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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 145  Nov. 24, 2014
Quote of the day:
"What does it really come down to? They are taking our twenty and giving us change for a five, telling us we owe them another ten."
        - Diane Harris Brown, a member of the Seaport Working Group, commenting on The Howard Hughes Corporation's proposal for Seaport development.

* DHCR validates Southbridge Towers vote to privatize the Mitchell-Lama co-op
* Bits & Bytes: Downtown Manhattan 'abuzz;' Brooklyn Bridge views imperiled
* Hostilities over Howard Hughes Seaport proposals continue
* Downtown Bulletin Board: Native Art Market; Fellowships for poets; Tenant Town Hall
* Calendar

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Historians and history lovers celebrated Evacuation Day at Bowling Green park, New York City's oldest public park. On Nov. 25, 1783, George Washington and his victorious troops rode into New York City and the occupying British army departed. Nov. 25, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 


Southbridge Towers, a 1,651-unit Mitchell-Lama co-op. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Late on the afternoon of Nov. 24, the Southbridge Towers board of directors issued a statement saying that DHCR (the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, a New York State agency) had concluded its review of the privatization vote at the Mitchell-Lama co-op and had found no fault with the outcome.

In an election that concluded on Sept. 30, by a margin of 10 votes, the shareholders of the 1,651-unit, South Street Seaport co-op voted to take Southbridge Towers out of the subsidized Mitchell-Lama program making their apartments available on the open market, where potentially, they could sell for half a million to a million dollars each.

Some shareholders who opposed privatization challenged the vote on the grounds that 403 proxy ballots were cast, and of these, DHCR disqualified 23 for unknown reasons. With such a slim margin, if 11 of those proxies had been accepted or the votes on those cast had been dismissed because of a faulty signature or another reason, the outcome of the vote would have been different.

Barry Mallin, lawyer for the Cooperators for Mitchell Lama, a group opposed to privatization, received a three-page letter from DHCR on Monday, which he is reviewing.
"Our counsel indicated the importance of allowing DHCR to conduct its review before deciding further action," said Paul Hovitz, chairperson of the Southbridge Towers Shareholders Association, a tenant group that asserted that the Black Book offering plan understated the risks of privatization.

"We hoped, but did not really expect, DHCR to do the in-depth investigation that would allay questions of a biased result," Hovitz said. "In fact, it appears that DHCR asked the Honest Ballot Association [which administered the election] and Southbridge Towers management if they did everything by the rules. They said yes and DHCR simply took their word for it. That's a little like asking the fox about the hen house."
Hovitz indicated that one possible response to the DHCR ruling would be litigation that might include a temporary restraining order or an injunction to keep it from being implemented without further investigation.

Meanwhile, the Southbridge Towers board of directors has sent the New York State Attorney General's office an amendment to the offering plan. If and when the Attorney General officially accepts that revision, which differs in minor ways from the previous offering plan, Southbridge Towers shareholders will have 90 days to opt in or opt out. If they opt in, they become shareholders of the new corporation, with the option of selling their apartments on the open market. If they opt out, they could continue to live at Southbridge Towers as renters with no ownership or voting privileges or they could leave the co-op.
"Should the 90-day period begin, we caution you not to rush to any decision," Hovitz said in a notice to the members of the Southbridge Towers Shareholders Association. "You can decide on the 89th day with no loss."

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Bits & Bytes

Nassau Street, where developers apparently plan to construct an 800-foot-tall apartment tower. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Downtown Manhattan abuzz with all the trimmings,"
New York Post, 11/25/14."There's lots to give thanks for this week if you work or live downtown or if you had the foresight to invest in the area in the gloomy years immediately following 9/11," the New York Post observes. "A stroll from Chambers Street to the Battery, or from river to river, reveals the golden turkey and the trimmings - from just-opened Pier A restaurant Harbor House to the under-construction Beekman Hotel and Residences in the landmarked Temple Court building at Beekman Street and Park Row. But the loudest buzz is over at the World Trade Center and Brookfield Place, the former World Financial Center. The hum of excitement emanating from the linked complexes reaches all the way to the East River, where Howard Hughes Corp. hopes to turn the decrepit South Street Seaport into a fully realized new district to rival the one along the Hudson." For the complete article, click here.

