10.23.2014 10:30 AM

In Friday’s Sun: “we are never going to let this happen again”


That’s what he said: it caught them by surprise.

That’s what RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud actually said at a shambles of a press conference on Wednesday, looking feckless and useless: the attack on Parliament Hill – the murder of Corporal Nathan Cirillo – “caught us by surprise.”

It caught them by surprise, despite the fact that the killer – a nobody, a pathetic loser who does not now deserve the buckets of ink being spilled about him – had previously been prevented from obtaining a Canadian passport, because federal officials regarded him as a potential terrorist.

It caught them by surprise, despite the fact that an ISIS-linked Twitter account yesterday somehow made available a photograph of the killer holding a rifle and wearing a keffiyeh. Despite the fact that he had had a string of criminal convictions, some violent, stretching back more than a decade.

Despite the fact that, two years ago, Public Works spent $9 million to buy new blockades for Parliament Hill. And an engineering firm was paid more than $1.5 million to design the barricades.

Despite the fact that, after a Greenpeace protest thoroughly embarrassed them in 2011, the RCMP spent an extra $6.6 million to boost security.

Despite the fact that the RCMP’s Parliament Hill detachment were issued 9mm semi-automatic pistols, and even issued Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns, to be carried in their cruisers as a secondary weapon.

Despite the fact that there are concrete blocks, and removable fences, and chains and metal detectors and cameras – hundreds and hundreds of fancy cameras – all over Parliament Hill. Despite the fact that there are no less than four police forces, and thousands of officers (some of them trained snipers), with joint responsibility for keeping Parliament Hill safe.

This all happened – the cold-blooded murder of an unarmed soldier at the War Memorial, the storming of Parliament Hill by a religious extremist who was mere feet from the Prime Minister and his cabinet – despite all that was already known about the killer. Despite all the money that has been spent to render Parliament Hill a fortress. Despite all those cops who are up there.

Are many of us angry about the extraordinary events of the past week? Damn right we are. But not just because two CAF members – two good, decent men – lost their lives needlessly. We’re angry because these things like this keep happening at the location of our democracy itself. And because the RCMP brass, and the other so-called security experts, seem completely incapable of dealing with any of it.

Let me give you a personal example.

On April 7, 1989, I was the police beat guy at the Ottawa Citizen. I got word that terrorists were storming Parliament Hill, so I raced up there with my pens and notepad.

A Greyhound bus that had been hijacked in Montreal – and which several police forces had literally lost track of, somewhere between Montreal and Ottawa – was mired in the Spring mud on Parliament’s lawn. As I stood between the Centennial flame and the bus, I heard a sound. Then another.

A cop ran over to me. “Get the f**k out of here!” he yelled, crouched down. “That was a bullet going over your head! Get out of here!”

So I did. Ran into a building across the street, holed up in the office of a Senator I knew, and called the desk. CNN wanted to speak to me, they said, so I did.

The hijacker, turned out, was a Lebanese guy named Charles Yacoub, and he was upset about something in the Middle East. So he decided to hijack the bus at gun point, get to Parliament Hill, and fire off shots at American tourists (and me, apparently) when he got there.

After an eight-hour standoff, and after I got out of the Senator’s office, I spoke to some of the dozens of RCMP officers milling about in front of Parliament. Here’s what one of them said to me:

“We are never going to let something like this happen again.”

That’s what he said.





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    davie says:

    I watched the video on this contraption, then I have seen it a couple of times on tv news channels.
    One of the things that strikes me is that every one of those armed guys is running, arms ready, toward the action, with serious intent.

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      davie says:

      A couple of questions on the mechanics of things in Ottawa yesterday.
      As I said, I caught the G&M reporter’s vid and I wondered about what might be on security cameras in the parliament building. There are security cameras there, aren’t there?
      Secondly: the murderer shot the reservist at the Memorial. Then he strode to a car, got in, drove to the parliament building, and entered the big front door. I do not have a sense of how far he travelled or long it would take between the shooting at the Memorial and his entering the parliament building. But I understand the city cops got some 911 calls immediately on the shooting at the Memorial. Was this info not relayed to the security people at the parliament buildings?

      I think a pattern in making links about this crime is that people claiming that the fellow is clearly linked to an international terrorist religious group are denying there is any link between this and our recent foreign policy in the Middle East…on the other hand, people claiming this has everything to do with our foreign policy are denying this guy has international terrorist links.

