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WW2 Vet Sent 300,000 Pirated DVDs To Troops In Iraq, Afghanistan 650

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
nbauman writes "WW2 veteran 'Big Hy' Strachman, 92, pirated 300,000 DVD movies and sent them to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they were widely distributed and deeply appreciated. Soldiers would gather around personal computers for movie nights, with mortars blasting in the background. 'It's reconnecting to everything you miss,' said one. Strachman received American flags, appreciative letters, and snapshots of soldiers holding up their DVDs. He spent about $30,000 of his own money. Strachman retired from his family's window and shade business in Manhattan in the 1990s. After his wife Harriet died in 2003, he spent sleepless nights on the Internet, and saw that soldiers were consistently asking for movie DVDs. He bought bootlegged disks for $5 in Penn Station, and then found a dealer at his local barbershop. He bought a $400 duplicater that made 7 copies at once, and mailed them 84 at a time, to Army Chaplains. The MPAA said they weren't aware of his operation. The studios send reel-to-reel films to the troops."
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WW2 Vet Sent 300,000 Pirated DVDs To Troops In Iraq, Afghanistan

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  • Well that's okay (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:17AM (#39822187)

    Anything for the troops, of course.

  • That (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:19AM (#39822225) Journal
    That is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard.
  • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:21AM (#39822245)

    Hell yes! This guy is my fucking hero of the day...

  • by boaworm (180781) <boaworm@gmail.com> on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:22AM (#39822261) Homepage Journal

    Given that they go after ISPs for downloading, should they not go after the post office to be consistently persistent?

    Would be a lovely case to see go to court! They could sentence him to community service...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:23AM (#39822267)

    Having something to use to relax such as movies will probably decrease the number of babies killed. No one wants stressed out soldiers on patrol.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:26AM (#39822317)

    This guy was doing it for free, the iraqi's sell *tons* of dvds to the troops, for a decent profit, if they didn't have it in stock, they'd have it the next day.

    Why don't the MPAA go after these iraqi's selling movies and stop supporting terrorism... :)

  • by future assassin (639396) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:27AM (#39822327) Homepage

    did what corporations couldn't or wouldn't because of few measly lost dollars, which would have brought in millions worth of good will.

    Here's an idea maybe we should have a send the troops a bootleg campaign. Imagine 1 million bootleg dvd's being sent out lol..... The MPAA cry would be heard in every corner of the world Khaaaaaaaaaaa....

  • How American... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:28AM (#39822353)

    the place where a mother can go bankrupt in the trial for download a cartoon for their kids, and a man can make whatever he wants because he took a job when he was 16, 70 years ago... and we applauded... awesome...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:29AM (#39822365)

    Yeah, because that's our purpose — to "main and kill brown babies". They're perfectly fine, and will no doubt reach their fullest potential as humans, under the likes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. I hear that poisoned water goes well with Afghan schoolgirls' education. In fact, I hear there is no actual tyranny and oppression in the world — unless you count the US, of course.

    Dipshit.

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:30AM (#39822373)
    If they seriously went after this guy it would be such an awful PR nightmare that even owning the media and news corporations wouldn't help them. Even the Republicans would turn on them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:32AM (#39822395)

    Not my hero. He could have used his own money to buy the CDs rather than pirating.

  • by BackwardPawn (1356049) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:33AM (#39822425)
    Its probably so they can be paid anytime a soldier watches a film. If they sent them DVDs, they'd get distributed among the troops. The film snob in me wants to say film is a chemical process that even the best digital projection couldn't match and the MPAA wants our troops to have the best...but I know that has nothing to do with it.
  • by mrbill1234 (715607) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:34AM (#39822439)

    "The studios send reel-to-reel films to the troops"

    As if this were not proof enough that the studios and the MPAA are out of touch with reality.

  • by Monoman (8745) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:37AM (#39822491) Homepage

    If they don't go after him doesn't it show some kind of prejudice? :-)

  • by Megane (129182) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:38AM (#39822517) Homepage
    The thing is, he didn't download anything! He actually bought street bootlegs (of cams and leaks) and copied those. While I am not happy about money being given to the bootleg scum, I think it's funny that CSS was completely useless here.
  • Re:That (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:40AM (#39822543) Journal

    What the troops REALLY want is to end the killing of innocents & come back home to defend THIS country.

    Is that true? It's not like they didn't know what they were getting into when they signed up. I would love to see the data you use to back this statement.