"Breathtaking view of Brooklyn Bridge could be lost forever," Daily News, 11/24/14. "There are three great sights that visitors to New York City most often seek out: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge which accommodates about 1.5 million walkers annually," an opinion piece in the Daily News begins. "The full grandeur of the Brooklyn Bridge is experienced in many ways. Walking across its one-mile span attracts folks year-round from all over the world." But, says the article, the best view of the bridge is "under dire threat" because of a  condominium building now under construction on the Brooklyn side of the East River. "That choice location was sold off to private developers as part of a long-term financing scheme for the park. But its sale came with a very important limitation any building built there had to respect the view of the bridge. This height limitation, spelled out in the final environmental impact statement issued by the Empire State Development Corporation in December 2005, has now been ignored by the winning bidder," according to the Daily News. For the complete article, click here.

"800-Foot Tower Planned for 75 Nassau Street," YIMBY, 11/25/14. "With several enormous residential towers under construction or soon to rise across the Financial District, the neighborhood's real estate boom continues to accelerate," says YIMBY. "And now, YIMBY has learned of yet another giant that may join the current wave of projects, which will rise on the lots spanning 75-83 Nassau Street. ODA has been selected to design the tower, which will stand approximately 800 feet tall. While renderings have not yet been made public, sleuthing reveals a tiny glimpse of the skyscraper in images posted to ODA's Facebook, where it can be seen standing behind the oculus of Fulton Center. This past June, Crain's reported on the sale of three buildings spanning 75-81 Nassau Street, which form the bulk of the assemblage. Lexin Capital bought the trio for nearly $46 million. YIMBY has learned that 83 Nassau Street will also be included (according to city records Lexin appears to have paid another $17.4 million for No. 83 and development rights associated with No. 85)." For the complete article, click here.


Schermerhorn Row as it looked in 2009, before Superstorm Sandy. Historic Fulton Street always was a "vibrant" place, especially in summer. (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
Thanksgiving is bringing only a brief respite in the hostilities over the future of the South Street Seaport.

On Monday, Nov. 24, the Save Our Seaport group - people who want to save the historic Seaport and its maritime heritage -  issued a fiery press release opposing The Howard Hughes Corporation's development plans. Meanwhile, Hughes has been lining up advocates for its Seaport proposal, which includes a high-rise tower on the waterfront next to the Brooklyn Bridge, by talking up amenities such as a middle school and a community center to Seaport residents who are desperate for these facilities.

On Nov. 20, a new group of Hughes partisans surfaced, calling itself "Friends of the Seaport." This group has set up a far-from-barebones website at Not naming names, this group says of itself, "We are neighbors. We are friends." However, the people behind it seem to be parents from the Peck Slip and Spruce Street Schools, both of which have benefited from Howard Hughes largesse. 

The Friends of the Seaport website says, "As lower Manhattan's Seaport district faces a period of exciting development and restoration, families and other residents in the greater Seaport neighborhood hunger for an opportunity to share their interests, priorities and support for various development projects; maintain the vibrant spirit of a historically significant neighborhood; and support responsible developers undertaking projects that enrich our community."

Friends of the Seaport is holding a meeting on Monday, Dec. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pine Street School, 25 Pine St., where Howard Hughes representatives will present their Seaport plans.

Meanwhile, the Save Our Seaport press release was antagonistic to everything that Hughes has in mind. This was of particular significance because several members of Save Our Seaport also are members of the Seaport Working Group, a task force formed by local elected officials earlier this year with the backing of the Seaport landlord, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, to create non-binding guidelines and principles for Seaport development.

