Women in Napo Blog

Women in Napo Blog
Women in Napo Blog
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We are hosting our own Women in Napo conference on Friday 7th June in Cardiff. You can email me on lrobinson@napo.org.uk. We are also looking forward to the TUC Women's Conference at the end of the first week in March.
There we will hope to meet up with reps from the Musician's Union which elected its first ever woman chair - YYeessss!!!!

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 11/02/2013 09:55 AM     General     Comments (0)  

  Women and the Cuts 2012
Here are some snippets from the report which will be on the webpage on Monday:

Existing funding streams to address violence against women and girls will be diverted, so the PCC will determine if and how this money gets spent. PCCs will act as commissioners for all local victim support services.

In March 2012 the unemployment rate for men stood at almost exactly where it did at the end of the recession in 2009 at 1.54 million, an increase of 0.32%, whereas female unemployment has increased by almost 20% to 1.13 million - the highest figure for 25 years.

Nearly 40% of women's jobs are in the public sector

In 19 councils in England and Wales women account for 100% of those losing their jobs

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 10/11/2012 08:04 AM     General     Comments (0)  

  March of the Women - Torquay 2012
Professor Gill Kirton, who completed an independent report evaluating the first year of Napo Women's Strategy said "The future lies with women". That report is on our website for you to read.

At our AGM in Torquay it was wonderful to see a significant number of female first time speakers, and (although Steering Committee will confirm) equally significant women members take part in all the debates. It was also wonderful to see the make-up of the Officers and Officials Group becoming more female.

We had a good turn out at the WiN fringe meeting, and all those women signed up to the Women's Network, a service where women members can be emailed directly on issues which affect us. The group generated lots of ideas, so Napo's Women's Strategy Group will have lots to do this year - just as well - we saw an increase in that number too!!

Please email me on lrobinson@napo.org.uk with any comments or questions.

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 10/10/2012 09:58 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  Evidence to the Childcare Commission
The TUC submitted its response to the Childcare commission's call for evidence at the end of August. It responded to questions about the rising cost of childcare for working families, the regulations surrounding childcare, and how childcare supports families to move into sustained employment.

Highlights included evidence that the TUC has submitted:

. According to the Daycare Trust, two-thirds of local authorities in England are failing in their legal duty to ensure that there is sufficient childcare available in their area and over half have had their holiday childcare budgets cut in the last year.

. The average cost of one week of full time holiday childcare in Britain is now £99.87, an increase of 3% on last year.

. A combination of wage stagnation, tax and benefit changes and cuts in public services will reduce the living standards of a typical middle Britain family by more than £4,600 by 2013.

. It is not regulation that is acting as a barrier to the expansion of high quality childcare, but funding at every level.

. The cost of breakfast clubs, after school clubs, and holiday play schemes may prove a major barrier to work.

. The most positive workforce development in terms of balancing work and childcare has been the introduction of the right to request flexible working and the subsequent increased acceptance amongst employers of different work patterns

. You can find the full report on the TUC website.

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 16/09/2012 06:57 AM     General     Comments (0)  

  Colombia needs Justice
I attended TUC Congress this week, Sunday and Monday (Officers get to go for two days and it's fascinating).

We heard an address from Carmen Mayusa, the General Secretary of the Anthoc Health Workers' union in Colombia.

You may not be aware that Colombia is the most dangerous place to be a trade unionist.

Carmen has lost several close family members, who have either disappeared or been assassinated for being trade union activists. She was also imprisoned along with her sister and her sister's eighteen month old baby for two years. Then released again. Without charge. And sometimes we think times are hard.....

This diminutive but courageous woman addressed Congress and thanked us for our support of the campaign for social justice in Colombia, and asked us to stay with her, keep up the fight.

I was moved and inspired by Carmen.

Lisa Robinson
Napo National Vice Chair

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 10/09/2012 03:39 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  Older Women in Coventry Report
This has come from Scarlet Harris, Women's Officer at the TUC

The report by the University of Warwick, called Getting off Lightly or Feeling the Pinch, is well worth a look as the findings are relevant to older women across the country, not just in Coventry. Some of the issues identified included, unemployment, employers using capability procedures and ill health procedures to "manage out" older women, access to healthcare, and access to transport.

You can download the report here.


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    Posted By: LisaR @ 28/07/2012 08:13 AM     General     Comments (0)  

  News on Maternity from the TUC

With regard to the proposals coming out of the Modern Workplaces Consultation, some of you will already know that the government has now shifted from its position of cutting maternity leave back to 18 weeks and is now proposing a system which would create more flexible additional paternity leave. The proposals as BIS officials have explained them to us are broadly positive and we are hopeful that we will be able to welcome them. The formal response to the Modern Workplaces consultation is now expected after the Summer Recess.