  • Re:That (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Githaron (2462596) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:41AM (#39822571)
    I support Ron Paul. I do realize he is a little extreme on some policies but in the end he doesn't align perfectly with either party and he is only one man. If he became president, some of his more extreme policies would become more mellowed by the other politicians. The end result would be smaller government and more freedom. Most of the other politicians seem to want the opposite.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:41AM (#39822573)
    You mean outside of the $30,000 he estimates he's spent on blank discs and mailing the fucking things over there?
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:43AM (#39822615) Homepage

    They're not sending the films out with patrols. They're showing them at base theaters which have more technical support and equipment than anything Main St. can rustle up. Of course, DVDs can be used to entertain small groups or individuals but that would give people more options than what is good for them.

  • Re:That (Score:1, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:44AM (#39822633) Homepage

    It's nice 'n' all, but... really? Most beautiful?

    What's really beautiful about this situation is the inexorably awkward position he's put the MPAA in. The money won't let them condone, public opinion will never forgive them if they decry.

  • by berashith (222128) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:51AM (#39822727)

    thank you for what you have done, and I am glad you are safe enough to type this

  • Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cosgrach (1737088) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:51AM (#39822747)

    This man is a hero.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:52AM (#39822765) Journal

    When old guys who tend to be "conservative" are doing things like this, the battle is over. I'm picturing an Iwo Jima like flag planted over the smoking, bombed-out corpse-strewn wastelands of the **AA orgs.

    The old guys are relaxing and smoking a J when that flag is properly planted too. You google around, you see plenty of people with gray hair smoking pot. Same deal. The DEA and the **AAs just haven't got the memo yet, so watch out; but they are dead, Dead, DEAD. As soon as a Gen-Ys get into power, so fucking DEAD.

  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:54AM (#39822801)

    Yeah, it's a joke, but it's also awfully revealing about how behind-the-times Hollywood's business practices really are.

    Hollywood distributes movies both digitally and on film. Not all theatres have converted - in fact only a small portion of them are fully digital. So this is a matter of Hollywood serving their customers - if they stopped film distribution, then most cinemas would close their doors.

    Now that Kodak is bankrupt, and the future supply of film stock is uncertain, converting cinemas to digital may speed up - but it is still a very expensive process, and most local theatres don't have the cash to do it.

  • Re:That (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:54AM (#39822803)

    75% of the republican donations from active military goes to Ron Paul.

    Even Obama doesn't get as many donations as Paul does (it's about 40% to 60%). If you don't believe me, use your advanced engineering skills & google it. ;-)

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:57AM (#39822869)

    I think it was more to the point going after him would be a huge PR Issue.

    1. Sue a 92 year old man
    2. Sue a World War II vet.
    3. Sue someone giving something to the troops that their own personal expense.
    4. Do this during an election year.

    Being Old, people can assume you just out of touch, at best, or that you just don't quite know what is going on. (Old people know this and play the act to get what they want)

    Being a WWII vet, Society owes you for your help to save the world from Nazi and the Javanese war machine.

    Giving to the troops, Every honest american should support the troops, if you don't then you are a Hippy Communist.

    Election year. Those senators who are rerunning will not offer you much support, for they don't want the opponent to show that you are against the Elderly, Vets who Support the Troops.

  • by Dishevel (1105119) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:00PM (#39822919)

    As to your wonderful Sig.
    We have never had a Democracy.
    You would not want one.
    We have a democratically elected constitutional republic.
    Which means that we democratically elect politicians to act and make laws withing the confines of power delegated to them by a constitution.
    Capitalism was not the problem. The problem is that we continue to elect people who only make laws that empower themselves.
    A business can attempt to buy a politician to represent them. That is fine. Businesses and Unions do it all the time. The problem comes when the politicians make laws that create a new power that they then use against the people for the benefit of those paying for their re-elections.
    The bigger problem is that all the people voting in the election know that they are being fucked. They just do not care.
    So public laziness and apathy is what is wrecking the country.
    The problem is that puts all the blame on us. So instead of fixing the problem we create outside enemies to blame it on. That way we can do nothing about it and it is no longer our fault.
    Sleep well.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:05PM (#39822991) Journal

    ...is how we can contribute to his effort.

  • by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:07PM (#39823029)

    Well it's easier to reach your full potential while living under a dictator then it is while dead. And the Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned AFTER being 'liberated'.

