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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00


    Friday, November 13, 2009

    Epic fail: LA Times claims fake catholic group's statement was issued by USCCB

    Memo to the Los Angeles Times: fire Kim Geiger, and fire her editor while you are at it.

    The Catholic News Agency has identified this article published five days ago by the Los Angeles Times which falsely attributes two quotes authored by the fake "catholic" group Catholics United to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

    As of this writing, the error is still uncorrected on their website. Did the entire staff decide to take a vacation? 

    This mistake is either laziness or manipulation on the part of the author, and to such a serious degree as to warrant a correction and an apology, and soon.

    The error is also disturbing because it plays into the propensity of some news outlets to create/allow confusion over what is the true position of the US bishops on this sensitive and critical issue of health care reform. 

    On the day of the health care debate last weekend I pointed out that the website Politico, which is very popular among DC political operatives and hill staffers, had misleading blog posts and a misleading cover story/headline for the majority of the day, claiming that the US bishops had "signed off" on PelosiCare. 

    The danger here was that hill staffers would relay the misleading information they read on Politico to their bosses who would then go to vote on the floor thinking that the US bishops had signed off on health care reform in the format it was being voted on at that time, when in actual fact the bishops still opposed it.

    In any case, an error of this magnitude should simply be corrected, and immediately.

    The LATimes author can be contacted at kgeiger@latimes.com. {update - her email address has apparently been disabled or her inbox is full. - you can still email their complaints department readers.rep@latimes.com}


    Oh, and for the record, Chris Korzen and all his buddies at Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and Catholics for Choice are a bunch of self-serving, duplicitous parasites and I'll be happy to debate their campaign of distortions and misinformation any time someone wants to sponsor it. I say this with all charity because it's the truth. They are paid to confuse and deceive Catholics and they should be ashamed for it.

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    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Life: New York Times prints photos of abortion victims

    An important event happened over the weekend in the pro-life movement:

    On Saturday, the New York Times included a front-page, above-the-fold news story that presents a strangely fair portrayal of pro-life advocates who engage in street activism.

    Meanwhile, the Times' Photography, Video, and Visual Journalism online section features a photo montage showing the pictures of babies who died in abortions {warning, leads to graphic material}. {Accompanying video report here - also includes graphic images.}

    Monica Migliorino Miller, a Michigan pro-life advocate and professor at Madonna University, has taken so many pictures of babies killed in abortions she is regarded as an expert of sorts.

    She told LifeNews.com over the weekend that the Times show and online pictorial is "nearly unprecedented in 37 years of legalized abortion."

    "Perhaps for the first time in the history of the pro-life movement a nationally recognized paper -- or any newspaper for that matter -- has deliberately printed photos of actual abortion victims," Miller said.

    Miller talked about the genesis of the news report and online photo spread [here].

    Miller encourages pro-life advocates to comment on the Times story and to thank the newspaper for running the photos online.

    Monica Miller is extremely well known in the Michigan right-to-life movement.

    She is also of the 88 people currently being sued by Notre Dame University for peaceful demonstrations on their campus leading up to the appearance of President Obama earlier this year.

    I know many people disagree with the pro-life use of images which show the remains of aborted unborn children. Nonetheless, most of us have seen them, at this point. And I don't think we should look past the fact that, having seen them, we can choose not to use them, but many people who are "pro-choice", have never seen them.

    I think anyone who votes to protect or promote abortion, especially late-term abortion, should have the opportunity of seeing what they are voting for.

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    Friday, September 04, 2009

    MSM shocked that Catholics see connection between prayer, sex

    Just because its off-beat news day:


    Roman Catholic couples are being encouraged to pray together before they have sex.

    A book published by a prominent Church group invites those setting out on married life to recite the specially-composed Prayer Before Making Love.

    It is aimed at 'purifying their intentions' so that the act is not about selfishness or hedonism.

    The prayer, which appears in the Prayer Book for Spouses, implores God 'to place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes'.

    It adds: 'Open our hearts to you, to each other and to the goodness of your will.

    'Cover our poverty in the richness of your mercy and forgiveness. Clothe us in true dignity and take to yourself our shared aspirations, for your glory, for ever and ever.' - UK Daily Mail
    Tsk-tsk, those Catholics and their unhealthy views about sex.

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    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Day 4: MSM takes note of Notre Dame scandal (finally)

    It took awhile, but the mainstream media is finally taking note of the Notre Dame scandal, aided no doubt by the tends of thousands of signatures gathered by the Cardinal Newman Society (and more by the minute).

