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Debate Competition: Round 1- saggio vs. Varcayn (Quebec independence)

GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, ProbablyWatertown, WIRegistered User regular
edited February 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
This is the sixth debate matchup of the competition. saggio vs. Varcayn. To remind everyone of the rules:
*You will be presented a topic selected at random from a large list. You will then debate that topic, using whatever position you wish (preferably your actual real-life position), for as long as you are able.
*When I deem the debate to be running out of steam, I will give you a second, and then a third topic.
*After you're done, the forum will have 24 hours to vote on the winner of the debate. The winner will be the one who is deemed to have won two out of three topics.
*There's no set length as to a response, but keep it reasonable.

As of this moment, voting for the previous matches are still open. As of this moment, Wonder_Hippie is beating dyscord (on behalf of amateurhour), and Rygar (on behalf of Randall_Flagg) is beating Fencingsax. If that holds, that makes the current bracket:

ROUND 1
Oboro vs. Dread Pirate Arbuthnot
visiblehowl/nameless over Kilroy (Organic food, land mines, Taiwan)
Wonder_Hippie over amateurhour/dyscord (Israel, gun control, Al Jazeera)
Feral vs. Loren Michael
Randall_Flagg/Rygar over Fencingsax (Border security, sexual reassignment surgery, Darfur)
saggio vs. Varcayn
jotate vs. moniker
Not Sarastro/AngelHedgie over Quid/clownfood (Minimum wage, a la carte cable, class action lawsuits)

ROUND 2
? vs. nameless
Wonder_Hippie vs. ?
Rygar vs. ?
? vs. AngelHedgie

Winner of this matchup will face Rygar.

TOPIC NUMBER 1: Eminent domain.

You may begin.

I have a new soccer blog The Minnow Tank. Reading it psychically kicks Sepp Blatter in the bean bag.
Gosling on

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    VarcaynVarcayn Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Eminent domain is an outdated historical practice that needs to be severely limited in its modern scope. Back in the days of yore it was acceptable for feudal lords to claim absolute sovereignty over their land and take it over for the necessary survival of their kingdoms and for the good of the public at large. Even in the age of the industrial revolution, infrastructure to benefit the entire population was reasonably acquired under eminent domain. However, the original principle has since been corrupted and twisted to an extent that it effectively serves to redistribute property from individuals to other private interests that do not necessary provide "public use" as outlined by the 5th amendment.

    In the 2005 Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London Justice Stevens, for the majority, concluded that the "Court long ago rejected any literal requirement that condemned property be put into use for the general public." Stevens' admission is considerably troubling as it implies the ability of government at the local, state, or federal level, to forcibly seize property from the individual and redistribute it amongst other private interests using absurd reasoning to justify "public use".

    The concept of "public use" prior to 1900 was more noble in that had connotations of highways or railroads that greatly benefited the general public when infrastructure in many areas was lacking. However, in recent years, as exemplified by Kelo v. City of New London, the term has been corrupted and now implies that the forcible transfer of one private entity to another, more profitable, private entity now constitutes unquestionable "public use". For example, in 1984 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a plan to redistribute private property from its original group to land owners to a different private group of land owners. (Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff)

    In 2006, responding to Kelo v. City of New London, President Bush issued an executive order calling for the federal government to limit its use of eminent domain, especially when it would advance the economic interests of any private parties who would inherit the property. Bush is to be commended for this issue, as are the states of Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois for following his lead. More state and local governments need to join and limit the procedure to prevent the exploitation of one private interest at the expense of another under the pretense of a greater public good.

    In the now limited situations where currently held private land could be transformed into a true public entity, owned by the public, such as a necessary highway, eminent domain has a place as a last resort in the modern legal system. Otherwise, government at all levels must respect the property rights of individuals and put an end to this form of legalized theft.

    Edits: Spelling, grammar, that sort of thing.

