March 4, 2003, Issue #226
Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness
From a Public Interest Perspective

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MARK WIGFIELD, DOW JONES NEWSWIRES: The Justice Department February 28 sued Smithfield Foods Inc., seeking $5.4 million for alleged violations of antitrust law.

Smithfield twice failed to file pre-merger notification documents with the Justice Department before purchasing stock  of competing meat and pork processor IBP Inc., in 1998 and in 1999 to 2001. Smithfield lost out to Tyson Foods Inc. in a bidding war for IBP.

Smithfield is the nation's largest hog producer and pork packer and IBP was the number two packer, the Justice Department said. Smithfield should have filed pre-merger documents under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act because its stock purchases were not solely for investment, but were steps toward a merger, the agency said.

"Companies cannot evade Hart-Scott-Rodino Act filing obligations by ignoring the plain language of the exemption, said Deborah P. Majoras, principal deputy attorney general of the agency's Antitrust Division. "Acquisition of stock in a firm that is also a potential takeover target or merger candidate is not an acquisition that is solely for investment."

The Hart-Scott law is intended to give federal antitrust authorities the opportunity to investigate proposed mergers for antitrust violations before the deals are consummated.

In a statement, Smithfield said the Justice Department suit "has no merit." The company "intends to defend itself vigorously."

Smithfield said the Justice Department filed its suit after the company decided not to settle the matter. The two sides have differing interpretation of a provision of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, and the matter should be decided by the courts," the company said.

Smithfield "believes that it complied with the prenotification requirements at all times."


REUTERS: Workers went on strike at a Tyson Foods Inc.Wisconsin meat plant on Friday after rejecting a contract offer that would cut wages and raise employee health care contributions, the union said.

The Jefferson, Wisconsin, plant employs 470 workers and produces pepperoni for Tombstone, DiGiorno, Domino's and Jack's pizzas, as well as hams, bologna, and hot dogs, the union, UFCW Local 538, said in a statement.

Tyson, the largest U.S. meat company, said the plant, which it acquired in 2001 when it bought beef and pork company IBP Inc., will continue to operate with workers and management personnel from Jefferson and elsewhere.

The union statement said Tyson's latest offer would, among other things, cut pay on average by 73 cents an hour,  freeze wages for four years, increase employee health care payments up to $40 a week, cut sick leave by 50%,  and cut vacations by two weeks.

Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson said proposed pay cuts would apply only to new employees, not current ones. Bonuses would be paid each year instead of wage increases.

Also, the cuts in sick leave would apply only to the few employees eligible for more than 13 weeks, the company said.  Vacations would be limited to four weeks, except for employees currently eligible for five and six weeks. Higher health care costs prompted the proposed rise in employee contributions, Tyson said.

"The contract offered by Tyson has been modified from the previous contract to try and bring it more closely in line with other existing union contracts Tyson has around the country," the company said.

Contract negotiations at the plant have been under way for eight months. In January, Tyson gave the union a 30-day notice, saying it would terminate the current extended contract at midnight on February 25, the union said.

"Tyson's proposal would devastate my family," said John Hernandez, a 25-year plant employee, in the statement. "The company wants to cut our wages and increase the cost of our health care coverage. Our families can't live on that."


ASSOCIATED PRESS: The Bush administration wants to spend $1 million to audit the top four U.S. beef packers if Congress approves the president's budget proposal, an Agriculture Department official said Thursday.

JoAnn Waterfield, deputy administrator of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, said "it's important that we understand how a packer's finances move internally."

The agency, whose duty is to ensure fair and competitive trade among  meat companies, is concerned about the economic fallout if one of the companies was in financial trouble, she said.

"The impact would be enormous," Waterfield said. She said an audit would help the agency "anticipate that perhaps and assist the packer ahead of time."

Waterfield rejected the suggestion the government wants an audit because of recent fraud cases in which companies overstated revenues. She also declined to name the leading beef packers, saying they could change before the agency would begin the study.

A trade industry group, the American Meat Institute, lists the big four as Tyson Foods Inc. which owns beef packer IBP; Cargill, ConAgra Foods Inc. and Farmland Meats.

