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Italian Police Censor "Blasphemous" Websites 652

Posted by chrisd
from the one-nation-under-god dept.
ross.w writes "Italian authorities have shut down five Internet sites which reportedly carried blasphemies against God and the Virgin Mary, following a complaint by the Vatican's newspaper. The story is in this item on Australia's ABC News."
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Italian Police Censor "Blasphemous" Websites

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  • Correct link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Majix (139279) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @06:42AM (#3855340) Homepage
    • Re:Correct link (Score:3, Informative)

      by Abstrakt (86571)
      Thanks for the correct link!

      What that brief article fails to mention, however, is that blasphemy has always been illegal here in Italy. Believe it or not, you could theoretically be arrested for yelling "Porco Dio" (the equivalent of "Goddamnit") on the street!

      The irony is that using extremely blasphemous language is very common in Italy -- much more so than anywhere else in the world. We have some of the most colorful blasphemies known to man; most of which involve the virgin Mary and various sexual acts that would make the other Madonna blush.

      Sadly, we seem to have a very different definition of "free speech" in this country. There have been many similar instances of government intervention in the past, as well as privacy violations that would have everyone up in arms if this were another country -- like America for example.

      Cheers.

  • Wednesday, July 10, 2002. Posted: 10:21:15 (AEDT) Italian police black out 'blasphemous' websites Italian authorities have shut down five Internet sites which reportedly carried blasphemies against God and the Virgin Mary, following a complaint by the Vatican's newspaper. The paper says a special police unit has taken over the sites due to what it has termed unrepeatable words which accompanied the name of the Madonna. The police have since blacked out pages on the sites, so that surfers can now only find the words: "Site seized by the Head of Rome's Special Police Force, on the orders of Rome's Chief Prosecutor." The paper says the police have also discovered a commercial network which sells t-shirts carrying the same blasphemous logos that appeared on the sites. Print Email
  • Gimme! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ciryon (218518) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @06:46AM (#3855351) Journal
    1. Aren't there any mirrors? :-)
    2. Where can I buy the 'blasphemious T-shirts'? They must be worth a fortune now!

    Ciryon
  • URL (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jondor (55589)
    The URL doesn't seem to work. this one [abc.net.au] does.

    As it seems speaking your mind is less and less accepted. Ones again the church is at the frontier of squelzing ideas and expressions they don't like.
    And more and more I get the idea the world is on a one-way road to new dark-ages..
  • by GothChip (123005) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @06:49AM (#3855362) Homepage
    I saw this news last night on teletext. So far I haven't heard what sites have been blocked and it appears to be restricted to Italian sites only. At least Landover Babtist [landoverbaptist.org] is still up and running. Warning: This site is very funny. And you can still get your Cradle of Filth T-shirts here [bluegrape.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @06:50AM (#3855366)
    Hello,

    Recently I've been introduced to an operating system known as Linux.

    Lured by its low cost, I replaced Windows 98 on my computer with Linux. Unfortunately the more I use it the more I fear that this "Linux" may be an insidious way for the Dark One to gain a stronger foothold here on Earth. I know this may be a shocking claim, but I have evidence to back it up!

    To begin with, Linux is based off of an older, obsolete OS called "BSD Unix". The child-indoctrinatingly-cute cartoon mascot of this OS is a devil holding a pitchfork. This OS -- and its Linux offspring -- extensively use what are unsettingly called "daemons" (which is how Pagans write "demon" -- they are notoriously poor spellers: magick, vampyre, etc.) which is a program that hides in the background, doing things without the user's notice. If you are using a computer running Linux then you probably have these "demons" on your computer, hardly something a good Christian would want! Furthermore in order to start or stop these "demons" a user must execute a command called "finger". By "fingering" a "demon" one excercises an unholy power, much the same way that the Lord of Flies controls his black minions.

