Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Good morning. Stay tuned for the latest developments in the Brussels attacks.

Get ready for ‪#‎morningjoe‬. What do we know about the suspects in the Brussels attacks? 

What Ted Cruz said is the exact opposite of what we need to do… You beat ISIS by having Muslim Americans embrace the American dream. 

But what I think is just as bad as those comments made by (Ted) Cruz, President Obama explained his decision to attend a Major League Baseball exhibition game in Cuba today between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team, following this morning's terrorist attacks in Belgium. Which American's are still MIA mind you, and he is the POTUS. He is not a baseball player as he described it to be as he did the wave at this baseball game. This attack was also done against allies tied to America in a huge way. He called ISIS a JV squad. He acted like a tool with regard to James Foley. He was nowhere after France and now the optics after this attack are just awful.

I really do not get it. Things like this also helps fuel the GOP in this general election race. 

Actually, Joe just repeated what I said here. 

I don't general agree with any that Rudy Giuliani says at all, but he has a point saying that what if we saw the head of France laughuing after an attack like the one we had ion 9/11 or any of the terrorist attacks we faced here in America?

Two brothers were identified as suicide bombers behind the Brussels Airport attack, police sources told NBC News. 

Brussels bombings: ISIS claims responsibility for attacks on airport and metro stations
Brussels terror attack: Police hunt for third ISIS suspect involved in airport bombings
Belgian police are hunting for a suspect who was seen with two suicide bombers in airport CCTV footage shortly before bombs went off in Brussels on Tuesday.

Prior to Tuesday's morning attack, surveillance footage at Brussels Airport shows three men arriving in a taxi and pushing reportedly bomb-laden luggage on trolleys. Two of the men were dressed in black and wearing black gloves that likely concealed detonators. According to the Guardian, the two men "very likely committed a suicide attack."

The first explosion went off near the Swissport check-in counter around 8 a.m. local time, reported the New York Times. A second, larger explosion occurred near the departure hall's Starbucks. Previous reports suggested that the explosions happened at the American Airlines counter, however, the airlines has since denied those reports. 

The blasts in Belgium have left at least 30 dead and dozens more injured. New reports indicate ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The first incident took place at Brussels Airport at 8 a.m., while the second occurred shortly after at 9:19 a.m. in the Maelbeek subway station. 

At the airport, reports indicate the suspects entered the departure lounge and began yelling in Arabic before firing Kalashnikov rifles. At least one of the suspects is believed to have detonated a suicide vest. 

Authorities say as many as three terrorists were involved. One of the blasts rocked the third row of the departure lounge check-in, while the other detonated close by. A third undetonated bomb was later discovered.

Close to 80 minutes later, a three-carriage subway train was pulling out of Maelbeek station when one of the carriages exploded. Early reports estimate at least 20 are presumed dead.

Footage and photos of Islamic State attacks on Brussels, leaving 34 dead, 250 injured
Belgian security forces today continue the hunt for the suspects behind the Islamic terror attacks that killed at least 34 and injured 250 people in two separate incidents this week, the BBC reported.

At 8 a.m. on Tuesday in Brussels’ Zaventem airport, two explosions by suspected suicide bombers killed and injured dozens. Just an hour later, another blast took place the Malbeek subway station in the city’s busy EU district.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks, the BBC reported, and said more would follow.

Belgian security forces are currently conducting a large-scale manhunt for an IS suspect seen on CCTV in the moments prior to the airport attack. 

The attacks follow Belgium’s capture of Salah Abdeslam last week, a suspect in the November attacks in Paris. He’s set to stand before a pretrial court today (Wednesday), the BBC reported.  

In political news, we had some primary's yesterday out west. Bernie Sanders is the projected winner of the Idaho Democratic caucus. Bernie Sanders is the projected winner in the Utah

Democratic caucus. Hillary Clinton is the projected winner in the Arizona Democratic primary. Ted Cruz is the projected winner of the Utah GOP caucus and Trump is the projected winner in Arizona Republican primary.

