LegalEagleStar

… a kind of Legal Column

Posts Tagged ‘Banks

Will the Citizen have access to the legal profession? Not if the Big Corporations have any say about it!

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I qualified as a solicitor in 1980. I had no connections in law at all and if it wasn’t for the endeavours of my late father, I couldn’t have pursued my legal studies. He worked hard to provide me with an education and without him and the support of my mother, I’d never have succeeded.

For the previous couple of years or so before qualifying, I had been influenced by Inge Clissmann and Aedan McGovern, both barristers and now Senior Counsel. Inge had got me involved with FLAC, the Free Legal Advice Centres which was run by law students who represented in Court, members of the public who couldn’t afford access to justice. Inge introduced me to the Ballymun Centre located in the basement of Padraig Pearse Tower, long since demolished. There we mainly dealt with family law issues and quite simply, we were overrun with the work. Overrun and indeed overawed. It has left an indelible impression upon me to this day. With little or nothing, the parents we dealt with, raised their families in the most trying of circumstances. At the end of the night, after seeing all those needing help, Inge would insist we retired to the Towers Pub to have a drink, one drink, so as to encourage those we had met to see that we were no different from them and could empathise with them. She was all too aware that lawyers were thought of as elitist and she was doing her part in showing everyone that we were not. She also was teaching us students about our social responsibilities and would not tolerate any bullshit from us. She encouraged talk and discussion and left her mark on us. I subsequently took over as Director of FLAC in Ballymun some time later. They were hard times but certainly gave us law students a social conscience which remains with us to this day. All this happened before our Government were forced to bring in Civil Legal Aid. During my career I have had the pleasure to act for those who ‘couldn’t afford a lawyer’. Pro bono work as it is now referred to.

 

The other influence on my career was my late father. While he was one of the ‘bosses’ in British Railways he was a solid Trade Unionist. He was also a devoted Roman Catholic with a great social conscience. He worked hard to look after us but instilled in me an outlook where people came first. It’s probably because of his example, that at an early stage after qualifying,  I made a decision to not act for Banks or Insurance Companies because I could not identify with the Profit at the expense of People dictate. I found many of their dealings with people to be disgusting and abhorrent. To this day my attitude has not changed.

 

I was lucky enough to be practising when the Competition Authority actions enabled solicitors to advertise. I took out a full-page in Golden Pages, advertising my Personal Injury Law Firm as well as having regular adverts air on RTE Radio. My firm expanded and I must say, I was delighted with the pro-people stance we took. We were a plaintiff firm, never acting for the defendant Insurance Companies. We were attacking the anti-people establishment and winning. Many other firms followed suit and people were being represented on a no-win no-fee basis. What other way could people access the law? This continued, or should I say was allowed to continue for only a moment in time. The Law Society among other interested groups were unhappy and pressurised the Government into making changes. Subsequently PIAB was formed to be a ‘lawyer free zone’ and were mandated with looking after all the injury cases from now on. Thankfully after come Court cases it is no longer a ‘lawyer-free’ zone but the setting up of The ‘Injuries Board’ has depleted the work carried out by High Street Solicitors, whose clients were people, not corporations. At the same time, the Law Society tightened up their advertising regulations and I was personally instructed to not call Early & Baldwin a Personal Injury Law Firm as this was ‘encouraging’ claims. And we are to this day prohibited from advertising that personal injury law is what we do. All this was done by the State in the interests of injured people we were told. Do not believe a word of it. For once, the lawyers who acted for the working man and woman were bringing their cases to Court and accessing ‘Justice’ for them. The Insurance lobby is very powerful, not unlike the Banks. They have great influence over Government, unlike the citizen who has little or no influence.

