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Archive for January 16th, 2010

Katrina-Style ‘Relief’ Done All Over Again: America Is Failing Haiti

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Patrick Cockburn / The Independent – January 16, 2010

The US-run aid effort for Haiti is beginning to look chillingly similar to the criminally slow and disorganised US government support for New Orleans after it was devastated by hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Five years ago President Bush was famously mute and detached when the levees broke in Louisiana. By way of contrast, President Obama was promising Haitians that everything would be done for survivors within hours of the calamity.

The rhetoric from Washington has been very different during these two disasters, but the outcome may be much the same. In both cases very little aid arrived at the time it was most needed and, in the case of Port-au-Prince, when people trapped under collapsed buildings were still alive. When foreign rescue teams with heavy lifting gear does come it will be too late. No wonder enraged Haitians are building roadblocks out of rocks and dead bodies.

In New Orleans and Port-au-Prince there is the same official terror of looting by local people, so the first outside help to arrive is in the shape of armed troops. The US currently has 3,500 soldiers, 2,200 marines and 300 medical personnel on their way to Haiti.

Of course there will be looting because, with shops closed or flattened by the quake, this is the only way for people to get food and water. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. I was in Port-au-Prince in 1994, the last time US troops landed there, when local people systematically tore apart police stations, taking wood, pipes and even ripping nails out of the walls. In the police station I was in there were sudden cries of alarm from those looting the top floor as they discovered that they could not get back down to the ground because the entire wooden staircase had been chopped up and stolen. 

I have always liked Haitians for their courage, endurance, dignity and originality. They often manage to avoid despair in the face of the most crushing disasters or any prospect that their lives will get better. Their culture, notably their painting and music, is among the most interesting and vibrant in the world.

It is sad to hear journalists who have rushed to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake give such misleading and even racist explanations of why Haitians are so impoverished, living in shanty towns with a minimal health service, little electricity supply, insufficient clean water and roads that are like river beds.

This did not happen by accident. In the 19th century it was as if the colonial powers never forgave Haitians for staging a successful slave revolt against the French plantation owners. US marines occupied the country from 1915 to 1934. Between 1957 and 1986 the US supported Papa Doc and Baby Doc, fearful that they might be replaced by a regime sympathetic to revolutionary Cuba next door.

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic populist priest, was overthrown by a military coup in 1991, and restored with US help in 1994. But the Americans were always suspicious of any sign of radicalism from this spokesman for the poor and the outcast and kept him on a tight lead. Tolerated by President Clinton, Aristide was treated as a pariah by the Bush administration which systematically undermined him over three years leading up to a successful rebellion in 2004. That was led by local gangsters acting on behalf of a kleptocratic Haitian elite and supported by members of the Republican Party in the US.

So much of the criticism of President Bush has focused on his wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that his equally culpable actions in Haiti never attracted condemnation. But if the country is a failed state today, partly run by the UN, in so far as it is run by anybody, then American actions over the years have a lot to do with it.

Haitians are now paying the price for this feeble and corrupt government structure because there is nobody to co-ordinate the most rudimentary relief and rescue efforts. Its weakness is exacerbated because aid has been funnelled through foreign NGOs. A justification for this is that less of the money is likely to be stolen, but this does not mean that much of it reaches the Haitian poor. A sour Haitian joke says that when a Haitian minister skims 15 per cent of aid money it is called “corruption” and when an NGO or aid agency takes 50 per cent it is called “overheads”.

Many of the smaller government aid programmes and NGOs are run by able, energetic and selfless people, but others, often the larger ones, are little more than rackets, highly remunerative for those who run them. In Kabul and Baghdad it is astonishing how little the costly endeavours of American aid agencies have accomplished. “The wastage of aid is sky high,” said a former World Bank director in Afghanistan. “There is real looting going on, mostly by private enterprises. It is a scandal.” Foreign consultants in Kabul often receive $250,000 to $500,000 a year, in a country where 43 per cent of the population try to live on less than a dollar a day.

None of this bodes well for Haitians hoping for relief in the short term or a better life in the long one. The only way this will really happen is if the Haitians have a legitimate state capable of providing for the needs of its people. The US military, the UN bureaucracy or foreign NGOs are never going to do this in Haiti or anywhere else.