Trump, Clinton win Arizona; Sanders takes Utah: NBC projections. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump — Democratic and Republican presidential front-runners, respectively — continue to face stiff challenges on the road to their parties' conventions.

Tuesday saw voters in three western states enter the fray.

Trump and Clinton were projected to win their parties' Arizona primaries by NBC News. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, meanwhile, was the projected winner in the Utah and Idaho Democratic caucuses. Ted Cruz was the projected winner of the GOP's Utah caucus, according to NBC.

Polls ahead of the contests indicated Trump was likely to win in Arizona, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was the GOP favorite in Utah.

One key question for the evening is whether Cruz could capture 50 percent of the Utah vote over Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, which would garner him all 40 of the state's delegates.

On the Democratic front, pundits have contended that Sanders would likely win Idaho (27 delegates total) and Utah (37 delegates). Arizona, which offers 85 delegates in total, had looked potentially more favorable for Clinton: One recent poll showed her with a double-digit lead over Sanders.

Overall, Clinton entered the evening with 1,583 delegates to Sanders' 868 (including so-called superdelegates), according to NBC News. A Democratic presidential hopeful needs 2,383 delegates to secure the party's nomination.

With 1,237 needed for an uncontested GOP nomination, Trump began Tuesday with 686 delegates to Cruz's 428 and Kasich's 143, according to NBC.
A Donald Trump supporter holds a sign out his window as he drives past a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Carl Hayden High School

Surveillance footage, cab driver offer clues in investigation in Brussels attack. n grainy images from surveillance footage, a man wearing light-colored clothes and a hat pushes a baggage cart through the airport.

It's one key piece of evidence authorities are looking at as they search for suspects after two explosions at the Brussels airport and another at a busy metro station in the Belgian capital Tuesday killed at least 30 people and wounded 230 others.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks, but authorities said it's too soon to say for sure whether the terror group was behind the blasts.

So far, police have released photos of three men they say are suspects tied to the airport attack, standing side-by-side.

Police say they are looking for the man on the right in connection with the Brussels attack.

Two of the men, wearing black in surveillance images, are believed to be suicide bombers who died in the explosions in the airport's departure lounge.

But investigators believe the one in light-colored clothing planted a bomb at the airport, then left. Authorities called him a wanted man and asked for the public's help tracking him down.

"The third man left a bomb in the airport, but it didn't explode. ... And we are now looking for this guy," Belgium's Interior Minister Jan Jambon said.

A photograph released by investigators shows the three suspects side-by-side.

Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said the two men wearing black in the photograph were likely the suicide attackers.

Video shows the men exiting a taxi and moving through the airport, according to two U.S. officials. The man dressed in white left the airport after accompanying the other two, they said -- a move the officials said appeared to be planned.

Live blog on the Brussels attacks

Taxi driver tip sparks raid
A break in the investigation may have come from a taxi driver who took the suspects to the airport.

The driver contacted authorities after seeing surveillance footage and gave them the address where he picked the men up, according to two U.S. officials briefed on the investigation.

That information prompted authorities to raid a residence after the attacks, the officials said.

Investigators found a nail bomb, chemical products and an ISIS flag during a house search in the northeast Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek, Belgium's federal prosecutor said in a statement.

Hours later, they were still combing through the building for evidence.

Security was high. At one point, a helicopter hovered overhead, carrying a sniper with a weapon trained on the building.

As masked, armed officers stood guard outside the building, the burst of camera flashes inside could be seen from the street below. Officers left the building carrying bags of evidence they loaded onto vehicles.

Ties to Paris attacks?
A Belgian government representative told CNN that 10 people were killed and 100 wounded at Brussels' international airport. At least 20 people died and 130 were wounded at the Maelbeek metro station, officials said.

The blasts sent wounded people fleeing into the streets, spurred evacuations of nuclear plants and transit hubs and led to raids in some areas as authorities searched for suspects and evidence.