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        Robin says:

        According to Google Maps it takes 3 or 4 minutes (depending on traffic) to drive west on Wellington Street to the Peace Tower from the National War Memorial using the west entrance of Parliament Hill across from the Confederation Building.

        However, the assailant drove to the east gate, around the corner from the Memorial, on Wellington in front of East Block and across Wellington from the main entrance to Langevin Block. There he was forced to leave his car since the gate blocked it; so, he got out with his rifle, walked to a parked Ministerial car and, apparently, forced the driver out without harm, and then drove to the Peace Tower entrance. It would have taken him less than 4 minutes if he was moving swiftly with determination which, apparently, he was.

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          Elisabeth Lindsay says:

          Today`s press conference showing of the video showed that it took one and a half minutes.

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            davie says:

            Yes, I caught that press conference.
            From the press conference, and, especially the vids Paulson(?) showed us, I thought yesterday, or assumed, that, although his actions seemed very erratic to me, that he was better armed. Hearing today that he had a 30 30, a common enough hunting rifle, I am now continuing to wonder about how erratic this all seems, and wondering what the heck he hoped to accomplish.
            With his criminal record, he would have had to get this gun from someone else. (I imagine his criminal record also was holding up his passport application…at first, anyway.) So he had a gun that has a chamber which holds, I think, 6 to 8 rounds. Various witness reports say 2 to 4 shots at the Memorial. From the vids, he had no time to reload. He ran into the building, and Paulson said there was a gunfire exchange at the entrance with two security people there. Then he ran down the hall with, from the G &M reporter’s vid, and increasing number of well armed officers in close pursuit.

            I just cannot figure out what he hoped to do. Seems more like a blind man lashing out uselessly.

            I notice media mentioning he was attending a mosque in Burnaby before 2011, and I saw the (now oft repeated) tweet photo of him with a gun and a black and white hankie on his face…supposedly from some Islamic State web site.
            Could be…could be…
            …although, maybe I’ll make the argument that he was in a shelter run by the Sally Ann for two weeks before this, so we should check Sally Ann shelters for ‘radicalizing’ people and maybe round the residents up and incarcerate them.

            He murdered an innocent man, a guy who seems to have been a very decent person. It all seems to have been carried out by a hopped up criminal. For me, the argument that this is global terrorism is going to need a little more heft to it.

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    smelter rat says:

    Thank you for putting some much needed perspective around this issue. Sadly we will now see a further trampling of our civil rights in the name of security, rather than putting desperately needed resources into a clearly unwell mental health system. Another system, BTW, that has had much ink spilled about it’s inherent shortfalls over the past 2 or 3 decades.

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      Bill says:

      Apart from the absurdity of suggesting the Jihadis travelling to the Middle East are mentally ill in a medical sense, the delivery of health services is a Provincial jurisdiction but don’t let that stop you from making a cheap political point as usual.

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        Bobby says:

        Well said Bill. It annoys the crap out of me how the usual suspects want to dumb down the actions of a thug intent on doing one thing and one thing only – murder. Why? Because he’s bought in to the ideology of his recruiters.

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          smelter rat says:

          This goof wasn’t recruited by anyone. He was living in a homeless shelter, clearly not a “terrorist”.

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        smelter rat says:

        I suggested no such thing. Don’t let that stop you from making shit up though.

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    Pat says:

    Or the breach in 24 Sussex when your boss and the missus were sleeping. Not to mention the the Queen’s bedside visitor. But what makes this worse is all the attention the US Secret Service has been receiving not more than a few weeks ago because of their sleeping sentinels. You’d think that would have been a wake-up call for the likes of all security details for all high-valued political assets everywhere.

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      Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Re: the breach to the White House by someone leaping over the fence and in, they fired the woman in charge of the Secret Service and other corrections. With all that, it happened again!

      It is almost impossible to secure everybody all the time in a free society. It`s that pesky “free” thing in “strong and free”.

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      e.a.f. says:

      Pat you see the Secret Service, due to budget cuts had contracted out some of the work for providing protection for the American President.

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    Hammer Dom says:

    I did well up with pride though watching the footage of RCMP storming past reporters when they screamed ‘Please’ get out of the way, ‘Please’ move, on CNN. God love fucking Canadians. Polite in the clutches of an unfolding tragedy. Obviously more could have been done but the balance between a free and democratic society and a Police State seems to be tenuous at best.