    Drudge recently posted this story with the headline: "Obama faces Notre Dame Catholic backlash..." and once Drudge picks it up, it's news. Numerous media outlets are posting their own coverage of the controversy.

    {update - the story has also made the front page of FoxNews.com...

    ... told you the story would be big.}

    This means we can now expect such enlightened commentary as this from the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder:
    "Life, Taken For Granted: Given that President Obama went out of his way to give pro-life pastors a prominent place at his inauguration, aren't the demands of those who want Notre Dame to rescind its commencement invitation to Obama a little.... well... of course they're predictable...but mostly... uncivil? Also: aren't both side of the abortion debate more mature than this now? Shouldn't pro-lifers want as much contact with Obama as possible?"
    First of all, that's a very ironic title, because most people who have life do in fact take it for granted. Second - let me get this straight: Obama invites a few folks who happen to be pro-life to his inauguration and that means the debate about life issues is over?! Third, isn't it a problem in the first place that pro-lifers have had so little involvement in Obama's administration? Pro-life Catholics shouldn't have to pander for face time.

    Also: you will see this insinuation of Ambinder's repeated by others which basically goes "isn't it time to move on?" It's an extremely patronizing misdirection which dismisses debate without even attempting a response ... because they'd much sooner have us stay quiet. Consider for a moment: how much attention do you think the media would be paying to Obama's position on life issues right now if this protest wasn't taking place?

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    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Was Pope Benedict misquoted on condoms in Africa? Maybe not.

    Damian Thompson proposes that he was:

    The Vatican has just published its transcript of the Pope's comments about AIDS in Africa and it turns out he said that condoms risk making the problem worse.

    Maybe it doesn't make much difference, but the English-speaking press had the Pope saying that it "even aggravates the problems". Not quite the same resonance; not as headline-worthy.

    The CNS blog meanwhile reports on a clarification issued by Vatican spokesman Fr. Lombardi, this after CNS's own John Thavis claimed Pope Benedict to have said the distribution of condoms "only increases the problem of AIDS."
    ... now, this is not the end of the story. Here's why:
    The Vatican press office has royally flubbed its handling of these situations before.
    I remember breathing a sigh of relief last year during the pope's in-flight interview on his way to the United States that nothing went wrong, because things did go wrong in 2003 during the pope's in-flight interview on his way to Brazil. The Vatican press office's solution was to issue a toned-down version of the pope's remarks about Mexican lawmakers the next day.
    The Vatican press office might have decided to apply that same solution today. Especially since, from what I've seen, Fr. Lombardi has not specifically claimed that the mainstream media's reporting of the pope's words was in fact erroneous.
    One thing we can be sure about: because the Vatican has denied claims made by the mainstream media about what the pope actually said, you can bet that the mainstream media sources are going to go back to their audio/video recordings of the interview and double-check what he said.
    So be prepared - possibly - for an audio or video clip of the Pope, well, misspeaking.
    Then again, this could just be media bias. Time will tell. Stay tuned. And be aware of the history, too.
    update: Ruth Gledhill agrees about the comments (though I don't agree with her about condoms).

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    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Roundup: MSM coverage of the Connecticut Rally

    Closing down shop for the day, but before I head out the door:

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    Monday, November 24, 2008

    "Pew study finds election coverage of religion was shallow"

    No kidding.

    Of note:
    "Sen. Joe Biden, who is the first Catholic elected as vice-president and whose pro-abortion rights views and comments were criticized by leading prelates, received only 0.7 percent of religion-focused campaign coverage, according to Pew."
    Remember, under-reporting is a form of media bias as well.

    update: Phil Lawler on this.

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    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    AP publishes amazingly objective Pelosi article

    Again, an incredible development: the Associated Press has issued a surprisingly objective and balanced take on Pelosi-Gate, and the story has been picked up by the Drudge Report, so everyone will read it:

    Pelosi gets unwanted lesson in Catholic theology

    Politics can be treacherous. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked on even riskier ground in a recent TV interview when she attempted a theological defense of her support for abortion rights.

    Roman Catholic bishops consider her arguments on St. Augustine and free will so far out of line with church teaching that they have issued a steady stream of statements to correct her.

    Look how the AP author, Rachel Zoll, refuses to let Pelosi contradict the historical record (underlining mine):

    Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said in a statement defending her remarks that she "fully appreciates the sanctity of family" and based her views on conception on the "views of Saint Augustine, who said, 'The law does not provide that the act (abortion) pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation.'"

    But whether or not parishioners choose to accept it, the theology on the procedure is clear. From its earliest days, Christianity has considered abortion evil.