Authorities in Belgium have been trying to crack down on terror threats for months as they raided homes in the area in search of suspects. Tuesday's violence came just days after investigators closed in on Europe's most wanted man, Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, who was hiding out in a Brussels suburb.

The "working assumption" is that the attackers came from the network behind November's massacres in Paris, which left 130 dead, Belgian security sources said, while cautioning it is very early in the latest investigation. ISIS also claimed responsibility for those attacks.

As doctors treat the wounded and authorities search for suspects, a key question remains unanswered: Could the attacks have anything to do with Abdeslam's arrest?

On Tuesday, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel deflected a question about whether there is any link between the attacks and the Belgium-born French citizen's capture, saying it is too early to tell.

Michel said Tuesday he had "no information" about who was responsible for the attack, adding that authorities will find that out, but now their focus is on caring for the victims.

Two senior U.S. officials told CNN they believe the Belgium attack is tied to the same network as Abdeslam.

Fears realized
One of the two airport explosions happened outside security checkpoints for ticketed passengers and near the airline check-in counters, an airline official briefed on the situation said.

The subway station blast happened about an hour later in the Brussels district of Maelbeek, near the European Quarter, where European Union institutions are based.

"We were fearing terrorist attacks," Michel told reporters Tuesday. "And that has now happened."

Belgium is no stranger to terror. "The Belgians have been sitting on a ticking time bomb," a U.S. counterterrorism official said, given all those who have traveled from the small European nation to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS, then possibly come back home.

But for survivors of Tuesday's blasts, the repeated warnings from officials in recent months didn't dull the shock of seeing the carnage.

"You cannot believe it; you cannot believe it," said Jef Versele, who was in the airport's departure hall when bombs exploded there. "It was so insane. Not in my backyard."

Witnesses: 'People were on the floor'

The second blast inside the airport blew out windows, created a lot of smoke and caused parts of the ceiling to fall, he added.

"People were on the floor," Versele said, estimating he saw 50 to 60 who were thrown to the ground and didn't seem to be able to walk.

Anthony Barrett saw the wounded carried out on stretchers and luggage carts as he watched from his hotel across from the terminal building.

"I could see people fleeing," he said.

'We remain united'
After the attacks in Brussels, the home of NATO and the capital of the European Union, leaders inside Belgium and beyond vowed not to back down in their fight against terror.

In Belgium, where officials declared three days of national mourning, Michel offered a resolute message to those who supported and cheered the attackers.

"To those who have chosen to be barbarous enemies of freedom, democracy and fundamental values ... we remain united as one," Michel said. "We are determined to defend our freedoms and to protect our liberties."

In its message claiming responsibility, ISIS noted that Belgium is one of the nations "participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State."

A Twitter post widely circulated by prominent ISIS backers Tuesday featured the words, "What will be coming is worse."

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen reported from Brussels. CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet and Greg Botelho wrote the story in Atlanta. CNN's Nima Elbagir, Joshua Berlinger, Jason Hanna, Hamdi Alkhshali, Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, Tim Hume, Ryan Browne, Aurore Gayte, Shimon Prokupecz, Sheila Upadhya, Euan McKirdy, Margot Haddad, Mick Krever and journalist Laila Benallal contributed to this report.

Brussels attacks: 'Two brothers' behind Belgium bombings. 
CCTV grab of suspects
Two of the men who carried out attacks in Brussels on Tuesday have been named by Belgian media as the brothers Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui.

The RTBF broadcaster quoted a police source as saying Brahim was a suicide bomber at Zaventem airport. Twin explosions there killed 14 people.

It said Khalid was the suicide bomber at the Maelbeek metro station, where about 20 people died.
Belgium is observing three days of national mourning.

So-called Islamic State (IS) has said it was behind the attacks and warned that more would follow.
A minute's silence for the victims will be held at midday (11:00 GMT).

RTBF said the brothers were known to police and had criminal records.

