American Islamic Group Calls on Wal-Mart to Drop Left Behind Game

December 20, 2006 -
There's more bad news for Left Behind: Eternal Forces as a leading U.S. Islamic organization calls on mega-retailer Wal-Mart to stop carrying the game.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a press release yesterday, saying the game "glorifies religious violence and may harm interfaith relations."

Left Behind: Eternal Forces depicts religious-themed combat set in the post-Rapture world of the best-selling Left Behind book series.

CAIR executive director Nihad Awad wrote to Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott Jr., saying:
We believe the message this game is promoting is one of religious intolerance. The game's enemy team includes people with Muslim-sounding names. When asked about the Arab and Muslim-sounding names, Left Behind Games' President Jeffrey Frichner said, 'Muslims are not believers in Jesus Christ' - - and therefore cannot be on the side of Jesus in the game. (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12/06) As you may know, Muslims do in fact revere Jesus as one of God's prophets.

Awad added:
We have no desire to stifle creativity or inhibit freedom of speech. However, it is our duty as America's leading Islamic civil rights group to promote mutual understanding and ensure the safety of Americans of all faiths.   

Comments

Religion is bad....religion is war.....religion only brings hate , drop all religions and the world will be a nice place to live !

CAIR should just hand out Eternal Forces demo disks. That'll stop folks buying it. The game is a real stinker.

Funny. I feel that strapping yourself with TNT, hijackig airliners and flying them into buildings promotes "religious intolerance" as well.

I want Walmart to stop selling the game too, but mostly because its a horrible game and not for any other reason. If anything, thats probably the best reason not to sell it.

As a side note, is anyone else having a problem with the posting buttons in Mozzila? Mine are now linking to all GP articles with the "al-qaeda" tag instead of posting my messages. Had to post the last one in IE, which is annoying.

@ Brer

I think that was my fault. I forgot to close my link tags in my link a couple posts ago.

...whoops.

“glorifies religious violence and may harm interfaith relations.”...

...Said one of the leading American fundraisers for Hamas and Hezbollah...said the group who sports several convicted terrorists among its regional boards of directors...whose founder has said that it's the mission of American Muslims to lead Islam to dominate all other religions in the US and to convert all Americans who are "on the wrong side"...who have called the actions of the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia "a change for the better" even after they've called for the beheading of everyone in Somalia failing to pray the required five times a day...

They have a -LOT- of room for criticism...And these guys are the -largest- and best-funded Islamic activist group in the US...

First of all, the game only depicts 2 faiths, believers in Christ and followers of the antichrist's fictional Enigma Babylon One World Faith. Unless someone is a follower of that faith, there is no religious intolerance since there is no mentions of other faiths.

Mr. Awed also claims that there are reports of the game using Muslim sounding names like Secularist and Pontifex Maximus. OK, well a Secularist is a person who is against religion in government and education (nothing to do with Muslim) and Pontifex Maximus is the ficitional title given to a caucasian male from Cincinatti who is the leader of the fictional Engima faith (again, non Muslim).

The game has 3 Middle Eastern sounding names (out of 400) and each side (Believers, Antichrist forces. and Neutral) is represented. Once again, there is no mention of anyone in the game being Muslim.

As it is impossible for there to be religious intolerance in the game (since other faiths are not represented, it is obvious what is being attacked here.

If other faiths want to be in a video game, make your own.

First of all, the game only depicts 2 faiths, believers in Christ and followers of the antichrist's fictional Enigma Babylon One World Faith. Unless someone is a follower of that faith, there is no religious intolerance since there is no mentions of other faiths.

Mr. Awed also claims that there are reports of the game using Muslim sounding names like Secularist and Pontifex Maximus. OK, well a Secularist is a person who is against religion in government and education (nothing to do with Muslim) and Pontifex Maximus is the ficitional title given to a caucasian male from Cincinatti who is the leader of the fictional Engima faith (again, non Muslim).

So what is their real agenda?

@Random Thoughts

The difference here is that no one's calling for this game to be -banned- here. We're just expressing our distaste for it. There's a difference. I fully support LaHaye and Jenkins to write their ridiculous trash, and the right of Left Behind Games to turn that into a RTS.