    "This teaching has remained unchanged and remains unchangeable," according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law."

    Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church to prove a point? How radically theologically-competent is that?

    On Pelosi's prevaricating about free will, Zoll says:

    Regarding individual decision-making, the church teaches that Catholics are obliged to use their conscience in considering moral issues. However, that doesn't mean parishioners can pick and choose what to believe and still be in line with the church.

    Lisa Sowle Cahill, a theologian at Boston College, said conscience must be formed by Catholic teaching and philosophical insights. "It's not just a personal opinion that you came up with randomly," she said.

    Catholic theologians today overwhelmingly consider debate over the morality of abortion settled. Thinkers and activists who attempt to challenge the theology are often considered on the fringes of church life.

    I almost can't beleive I'm reading lines and quotes like this in the AP. What a refreshing denial of relativism. Even Cahill comes through with a solid statement.

    But that isn't even the greatest part:

    However, there is a rigorous debate over how the teaching should guide voters and public officials. Are Catholics required to choose the candidate who opposes abortion? Or can they back a politician based on his or her policies on reducing, not outlawing, the procedure?

    The U.S. bishops addressed this question in their election-year public policy guide, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship."

    They said that voting for a candidate specifically because he or she supports "an intrinsic evil" such as abortion amounts to "formal cooperation in grave evil."

    In some cases, Catholics may vote for a candidate with a position contrary to church teaching, but only for "truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences," according to the document.

    ... I can never remember reading anything so clear and objective in a mainstream reporting article. I'm going to try to do some research to figure out how something this good made it out underneath the editorial radar, but in the meantime, I post it now so that it might be widely read and distributed.
    Suffice it to say, whoever was advising Zoll sure set her far along the straight and narrow.

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    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    MSM tries to come to grips with Pelosi story

    I'm not terribly impressed with the Washington Times' coverage, but let's move on to the AP, which fairly accurately summarizes the back-and-forth up to this point. I don't like the opening, however:

    Under fire from U.S. Catholic bishops, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not backing off contentious comments about abortion she made during a weekend television talk show appearance.

    Since when have bishops ever been able to correct someone without "putting them under fire"?It's such a needlessly inflammatory phrase (ha).
    But I do like appreciate that the AP underscores the fact that Pelosi has not backed down and is remaining obstinate. She had a chance to find a way out, and she chose to stay in her mistake (and frankly, it seems she is counting on the obscurity of her argument to carry the day or at least confuse the issue enough to make people lose interest).

    The story's ending interests me as well:

    Daly said that while Catholic teaching is clear that life begins at conception, many Catholics do not agree. He said Pelosi "agrees with the Church that we should reduce the number of abortions" by making family planning more available such as increasing the number of comprehensive age-appropriate sex education and adoption programs, Daly said.

    The Catholic Church is opposed to artificial contraception.

    There's something wonderfully simple about that last line. Here's another simple line: "The Catholic Church has always been opposed to abortion."
    Oh wait, I guess that one isn't so understandable to some.

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    Monday, May 12, 2008

    John Allen on what to take away from the pope's visit

    And not just what the media can take away - what the Church should take away, too.

    Sure, there is lots of details and (perhaps) foreign jargon and categories in Allen's piece.

    But bottom line: good things happened, and there is potential for better things to take place.

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    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    CNN planning extensive papal coverage

    I generally refrain from news stories on news channels about news organizations ... but it looks like CNN is making a major play for papal coverage. In terms of reporting (not in terms of commentary), CNN has been a step ahead of the other major networks in covering the 2008 presidential race. I wonder how they'll do with the pope.

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    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Perfectly Ridiculous: Danny Deutsch baits Ann Coulter

    Oh my. So Ann Coulter is getting lambasted across the Internet and around water coolers as an anti-semitic bigot because she said "Jews need to be perfected" during an interview with Danny Deutsch (who is Jewish).

    Kevin McCullough takes us through the essential backstory here. Evidently Coulter and Deutsch have known each other for some time, on friendly terms. Deutsch clearly capitalized upon the fact that Coulter was off-guard and pushed her until he had got what he wanted out of her: a quotation that was - to his mind - damning (As McCullough shows in another video clip, he's done this to guests before).

    Watch the video with Coulter and see how it plays out:


    Now, Coulter is using the term "perfected" in a theologically precise way. I'd bet dollars-to-donuts that Danny Deutsch doesn't know what she actually meant by "perfected." He clearly took it to mean that all Jews are imperfect (i.e., sinful) and need to become Christian to become perfect (=holy). That would have been exactly the kind of incendiary comment he was seeking. And I guess he doesn't allow truth to get in the way of soundbites.