The National Beef Cattlemen's Association, which represents ranchers, said it would be interested in seeing the results of such an audit, especially considering the concentration of leading slaughterhouses.

"The cattle industry and U.S. producers are extremely concerned about this issue," said Gregg Doud, the association's economist.

Beef farmers, as well as pork producers, have complained about consolidation, arguing that it means only a few companies control livestock prices. They say this allows the company to pay farmers very little for the animals and absorb most of the profit from meat sales.

Several economists have studied consolidation among meat packers, but they have not agreed on whether packers have a monopoly over the industry.

Mark Klein, a spokesman for Cargill, said the company will cooperate if the department conducts an audit. Cargill owns the beef company Excel Corp.

Officials with Tyson, ConAgra and Farmland did not immediately return phone calls Thursday.

If Congress approves the money, Waterfield said the audit would be finished by 2006 and the agency likely would begin similar studies on the pork industry.


JACK HOUGH, SMART MONEY: Wall Street isn't just a financial business. It is a fashion business. One day growth stocks are all the rage, the next they are treated like an old Nehru jacket. After growth stocks began fizzling in early 2000, the other major stock-picking style --- value investing -- gained cachet (although stocks of all kinds seem tattered nowadays).

So we ran a screen that should appeal to value investors --- bargain hunters who buy a stock when they think business is about to improve and sell when it's no longer cheap.

We used the stock-screening tool to find value stocks trading below the Standard & Poor's  500-stock index's average multiple of reported earnings. This "trailing P/E" is a conservative measure in that it considers profits already delivered, rather than analysts' often-giddy projections.

We also made sure that our survivors' price/sales and price/free cash flow measures were below average for their industries. Debt had to be less than half of total capital, and we insisted on positive sales growth in the past year. . . . .

The agribusiness heavyweight Archer-Daniels-Midland bills itself as the "supermarket to the world," but investors have long treated the stock like a dented can of peas. It seems cheap by most benchmarks --- price/book value (1.05) and price/sales (0.26) are far below the industry averages of 3.28 and 0.91, respectively -- but return on equity is half the average of peers, a sign of inefficiency. . . . . .


U.S. residents trust American small-farm owners, don't favor corporate, non-family farms or trust genetically modified or foreign-grown food. And the 9/11 attacks made many nervous about our food supply's safety. Those are a few of the preliminary results of a survey on public attitudes about globalization and our food's sources, production and safety conducted by Ronald Wimberley, a sociologist from North Carolina State University.

He collaborated with researchers from 12 American universities, including Godfrey Ejimakor, an ag economist at NC A&T State University. The researchers obtained a sample of 819 randomly selected US respondents. They adjusted mailed survey responses using 2000 U.S. Census data on age, race, sex, income, education and region to help make findings more nationally representative, Wimberley says.

"The survey looks at such food, farming and environmental questions as how globalization affects the food Americans eat, the communities where we live and our quality of life. We're also doing a broader view of what we see in some of the local consumer concerns," he says.

To date, Wimberley says, results indicate people in the US are concerned about the global sources of their food, want their food produced under safe environmental conditions, whether domestically or globally, and would pay more for food labeled with assurances that it was produced under such conditions.

Here are some of the preliminary findings:

* Nearly 92% want labels on genetically modified foods. Only one percent do not. The other seven percent are undecided on labeling of genetically modified food ingredients.

* 77% of those polled agreed that government policies should favor family, owner-operated farms as opposed to those run by corporations.

* 53% prefer to buy food they know has been grown on small rather than large farms.

* 74% wouldn't relinquish food production to other countries even if that resulted in cheaper food.

* 74% and 76%, respectively, says it is of some or great importance for the food they buy to be grown and processed in the U.S.

* 68% would pay more for food grown in the U.S. rather than abroad.

* More than 70% would spend more for locally produced food.

* 80% think US-grown food is fresher than imported food.

* 79% think US-grown food safer than imported food.

* About half say US-produced food is more nutritious and tastes better than imported food.

* 51% perceive that US-grown food costs less.

* 92% would eat US-produced meat.

* 21% would eat South American meat.

* Nearly half say "no" to South American-produced meat.

* The majority reject meat from England or other European countries.

* 14% would eat British-produced meat.