 

Currently there is outrage regarding the amounts the Insurance Industry are charging for renewal of motor policies. Us lawyers are of course being blamed by the Industry but many commentators are challenging this assertion. Remember that cases were heard before Juries until Government was lobbied by the Insurers who said that people could not be trusted. Then we had cases heard by Judges alone. This continued until the Insurance Industry said that Judges were awarding too much. Judges were halted and the Injuries Board was put in place to replace them. Now it’s only possible for your case to be heard before a Judge, if you’ve rejected the award made by the Injuries Board. All this change has been lobbied for and achieved by the Insurance Industry for their own benefit, not for the citizen. In fact the changes in the law were designed to deny the citizen access to the law by taking the high street solicitor out of the equation. Meanwhile the Big Law Firms still represent the Insurance Industry is all their guises. All this ‘reform’ of the law should be taken with a grain of salt. What had been achieved by young enthusiastic lawyers in getting access to the law for the ordinary man and woman, has now in effect been severely curtailed. This is quite alarming, but maybe not surprising. With the Corporation Tax obscenities and the control of Government by the Bankers, this is the logical conclusion. In future, they would hope, that access to the law was not for the ordinary citizen but solely the preserve of Big Law for their corporate clientelle.

 

LegalEagleStar Friday , 23rd. September, 2016

 

 

 

 

Written by LegalEagleStar

September 23, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Be careful for what you wish for… Gaza, Ireland & death of our citizens.

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This week we have seen Israel invade Gaza, not for the first time, with the slaughter of  its inhabitants. We’ve also seen the downing of a Malaysian Airlines Jet with the loss of life of those people on board. We’ve witnessed the ongoing dispute with Greyhound Bins who demand massive reductions to workers wages. We’ve also seen the few thugs in the Gardai manhandle citizens, as Vincent Browne likes to refer to us, outside the American Embassy and elsewhere. The sight of ill mannered thugs in police uniforms dragging a man on his head along the road, does nothing to enhance the image of a demoralised police force whose members I’ve found to be, by and large, good people putting their lives on the line to protect us all. We have seen more people dispossessed of their homes by the Banks as well as the horror of suicides devastating our people. Medical cards have been taken away from the sick and elderly and there is the ongoing battle against the privatisation of water and the ensuing water charges being imposed. Property taxes have been introduced by our Government although Enda Kenny, our beloved leader, has been against them in a previous existence.

From atrocities in Gaza to the IMF’s insistence on dumbing down the Health Services in Ireland as too much money was being spent, there is one common denominator. That is that it is people who are the target of all of these measures. Not Giant Corporations or the Banking Community. The Arms Trade is blooming. Maybe pension schemes should invest in this business as it seems to that giant corporations are where your money should be. Definitely not in anything that remotely resembles local business or indeed supporting the citizen and the local economy.

We live in a time when people are being controlled and relabeled not as citizens, but as consumers. The country is not being run to benefit the citizen but to enhance the profits of Big Business in all its guises. When you dehumanize citizens, it is quite acceptable, in their minds, that they can be collateral damage. Sure what if a few thousand are killed or unemployed, or just left to die at the side of the road? Profits are what matters. Businesses that profit the Elites are given tax incentives to come and set up businesses in Ireland today. Our priorities are to enrich these Elites at the expense of the citizen. At the same time services for the citizen are being curtailed while more taxes are being thought up by our Government every other day of the week.

There is more ways than bombing people out of existence, as is happening in Gaza, to control people. The loss of your job, home, medical benefits, social welfare entitlements and the imposition of unjustified taxes on people at the behest of the IMF and their fellow travellers, is indeed akin to actually bombing them out of existence. In Ireland today, people are suffering and dying while others enrich their lifestyles. Our Government have taken directions from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the International Banking fraternity and imposed their directives on the Irish people. These imposed changes are killing our people. Despite the efforts of our marvellous doctors and nurses, people are dying on trolleys in overcrowded hospitals. It is the most vulnerable in our society who are suffering the most but this does not change anything. As a lawyer, I see the high street solicitor and the junior barristers suffering on a daily basis and struggle to survive. These are the lawyers who represent you, the people. I do not see the lawyers servicing the interests of the Corporate set suffer at all. In fact they thrive as they are paid handsomely by Big Business and Governments and International Bankers. The rights of workers are being eroded on a daily basis and these short-term contracts in lieu of proper terms of employment are giving our people no security to enjoy their lives and raise their families with any degree of certainty for the future.

