Opening Statement



Friday, 1 April 2016

Teacher Free Speech April News + Views!

StarhEY hO! ONcE aGAiN kEEP ChECKing BAcK! ;-) LaTeR AdDITIoNs WiLL bE AddED In LaRgE TYpe SeT! mY Acronym Guide IS @ hErE!


April showers ... Who will do what to whom this month?!? Enquiring minds need to know!

TEACHER + UNION

CUPE, ETFO, OSSTF win a major, upset victory against the Ontario Liberal Government! Read my blog @ Matrix

The Supreme Court of Canada finally rules in their favour on the highly controversial and charged Fall 2012 Bill 115 Charter of Rights and Freedoms Challenge! The court decides that the Ontario teacher and education workers' "meaningful collective bargaining" [CB] rights were violated. Also, that the CB process itself, imposed upon the teachers, was "fundamentally flawed". The parties must now meet to seek a remedy. If none is quickly reached the judge will decide! Breaking news @ CUPE  @ ETFO and @ OSSTF

Read the Supreme Court of Ontario decision @ PDF

The union lawyers explain @ Goldblatt

No comment from MOE Sandals, but Premier Wynne admits that the legislation which forced contracts on teachers was "problematic" @ 1010

Interesting: the Bill 115 ruling hardly made the front page news, unlike all the teacher bashing articles at the time. 24 hours after the ruling and I've still yet to see any official comment from OECTA! We wait with bated breathe!

UNIFOR expresses it's solidarity with BLM TO [Black Lives Matter Toronto]. More below. Also, see my blog. Here's the UNIFOR statement @ UNIFOR

Have You Noticed: Teachers talk with the MOE but get nowhere while BLM TO action/ protests speak louder than words! They've won concessions on an Andrew Loku inquest. A review of the SIU. A meeting with the Premier, and a restoration of Afrofest. No. It wasn't always "nice" but surprise! The public is still quite sympathetic @ Star

Seems Rabble.ca Is Saying the Same thing: The successful Bill 115 court victory will ring hollow if our teacher and education worker unions don't use it to mobilize the members after the lackluster 2012 and 2015 job actions, or lack thereof @ Rabble.ca

A rash of youth suicides at the Attawapiskat reserve makes world news. Idle No More links up with BLM TO and occupies the Indigenous Affairs offices el pronto in downtown Toronto. A big grass root protest erupts, absent any visible union solidarity, teacher or otherwise. Have we lost touch? What if these were our kids? Do we just "talk" some more, like we do with the MOE?!? News @ Globe 

Also, see this month's blogs covering the Attawapiskat Toronto INAC protest! 



Grass root action speaks louder than words but lacks union activist muscle, or what's left of it in Ontario!

UK NUT teachers have created a DIY audio track for anyone who wants to singalong and record their own "save education" song. Available for free; alto, tenor and soprano @ This School

Chicago Teachers Union are planning a city wide strike on Friday April 1st. For more info, check out their site @ CTU

CTU teachers walked off the job for the day in mass over salaries and cuts to student services @ Take Part

Ontario Teacher Unions Take Note: CTU felt the strike was necessary for generating attention and creating the sense of urgency needed to spark their protest movement and a populist uprising @ Tribune

New Brunswick's unions have scored a major victory in getting Bill 24 shelved! It posed a serious threat to Collective Bargaining in the province @ Rabble.ca

On April 15th, Ontario teachers joined other unions across the province to protest for fair wages! Fairness for workers means fairness for the children in our classrooms. It is an important social justice issue @ Star

Parent anger erupts over plans to eliminate IBM [Intensive Behaviour Management] school programming services. Seems they will be receiving a one time $8000 pay off for anybody on the long waiting list @ Northumberland

The Ontario Teacher Pension Plan earned a 13% return in 2015! Net assets hit a record 171.4 billion! The plan is 107% funded! That despite the world economy being in the dumps, our country on the skids. Just goes to show that defined pensions can work for our teacher members, and might well be a damn good idea for other workers and professionals too! See the Annual Report! Members can also sign up for the April 7 AGM at the Carlu on Yonge St, here in Toronto, especially if you have any questions. Hope to see you there @ OTPP

