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FC

"The interest used to purchase rental property is also tax deductible."

but the income the landlord receives is taxed. which offsets. In each case the original income the resident recieves is taxed. In the rental case the rent the LL gets is taxable, but the interest is deductible. In the case of the Owner occupant, the interest paid is deductible, but the value of the "rent they pay to themself" is NOT taxable. To make them equivalent you would have to make rent deductible, or pay tax on implicit rent.

"Whether you're taxed on the income is irrelevant. If you make an investment and it produces no income, you can still deduct the interest (along with other costs and report a loss that you can use to offset future income)."

but the normal expected value of interest is positive, not zero, or it would not make sense to borrow in order to receive. The case of failing to make money on the investment is due to a mistaken investment. Now if someone buys a property to be an owner occupant, the neighborhood rental market changes such that the value of living in the house fails to exceed the cost of upkeep, then in that case the implicit rental income would be zero - and they should not be taxed. That would be equivalent to the investment that pays zero. but most houses are not in that situation.

"I agree that the regulatory regime was not adequate. But, it's also like blaming the lack of police officers on the amount of crime. In no way does the lack of officers excuse the criminals"

Er, no - taking out a subprime loan was not illegal. The regulatory regime allowed the kind of behavior by financial institutions which tended to lead to the offering of subprime loan products. And note the catch 22 - if you refused to take a subprime product, some houses you might have been able to afford had the subprimes and the accompanyhing bubble not existed, may have been out of your reach. And at the time it was not clear that the bubble was a bubble, so would be buyers had to consider the possibility that absent taking a subprime loan, the rise in prices associated with such loans might well have rendered any house (or, for some, the houses they would otherwise have been able to afford) permanently out of reach - which would have left them as renters forever, with the disadvantages in stability, and, yes, tax treatment, that involves.

by Crossingbrooklynferry in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 4:55 pm • linkreport

This has been happening in NYC for years, with nary a complaint. Of course sightlines need to be maximized, but otherwise it's a great idea: it keeps bikeshare infrastructure off the sidewalk, giving people more space to walk, and it eliminates the incentive to bike on the sidewalk, reducing bike/ped conflicts.

http://goo.gl/maps/ulZK9

http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/04/05/eyes-on-the-street-bike-corrals-along-9th-avenue-bike-lane/

by Uptowner in What's the best way to protect a bikeway? How about a bikeshare station? on Jan 28, 2015 4:54 pm • linkreport

As I understand it, HAMP doesn't apply to nearly as many people as needed, but it was a program along the lines I described.

by David C in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 4:40 pm • linkreport

Why do these kinds of things always ignore Tokyo? The largest, most transit-dependent city in the world.

Or Seoul. It is great to have Beijing and Guangzhou but these systems don't go back very far.

by Richard in See the world's subways evolve as time goes by on Jan 28, 2015 4:39 pm • linkreport

Apologies, I should have checked. It wasn't the two properties that made the Boatengs ineligible for HAMP, it is their massive debt-to-income ratio.

The bank said the amount of relief the Boatengs needed to achieve an “affordable payment” exceeded the limits allowed by HAMP.

by Birdie in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 4:29 pm • linkreport

As I recall, the Boatengs were not eligible for HAMP because they owned two properties.

For the life of me, I cannot understand who thinks it's a good idea to buy a $600k+ house when you income in $110Kish a year. And the vast majority of that comes from one earner. With apparently no emergency fund to speak of. I get it, the ins and outs of complex financial instruments? Difficult to understand, sometimes deliberately so. But the basic math of how much you can afford each month?

For the Boatengs, this was never a tenable situation. $5,500 a month in the two mortgages, before the ARM reset? On their income, that never should have been on the table. It's far above the 30% "affordable" threshold. Just one bad decision--often based on bad advice form people they blindly trusted--after another. (with a side of multi level marketing thrown in for good measure!)

After reading the article, I wanted to scream "Every decision people from church told you to make led you further into ruin! Why are you listening to them?"

by Birdie in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 4:26 pm • linkreport

It acts as a disincentive to renting,

The interest used to purchase rental property is also tax deductible. If it wasn't, rents would definitely be higher as that additional cost would be passed on to renters.