    They fucking cancelled a hockey game. A HOCKEY GAME!

    An aside; they memorial for our murdered Argyll grows by the hour. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders armory is down the street from me. A black cloud hangs over the Hammer today. Flags at half staff. Donations to his family and young son can be made online. God rest his soul. Honour Guard no less. Un-armed.

    He was Nathan Cirillo.

    He was raising and loving his only little boy before he became a victim of murder serving our Country. Sometimes it’s hard to find adjectives to describe how one feels about senseless acts of violence…yet I seem to have no trouble; Fucking disgusting.

    Ottawa calling, yes, I was there, too
    An’ you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!
    Ottawa calling at the top of the dial
    After all this, won’t you give me a smile?
    Ottawa calling…

    I never felt so much alike… alike…. alike… alike….

    Hammer Dom out.

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      Hammer Dom says:

      The only Band that Matters (Rolling Stone)

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    Al in Cranbrook says:


    I watched it live, some remarkable and emotional moments in the House this morning.

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      Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Also happened when Jim Flaherty passed on. They are human beings for heaven`s sake, and that is what human beings do.

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    Ridiculosity says:

    The last time I was in Ottawa it took me about 40 minutes to get inside the Parliament buildings due to security checks, metal detectors, et al.

    It would have been so much easier if I’d simply used the front doors.

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    Art B. says:


    You seem to be sketching out something that might be called the security-industrial- complex where the apparatus expands, the attacks remain constant, and civil liberties decline. Aside from that, we would have never come to this place had any of the “root causes” been addressed:

    Father of killer, Bulgasem Zehaf, appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya. Major red flag. Mind, in the context of Libya, Paul Martin, master of the bloodless coup d’état, praised dictator and Arab supremacist Momar Gaddafi as “a philosophical man with a sense of history.’’ The sad tale of Nic Sarkozy is also illustrative here. If the powers-that-be don’t get it…

    Like the Boston bombers, the killer had a history of low level thuggery, uttering threats, etc. The ubiquitous symbiosis of the descent into madness and religious fanaticism, the one feeding the other and vice versa – and the failure of the “system” to identify it: “he frequently talked about the presence of Shaytan in the world – an Arabic term for devils and demons. ‘I think he must have been mentally ill.'” “He was charged with robbing somebody and he pled guilty to uttering a threat,” said lawyer. “It was something fairly minor and fairly bizarre.” Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau underwent a psychiatric assessment at Surrey Pretrial and was “found fit – not certifiable per overnight assessment” (Globe.)

    Mother, Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, surely is a symbol for the willful blindness of the Canadian Nation. No realistic assessment of Islam, Muhammad, Arab supremacism is allowed under the doctrines of freedom of religion, official multiculturalism, and anti-racism. Hell, we’ll hop into to bed with hard-core Islamists! As per Jason Kenney, “I was proud to announce that Canada, I think alone in the developed world, is going to maintain historically high levels of immigration,” there will be more attacks. Depend on it. In fact, the powers-that-be loathe native-born and Aboriginal Canadians. As in Darfur, Islamist proxies provide an effective means of terror while simultaneously offering a pretext for an authoritarian regime. Time to wake up.

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    kre8tv says:

    It reminds me of the great unlearned lesson of the World Trade Centre attack. The first one in the 90s. “Never again,” they said, will someone be able to drive a vehicle into the WTC parking garage and attempt to wreak havoc. That garage was an impregnable fortress by 2001.

    What I see happening out of this, especially since so much of the Ottawa press were direct witnesses to events, and, by the way many are writing today, show they’ve lost all objectivity. Parliament will get further from the people. They’ll cheer. Security budgets will get fatter. They’ll cheer some more. Many more people will be watched. Apologists will be aplenty. Fewer freedoms will be enjoyed.

    As always, it’ll at least look as though the ones in charge are seen as “doing something.”

    But none of us will be any safer.

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      Ron says:

      Harper is going to “double down” on security. Anyone who has privacy concerns will be tagged as a “terrorist sympathizer”.

      Just watch him.

