an American language version but every time I am about to give the go ahead to do that I start laughing so hard that no one can understand what I just said. Oh! In case you didn’t get that American language reference that was kind of a sly put down of your idiot president who thinks that the Austrians speak Austrian. I almost feel sorry for you Americans. Maybe I do have a soul after all.

PootyPoot on April 8, 2009 at 10:05 AM

Maybe Obama will walk across the Gulf of Aden and rescue the hostages personally.

BigD on April 8, 2009 at 10:06 AM

Jim T on April 8, 2009 at 9:58 AM

Thanks for the info.

BadgerHawk on April 8, 2009 at 10:06 AM

What’s the Austrian word for “pirate”?

Bishop on April 8, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Obama response:
1. He inherited the problem.
2. It is the US fault for being in Muslim waters.
3. He will refer it to the United Nations.
4. It is just a distraction.
5. Where is Hillary?

albill on April 8, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Somali pirates

Marine community organizers

seize American ship,

co-opt interior vessel,

crew

vessel actors.

LibTired on April 8, 2009 at 10:07 AM

We don’t hear about this stuff because we have there is no US Flagged Merchant Fleet to speak of, less than 200 deep sea vessels.

Jim T on April 8, 2009 at 9:58 AM

That many? Nearly 200? That is actually something of a pleasant surprise.

Do you have any idea why Maersk US-flagged that ship?

A Balrog of Morgoth on April 8, 2009 at 10:07 AM

time for Barry to flash that grin….

alexraye on April 8, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Let me be the one to offer up this video as the dialog that we should be seeking with terrorists and pirates.

canditaylor68 on April 8, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Time for a “Trojan Horse” cargo ship full of heavily armed U.S. Marines.

Tony737 on April 8, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Wouldn’t that be FUN!!!!

Seriously though, Obama better respond like he’s got a set of balls. I’m talking a war ship needs to be making its way to that ship as we speak.

Oink on April 8, 2009 at 10:09 AM

WWTD

faraway on April 8, 2009 at 10:09 AM

He’ll ignore the entire mess. Why should he do anything? The press will make any excuse for him and nobody on board that ship is as important as he is, anyway.

Life is not important to this man. He thinks babies should be left to die if they are inconvenient enough to be born alive during an abortion. What is the worth of 20 Americans to him? Less than pocket change.

No action. No Marines. More Americans seized, murdered, and dumped.

bonnie_ on April 8, 2009 at 9:41 AM

++++++++++

LibTired on April 8, 2009 at 10:10 AM

How have these been resolved in the past? Won’t the company that owns the ship buy off the pirates and they go away?? And then do it all over again in a month or so?

BigWyo on April 8, 2009 at 9:59 AM

As an unemployed American there just might be a money making opportunity here. I wonder if the pirates are willing to franchise out part of the operation. Spend a couple of years as a pirate and then retire to the Caymans. Of course I would have to call myself the “Dread Pirate Roberts” and then leave the franchise to the next “Dread Pirate Roberts”.

jmarcure on April 8, 2009 at 10:10 AM

If Dear Leader doesn’t do anything, The One will be the biggest wuss ever.

Oh, he’ll do something. He’ll negotiate and give them whatever the hell they want.

Can we impeach obama now? Or do people have to die first?

ErinF on April 8, 2009 at 10:10 AM

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