If you are taxed on the income from that investment. But we do not tax the implicit income on owner occupied property.

Whether you're taxed on the income is irrelevant. If you make an investment and it produces no income, you can still deduct the interest (along with other costs and report a loss that you can use to offset future income). To put it more simply, if you have $100 in a CD and receive $10 in interest income and have a $100 mortgage and pay $10 in interest, shouldn't those offset and your tax liability be zero?

That is not to say that MBS should be banned, but the regulatory regime in place pre-2008 was clearly not adequate, and bears some considerable degree of the blame for what happened.

I agree that the regulatory regime was not adequate. But, it's also like blaming the lack of police officers on the amount of crime. In no way does the lack of officers excuse the criminals.

by Falls Church in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 4:22 pm • linkreport

"First, the lenders paid back the bailout in its entirety (aggregate across all lenders). It was a loan, not a bailout."

It was a loan and a bailout. Getting a loan that one could not otherwise get on the market is a thing of value. The institutions that got them benefited from getting them.

"Second, the borrowers can all walk away from their debt with nothing lost other than their down payment, which often was nonexistent. They can also live for free in their home for a number of years while the foreclosure/short sale is processed."

I dont know maryland, but in many states someone is foreclosed on is still responsible for the debt, unless and until they declare bankruptcy. Secondly, IIUC being foreclosed on can have considerable consequences on one's credit rating and ability to borrow in future.

"Walking away" though many desperate homeowners did it, was clearly not a substitute for orderly and logical adjustment of loans.

by Crossingbrooklynferry in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 4:20 pm • linkreport

"As for zoning, I would personally favor greater liberalization but don't think there's anything devious with current homeowners protecting their interest in maintaining the status quo and not allowing further development. Everyone is just looking out for their own interests in both sides of that debate."

Except existing owners, I believe, exert disproportionate influence on such debates. Even looking aside from differential degrees of civic involvement across tenures and ages, there is the fact that the would be buyers who are kept out by zoning usually do not currently live in the jurisdiction they want to buy in. This is one reason I am sympathetic to the political involvement of developers, as they serve as the proxy for the interests of the people they would rent/sell to.

I don't think zoning is any excuse or should shoulder any of the blame for people who made bad financial decisions (both lenders and borrowers).

by Crossingbrooklynferry in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 4:16 pm • linkreport

Quick correction:
It isn't billed as the "World's Longest Ice Skating Rink" it is the "World's LARGEST Ice Skating Rink". There are longer "skating trails" elsewhere in Canada and Finland but they are rather narrow.

Also, for anyone worried about the conditions under the bridges, the "skateway" is professionally maintained and groomed. Nobody is allowed on until the ice is sufficiently thick to support the massive crowds that arrive weekends and the various maintenance vehicles.

by James Peltzer in Ottawa has a four mile ice skating highway on Jan 28, 2015 4:14 pm • linkreport

"Why should we get rid of MBS just because a small number of people abuse the system to lend and borrow money they shouldn't be?"

Subprime lending during the bubble was not small, and was not done by a few oddball individuals. Major banks were involved, and many very established financial institutions bought the derivatives based on those loans.

That is not to say that MBS should be banned, but the regulatory regime in place pre-2008 was clearly not adequate, and bears some considerable degree of the blame for what happened.

by Crossingbrooklynferry in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 4:13 pm • linkreport

"Regardless, there's nothing about the home interest tax deduction that encourages excessive risk taking"

It acts as a disincentive to renting, thus pressuring people with relatively small amounts of money available for a down payment to buy with less down then they might otherwise.

" and there's a good argument for keeping investment interest paid deductible."