* Ten percent would eat meat from other European countries.

* 88% believe listing contents on food labels is important

* 87% say their food's nutritional value is important.

Respondents aren't sure about eating foods grown using biotechnological techniques, with nearly half undecided about the safety of foods from genetically modified plants and animals. Those who take a stand on biotech and genetic modification are about evenly divided, with a sizable majority seeing genetically modified animal products as unsafe.


* Half of the respondents split between agreeing (26%) and disagreeing (23%) on whether they would eat foods grown with new biotechnological techniques. The other 51% are undecided.

* 47% aren't sure if they consider genetically modified plants unsafe.

* 28% say genetic modification makes plants unsafe.

* 25% believe they're safe.

* 43% aren't sure if genetically modified foods from animals are unsafe.

* 39% see them as unsafe.

* 17% say they are safe.

Respondents appear wary about the sources of their information on the safety of U.S. farming practices. For knowledge about the safety of the foods they eat, 70% trust farmers; 57% trust university professors; 20% trust elected officials; 12% celebrities; and 11% business executives. Elected officials, celebrities and business executives actually are mistrusted by about two-thirds of the respondents.

The three federal food-related agencies the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are seen as trustworthy by at least three-quarters of respondents. USDA, 82%; FDA, 75%; EPA, 72%.

Only 13% trust foreign governments for information about food safety; 67% don't. This is in line with the mistrust of meat grown in countries outside the U.S.

Also interesting, 71% would pay more for food produced in ways that protect the environment. Another 60% would pay more for food produced without using chemicals; 81% would pay more if it were grown on farms using good environmental practices.

About 46% of respondents say they had thought some or a lot about our food supply's security prior to 9/11, and 91% were somewhat or very concerned after the attack. Also, 85% agreed that our food supply could be a possible way terrorists might attack us, he says.

An extensive report on the survey "The Globalization of Food: How Americans Feel About Food Sources, Who They Trust, Food Security, Genetic Modification, Food Labeling and the Environment" is due for release soon at
The Southern Rural Development Center at
will also release a summary soon in Southern Perspectives magazine


JAMES GOODWIN, GUEST COLUMNIST, CAPITAL TIMES (MADISON, WISCONSIN): Ever since the first plans were being made to implement "free trade," we were promised it would be a win/win situation.

American consumers, manufacturers, farmers, laborers -- everyone, we would all benefit. Not only Americans, the whole world would benefit. It would pull the developing world up because good, high-paying jobs would be created. When borders opened to the free flow of goods and services, consumers would have more choice, and at a better price.

Agricultural goods could move around the world to new markets, depressed farm prices would rise, and rural America would again become the breadbasket of the world. Farmers in developing countries would have new markets for their goods, and they would be pulled out of abject poverty. Sounded great, didn't it? But like most things that sounded too good to be true, it was.

American workers who had jobs that paid pretty well in the scheme of things found that their employers could pack up the factories and move to a country where the workers weren't so well paid. No tariffs, so goods could be shipped back into the United States and sold, often cheaper than when they were American-made. Not only was labor cheaper, but environmental laws were generally more lax in, say, Mexico, Haiti or China. You could use child labor and there were no laws forcing a 40-hour workweek.

Consumers found goods were cheaper when they were made overseas, but they also found they had less money to spend since their wages were stagnant or falling. Nothing like the threat of shipping your job overseas to end those demands for higher wages or, heaven forbid, union organizing. How about the foreign workers, did they now have the high-paying jobs as promised? No, they had poverty-wage jobs and the sweatshop was back. They had low pay, poor working conditions, and plenty of eager workers waiting in line for them to quit.

Thanks to American farm goods flooding the world market unhampered by tariffs, indigenous farmers were driven off the land by low prices for their goods. They descended on the cities seeking jobs in the new factories. They produced the goods that were shipped around the world and sold so cheaply that domestic workers couldn't compete.

American farmers found themselves being forced to produce more but found they were getting paid less and less. Dairy producers were now competing against farmers from New Zealand, India and Southeast Asia. Milk components were shipped to the United States so cheaply that dairy farmers here were forced to sell out. Auctioneers couldn't keep up.