  • Re:How American... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scubamage (727538) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:08PM (#39823051)
    Some of us applaud the mother as well, we just weren't on the jury.
  • by SpzToid (869795) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:17PM (#39823201)

    And the US Military is guilty of receiving 300,000 counterfeit disks. It isn't as if the guy had an address book of a lot of soldiers to distribute disks to directly.

    And if the military accepts reel-to-reels from Hollywood when DVDs or better-yet downloads will do, that's gotta be another crime right committed there. And thus a quandary to consider.

    But if I was the judge, Mr. Strachman wouldn't even get a slap on the wrist from me because those soldiers deserve everything we can give them; while reel-to-reel is idiotic in 2012, in a war zone. But those chaplains, oh they'll have Hell to pay for distributing discs with IP far and wide.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:30PM (#39823381)

    Is it OK to kill children?

    THINK OF THE CHILDREN! OH LORD WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

    I wish I could take a nice thick shmear of that self righteous smugness and put it on a bagel. I bet it'd be a huge hit in liberal enclaves.

    "Yeah, sesame with lox and some smug self righteousness on the side. Fair Trade Organic, of course."

    Here's the uncomfortable truth you're trying to avoid acknowledging:

    Children die every day. It's an unfortunate fact of life, but everybody and everything will someday die. Some of those children will die for no other reason than that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time; that they had the wrong color skin on the wrong block; that they had the wrong shirt on, made a funny face at the wrong guy, or were simply just victim of random chance and happenstance.

    Unless you can demonstrate that the military is going out of its way to target children, your question is irrelevant. The better question is, "is whatever we're fighting for worth killing anybody - child or adult - over?" Now, from your focus on "children," I can only assume that you're okay with absolute OCEANS of blood being spilled in the service of your pet causes, as long as all the blood being spilled is from a legal adult. Otherwise, I can't fathom any reason why you'd be so intent on shouting about children.

    tl;dr - fuck off you sanctimonious prick.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:40PM (#39823507) Journal

    In the rest of the world outside of U.S., when you say "democracy", you mean a country where representatives are elected by the populace at large - kinda like U.S. Words like "republic" are largely orthogonal to that - not all representatives democracies are republics, and not all republics are democracies.

    Those antiquated definitions that you use - dating back to, what, Plato? - are quaint, but pretty pointless, since no country in the world today matches your definition of "democracy" - all that do have non-sham elections, elect representatives, don't vote directly on each and every law.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:43PM (#39823543) Journal

    They're not sending the films out with patrols. They're showing them at base theaters

    Well, that's great, then. Any of those troops out there at some God-forsaken FOB can just catch a ride back to the main base for their movie nights out. They don't need entertainment in their little tent camps. They have the Taliban for that.

    BTW, I'm not picking on you. It's not your idea, and I'm sure you're right about how it really works. I'm a retired Air Force guy, and if I understand correctly, most of us in-country are still pretty much base-bound. If so, this cartoon [mudvillegazette.com] characterizes the inequities of campaign life: The REMFs get all the good stuff, the guys at the pointy end pretty much get the shaft. And the guy who was the subject of TFA did what it takes to fix this one little inequity. I hope he doesn't catch the shaft himself, since 300,000 counts of willful copyright infringement probably exposes him to something like 300 death sentences.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:47PM (#39823601) Homepage

    A business can attempt to buy a politician to represent them. That is fine. Businesses and Unions do it all the time.

    No it isn't fine: The majority of the country does not control a business nor have a vote in a union, so this bribery ensures that some people are not represented in government.

  • Re:That (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:47PM (#39823617) Homepage

    What the troops REALLY want is to end the killing of innocents & come back home to defend THIS country.

    Is that true? It's not like they didn't know what they were getting into when they signed up. I would love to see the data you use to back this statement.

    Yes, most soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines know what they're signing up for. That doesn't mean they actually like the killing or injuring, or being away from home. People enlist out of a sense of duty, or to gain job skills, or because there are non-combat positions that appeal to them, or because it's the only decent option open to them. The notion that people join the military because they're bloodthirsty savages is completely out of touch with reality.

  • by doston (2372830) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:49PM (#39823645)

    Yeah, because that's our purpose — to "main and kill brown babies". They're perfectly fine, and will no doubt reach their fullest potential as humans, under the likes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. I hear that poisoned water goes well with Afghan schoolgirls' education. In fact, I hear there is no actual tyranny and oppression in the world — unless you count the US, of course.

    Dipshit.