If you are taxed on the income from that investment. But we do not tax the implicit income on owner occupied property.

by Crossingbrooklynferry in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 4:10 pm • linkreport

Looks like he's counting the old streetcar because it had an underground segment below Dupont Circle which is enough to count as a subway for the methodology he's using. On the large version you'll notice the short segment that's in the dark line and the rest is a lighter color which he uses for surface segments.

by David Alpert in See the world's subways evolve as time goes by on Jan 28, 2015 4:09 pm • linkreport

This is really helpful advice! I've been out of college for a couple years and looking to get a master's in urban planning in the next few years. I was thinking of getting my degree outside the country (preferably in Denmark or some other urbanist dreamland) and was wondering if planning firms/jobs gave more 'weight' or consideration to foreign planning degrees compared to US planning schools?

by Greg in Ask GGW: So you're looking for a planning job in the DC area? on Jan 28, 2015 4:09 pm • linkreport

As an ignorant newcomer in D.C., what is the subway system in D.C. that appears on the maps between 1950 and 1960, but then vanished?

by Johan in See the world's subways evolve as time goes by on Jan 28, 2015 4:07 pm • linkreport

Good Idea: Toll I-66, and dedicate the $ collected to BOTH widening 66, & building that third river crossing & extending Orange westward. Done properly, with loans like the silver line received this CAN be done relatively quickly.

by OwlGreene in Breakfast links: Tunnel and surface on Jan 28, 2015 4:03 pm • linkreport

We should have bought loans made to people who couldn't afford them at a 10% loss to the lender. Then set the homeowners mortgage payment at a price they could pay

There are loan modification programs out there that aim to do something along those lines:

http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/programs/lower-payments/Pages/hamp.aspx

by Falls Church in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 3:57 pm • linkreport

If you are renting out part of your home (or land) or generating some other monetary return from it, then, yes, it can be classified as an investment. But land by itself producing no income is purely speculation

Land investments can produce income if you rent it out. However, when you live on the land you own, you're essentially consuming the income generated by your investment. That's no different than buying government bonds and then consuming the interest they pay. Both government bonds and land are investments. What makes land an investment and not consumption is that it does not get "used up" and depreciate, unlike the structure.

Even if the policies themselves haven't changed, the context they operate in most certainly has changed.

Fine, the context has changed (although mortgage-backed securities have been heavily traded since the 1980s and were part of the banking crisis in the 1980s). Regardless, there's nothing about the home interest tax deduction that encourages excessive risk taking and there's a good argument for keeping investment interest paid deductible.

MBS trading is also not to blame. The securitization of mortgages benefits the vast majority of people by bringing them lower interest rates. Why should we get rid of MBS just because a small number of people abuse the system to lend and borrow money they shouldn't be? Sure, some tweaks are always in order to tighten up the system but most of the blame lies with the people who signed the paperwork to lend/borrow the money.

As for zoning, I would personally favor greater liberalization but don't think there's anything devious with current homeowners protecting their interest in maintaining the status quo and not allowing further development. Everyone is just looking out for their own interests in both sides of that debate. I don't think zoning is any excuse or should shoulder any of the blame for people who made bad financial decisions (both lenders and borrowers).

Yet the lenders were the ones bailed out by the taxpayers, while the borrowers received little or nothing.

First, the lenders paid back the bailout in its entirety (aggregate across all lenders). It was a loan, not a bailout. Second, the borrowers can all walk away from their debt with nothing lost other than their down payment, which often was nonexistent. They can also live for free in their home for a number of years while the foreclosure/short sale is processed.

by Falls Church in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 3:54 pm • linkreport

I mean yeah just read their bios...

by BTA in Ask GGW: So you're looking for a planning job in the DC area? on Jan 28, 2015 3:46 pm • linkreport

@dk --

Editor's note: I just went in and added hyperlinks to each of our contributors' GGW bios, since it's particularly relevant this week!

by Aimee Custis in Ask GGW: So you're looking for a planning job in the DC area? on Jan 28, 2015 3:42 pm • linkreport

Excellent article - I hope many people who strive to enter the urban planning field will find this helpful.

While I second many of the suggestions from contributors, I'd like to include one that I learned from a colleague. After you meet someone in the field for coffee (or happy hour) for that one-on-one chat, you should follow up with them and thank them within 24 hours. People have a lot on their plate, and the prompt follow up shows initiative and helps to solidify the contact.