OSSTF + ETFO demand an apology from MOE Liz Sandals over her teacher sick day comments. Interesting: nothing from OECTA. Por que no? @ Globe

Low Blow! MOE Sandal's teacher bashing over sick days is based upon a "secret report" from the mysterious "School Boards Co-operative Inc" which she hasn't seen fit to release @ Intelligencer

Secrets From Beneath the Code of Silence: OECTA President Ann Hawkins sent members a letter explaining that MOE Sandals has apologized to them for her sick day statements. Seems Liz hadn't even read the secret report above before she attacked the provinces teachers @ Globe

OSSTF Rainy River Board teachers will commence a full withdrawal of services starting April 27th @ OSSTF

Toronto OECTA TECT elementary vote 94.73% to strike! A full walk out not expected right away. More to come ...

Toronto OECTA TSU secondary members ratified a local agreement by 90% on April 18th! No details available.

OECTA TECT President Patricia Minnan-Wong deflects Toronto Star teacher attack piece criticism of special sick day incentives. Timing of article comes as the local unit is at an impasse with intransigent TCDSB in long, drawn out contract talks, with a strike vote pending @ Star



Bill 115 Redux: MOE/ Media Teacher Bashing Frenzy as Local CB Talks Stall!

Much ado from MOE Sandals as she announces with great fanfare that she's getting tough on math. Elementary students will receive one hour of math instruction per day starting this fall. I haven't taught elementary in some time but, sparing the exact minute to the hour to the day scheduling talents of the ministry bean counters, isn't this pretty much about what they get anyway? Perhaps the additional resources will help @ Star

CUPE is "calling out" the Ontario government on changes to our provincial child care regulations that will make it hard to properly serve the kids @ CUPE

How Do We Rank? Education indicators in Canada from an international perspective @ Stats Can

OECTA TSU Executive Election: The Presidency and First/ Second VP positions are up for grabs! Presidential contenders are Antonella DiCarlo + Gillian Vivona. First: Frank Bruno + Peter McKay. Second: Teresa Placha + Angela Tersigni. Lotsa familiar names! My best guess is that the wins will go to the best campaigners. All other positions have been acclaimed!

A controversial, transgendered Hamilton kindergarten teacher is having his students cross dress in play costumes. He claims it creates a more supportive social environment by teaching kids to be more understanding and accepting of different gender roles @ Globe

TDSB Trustee Howard Kaplan dies at age 72. I can't say I knew him but Howard read this blog and frequently retweeted my links. I respected him and quite enjoyed his sense of humour. He was an advocate for early childhood programming and Special Ed. RIP @ Star


TDSB Trustee Howard Kaplan RIP!

A Real Nail Biter! In this case a draw is a union victory as US Supreme Court judges are tied 4-4 on whether unions can collect dues. Duh @ NYT

Does Teaching Art Matter? Ten very important lessons we can't live without @ Art

Black Girls Matter: Does school discipline "over police" and "under protect" them in Canada too? This is from stateside, but it's a interesting read, worth consideration @ Schott

The Plot Thickens: The City of Richmond Hill's "Girlz Rock" and "Boyz Rule" gender specific day camps are drawing criticism for sexual stereotyping. Seems the boys engage in extreme sports while girls practice their manicures and learn how to cook. In response to the concerns they've decided to ..... change the name of the girls' and boys' clubs. Now, officials argue that kids of both sexes can sign up for either the "Kidz Rock" or "Extreme Sports" groups, despite marketing them as gender specific in the past, but is it enough? More @ Star

ONTARIO POLITICS



Ontario + Canadian Party Politics: Down the rabbit hole we go .... 

I'm going to try something new by now grouping our Canadian Federal party news here along with our Ontario Politics news y views! Will see how it goes ....

Suicide crisis on our Attawapiskat First Nation makes international news as the Ontario Ministry of Health is asked to step up more to help @ BBC

11 suicide attempts occurred in Attawapiskat over the weekend, with 100 since last August @ Global and @ Videos

The suicide crisis has been generations in the making. The international view of what's happening in Ontario to our indigenous people is pretty shocking and disturbing, though we often seem rather oblivious here @ Guardian



420 advises Wynne OLP where to stuff Bill 45!