On Nov. 19, Hughes presented its plan to the Seaport Working Group for a "mixed-use" project at the South Street Seaport and received a tepid to negative reaction.
As explained in the Save Our Seaport press release, "The SWG had developed a set of guidelines and principles to protect the Historic South Street Seaport District. Rather than adhering to those guidelines and principles, the plans as unveiled by [HHC senior executive vice president], Chris Curry, outlined a 42-story Seaport tower to replace the 1939 New Market Fish Building. The re-proposed tower includes a luxury retail base, a tiny middle school, and 38 floors of 150 luxury condominiums."

In addition, said the press release,  "60-70 'affordable' residential units are included off-site in the landmarked buildings currently occupied by the South Street Seaport Museum [on Schermerhorn Row] as part of the Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning plan" championed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The Save Our Seaport press release indignantly continued, "HHC also tried to convince the SWG that it would be historically 'appropriate' to move the landmarked Tin Building away from its original location, that the historic spaces in the Water Street and John Street buildings would be in 'better hands' if monetized by a private developer, and that there would be a stream of continuing revenue (HHC would not commit to a number) that would allow the South Street Seaport Museum to survive."

Immediately following HHC's presentation to the Seaport Working Group on Nov. 19, Save Our Seaport conducted a meeting to discuss what had been said.

Save Our Seaport's David Sheldon summed up his reaction by saying, "In my opinion, HHC is claiming something they don't have (the South Street Seaport's Schermerhorn Row) in order to trade it back to the City as something else that they don't want ('affordable' housing) in return for something else they want to get (the Seaport luxury tower). There are words for this business model. In my opinion, street con comes to my mind. Perhaps three-card Monte, as well."
"In the name of affordable housing, the Howard Hughes Corporation seeks to evict the South Street Seaport Museum from its historic home [on Schermerhorn Row] and offers to give it a shed on Pier 16 and one floor of space?" asked Michael Kramer, a member of the Seaport Working Group.
"It's like the marina in an area which has very powerful currents... it's there because it looks good on paper... a school so small it will be overcrowded when it opens, housing... but what does it really come down to? They are taking our twenty and giving us change for a five, telling us we owe them another ten," said Diane Harris Brown, another Seaport Working Group member.

At the Save Our Seaport meeting, several respected members of Lower Manhattan's maritime community were present - Capt. John Doswell and Capt. Robert Rustchak among them. They said that the marina that Howard Hughes proposes to put between its luxury tower and the Brooklyn Bridge would be impractical because of the East River's strong currents. They indicated that it would be difficult to moor a boat of any size at that location.

The calendar for December is filling up. The Friends of the Seaport will meet on Dec. 1. Howard Hughes will appear again in a closed-door session before the Seaport Working Group on Dec. 3. On Dec. 10, Hughes will make a presentation to Community Board 1's Landmarks Committee. The Save Our Seaport group will undoubtedly meet again.

Will there be any resolution, or even a cease-fire before Christmas? Probably not.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

A plaque on the outside of Schermerhorn Row in the historic South Street Seaport states the often-overlooked fact that it was saved from destruction by an infusion of public funds. "Restoration of Schermerhorn Row 1981-1983," the plaque states. "People of New York State. New York State Urban Development Corporation. New York State Office of Parks and Recreation."

Downtown bulletin board
The Native Art Market at the National Museum of the American Indian returns on Dec. 5. This was last year's market. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
Native Art Market: Once a year, the National Museum of the American Indian at Bowling Green sponsors an art market that brings some of the country's best Native American craftspeople to the museum to sell their wares. This year, the ticketed preview party is on Dec. 5 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. In addition to getting a chance to see (and buy) fine jewelry, ceramics, baskets, textiles, beadwork, masks, sculpture, and more before the crowds arrive the next day, those attending the preview party will hear a talk on Sustainability in Native Art & Design moderated by Lois Sherr Dubin, author of "Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family," the excellent exhibit that recently opened at the museum. There will be food and drink at the preview, and an opportunity to tour the museum's galleries. Tickets are $45; $35 (museum members). To buy tickets, click here. The Native Art Market is open to the public on Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. free of charge. For more information about the art market, including bios of the exhibitors and photographs of their work, click here.

