Should Greenpeace reimburse the taxpayers?

January 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

Australia’s foreign minister may ask to help foot the bill for consular support to the Arctic 30, but the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has ruled out a similar move.

Thirty Greenpeace activists – including two New Zealanders – were released just after Christmas after being detained for four months in Russia.

The group had been protesting against Arctic oil drilling.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australian taxpayers were entitled to ask why they should be covering the cost of assisting Australian activist Colin Russell to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

“It took a huge effort and a lot of money to get this guy out and the Australian taxpayer paid for it,” Ms Bishop said yesterday.

“If it is a deliberate strategy designed to provoke a response and potentially to risk breaking the laws of another country, the question of cost recovery does arise.”

Citizens of a country who accidentally end up on the wrong side of the law in another country, should get consular assistance. But it is a fair point Julie Bishop makes, that when they travel to a country to deliberately break the law, then shouldn’t the organisation that put them up to it, pay the costs of their assistance?

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52 Responses to “Should Greenpeace reimburse the taxpayers?”

  1. southtop (265 comments) says:

    He’ll yes! Personal responsibility…be responsible for your own actions

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  2. southtop (265 comments) says:

    BTW who owns Greenpeace? Patrick Moore, a founder, left when they starting setting up super funds etc for themselves. who are the owners?

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  3. nasska (11,491 comments) says:

    Asking protesters such as these to contribute to the costs incurred merely offers them another opportunity for publicity. Better to instruct our Consuls to restrict assistance to ensuring that they are held in humane conditions.

    The pool of protesters would soon dry up if they knew that they were reliant on the efforts of an organisation like Greenpeace to look after them.

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  4. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    You’re asking whether it would be a good thing for governments to start second-guessing the circumstances under which its citizens have come to require consular assistance and attempting to recover costs if it’s not happy about the circumstances? The answer is a fairly obvious “No.” If you’re dumb enough to think the answer might be “Yes” because you hate Greenpeace activists, consider the fact that sometimes we have left-wing governments.

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  5. David Farrar (1,894 comments) says:

    Nothing to do with if they are right wing or left wing. It is about travelling to another country with the purpose of breaking the laws of that country.

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  6. flipper (4,056 comments) says:

    In Australia there is also another argument brewing over the BS climate change wankers getting stuck in Antarctic summer ice.

    They may be sued by Aussie SAR folk to recover the cost of their self serving “summer holiday”.

    This letter, to The Age of Melbourne (just two days ago) written by a close UK friend while holidaying in Australia, nails the issue:

    ** “Sir

    In his 2012 address to fellow Nobel laureates, Prof. Ivar Giaever began by disclaiming interest in the science of climate change. The reason for this was simple. It was immune to debate; there was no avenue open to dispute the conclusions of its adherents. In short, it was not science.

    The truth of this is well illustrated by the published pronouncements of the leader of the ill fated expedition to demonstrate alleged melting of Antarctic sea ice. Although, at vast expense to someone, Prof. Chris Turney from the University of New South Wales and his fellow evangelists have had to be rescued from their trapped ship in, let us remind ourselves, what is the Antarctic summer, in no way does this provide a contra-indication to his committed dogmatism. Rather, ever more fantastic and fanciful explanations are adduced to explain Nature’s seemingly relentless perversity.

    Which leads us, does it not, to the real issue? And what is that? The real issue is not climate change science, or any other science come to that. It is nothing less than truth allied to the scientific endeavour, and at the heart of the scientific endeavour is an ever questioning scepticism. Thereby is progress made; old ideas give way or are adjusted to accommodate fresh thought and discovery. The Ptolemaic cosmos gives way to Copernicus and Galileo, Newtonian physics to Einstein, biblical dogma to Lyle and Darwin.

    The past decade has seen this hitherto cardinal principle besmirched and wantonly abandoned, not least by scientific academia whose sacred charge it was to defend it.

