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TPL · Rebeccaite Prisoners Enter Guilty Pleas

The special commission trying the Rebeccaite cases continued on , starting by considering the cases against David Jones and John Hugh, who were captured during a Rebeccaite attack on a toll booth. They chose to plead guilty, probably as the evidence against them was pretty near identical to what the same jury had been convinced by a couple of days earlier in the trial of John Hughes, who had been captured alongside them.

A report of the pleas and sentencing appears in the Monmouthshire Merlin.

The court sentenced Jones and Hugh to be exiled to a penal colony in Australia for seven years. Hughes, however, got sterner treatment:

He appeared to be one in a station of society far above the rest — one not likely to be misled by others, and upon evidence proved to be a leader, if not the leader of this lawless multitude.

He got 20 years of penal colony exile. The court then moved on to other cases. The charges against David Lewis were dropped. Lewis Davies was charged with destroying a turnpike-gate, and pled guilty, but was not yet sentenced.

Morgan and Esther Morgan pled guilty to assisting in the assault on the man sent to take Henry Morgan prisoner, but the prosecutor, “[c]onsidering their advanced age and other circumstances connected with the case,” declined to pursue the felony charge. Margaret, Rees, and John Morgan also pled guilty, Margaret to the assault itself, and the others similarly with abetting. The prosecutor again declined to pursue the felony charges, “and observed that, having ascertained the circumstances under which this aggravated assault had taken place, he did believe they were under a mistake with respect to the right to resist. Under these circumstances he was not disposed to press for a severe punishment in this case…” Margaret was sentenced to six months in prison, and Rees & John to twelve months each.

The Rebeccaites were “bad cops” that allowed peace-loving, law-abiding, innocent Welsh farmers to play “good cop” and use the implicit threat of Rebecca to get more attention for their grievances. Here is an example (from the Monmouthshire Merlin):

High Rate of Turnpike Tolls at Nash, &c.

To the Editor of the Monmouthshire Merlin

Sir, — I am sorry no abler pens than mine have undertaken to draw the attention of our neighbourhood to the monstrous high rate of tolls, as well as the unequal system of collecting them. For instance, from Nash or Goldcliff we only travel one mile on the turnpike road, and have to pay 9d a horse, while in many districts it is only 3d or 4d, and where, too, materials are much more expensive.

Again, the toll to Caerleon from Newport, I understand, is 17d or 18d for one horse. Surely, the tolls might be arranged so that a person might pay in proportion to the distance he has to travel, for under the present system he might go thirty or fourty miles for the same money he is obliged to pay for one — As we small farmers find great difficulty in scraping our rents together for our landlords, I hope and trust the proper authorities will look after these local burdens, as they were advised to do by Lord Granville Somerset at the last Quarter Sessions, in order to prevent tumults and outrages like those which are disgracing South Wales, for we ar really very desirous that Rebecca and her children should never come among us to create an anti-toll rebellion — we would rather have our grievances redressed after a lawful fashion.

Should you think these few remarks deserve a corner in your intelligent paper, till some abler advocate may come forward you will greatly oblige,

Several Poor Little Farmers.

PS. Would not our monthly agricultural meeting do a good service to us, by taking the matter into consideration, with a view to assist.


let’s twift again like we did last summer


alright taylor. first let me drop my little tears. as someone who is very identified with country, i regret the loss. on the other hand, the genre should have nothing but gratitude for her songs, her persona, and her demographic effect. also, the extent to which country song forms are actually distinct from other pop songforms is not all that dramatic. really she's often writing in the same vein as ever, and a mandolin ring would transform it into a country song. also one misgiving overall: i do feel that vocal effects are used excessively. that is one way you signal 'pop' now. i think the emphasis on vocal effects in pop has gone on too long and has run its course. it's not interesting anymore. i think it will make the pop music of 2005-2015 sound pretty dated and kitschy pretty soon. also, taylor just does not need this, or not on so many songs; she's a beautiful singer, often on multiple soaring simultaneous tracks. it does work on some of these songs very well, however; but if i were mixing the album i would de-process vocals throughout.