If  history have thought us anything, it’s that war follows on from a recession. With all the political manoeuvring by the super powers, financed by the Elites and the insistence on control of oil and natural resources to call their own regardless of where located, the future does look bleak for the ordinary man, woman and child.  Not so bleak for the Big Corporations who are hungry in their pursuit of financial gain, both short and long-term. Our Government have played and indeed continue to play their part as the good boys of Europe and have not ever taken a stance for the citizens of this country. The continued imposition of austerity, despite the suffering of the Irish people is akin to the imposition of fascism on the nation. No doubt our Ministers, on the instructions of the Government, will follow the party line, so to speak, and give support to those Elites that demand the continuing demoralising of the Irish people for some time to come, while lending our support to whatever super power we’re to be aligned with, regardless of the cost to the Irish people.

We are told we live in a democracy. On a daily basis we see wars fought to bring democracy to people all over the world. Democracy I was taught, was Government by the people for the people. Well the democracy we’re witnessing throughout the world would appear to be fully under the control of Major Corporations whose interest is far from anything that is pro people. Be careful for what you wish for.

 

LegalEagleStar , Monday , 21st. July , 2014.

Drug Boss, Mr Big Wins out with The Bankers

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Satan as Antichrist

Satan as Antichrist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A lot has been spoken about the World in recession, the decline of the Euro and the Dollar and suchlike, but never is there mention of a major, long-established, economic currency, namely Drugs.  Yes, drugs money is believed to be the new number one currency and it is thriving as never before. Recently, I watched a documentary on the BBC about the shameful role of the British Government back at the time of the Opium Wars. There were two such wars between Britain and China regarding the question of trading rights in the early 1800s. The Chinese refused to allow the importation of opium into China by the British from India. China ceded Hong Kong, after the British victory in 1842. The British and French victory in the second war established free trade in Chinese ports and the legalization of the opium trade. I question whether today such bully boy tactics by the ‘super powers’ has in fact been continued all these years resulting in the absolute destruction of society as we once knew it. The flooding of poorer countries with dangerous drugs to destabilize the citizen and economy, enables ruthless Elites, under whatever guise, to control us all. The old saying ‘He who pays the Piper calls the Tune’ is as apt today as is was back then.

Some years back the drug barons just lodged the proceeds on their dealings in their local friendly bank. The bank managers were delighted as it pushed up their figures for head office and invariably, promotion followed. These were the days before CAB and money laundering legislation took hold. These measures put the minor dealers in jeopardy but their suppliers and Mr Big were isolated as their ‘legitimate businesses’ had no such difficulty in laundering their ‘dirty money’. The major bankers continue to reap huge profits today from this money while the minor banks, such as Bank of Ireland and AIB are now starved of the Billions which in effect kept them afloat in the recent past. Not only our domestic banks but their counterparts throughout the EU in particular, now starved of drug money, are going out of business.

Who is Mr Big ? Who are those referred to as Elites, that supposedly run the world? Is there really a connection between the Bankers and the Drug Lords? Is Mr Big really posing as a respectable businessman? Well recently we have been exposed by the Media to Lists of the Rich and Famous. Also, we have seen lists produced by major newspapers indicating people, unelected, who control the economy. Well, a cursory glance at these lists tells a lot. Can you spot Who’s Really Who ??

LegalEagleStar

San Antonio, Texas, Friday, May 4th. 2012

Written by LegalEagleStar

May 4, 2012 at 5:56 am

UK Riots Spark the end of Society as we know it. Citizens Beware !

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london riots

Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Over the past few days we have witnessed the unprecedented outbreak of rioting, first in London and now spreading throughout the entire UK. The spark for all this would appear to be the shooting dead by the police of an individual in Tottenham. I say ‘Spark’ , because the  family of the deceased are now distancing themselves from the riots and it is now hard to see the actions of the rioters as in any way connected with the original incident at all.

I personally think that the incidents are not surprising and indeed have been predictable and just waiting to happen. You cannot treat people as Governments in the UK, Ireland and indeed throughout the EU and the rest of the world, has done and expect people to be happy with this unjust state of affairs. People become disenfranchised and become vulnerable. The loss of self-worth that comes from being unemployed or indeed in a dead-end job which does not pay your bills, leaves people doubting their self-worth and indeed their being the ones likened to outcasts in society.

