Ida B. Wells

November 29, 2007

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November 2007



News
BSU demands Ethnic Studies Faculty
The Laney BSU held a noontime rally Oct. 23 on the quad to protest the fact that Laney no longer has any full-time African American studies teachers and to demand that the administration prioritize this department for upcoming faculty allocations.

Black Studies professor collapses in class at Laney
Laney African American Studies professor Dr. Mary Lewis collapsed during a class Oct. 23 in E-207. She was hospitalized, but is now in stable condition.

Opinion
Who is the real 'American Gangster'?
One hundred years later and the negative portrayals of Black men on the big screen still remain. Enter "American Gangster."

Is African Black?
For Blacks, it is often debatable as to who are Blacks? Are they any different from Africans? Who are African-Americans?

Features
Farrakhan speaks 'live' at Laney
Nearly 350 people came to the Laney College Forum on Oct. 16 to hear the Nation of Islam's (NOI) leader, the Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan, speak live via webcast.

What's Going On?
Laney students sound off on how they would "improve Laney College."

Culture
'MAAFA' remember at Ocean Beach
On an early Sunday morning in October, hundreds of the descendants of Africans who survived the Middle Passage, slavery, Jim Crow, and institutionalize racism, gathered at Ocean Beach in San Francisco to deal with the trauma and heal from the legacy of oppression.

Arts
Ebony & Johnny light up West Oakland
Ebony & Johnny explores a variety of issues affecting the Oakland through the experiences of two hood-crossed lovers.



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Is African Black (Part 3)

Although some African Americans are yet to fully identify themselves with the motherland either out of curiosity or interest but some are definitely not considering themselves Africans or do not like to be called Africans.
For Quinesha (real names withheld), who doesn’t want to be called an African gave her reasons as thus, “there is just too much going on in Africa ; AIDS, poverty etc therefore, since I wasn’t born there, I don’t want to be considered as one.” On the other hand, Patrick (real names withheld) thinks because it is very difficult for him to flow with Blacks born in Africa , it is therefore impossible for people to mistake him for an African. To him, the accent and the way Africans carry themselves make it difficult to “flow” with them. He went further by saying that he thinks Africans are too reserve, conservative and shy in a lot of ways thereby making interaction difficult.

On the contrary, some Blacks born in America who has never been to the African continent before still have a very strong interest in learning about the different African cultures and values. This interest alone does make a huge difference between these interested minds and the likes of Quinesha and Patrick mentioned above.

However, it is pertinent to note that the reason some Blacks wouldn’t like to associate with Africans could be because of “self pride” and the impatience in learning about the different African cultures. Also, another factor could be the painstaking in getting used to the numerous African countries there are, the various tribes and ethnicity, the food, languages etc. Notwithstanding, the cost of taking a trip to Africa and the travelling distance involved has really discouraged most Blacks. Therefore, it becomes a personal decision as to do I want to be called an African because I am Black or I am an African because I am from the Motherland?

So, what’s the buzz in being a Black, an African or an African-American? Are they all the same meaning? Is it the skin color, different weather conditions, country of birth, difference in food, difference in cultural and moral values, accent, difference in looks, dress sense/code, family structure, languages, tribes, areas of interest etc that defines who an African is or because statistical data defines it as Blacks or African-American.

Blacks need to wake up and embrace one another in love and stop worrying about what they think about Africa . All the media does is neglect the beauty of Africa and stereotype AIDS, poverty and corruption for the world to see. Africa is full of life and rich in resources. Blacks could be called Africans if they identify themselves as one, and possess in them the reassurance of a better Black generation. Being Black is beauty itself and we glow in pride and not in shame or denial. We are the ones that have endured persecutions and war; therefore, we have to stay strongly in love, and not in separation. Unity should be our watchword, and there should be no “I” in place of “we” and “me” in place of “us” It would be a shame for Blacks to continue in disunity because we are all one from the Motherland, we should sing it loud with a collective Black voice. Let’s not hate on one another because life is too short. We are the World’s greatest and should start living it. ONE LOVE!

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What's Going On?