    Linux contains another Satanic holdover from the "BSD Unix" OS mentioned above; to open up certain locked files one has to run a program much like the DOS prompt in Microsoft Windows and type in a secret code: "chmod 666". What other horrors lurk in this thing?

    Consider some of these other Linux commands: "sleep", "mount", "unzip", "strip" and "touch". All highly suggestive in a sexual nature. I know that our Lord cannot approve of these, and I urge them to be renamed to something appropriate to the Christian community. Interestingly "CONTROL-G" (the sixth key from the left of the keyboard) does an abort. To write files a "VI" editor is included. All these are to ensnare the unsuspecting christian who could get tempted by typing "VIVIVI" all day long.

    Fourth, Linux uses a flavor of DOS known as Bash. Bash is an acronym for "Bourne Again Shell". On the surface this would appear to be supportive of the Lord. However, remember that even Satan can quote the bible for his own purposes! While I believe Linux may be born-again, its obvious by the misspelling of "born" that its not born-again in an Christian church. Will the lies ever cease?

    Additionally, one of the main long-haired hippies involved with the GNU Free Software Foundation supports communism, contraception and abortion. He has consistently supported 60's counter-cultural "values", and his web site even advocates government support of contraception. He also wears fake halos, and has quips about his made-up church that relates to his free software. I find such blasphemy to be extremely unsettling.

    One must also remember that the creator of Linux, a college student named Linux Torvaldis, comes from Finland. I'm sure all the followers of Christ are aware of the heritical nature of the Finnish: from necrophilia to human sacrifice, Finnish culture is awash in sin. I find little reason to believe anything good and holy could arise from this evil land.

    Finally, let us remember that there is an alternative to using the Satan-powered Linux. I think history has shown us that Microsoft is quite holy. I'm told that its founder, William Gates is a strong supporter of our Lord and I encourage my fellow Christians to buy only his products to help keep the Devil at bay.

    I wish I had more time to expound upon my findings. Unfortunately a family of Jews has moved in across the street and I must go speak to them of Jesus Christ before they are condemned to eternal hellfire.

    Please investigate this as you see fit and I'm sure you'll reach the same conclusions that I have.
    • Cute... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mulletproof (513805)
      A good example of how things can get taken way out of context, but as to how well it pertains in this particular situation is up for debate since the pages in question seem to have been taken down. And while it seems you have a particular beef with Christians in general, I feel obligated to point out (as a Christian) that the story is about the Catholic church, which is very different in practice to the rest of Christianity. Feel converted yet?
  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tjensor (571163) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @06:56AM (#3855385) Journal
    Wonder how Italy squares this with the fact that they are a signatory to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [coe.int], which should protect 'freedom of thought, conscience and religion' as well as 'freedom of expression'.

    ho hum.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Informative)

      by dtosti (447364) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @07:26AM (#3855487) Homepage
      .. signatory to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [coe.int], which should protect 'freedom of thought, conscience and religion' as well as 'freedom of expression'.

      well, Italian government has signed a special convention with the Catholic Church (in the 1920s) long time before signing the Council of Europe Convention (in the 1950s).

      This agreement with the Church is written in the Italian Constitution (dated 1947) and it obliges Italy to act against people who dare to slander the common religious sentiments.

      Note that "freedom of expression" != "freedom of slandering" !!!

      The real fact is: that guy who sold t-shirt with anti-religious sentences will probably be accused not only of slandering common religious sentiments, but of having evaded tax and VAT too, because the "special police force" mentioned in the article is the Italian equivalent of the american ATF (Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms) plus the duty of hunting tax evasors.

      So, as an Italian, I'm not worried at all for the freedom of expression question, because those policemen works for the Treasury Minister and they receive a percentual on the tax recovered... :)
      • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

        by Phillip2 (203612)
        "Note that "freedom of expression" != "freedom of slandering" !!!"

        Unfortunately according to law Jesus and the Virgin Mary are both dead, and therefore can not actually be slandered.