Beef, vegetables, fruit --- it could always be found cheaper somewhere else in the world. Often it wasn't produced under health standards equivalent to those imposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and they admitted they couldn't possibly inspect it all, but hey, it was food, it was cheap, and people here needed cheap food. Agricultural chemicals banned in the United States could still be used in many countries. Environmental laws were lax at best, labor was cheap and workers didn't complain about safety issues.

So who was benefiting from the great promise of globalization? Certainly not the average worker or consumer or farmer. So who? Those who controlled goods and services, production, distribution and sales: the multinational corporations. Free trade has long been their dream and with GATT, NAFTA and the WTO they are slowly gaining control of all goods and services worldwide. Surely their stockholders benefit, but most people don't own stock.  The economies of the world are collapsing in the interest of corporate profit that benefits the very few.

Globalization is not new to the developing world; it used to be called colonialism. What used to be done with ships and cannons is now done with economic power. Resources are extracted, labor is exploited and the corporations profit. Governments are not the globalizers, corporations are, but governments willingly promote and enforce the economic ruin of their people. Progressive radio host Jim Hightower says "everybody does better when everybody does better" but he doesn't mean corporations. They are not people, they are legal entities created by governments and they need to be controlled by governments.

Isn't it time we stopped this globalization nonsense? Water buffaloes are fine animals, but most folks from Wisconsin don't want water buffalo milk in our cheese, even if Kraft does. Farmers in India know far more about what crops grow best in their fields than Monsanto does. Mexican farmers have been growing corn much longer than Pioneer and did just fine without them. Workers in Milwaukee seemed to do a great job of manufacturing Briggs & Stratton engines for years, so why were they cut off?

It's a senseless equation, and we need to stop it. We need to let the rest of the world run their own lives. We need to take back our economy and tell our government they work for us, not the corporations.

James Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.He can be e-mailed at


LEE HOCKSTADER, WASHINGTON POST: It is doubtful that any other American movie ever inspired such official harassment and outright intimidation as "Salt of the
Earth," the saga of striking Mexican American miners written and directed by blacklisted
Hollywood filmmakers during the Red Scare. During the course of production in New Mexico in 1953, the trade press denounced it as a subversive plot, anti-Communist vigilantes fired rifle shots at the set, the film's leading lady was deported to Mexico, and from time to time a small airplane buzzed noisily overhead.

The plane's buzzing played havoc with the  soundtrack, moving the producer, Paul Jarrico, to wisecrack: "We'll make this picture again sometime. And next time we'll say, 'You've seen this great picture. Now hear it.' "

"Salt of the Earth" was completed eventually, only to be so thoroughly suppressed on its release in 1954 that some film historians call it the only blacklisted American movie.

But "Salt" had a second act. The back-story of its suppression, as much as the movie itself, inspired a cult following of leftists, feminists, Hispanics, historians and film buffs. They rediscovered it in the '60s and resurrected it gradually in film schools, unions halls and women's centers. And having sustained it for 50 years, "Salt's" fans converged by the hundreds over the weekend [in Santa Fe, New Mexico] for conference that was part tribute to the film and part political protest rally.

As the theater lights dimmed for a showing of "Salt" on the conference's opening night, Dolores Huerta, the renowned labor leader who, with Cesar Chavez, founded the United Farm Workers, cried, "Viva la justicia!"

Sponsored by the College of Santa Fe, the conference was dedicated to the proposition the film's message of self-empowerment, and the act of political dissent its production represented, are as relevant in terrorism-obsessed 21st-century America as they were in the communism-obsessed America of the McCarthy era.

To the film's loyalists, the fact that Hollywood is planning a remake of "Salt of the Earth" is proof of its resonance. In a new age of threats from abroad, the suppression of "Salt of the Earth" was taken as an object lesson of the perils of intolerance and shrinking civil liberties.

"I'm not making the comparison to McCarthyism, but I do think that under cover of creating an atmosphere of war, government can overreach and take power and limit people's freedom and rights in ways that could not  occur were it not for this atmosphere of fear," said Moctesuma Esparza, who is producing the remake of "Salt of the Earth." Esparza, who produced "The Milagro Beanfield War" and "Gods and Generals," expects filming on the remake of "Salt" to begin later this year.