Over the recent past the number of deaths due to suicide have increased enormously. Families have as a result been devastated. Whether the cause of the loss of life was due to exams, loss of employment, debts and being pursued by greedy Banks and moneylenders, or relationship breakdown or suchlike, it is important for us to remember that some people just cannot take any more and will end their lives to escape such pressure. We as a society have failed such people. They are our parents, children and relations after all.

For others, the thoughts of rioting and letting the venom out of their systems and in so doing, destroying what they perceive as  ‘others wealth’ , while erroneous, is their safety valve. It is unacceptable behaviour in our society today and frowned upon by all right thinking people. That said, we must try to understand that until we can right many of the wrongs in our society, we will be pampering to those that indeed want to destroy this very society of ours. Already Right Wing Parties have recruited many new members and it’s only time before many more Groups will fill the Void in our political system and what will emerge may be a far greater monster than currently smashing the shop fronts in major cities. Already the British Government is fast-tracking legislation into force which will push the country further to a Police State than currently is the situation. The Citizen’s rights will be the first, in fact the only, to be decimated. Maybe that is the core of the problem for the EU and indeed the IMF. That citizens have been granted too many rights. Take those rights, which people have fought long and hard to achieve, away from them. Be ruthless and put the Citizen in his place. Tell him/her what to do and if they don’t do it, well just imprison or exterminate them.

It is high time that the Unions and those concerned about the rights of the Citizen stand up and take control. Work to right the ills that face us all. Tell our political establishment that enough is enough and that No, we are not bailing out the Elites in our society. In fact, the political leadership today throughout the entire EU is nothing short of farcical. This lack of leadership to the detriment of the Citizen in favour of the Bankers, Crooked Developers, Speculators of property and currency masquerading as The Markets, has indeed alienated the Citizen. It is not pretty what we are seeing on our TV screens. Neither is it acceptable in a civilised society. The question then must be asked as to how Civil our Society really is today. If  ‘The Markets’ are to determine our collective futures then all I can say is, God help us all.

LegalEagleStar , Thursday , 11th. August , 2011 .

The IMF, The Legal Profession and Austerity for The Citizen

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International Monetary Fund's Managing Directo...

Image via Wikipedia

Friday  was the Last  Day of  Term.  Us lawyers breath a collective sigh of relief at this stage, as the months of June and July are usually hectic. Trying to settle cases before the Long Vacation is tough, exhausting work. The Courts now are officially closed until October. While litigation lawyers usually take their vacations in August and September, it is also a very busy period in the office while you try to play catch-up with work and prepare your cases which should be coming on for hearing next term.

After the invariable merriment following last Friday, my mind switched to thinking about, not only next term, but indeed the future of our profession in general. While there has been much talk about the demands of the IMF as regards bringing in their dictatorial sweeping changes to the profession, there’s also been a lot of time spent in the promotion of many ‘Law without a Lawyer’ schemes. Take the much heralded Mediation for example. The Mediator gets an upfront payment and the process is not binding. Well, our clients don’t pay up-front, as most could not afford to do so on the average industrial wage. It is difficult enough to survive with a family in this day and age never mind putting us in funds in advance for our work. Don’t lawyers already mediate? Don’t we settle cases whenever possible? Of course, the Elite have no such problems. But they do live on a different planet from the rest of us mere mortals and have their own unique set of lawyers to act for them.

The Legal Profession not only needs reform but it needs investment in its pursuit of Justice for All. I have no time for the ‘Law without a Lawyer’ Brigade both from within our profession and outside of it. We must as lawyers, use our expertise for the betterment of the Citizen and not allow our clients be charged for a service which is second-rate and run by Insurance Companies, Developers, Bankers etc. who have their own vested interests to protect. In the United States it is common place for property buyers to deal with their Realtors directly and let them handle all conveyancing matters regardless of whether any conflict of interest occurs. They then satisfy themselves with the purchase of  Title Insurance – from their friendly Insurance Company –  which they will rely on should disputes arise at a later stage. This is not the way forward if the purpose is to keep the best interests of the client foremost. It will enrich those who act for the Developers and their Insurance cousins. In England you have licensed conveyancers. They are no substitute for a properly qualified and experienced lawyer. You must insist on a professionally qualified lawyer to act for you, you alone, and have no conflict of interests. Your lawyers must read the title and take all steps necessary to ensure that the title properly vests in you and you alone.  Remember it’s not just the bricks and mortar that you are buying. It is in essence the title to the property that you are spending your hard-earned cash on.