        The other point is that freedom of religion does not also cover freedom of lack of religion. Atheism is not classified as a religion, and is not protected under the human rights convention in the same way that a religion is. Odd but true.

        Phil
  • They should have sent the 'Spanish Inquisition'

    "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition."
    I guess they're tired of hearing this one...
    Apologies to Python(Monty) Ltd.
  • Italian authorities have shut down five Internet sites which reportedly carried blasphemies against God and the Virgin Mary...

    Since Bill is the devil is microsoft.com next?

  • by marnanel (98063) <slashdot@NOSpAm.marnanel.org> on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @07:00AM (#3855408) Homepage Journal
    MSNBC are covering the story [msnbc.com]. It has a bit more information:
    Investigators first learned about the sites, with names that translate into phrases including "Pig Madonna" and "Blasphemy," in 2000.
    Sooo, if any Italian-speaking Slashdotters can tell us what "Pig Madonna" is in Italian, we can google for it, since it's been up for two years, and find out what the site was.
  • Heck... (Score:3, Funny)

    by gusnz (455113) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @07:04AM (#3855421) Homepage
    I hope none of these Roman Prosecutors ever try browsing Slashdot at -1... going by the posts so far on this article we'd be censored in no time :).
  • Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by heikkile (111814) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @07:05AM (#3855422) Homepage
    Vatican authorities complain to Italian police. The act is reported in an Australian paper, and referred to in a U.S. site (./). I read about it in Denmark, after the story has already gone once around the whole world.

    Seriously, this really shows how the net is international indeed, and local authorities will have to adjust a lot. Wonder how the world will look like in 20 years? 50? 100?

  • You could find more on this here
    http://www.punto-informatico.it/p.asp?i=4088 0
    italian only sorry...
    I'm starting to be a bit scared living here...
    the new spanish inquisition is starting...
  • by plaa (29967)
    Found searching Google:

    http://www.vnunet.com/News/1133397 [vnunet.com]

    More info, according to it they have been mixing pornography with religion.

    "They then went on to show a nun in suggestive clothes [and] other things in poor taste."
  • I'm crucifying Jesus, banging in the nails,
    And I am so happy, because old Jesus failed.
    I'm crucifying Jesus, nail him to the cross,
    The poor old bastard bleeds to death and I don't give a toss.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    I'm crucifying Jesus, in my piss he bathes.
    I think I am a pervert, I think I am depraved
    I'm crucifying Jesus, beat him to a pulp,
    I stick my organ in his mouth and on it he must gulp.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    You see that crown of thorns upon his head?
    Well that was my idea.
    I think I might be going to hell,
    Oh dear!

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    I'm bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
    banging in the nails.

    ----
    All Text By Martyn Jacques
    Copyright Misery Guts Music
    http://www.tigerlillies.com
  • Offensive speech (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013)
    In this case, I believe these sites were deliberately trying to cause offense to Catholics. I don't have any problem with the Italians having laws against speech that deliberately incites hated or deliberately tries to offend. It's a very different situation to say, having laws against speech that criticises the Catholic Church or supports other religions.

    There have to be limits, and I think it is sensible to have laws against deliberately offensive speech that is just intended to upset and provoke. To those that say it is bad to have this type of law, I say, where do you draw the line? Is it ok for me to put a billboard next to a hospital that says "Has someone you loved just died of cancer? Ha ha ha! That's funny!" Is that ok?
    • by 2g3-598hX (586789) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @08:07AM (#3855628)

      1. website != billboard.

      2. offensive to you == interesting to me

      I find a lot of Catholic belief particularly offensive, such as their medieval attitudes towards science, their anti-contraceptive stance and their denial of female reproductive rights. But I wouldn't ever want to censor them. Voltaire always sez it best...