    Rupert Wyndham “

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  7. Yoza (1,872 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  8. SGA (1,025 comments) says:

    I’ve got little idea what sort of support is/can be provided in such situations, can anyone supply details? Does such support have to be requested, or is it automatically provided? Did that silly woman who got busted recently for drug smuggling through South America get support?

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  9. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    I rather suspect consular staff go to more trouble to help “innocent” victims regardless of whether the government of the day is sympathetic to the “cause” or not.

    I doubt there is a mechanism to claim costs, other than sending a bill – to be ignored.

    Anyway, as I predicted at the time to the derision of commenters on KB, the Russians gave the twerps a fright and got rid of them.

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  10. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Just leave the useless bastards to their own devices . . . no money, no help.

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  11. radvad (765 comments) says:

    Yoza
    If Fonterra KNEW the milk was contaminated then they should be liable.

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  12. ZenTiger (435 comments) says:

    It would be interesting to discover the cost of not providing assistance.

    The consular staff are posted to such countries, so rent, wages and resource costs are already being paid.

    Yes, it fills their day with phone calls, and long train rides out to the middle of Siberia to check the prisoners for frostbite, but on the other hand they get to try out all those nifty devices invented by M or Q or whatever letters of the alphabet our NZ equivalent is. A?

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  13. flash2846 (284 comments) says:

    Yes Greenpeace should reimburse. Put YOUR money where your mouth is, NOT OURS!

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  14. AG (1,827 comments) says:

    Australia’s foreign minister may ask Greenpeace to help foot the bill for consular support to the Arctic 30 …

    (Rolls eyes) What a transparent piece of politicking. A right-wing Minister who is from an administration that is hostile to environmental issues does a bit of grandstanding by attacking Greenpeace for “wasting” taxpayer dollars. But, of course, there’s no way she can make Greenpeace pay up, and there’s no way the law will ever be changed to do so. So I’d treat this story with the same seriousness as I do Greenpeace calling on (say) BHP-Billiton to compensate the planet for the ecological damage it is causing.

    Citizens of a country who accidentally end up on the wrong side of the law in another country, should get consular assistance.

    How exactly do you “accidentally” end up on the wrong side of the law? Let’s say I get busted in Colorado for possessing more than 1 ounce of marijuana, having travelled there to take advantage of the newly liberalised approach to the drug. Do I have to pay for any consular assistance? Or, I go out drinking in London, get in a bar fight, and put someone in a coma. Do I have to pay for any consular assistance? Or does that question turn on me having to prove that when I got on the plane to the UK, I had no intention to get in any trouble at all? How exactly do you propose determining what reasons people have for going to any particular place?

    Plus, what about this situation. A group of NZ missionaries go across to (say) Libya to deliver educational materials. While there, they get arrested and charged with preaching Christianity (in breach of Sharia law). Surely they will have to pay for their consular help – after all, they knew before they went that being a Christian missionary in Libya had risks! Or, a NZer is travelling to North Korea. They get arrested for … well, whatever, really. Surely they will have to pay for their consular help – because anyone who goes to North Korea knows that they are at risk of arbitrary arrest.

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  15. Joanne (177 comments) says:

    Greenpeace knowingly went there to protest knowing that they could and probably would get arrested. And Russia is not known for it’s lenient justice system. In knowing all of this they still went. Sorry I don’t buy that they didn’t know what the consequences were. They did it for publicity. And as we know publicity is expensive.

    So the short answer is yes, they should be sent a bill. Publicity is expensive and you can’t suck off the taxpayers tit.

    Regards the Fonterra case, they didn’t knowing send the contaminated powder overseas.

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  16. flash2846 (284 comments) says:

    Response to:

    radvad (550 comments) says:
    Yoza
    If Fonterra KNEW the milk was contaminated then they should be liable.