certain of her very great strengths as a songwriter are well-suited to a country frame; she often wants to tell stories. she still does that on some cuts here. she has also had astonishing moments of writing in personae - an abused boy on 'mean', for example, a 'barbie on the boardwalk, summer of '45' on 'starlight'. i think there's less scope for moves like that on the sort of pop anthems that dominate 1989. and i'm just going to say it: from multiple points of view including dad, i liked the relatively innocent romantic persona that taylor constructed as a country star. i'm not that into what katy and miley portray themselves as getting up to on a given friday.

but if taylor were to continue to sort of portray the small-town high school sweetheart or something, it'd be straight fake at this point. and i do think that her basic project is an autobiography; she really has, i think, sung quite thoughtfully and honestly about her own life at every stage, though of course she is also mythologizing her own life or dramatizing it shamelessly, yet with evident sincerity. this is very much what touches young women and also other people about her music. (like say you've been watching your daughters grow up, move to new york, and stuff.) and she seemingly effortlessly treats her own story as emblematic; you know she wrote '15' when she was 15 (well, maybe 16), '22' when she was 22, and the stories she told in those songs really did take on a funky universality in their specificity, like a good memoir should. (listen back to '15' and realize it really is about her best friend, who has told her own story, and loves that taylor told it.)


[take in the audience response. each girl in that crowd is her.]

so look she's on the cover of every magazine, dating hot pop stars or whatever, jetting around the world. i am going to say that might be a hard story to tell honestly. but i really think that within the parameters of pop music she has done so. the album represents a move to new york (already in process on red) and that represents a stage of life - hers, and others'.

 it's in the lyrics, but it's in the music on multiple levels; everything gathers around this transition. taylor's writing is remarkably sophisticated, and here the styles of music - often leaning on a version of the '80s-revival synths currently in fashion - themselves have an autobiographical force; her music now corresponds to how she lives now. within this frame, many of the greatest strengths come through just fine on 1989. for example, as i've said before, the transitional elements of a taylor swift song - intro, bridge, ending, and so one - are always frigging perfect. also her lyric turns of phrase are consistently better than they need to be, which is especially evident with the pop frame. 'i'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream'. 'boys only want love if it's torture'. 'the monsters turned out to be just trees.' "band-aids can't fix bullet holes." often the phrase and thought is almost familiar, but has some element of displacement or reversal. taylor was never a cliche; she has always been a cliche with a twist.

in other words, she writes a perfect pop song, and she does that here over and over. within these parameters there is a wide range of moods. also, even more than usual - and again appropriately to the genre shift - there are earworms galore; it's very head-infesting. 'how you get the girl' has a kind of perfect ethereal lightweight synth-pop thing going that works beautifully with that lighter-than-air soprano. maybe a little echo of ed sheeran, here and elsewhere.

'bad blood' would be another example of the earworm effect, and the basic form is an arena-full of fist-waving taylors chanting the hook. maybe it's partly about katy perry and partly in the style of katy perry, and in general i would say taylor's friendships and musical fanships are inscribed throughout, again as part of the memoir. (something tells me that even with all the love stuff, there's nothing taylor swift cares about more than music.) so apparently she's very close to lorde (what a great witchy yinyang), and lorde's infuence appears again and again, either directly (as on 'i know places') or passed through several stages. it doesn't feel derivative; it feels like taylor has really incorporated the whole thing into her own life and hence style. 'wildest dream' sure owes a lot to lana del rey, but obviously it is taylor not lana (not least on the bridge), and the mood is wistful, not suicidal.

right now i think the strongest songs are, first, "out of the woods", which is a good capsule of the album and just an outstanding piece of song-building.


and i do gravitate to the slowest and most meditative moments. few people can write a pure love song as well as she can ('sad, beautiful, tragic', e.g.). and i give you 'this love', flirting with valentine's-day cliches, but such a beautiful and subtle and also simple melody, and such a beautiful vocal arrangement, with an underlying melancholy. my favorite song is the one that ends the album: 'clean'. you wouldn't think someone could do a compellingly fresh version of 'i'm addicted to your love', but there it is, and it also marks the transition of taylor into someone who, perhaps, has been exposed to things like drugs and drug problems. quietly, it is a masterpiece: "the drought was the very worst, when the flowers that we'd grown together died of thirst...'