There is nothing very new in this. Americans often ask why it is that their occupation of Germany and Japan in 1945 succeeded so well but more than half a century later in Iraq and Afghanistan was so disastrous. The answer is that it was not the US but the efficient German and Japanese state machines which restored their countries. Where that machine was weak, as in Italy, the US occupation relied with disastrous results on corrupt and incompetent local elites, much as they do today in Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Exactly the conversation I had with a colleague this afternoon after watching the Three (criminal) Stooges – Obama, Bush, and Clinton – tell the American people and the world on the global boob tube to… “just send your cash!” Trust us, they said. We’ll… “spend your money wisely!”

Trust you? Trust the government that just stole upwards of $28 TRILLION dollars from the American people? Who spy on us? Who are subverting the Constitution? Who are systematically destroying our economy? Who are endlessly murdering countless innocent people across the globe? Swine flu? Global warming? Trust YOU? I’ll take my chances jumping out of an airplane with no parachute and hoping the lofty breeze carries me to safety upon an albatross before I ever trust this criminal enterprise of Nazi, fascist, communist, socialistic traitors controlling our now rogue government! Did you hear that, Sunstein?! – SJH

Link to original article below…

Obama’s Close Confidant Cass Sunstein’s Spine-Chilling Proposal

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Glenn Greenwald / Salon – January 15, 2010

Cass Sunstein has long been one of Barack Obama’s closest confidants.  Often mentioned as a likely Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Sunstein is currently Obama’s head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for “overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs.”  In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-“independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government.  This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists.  The paper’s abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here

Sunstein advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups.”  He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called “independent” credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging (on the ground that those who don’t believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government).   This program would target those advocating false “conspiracy theories,” which they define to mean: “an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”  Sunstein’s 2008 paper was flagged by this blogger, and then amplified in an excellent report by Raw Story‘s Daniel Tencer.

There’s no evidence that the Obama administration has actually implemented a program exactly of the type advocated by Sunstein, though in light of this paper and the fact that Sunstein’s position would include exactly such policies, that question certainly ought to be asked.  Regardless, Sunstein’s closeness to the President, as well as the highly influential position he occupies, merits an examination of the mentality behind what he wrote.  This isn’t an instance where some government official wrote a bizarre paper in college 30 years ago about matters unrelated to his official powers; this was written 18 months ago, at a time when the ascendancy of Sunstein’s close friend to the Presidency looked likely, in exactly the area he now oversees.  Additionally, the government-controlled messaging that Sunstein desires has been a prominent feature of U.S. Government actions over the last decade, including in some recently revealed practices of the current administration, and the mindset in which it is grounded explains a great deal about our political class.  All of that makes Sunstein’s paper worth examining in greater detail.

Link to entire article below…

Obama Continues To Spread US War Flames To Engulf Middle East

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Sherwood Ross / Global Research – January 16, 2010

As President Obama steps up the war that is inflaming ever wider sectors of the Middle East, USA continues its rapid slide toward Third World status. The two developments are not unrelated. Spending on war does not boost an economy as does domestic spending—and the Pentagon has been spending trillions on war.

At the start of the last decade, the U.S. was producing 32 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. At decade’s end, it was just 24 percent, conservative columnist Patrick Buchanan observed. “No nation in modern history, save for the late Soviet Union, has seen so precipitous a decline in relative power in a single decade,” he writes.

Buchanan cites the George W. Bush Republicans for turning a budget surplus into a huge deficit with tax cuts and social spending. He also faults GWB’s two wars, adding, “the huge U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq serves as (al-Qaeda’s) recruiting poster.”

This is the desperate situation President Obama is compounding by dispatching 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, building up U.S. and NATO forces there to nearly 140,000. To this figure add 100,000 U.S. contractors, making the actual number of military-related personnel about a quarter million. All at the expense of the American taxpayers!

“The war—once mostly limited to Pakistan border—has spread to nearly every corner of the country” and “penetrated” the capital Kabul “with car bombings and spectacular attacks,” the AP reported January 10th. Its headline: “Afghans Losing Hope After 8 Years of War.”

The AP quotes 19-year-old carpet-seller Hamid Hashimi stating, “The more soldiers they send here, the worse it gets.” And the more misguided air attacks that kill civilians, the angrier Afghan civilians get. The raids “have previously killed civilians and inflamed anti-American sentiment among Afghans,” Joshua Partlow reported in the Washington Post.