    Coulter, of course, did not mean to say that Jews are inherently sinful or uniquely imperfect, at least if she was using the term correctly (and I think her later attempts at clarification reveal that she does have a basic grasp of the concepts). At this point, she did miss a golden opportunity to quickly and definitively clarify what she meant. She should have said, "That's okay, Danny, Christians believe they need to be perfected, too!"

    Lost opportunities aside, A 0.3 second Google search brought up this article: "The English Term Perfect:Biblical and Philosophical Tensions" which begins to address the problems involved with using the word "perfect" precisely according to its etymological root vs. using it according to the modern usage of common parlance.

    Briefly: "Perfected" in the context of the moral life means "to be made complete," or more precisely: "to possess everything required to complete one's nature." When anyone is baptized into Christ they are "perfected" because the wounds of original sin, common to all humanity, have been healed and they are made newly-able to participate in the divine life through grace. The rest of our post-baptism life is spent becoming more perfect.

    Don't expect folks looking for a fight to make it past the word "perfected" in this debate.

    Do expect 90% of the blogs, comments and arguments you read to completely miss this point.
    Update: In response to some questioning comments (which are fully understandable):
    I'm only trying to make the point that the word "perfected" is being taken the wrong way. I am not a) defending everything Ann Coulter has done or b) condoning her general demeanor during the segment. But the fact remains that she was correct, precisely speaking, in her formulation. And if she's being offensive, Jews (and the world) have to take up with this issue with Christianity - not Ann Coulter, per se.

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    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Reuters provides accurate coverage of Pope's comments re: embryonic stem cell research

    This is the first time (and hopefully not the last!) that I can remember reading an accurate, honest treatment of the Church's opposition to ESCR in the mainstream media which also mentions the many forms of stem cell research that the Church does support.

    My comments in brackets:

    [Reuters:] Pope Benedict appealed to scientists on Thursday to stop using human embryos in stem cell research, saying it violated "the dignity of human life".

    The Vatican is a proponent of stem cell research as long as it does not harm human embryos, which the Catholic Church holds are humans from the moment of conception. [Finally, an early admission that the Church has no opposition to stem cell research when it comes from ethical sources.]

    "The destruction of human embryos, whether to acquire stem cells or for any other purpose, contradicts the purported intent of researchers, legislators and public health officials to promote human welfare," the Pontiff said. [good quote!]

    The Church supports research on adult cells and even promising alternatives to embryonic research, like the use of amniotic fluid protecting fetuses in the uterus.

    The Pope said such research methods "harmonize with the aforementioned intent (to promote human welfare) by respecting the life of the human being at every stage of his or her existence". [Notice how the article gives the Pope's argument sufficient quotation and development as to be coherent.]

    Granted, the headline of the article is negative: "Don't use embryos in stem cell research, Pope says." One almost gets the sense that the reporter was told to write a story with a pre-chosen title. Or maybe that the reporter discovered the internal-consistency of the Church's position while researching the question.

    In any case, I still think praise is in order for whomever is responsible for the report.

    Maybe they'll get the idea.

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    Thursday, August 23, 2007

    Don't be unnerved by what you'll be hearing about Mother Teresa

    Seen today on the DrudgeReport:

    SECRET LIFE OF MOTHER TERESA: Newly Published Letters Reveal 50-Year Crisis of Faith ...

    Which links to this article in Time magazine: "Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith."

    The article is a review of a new book that Doubleday is releasing on September 18th, entitled "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light." The book "consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years."

    I should be receiving a review copy of this book from Doubleday soon.

    Suffice it to say for the present that the Time article looks to have missed the mark severely re: the spiritual draught in Mother Teresa's life that the book describes. I would recommend reading the book itself instead, or, in place of that, a competent review of it by a Catholic spiritual master once it has been published.

    The Time article, on the other hand, certainly in its title and first few paragraphs, falls into the temptation of trying for shock value rather than honestly addressing the deep spiritual issues that the book discusses. And sadly, article titles and the first few paragraphs of those articles are the most often read, and generally contribute most to the public's general perception of an issue, the "knee-jerk" response of a media-soaked culture to a topic.

    A clear error from the first page: the author frames Mother Teresa's request that her personal writings and correspondence be destroyed (a common act, which she shares with people like Pope John Paul II), as a decision that was motivated by embarrassment about her spiritual trials. This kind of mistaken conclusion tells me that the Time author is reading the book through an incomplete secular perspective and simply does not have enough knowledge of the long tradition of Christian spiritual experience/writing that he needs for insightful analysis.