Best of luck to anyone trying to enter the field. It's not always easy, but you can do it!

by Ted in Ask GGW: So you're looking for a planning job in the DC area? on Jan 28, 2015 3:42 pm • linkreport

I have to differ with most of the respondents. While the titanium or ceramic may allow for reinvention of the façade or an expression of contemporary tastes, this above all must be at least a 100 year envelope for a monumental structure in our Nation's Capital. Accordingly, the best option is the thick pink Tennessee marble. Adhere to only time proven methods of anchoring and affixing this beautiful material. They should also try to repurpose the removed thin stone.

Finally, the skylights, curtain wall and entrance present opportunities to introduce newer technology to enliven the building.

by Brian Kelly, AIA in The Air and Space Museum needs a new skin on Jan 28, 2015 3:34 pm • linkreport

"Some drivers and and politicians in exurban counties complain that their counties' gas taxes are paying for urban transit riders"

Who are these people?

by jcp in Whether they live close in or far from the city, people travel about the same number of miles on transit on Jan 28, 2015 3:33 pm • linkreport

who are these contributors? What jobs do they hold?

by dk in Ask GGW: So you're looking for a planning job in the DC area? on Jan 28, 2015 3:33 pm • linkreport

Theoretically, we should raise all speed limits within the city by 5mph, then lock down all roads with extensive camera coverage and significantly higher fines.

I guess I can understand that approach.

by The Truth™ in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 3:21 pm • linkreport

Isn't it also cheating to raise the speed limit and then say "Look! They're obeying now!"

Maybe. But a lot of rhetoric against cameras isn't against the cameras per se but apparently the conditions that they operate under. One of the conditions is speed limits that are supposedly "too low" (I don't necessarily agree but thats a different matter) for the road that the camera monitors.

So if you fix that issue its one less reason to be opposed to the cameras in the first place.

by drumz in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 3:15 pm • linkreport

Also who's going to be more cognizant of not wandering blindly in the the bike lane - a cyclist getting a bike out of the bikeshare dock, or a passenger getting out of a car? I'm thinking the cyclist.

by Chris Slatt in What's the best way to protect a bikeway? How about a bikeshare station? on Jan 28, 2015 3:09 pm • linkreport

@JJJJ
To answer your question, I was happy to see a CaBi station in my neighborhood because I thought having bikes there would improve visibility from the side street I frequently have to pull out from. That changed when I tried it and had no better visibility than before because of the stupid kiosk. If the thing wasn't there there would be no problem.

by movement in What's the best way to protect a bikeway? How about a bikeshare station? on Jan 28, 2015 3:05 pm • linkreport

Isn't it also cheating to raise the speed limit and then say "Look! They're obeying now!"

by The Truth™ in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 2:55 pm • linkreport

undermining earlier claims that the drop was mainly due to motorists doing a better job obeying the law.

Yes, what are those claims?

This is the link highlighted in the post story about the "undermined" claims. Let's see what it says:

"Doxie McCoy, a spokeswoman for Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), said in an e-mail that fewer tickets have been issued this year for a variety of reasons, including delays in deploying some new devices, higher speed limits on some streets and more motorists obeying the law."

No explicit mention of maintenance issues sure but there's a variety of reasons for the drop, not just people getting better at following the law.

Now, Cathy Lanier:

"Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, an outspoken defender of camera enforcement, said in a statement that she saw in the new figures proof that the cameras are working: “As I have said many times, we usually see significant reductions in citations issued in the first few months of deployment. This demonstrates that drivers are changing their behavior.”

Ok, so Chief Lanier is wrong despite her initial assumptions. But not totally, since today's story acknowledges that speeding has gone down anyway.

So we've caught Chief Lanier with a good gotcha quote but that's where the scandal begins and ends.

by drumz in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 2:43 pm • linkreport

The placard is tall enough to block vision, yes.