    Varcayn on
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    saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    The concept of what Americans call "eminent domain" is not oudated, outmoded, or otherwise corrupt - rather, it is a legal concept which codifies the need of any sovereign power to be able to control, protect, and further the interests of that which it retains sovereignty over. Indeed, the very existence of "eminent domain" (or any variation thereof) in either statutory or constitutional law provides significant limits on the ability of the sovereign authority to exercise the necessary powers of the sovereign - in effect, by codifying the various restrictions on which land or property may be appropriated for (the public good, national defense, etc), the sovereign becomes weakened at the expense of private interests.

    Obviously, while many in the West, and particularly in North America, recognize the "right to property" as something fundamental, the attempt to press the sovereign power to relinquish this important legal mechanism has led to an erosion of the ability of the sovereign power to exercise effective control and administration of its lands and subjects. The so-called "private interests" that you rail about benefit directly and substantially by this erosion of eminent domain, and indeed, by removing the legal restrictions that enable eminent domain to seize land and property for the general good, the private interests are able to utterly monopolize all property that might have otherwise been used to further the national interest. In the province of British Columbia, Canada, for instance, this erosion of eminent domain has taken an absurd turn - many large public projects (such as the construction of new roads and bridges) has turned to the "private interests" which you so detest, in an attempt to continue to exercise the rights and perojatives of sovereignty without actually doing so. The BC government prefers so-called "p3's" or, "public-private partnerships" to construct, maintain, and administer public works. Just recently, under the "Gateway Plan" to expand the transportation infrastructure in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland, two major bridge construction projects have been turned into "P3's" - which means that private firms not only finance a substantial sum of the initial investment, but also build the bridges, as well as administer and gain the revenues from tolls.

    If eminent domain had been exercised in a prudent manner, this situation would not have occured. Rather than having private roads and private bridges - for which all citizens must pay to use - these new bridges would benefit all citizens and residents of the province, with the direct cost being deferred, either in the form of no-tolls, or having the tolls reinvested back into further infrastructure improvements. As it stands, the bridge will now only serve to fatten the coffers of private capital and construction firms, thereby disallowing the full benefits of the bridge - such as increased trade and economic efficiency - to be had by all citizens, and will also further reduce the ability of the sovereign entity - the government of B.C. - to maintain the general infrastructure of the province, which is a prerequisite for any sort of wealth generation or commerce.
    The concept of "public use" prior to 1900 was more noble in that had connotations of highways or railroads that greatly benefited the general public when infrastructure in many areas was lacking. However, in recent years, as exemplified by Kelo v. City of New London, the term has been corrupted and now implies that the forcible transfer of one private entity to another, more profitable, private entity now constitutes unquestionable "public use".

    There remains no difference in the "nobility" or use of eminent domain in the early 20th century and the early 21st century. The only major difference is that the sovereign authority panders to a different concentration of capital - a hundred years ago, those who controlled government through their wealth were the great Trusts, which not only controlled the very infrastructure which you speak about, but actively exploited this infrastructure in such a way as to seriously harm the general prosperity and interests of the State as a whole. Indeed, it wasn't until the Trust-busting of Teddy Roosevelt that the efficient regulation of the privately owned entities which controlled what would otherwise be considered public infrastructure was achieved. Beyond that, it took until the New Deal and the Second World War until the necessary political will in government was existent enough to allow for the implementation of eminent domain - which directly led to the end of the Great Depression and the victory of the Allies in the Second World War.

    Furthermore, the contention that eminent domain simply leads to one private entity winning out over another is simply bollocks. If this is indeed the case, the problem is not with eminent domain itself, but with the poor implementation and use of eminent domain - and, perhaps more seriously, the problem is with corrupt and incompetent government officials. A person cannot blame eminent domain for this. Indeed, it is not the fault of eminent domain that those who wish to exercise sovereignty refuse to do so in a just manner, it is the fault of firstly, those who are themselves corrupt, second, those who support and benefit from the corruption, and finally, those who put the corrupt person there in the first place. Which, in most Western countries, is usually the voter.