420 Protesters were busy denouncing the Wynne Liberals plans to implement Bill 45 during the Yonge St march and on stage at Dundas Square in no uncertain terms! Why? Not only will it prohibit medical marijuana users from medicating themselves outside of the home. It also nips the province's budding Vapour Lounges for recreational users! It's seems very much a knee jerk reaction -There is little, medical research supporting the bill from a health and safety point of view. Learn more about how to fight Bill 45 @ IdealVapes

The Toronto Global Marijuana March will be protesting Bill 45! It gathers at high noon in Queen's Park North on Saturday May 7th @ Hi Hi Hi!



More on 420 and legalization below under "In The News" and "Kulture Kult Ink"!

A Federal legal loophole has let the Catholic church off the hook in raising $79 million in compensation for their role in the sexual abuse of our indigenous peoples at the residential schools. Many of these were in Ontario, and were exposed by the TRC Commission. The Catholic Church isn't paying up! So much for leading by moral example! Acton's speak louder than words @ Globe



Ontario makes the world news!

Ontario NDP help lead successful charge to get Wynne OLP to roll back a proposed prescription drug charge increase for our province's seniors @ NDP

NDP MPP Cheri DiNova worked tirelessly for years on a private members bill just passed into law recognizing PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] as being "work related" for first responders when filing an WSIB claim. So what does the Toronto Star do? Prints the good news, but under a photo of PC Party Leader Pat Brown saying he hopes it says lives! For shame @ Star


Premier Wynne agrees to a community meeting with Black Lives Matter Toronto protesters to discuss police shootings, accountability, systemic racism, carding and other pressing issues. The group then decides to close Tent City outside Toronto Police Headquarters on College St where they have been camped out in the cold for the past two weeks @ Star and @ Huff

Black Lives Matter gets a motion passed municipally at Toronto City Hall for an investigation into the Toronto Police SIU [Special Investigations Unit], demanding more transparency in the wake of the recent police shooting of a local unarmed, mentally disturbed black man, Andrew Loku. However, Mayor John Tory refuses to attend a community meeting with BLM TO to discuss the issues. I was at city hall, and report in a blog which follows. More news on the proceedings @ CBC

Here's the most detailed summary, timeline and backgrounder of BLM TO I've seen to date @ Star

Meet some of the key organizers and politicos in Black Lives Matter Toronto @ Star



BLM TO Protesters rock Toronto!


Here's an interesting article on BLM's use of social media. In Toronto, we've seen it used very effectively for agitation and mobilization purposes. However, there are some deeper issues at stake for where BLM goes from there, especially in regards to educating people about the issues @ Nation

Premier Wynne comes under fire at QP about SIU secrecy as the government decides how to release the details of the Andrew Loku shooting @ Star

Premier Wynne publicly meets with BLM TO protesters outside QP. She promises a community meet. Meanwhile Toronto Mayor John Tory remains intransigent. Here's a good account of the Premier's "close encounter", including a recording of the comments made @ Now!

Toronto Mayor John Tory drops his annoyed white guy act and agrees to publicily meet with Black Lives Matter Toronto. What happened?!? His private closed meeting with the cities other select "black leaders" failed when they told him off. What community solidarity! However, black Police Chief Mark Saunders also got an earful on a "missed opportunity" but remains noncommitted @ Globe



Chief Saunders in the public eye!

Are Toronto police underworked, overpaid, deeply entrenched and far too powerful? Toronto Life examines the other pressing issues facing Chief Saunders as he enters his second year on the job @ Toronto Life 

Does systemic black racism exist in Ontario? Premier Wynne acknowledged so in her discussion with BLM TO protesters at QP. Toronto Police are angry and disputing the claims. However, as this article points out, Toronto is not the US. BLM TO is not the same as BLM in the USA. Our racial diaspora is much more complex and layered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, due to our immigration patterns, and BLM TO isn't a Black Nationalism movement like in the states. Still, many people of colour believe that racism is a big problem @ Vice

Many Ontarians think police carding is a thing of the past. It isn't, and remains a bad, protest sore point for BLM TO. These articles provide a good overview of the outstanding issues @ Now! and @ Now!