“The use of Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles to fire missiles, while not as frequent as in Pakistan, is increasingly common in Afghanistan,” Partlow wrote. And based on a study by the non-profit, New America Foundation of Washington, D.C., President Obama has increased those strikes dramatically.

According to the AP of Jan. 15, there have been more than 70 U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan over the last two years. “At least 700 people are reported to have been killed, many of them militants, including several foreign al Qaeda leaders, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.”

The wire service continues, “In public, Pakistani government officials criticize the strikes and say the United States, which is deeply unpopular in Pakistan, is acting unilaterally.”  The CIA-directed program began in earnest two years ago, AP says. “The surge signals the Obama administration’s reliance on the tactic despite official protest from Islamabad.”

(Note that the U.S. is “deeply unpopular” in Pakistan. Imagine its unpopularity across the Moslem world, Asia, and even much of Europe. As one Middle East businessman cracked after being wrongly tossed into an American jail, “I’ve bought my last Cadillac.”)

By pouring in hundreds of thousands of troops to chase after a few hundred al Qaeda militants, the U.S. is spreading the war to wider and wider areas, and by using aerial assassination tactics, it is turning civilian populations into America haters.

These tactics raise the question of whether the U.S. will launch air strikes anywhere it believes al Qaeda forces are. Senator Carl Levin, Armed Services Committee chairman, January 13th asked whether the war will widen to include Yemen, known to have al Qaeda forces there. Will Yemen become the fourth country in which the U.S. is fighting? And, if you credit a report by Seymour Hersh that the U.S. already has “boots on the ground” in Iran, will there soon be all-out fighting in five Middle East countries?

According to liberal columnist Jim Hightower (Dec. 2nd), the government’s “rationales for escalation are hardly confidence boosters. The goal, we’re told, is to defeat the al-Qaida terrorist network that threatens our national security. Yes, but al-Qaida is not in Afghanistan! Nor is it one network. It has metastasized, with strongholds now in Pakistan, Indonesia, Morocco, Yemen and Somalia, plus even having enclaves in England and France.” Exactly, and why Buchanan used the phrase “recruiting poster.”

Hightower claims, “Obama has been taken over by the military industrial hawks and national security theorists who play war games with other people’s lives and money.” As this writer noted earlier, the Pentagon’s yearly budget now exceeds the annual expenditures of all 50 states for the health, education, welfare, and safety of 308-million Americans. What do you call that if not a warfare state? 

Whoever is calling the shots, the cost to Americans and to the people of the Middle East is sobering. As Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz and financial analyst Linda Bilmes wrote in “The Three Trillion Dollar War”(Norton): “Miserable though Saddam Hussein’s regime was, life is actually worse for the Iraqi people now. The country’s roads, schools, hospitals, homes and museums have been destroyed and its citizens have less access to electricity and water than before the war.” They add, “Apart from America’s oil and defense industries, it is hard to find any real winners.” Life is also worse for the American people, too, and not just from higher gasoline prices. 

Millions of Americans have been sliding into poverty since 2001, losing their homes and jobs, and are unable to afford to educate their children. Stiglitz writes the true cost of the Iraq conflict is $3 trillion and points out for one-third that sum the USA could have built, for example, eight million new housing units (and created an immense number of new jobs in the process) or educated 43 million college students—giving a terrific boost to the economy. 

But instead of seeking diplomatic solutions, President Obama is continuing the blind wars of aggression launched by his predecessor. Terrorist missile strikes kill just like IEDs. Those who wage war are terrorists, period.  When will Americans catch on?

Link to original article below…

“Inside Story”: Who Assassinated The Iranian Scientist / Professor?

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Al-Jazeera: English

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: This has all the earmarks of a Mossad operation. Notice how every time Marandi, the gentleman from Tehran, brings up the connection between the U.S., Israel, and terrorist organizations inside Iran, the moderator cuts him off. Meanwhile, a caption is repeatedly shown throughout the interview stating…



2009: More US Military Personnel Commit Suicide Than Are Killed

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John Donnelly / – January 16, 2010

More U.S. military personnel have taken their own lives so far in 2009 than have been killed in either the Afghanistan or Iraq wars this year, according to a Congressional Quarterly compilation of the latest statistics from the armed services.

As of Tuesday, at least 334 members of the military services have committed suicide in 2009, compared with 297 killed in Afghanistan and 144 who died in Iraq, the figures show.