And people will be backing the bikes up into the bike lane, standing around in the bike lane getting situated, etc. I'd likely ride around it, on the traffic side, in a lot of cases.

by DE in What's the best way to protect a bikeway? How about a bikeshare station? on Jan 28, 2015 2:42 pm • linkreport

Densha de GO!

by The Truth™ in See the world's subways evolve as time goes by on Jan 28, 2015 2:41 pm • linkreport

Didn't read all the comments but I thought it was lame for the post to write that article and not mention that last year pgc had the highest percentage growth in prices last year in the region.

by h st ll in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 2:39 pm • linkreport

Personally, I think the bailout should have involved a more aggressive entry into the housing market.

We should have bought loans made to people who couldn't afford them at a 10% loss to the lender. Then set the homeowners mortgage payment at a price they could pay (using a lower interest rate that only the government can afford) - extending the mortgage to whatever length of time that requires (the government is in no hurry) with annual reviews that increase or lower payments based on changes in income. Some people will work their way back into a 30 year mortgage and the government can sell that turning a small profit (we could even add a lien to it so that the naughty homeowners don't get a windfall). Some people will not, but will be able to pay the mortgage plus some equity. Others will be net losses, and when the economy stabilizes we can foreclose on them (possibly moving people down to other govt-owned foreclosed homes that they can afford).

But the whole recession would've lasted a shorter time if we had. Problem is the stimulus bill would have been in the trillions (that would not be lost money, most of it would be paid back, but the politics would have been awful).

by David C in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 2:28 pm • linkreport

Why do these kinds of things always ignore Tokyo? The largest, most transit-dependent city in the world.

by Steve in See the world's subways evolve as time goes by on Jan 28, 2015 2:26 pm • linkreport

"D.C. police acknowledged this week that a sharp decline in revenue from the city’s network of traffic enforcement cameras was due in part to problems maintaining some of the equipment — undermining earlier claims that the drop was mainly due to motorists doing a better job obeying the law.'

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/broken-traffic-cameras-contributed-to-massive-revenue-decline-dc-police-say/2015/01/27/773989f8-a627-11e4-a2b2-776095f393b2_story.html

I honestly don't see anything in that statement that's hard to understand. It's pretty plain.

by august4 in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 2:22 pm • linkreport

OTOH the lenders also did obviously reckless things, with less excuse.

Yet the lenders were the ones bailed out by the taxpayers, while the borrowers received little or nothing. Justice?

by MLQueen in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 2:21 pm • linkreport

here has been a lot of speculating on Brooklyn Bridge futures, lately.

Is it for sale? Because you know Trump will jump on that thing.

by David C in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 2:18 pm • linkreport

Jason S, Eads St got a big upgrade this Fall. Combination of bollard-protected and parking protected from 15th to 23rd.

Example: https://twitter.com/beyonddc/status/543467802355855363/photo/1

by Chris Slatt in What's the best way to protect a bikeway? How about a bikeshare station? on Jan 28, 2015 2:14 pm • linkreport

Biggest thing I noticed is that the 1950-1970 timeframe for US systems had significant contractions in service, whereas in other countries they at least maintained service or made small additions.

by Michael Perkins in See the world's subways evolve as time goes by on Jan 28, 2015 2:12 pm • linkreport

This already exists in thousands of communities across the nation. Why not partner with Dolly instead of reinventing the wheel and splintering the collective effort?
Would be faster, smarter and much more cost efficient. The Imagination Library is not just in TN, it is all across the country and can be replicated anywhere.

by JT in A book-of-the-month club for infants and toddlers aims to narrow the achievement gap on Jan 28, 2015 1:58 pm • linkreport

@BTA - I think that you hit on something that was never specifically addressed in the WaPo article (or is rarely addressed elsewhere when this topic comes up). That is the societal pressure to consume --- in this instance, the pressure to purchase a house in the "hot" black market and to live where all the other successful members of one's community live. The Boatengs talk about how it was members of their church that suggested the neighborhood, it is where they found their realtor and mortgage broker, and it was members of the church that suggested they continue to own their second house. What decisions may have they made differently within a different community? What if everyone that they saw was not taking the same steps and were not assuming the same amount of risks?