    Except it was found that the milk (powder) wasn’t really contaminated. At least that’s the latest reports I have heard

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  17. Nookin (3,341 comments) says:

    AG

    Is your response a rejection of the principle altogether or an assertion that it would be extremely difficult to police because of the difficulty in drawing the line? In the case of Greenpeace, I find it irksome that there may have been government efforts to release the protesters at taxpayers expense when there actions clearly had foreseeable costs, including taxpayer cost. On the other hand, I am not troubled that the government may have intervened to ensure that they were treated fairly – albeit according to the law in Russia.

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  18. SGA (1,025 comments) says:

    Joanne at 8:39 am

    Sorry I don’t buy that they didn’t know what the consequences were.

    Is anyone trying to sell you the idea that they didn’t know what the consequences could be? I’d always assumed they’d known.

    I was about to write something similar to the second part of AG’s comment. How would I feel, as a non-religious person, if a couple of well-intentioned idiots got into big trouble for spreading “the word” in a country where they know they shouldn’t? I’d hope our consulate services would step up to the mark and do what they could for them.

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  19. tvb (4,418 comments) says:

    The Bill could be sent to Greenpeace. If you are going to mess with the Russian Government it will mess with you.

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  20. Scott Chris (6,135 comments) says:

    Yeah, wanky politics. :roll:

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  21. ZenTiger (435 comments) says:

    Why Greenpeace? Those activists were not made of Dolphin. Surely, in the interests of specialisation, Amnesty should be the ones going to bat. It’s already too late for Family Planning.

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  22. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    A group of NZ missionaries go across to (say) Libya to deliver educational materials. While there, they get arrested and charged with preaching Christianity (in breach of Sharia law). Surely they will have to pay for their consular help – after all, they knew before they went that being a Christian missionary in Libya had risks!

    A NZ woman has just been murdered in Libya. I wonder if her family should be entitled to consular assistance.

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  23. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    ross69 – we should first have a blog debate about it and after reaching a conclusion we should advise whether consular assistance is appropriate or not.

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  24. AG (1,827 comments) says:

    @Nookin,

    Is your response a rejection of the principle altogether or an assertion that it would be extremely difficult to police because of the difficulty in drawing the line?

    You can’t separate the “principle” from its application – unless you appoint someone to decide what are “proper” reasons for travelling to another country from “improper” ones. And do you want a Minister to do this? What if that Minister is, say, Kennedy Graham?

    Here’s another thought-experiment. The Russian Government charged the Greenpeace activists with “piracy”(!), and then “hooliganism” (which seems to mean “doing shit we don’t like”). Well, Russia also has made it illegal to engage in activities that are “homosexual propaganda” (whatever that means). So let’s imagine a NZ athlete at the Sochi Winter Games wears a rainbow flag when entering the arena at the opening ceremony. She/he is then arrested, and charged with this offence. Does she/he have to pay for her/his consular assistance?

    Or, another thought-experiment. TVNZ sends a news crew to the Games. While there, it films a gay-rights protest, and the Russian Police’s violent response to this. They then get arrested, and charged with … I don’t know … interfering with the Police’s duties. Don’t they now have to pay for any consular assistance that they receive? After all, they went to Russia with the aim of “gathering news”, and if it turns out that this is against the law in Russia, don’t they have to take individual responsibility for their actions?

    Point being, the “principle” at issue here is so nebulous and subject to differing interpretations that it is useless as a guide to real-world actions (or, rather, it only gets meaning when applied by a real-world person, whose individual interpretation of it may well differ markedly from yours).

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  25. Nookin (3,341 comments) says:

    AG Thanks for your response. Unfortunately, I had to abbreviate my initial post because I had to go out. You are quite right about the practical problems but I do not think that the principle and the application are necessarily conflated. The issue is that there are so many different permutations and so few of each. Isolating the undeserving probably involves an administrative structure and process unwarranted by the extent of the problem ( and, as you have pointed out, the perception of “problem” is not necessarily clearcut.)

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  26. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Greenwar should pay the NZ Government.

    Pete George wants a blog debate to decide. United Future sitting on the fence again, Pete?

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  27. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Yoza

    When greenpeace pays the tax that Fonterra does we’ll discuss it.