Mah jongg tournament at the Museum of Jewish Heritage:
There's still time to register for the Museum of Jewish Heritage's fourth annual Mah Jongg Marathon, which takes place on Dec. 7 from noon to 5 p.m. The event is an offshoot of Project Mah Jongg, the wildly popular exhibition that was on view at the museum between May 2010 and February 2011 and is now touring the country. It explored how the game of mah jongg has ignited the imagination with its beautiful tiles, mythical origins, and communal spirit since the 1920s.

Advance tickets for the marathon are $36. For $54 participants will also receive a boxed lunch. Walk-up tickets are $72 on the day of the marathon and do not include lunch. The last day to reserve a boxed lunch is Nov. 30. All proceeds will benefit the Museum.

Players may register alone or with a team. The room will be divided into intermediate, advanced, and groups of players. Single players will be matched with other players of their own level. Participants can play for as little or as long a time as they wish. Guests will be able to choose their section at registration, along with the type of boxed lunch they would prefer.
Melissa Martens Yaverbaum, the curator of Project Mah Jongg, will open the event at 11 a.m. with a lively discussion of the history of the game. She said, "Since the 1920s, mah jongg has been used by Americans for both entertainment and philanthropic purposes. Mah jongg is still the perfect way to have a great time while supporting a cause you believe in."
Register online by clicking here. For more information, email or call (646) 437-4320.

Giving Tuesday: The Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City is joining with an international charitable movement that has designated Dec. 2, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, as "Giving Tuesday." The museum will collect funds that day to support its Interfaith Living Museum project, which brings together 90 Muslim and Jewish fifth graders from across New York City to overcome prejudice by discovering what is both unique and shared in their cultures. Over a period of six months, they take trips to each other's schools and places of worship and create a heritage-themed mini-museum. On GivingTuesday, the Museum hopes to raise $8,000, to foster new friendships by treating the students to bowling, pizza, and other bonding activities, including a celebratory dinner for the students and their families. Those who are interested in joining the museum's GivingTuesday initiative can click here for more information. For a video about the program, click here.

Emerging Poets Fellowship: The deadline to apply for an Emerging Poets Fellowship at Poets House in Battery Park City has been extended to Dec. 8. The program provides an opportunity for poets to receive guidance and instruction from a distinguished and diverse faculty and enter the next stage of their professional and artistic practice.

Funded by a grant from the Jerome Foundation, poetry writing instruction and mentoring takes place amid Poets House's library of more than 50,000 volumes. The program aims to deepen participants' artistic practice by offering a professional network of poets and literary professionals, including special visits from editors and publishers, who assist the writers with their artistic development and career.

The program includes weekly writing workshops, mentoring sessions, meetings with guest speakers, free access to Poets House events and archival resources and culminates in a final group reading. Transportation support is available for participants. Tuition is free to those accepted into the program.

The 2015 Emerging Poets Fellowship workshop will be taught by poet Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Distinguished Visiting Faculty will include Natalie Diaz, Cornelius Eady, and Nguyen Phan Que Mai with Bruce Weigl.

This residency program is open to those living in New York City. Applicants cannot be matriculated in any degree-granting program. The application process is competitive but there is no fee to apply. Applications must be postmarked by Dec. 8, 2014.

For more information and an application form, click here.

Battery Park City Chamber meeting: The third meeting of the newly-formed "BPC Chamber" will be held on Monday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. at the floating clubhouse in the North Cove Marina.  Business owners in the Battery Park City area are invited to attend to meet each other and network.  RSVP to to receive direct invitations to future meetings.

Tenant Town Hall and Resource Fair:
Of the approximately three million housing units in New York City, around one million are currently subject to rent regulation laws, New York State Sen. Daniel Squadron told Community Board 1 at its full-board meeting on Nov. 20. With these laws set to expire next year and an inadequate supply of affordable housing in New York City, tenant issues have never been more pressing. The composition of the New York State Senate, controlled by Republicans in the aftermath of midterm elections, may make it more difficult than ever to renew and strengthen rent regulation laws in the city, Squadron said. In collaboration with other elected officials and with Community Boards 1, 2 and 3, Squadron is holding a Tenant Town Hall and Resource Fair on Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. to answer housing-related questions that were raised at his annual Community Convention. Place: PS 142, 100 Attorney St., Manhattan (between Delancey and Rivington Streets). Time: 6:30 p.m. To RSVP, call (212) 298-5565. 