November 18, 2007

Laney College students share how they would improve Laney College.


How would you improve Laney College?

Students should voice concerns on what they are learning and different teaching methods. The smoking on campus is really bad. I hear it is smoke-free but there needs to be better signage.

Denita Scott
Film

There should be more activities for incoming freshmen, like Black College Tours. We need more energy in the environment. It makes me not want to come to school. We need more support and encouragement, too.


Justin Thompson
African American Studies/Economics

Laney needs more academic programs like music industry and recording engineering courses. Athletics could use more support, games should be major events to get people to participate. I had a free pass but I didn't even want to go.


Ernie Rocker
Theater Arts

More pride. Just because Laney is a community college doesn't mean it is not a place of learning. The feeling takes you back to high school where people only went to school because they had to.


Antionette Bracks
Theater Arts

This is a really diverse campus and I would like to see a lot of cultural events for the different races and backgrounds to increase awareness. There could be an event to bring people together, like a talent show, each month.


President L. Davis
Marketing/Sociology


Compiled and photographed by Justin Thompson and Reginald James.

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Black Studies professor collapses in class at Laney

November 16, 2007

Dr. Mary Lewis hospitalized but in stable condition

Laney African American Studies professor Dr. Mary Lewis collapsed during a class Oct. 23 in E-207. She was hospitalized, but is now in stable condition.

Details about what caused her collapse are still uncertain, but some have speculated it was due to her workload at Laney.

Lewis is one of two part-time professors who have had to work overtime this semester due to staff shortages in Laney’s Ethnic Studies Department.

More information in the next issue of the Laney Defender.

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Who is the real 'American Gangster'?

November 15, 2007

Brother Reggie, Laney BSU Defender Editor

Remember the film "The Birth of a Nation"? Based on Thomas Dixon's novel, The Clansman, the 1915 film set during and after the U.S. Civil War, is one of the most influential films in the history of Hollywood.

Due to the innovative technical feats of the time, it is still considered required viewing for all college film students. But the film glorifies the Ku Klux Klan while depicting the Black man as a savage beast.


One hundred years later and the negative portrayals of Black men on the big screen still remain. Enter "American Gangster."
One hundred years later and the negative portrayals of Black men on the big screen still remain. Enter "American Gangster."

Now brace yourself for "American Gangster" overload: (1) the film starring Denzel Washington, (2) the Jay-Z album, inspired by the film, and (3) the DVD release of BET's documentary series. All right on time to satisfy America's craving for the savage Black brute.

The BET documentary series has fascinated nearly one million viewers per episode for nearly a year now with its classic American crime stories. America's most infamous Black "gangsters"--you know the ones your favorite corporate rappers impersonate and imitate--are dramatized on the silver screen.
I don't know what is worse, our international image as Black men, or our internalized self-concept. Not only do people believe we are criminals, at home and abroad, but many of us believe it and fall victim to the limited lifestyle of crime and the expanding prison industrial complex.
Denzel's "American Gangster," brings the life of Frank Lucas, a 1970's Harlem drug lord, to the big screen. Although Denzel won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of a crooked cop in "Training Day," he did not win for "Malcolm X," in 1993. And since Hollywood loves the image of the "Bad Black Guy," Denzel is sure to be rewarded again.

Lastly, Jay-Z's upcoming lyrical interpretation of "American Gangster" will likely do nothing more than promote Black gangsterism.

I don't know what is worse, our international image as Black men, or our internalized self-concept. Not only do people believe we are criminals, at home and abroad, but many of us believe it and fall victim to the limited lifestyle of crime and the expanding prison industrial complex.

"American Gangster" is American violence in blackface. The real "American Gangsters" reside in the White House.
"American Gangster" is American violence in blackface. The real "American Gangsters" reside in the White House.

Bush continues to break the supreme law of the land and, in true drug lord fashion, took over Saddam's country. There's no coincidence the Taliban banned opium production in Afghanistan, but it returned after the U.S. invasion.

Cheney...shot a man in the face and didn't serve a day.
And Cheney? He shot a man in the face and didn't serve a day.