Here's the link to the False Economy website which highlights threats to Maternity Services


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    Posted By: LisaR @ 21/07/2012 04:35 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  Children and Families Bill
Reforms introduced in the next session of Parliament will be part of the Children and Families Bill, expected to be introduced in early 2013.

Proposals include plans to improve support for children with special educational needs and their families, which were set out in the Support and Aspiration Green Paper put out for consultation in March last year. The Government is due to publish its formal response to the Green Paper and a timetable for reform.

Other measures introduced in the bill include proposals to speed up the adoption process and family justice system.

The bill will also introduce flexible parental leave, enabling fathers and mothers to share leave entitlements after 18 weeks. The provisions would apply to England, Wales and Scotland.

The role of the children's commissioner will become more independent and will be strengthened, with the new remit to promote and protect children's rights as set out in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. The role will also be expanded to include the functions of the Children's Rights director in Ofsted. In future, the children's commissioner will report directly to Parliament.

However, children's charities said that there was not enough in the bill to support families with real problems. The Child Poverty Action Group said that there was little in the bill that would make life easier for families.

The charity's chief executive Alison Garnham said, 'More 'choice' on special educational needs is welcome, but the urgent need is for the Coalition to stop targeting disabled children with their austerity politics. In Britain, 40 per cent of disabled children already live below the poverty line.

'From next year, low income families with a disabled child will face a massive cut of £1,400 a year to disability additions when they are moved onto universal credit. This will mean a total cut of £22,000 by the time a disabled child is sixteen, which will do far more harm to health, learning and life chances than you can remedy by changing how "choice" works in education.'

There was also a mixed reaction to plans for shared parental leave. Working Families said that cutting maternity leave to 18 weeks was 'a step too far', while the Family and Parenting Institute said that making leave more flexible for parents was welcome.

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 28/06/2012 04:44 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  March of the Women
More women are now at the helm of some of the country's largest trade unions, while the unions continue their efforts to ensure women are fairly represented throughout their structures.
There has been much talk in recent times about improving women's representation on the boards of the country's leading firms, but to date women comprise only 5% of CEOs of FTSE 100 companies.
By contrast, the UK's TUC-affiliated trade unions can boast that 22% of 55 TUC affiliates have union leaders who are female.
The Labour research Department's 2012 survey sees Christine Blower, elected the first woman general secretary of the country's largest teaching union, the 337,000-member NUT, in 2009. The latest survey also includes a more recent union addition to the ranks of the top 10 unions - the UCU university and college lecturers' union, whose general secretary Sally Hunt has led that union since 2007.
Outside of the top 10, and leading two medium-sized unions, are Michelle Stanistreet, elected last year as general secretary of the National Union of Journalists which has almost 27,000 members, and Christine Payne, general secretary of the 36,500-member actors' Equity union since 2005.
It's also worth mentioning that further down the union ranks, construction union UCATT, which has a very small 2% female membership, appointed its first woman regional secretary last year. And at the CWU communication workers' union, both the president and vice-president of the union are women - a first for the union.

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 03/05/2012 01:35 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  Research on Motherhood and part time work
Motherhood and part time work - Resolution Foundation and Netmums research

A new survey with Resolution Foundation and Netmums polled over 1600 mothers. The findings chime with what we all already know:

§ Almost half the mothers on low to middle incomes take a lower skillled part-time job on their return to work after having children.

§ Even women who have a degree find it a struggle to find part time work which uses their skills and pays accordingly.

§ The majority (70%) of mothers asked did say they chose freely to work part-time, wanting to spend more time with their children in the important early years.

§ Two thirds plan to increase their hours as their children get older but also find that there is not enough opportunity for flexible work and employment which offers a flexible and well paid job that fits in around family life and school terms.

§ Part time work tends to be concentrated in low paid low skilled jobs, where opportunities for progression may be limited.

§ There seems to be a triple whammy of barriers facing mum who want to return to work full time. The lack of quality and affordable childcare was by far the biggest, followed by the lack of flexibility offered by employers. Mums in higher income groups said they were happy to work part-time and would not choose to work full time under any circumstances.

Download report in pdf format from http://www.resolutionfoundatio...n-and-part-time-work/

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 19/03/2012 09:56 AM     General     Comments (0)  

  TUC Women's Conference 2012
Napo's delegation to the TUC Women's conference this year was Caroline Bewley and Lisa Robinson (Vice Chairs), Patsy Leeman from Napo Cymru, Angela Thompson from Staffs and West Midlands, Paulette Ranger from London and Tania Bassett from West Mercia.