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        Joe says:

        You know Ron your anti-Harper twittery is more than a little tiresome. It so much reminds me of the anti-PET crowd who were adamant that PET was the devil incarnate. Get a life for yourself and do us all a favour. PM Harper is going to do what he has to do to bring this country back to a state of normalcy just like PET did when the FLQ was wreaking havoc. Personally I didn’t agree with the War Measures Act or its implementation BUT within a few weeks/months/years Canada was again as free as it always was and the threat of more FLQ violence was removed. Personally I don’t think PM Harper will have the same luck as PET because he is going against Islamic extremists both native born and imported. The difference being that the FLQ members were materialists and thus the threat of loss of life was sufficient to stop them. Islamist extremists on the other hand think that their death and the death of their victims is a guaranty to eternal paradise for themselves and their victims since it advances the cause of Islam. So unless PM Harper and whoever may follow him in that position can come up with some way of using the extremist Islamist superstitions to show that murder and mayhem will NOT get you to paradise then the murder and mayhem will continue.

        BTW I spoke with a security expert once who explained that Action always outpaces Reaction. Thus a madman on a bus will get a long way to his mad goal before he is stopped. A evil man with a gun and a minister’s car will get a long ways before security can recognize what is happening and react to it. Unfortunately our democracy and its symbols are very much like our computer operating systems. The very thing that makes them work is the vulnerable spot the hacker attacks.

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          Ron says:

          Tiresome am I ? Not nearly as tiresome as Harper. I’ve been watching his progress for 20 years now and
          he has never failed to live down to my expectations.

          You make a good point with the rest of your reply though. Its pretty hard to wage war on an idea, even a
          bad one.

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            Elisabeth Lindsay says:

            Those of us that elected P.M. Harper also followed his progress as well, and unlike you, we LIKED what he was doing. Ergo we voted for him. To each his own, Ron.

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            Ron says:

            À chacun son goût, Fair enough.

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    e.a.f. says:

    might have been better if harper and his herd had spent the $13M on security than on auditing Canadians they didn’t like.

    There is no way to prevent these types of things. Its all well and good for politicians and senior officials to say this won’t happen again, but it will. The government can implement all the restrictive legislation they want. They can continue to remove our democratic rights, but it will always happen. If some one is motivated enough, they will achieve their goals.

    On the other hand, how does some body shoot a person at a memorial and then drive to Parliament and get inside there? Might have been budget cuts. The RCMP and military have budget cuts. But what does it matter, now harper has his election issue. He can bring more legislation in, like you’re with us or with the terrorists. Sort of like the old Vicky leaks line, you’re with us or the predators.

    Well in b.c. there wasn’t enough money to keep a sexual predator, with a really good chance to re offend, under surveillance, like he disappeared, murdered a 17 yr old girl, but there was enough money to respond to Kinder Morgan’s security people’s call when a 71 yr old woman on public property “upset them”. She got a visit from the RCMP E-division, some E-division which didn’t have money to keep a sexual predator under surveillance, when he had a good chance of re offending.

    In today’s world there are terrorists and they will do what they want. We let them win ever time we give up our freedoms to accommodate a government which promises us they will keep us safe. What keeps us safe are people like those who rushed to the aid of the young solider after he had been shot to provide assistance. What keeps us safe is people like the Sargent At Arms. Without them, it doesn’t matter how much legislation is passed and how much politicians flap their gums.

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    Craig McKie says:

    I wonder if it would be possible to get a life size bronze statue of Cirillo in full Argyll rig standing guard at the Cenotaph as a permanent reminder.
    The original Argyll regiment formed ‘the thin red line’ at Balaclava, amongst other epic achievements. This would seem to be one more.

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    Steve T says:

    This tragedy has, as expected, become a magnet for dumb comments.

    Add funding to mental health treatment? To what end? Do you really think that these terrorists are just poor misunderstood youth who need a good chat and a pat on the head? And what if we somehow magically determine, through psychological evaluation, that they are dangerous? Are you willing to allow the justice system to incarcerate them or otherwise restrict their freedom, before they commit a crime? Good luck getting that one by the civil liberties groups.

    Our fault, for sending 6 fighter jets over to the Middle East? Give your head a shake. The nutjobs don’t need an excuse to dispense their violence, although they are quite happy in retrospect that you provide them with justification. And it also conveniently provides the next wave of nutjobs with a catalyst to plan the next attack.

    What we need are some unequivocal statements, and decisive action. If you are planning to shoot a man standing guard at a memorial, you are evil. Period. No one will make an excuse for you, no one will sympathize for your “mental health” issues, and no one will give a shit about your rationale. THAT would be a good message.