The long, ongoing history of the fight against police carding of people of colour in Toronto @ Ryerson

Toronto Police Association's Mike McCormick argues that the Andrew Loku shooting illustrate policing challenges in dealing with the mentally ill, but is not the result of systemic racism @ Star

Critics argue that McCormick is wrong about systemic racism not being a factor, because he removes the Loku shooting from it's social and historical context for people of colour @ Ricochet



BLM Double Standard -Ford Tweets: Hell, he might get a civic statue! 

BLM TO Co-founder Yusra Ghogali argues that media coverage of the "tweet scandal" shows how anti-black racism works @ Star

Toronto Police verses the Premier and BLM TO: We might actually be starting to engage in an interesting, necessary and timely public discussion over policing, systemic racism and the mentally ill. Then it denigrates into an email scandal @ CP24



Premier Wynne's "close encounter" as she reaches out to BLM TO. John Tory? No!

More Police Woes: Ontario's top court has ruled that hundreds of protesters and passer-by's can sue the Toronto Police for the mass detentions or "nettling" carried out during the G20 Summit @ Vice

As Ontario's "Cash for Access" scandal continues to grow, Premier Wynne promises to end corporate and union donations by this spring. CUPE, ETFO, OSSTF, OECTA take note! Many of us wished they'd stop giving long ago. It'll be more interesting to see what limits are put on "third party advertising". Arguably, that's proven a more self directed and productive avenue of communicating with the public, for teachers, on issues as an education lobby group, without political compromise. More @  Globe

US political grass rooters are not alone in their concerns over how money talks! Politics is definitely the purview of "big money" in Ontario too. Premier Wynne is in damage control mode over party fund raising. Cabinet members have been charging exorbitant donation fees for a sit down meet. Some are expected to raise $500,000 for the party a year! More @ Star

Surely, embattled Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne faces a very difficult battle ahead if she is to turn around the OLP's lost fortunes and achieve some semblance of good grace! At least Kathleen doesn't seem to have lost her sense of humour. Hilarious! This is a MUST see!!! Marg Princess Warrior confronts "the Wynne" @ 22 Minutes

The Federal NDP meet in Edmonton April 8-10th for the first time since their political hopes were badly crushed by the Trudeau Liberals in the 2015 election. An NDP election post-mortum finds that our once proud democratic socialist alternative party got "out of sync" with Canadians who basically couldn't recognize how it's different from the Liberal party. And what about Party Leader Thomas Mulcair, who now faces a leadership review? The working group claims his full capabilities were "not on display" @ CBC


IN THE NEWS

Latest polling shows only 6% of Americans trust the mass media! We Canucks are an even more skeptical lot. Though no polling exists, can it be much higher in Canada!?! One suspects not! So please keep coming here for your Alt Prog News y Views, instead of all the crappola being dished out by the mainstream! Story @ AP



420: Canada wide victory celebrations!

The Trudeau government announces to the United Nations that Canada will legalize marijuana in 2017! The long awaited announcement comes as pot activists across the country plan a nationwide day of 420 protests. Trudeau scores big brownie points as the rallies turn into a huge celebration party in Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver. Canada suddenly becomes a very kool and relaxed place for many but not all of us to be. See my Attawapiskat blogs! Also, breaking news @ Ipolitics

The choice of making the announcement on 420 not coincidence @  Financial Post

Trudeau rules out decriminalization first @ Huff

Legal pot taxes could amount to an extra $5 billion a year for the Canadian government @ CBC



John + Yoko: Smile + say PET ... er, pot!

Canada's decision to ban pot in the early 20th century was originally based on misguided racism against Asians, of all people. It had nothing to do with "Science" at all. Subtle political pressures played a part as did fears later on about the corruption of white, middle class youth. John Lennon met with PM Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Led Zeppelin, Allen Ginsberg and the Grateful Dead all played their part on visits here too. Though granted that was long ago, they all helped spur the eventual move towards legalization that we are seeing now. An interesting history lesson @ Star

Media reports claim "hundreds" attended the huge party at Dundas Square Toronto. Try 1000's at least! It was wall to wall people, you could not move. Then the tour buses started to arrive! Story @ Global

So why "420"? Despite all the myths associated with the date, it originally referred to the time of day [4:20 pm] some high school students liked to toke up during the 1970's, according to this news story @ LA Weekly

More links on 420 Toronto below under Kulture Kult Ink!