We see the Courts being circumvented in regard to the victims of Institutional abuse. Redress Boards being introduced to look after the victims. It is unfair to the victims that they cannot have their cases processed through our Courts to provide them with the necessary compensation that is rightly theirs. Beware of Government interference in the rights of the Citizen. It is my view, that the interests of the Citizen are being compromised, not those of the offenders. In personal injury cases, Juries were abolished following successful lobbying by the Insurance Industry. So, the Citizen was removed from the process as the Insurance Industry asserted that they could not be trusted to sit on Juries. Sure what would they know about injuries and compensation ! It should be noted that awards increased thereafter. Not satisfied with this outcome our Government, again at the behest of the Insurance Industry, abolished the right of the Citizen to bring his/her case before the Court without first having to submit same to PIAB, or should I say, The Injuries Board. Look at what a simple Google search brings up regarding their sterling service…..

”You can avoid solicitor fees by applying directly to the Injuries Board. Our dedicated team are available 8am-8pm Monday to Friday to help you.

…Well, how professional is that ? Are they qualified lawyers with years of experience running cases day in, day out, before the Courts ? No, and going by their propaganda it’s quite clear they want to avoid solicitors i.e. the experts, at all costs. So do you want their ‘dedicated team’ or do you want an expert to look after your case? You MUST bring your application before them and unless you do so you will be denied your constitutional right to bring your case before our Courts of Justice. Nice one Ms Harney. You cynically undermined the rights of the Citizen, which I’m told you’re very proud of. Isn’t it really nothing more than a cynical attempt by ex-Minister Mary Harney to undermine solicitors and their clients. It was not the interests of the Citizen that was foremost in Minister Mary Haney’s mind, but to create a ‘Lawyer Free Zone’ which would see her Insurance Company friends decide on what the Citizen was awarded. The continuous compliance with the wishes of the Insurance Industry, at the expense of the Citizen, is nothing short of a disgrace. It is no wonder that now, the same Citizen has been forced by ‘Our’ Government into embracing austerity in order to bail out the Developers and the Banks who enjoyed such a close and cosy relationship with our Government Ministers.

Be under no illusion. Reform of the Legal Profession as proposed by the IMF (Bankers) will be used to further expose the Irish Citizens to more ‘Law without a Lawyer’ schemes. It is the legal profession who stand up for the rights of the Citizen not any Bank, Insurance or other such vested interest Groups. It is the right of every Citizen to have access to our Courts to pursue their rights. Are we to deny you, the Citizen such rights? Are the Courts the sole preserve of the Rich and the Elite in our Society? We need investment in our Courts and the way we do business. The Courts are there to protect us from those who hurt, abuse, neglect and victimize us. Those who try to deny the Citizen the protection of the Courts are being nothing short of immoral.

It will be interesting to see how Minister Shatter, himself a solicitor, with his own high-end Firm, and with an acknowledged dislike of the Bar ( The Barristers ) handles the IMF Brief on reform of the Legal Profession. I’d say some interesting times lie ahead.

LegalEagleStar , Wednesday , 3rd. August , 2011

”Wanted Dead or Alive”…

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Enda Kenny

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Dead would be the cheaper option and would cut out the greedy lawyers !

While society celebrates the assassination of supposedly the world’s greatest terrorist, I as a lawyer feel somewhat compromised. I have spent most of my adult life fighting for the rights of the individual against the Big Corporations, as have many of my colleagues. In doing so we have battled with Insurance Giants, Banks, Local Authorities and indeed the Government itself. We have done battle with these same entities who have one great advantage over us. That is, they are in control of the purse-strings and whenever it suits them, they can change the law to suit their cause. The idea of a level playing field is rather an aspiration these days. It has been a hard struggle but one where the clients interests are paramount. Not an easy battle to win when at times, your own Professional Body has ensured that you go into such battles with your hands tied firmly behind your back. While Insurance Companies, Banks, even Government Agencies use the media to their advantage, where we are being portrayed as the Anti-Christ Incarnate, out to damage Society to the detriment of the average Citizen. And thanks in great part to our Governors, we have no right to say otherwise.