No matter how sceptical you might feel about women only events, or how put off you may be about terms like "sisterhood", there is something about the TUC Women's Conference that pulls you in.

There is tangible warmth as like minded women gather to look collectively at our world, locally, professionally, globally. They seem to understand and share each others' joys and sorrows.

There was a tide of motions about the cuts, and no shortage of speakers prepared to show anger at the government's treatment of women in the workplace, concern for future generations of women whose lives will be affected by this government's disregard for families, vulnerable women, children, education, equality, social justice, employment rights.

Some highlights included Vera Baird QC who has reported on women's safety being compromised because of the cuts, and Professor Sylvia Walby whose research shows that services working to end violence against women have been cut by 31%.

The TUC Women's Conference also put their money where their mouth is. Inspired by the POA delegation's donation of £500, a further collection was made to the Swindon strikers.150 GMB members have taken eleven days of strike action at the hospital against their PFI employer Carillion over allegations of bullying, harassment and discrimination.

GMB organiser Carole Vallelly said "It's all part of Carillion's wider union-busting policies. And of course it's linked to the bigger picture of trying to break the strength of unions." Officials are also investigating possible links between SkyBlue Solutions and Carillion's involvement in providing information to the "blacklisting" company the Consulting Association (CA). The CA was shut down and fined in 2009 after it had provided information to more than 40 construction companies which prevented thousands of union activists and health and safety reps from working in the industry.

Napo's Vice Chair, Caroline Bewley, successfully proposed the following motion on the cuts to legal aid. A fuller write up will be in the next Napo News.

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 17/03/2012 07:23 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  Greetings on International Women's Day

March 8th is International Women's Day.

On the eve of the event Woman's Hour on Radio 4 debated the 'Feminist Project', where it's been and where it needs to go. Helen Lewis, the Assistant Editor of the New Statesman was interviewed and said that there is "systematic discrimination against women all over the world". We have a lot to do!

Napo has drawn members' attention to a number of international campaigns and we have heard from representatives at our AGMs. One truly international campaign which Women in Napo adopted at the last AGM in 2011 was the Campaign for Women Seeking Asylum. This is a group of over 280 organisations who have endorsed the call for a gender sensitive asylum system.

Lynne Featherstone MP, the Home Office Minister for Equality, has stressed the importance of delivering the government's comprehensive strategy A Call to End Violence against Women and Girls. The strategy will help to prevent violence against women and girls, provide more support by entrenching laws aimed at protecting survivors of violence. In my view, her strategy should join up both home and away. When women flee to the UK to avoid violence, they should be treated in a a way which does not compound the trauma from which they have escaped.

You can find out more at the Asylum Aid website or email me at lrobinson@napo.org.uk.

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 07/03/2012 11:01 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  Former Governor of Styal discovers his conscience
Clive Chatterton has recently retired from his job as the governor of Styal Women's Prison. He has written to Kenneth Clarke the Justice Secretary, describing the levels of self harm among inmates as "frankly staggering...having never come across such a concentration of damaged, fragile, and complex-need individuals". He said that a third of the inmates at Styal should have never been there. He called for alternatives to prison for women could come from savings made from not jailing that third.
But why would the government listen to him now when presumably they didn't when he was in the job?
Baroness Corston conducted an enquiry into women prisoners' issues in 2007 following the deaths of six women in Styal. She called for a network of small custodial units only for those "considered a danger to the public". Five years on, pitifully few of her recommendations have been realised.

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 15/02/2012 09:00 AM     General     Comments (0)  

  New and Expectant Mothers

I have had the dubious pleasure of seeing how the New and Expectant Mothers Policy is not working in one branch, with the shabby treatment of one expectant mother by one trust which has resulted in a fair amount of distress on her part.

Did you know as an expectant mother you should have a risk assessment completed, and this should be reviewed every four to six weeks?

Did you know that your employer should provide an area for you to rest, and for new mothers, a place to express and store breast milk?

If you have any queries or concerns, or have any experience as a new or expectant mother member that is positive or negative, please let me know on lrobinson@napo.org.

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 17/01/2012 08:46 AM     General     Comments (0)  

  "If Not Now, When ? If Not Us, Who ?"
On November 16th I attended the TUC Equality Conference at Congress House. Over sixty organisations and trade unions were represented.