      "I might not agree with what you say, but I'll die defending your right to say it."
    • Freedom of Speech (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Innomi (566928)
      Freedom of speech is not the right to say whatever you want as long as you don't bother anyone, Freedom of speech is the right to say something ESPECIALLY if it offends someone. It's not ok to put up that billboard, but if you really want to put up the money to do it, you have every right to.
      • It's not ok to put up that billboard, but if you really want to put up the money to do it, you have every right to.

        So then, you are saying no line, no limit when it comes to free speech?

        You Americans are really confused. Your own legal system defines lots of instances where the line is drawn with regards to "speech". Libel, for instance. If you think libel laws are ok, but that there shouldn't be a law that covers someone putting a billboard in front of a hostipal with "Has someone you loved just died of cancer? Ha ha ha! That's funny!", then you are confused.
        • Libel is deliberately lying about someone in a public forum in order to defame them.

          Like the line in Wayne's World "This man blows goats, I have proof."

          That kind of statement, when listened to and believed by people, can cause damage to ones reputation, loss of buisiness, or other real problems. The libel laws give people a protection from that kind of speech by giving them some way to recoup losses in a court of law. Otherwise you'd have to find your own way to get back at them, like beating the tar out of them.

          However, putting up that billboard is not Libel. Its just offensive.

          Is America confused? Possibly. Our laws pretend that we are all children and we can't control ourselve or know right from wrong without being told what is right and what is wrong in every specific detail. Yet our Constitution and Bill of Rights treat us like mature adults who can all get along with a basic set of rights.

          Someone once said it best. "America's system is horrible, but its the best one out there".
        • Libel is not a criminal offense. One may sue for libel and collect damages based on harm to one's reputation. Our standards for libel are pretty high compared to many European states.

          Besides defamation, perjury and terroristic threats are about the only things that are illegal non-commercial speech in the US. False advertising and other such things are punishable not because of the speech aspect but because of the commercial aspect.

          But you're welcome to convey any true message you want. I like it, because the most offensive ideas have a habit of becoming common sense in a few decades.
    • by andrew cooke (6522) <andrew@acooke.org> on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @09:13AM (#3855937) Homepage
      there have to be limits

      Why? Speaking and acting are two different things. Theres an old saying "sticks and bones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" that makes the difference clear.

      More importantly, free speech is considered a right because it is useful - because the advantages of people being able to say what they want is more important that the disadvantages. Ant the whole idea of rights is that they let you do things that would otherwise be illegal.

      In other words, a right is a permission to do something without limits. This is obvious if you think about it - who needs a right to free speech to say things everyone agrees about? You can say things like that anyway, without the need for the protection from prosecution that a right gives.
      • by pubjames (468013) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @09:19AM (#3855970)
        Why? Speaking and acting are two different things. Theres an old saying "sticks and bones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" that makes the difference clear.

        So libel laws shouldn't exist then? You think it's ok if I take out a full-page ad in the NYTimes saying that I believe you're a child molester?

        In other words, a right is a permission to do something without limits.

        Um. No it isn't. You have a right to carry a gun, but not a nuclear bomb. If you have a drivers licence then you have a right to drive on the highway, but only if you stay within the speed limit.
        • Somebody mod the parent of this post up. There are no rights without some limit. In fact, limits are used to guarantee the very rights you value. We have not come far enough as people to allow total and unconditional freedom for everybody. We're too selfish, predatory, and violent to allow society to exist without any limits at all.

          Ideals are great; but not many of them can be applied successfully in the world without chipping away at them first.
    • by abbamouse (469716) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @09:16AM (#3855956) Homepage
      It's a truism that you can't talk about politics or religion without offending people. Offensiveness is not just a necessary evil in a free society, it can also be an important social good. If people aren't deeply moved by speech, it is unlikely to have much effect. That's why actions like wearing an anti-Catholic T-shirt, burning a flag (American, Israeli, Palestinian, etc), or holding a Black Power march through a rich white neighborhood are so effective at getting attention -- they strike at the core of what people believe about society and the world.