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      patrick says:

      Actually, I think pathetic nuts jobs do need an excuse, a justification for their want of destruction. Sending jets, chest thumping and threats are the exact justification for a nut jobs inner rage. Wanting to be part of a war on terror, a pointless exercise that will just create more terrorists, has put Canada in the crosshairs and there is going to be a nut job with a fantasy of jihad willing to pathetically attack something and use the jets as justification.

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    Lawrence Barry says:


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    doris says:

    I have only heard the video of the shooting but was struck by the number of shots fired by the chasers only to discover that he actual “killshot” was delivered by Kevin Vickers who came out of his office handgun in hand. The question is what’s the point of arming all of the chasers if they are such bad shots?

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      davie says:

      When I watched the televised news conference, I was taken aback a bit when the RCMP commish said the guy had a 30 30 Winchester. Somehow I assumed he had an automatic military weapon, not a common hunting rifle. A chamber for such a rifle holds 7 or 8 rounds. On the day of the shooting, one witness said that she heard 4 shots at the War Memorial. The commish said that 2 shots were fired at the Memorial. From the vids, and the commish’s narrative, it looked as if the shooter had no time to reload. The commish said that when the shooter entered the parliament building, that he exchanged shots with security people at the entry way, then he ran down the hall, and then he and the sergeant at arms shot at each other from behind pillars. No other weapon besides the rifle was mentioned
      Then the commish said the shooter moved to change his position at the pillar, and that is when the hail of gunfire we hear on the Globe reporter’s vid happens.
      This guy’s actions just make no sense to me at all.

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    Ted H says:

    This guy was mentally ill, he wasn’t part of a co-ordinated “Terrorist” plot to steal our democracy and our freedoms. But don’t worry, the government will take care of that. True, no one should be able to get into Parliament carrying a gun, but this is a mental health issue, not a National Security issue, though politicians of all stripe seem to be getting a lot of mileage out of just that. It appears he was a petty criminal and a whack job, not a member of ISIS or Al Quaeda or whatever the bogyman of the month happens to be these days.

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      Joe says:

      Ted: Mental illness and Islamic extremism are not mutually exclusive. I have no doubt the man had mental issues but I also have no doubt that his Islamic extremist ideology also played a role.

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        davie says:

        I saw a report that this fellow went to a mosque in Burnaby for a while about 5 years ago. I also saw a report that a couple of his fellow residents at the shelter saw him praying regularly . I did not see any comment on what form that prayer took. Someone mischievous put a photo, supposedly this fellow, on twitter, wearing a hankie on his face and sporting a small rifle.
        Something I have been wondering about is definitions. Exactly what would the substance be of ‘Islamic extreme ideology?’ ‘ ties to extremists?’ ‘connections to extremists?’

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    jack says:

    Great article. I could add much more but let me just add a clip from the globe and mail from 2006:

    … hammered the government daily on the issue, saying the ban on military ceremonies on the tarmac in Trenton, Ont., and a similarly controversial decision not to lower the Peace Tower flag to half-mast when a soldier is killed overseas, do a disservice to the military.

    This decision to not lower the flag was made by Stephen Harper. It was apparently done because of negative media attention when Canadians died in Afghanistan. I despised that then and am reminded of it today even moreso. It was despicable then and we need to remember it now.

    Certainly, soldier Cirillo DESERVES everything he will receive today. And so does his family. Lest we forget this brave young man.

    That being said, we should never forget the decision made to cancel that honour for the men and women who gave their lives in Afghanistan. Their families were equally affected. They gave their lives for their country too. Their families wonder today why their son, daughter, etc was not honored like Mr. Cirillo. They should have been. This one decision is enough for me to never vote for Mr. Harper. Our actions speak much louder than words and his actions to prevent him looking bad say everything. Now he thinks this display will make him look good so he changes the policy again. Shame on him. Lest we forget these people who protect us.

    Abd don’t forget Harper either.

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    Frank says:

    Disgusting column. Makes it all about Kinsellla. A revolting person. A disgrace to the human race.

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      Warren says:

      Hey, folks: looking for Can anyone geolocate better than me?

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    Ron says:

    Kitchener (City Commercial Core)

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      Ron says:

      At least that’s where the server is.

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