Boot Camp fitness class in Battery Park City:
Battery Park City Parks Conservancy's latest adult fitness program, Boot Camp, with instructor, Alan Courtenay, takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Boot Camp is a structured fitness class designed to help participants reach their fitness goals such as weight loss, toning or preparation for a full/half marathon. The classes are adaptable for all fitness levels and utilize a variety of equipment and training methods. The instructor strives to keep all workouts interactive, fun and exciting. Equipment used includes bands, rope, ladder, TRX, viper, and kettle-bells. Alan Courtenay is the CEO/Founder of NYC Boot Camps and recipient of the High Impact Trainer of the Year award. Register now! Tailor the schedule to your needs. With each package you can come to any session:
    *    $264 for a package of 12 classes  through Dec. 19
    *    $396 for a package of 18 classes through Dec. 19
There will be no classes on Nov. 26 and Nov. 28 and no refunds for missed classes. Place: 6 River Terrace. Time: 6:15 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. To register or to get more information, call (212) 267-9700 x363, or email

Stories & Songs: The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy's popular program for infants, toddlers and preschoolers introduces and integrates musical performance into their lives. BPCPC's Stories & Songs is a 14-week program of participatory music and stories for young children accompanied by an adult. Through musical performances by a rotating roster of professional musicians, Stories & Songs develops active listening, socializing, and cultural literacy.

When: Tuesdays, Jan. 6 - April 7, 2015; Wednesdays, Jan. 7 - April 8, 2015

SESSIONS: Session 1: 9:40 a.m. - 10:20 a.m. (6 months - 3.5 years)
Session 2: 10:30 a.m. - 11:10 a.m. (13 months - 3.5 years)
Session 3: 11:20 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (13 months - 3.5 years)

Place: 6 River Terrace in Battery Park City. Cost: $335 for 14 sessions, siblings: $315.

Space is limited and advance registration is required. For more information or to pre-register, call (212) 267-9700 ext. 363, or email Payment can be made by check to BPCPC, or by Visa or Master Card. Battery Park City Parks Conservancy offers a 5% discount to siblings enrolled in Stories & Songs. For more information about the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, click here.

CALENDAR: Week of Nov. 24
A lock of George Washington's hair on display at the Fraunces Tavern Museum at 54 Pearl St. On Nov. 25, 1783, Washington and the Continental Army marched into New York City and the occupying British forces departed.  (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
Nov. 30: Learn how to print posters from wood type in this three-hour workshop at Bowne Printers on Water Street. Participants will collaborate on designing and printing a broadside poster from moveable wooden type, drawing from Bowne's collection of more than 100 fonts that can be used for this project. The first step will be to spell out bold words or phrases and then test print them on a hand-operated proofing press that dates from the 1890s. Next, the class will learn how to arrange and prepare their phrases for printing on Bowne's vintage Vandercook cylinder press. The final step will be to lock up the composition on the press bed and learn about inking, registration, proofing and make-ready. Everyone will get a chance to operate the press. Each student will go home with test prints and three copies of the group's poster. Place: Bowne Printers, 209 Water St. Time: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets: $75; $60 (South Street Seaport Museum members). To register, click here.

: "Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family" opened on Nov. 14 and continues through Jan. 10, 2016. The exhibit includes more than 300 examples of beautifully crafted jewelery, most of it made by the Yazzie family, with some from the National Museum of the American Indian's collection. Through a video, photographs and a handsome catalog, the exhibit shows how the jewelry expresses Navajo cultural values and way of life inspired by a majestic landscape of buttes, mesas and desert. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and on Thursdays until 8 p.m.; closed December 25. Admission is free. 