    In sum, eminent domain is an important legal mechanism that allows the effective use of sovereignty, which itself leads to peace, order, and out of these two things, commerce and wealth. Without the legal entrenchment of eminent domain, the people who were subject to it would be either open to abuses, or, if eminent domain were to be abolished, the public good would never be effectively served, as only private interests would have the ability to use and control property and infrastructure which would otherwise benefit all, not just a narrow slice of the citizenry.

    saggio on
    3DS: 0232-9436-6893
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    VarcaynVarcayn Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    To respond to this local anecdote of ours, I will first acknowledge, and hope that you will understand, when I say that as a long time resident of British Columbia, I haven't been willing to trust the provincial government when it comes to the construction of transportation projects after the fast ferry debacle.

    To a more substantive point, I can only assume that the topic foremost on your mind is the proposed twinning of the Port Mann Bridge. Granted, I traverse the bridge no more than a few times each year, but my understanding of the project is that the government already owns the property necessary to complete this project. While it is indeed true that much of the initial investment and subsequent work has been outsourced to a private firm, this does not constitute the use of eminent domain if no property is being seized by the government. There would have been no potential for the use of eminent domain. And thus, if you choose to take issue with the government's decision to possibly allow a private firm to "fatten its coffers" through a toll, then I must refer you to one of your own arguments, in which you conclude that issues like this are the fault of the politicians, and ultimately the electorate. If Campbell and the Liberals favor the "P3" strategy, then vote against them, don't scapegoat the lack of eminent domain. Furthermore, if, as you claim, the government had invoked the power of eminent domain for this project, is it not likely that the same construction company's offer to build the bridge and then reap the benefits of a toll would have gone through?

    Claiming that eminent domain is a just principle on the grounds of a single case which involves potential exploitation without the use of eminent domain is not a reasonable argument. Instead, it is a logical fallacy of the highest order, one that must not stand.

    On that note, I would also like to contend the following statement:
    saggio wrote:
    ...the implementation of eminent domain - which directly led to the end of the Great Depression and the victory of the Allies in the Second World War.
    That claim is a gross historical hyperbole. It was the Second World War that finally pulled America out of the Great Depression, not eminent domain. Claiming that eminent domain was a significant factor in the Allied victory in World War Two is unreasonable. Furthermore, I never called for the abolition of eminent domain, merely severe limitations, times of war would be a reasonable use of eminent domain. However, the seizure of property in times of total war is not the current primary use of eminent domain.

    Furthermore, your claim of eminent domain leading to economic efficiency is true in rare coincidental situations at best. In fact, eminent domain is anything but economically efficient, and economic theory suggests that just the opposite is true. If we assume that property owned by a private individual is truly put to better economic use by the public at large, then the public at large, represented by the government, should be willing to offer a price for the property that is higher than the value the individual places on it. Thus the transaction should be agreed upon by both sides without having to resort to the use of eminent domain, assuming that the transaction costs of a fair, market sale, are not higher than the transaction costs of dealing with eminent domain. This argument is supported by the Coase Theorem.

    Indeed, given how a free market devoid of all regulation is generally upheld as the true standard of economic efficiency, and eminent domain is government interference of the highest magnitude, then it stands that eminent domain, in most cases, moves us farther away from economic efficiency. Continuing this idea, governments should always be able to maintain order by purchasing property in the open market. They have bigger budgets than any private group, and if the property is better used by the public, then the government can exercise its mandate by purchasing said property, not demanding it. The reduction in use of eminent domain will not cause the collapse commerce and societal order.

    Your notion that eminent domain is only corrupted by politicians rests on the implication of causation. Given that the principle of eminent domain has existed long before it became an exploitive measure at the hands of the current generation of politicians, it would be reasonable to assume that the inverse is true: the existence of eminent domain creates politicians who exploit it for the benefit of private firms. However, I will embrace your conclusion that it is the fault of the electorate. But the electorate, in this case, is not to be slighted for electing corrupt politicians, instead it should be ashamed for allowing the practice of eminent domain to continue to exist on such a scale today. We, the voters, must respect the property rights of the individual. We must severely limit the use of eminent domain.