      Saying "I oppose this or that bit of Catholic doctrine" is just pecking at the surface if your real problem is with the fundamental tenets of Catholicism -- the role of the Vrigin Mary, for example. Those T-shirts are important because they let other doubters in an overwhelmingly Catholic country know that you're not only against Catholicism but you're brave enough to flaunt it in the face of censure (not the same thing as censorship) by the majority.

      Censoring offensiveness is therefore not only repressive (and heavily biased in favor of the status quo and the majority), but also an attack on the most important socio-political speech there is. It also shows deep insecurity about one's ability to defend one's own beliefs, and a bizarrely vague approach to "slander," but it would be wrong even if it could be applied consistently.
  • What next? (Score:2, Funny)

    by RebRachman (144344)
    Next thing you know they'll be shutting down sites which contain sexually-explicit stuff, like describing what the priests have been doing with the alterboys...
  • Depending on whatever century you (still) live in, Blashemy could be here [jesusdance.com], here [ship-of-fools.com], or even here [bbc.co.uk].

    Fortunately, we live in a country which protects individuals from charges of blas... oh,
    never mind [cornell.edu].
  • by Linux Freak (18608) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @07:52AM (#3855566) Homepage
    I have been reading the past 50 some odd comments, and I find it odd that nobody has asked the question: "How the _HELL_ did Italian authorities get the jurisdiction to put up a block on a site located in the U.S.?"

    The fact that the material was offensive, or even illegal _in Italy_ should be immaterial. The real issue is how this censorship could have even taken place, and anybody who runs a web site should have their cackles up over this issue.
    • "How the _HELL_ did Italian authorities get the jurisdiction to put up a block on a site located in the U.S.?"

      From the MSNBC article [msnbc.com]:
      Police said they used the same computer from which the Web sites were uploaded to remove the offensive material and replace it with the crest of the special police unit involved.


      They did not say whether they informed the Internet providers that hosted the sites. Nor did they name the providers.
      --
      Benjamin Coates
    • I have been reading the past 50 some odd comments, and I find it odd that nobody has asked the question: "How the _HELL_ did Italian authorities get the jurisdiction to put up a block on a site located in the U.S.?"
      For the same reason an american could see his Germany-based DECSS site blocked. DECSS is legal in Germany (where Macrovision isn't), but the american whodunit is subject to american laws.
    • Okay, so the "offenders" were in Italy and subject to Italian jurisdiction. I can think of two ways the Italian police found them:

      1. They were dumb enough to put their real names on the site.

      2. Italian authorities actually managed to persuade the American ISP's to give them the names of the account holders.

      Does anyone know which one it was? I find number 2 even more disturbing. If it's true, what happens if Chinese dissidents put up a website on an American server, and the Chinese authorities ask the ISP for names and information?

      At the very least, there should be limits to how much information an ISP can give a foreign government about an account holder.

      And another thing: how much money and man-hours did the Italian authorities put into busting these guys for putting up websites they didn't like? The VNUnet article says the investigation lasted two years. Is crime in Italy so scarce that the police have to investigate thought crime to justify their budget?
      • At the very least, there should be limits to how much information an ISP can give a foreign government about an account holder.

        I've been pushing for this for a long time now (yes, I've written my representatives). It has less to do with governments, but anyone in general.

        Who can call up and ISP and ask for information on one of their customers? ANYONE. Who decides whether or not to give them the information? THE ISP.

        If the government REALLY wants to push laws about the Internet, this should be one of their top priorities. They could make a great anti-spam law and at the same time protect the privacy of their citizens in the same bill!

        A warrant should be required for information from an ISP, period. The same should go for accusations of abuse, copyright violation, etc. There's no excuse for terminating an account just because it was ACCUSED of violating some law, somewhere. Due process needs to take place. The current setup of various coporations shutting down websites works because, to the ISP (to avoid getting into a legal battle), you're guilty until proven innocent.