Now that's some real "gangster $#*%!"

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Is African Black (Part 2)

On job applications and other materials containing statistical data on race sometimes get me confused. Some of these data could spell out the Black race in a column and at other times would interchange it with African-American.

It leaves me wondering if Black is the same with African-American. I am not sure what criteria were used in rating them both as the same, but I am pretty sure that it is considered to be the same for some reason.

I recall my first few months in America on every job application I fill; I get confused what to declare as my race, and whether to be marked out as an African-American or a Black.

This is because in my own understanding, being African-American means I was either born here in America or something while being an African incorporates a fine cultural background, strong ethics and moral values of a common people, well defined structural traditional values which make a huge difference.

Therefore, when I don’t see AFRICAN on race columns, I feel unease and tempted to put own column.

Blacks notwithstanding is a broad term used to describe a people who are of a Black origin? The question then becomes, who is an African? An African could be someone born in Africa or who is of African descendant. African Americans have a dual-identity. This is because they are Americans and also of the African origin.

One of my Asian friends said to me one day that it is very difficult for him to differentiate between “real” Africans and Blacks. When I asked him what he meant by “real” in his statement, he says he understands that the Blacks that are born in this country are not “real” Africans because of the significant differences he sees between “real” Africans and them.

These differences to him are; the accent, dressing patterns/styles, the kinds of food, facial structure, tribes, family structure, areas of interest, academic performance etc.

I was really perplexed with his findings because I have never really sat down to elaborate on these differences to understand if there is any truth to it.

Read More.

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Soul Cinemas: Tales from the Hood

November 5, 2007

The Laney Black Student Union (Laney BSU) screened the film "Tales from the Hood" October 31, 2007.

The Laney BSU showed the film Tales from the Hood Halloween 2007

As a part of the Soul Cinemas Film Series, the movie was selected because of the number of underlying social issues highlighted in the film (i.e. police brutality, domestic violence, "Black on Black Crime" or horizontal oppression, etc). Following the film, many students shared their own experiences with violence in the community.

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MAAFA remembered at Ocean Beach

November 2, 2007

Black Holocaust honors our ancestors who have survived ‘Middle Passage’

The Transatlantic slave trade was one of the most brutal acts against humanity in the history of mankind. Millions of Africans were kidnapped, separated from their families, and sold into slavery.

Ultimately, these prisoners of war were dispersed to three continents over a period of four centuries. It is estimated that up to 12 million Africans reached the "New World," while many more did not survive the forced journey from Africa to the Americas.




Many were thrown overboard to be fed to sharks who followed closely behind the ships in hopes of human meat; others decided it was better to seek a watery grave than to continue to face the inhumane conditions onboard, and leaped to their deaths, sometimes bringing their children with them.

To this day, sharks still swim along the same triangular path forged centuries ago.

"Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome," seeks to explain many of the adaptive survival behaviors in African-Americans communities in the United States and the Diaspora.

The atrocity is well documented and many believe that this experience, and that of slavery, is responsible for much of the psychological turmoil African-Americans experience today. A theory, known as "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome," seeks to explain many of the adaptive survival behaviors in African-Americans communities in the United States and the Diaspora.

On an early Sunday morning in October, hundreds of the descendants of Africans who survived the Middle Passage, slavery, Jim Crow, and institutionalize racism, gathered at Ocean Beach in San Francisco to deal with the trauma and heal from the legacy oppression. The "Maafa Commemoration Ritual," is a "Black Holocaust Remembrance" which was started 12 years ago.

"Maafa is a Kiswahili term for disaster, calamity, or terrible occurrence," according to the Maafa SF Bay Area website.

This ritual is for the 200 million stolen, those unnamed ancestors whose bones lie on the ocean floor and for those who survived the passage--whose sweat fertilized the coffers of Western culture.
Wanda Sabir

"People of African Descent are invited in an attempt to honor our ancestors who have suffered through the middle passage and the lives that continue to be compromised due to racism and oppression. This ritual is for the descendents of the Africans who were unwillingly transported to these shores and elsewhere in the Americas 500 years ago," says Wanda Sabir, founder of the Bay Area Maafa Commemoration.