Over the last few months we see daily on our TV Screens that yet another Country is in Revolution.  If you are on Twitter you’ll get the news much earlier before there is too much Spin (lies) attached. Some rebellions are peaceful while others are not. It seems that in the last few days we are told that Justice was served when Terrorist No.1 was assassinated by Country A in Country B’s back yard. No great shouts of breach of Sovereignty, International Law, Human rights violations, breach of X,Y & indeed Z, have been heard and so one is lead to the conclusion that indeed Justice must have been served. As lawyers we are faced with a dilemma. Do we speak up and state the obvious or do we take the view that the end justifies the means? Well, when I was at Law School the latter would certainly not be tolerated. Maybe times have changed. We are told there is a War on Terror and that we must all play our part. Our own Great Leader, Enda Kenny tells us we must Redouble our efforts in this War against Terror ! He should know as we have only recently elected him as our Leader. Well all those years in Law School must have been wasted. Maybe we all should have joined the Banks or the Insurance Companies or indeed trained with Politicians at home or on the advanced course at the EU. The change of mindset would have helped us decide on what is really Right and Wrong, as quite clearly our Law Schools got it badly wrong with over-concentrating our minds with such issues as human rights, workers rights and other such malarkey.

The World is now in recession, so we’re told and we all need a bail-out. We must all take cuts and workers rights are being run over by steam rollers on a daily/hourly basis. But sure, that’s all right. The times we live in now dictate that only those in charge i.e. society’s elite should be shielded from such cuts. Banks have no money so the Citizen must pay up as it would be unthinkable not to save ‘Our Banks’. Did you ever consider for one moment, why at a time when we have little or no money that wars seem recession proof.  Maybe there are Billions of Dollars/Euros out there to finance the War on Terror. Because that is what really matters. Some Banks must be funding this heroic effort and it would be unpatriotic for us not to continue doing our duty by contributing to such bailouts. We need to fund the War effort.

While lawyers are usually at the forefront of Revolutions worldwide and risk their lives daily in pursuit of the rights of the Citizen, it seems that our lawyers must be more concerned with conveyancing for the privileged few or indeed dragging the Citizen through the Courts in order to take their home from them, for the Banks of course. Either that or ensuring the Citizen is incarcerated for non-payment of Litter charges or other such unpatriotic acts. Have I missed something here? What did Law School not teach me? I know that when I qualified I had to attend a lecture on Clients Funds and how to keep the Clients money in the Client Account. It was like an indoctrination in fact and one that was worth attending. On the other hand, I did attend an ‘optional’ lecture entitled ‘Ethics’. Excellent Lecture and well worth attending but why was it not mandatory? I suppose I should have been bright enough to have worked it out then but, as I said, we obviously weren’t taught the ‘right stuff’ at Law School.

Listen, is it time to revert to the Wanted Dead or Alive Posters of the Old West? Maybe we could put a modern spin on it? Instead of Invading  countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and spending Billions on a campaign to overthrow the Local Regime, maybe it would be better to just Nuke them. A once off payment which surely wouldn’t be too hard to negotiate with your local friendly Bank. There’s one Bank I know who market themselves as ‘the Bank who likes to say Yes’. Of course fewer people would be employed if this course was undertaken but at least it would wipe out unemployment in a couple of countries, at least ! I’m sure our Unions wouldn’t object to such measures. Haven’t really heard much from them lately. But I digress. We lawyers need now to go back to Law School again to learn the new laws as I’m certainly totally out of touch with the World as we now know it. I wonder how many Continuous Legal Education Points I’ll have to amass until I am ‘reprogrammed’ in the New Order of things. Maybe that’s what the IMF were referring to when they proclaimed the Reforming of the Legal Profession as a priority! And if the IMF/EU say it has to be done, our Government will have no option but to say ‘Yes’. Well that’s what they’ve told us so far, isn’t it? Or am I mistaken ?

Ireland, indeed the World in 2011. Where are we heading? Or, should I say Who is being Targeted next? In fact, where the hell are we all heading and who is leading us there ??

LegalEagleStar , Wednesday , 4th May, 2011

Written by LegalEagleStar

May 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm

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