        This needs to change

  • by Arkan (24212)
    I wonder how any monotheist religion can consider blasphem as a problem, as their very own existence is blasphemous to any polytheist religion.
    I wonder how any religion can consider blasphem as a problem, as their very own existence is blasphemous to any atheist.
    Let me say that all this affair is a blasphem, as it goes against my very own belief that humans are intelligent beings.

    Begone all you blasphemous f...wit, for you're tempering with my reality!
  • Oh God Damn (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mslinux (570958)

    Religion is the scourge of the world. Whether it be Catholic, protestant, Islamic or *any* type.

    I just read on CNN where two Southern Baptist preachers beat an 11 year old boy bloody for not taking his Bible (book of lies) study seriously.

    I say to the fabled Hell with all religion!

    Let the faith harping bigots and haters of freedom of thought and expression burn!

    My religion is education and the scientific method, and it works God damnit!

    Have you guys ever seen a man walk on water? No, me neither. Why don't we all get together on a boat in the deepest part of the ocean and do a little experiment and see if this BS is true. We could use Osama as the subject or perhaps a couple of Southern Baptist preachers.

  • Here is Google search about the sites in question [google.com]. Happy googling!!!
    • Well, the italian police didnt do a very good job did they? A quick visit to googles cache of the page in question, and you find out the rest of the sites content is still there [porcamadonna.com]. (Oh, some people might find this material offensive, apparently ;) )
  • Since the websites were on computers located in other countries where the Italian police have no authority, to replace any webpages with their own is defacing the website, and therefore criminal hacking.

    -asb
  • The story in question is under Austrailian ABC's Offbeat News headline, as if it were a silly little story to laugh at. Censorship is a terrible thing, and should not just be laughed off by calling it "Offbeat." My impression that Italy was a basically open culture, in spite of the Vatican being there, was apparently a falso one. Will they be bringing back crusades and inquisitions now? Will the Catholic Church start a new Congregation of the Index for websites?
  • by sielwolf (246764) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @09:43AM (#3856147) Homepage Journal
    I've seen a couple of posts here talk a lot of crap to the Catholic Church's "policy" against any modern thought, which is fine... but going all the way back to Copernicus??? I mean, c'mon!

    Is there ever an expiration date on any of these sins of the father? How long must the US and Western Europe kowtow to the slave trade or Germany to National Socialism? "Gee I'm sorry that someone I never met but who has some tenuous link to me did something that you never experienced but have to give me grief for anyway."

    I hate to say it, guy, but there is a point where you just have to let something go. Sure the Catholic Church is being a bit... parochial in it's outlook but then also remember that the Catholic Church endorses and teaches Evolution [newadvent.org] while many people are still throwing around the same Intelligent Design crap.

    Geez. Just argue the facts instead of going of on some tangent back into history. At a certain point we become no better than those we deride.
    • going all the way back to Copernicus??? I mean, c'mon!

      Yeah, that's an especially bad reference to make, considering that the Church never attacked Copernicus [nasa.gov]. In fact, he was on the Catholic payroll while he was writing the heliocentric theory.

      You should be referring to Galileo [msu.edu]. John Paul II apologized 300 years later [curriculumunits.com].

      The Catholic Church is a slow-witted bureaucracy, and an 800 million pound gorilla, but it's a generally better about science than the major protestant denominations.

      p.s. Pope Pius XII endorsed evolution in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis.
  • Ok so what exactly was the complaint? I mean the paper might have said that those sites are horrible. Did the article actually ask the law enforcment to intervene?

    Give us a link to the article will ya?

    It would be kinda ironic that a country without an army wants to use force.
  • by Zabu (589690)
    Come get him you italians.

    Bathe with Jesus [jesus.com]

    I think that this is just a clever way to get young women.
    Way to go Jesus!
    WWJD? Make a website that gets him play.
  • Geez, if this continues, Italy might become a Catholic nation.
  • by tomdarch (225937) on Wednesday July 10, 2002 @11:00AM (#3856693)
    Claro?

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