"This ritual is for the 200 million stolen, those unnamed ancestors whose bones lie on the ocean floor and for those who survived the passage--whose sweat fertilized the coffers of Western culture."


The program began before sunrise with a drummer-led procession through the "Doors of No Return," a cloth gate supported by wood and cloth, which symbolized the doors of a slave dungeon in which captured Africans would never return again.

"The Maafa is not a choice, it is a destiny we haven't been able to escape without returning through the fire. Travel with us there this morning."
Wanda Sabir, Maafa Co-Founder

After passing by an altar, which held candles and images glorifying African civilization, sojourners formed a large circle on the beach standing close to one another to collectively bear the early morning cold from the Pacific Ocean.

Sabir gave a greeting and welcome as the circle was completed with nearly 300 African people awaiting sunrise and reconciliation.

"The Maafa is not a choice," said Sabir, "it is a destiny we haven't been able to escape without returning through the fire. Travel with us there this morning."

Sister Sipiwe and Sister Carol Afua poured libations and led the "Maafa Prayer," as people repeated the lines in both English and Shone (Zimbabwe).



As the sun peeked out over the San Francisco hills, the group then sang the "Maafa Song," led by Brother Clint. This was followed by more libations and prayers led by Minister Mxolisi of the Wo'se Community Church and Sister Geri Abrams.



The song was followed by the Maafa Chant and Dance Cycle, which was led by the Wo'se Choir and Sister Isaura Oliviera, respectively. The dance cycle featured Yoruba chants titled, "Healing," "Love," "Freedom," and "Thanksgiving," to symbolize the journey necessary to recovery from the Maafa.



"Let go of the rage that simmers in your stomach, curdles in your throat, burns as it travels in your veins," instructed Sabir, as participants were encouraged to release their frustrations, anger and pain through screaming and yelling.



The group then headed to the water's edge for individual prayers and meditation. Some chose to silently reflect, contemplating the experience of their ancestors, while others rejoiced, hands towards the sky, as their hearts felt anew. Flowers were thrown into the ocean onto the breaking waves as offerings.



Meanwhile, children danced with the incoming waves, running after receding waters and retreating in anticipation as the tide climbed up the shore towards bare feet and tennis shoes alike.

The drums soon signaled for the people to return to the circle and the event ended with a song by Lady Sunrise called "Calling all Angels," announcements and a closing poem by Javier Reyes.



"This event is an honoring of our past and also a prayer for our future," said Sabir.

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BSU demands Ethnic Studies faculty

November 1, 2007


Patience Adagba plays djembe as President L. Davis speaks at Black Studies rally Oct. 23.

Rally stresses need for full-time Black Studies professors at Laney

By Ayaan Gates-Williams

The Laney BSU held a noontime rally Oct. 23 on the quad to protest the fact that Laney no longer has any full-time African American studies teachers and to demand that the administration prioritize this department for upcoming faculty allocations.

Under the warm sun, impassioned Laney students took to the microphone to share personal stories of what African-American Studies classes at Laney have meant to them and to stress the benefits of African-American Studies, not only to African-American students, but also to our national culture as a whole.

Punctuated by live drumming, world music and progressive hip hop, the rally harkened back to the era, more than 40 years ago, when college students first began to demand "Black Studies" and "Ethnic Studies" classes.

'Students rose up and said, we want courses that reflect our interests, that reflect our culture. It's incumbent upon all of us to struggle to have these classes continue.'
Nidamu Khuthaza, All-African People's Revolutionary Party
In the 1960's and 1970's, Bay Area colleges and universities were pivotal in the national movement to bring Ethnic Studies to Higher Education. Before that time, classes like those currently offered by Laney's Ethnic Studies Department, such as African-American, Asian and Asian American and Mexican and Latin American Studies classes, were rare or non-existent.

"Students rose up and said, we want courses that reflect our interests, that reflect our culture," said Nidamu Khuthaza of the All-African People's Revolutionary Party. "It's incumbent upon all of us to struggle to have these classes continue."