    You can bet, however, that Time's take on this topic will become the party line for the mainstream media; a state of affairs which could leave many folks confused about Mother Teresa's saintly character and legacy.

    So be prepared.

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    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    What exactly did happen to Bp. Pelotte?

    One of the most strange (and troubling stories) happening right now involves the injuries sustained by Bp. Pelotte of Gallup, New Mexico. I briefly noted the story at the time a couple weeks ago.

    CNA has the story near when it went public July 27th. Notable for our purposes is the fact that Bp. Pelotte sustained "Severe injuries to his face."

    More strange still, however, is the story that Bp. Pelotte is circulating as the reason for his injuries: a fall down the stairs. This explanation is simply inconsistent with his injuries which appear "to have been the result of a severe beating," as CWNews relates on August 2nd.

    Local news sources aren't satisfied with the official account either, and Rocco mentions that the bishop had his life threatened back in 2005. Gerard has posted on this story as well, and the attention it has been increasingly receiving recently. Diogenes doesn't buy the official line. AMDG has some coverage of the local news reporting on the story.

    Sadly, the first explanation that normally comes to mind in this kind of situation - presuming the Bishop was actually assaulted and did not, as he claim, fall down the stairs - is that the Bishop has something to hide and is embarrassed about some aspect of his conduct relating to the event.

    Or, again, it could be that he is trying to somehow defend his attacker for that person's best interest. But really, it's extremely difficult to envision a set of circumstances where Bishop Pelotte would be justified in his manner of treating the media (let alone his diocese, which, I would argue, has a legitimate right to know what has befallen their shepherd).

    As a side note, Bishop Pelotte is the first American-Indian bishop.

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    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Conflating document and commentary: bad reporting or poor releasing?

    Today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released two texts, but if you read much of the reporting that has gone on today, you would not realize that fact. What are the two texts?

    • the first text is a document entitled "Responses to some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church" and is available at the Vatican website in English here.
    • the second text is a commentary simply entitled "Observations" (at least on the English-language page) and is currently only available on the Vatican website in Italian. An unofficial English-language translation is available, for instance, here from Vatican analyst Sandro Magister (scroll-down to find it).

    Now, here is my question/problem. The Reuters story released today (under the title "Vatican says other Christian churches "wounded") conflates the document with the commentary - and indeed - favors the commentary for its quotations, mainly because those quotations are sometimes less irenic.

    Here is what Reuters says towards the beginning of its story:

    "16-page document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Pope Benedict once headed, described Christian Orthodox churches as true churches, but suffering from a "wound" since they do not recognise the primacy of Pope.

    But the document said the "wound is still more profound" in Protestant denominations."

    "Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress ... it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of 'Church' could possibly be attributed to them," it said.

    The "16-page document" can only refer to the actual document "Responses to some Questions..." when it is combined with the accompanying commentary. The actual document itself (without the commentary) is far shorter than 16 pages.

    Moreover, the word "wound" (which is used in the Reuters headline) and the (by far most inflammatory) phrase which ends "it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of 'Church' could not possibly be attributed to them" both do not appear in the document: they appear in the commentary instead.

    Reuters is not alone in conflating the document and the commentary in its reporting, nor is Reuters alone in favoring the commentary heavily for its quotations. Here, for example, is a quotation from the AFP's coverage:

    "Central to that identity is the idea [of the Catholic Faith] that eastern or Orthodox churches were suffering a "wound" because they do not recognize the primacy of the pope."

    "It [the document] said "the wound is still more profound" in "communities emerging from the Reformation" -- the Protestant and Anglican churches."

    Again, in both cases the reporters are quoting the commentary and not the document itself.

    This situation prompts a question: is the commentary on an equal level with the actual document to the point that one can honestly quote from both alternatively without any specification as to which one is being discussed?

    The Catholic News Service article describes the commentary as "authoritative" but proceeds to be very specific when it is quoting from the commentary as opposed to quoting the document itself.

    On the other hand, the VIS released today does not mention the commentary, and specifies that the document released today was published in multiple languages (in order to be readily received by the universal Church).

    This leaves my final set of questions, which I'll be happy to have answered via email or in the comment box: is the media missing an important distinction (between document and commentary), and therefore should they in future avoid conflating the two genres of Vatican text? Or, do both types of text hold identical "weight"? (And in this is the case, isn't it confusing for the CDF to release two types of text when they are equally authoritative?).

    Okay, I've thrown it out there.

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