    Edit: Typo, fixed the link.

    Varcayn on
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    GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, Probably Watertown, WIRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Okay, let's close this one off. Moving forward.

    TOPIC NUMBER 2: Quebec independence. (I love that this one fell to a pair of Canadians.)

    You may begin.

    Gosling on
    I have a new soccer blog The Minnow Tank. Reading it psychically kicks Sepp Blatter in the bean bag.
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    saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    What the devil? I don't have more time to reply?

    Edit: It's midterms, man. Gotta give a brother some time.

    saggio on
    3DS: 0232-9436-6893
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    saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    To a more substantive point, I can only assume that the topic foremost on your mind is the proposed twinning of the Port Mann Bridge. Granted, I traverse the bridge no more than a few times each year, but my understanding of the project is that the government already owns the property necessary to complete this project.

    I was not referring to that, actually. There are a number of planned expansions of transit service, such as an extension of the Skytrain line out of Coquitlam, ostensibly called the "Evergreen Line" - while the BC government does indeed own some of this land, it does not own all of it, and as such, must acquire it from private owners. In a second case, there is a planned expansion of Deltaport - the container port which serves as an counterpart to the port of Vancouver, which as a resident of Canada and BC specifically you will know is the busiest port in Canada, and one of the busier ports on the continent. In both cases, the planned infrastructure expansions have been delayed not just by funding or a lack of political will, but by opposition by private owners of land who refuse to sell to the government at a fair market price. The current incumbent government, which has been in power since 2001, refuses to actually invoke the Canadian equivalent of eminent domain - which has resulted in a stalemate of sorts.

    This stalemate has directly resulted in a cost not only to the British Columbian taxpayer, the government of British Columbia, or the private landowners who refuse to sell - no, there have been costs both direct and indirect that affect not just these stakeholders, but residents of the areas close to the proposed expansion sites, as well as the overall economy of the province. The lack of expansion of access and space for the Deltaport has led to massive amounts of transport truck congestation, which has of course led to increased pollution and carbon emissions, both of which have serious negative consequences for our environment, particularly those who live near the site. Further, this congestation serves as a bottleneck which interrupts the flow of goods from the Deltaport to the rest of Canada - this has the affect of simply slowing down the movement of goods, which has a number of economic repercussions down the line.

    If the Government of British Columbia had exercised the Canadian equivalent of eminent domain, there would have been not only improvements to the general welfare of citizens, but would have minimized the impact on both of environment and economy. Furthermore, the delays and legal fees which have been racked up by boths sides would have not occured; the government would have exercised eminent domain, the owners would have been compensated, and the general good would have been served in a timely manner with these infrastructure improvements.
    That claim is a gross historical hyperbole. It was the Second World War that finally pulled America out of the Great Depression, not eminent domain.

    What was the legal principle that allow the Government of the United States to effectively mobilize - both in the Great Depression (as a result of the New Deal) and the Second World War? Eminent domain. Barring a sudden outburst of patriotic sentiment from the very rich and wealthy, the only way to effectively appropriate land which was needed for the war effort would have been blocked. Not only would the lack of this effective legal mechanism seriously hindered the war effort, it would have cost the government and thus the people more money than was ultimately spent, and could have possibly led to the government simply appropriating the land, without actually using any legal mechanism to do so, nor providing compensation. Because of eminent domain, the greater interests of the nation could be served effectively, but also, the interests of the capital and land holders were protected in a way that they would not have been if eminent domain did not exist, or was not exercised.


    ---

    When I get some more time, I'm going to add some more and respond to the question of Quebec. I apologize, but I have a crapload of writing and reading to do right now - it's not a very good time to be in a debate competition.

    saggio on
    3DS: 0232-9436-6893
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    VarcaynVarcayn Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Ok then, I guess, we're not done with this yet.