they've kept the album off youtube so far pretty effectively. but maybe this is better anyway. all over america, girls are up in their bedrooms working up these songs. this one really gives an intense and beautiful rendition; it's a good representation of the spirit of the song, and of what taylor means.

me on the last album, 2012's 'red'

me on taylor, circa 'speak now'

and again




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Gimme a Fucking Break, Joe

We already knew Joe Biden was a useful idiot for the “Green” (actually greenwashed) or “Progressive” wing of corporate capital, because of his indignation over the “theft” of “intellectual property.” He denounced “stealing” songs or movies as morally equivalent to a “smash-and-grab at Macy’s” — and in keeping with that belief has supervised FBI actions to shut down alleged “file-sharing” websites, based entirely on executive fiat, from Disney headquarters. But as demonstrated by his recent scolding on the state of America’s infrastructure (Emily Badger, “Joe Biden is very angry at us for skimping on America’s infrastructure,” Washington Post, Oct. 21), that’s not the only aspect of the “Progressive” Capitalist model he endorses.

In the past, Biden said, the US invested in big transportation projects — like the national railroad system, civil aviation and the Interstate Highway System — even when there didn’t seem to be money for it.

And indeed it did. Large-scale transportation infrastructure has been central to the rise of the American corporate economy. And investment in infrastructure has always been an important part of American political agendas that served big business interests. The Federalists and Whigs supported subsidized transportation infrastructure — “internal improvements” — for promoting commerce. The Transcontinental Railroad and the rest of the centralized nationwide system of trunk lines was made possible by enormous land grants and other subsidies; and that system, according to Alfred Chandler, was what enabled big national manufacturing corporations for the first time to produce for nationwide wholesale and retail networks. The American civil aviation system is almost entirely a creature of the state; the airport infrastructure was built at taxpayer expense, and the postwar ascendancy of jumbo jets was made possible only by Truman’s heavy bomber program, which made them feasible by fully utilizing the expensive dies needed to produce them.  The Interstate Highway program — supervised by former GM chief Charlie Wilson — made possible the centralization of food processing and retail, and in particular the big box stores’ “warehouses on wheels” distribution model. It also promoted the creation of urban freeway systems and the other concomitants of the car culture and suburban real estate boom.

And don’t forget the role that large-scale hydroelectric dams have played in the growth of American agribusiness, like providing cheap irrigation water to the big California operations.

These gigantic infrastructure projects have served two major roles. First, by absorbing massive quantities of otherwise idle surplus capital and creating the basis for entirely new industries, they serve as one of the “counteracting tendencies to the falling direct rate of profit” that Marx described in volume 3 of Capital. As Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy wrote in Monopoly Capital, the state remedies the crisis of surplus capital by taxing it and then investing it directly. Such infrastructure also amounts to what James O’Connor, in Fiscal Crisis of the State, described as socializing the operating costs of big business in order to render capital artificially profitable.

So if you enjoy living in a society dominated by big business, you should love infrastructure as much as Biden does.

Of course “intellectual property” — Biden’s other hobbyhorse — also played a central role in the rise of American corporate capitalism. According to leftist economic historian David Noble, American industrial cartels depended heavily on the exchange and pooling of patents. AT&T had its origins in the Bell Patent Association, and by the time the original Bell patents expired Bell labs had hedged them in with a whole host of patents on secondary aspects of telephony in order to lock AT&T indefinitely into control of the market. Westinghouse and GE created a stable consumer appliances industry by pooling their patents. The US chemical industry was able to get big only after the WWI Justice Department seized German chemical patents and distributed them to the American players. And RCA was created by pooling the patents of five major radio companies.