Lawmakers in recent years have been increasingly concerned about the growing problem of military suicides, especially in the Army. They have been holding hearings, passing bills and approving billions of dollars more than requested to improve mental health care for military personnel and veterans.

But even those who have been most intensely focused on the issue said they found the new numbers alarming. So far in 2009, the Army has had 211 of the 334 suicides, while the Navy had 47, the Air Force had 34 and the Marine Corps (active duty only) had 42.

“These numbers are just staggering and, tragically, are an indication that we are simply not doing the job of providing adequate mental health care for both our active-duty service people and our veterans, said Bob Filner, D-Calif., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Armed forces personnel traditionally have had a much lower suicide rate than the population at large. Because the most recently available national suicide statistics from the Centers for Disease Control are from 2006, it is impossible to know whether the current military rate is higher than the current civilian rate. However, the civilian suicide rate for males ages 20-29 hovered around 20 per 100,000 during the first half of this decade. The Army said its suicide rate is now a bit higher than that for the first time.

Moreover, the total number who have killed themselves in 2009 is probably higher than 334, because the figure does not include unavailable suicide statistics for 2009 for Marine Corps reservists or veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who have left the service.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Hmmm… Does guilt from the daily murder of innocent men, women, and children by our military personnel to protect oil and poppy fields have anything to do with it?SJH

Link to entire article below…

Aid Slowly Reaches Haiti As Desperation Grows – Katrina Deja Vu?

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Alfred de Montesquiou and Mike Melia / Associated Press – January 16, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Pushed to the far edge of desperation, earthquake-ravaged Haitians dumped decaying bodies into mass graves and begged for water and food Friday amid fear that time is running out to avoid chaos and to rescue anyone still alive in the wreckage.

The U.S. military brought some relief, taking control of the airport, helping coordinate flights bringing in aid and evacuating foreigners and the injured. Medical teams, meanwhile, set up makeshift hospitals, workers started to clear the streets of corpses and water was being distributed in pockets of the city. But the task was enormous.

Aid workers and authorities warned that unless they can quickly get aid to the people, Port-au-Prince will degenerate into lawlessness.

There were reports of isolated looting as young men walked through downtown with machetes, and robbers reportedly shot one man whose body was left on the street. Survivors also fought each other for food pulled from the debris.

“I’m getting the sense that if the situation doesn’t get sorted (out) real soon, it will devolve into chaos,” said Steve Matthews, a veteran relief worker with the Christian aid organization World Vision.

Time also was running out to rescue anyone who may still be trapped alive in the many buildings in Port-au-Prince that collapsed in Tuesday’s magnitude-7.0 quake.

Link to entire article below…

The Latest Earthquakes Around The World For The Past 7 Days…

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United States Geological Survey – January 16, 2010

Latest earthquakes magnitude 2.5 or greater in the United States and adjacent areas and magnitude 4.5 or greater in the rest of the world – Last 7 days. This list contains all earthquakes with magnitude greater than 2.5 located by the USGS and contributing networks in the last week (168 hours). Magnitudes 4.5 and above are in bold font. Magnitudes 6 and above are in red. (Some early events may be obscured by later ones on the maps.)

The most recent earthquakes are at the top of the list. Times are in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

Update time = Sat Jan 16 6:00:03 UTC 2010

y/m/d h:m:s
MAP  3.7   2010/01/16 05:37:14    59.800   -152.309  85.4   SOUTHERN ALASKA
MAP  3.2   2010/01/16 04:44:40    19.028    -66.815  10.1   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  2.5   2010/01/16 04:27:04    58.287   -152.324  69.3   KODIAK ISLAND REGION, ALASKA
MAP  2.6   2010/01/16 04:21:19    32.106   -115.382  13.6   BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO

y/m/d h:m:s
MAP  3.1   2010/01/15 23:58:08    18.545    -66.175  104.1   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  3.0   2010/01/15 23:43:21    18.985    -68.694  4.6   DOMINICAN REPUBLIC REGION
MAP  3.1   2010/01/15 23:35:39    60.715   -152.415  120.7   SOUTHERN ALASKA
MAP  2.5   2010/01/15 23:25:45    33.962   -116.887  6.9   SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAP  2.8   2010/01/15 23:19:53    34.059   -117.257  17.3   GREATER LOS ANGELES AREA, CALIFORNIA
MAP  3.4   2010/01/15 22:42:09    19.067    -66.763  9.1   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  3.0   2010/01/15 22:23:17    19.125    -66.813  24.5   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  3.0   2010/01/15 22:06:08    19.123    -65.599  6.1   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  3.1   2010/01/15 21:58:21    19.092    -65.338  13.6   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  4.7   2010/01/15 21:04:47    18.012    -72.333  10.0   HAITI REGION
MAP  2.9   2010/01/15 20:51:52    19.002    -65.413  47.6   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  4.6   2010/01/15 20:04:12    18.439    -72.856  10.0   HAITI REGION
MAP  2.8   2010/01/15 19:46:20    32.308   -115.175  6.0   BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
MAP  2.9   2010/01/15 19:04:47    18.810    -67.397  6.3   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  5.6   2010/01/15 18:00:49    10.421    -63.495  11.7   SUCRE, VENEZUELA
MAP  2.8   2010/01/15 17:43:28    18.919    -65.959  2.8   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  3.0   2010/01/15 17:34:49    19.406   -155.306  14.4   ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP  2.8   2010/01/15 17:18:01    18.548    -66.177  103.0   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  3.1   2010/01/15 17:15:52    18.827    -65.299  94.8   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  2.7   2010/01/15 17:03:44    19.802   -155.340  30.6   ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
MAP  5.3   2010/01/15 15:44:48    43.617    146.661  35.1   KURIL ISLANDS
MAP  3.8   2010/01/15 15:27:02    35.569    -97.277  5.0   OKLAHOMA
MAP  4.0   2010/01/15 15:18:26    35.574    -97.249  5.0   OKLAHOMA
MAP  2.9   2010/01/15 14:20:50    36.037   -117.846  2.9   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  2.9   2010/01/15 14:17:43    32.189   -115.367  6.0   BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
MAP  3.1   2010/01/15 13:42:18    32.147   -115.374  6.0   BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
MAP  4.6   2010/01/15 13:41:44    18.401    -72.816  10.0   HAITI REGION
MAP  3.4   2010/01/15 13:39:31    36.036   -117.848  1.2   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  2.9   2010/01/15 12:06:41    18.851    -65.675  80.1   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  2.9   2010/01/15 12:05:37    19.070    -65.340  16.1   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  5.3   2010/01/15 11:08:37    26.728    126.395  127.0   RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN
MAP  5.0   2010/01/15 10:38:26   -31.902   -175.740  10.0   KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
MAP  3.6   2010/01/15 10:29:59    36.029   -117.840  1.7   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  5.4   2010/01/15 10:14:03   -31.945   -177.371  10.0   KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
MAP  3.5   2010/01/15 09:28:19    36.024   -117.839  2.8   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  3.0   2010/01/15 09:25:13    36.034   -117.851  2.9   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  3.0   2010/01/15 09:25:01    19.123    -65.612  6.2   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  4.7   2010/01/15 08:56:07    18.470    -73.020  10.0   HAITI REGION
MAP  2.5   2010/01/15 08:44:38    36.030   -117.843  2.8   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  2.9   2010/01/15 08:43:41    36.025   -117.837  10.2   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  2.6   2010/01/15 08:43:10    36.057   -117.845  2.6   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  2.5   2010/01/15 08:25:23    36.030   -117.832  3.3   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  2.5   2010/01/15 08:24:16    36.032   -117.837  0.4   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  4.4   2010/01/15 08:23:27    36.031   -117.843  1.3   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  3.2   2010/01/15 07:49:12    19.028    -65.378  96.4   PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  2.6   2010/01/15 07:03:25    40.621   -124.376  14.0   OFFSHORE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAP  2.5   2010/01/15 04:52:33    36.032   -117.847  3.3   CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
MAP  4.8   2010/01/15 02:47:17    2.459    126.261  97.1   MOLUCCA SEA
MAP  3.5   2010/01/15 02:13:52    33.178   -115.609  1.5   SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAP  3.4   2010/01/15 02:12:57    33.178   -115.604  2.2   SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAP  3.1   2010/01/15 02:01:34    33.182   -115.601  2.8   SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAP  5.3   2010/01/15 00:06:47    7.182    126.000  28.2   MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES


The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: The list is continually updated. I only included January 15, 2010 up to the time of this posting. Go to the link below for the entire 7 day updates… – SJH

Written by Steven John Hibbs

January 16, 2010 at 1:25 am