The original film was the brainchild of director Herbert Biberman, who had been jailed for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee; Michael Wilson, a talented screenwriter who later wrote "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia"; and Jarrico. Denied work in Hollywood studios because of their Communist affiliations, the three formed an independent production company. They decided to make a film dramatizing the 1950-51 strike at the Empire Zinc Mine in southwestern New Mexico.

Or, as Becca Wilson, daughter of screenwriter Wilson, put it at the conference: "They decided to commit a crime equal to their punishment."

Seen through a contemporary lens, the movie's story line is tame enough: The little guys ---- denied fair wages, decent housing and safe working conditions -- take on the big guys, and the little guys win. But there were twists. For starters, the little guys were Mexican Americans, a group much more marginalized in the mid-1950s than now. And when a court ruling ordered them off the picket line, their wives and sisters took their places, in some cases defying their macho husbands.

Financing for the film came largely from the Mine-Mill Union, whose Local 890 had led the strike. The filmmakers consulted extensively with the miners on the script and used many of the miners themselves in the cast. Among them was the male lead, Juan Chacon, who happened to be president of Local 890.

Playing a tough miner, Chacon stands up to the callous Anglo bosses. He gets beaten up and thrown in jail for his trouble. When he is enjoined from picketing, his wife, played by Mexican actress Rosaura Revueltas --- deported because of visa technicalities before the end of filming  --- steps into the fray. Their marriage is strained but survives.

From the start, "Salt" inspired animosity. The Hollywood Reporter called it "commie" propaganda directed by the Kremlin. A Republican congressman, speaking on the floor of the House, vowed to keep "this Communist-made film" out of the movie theaters.

The FBI scrutinized the film's financing, seeking a Communist Party connection. (There was none.) The American Legion called for a boycott. Processing labs were ordered not to handle the film. Unionized projectionists were instructed not to show it. The film, edited in secret, was stored for safekeeping in an anonymous wooden shack in Los Angeles.

Against all odds, "Salt" opened in New York. The miners, for whom a screening was arranged in New Mexico, were pleased. But when the film tried to move on to Chicago, Detroit and elsewhere, theaters refused to show it. Disheartened, Jarrico moved to Paris. His Independent Productions Co., which had made plans for several more films, was dead.

"Salt of the Earth" was "one of the most kamikaze political actions they could ever have done," said David Wagner, a film historian specializing in the blacklist who is co-author of "Radical Hollywood," published last year.

Nonetheless, the movie was a hit in Europe, opening to critical acclaim and winning prizes at film festivals in Paris and Czechoslovakia.

"We were in France when we first saw it, and I'll never forget the lines around a small cinema on the Left Bank --- four people abreast around and around the block," said Norma Barzman, a blacklisted screenwriter who had left the United States and was living in Paris.

For more than a decade, few people saw the movie in the United States. But in the 1960s, "Salt" began to gain an underground following. During an epic strike against grape growers in the mid-'60s, the United Farm Workers began showing the film to inspire its embattled membership.

"I probably saw it a dozen times at least," said Huerta, the UFW founder. "They'd show it on Friday nights, and seeing that film was a great morale booster."

The zinc mine that was the site of the strike closed in 1967. But curiosity about the movie grew. Left-leaning film schools began teaching it. In 1992 the Library of Congress decreed that a print of "Salt" would be kept for all time. The Museum of Modern Art in New York preserved it. In Silver City, New Mexico, near the old mining town of Bayard, where the original strike took place, the local video store kept two copies of the movie, which it lent out free of charge.

There was also an afterlife for the miners and their wives who took part in the strike and, in many cases, the movie. The gains they had made in the strike were significant. In addition to securing better pay, they had ended a discriminatory system in which Hispanic miners were barred from safer above-ground jobs and denied indoor
toilets and running water in company-owned housing. And they had memorialized their own achievements in the movie.

"The company figured they'd starve us in two months and we'd be back to work -- it never happened," said  Lorrenzo Torrez, 75, a retired miner who took part in the strike and the movie. "We earned a lot of respect.