Zoe Williams, feminist and journalist with the Guardian opened conference and set the tone by illustrating her condemnation of the government cuts with evidence that there isn't a "single move away from social justice which doesn't affect women". For example, and this is one of many, she said 92% of lone parents are women, and changes to CSA means that they will soon be "charged to chase the absent parent" for a financial contribution. She also said that 40% of Public Sector workers are women, as opposed to 11% of men - so public sector cuts hit women hardest (In Wales the public sector is the biggest employer).

Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC gave a keynote speech to conference and in his speech stated "we know that the poorest are now paying for the bankers' crisis". He pointed out that Britain is becoming a more unequal, unfair, and unjust society, with the phrase "Women and Children first", meaning that they are at the frontline of the impact of the cuts.

Kate Green, Shadow spokesperson for Women and Equality said that there will be cuts to the child care element of Child Tax Credit, Early Years provision, Surestart provision, libraries, and leisure services - all provision that women use most. She said she believes that women feel less safe in an increasingly unequal society, where there are lower numbers of police, less street lighting and a reduction in community safety.

Some breathtaking statistics emerged during the day and here is a taster:

. In nineteen local authorities all of the redundancies have fallen on women.
. Unemployment is at a 23 year high.
. Half of BME under 25's are unemployed.
. The disabled are facing more than £9billion in cuts to support services.
. Over 650,000 people will be taken out of the scope for advice on legal issues.
. Grants to LGBT support groups are being cut

The TUC launched the Equality Duty Toolkit and the Women and the Cuts toolkit at the event.

Brendan Barber said we need to get organised, active, build alliances with other unions and community organisations because "Equal Societies are Better Societies".
He stated that the action on November 30 is action for Social Justice. We in Napo who are committed to the campaign for Justice can put our hand on our heart and say "It's Us, and It's Now".

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 23/11/2011 09:02 AM     General     Comments (0)  

  Vote Yes and join the Day of Action on November 30th
Pensions - Did You Know...

. If closed today, the Local Government Pension Scheme could still pay all of its liabilities for twenty years.

. The average pension for a local government worker is £4,000 per year - hardly gold - plated.

. Women suffer pay inequality during their working lives, which continues to impact upon them in their retirement. A quarter of single female pensioners live in poverty and for every pound of income received by men in a pensioner couple, women receive less than 32 pence.

Women often retire poorer because:

. They generally earn less

. They may have broken work patterns due to caring responsibilities and are less likely to make their full contributions to national insurance

. They often rely on their partners pension - and circumstances can change

Without better changes to the system too many younger women today will face a retirement in poverty. The move from final-salary to money-purchase schemes and proposals to increase public-sector retirement ages will impact on women as much, if not more, as men.

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 20/10/2011 02:22 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  WiN fringe meeting at AGM
We had a successful Fringe meeting of WiN at this year's AGM with a DVD on the Women Seeking Asylum Charter. Sarah Pailthorpe from Brighton Voices in Exile gave a presentation about the charter and some of the issues faced by women seeking asylum in the UK.

WiN resolved to begin a campaign within Napo to raise awareness.

This included:
. an article in December's Napo News
. Look into the possibility of a postcard campaign amongst members
. Link to other unions who are supporting the campaign via the Women's Officer at the TUC
. Promoting branch activities through regional links
. Meeting representatives of Asylum Aid to establish what more WiN can do.

A letter to the recently appointed Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency is a useful source of information for Napo members:

" The Charter was developed in 2008 as a framework of principles that we believe should underpin the treatment of women who seek sanctuary in the UK. In particular the Charter requires, as a minimum standard, that all women seeking asylum must be treated with fairness, dignity and respect, in accordance with the UK's obligations under international refugee and human rights conventions. Over 280 organisations have now endorsed the Charter, which has been instrumental in persuading Government and the UKBA to commit to a genuinely gender sensitive asylum system".

The letter goes on to say how gender discrimination is present in the Asylum System in the UK:

"Our 2009 campaign, Every Single Woman, which was run under the auspices of the Charter, called on Government and the UKBA to ensure that the minimum standards applicable to the treatment of women with the right to reside in the UK should not be denied to those who seek protection here. When a woman is the victim of rape, sexual violence or honour crime in the UK, she can expect an appropriately sensitive response from the Police and the courts. Our argument is that women fleeing violence abroad should be able to rely on the equivalent approach from our immigration services.
While 26 pieces of policy and legislation have been passed to ensure that women have access to fair treatment in the criminal justice system, only two specific policies have been adopted by the UKBA. For example, a woman settled in the UK who has been raped can expect support from specially-trained police officers; no such specialist support is on hand for a woman who claims asylum after being raped overseas. A victim of domestic violence (including 'honour crimes' or forced marriage) settled in the UK has time to build a rapport with a single official from the outset of any investigation; no such assurance is available to women fleeing such domestic violence abroad, no matter how important continuity and trust are to the disclosure of distressing information."