Paula Parker, a post-baccalaureate music major at Laney, recalls participating in the student movement of the early 1970's in her native New York. The role of students in "supporting the Black studies classes, supporting African American faculty and making their opinions known to everybody on up to our Laney College president," is critical, she says.


Black studies is important and it needs to be taken as seriously as science, English, and everything else.
Lamar Caldwell, Laney BSU Historian

Laney BSU Historian Lamar CaldwellToo many of the current generation of young students take ethnic studies course offerings for granted and don't realize that they could lose them, she warns.

Of Laney's more than 12,000 students, 27% are African American, the second most represented ethnic group on campus. African-American Studies at Laney has gone from an all-time high of eight full-time instructors to none. This is not acceptable, insists the BSU.

BSU Historian Lamar Caldwell speaks during Black Studies rally.

Laney BSU Historian Lamar Caldwell and speaker at the rally, says the lack of a full-time professor reflects the devaluation of African American studies within the college curriculum.

"Black studies is important and it needs to be taken as seriously as science, English, and everything else," says Caldwell, "because you won't have an English department without a full-time English instructor."

"We're taught to think of Black studies as something to take for fun," said Caldwell, addressing the perception that Ethnic Studies classes are "fluff" or vanity" courses.

Khuthaza argued against the idea that students who major in ethnic studies might not be able to get a good job upon graduation.

"History is very important," says Khuthaza. "It lets us know what we've done and what we're capable of doing. It has a lot of the answers that we need to resolve a lot of the contradictions that we face today."


Rashaunah Bashir and Natalie listen to speakers raising awareness of faculty crisis of Black Studies at Laney.
He blasted the current political climate for financing a war while many citizens suffer from a lack of employment, inadequate health care and the impact of education cuts. The crisis in the Laney College's African American Studies department reflects these warped priorities, he said.




The Laney BSU meets every Thursday at 3 P.M. on the 4th Floor of the Laney Student Center in room 403. Visit Myspace.com/LaneyBSU for more info.

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Is African Black (Part 1)

By Patience Agdaba
Special to the Defender

By virtue of identifying or finding one’s place in race, it is often times a challenge to some people, and to others a collective pride for not having to identify to one’s race. For Blacks, it is often debatable as to who are Blacks? Are they any different from Africans? Who are African-Americans? It is quite an important subject that needs to be deeply looked into.

As an African and a foreigner in the United States of America , having to identify with my race is a part of me everyday of my life. I am aware of the different races in our society today and how these races are categorized on different materials or race columns. What interests me is the way races are decided upon and how they are passed on to us as final decision that has to be acceptable by everyone.

In Laney College , Blacks make up about one-third of the population of students and staff in the school. The other two-thirds are a combination of other races. Even among the Black population, questions such as "Where are you from?" "Are you African?" or "Are you African-American?" gets asked all the time.

These questions often trigger discussions amongst peers and other races who find it difficult to identify who is an African? and "Is there a difference between Blacks and Africans?"

Part II
On job applications and other materials containing statistical data on race sometimes get me confused. Some of these data could spell out the Black race in a column and at other times would interchange it with African-American.

It leaves me wondering if Black is the same with African-American. I am not sure what criteria were used in rating them both as the same, but I am pretty sure that it is considered to be the same for some reason.

I recall my first few months in America on every job application I fill; I get confused what to declare as my race, and whether to be marked out as an African-American or a Black.

This is because in my own understanding, being African-American means I was either born here in America or something while being an African incorporates a fine cultural background, strong ethics and moral values of a common people, well defined structural traditional values which make a huge difference.

Therefore, when I don’t see AFRICAN on race columns, I feel unease and tempted to put own column.

Blacks notwithstanding is a broad term used to describe a people who are of a Black origin? The question then becomes, who is an African? An African could be someone born in Africa or who is of African descendant. African Americans have a dual-identity. This is because they are Americans and also of the African origin.

One of my Asian friends said to me one day that it is very difficult for him to differentiate between “real” Africans and Blacks. When I asked him what he meant by “real” in his statement, he says he understands that the Blacks that are born in this country are not “real” Africans because of the significant differences he sees between “real” Africans and them.