After that the police in New Mexico" --- who had intervened on the side of management ---- "kept out of strikes. They decided it was between the union and the workers."

James Lorence, a historian at Gainesville College in Georgia, discovered "Salt" in the mid-1980s and began teaching it in his classes. He was struck by the enthusiasm his students felt for such an old movie, and he wrote a history of the film, "The Suppression of 'Salt of the Earth.' "

"It resonates as an icon with feminists, it resonates in the Chicano movement," he said. "In a sense, Wilson, Biberman and Jarrico had the last laugh."


As the father of two infant sons in the late 1960's I would be remiss to not happily remember the pleasant and gentle soul that spoke to and entertained both my children --- and myself --- each day from "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood."

Not only did Fred Rogers use music, humor and the world of make believe to counsel and teach children, but his lessons of neighborly human kindness exemplified G.K. Chesterton's definition of a Christian gentleman and reflected most favorably on his calling as a Presbyterian minister.

Sadly, the man whose theme song "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" engaged those of us of all ages for nearly four decades, died last week of stomach cancer at his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He was 74.

In his Washington Post obituary Louie Estrada rightfully noted: "In a reassuring tone and leisurely cadence, Rogers spoke to children about the virtues of civility, sharing, tolerance, obedience and self-worth. He was praised for an ability to talk to children at a pace they could absorb and with a consistency that created a calm and safe place for toddlers.

"Rogers often said he was guided by listening to children, discovering who they were and what was important in their lives. By providing answers to children's questions and addressing their uncertainties in their expanding world, he sought to aid their emotional development as individuals."

"There is continuity that goes through the generations," Rogers wrote in his book You Are Special. "There has never been a time in our history when there have been so many changes. But we all have different gifts and different ways of saying to the world who we are. The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling they are worthwhile."

Even after leaving his daily show in 2000, in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Rogers returned to television, making public service announcements for PBS to help parents and children cope with anxiety.

Not widely known to the general public Fred Rogers was also a strong advocate for the elimination of the death penalty. Jeff Garis, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Abolitionists United Against the Death Penalty, recalls how his group had once sought to get Rogers as a keynote speaker at the organization's annual awards dinner.

"Shortly thereafter I received a call from his public relations director, David Newell. Mr. Newell indicated that Fred Rogers was still very busy working on projects despite the fact that he had recently filmed the final installment of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood." He was working on developing educational resources and that most of his limited time for public appearances was devoted to speaking on behalf of nonprofit public broadcasting and the need for quality programming for children. Mr. Newell also stated that Fred Rogers was very supportive of our efforts and was strongly opposed to the death penalty.

"It just sends a horribly wrong message to children," Mr. Newell stated. "For Fred a lot of it comes down to this: 'What are our children learning from us when we model that this is an appropriate way of responding to societal problems?'"

In an era when we have a war mongering president who almost daily exhibits his "polarized thinking" in calling for "crusades" based on "infinite justice" for "evil-doers" comprising an "axis of evil" and who as a former Texas governor made capital punishment one of his state's leading industries, the death of a loving human being like Fred Rogers is an irreplaceable loss for not only those of us who he welcomed into his neighborhood each day, but for every man, woman and child on this earth who believes in community, fairness, peaceful resolution and human kindness.

                                      EDITOR'S NOTE

Preparing to post this 226th edition of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER it is gratifying to
know that over 1100 people throughout the world are currently receiving it on a regular basis and
judging from comments received feel it is a valuable source of information.However, it is also quite
troubling to realize that less than 4.5% of that readership has ever seen fit to make any
contributions toward its continued existence.

To that small cadre of contributors this editor can only express his profound gratitude and
appreciation for I realize that in some cases even a small donation was a sacrifice for them.

From the outset it was never the purpose of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER to
charge a subscription fee for the original intention of this newsletter was to get it into as many
hands as possible as a vehicle for monitoring corporate agribusiness from a public interest
perspective, just as was the establishing of a web site
to provide facts, background, analysis and educational information on corporate agribusiness.

Thanks to the generosity and creativity of the editor's oldest son David and his business
colleagues at ElectricArrow in Seattle, Washington that sight is being maintained on a virtual
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Having said all this, may I repeat CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS are always and will
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