    Are you OK? To be brutally frank ,you have been piss poor on here lately, you’ve been much sharper

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  28. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    Did they actually break any law? Yes they were thrown in jail for piracy (I think it was) which was quickly changed to criminal nuisance.

    I think we should see that charge for what it is: the equivalent of ‘disturbing the peace’, which nz police use as a catch all when they want to get rid of someone being a pain in the arse. So no, I don’t believe they should be charged a recovery fee. Just like Sharon Armstrong hasn’t and won’t be.

    This, though is different to the so – called science expedition to the Antarctic. They were plain stupid, ignored available forecasts and data on the extent of the ice situation and quite clearly were not engaged in any science whatsoever. They must have used the Japanese whaling commission definition of science. That lot should be hit with the cost of rescue, and the cost of cleanup if that ship ends up damaged or sunk.

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  29. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Time Ngai Tahu and the Seventh Day Adventists’ Sanitarium paid tax, too.

    In the meantime, how do we nominate Putin for an honorary award?

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  30. Manolo (13,755 comments) says:

    Never ever donate any money to Greenpeace,a bunch of bandits and eco-terrorists.

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  31. MH (752 comments) says:

    the final word on globail-out warming should refer to my interview with the late Sir Ed. I asked him what did he think of this climate debate,and he replied “I don’t think Mallory and Irvine climbed it ,anyway we knocked the bastard off”

    There’s a salient lesson to be learnt there,and I’m sure Ed would have agreed with me had the current expedition taken a few ferguson tractors with them then they would have got themselves out of trouble.

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  32. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    Jack5, is that all you can do, rush into a UF bash and fail to see the point?

    Do you think anyone traveling overseas should get a prior consular ruling on whether they would be helped or not if they got into trouble with a foreign government?

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  33. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Gotcha Pete – you weren’t biting yesterday.

    Re your 10.50, surely you don’t think Greenwar is fuck-witted enough to phone the NZ embassy in Moscow or MFAT in Wellington and ask: “Do you think it would be all right if we go into Russian territorial waters and clamber over their drilling rigs?”

    Surely you don’t think our taxpayers should fund an advice service for these international activists?

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  34. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    MH posted at 10.49:

    …had the current expedition taken a few ferguson tractors with them then they would have got themselves out of trouble…

    How? The Fergusons with chains would tow the multi-thousand tonne ship through metre-plus thick pack ice?

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  35. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    That’s an own goal for you Jack 5. I usually ignore stupidity and diversionary dissing.

    It’s ironic here that Dunne keeps getting accused of fence sitting despite always (as far as I’ve seen) taking a clear position on and voting one way or another for anything that goes through Parliament.

    But if you dare mention Colin Craig’s open fence sitting on things like chemtrails and moon landings you get the troops hissy fitting.

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  36. kiwi in america (2,449 comments) says:

    Greenpeace are some of the world’s shrewdest publicity hounds – they wrote the book on grandstanding. They sent those activists to the Artic oil drilling sites deliberately to get arrested in the hopes that global public outrage at the predictable Russian overreaction would publicize their cause. Mission accomplished.

    To reimburse the Australian government maybe $20,000 for their officials’ time extracting their citizen from a Russian jail must be balanced against the literally millions of dollars of free publicity Greenpeace garnered from the whole exercise. Not a bad return on investment. To ensure such assistance continues, at least from the Abbott government in Australia, Greenpeace should pay up and treat it as one of the overheads of their operation.

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  37. Manolo (13,755 comments) says:

    P.G., just get fresh orders from your master and let us know your UF’s stance on AGW.

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  38. MH (752 comments) says:

    jack5 – not serious surely ?-the only time I’ve met ed was handing over $5 notes…climb it/climate? Fuchs sake ;)

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  39. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    You couldn’t resist any excuse either Manolo – this thread has nothing to do with AGW.

    The other day you tried to call yourself a Liberal. You try and piss on anyone you disagree with, which is most people. That’s being as Liberal as Dunne is radical.