    You mean the Saddam Hussein that the US installed and armed and only decided to kill when he wouldn't play ball with our oil companies? Were you referring to the Taliban that was headed by Bin Laden? Is that the same Bin Laden family the Bush's had ties to? http://www.denverpost.com/rodriguez/ci_4319898 [denverpost.com]

    Who's the "Dipshit"?

    People like you, who spout mindless platitudes like "Support our Troops" have the blood of innocent men, women and children on your "Dipshit" hands.

  • by nabsltd (1313397) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:54PM (#39823715)

    "Digital distribution" from Hollywood to movie theaters isn't over the internet -- they're sent on hard drives. (Remember, the movies you see in theaters are much higher resolution than the ones you see at home.)

    Not really. If the digital projector is only 2K, then it's basically the same as Blu-Ray (2048x1080 vs. 1920x1080). If the projector is 4K, then you can get more resolution on the screen. That said, the original (either film or digital) likely does have at least 4K resolution regardless of the projection system.

    And, the reason the movies are shipped on hard drives is because they are just a series of JPEG 2000 [wikipedia.org] images, one for each frame. This is essentially like using MPEG-4 and specifying that every frame is an I-frame, which bloats the file size for very little gain in quality.

  • Re:That (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turtledawn (149719) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:54PM (#39823717)

    GP was referring to number of donations, not to value. People (and their votes) are not dollars.

  • Re:That (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Americano (920576) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:54PM (#39823729)

    I hope when either President Obama or Romney start rounding-up Americans (anyone who speaks-out against the Iran War will be labeled a "terrorist") that you care one of the first to land in jail w/o right to trial. You deserve to get what you have voted for.

    Please understand that I say this as someone whose politics lean fairly 'libertarian' on the whole. But:

    Stop that. Seriously. Just stop it.

    You're doing your cause no good by pretending it's even remotely likely that we're going to suddenly see Soviet-style gulags implemented by either Obama or Romney. You may not like their policies, but it's possible to disagree with them without needing them to be Joseph Stalin reincarnated. When you spout this stuff, you come across like a hapless conspiracy-theorist-slash-nutjob, which allows people to handily dismiss ANY valid points Ron Paul and his supporters make because you have included so many absolutely-fucking-crazy exaggerations and distortions along with the legitimate points.

    CS Lewis offered some advice on writing [lettersofnote.com] that's relevant to everyone:

    5. Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

    Stop turning "I don't agree with Romney's and Obama's policy proposals," into "therefore they're going to send me to a Siberian salt mine!" This is nothing but idiotic marketing sloganeering, and has NO BUSINESS in a political discussion, unless your goal is to perpetuate the issues already afflicting our political process. In other words: don't bemoan the bumper-sticker-ization of politics on a fucking bumper sticker.

  • by dissy (172727) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:56PM (#39823759)

    The MPAA Lawyers have never played this nice..

    Indeed, I am quite confused too.

    They didn't mind the bad press over suing a 12 year old child OR a 80 year old grandfather for only 'several' movies, so we know it's not the age part that did it.
    (source [betanews.com])

    They also don't mind sending threatening letters to the military asking them to crack down on their own troops for them, so it isn't the American troops away from home part that did it either.
    (source [myce.com])

    They didn't mind suing people for downloading movies for personal use and no profits involved, so we know that isn't what did it either.
    (source [google.com])

    This is a complete reversal of past policy on all counts!

    My personal guess is that the lawsuit is already in the works, and they requested the court seal the details so the press doesn't get word of it. Then they release this announcement to try and look like they are being good guys. There can't be any other possibility. The Grinchs heart growing 3 sizes only happens in the movies.

  • by toriver (11308) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:59PM (#39823795)

    So you would applaud Josef Mengele as long as he published the results of his experiments on Jews? Many murderers have justifications for their actions, they still go to jail.

  • by doston (2372830) on Friday April 27, 2012 @01:21PM (#39824161)

    I think it was more to the point going after him would be a huge PR Issue.

    1. Sue a 92 year old man 2. Sue a World War II vet. 3. Sue someone giving something to the troops that their own personal expense. 4. Do this during an election year.

    Being Old, people can assume you just out of touch, at best, or that you just don't quite know what is going on. (Old people know this and play the act to get what they want)

    Being a WWII vet, Society owes you for your help to save the world from Nazi and the Javanese war machine.

    Giving to the troops, Every honest american should support the troops, if you don't then you are a Hippy Communist.