    ----

    First, on the topic of the Gateway Program:

    In your first post, in which neither the Evergreen line or Deltaport was mentioned, you contended the main issue with the program was that
    saggio wrote:
    ...two major bridge construction projects have been turned into "P3's" - which means that private firms not only finance a substantial sum of the initial investment, but also build the bridges, as well as administer and gain the revenues from tolls.

    I took issue with, and responded to that point. However, now you seemed to have changed course. Your new contention is not with bridges nor with tolls, but with the Evergreen Line and the Deltaport expansion. So be it. However, the Evergreen Line, which will fall under the control of Translink, a public entity. So far as I am aware, the port of Delta is also a public entity, thus I restate a central tenant of my last post:

    If all of this time and taxpayer money is being wasted because the private landowners of Delta will not sell their own land at the prices the government has offered, then why doesn't the government simply offer a higher price? The government could offer any price up to the proposed losses you extol as being gargantuan in nature, and the public would still come out ahead. There is no need for the government to economically exploit the individual's right to property.

    As previously stated, if the true economic value of the property, upon which you continue to harp, is worth more to the public, represented by the government, than it is to the private landowners, then the government should be perfectly willing to offer a price that is greater than the price which the individuals place on the property. Thus I propose that the reason these private landowners are not selling is because they are not being offered a fair market price. If they had already been offered such a price under the given circumstances, then eminent domain would not be necessary, nor should it be in most cases.

    Second, on the topic of eminent domain's place in the Great Depression and World War II:

    I've conceded all ready that eminent domain has its place. I've never called for its outright elimination. Indeed, in my previous post I acknowledged that:
    Varcyan wrote:
    ...times of war would be a reasonable use of eminent domain.

    However, didn't the Germans, Italians, and Japanese invoke principles similar to eminent domain in their efforts of total war? Eminent domain contributed to the war effort, but to say it directly led to an Allied Victory is out of line. I will continue to maintain that it was neither the New Deal nor its use of eminent domain that pulled America out of the Great Depression, but it was World War II. As I've already conceded, during the Second World War the use of eminent domain was just. However, the principle, by itself, did not "directly" pull the country out the Great Depression as you initially claimed.

    Eminent domain is a viable last resort in our legal system, one that should come into play in times our great urgency, such as a time of total war. However, there are viable, economically efficient outcomes which do not require the government to chip away at the individual's right to private property that should be called upon first.

    Again, I am not calling for the outright elimination of eminent domain, merely a significant reduction in its use. One anecdote, no matter how local or pressing to the two of us, should not change that.

    Varcayn on
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    VarcaynVarcayn Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    As a fellow university student, who is also preparing for midterms, I can sympathize with your dilemma, but I suggest at this point that unless either of us has any groundbreaking revelations on eminent domain that have not already been brought to the table, that we move on, as asked by our moderator who is undoubtedly having enough headaches with this tournament given the number of alternates. I had planned to post a piece on Quebec instead of this rebuttal and I assume it would be easier for the both of us if we agreed to focus on one topic at a time instead of having to alternate.

    However, given that I led off with this topic, I'm willing to wait until you're ready to start on Quebec.

    Varcayn on
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    GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, Probably Watertown, WIRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    But I need to move things along, so if you guys are ready to start on Quebec...

    Gosling on
    I have a new soccer blog The Minnow Tank. Reading it psychically kicks Sepp Blatter in the bean bag.
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    VarcaynVarcayn Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Well, in that case:

    ----

    On November 22, 2006, our illustrious Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, called for a formal recognition that "the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada." While perhaps an apt tool for Harper's political grandstanding, the motion gives us the unique position of having a nation within a nation, a rather paradoxical claim. What nation will Harper recognize next? The Cree Nation that still inhabits a large part of Quebec? The Inuit Nation? The Red Sox Nation? Hell, maybe when Harper has a really good day, he can get around to recognizing the nation of Kosovo.