    You act much more like Winston Peters, Trevor Mallard and Clayton Cosgrove.

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  40. ZenTiger (435 comments) says:

    The key questions we need to be asking here is are the Russian prisons environmentally friendly and left wing approved?

    1. Occupants are not charged rent. Check.
    2. Heating is kept to a minimum, reducing CO2. Check.
    3. Occupants are referred to as “Comrade”. Check.
    4. Food is a vegetable based gruel. Check.
    5. The extensive library contains classics such as “Das Kapitial”. Check.

    Sounds like paradise. What right minded lefty would consider they need rescuing?

    That aside, the issue is fairly clear. They may be muppets, but they are Kiwi muppets. Our government should help them out, as a matter of principle. Once back, if they have broken any NZ laws, we can put them in our jails. OK, home detention.

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  41. Johnboy (16,529 comments) says:

    Putin should have shot them. He would have if it wasn’t for the Winter Olympics! :)

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  42. ZenTiger (435 comments) says:

    Yeah, I think only the Summer Olympics have shooting. He could have tied them to a toboggan and pushed them down the bob sled run. They may have come back with Gold. A bogan on a toboggan has to have some kind of advantage.

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  43. Johnboy (16,529 comments) says:

    Bollocks ZenTiger. They would all have made fine moving targets at the Biathalon if they could have done a swift runner without bleating like protestors do all the time! :)

    http://www.sochi2014.com/en/biathlon/

    Bleating of course makes you any easy target! :)

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  44. OneTrack (3,089 comments) says:

    “Are you OK? To be brutally frank ,you have been piss poor on here lately, you’ve been much sharper”

    Well, with climate change being discredited more and more, Cunliffe making no impact in the polls and now the evil satan John Key apparently being friends with the messiah, things are pretty rough right now in hard-lefty land.

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  45. Keeping Stock (10,337 comments) says:

    Psycho Milt said

    You’re asking whether it would be a good thing for governments to start second-guessing the circumstances under which its citizens have come to require consular assistance and attempting to recover costs if it’s not happy about the circumstances? The answer is a fairly obvious “No.

    There was no need to second-guess Greenpeace’s intentions Milt. They were completely open about trying to stop people going about their legal business.

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  46. lolitasbrother (691 comments) says:

    Should Greenpeace reimburse the taxpayers?
    unequivocally yes, fuck them ,
    drivel UN sycophants,
    living off the United Nations drivel machine ,
    here we go dude how warm it is not

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  47. Steve (North Shore) (4,561 comments) says:

    One way of stopping the eco-terrorists Greenpeace would be for some countrys to grow some balls and refuse to refuel the ships Greenpeace charters, as well as the ones they own.
    Who has the balls? or is it down to money? like selling weapons to terrorists?

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  48. greenjacket (465 comments) says:

    Yoza wrote: “Has Fonterra reimbursed the government for the consular assistance provided when it knowingly sent contaminated milk powder to China?”

    Yes. The service is cost recovered from industry by Ministry for Primary Industries.

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  49. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    Also… Fonterra pay how much tax every year, how much PAYE is collected from people employed by Fonterra ?

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  50. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    I wonder if anyone has calculated the carbon footprint of the environment evangelists stuck in the ice. Large ships running 24/7 standing off during rescue missions…. Helicopters…

    How many trees need to be planted to counter the folly of people on a soap box telling us to be environmentally responsible.

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  51. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,752 comments) says:

    Volgograd sure silenced Greenpeace fast.

    December 2013 Volgograd bombings

    A shame Russian Security services had to divert precious resources to deal with these self-serving Westerners instead of pursuing Islamic terrorists.

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  52. Daigotsu (456 comments) says:

    ZenTiger, you do realise 1991 happened, right? Russians no longer call one another “Comrade” or hand out Das Kapital routinely.

    Well, outside the miniscule ranks of the Russian Communist Party, but I doubt they are running any prisons, especially not in Siberia! (Traditionally a stronghold of anti-Communist feeling, amusingly)

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