    Election year. Those senators who are rerunning will not offer you much support, for they don't want the opponent to show that you are against the Elderly, Vets who Support the Troops.

    "The point of public relations slogans like "Support Our Troops" is that they don't mean anything...that's the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody is going to be against and I suppose everybody will be for, because nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. But its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something, do you support our policy? And that's the one you're not allowed to talk about." -Noam Chomsky

  • by berashith (222128) on Friday April 27, 2012 @01:23PM (#39824181)

    they served in fucking afghanistan!

    the "got back from a deployment" part is the main thing. The details that occured are probably something that i dont agree with, but the signing up to serve the country, and do what your told by superiors during this deployment are things that, even if you or I dont see it directly, have an effect on our daily lives. The people that are out there doing this actually are doing a great thing for the rest of us that are sitting comfortably in our air conditioned cubes. Thanking someone for their service, regardless of their personal reasons for signing up, is just something that I do. I do this in airports, and I also do this for firemen and police officers who are directing traffic. Maybe it makes no difference, but maybe someone who is putting up with a lot of shit that is actually making my life easier can feel a bit better, or less shitty, about what they are having to put up with.

    please, with all the heart felt sincerity that you dont believe possible from my first thanks to the soldier, take all of your judgement and cynicism, and shove them deep up your ass while shutting the fuck up! and have a nice day

  • Re:That (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Friday April 27, 2012 @01:47PM (#39824509)

    Sorry but I have no pity for the MPAA or RIAA (I'm guessing that your comment was sarcasm so you don't either.). Actually I'm glad this guy did what he did and put them in to that position.

    From the Article: "The MPAA sends reel to reel movies and projectors to the troops." Which does how much good when you are on 30-60 sweeps with only your squad to chat with? Compared to the DVD these guys picked up from the Chaplain that they can later watch on the computers in the HumV or Abrams.

    I have a lot of respect for the amount of celebrities that go entertain the troops, honestly I do. They risk their lives to go (even though the risk is not very high) and make sure out troops have some sense of normalcy. The MPAAs first concern is not for the troops fighting to keep them to be able to remain free, but for "OMG the troops may violate our rules."

    The continuing cry from the MPAA really is nonsense, especially with the alleged hypothetical loss of revenue. If this guy did not do what he did, these troops would not have gone and purchased DVDs. There is no ability to do so in the remote locations these people are sent to. And on a Soldiers pay you are not going to purchase much any way.

    Yes, I am a US Army Veteran.

  • Re:That (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:11PM (#39824769) Journal

    If Obama wanted to send me to a Siberian salt mine, what legal obstacles would he face? There are men imprisoned today who will be imprisoned for the rest of their lives without ever receiving due process. If it can happen to them, why can't it happen to me? Is there anything stopping it besides Obama's good will? How long will that last?

    Whether Obama wants to exercise his indefinite authority is irrelevant. The fact that he has it indicates that we've moved from the rule of law to the rule of man. That's vastly more dangerous than most people seem to understand.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:21PM (#39824921) Journal

    You don't answer the question.

    It's a loaded question with false assumptions.

    Is it OK? Is it justifiable?

    Even if done intentionally, sometimes the answer is "yes." If the goal is justifiable and there are no practical alternatives in which one can avoid the act, then yes, the action is justifiable. Col. Paul Tibbetts flew the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb. He killed a shitload of children that day. That said, his actions helped hasten the end of WWII, thus saving a lot more lives than were lost that day (an estimated five million). He slept like a baby from that day all the way until he died of old age. There were hundreds, if not thousands of GIs who shot and killed Hitler Youth (we're talking kids as young as 12 here), because the alternative was to be killed by them.

    But then, that sort of shatters the whole sophomoric postulate in the first place, doesn't it?

    Is it a decent price to pay for your own comfort?

    Nice strawman, but it needs more stuffing to be believable. Maybe if the original question was along the lines of "Do our goals in Iraq and Afghanistan justify the intentional targeting and killing of children?" It would have been shown for the intellectually dishonest question it was, as it was exactly what you gents were asking in the first place. Funny thing is, the answer to that one is usually (depending on circumstance) "no" (now if the kid was walking towards me with explosives strapped to his chest, all bets are off).

    Funny thing is, many people see the goals in Iraq and Afghanistan differently. Some see it as liberation from oppressors. Others see it as a grab for power/oil/whatever. The answer to the specific question of children (whether killed intentionally or incidentally) will either be written off as the cost of war, or as a horror to be stopped at all costs.

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