Both of these dependencies — infrastructure and “intellectual property” — apply to the new Green/Progressive Capitalist coalition in spades. The key players in this new industrial model see it as another “social structure of accumulation” or “Kondratiev long-wave,” which will once again provide a generation-long investment sink for surplus capital and subsidize the profitability of a whole cluster of new industries. This model is celebrated in economist Paul Romer’s “New Growth Theory,” and fronted by so-called “patriotic billionaires” (I pause to vomit) like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates along with Bono. It’s heavily centered on new, “green” technologies and other forms of high tech, and even more so on the use of “intellectual property” to enclose the new technologies as a source of rent. The early proponents of the “Information Super-Highway”  in the late ’80s and early ’90s — Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, Bill Gates — envisioned the Internet as a glorified cable TV system of static corporate websites, walled gardens and one-way streaming of proprietary content. Fortunately the more horizontal, hyperlinked World Wide Web forestalled this. Today, likewise, the same coalition hopes to enclose solar and wind power, energy-efficient technologies and mass transit infrastructure and milk profits off it by interposing themselves as gatekeepers between the technologies of abundance and the consumer. Even if Tim Berners Lee prevented the creation of a totally enclosed Web, the entertainment industry is still doing its best to promote a unidirectional model of streaming proprietary content.

It’s telling that Biden chides us for not having “across the board… the single most sophisticated infrastructure in the world” because new smart infrastructures are the other main component of the Progressive Capitalist model. GE’s hope for enclosing the distributed micromanufacturing revolution as a proprietary, walled-garden “Internet of Things” depends on a high-speed Internet and smart power grid. Warren Buffet’s wind farms, likewise, are only profitable if a taxpayer-funded smart grid exists to transport their power to urban markets.

Biden himself is an enthusiast for high-speed rail. High-speed rail is basically a subsidized yuppie boondoggle for business travelers who, in a rationally organized world, would be telecommunicating — if their jobs existed in the first place. It’s especially sad because it diverts investment from ordinary rail — like freight rail — which would be far more cost-effective. For the cost of providing Amtrak service to the northeastern corridor, or building high-speed rail between LA, Sacramento and the Bay, it would be possible to expand existing bottlenecks in the national rail system and replace some 80% of long-haul trucking with freight rail shipping. And local light commuter rail systems, using existing infrastructure, would be a far more rational investment than building new regional infrastructure for business travel.

Sadly, many on the Left who should know better are taken in by greenwashed corporate capitalism’s claims to be a genuine alternative. Writers for the Solidarity Economy Network — many of whose activities I support, and which I regard as an enormously promising umbrella organization of valuable alternative economy organizations — frequently show indications of having bought in to the kind of “Progressive Capitalism” that seeks to coopt and enclose them as a source of profit. These manifestations include hopes to “save Detroit” — a fundamentally pathological product of mid-20th century mass-production industrial gigantism — by converting the legacy auto industry to producing buses or high-speed trains (For example, the SEN website reproduced a story from Shanghai Daily under the title “Why It Matters If You Have a Green Industrial Policy vs. a Military-Industrial Policy,” Oct. 22). No, it really doesn’t — except to the rival coalitions of corporate pigs competing for taxpayer money.

Don’t be deceived. “Progressive Capitalism” is a counterfeit of genuine distributed, open-source, cooperative and commons-based economics — an attempt to put new wine in old bottles, and appropriate the technologies and possibilities of the successor society as a source of vitality for a dying system. When you see Rachel Maddow standing in front of a giant dam on one of her PSAs, or Joe Biden conjuring up the ghosts of FDR and Charlie Wilson, remember that no one capitalist political party is the servant of corporate capital. They all are.

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12 out of 13 Ain’t Bad

Twelve past Nobel Peace Prize winners are asking a 13th member of their club to ensure that the Central Intelligence Agency’s upcoming report includes information about harsh interrogation US government tactics following 9/11.

While these 12 Nobel laureates seem to understand the moral imperative of transparency and simple human decency, even during the so-called “war on terror,” the 13th – the face of a murderous, imperial presidency — is widely regarded as having tainted the award.

The other 12 winners understand, as does any decent person, that neither democratic votes nor Nobel Prizes license one to bomb, spy on or torture innocent people. Unfortunately the 13th winner disagrees and he’s the one with his finger on the trigger of US military might and intelligence operations.

The previous winners say American leaders “have eroded the very freedoms and rights that generations of their young gave their life to defend.” While the notion of young people giving their lives to protect Americans’ freedom is based on a misreading of America’s foreign policy and why most wars are actually waged, the laureates’ sentiments are correct. American leaders, especially the 13th awardee, have completely torched Americans’ liberties.