The broadcaster, quoting the police source, said that Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27, had used a false name to rent the flat in the Forest area of the Belgian capital where police killed a gunman in a shootout last week.

It was during that raid that police found a fingerprint of Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in the Paris terror attacks of 13 November.

He was arrested in a raid in Brussels last Friday and is due to appear before a pre-trial court on Wednesday.
Interpol image
The Interpol entry for Khalid el-Bakraoui
Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
Media captionAnna Holligan reports from the Schaerbeek area of Brussels: ''There is still a significant police presence''

Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
Media captionPeople leaving the Brussels metro following the blast

Khalid el-Bakraoui is on the Interpol website. It says he is being sought for terrorist activities.

RTBF said Khalid was jailed for five years in 2011 for car-jacking while Brahim, 30, was sentenced in October 2010 for firing at police.

Brahim el-Bakraoui is believed to be in the middle of a CCTV image taken at Zaventem airport and released by police.

He and the man on the left were believed to have been killed in the airport attack.
CCTV grab of suspects
One Belgian media outlet says the man in the hat and still being sought is Najim Laachraoui
Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure said that the man wearing the hat is Najim Laachraoui.

It reported on Wednesday that he had been arrested in the city's Anderlecht district, although this has not been confirmed.

Laachraoui was named earlier in the week by police as a wanted accomplice of Abdeslam.

Federal prosecutors have not commented on the latest reports but said they would provide more information on Wednesday.

'Black day'
The airport explosions happened in quick succession shortly after 08:00 local time (07:00 GMT) on Tuesday.
Zaventem airport remains closed under tight security, 23 March
A third bomb was found and destroyed in a controlled detonation.

About an hour later another explosion ripped through a train at the Maelbeek metro station in the Belgian capital, killing about 20 people.

The first of the victims to be named is Peruvian Adelma Tapia Ruiz, 37.

She had been at Zaventem airport with her Belgian husband and twin four-year-old daughters, who were unharmed, her brother told Peruvian radio.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Tuesday was "a day of tragedy, a black day".

The country has raised its terrorism alert to the highest level.
Map of Brussels attacks
Brussels terror suspect Najim Laachraoui arrested. Belgian police arrested one of the suspects in the Brussels terror attacks that killed 34 people at the city’s airport and at a metro station, according to media reports.

Najim Laachraoui, who is also believed to have ties to the November Paris attacks, was arrested in Anderlecht, Belgium, on Wednesday, according to Belgian newspaper La Libre.

Earlier on Wednesday, Belgium's state broadcaster reported that two suicide bombers in Tuesday’s attacks were brothers Khalid and Ibrahim El-Bakraoui. The broadcaster initially said both were the suicide bombers in Brussels Airport, but one was at the airport and the other was at the metro station.

Laachraoui is believed to be the only surviving prime suspect in the bombings, according to CNBC. Authorities believe he escaped from the Brussels Airport following the grisly attacks.

The brothers were known to the police, RTBF said. Their involvement has not been publicly confirmed by investigators.

Meanwhile, a manhunt for a third suspect who was captured on surveillance footage shortly before the two blasts at the airport continued Wednesday. Belgian media named him as Najim Laachraoui.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is visiting Brussels Wednesday, called on the EU parliament to authorize a passenger name record for the continent, according to the Associated Press. The proposal authorizes the blanket collection of passenger data and has been under consideration by parliament on and off again since 2011.

“It is urgent to adopt the European PNR," Valls said. The European Parliament has waited too long to adopt this text. It must examine and adopt it in April, it’s time.”

Brussels Airport remained closed Wednesday because the forensic investigation is still taking place. A minute’s silence was scheduled for midday local time to commemorate the victims.

The metro station bomb was denoted near offices belonging to the European Union. The Belgian prosecutor’s office said police found a fourth explosive device, which was not detonated, containing nails, chemical products and an Islamic State flag in a house in the Schaerbeek neighborhood of the city Tuesday.