Ongoing: The Skyscraper Museum presents "Times Square, 1984: The Postmodern Movement," on view through Jan. 18, 2015. Times Square today is bright and crowded - a tourist mecca, entertainment district, retail powerhouse and pedestrianized precinct that matches in vitality, both economic and populist, any decade of its storied past. But 30 years ago, the future of Times Square was in limbo - caught between a series of false starts at clean-slate urban renewal by New York City and New York State and an emerging philosophy of urbanism that favored history, preservationist values, electric signs and semiotics, and delirious diversity. Place: 39 Battery Place. Open, Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Admission: $5; $2.50 (students and seniors). For more information, click here.  
Ongoing: "A Town Known as Auschwitz" is an exhibit of photographs at the Museum of Jewish Heritage tracing the history of a town called "Oswiecim" in what is now Poland, where Jews and non-Jews lived side by side for centuries. When German forces occupied the town in September 1939, they renamed it "Auschwitz" and established a concentration and death camp there. More than 1 million people died at Auschwitz, including 90 percent of the town's Jews. The museum is at 36 Battery Place. For information the exhibit, click here. For information on the museum's hours and admission fees, click here.
Ongoing: The South Street Seaport Museum's lightship Ambrose and its barque Peking welcome visitors Wednesdays to Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Pier 16 (on the East River at Fulton Street). The Ambrose, launched in 1908,  once guided large ships through the Ambrose Channel into New York harbor. Peking was launched in Hamburg, Germany in 1911, one of the last commercial sailing ships ever built. She was used to carry goods from Europe to South America and to return to Europe with nitrate. The museum's Visitors Services associates explain all of the fascinating details of the ships and their relevance to the history of New York as a port city. Cost: $12 (adults); $8 (students, 12-24 and seniors); $5 (children 2-11); under 2, free. To buy tickets, click here.

Ongoing: "Defining Lines: Maps from the 1700s and early 1800s" at the Fraunces Tavern
Museum. Twenty-seven maps provide a perspective on the evolving nation's place in history. A map from 1804, never before exhibited, shows the U.S. postal routes. Place: 54 Pearl St. Time: Noon to 5 p.m., daily. Admission fees: $7; $4 (seniors, students with ID, children, 6 to 8 years old. Children, 5 and under, free. Active military with ID, free. For more information, click here.
Ongoing: The National Museum of the American Indian is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free admission. It offers free films, docent-led tours of its exhibitions and tours of its premises, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, designed by Cass Gilbert. The building, which was completed in 1907, is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One Bowling Green. Phone: (212) 514-3700. For the museum's calendar, click here.

Ongoing: "Give Me Liberty," a solo exhibition of new works by Brooklyn-based artist Sylvanus Shaw, is at the Fraunces Tavern Museum. In this site-specific exhibition, Shaw utilizes images from the Museum's permanent collection, invoking imagery of early American statehood in media ranging from oil on panel to collaged holograms, security envelopes, and other mediums.
Through March 16, 2015. Place: Fraunces Tavern Museum, 54 Pearl St. Museum hours: Mon.-Sat., noon to 5 p.m. Admission: $7; $4 (seniors, students, children 6-8); free (children under 5 and active duty military). For more information, click here.

Register now: Sunday, Dec. 7 is the date for the next "Block Party" at Bowne Printers. In a three-hour workshop, resident printer Ali Osborn teaches the basics of carving and printing linoleum blocks. He begins by showing how to sketch out an idea and then transfer it to a linoleum block, where his students gauge away the backgrounds, leaving lines and desired dark places in high relief. Then Osborn brings out ink and rollers so that students can print their blocks by hand. The final step is to arrange everyone's work on the bed of Bowne's vintage Vandercook press and make a poster. Each student goes home with his or her own block, individual prints and one poster of the combined effort. All materials are supplied. There are a maximum of six people in each class. For ages 12 and up. Time: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets: $50; $40 (South Street Seaport Museum members). To register, click here

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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