What these 12 peace advocates seem to understand, and what the commander in chief either doesn’t understand or utterly dismisses, is that people are of equal moral worth. Regardless of color, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, intellectual ability, wealth, stature or election record, every human being is fundamentally equal as regards moral status.

This insight goes a bit further than the commonly repeated phrase, “equality under the law,” though. While that’s a nice ideal, far superior to the current state of affairs, it doesn’t fully capture the above moral fact. As Roderick Long writes, “… equality involves not merely equality before legislators, judges, and police, but, far more crucially, equality with legislators, judges, and police.”

I would add soldier, CIA operative, president and Nobel Peace Prize winner to that list.

Engaging in and justifying torture is only one evil measure in a long list of actions the US government has taken in the war on terror. The 12 Nobel Peace Prizers are correct so far as they go – releasing information regarding the torture that America engaged in is important – but they really only scratch the surface of government violations of liberty.

Transparency after the fact won’t make the victims of inhumane interrogation tactics any better off. It won’t change the institutional problems that allow government to get away with unaccountable torture in the first place. And it certainly won’t address the 13th winner’s other policies that are anything but peaceful.

While it’s commendable and positive for the Nobel-ers to urge transparency in the upcoming CIA report, a sense of proportion is vital. Forgetting the US government’s countless other evils over the last 13 years would be a major moral failure.

After all, if the government doesn’t have the moral authority to torture people and keep that information from the public, how can it have the moral authority to spy on people, detain people indefinitely or carry out drone strikes that kill children?

What on Earth could grant a person the moral authority to do those things, especially if we are of equal moral standing as I assert above. Hopefully someone asks this to lucky number 13 at the next White House press conference. And hopefully he takes a hard look at his track record compared to the records of  his fellow Nobel Peace Prize winners.

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Featured Zine: Writing To Prisoners FAQ

From Sprout Distro:

As part of an effort to highlight different titles in our distro catalog, we’re going to be doing semi-weekly blog posts to “feature” different zines.

This week’s featured zine is “Writing to Prisoners: Frequently Asked Questions.” Published in 2013 by Black Cat Factory with text borrowed from Leeds Anarchist Black Cross, “Writing to Prisoners” is a great introduction to writing to prisoners. It covers the basics from how to find prisoners to write to and the mechanics of doing so, to suggestions about the oftentimes more difficult question of “what to write about.”

From the zine:

“Probably the easiest and arguably most important aspect of supporting prisoners is writing to them. One of the hardest things for many prisoners to cope with is the feeling of isolation – being cut off from friends and family and everything they know in their normal lives. A letter or postcard from the real world, even from a complete stranger, helps to maintain a connection with the outside and relieves the infernal tedium of a regime that often involves spending 23 hours of the day in the same cell. For a first-time prisoner, especially in the early stages of a sentence, this type of support can make a huge difference, helping them cope with the unfamiliar and often intimidating surroundings. For political prisoners, victims of miscarriages of justice and those fighting back from within, it’s a simple message of solidarity – you’re not on your own!”

You can order the zine online from us or download the PDF and print your own copy. It makes a great zine to hand out at a prisoner letter writing night or while tabling in support of political prisoners.

The post Featured Zine: Writing To Prisoners FAQ appeared first on Sprout Distro.

Support C4SS with Errico Malatesta’s “The Anarchy”

C4SS has teamed up with the Distro of the Libertarian Left. The Distro produces and distribute zines and booklets on anarchism, market anarchist theory, counter-economics, and other movements for liberation. For every copy of Errico Malatesta‘s “The Anarchy” that you purchase through the Distro, C4SS will receive a percentage. Support C4SS with Errico Malatesta‘s “The Anarchy“.


$2.00 for the first copy. $0.90 for every additional copy.

“Even if we pursue our hypothesis of the ideal government of the authoritarian socialists, far from resulting in an increase in the productive, organising and protective forces in society, it would greatly reduce them, limiting initiative to a few, and giving them the right to do everything without, of course, being able to provide them with the gift of being all-knowing. . . .”