Here is the link if you would like to read the letter in full.


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    Posted By: LisaR @ 10/10/2011 12:54 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  Unemployment for Women
An entry on August 18 in Equality and Diversity said:

Unemployment figures have shown that women's unemployment is now at its highest in more than 30 years - 1.05 million women are now unemployed, the highest figure since May 1988.
More than half a million women - 512,700 - are now claiming job seekers allowance - the highest figure since April 1996.
A new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission considering the status of women in the UK has warned it will take another 60 years - or 12 general elections - to achieve an equal number of women MPs.
Sex and Power also found that the number of women in the Cabinet has fallen to its lowest level in a decade. Women are similarly absent from the top tables of media, business, the judiciary, the arts and the education sector.
Anna Bird, Acting Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, said:
"It's 2011 and women remain largely excluded from positions of power and influence in virtually every sphere of life - the media, the judiciary, the education sector and more. There is a shocking absence of women in politics - men MPs outnumber women 4 to 1, the number of women in the Cabinet is at a 10 year low.
"The absence of women from positions of power across the country is especially worrying, given that women today face an uncertain future. The number of women out of a job reach is now at a 30 year high - more than a million women are now unemployed; at the same time women are facing widening inequality as cuts to public services and benefits bite.
"This report must act as a call to arms; the government and others can no longer turn a blind eye to this injustice, wishing and hoping it will sort itself out.
"Decisions that affect us all, be it how to balance the nation's budget, or our preferred system of welfare, are being made without women round the table. We look forward to hearing all political parties respond to today's findings and explain their plans to challenge this stark and persistent injustice.
"Fawcett believes that Government should lead the response: David Cameron must honor his pledge to run a Cabinet where women make up one third of the Ministers. In times of economic difficulty it becomes more not less important to have a range of voices and experiences inform government policy.
"Unless all political parties take radical action to open up politics to women, calls on business and the like to open up their top tables to women sound hollow"

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 27/08/2011 08:57 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  Female Unemployment up by 15% (with further rise expected)
An article appeared in the Evening Standard on Friday stating that the public sector cuts are affecting women disproportionately to men. The link is below, along with the main points of the article.


Figures for June showed female claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance rose 9500 in June to 493,900 - the highest since August 1996.
Recent benefit changes - such as moving single parents off income support to Jobseeker's Allowance -account for part of the rise but women account for around two-thirds of the public sector's six million employees.
Female unemployment passed the one million mark last year whereas male joblessness has seemed to be lowering, according to the Office for National Statistics. Tony Dolphin, chief economist at the Institute for Public Policy Research, said: "Public administration, health and education is the only broad sector of the economy where more women than men are employed.
"With the Government planning to implement more cuts in the public-sector workforce over the next few years, the outlook for female unemployment is likely to remain gloomy for some time."
As a public sector service employing a majority of women this has particular resonance for the Probation Service and Cafcass, and undoubtedly for Napo.

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 18/07/2011 02:36 PM     General     Comments (0)  

  Women Seeking Asylum Charter - Napo signs up
Napo is one of over two hundred organisations to endorse the Women Seeking Asylum Charter. It is a campaign which is now two years old. It calls on the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to commit to treating women seeking asylum with fairness, dignity and respect.

To mark the two year anniversary of the campaign a report, "The Charter of Rights of Women Seeking Asylum, 2 Years On: Impact and Actions" has been published and can be found here:


The report shows what is being done around the UK to further the campaign.

A sister campaign, "Every Single Woman" was launched in 2009 as part of the charter. Its aim was to bring ministerial pressure to bear on the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
You will be interested to know that there is a marked disparity between the experiences of female victims of sexual and domestic violence going through the criminal justice process in the UK and that of women asylum seekers who have experienced the same crimes abroad and are going through the asylum process in the UK. Clearly a number of our members will work with people in both those groups. Whilst the purposes of the two processes are not the same - one is to investigate a crime and the other is to determine refugee status - the sensitivities required are similar. To rectify this disparity, the campaign argues, the lessons learned by the criminal justice system needs to be transferred into the asylum system.

Lisa Robinson
National Vice Chair

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    Posted By: LisaR @ 08/07/2011 09:26 AM     General     Comments (0)  

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