These differences to him are; the accent, dressing patterns/styles, the kinds of food, facial structure, tribes, family structure, areas of interest, academic performance etc.

I was really perplexed with his findings because I have never really sat down to elaborate on these differences to understand if there is any truth to it.

Although some African Americans are yet to fully identify themselves with the motherland either out of curiosity or interest but some are definitely not considering themselves Africans or do not like to be called Africans.
For Quinesha (real names withheld), who doesn’t want to be called an African gave her reasons as thus, “there is just too much going on in Africa ; AIDS, poverty etc therefore, since I wasn’t born there, I don’t want to be considered as one.” On the other hand, Patrick (real names withheld) thinks because it is very difficult for him to flow with Blacks born in Africa , it is therefore impossible for people to mistake him for an African. To him, the accent and the way Africans carry themselves make it difficult to “flow” with them. He went further by saying that he thinks Africans are too reserve, conservative and shy in a lot of ways thereby making interaction difficult.

On the contrary, some Blacks born in America who has never been to the African continent before still have a very strong interest in learning about the different African cultures and values. This interest alone does make a huge difference between these interested minds and the likes of Quinesha and Patrick mentioned above.

However, it is pertinent to note that the reason some Blacks wouldn’t like to associate with Africans could be because of “self pride” and the impatience in learning about the different African cultures. Also, another factor could be the painstaking in getting used to the numerous African countries there are, the various tribes and ethnicity, the food, languages etc. Notwithstanding, the cost of taking a trip to Africa and the travelling distance involved has really discouraged most Blacks. Therefore, it becomes a personal decision as to do I want to be called an African because I am Black or I am an African because I am from the Motherland?

So, what’s the buzz in being a Black, an African or an African-American? Are they all the same meaning? Is it the skin color, different weather conditions, country of birth, difference in food, difference in cultural and moral values, accent, difference in looks, dress sense/code, family structure, languages, tribes, areas of interest etc that defines who an African is or because statistical data defines it as Blacks or African-American.

Blacks need to wake up and embrace one another in love and stop worrying about what they think about Africa . All the media does is neglect the beauty of Africa and stereotype AIDS, poverty and corruption for the world to see. Africa is full of life and rich in resources. Blacks could be called Africans if they identify themselves as one, and possess in them the reassurance of a better Black generation. Being Black is beauty itself and we glow in pride and not in shame or denial. We are the ones that have endured persecutions and war; therefore, we have to stay strongly in love, and not in separation. Unity should be our watchword, and there should be no “I” in place of “we” and “me” in place of “us” It would be a shame for Blacks to continue in disunity because we are all one from the Motherland, we should sing it loud with a collective Black voice.

Let’s not hate on one another because life is too short. We are the World’s greatest and should start living it. ONE LOVE!


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Free and confidential HIV/AIDS testing at Laney

Got AIDS? How do you know? One in four with HIV don’t know they have it.

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, free and confidential HIV/AIDS Testing will be held on the Fourth Floor of the Student Center from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

“The purpose of the program is to increase awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” says the Laney Black Student Union, “to provide prevention materials for at-risk populations, and refer those who are affected, and may not be aware to counseling and other medical services.”

Testing is being provided by Alameda County Medical Services-Highland Hospital and there a number of different speakers and a brief film shown from 10 a.m. -11 a.m. in D200 and 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. in the Forum.

Organized by the Laney Black Student Union (Laney BSU). Sponsored by African American Studies of Laney College, Alameda County Medical Services, Associated Students of Laney College (ASLC), Laney Health Services, Phi Theta Kappa, and Peralta Colleges’ Student Trustees.

For more information, contact Indra Thadani, Laney College Health Services Coordinator, 510-464-3513 or the Laney BSU at laneybsu@gmail.com or visit Myspace.com/LaneyBSU.

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Contribute: We accept poetry, articles and letters to the editor. Check out Submission Guidelines for more information.

Email your submissions to laneybsu@gmail.com or contact us for more information.

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