The story behind the Brussels photo you saw everywhere: 'I was not able to help them'

The attack came four days after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in November's Paris attacks who was captured in Brussels after a four-month manhunt.

Belgian authorities said Abdeslam had planned to commit another attack and had a large network of associates. Officials on Tuesday said it was too soon in the investigation to tie Tuesday's attacks to the Paris assaults that killed 130 people.

RTBF said Khalid Bakraoui had rented an apartment which was raided by police last week in an operation. That investigation led authorities to top Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam.

Ted Cruz: Police need to 'patrol and secure' Muslim neighborhoods. Ted Cruz on Tuesday called for law enforcement to step up their policing of Muslim neighborhoods in the U.S. in the wake of terrorist attacks in Brussels, comparing it to police boosting their presence in areas with known gang activity.

"If you have a neighborhood where there's a high level of gang activity, the way to prevent it is you increase the law enforcement presence there and you target the gang members to get them off the streets," the Texas senator told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "I'm talking about any area where there is a higher incidence of radical Islamic terrorism."

Cruz also pointed to what he called the "successful program" in New York implemented by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, apparently pointing to the New York Police Department's controversial surveillance efforts targeting Muslims under his administration.

J. Peter Donald, communications for the New York Police Department, described Cruz's comments as an "incendiary, foolish statement."

"Hey, @tedcruz are our nearly 1k Muslim officers a "threat" too? It's hard to imagine a more incendiary, foolish statement," he tweeted, the night before Cruz is expected to host a rally in New York City.

Earlier in the day Cruz said in a statement, "We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized," adding that the U.S. can no longer afford to "political correctness."

"For years, the West has tried to deny this enemy exists out of a combination of political correctness and fear. We can no longer afford either. Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods," Cruz said in the statement.

Donald Trump said later Tuesday on CNN that he agreed with Cruz's proposal to target Muslim neighborhoods, calling it "a good idea."

Cruz's comments are not the first time the Republican presidential candidate has called for policies that would single out Muslims. The Texas senator argued in November that the U.S. should shut its doors to Muslim refugees from Syria, only allowing Christian refugees to seek asylum in the U.S.

Cruz's call drew a swift rebuke from GOP presidential rival Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Anti-Defamation League, a leading anti-bigotry organization.

"We are not at war with Islam, we are at war with radical Islam," Kasich said during a news conference. "Just because you happen to be a Muslim does not mean you want to destroy someone in the West.... The last thing we need is more polarization because for those who want to preserve Islam in the west, we alienate them."

Still, Kasich argued the U.S. has been "too lax and not aggressive enough" in its response to terrorism.

Wasserman Schultz was blunter.

"Ted Cruz is a disgrace," the Florida congresswoman said, adding that the freshman senator's statement amounted to "fear-mongering."

"His comments today were worse than opportunistic and inappropriate politicking in the wake of the terrible tragedy in Brussels -- they were a shameful display of hate that only serves to foment anger and make the world less secure," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

Cruz campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said that a stepped-up police presence in Muslim neighborhoods "will both identify problem spots and partner with non-radical Americans who want to protect their homes."

And she reiterated that the U.S. cannot allow "political correctness to drive decisions about our security" and warned that a failure to act would result in problems of radicalization that authorities are dealing with in some Muslim neighborhoods in Europe.

"Innocent, peaceful Americans, no matter their faith, deserve to live in safe neighborhoods; that is what law enforcement exists to do, and that includes preventing radical Islamic terror cells from taking root in them. The police should have every tool available to follow leads and take action against those who would do us harm," she said in an email.

The Anti-Defamation League condemned Cruz's proposal in a statement Tuesday that said "demonizing all Muslims is a misguided and counterproductive response to the terrorist threat.

"Ordering special patrols of Muslim neighborhoods will almost certainly create an adversarial relationship between law enforcement and the communities they have sworn to protect, making those communities more vulnerable, more frightened, and often less willing to help. The approach is contrary to the principles of individual rights, equality, justice, and religious freedom on which this nation was founded," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in the statement.