Reset or Self Destruct: 52% of NDP'ers vote for a leadership review of party leader Thomas Mulcair. Furthermore they vote to wait 2 years until they choose a new one. Perhaps this will give the party time to redefine itself as a true leftist alternative in touch with it's grass roots? Or is that too long? Out of sight is out of mind? Will the NDP become irrelevant? More @ Star

Did the NDP fire the wrong guy? This article suggests that there is an inner party elite that was pulling the strings throughout the election. They are still there trying to move the NDP over to the mainstream centre @ Rabble.ca

Did NDP strategists decide that Mulcair lacked the proper star power for a party that is trying to ape the Trudeau Liberals @ Rabble.ca

NDP did NOT endorse the Leap Manifesto. It did agree to talk about it some more. Seems the Alberta Dippers are afraid of what big oil might think ..... Read the Leaf manifesto @ PDF

Stephen Lewis provides NDP convention goers with a reminder of what being left wing means @ CBC

Someone's Got to Do It: NDP nails Trudeau for his muddled comments on Canada's Colonial past @ APTN


Panama Papers: A HUGE Glitch in the ol' Neo Lib Matrix!

News Bombshell! There are 11.5 million leaked documents that make up the "Panama Papers". They expose the huge offshore tax shelter havens being used by politicos and the rich and famous from around the world to avoid paying taxes. Just think ... how many of these are often the very same  "Austerity Binge" folks who've been complaining the loudest since the economic collapse?!? About how we can't afford living wages and a public safety net?!? The shits really hitting the fan! Here's a quick primer @ Vice

Kersplat!!! Here's the website for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists who've leaked the Panama Papers @ IJIC

A Word of Caution: Why are the leaks so selective in whom they target and from which counties? The US and Israel are getting off squeaky clean! Activist Post argues that the "Panama Papers" might actually be an "act of destabilization" by certain western powers, or interests @ Activist Post

UK PM/ Neo Conster David Cameron is under pressure to resign after his family links to the Panama Papers are exposed. Don't forget David has been a very busy boy dismantling the UK education system to "balance the budget", "save taxes", blah, blah, blah. Well Jeez Dave, maybe if your family paid there's ....World Bulletin

Huge demonstrations rock Iceland demanding the PM's resignation after it's exposed he's been hiding millions of dollars in investments in the offshore tax shelters @ BBC

Whats Wit De Jazz, Ras? Putin has mud on his face, as the CBC is so quick to point out ....but hey! Which Canucks use these shelters?!? Who are they? More @  CBC

Here are but some of the better known rich and famous off shore tax cheats identified in the Panama Paper "Wikileak of the Mega-rich" @ Fusion

Royal Bank of Canada denies it has helped provide shelters for over 370 of our fellow Canadians, but the Panama Papers seem to show otherwise @ CBC

Canadians are required to report and pay taxes on all offshore investments. Revenue Canada is busy going through the Panama Papers to see who isn't @ Star

We Want The Names! From $6 to 8 billion every year is being squirreled away by Canadian investors in offshore tax shelters @ Star



Canada is a peaceful and just nation. We respect human rights at home and abroad. Saudi Arabia might have an awful track record, but like Prime Minister Trudeau says, we are just selling them "jeeps" -right?!? Think again @ Post

More Double Standards and Perhaps "Inconvenient" Truths: 208 people are dead, 75 wounded and a 108 children missing, in a mysterious "cross border cattle raid" into Ethiopia from Sudan that remains largely unreported in the western media @ Aljazeera

The Ethiopian Army has located the children and "crossed" into Sudan to rescue them. The European Union is monitoring the situation @ AllAfrica

With the US doing it, could Canada be far behind? In 2018, a Canadian woman other than the Queen will appear on one of our bills. Consultation has begun. She can't still be alive or a fictional character @ Buzzfeed

Does Toronto Mayor Rob Ford deserve a civic statue? Some folks think so! I heard one wag argue maybe it should go outside one of our city crack houses ... More @ Torontoist

Pope Francis "Joy of Life" opens progressive Catholic church doors a tiny crack to emphasize mercy over judgement, renew the focus on individual conscience, might even someday allow for divorcees to receive communion again at church. However, for the LGBTQ, the hopes are even slimmer. Eh? No! Nothing on allowing gay Catholic priests to marry either, as Bruce La Bruce has noted on the social media. More @ Star