“To destroy authority, to abolish government, does not mean the destruction of individual and collective forces which operate in society, nor the influences which people mutually exert on each other. . . The abolition of authority means, the abolition of the monopoly of force and of influence. . . The abolition of government does not and cannot mean the breakdown of the social link. Quite the contrary From the free participation of all, by means of the spontaneous grouping of men according to their requirements and their sympathies, from the bottom to the top, from the simple to the complex, starting with the most urgent interests and arriving in the end at the most remote and most general, a social organisation would emerge the function of which would be the greatest well-being and the greatest freedom for everybody, and would draw together the whole of mankind into a community of comradeship, and would be modified and improved according to changing circumstances and the lessons learned from experience.”

“This society of free people,
this society of friends is Anarchy. . . .”

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Rich Country, Poor Pensions.

       Every time one of our pampered privileged millionaire parasites that frequent the Westminster Houses of Hypocrisy and Corruption, stick their face in front of a TV camera or a reporters microphone, they spout the same shit about how they fixed the economy. We are told to be grateful, our economy is growing, while the rest of Europe is suffering.
      While Chief Executives rub their sweaty hands as the cash pours into their safe haven, tax dodging , off-shore bank accounts, you and I would search high and low for signs of that “fixed economy” or results from the “growing economy”. While our privileged plunderers tell us how well we are doing, we should have a look at all those struggle countries in Europe. A little look at pensions will indicate how we compare, after all how we treat our elderly is some indication of what type of society we

Fuel poverty kills more people than road accidents in UK.

     These figures are the latest for 2013 and make very interesting reading, especially to us, in the “fixed economy” and the "best growth” in Europe.
Country.      Pension.    Average Earnings.
Spain              £26,366             £23,491
Germany        £26,366              £29,366
Sweden           £25,155              £37,014
France            £15,811              £29,817
Denmark         £11,381             £45,661
Netherlands     £10.981            £35,627
Ireland             £10,415            £41,863
UK                £7,488           £31,413
Greece              £3,756              £17,772
     Actually the UK pension is not yet £7,488, that is the projected figure for 2016, at the moment is nearer £5,500.That puts almost on par with Greece and its economy has been decimated by the ravaging and plundering of the financial Mafia.
       The UK is the tenth richest country in the world by GDP, and the third richest in Europe, yet we languish at the bottom when it comes to the welfare of our elderly. These figures are just one, of the many pointers, to the vast divide in this country between rich and poor. The UK is a true capitalist country, work all your life for carp wages and get a crap pension when you retire. Except of course, if you belong in the echelons of the pampered parasites who at present, hold the levers of power. It is indeed a class society, and it is at war.
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Stumbling Pins – „Lifetime Crisis“ 7″EP available NOW !

FFM038 OUT NOW! New acoustic EP of our Gaarden-based mates and comrades Stumbling Pins! After this famous underground-boygroup – which we count to the rare cluster of bands who deserve the holy label of punkrock – hasn‘t released new records for two years now, they have locked themselves into their bunker for the last weeks and recorded four hot acoustic songs. It’s all about pain, love, hate, fear and surviving in this estranged capitalist world. 7″ EP comes in beautiful hardcover and with lyric sheet and extra download code. ORDER HERE or save your exemplar at the record release show on november 14th @ Schaubude Kiel!

*** Special note for all the locals from Kiel-Gaarden: If your shipping address includes the german postcode 24143 you can profit by the very special FF neighborhood service to get your copy of this release: YES! Your friendly recordhawker from the block really makes home visits, what means that you can order this record postage free and pay comfortable at your door (cash only)!!

A Mother Who Just Wanted to Know When Her Son Would Eat

I'm happy to announce that my latest piece on Waging NonViolence focuses on the organizing of family members of people who have spent years, if not decades, in California's Security Housing Units (aka extreme isolation or solitary confinement).

The temperature in Corona, Calif., can soar above 100 degrees in the summer, sometimes climbing as high as 110.

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What do Private Prisons Have to do with the Upcoming Elections?

My latest on Truthout examines private prisons, campaign contributions, personal investments and the upcoming election:
What do private prisons have to do with the upcoming elections?

Let's start with several hundred thousand dollars in campaign contributions.

Idaho, for instance, has recently seen how campaign contributions can ease corporate accountability when scandals and lawsuits hit.

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