While Kasich and Cruz have both called for stops on resettling Syrian refugees in the U.S., neither have gone as far as Republican front-runner Trump who has called for banning all foreign Muslims from entering the U.S.

Cruz has said he disagrees with Trump's proposal, but also said he "understands" why the real estate mogul called for the ban. CNN's Betsy Klein and Theodore Schleifer contributed to this report.
NYPD chief Bratton rips Ted Cruz: Calling for anti-Muslim ‘patrols’ is why he won’t be president.
New York City Police Chief Bill Bratton criticizes Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on March 22, 2016. (YouTube)
New York City Police Chief Bill Bratton denounced Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) proposal for increased “patrols” against Muslim communities, Capital New York reported.

“I would remind the senator that he lives in the United States of America, and the statements he made today is why he’s not gonna become the president of this country,” Bratton said during a joint press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We don’t need a president that doesn’t respect the values that form the foundation of this country.”

The Republican presidential candidate called for the “patrols” shortly after the attacks by members of the Islamic State group in Brussels earlier in the day.

“We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” Cruz said on his Facebook page.

According to the Washington Post, Cruz’s campaign later said that, should he be elected president, his administration would revive the surveillance program formerly used by Bratton’s department, saying that de Blasio scuttled it because of “political correctness.”

Both de Blasio and Bratton pointed out that the NYPD has more than 900 active Muslim officers.

“I have over 900 very dedicated officers in this department, many of whom do double duty,” Bratton said. “They serve as active duty members of the U.S. Military in combat, something the senator has never seen.”

Watch footage from the press conference, as posted online, below.

President Obama Explains Why He Attended MLB Exhibition Game in Cuba Despite Brussels Attacks. President Obama explained his decision to attend a Major League Baseball exhibition game in Cuba today between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team, following this morning's terrorist attacks in Belgium.

"The whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people's ordinary lives," President Obama said in an interview with ESPN during the game, noting that "it's always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world."

The president added that one of his "proudest moments as president" was when Boston united in the wake of the attack on the city's marathon, complimenting Red Sox David Ortiz's in particular for declaring that Boston would not be intimidated.

"When Ortiz went out and said probably the only time that America didn't have a problem with somebody, a person on live TV, was when he talked about Boston, how strong it was and that it was not going to be intimidated," Obama said.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has been one of the loudest critics of the president for continuing his trip to Cuba in the wake of the attacks in Brussels, calling on the president to suspend his trip and return home to the United States or travel to Belgium’s capital.

“President Obama should be back in America keeping this country safe. Or president Obama should be planning to travel to Brussels," Cruz said today at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Three explosions hit the city’s international airport this morning and a subway station in what the Belgian federal prosecutor classified as terror attacks that left dozens dead, with three Americans among the nearly 200 injured.

While much of the president’s two-day trip to Cuba has been marked by public disagreements between the U.S. and Cuba, the president highlighted the exhibition baseball game -- and the shared love of the game by Cubans and Americans alike -- as a recognition of "good will" between two nations and a sign of progress.

Obama pointed to baseball legend Jackie Robinson, who broke barriers in the U.S. as one of the first African-American Major League Baseball players, as one example of "the power of sports" to bring change.

"It can change attitudes sometimes in ways that a politician can never change, that a speech can’t change," he said. "All of those kids who started growing up watching the Brooklyn Dodgers, suddenly they’re rooting for a black man on the field and how that affects their attitudes laying the groundwork for the civil rights movement that’s a legacy that all of us have benefited from, black and white and Latino and Asian."

The game is the first MLB exhibition game to be played in Cuba in nearly 20 years.

President Obama was seated with Cuban President Raul Castro at the game. The president's wife and daughters were also at the game.

Prior to the game's start, a moment of silence was held in recognition of the attacks on Belgium.

Sunset Daily News & Sports
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Sunset Daily News
23 March 2016
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