Fact-o-Meter: How truthful are each of the candidates for US president? According to this fact check by the Tampa Bay Times and it's affiliates they ALL LIE! A LOT! Like a rug! The only difference is one of degree. Would explain why so many Yanks are attracted to "anti-politician" candidates. But guess what?!? They are lying too!!!! Hey, we need one of these Fact o' Meters in Canada!!! Hmmm. More @ Politifact

Is the Donald just "play acting" to attract more followers to the Republican party? Or are such claims just a rue to create some plausable deniability about his extremist views? A top aid speaks @ Vice

The Cuban Communist Party has chosen a new politboro. Find out who's who @ Granma

KULTURE KULT INK



Oh Cannabis?

No joke! That's somebody's mom holding up what she thinks is the Canadian flag! Cute eh? Meet 21 folks who don't know the difference between marijuana and the Maple Leaf. Hope when it's legalized, they don't try to smoke the wrong one by mistake! More @ Buzzfeed

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida! Why does music sound so great when you're high?? This article also includes a review of some "landmark literature" on the "subjective experience" of the "marijuana high". It can be a "head" experience, that's also good for the heart and soul @ Music.mic

Some More "Edibles"  or "Food For Thought": Legalization provides interesting insights into how race and class determines our different views @ Identities.mic

420 Toronto's "10th Canniversary" festival "ground zero" is at Yonge + Dundas Square, across from the Eaton Centre on Wednesday April 20th, from noon to 6 pm! Pretty good for retirees, the unemployed, and kids playing hookey, but everybody else?!? With Trudeau elected on a promise to "legalize it", this year should even be more interesting than usual. Details @ Vapor Central Updates @ Facebook

On another note, business types, and medicos will knock heads at the Lift Expo, billed as Canada's Largest Medical Cannabis Trade Show on May 28th at the Metro Convention Centre downtown on Front St Toronto. This one costs though, $15 online or $20 at the door @ Lift

Nope! Canada is not the US. Can you pass this Canadian Spelling Test. I failed, no surprise (No really! ;-) @ Buzzfeed



Prince RIP: Jeez, I don't want this section of my News Y views to become an obit column for the stars but we got two biggies this month who've joined that Great House Band in the Sky. Fare thee well Prince. He was a great funk meister right up there with Parliament/ Funkadelics' George Clinton and Bootsy Collins. Found dead at age 57 in his elevator at home @ NYT

He was a vastly underrated rock guitar god too! @ Boston

Prince defied all the taboos about what black American males should be like @ Guardian

Some even say Prince wrote his own gender rules @ Huff 

As a union member he was also a hero for working people @ Indypendant

Remembered: Here's a full episode of Prince and friends performing live on the "Arsenio Hall Show" @ Youtube

From Gay Conspiracy to Queer Chic: How gay artists transformed 20th century culture @ Guardian

Bad Boy Country Outlaw and Legend Merle Haggard dies at age 79! His songs spoke to the poor, lost, broken hearted and hard living, from the quirky "Okie from Muskokee [Video] to his more recent duet with Willie Nelson on "It's All Going To Pot [Video]. Obit @ Rolling Stone



Bruce Springsteen remains the "Boss" as he cancels a North Carolina concert to protest the state's shocking, new anti-LGBTQ laws. Notes the Bruce, "Some things are more important than rock shows ...." Er, but surely not much .... Read his website statement to his fans @ Springsteen More @ CNN and @ Guardian

Black Lives Matter Toronto has released a "Toronto Black City Mixtape" that they describe as "A love letter in song to black community". Proceeds will be used for their lawsuit against Toronto Police, as well as expenses for the "tent city" protest outside College St police headquarters. More info, and you can hear the Mixtape @ Fader

ETC

Some bonus beats! Root Rapper Brother D's "How We Gonna Make the Black Nation Rise?" is a catchy, timeless groove that sticks. It's built around the theme of agitating, educating, and organizing. It also manages to be a whole lotta fun! Surely, still a trez kool addition for the ol' protest anthem song list @ Youtube



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Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?
A careful analytical study!

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Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
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