    All joking aside, Quebec is not a nation. It is a Canadian province, and both sides of the separatist movement should want it to stay that way. Proponents of the sovereignty movement within Quebec claim that their movement is necessary to ensure the survival of their "Québécois culture". Considering our nation's vast multicultural history and the contributions of French Canadians to history, this is, by all means, a noble goal, one that should be respected, even by those who oppose the sovereignty movement. However, I propose that those seeking to retain the concept of "Québécois culture" stand a far better chance of doing so as a part of a united Canada.

    First, to clarify the notion of "Québécois culture" let us be blunt and realize that this is merely terminology for French-Canadian culture, and has far more to do with an ethnic group than it does with a provincial group. This is supported by the fact that anglophones, aboriginal peoples, and other non-French speakers overwhelming voted against the last sovereignty referendum in Quebec. People who speak primarily in English and aboriginal peoples were both 90% opposed to the movement. Furthermore, Francophones in Quebec are free to argue for the right of self-determination, but it is clear that by doing so, they would be arguing in favor of their right to deny the principle to other residents in their own province.

    However, that is not the chief argument against separatism. Hypothetically, if Quebec were to separate, it would most certainly strive to promote the use of the French language within the new nation, in accordance with the goal of preserving French culture. However, outside of the very bilingual city of Montreal, the rest of the province is overwhelmingly predominantly French in nature already. The public education system? French, with a few exceptions. The use of a traditionally French system of civil law at the provincial level? Already predominant. Public signs and the only official language of the provincial government? French. What portion of French culture would the nation of Quebec be afforded that the province of Quebec is currently being denied?

    Thus I propose that those seeking to extend or continue of influence of French culture within the geographic region of North America, have far more to gain by attempting to do it as a part of Canada. As a fellow resident of the west coast, I will ask you, saggio: How often is a knowledge of the French language or culture is useful in your life? As someone who has spent his entire life in Vancouver, the usefulness of the French language in my life would trail English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, and perhaps Spanish. Yet because of Quebec's inclusion within our country I was given formal education in both languages. This same privilege extends to people across our nation who would not otherwise be exposed to French culture without a Canadian Quebec. Indeed, if Francophones nationwide were to achieve independence from the rest of Canada, leaving us with a purely English Canada, then the impact of their culture would undoubtedly diminish on an aggregate level.

    That said, if a clear majority of Quebec voters truly want their province to pull away from the rest of the country, and they do so in the manner outlined by federal laws, then I can not, in good conscience, move to deny them the right of political independence. However, the recent fall in political support for the Parti Québécois, which continues to campaign on a separatist platform, indicates that the 1995 referendum might be as close as Quebec ever comes to separating. This actually benefits both sides of the debate. The federalists get to keep their province and the separatists can continue to spread the French culture they so dearly want to protect from coast to coast to coast.

    Varcayn on
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    GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, Probably Watertown, WIRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Okay, saggio, I've given you more than enough time. So unless you have a response for me ready right now, I've gotta toss it to the alternates.

    Gosling on
    I have a new soccer blog The Minnow Tank. Reading it psychically kicks Sepp Blatter in the bean bag.
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    GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, Probably Watertown, WIRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    saggio has requested more time. I guess I'm going to grant it. Just, for future reference, you and everyone else, remember that I'm using Page 1 of D&D as my timer, more or less. If your match thread is on page 2, expect me to hop in fairly soon, so tailor your research and responses to that timeframe.

    Gosling on
    I have a new soccer blog The Minnow Tank. Reading it psychically kicks Sepp Blatter in the bean bag.
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    GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, Probably Watertown, WIRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Saggio has pulled out. ALTERNATES AHOY!

    Gosling on
    I have a new soccer blog The Minnow Tank. Reading it psychically kicks Sepp Blatter in the bean bag.
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    GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, Probably Watertown, WIRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I saiiiiidddd.... alternates ahoy. Anyone? Does anyone know something about Quebec's desire for independence? I know we got Canadians in here.

    Gosling on
    I have a new soccer blog The Minnow Tank. Reading it psychically kicks Sepp Blatter in the bean bag.
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