I live in a community that was racked by foreclosures, driven by risky investment (for rental) purchases, and the few owners that have stuck it out have the same views that the Boatengs do. They feel cheated by a system that took advantage of them (even when they were trying to take advantage of it themselves) and they have a sense of entitlement to the house(s) because of the amount of money they have sunk into them (some of the houses were appraised at twice their current market value at the height of the market). And, these were supposedly 'savvy' property investors!

by Thad in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 1:55 pm • linkreport

nevermindtheend: Fixed, thanks!

by David Alpert in See the world's subways evolve as time goes by on Jan 28, 2015 1:47 pm • linkreport

The link to the New York map is broken.

by nevermindtheend in See the world's subways evolve as time goes by on Jan 28, 2015 1:42 pm • linkreport

Very cool.

But why is Mexico City excluded from North America and cast off to a separate page?

by JJJJ in See the world's subways evolve as time goes by on Jan 28, 2015 1:40 pm • linkreport

Some of the comments here make me wonder if readers of this website actually go outside. Bikes are not very tall and are spaces apart. How exactly do they block visibility? That's an insane statement, unless we're talking about a word with 2' bicyclists and drivers relying exclusively on go-karts.

by JJJJ in What's the best way to protect a bikeway? How about a bikeshare station? on Jan 28, 2015 1:38 pm • linkreport

Public policy regarding housing hasn't changed in decades. The biggest thing encouraging homeownership, the interest deduction, has been around a long, long time. The issue being described in the article is an unusual one that was not commonplace in the past even though public policy has been the same.

I don't think this is true, nor is it particularly relevant.

Even if the policies themselves haven't changed, the context they operate in most certainly has changed. The rise of mortgage-backed securities was definitely a new element and was certainly part of the process that pushed predatory lending - the securities traders were looking to originate as many mortgages as they could to put into these derivatives.

Likewise, even though zoning isn't anything new, the context of zoning's impact on home prices is certainly a different context from the era of urban population loss and flight to the suburbs to population gain in central cities and people getting priced out of those areas. Just because the policy isn't new doesn't mean the effects of a particular set of circumstances aren't new.

The idea that a house is an investment rather than just housing is a big problem.

Yes, it is - but let's also be clear, this is explicitly what a great deal of government policy is advocating!

This isn't meant to absolve all underwater borrowers of any culpability, but just to acknowledge that there plenty of blame to be spread around here.

by Alex B. in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 1:38 pm • linkreport

Bottom line is that regardless of the state of maintenance, the program is not as effective at increasing compliance as the data previously indicated...the increase in compliance caused by the program is not as big as we thought, thus the program is not effective as we thought. That doesn't change by fixing the cameras.

That's not a sure thing. If more cameras are working then more tickets might be given out which may lead to a bigger effect on behavior.

That may not happen either, and then we should reexamine the program as we should with all programs. I doubt though that it would lead to DC abandoning a traffic camera program since its still popular, solvent, and does impact speeding in the city.

You can allege (some have) that the city purposefully did this but I think the evidence for that is thin. Its all based off one quote from the Chief of Police when the news was just coming out.

by drumz in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 1:34 pm • linkreport

@ Falls Church

What you are describing as investment is really just speculation. If you are renting out part of your home (or land) or generating some other monetary return from it, then, yes, it can be classified as an investment. But land by itself producing no income is purely speculation that it will increase. I'm sure that lots of people in Detroit thought that buying a house/land was an investment too, until the value of the land went effectively to zero.

Sure, buying a house to live in may be less expensive than renting the same house, but that's the same as buying a tuxedo may be cheaper than renting it over time. Maybe the tuxedo will go up in value over time, maybe it will go down. It can be a better financial decision without being an investment.

by Andy L in Breakfast links: Out of batteries on Jan 28, 2015 1:32 pm • linkreport

Also, Hearthstone Pizza Bistro (directly adjacent to this station) underscores the need for a good solution to how-to-carry a pizza on CaBi.

by FHE in What's the best way to protect a bikeway? How about a bikeshare station? on Jan 28, 2015 1:31 pm • linkreport

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