And unlike GTA (which I've never gotten into, personally. I'm more of a RPG/Adventure game player), which is highly satirical, the creators of the Left Behind books and game really -believe- that the activities depicted in books and games will come to pass in the not too distant future (that there will be the Rapture in our lifetimes, that the people left behind must convert to christianity or serve the antichrist, that people who advocate secular political and cultural norms are part of a larger satanic conspiracy, etc).

[...] Seriously, as much as I despise the extremist views of many extreme Christians, and as much as the very thought of a game that helps to perpetuate the cycle of hate within the religion sickens me, I think many people are losing sight of the big picture here. Is it not hypocritical for gamers who love to play violent games (GTA fans, I’m looking at you) and get riled up when someone like Jack Thompson screams bloody murder about how they should be banned, then turn around and put on their own Thompsonian outfits and crucify a different game, for basically the same reasons? People find many things objectionable - it is simply a matter of taste. But this does not mean that we can simply ignore the first amendment (which, I am wholeheartedly aware does not protect gaming, per se, but I digress) simply because the game is not one that we like. [...]

@Johnny Q

Unfortunately, if there's anything that thousands of years of human civilization, religion, and culture have demonstrated it's that the following quote is very, very true:

"There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do."

While there are people that are born broken and twisted and grow more so (your classic psychopaths), you can fit the body count of every serial and spree killer that's ever lived into any organized genocide (let alone war) of the past few centuries with room to spare. The Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, Rwanda, Darfur, The Yugoslav wars of the 90s...all conducted, for the most part, by average people no different from you or me, most of whom were religious.

@Mantruch

Really? I'm religious, the only people I hate are the people who talk in the theater.

Johnny -

You're quite right. It is highly illogical to assume the average religious person would do these things.

It is too easy to peg such actions on a group and stereotype them as terrorists just because they happen to share a religion with the extremists that perform such acts as suicide bombings.

However, we can't forget that extremists and fanatics exist in every sect of popular religion. With Islam, we have Bin Laden and several others as examples. In Christianity, we have Fred Phelps and his minions followers.

Why are people here confusing religion and religious extremists/fundamentalists/fanatics?

Granted, I'm not a fan of organized religion, but I don't think the average church/synagogue/mosque go-er is capable of wide and hateful bloodshed.

@ G-Dog

Sorry to say, but they rarely strap themselves with TNT and do that stuff anymore.

...C4 and certain home-made explosives are much more effective.

Is there any game out there where you get to hunt and kill muslims? preferably pakistani muslims...

I have mixed feelings on the subject. On one hand, I abhore censorship. I acknowledge Walmart's right to decide what they want to stock, but I feel that other groups shouldn't try to coerce them into not carrying things.
On the other hand, I understand CAIR's point. While I don't believe violent video games make you violent, and I don't think Left Behind is going to cause a massive uprise in anti-Islamic behavior, I do believe that the media (all media) influences us. It's much more subtle than the anti-game groups try to make it out, but it's the basis of propaganda.
Simply put, if we were suddenly flooded with anti-Islamic movies, games, books, TV shows, etc., I believe there would be an increase in anti-Islamic behavior. We are influenced by everything. One game, one book, that's just a drop in the bucket.
Writing this has helped me clarify how I feel on the subject, although I'm still divided. I think in the long run, Left Behind is insignificant. However, there has to be some point where CAIR has to try to step in before things build up momentum. This is probably a bit early, but I won't fault them for this decision.

@ Grahamr

Go and read their holy text.

@Fandel

I didn't suggest censorship at all. I, personally, could care less because I don't like the content--but I choose not to buy it. I'm just pointing out that Walmart practices self-censorship when it comes to non-christian themes. I am against the act of government, local, or higher from "banning" game sales for any reason. Walmart is not literally a governing body and may self-censor whenever it wants.

I don't think Walmart (or any retailer) will pull the game from the shelves because of this request. If anything, the publicity will help sell the game to both those who believe in this kind of future and those that wonder what the "stink" is about. It really is about the money for Walmart, as it should be for a retail market.

I find it hysterical that CAIR is making a statement against a game they view as "promoting religous intolerance." How do they explain this quote from co-founder Omar Ahmad:"Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran ... should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth." That hardly comes off as "mutual understanding" on their part. Plus, there's also the matter of several members of CAIR beingconvicted of terrorism.

While this press release does have a ring of truth, don't be fooled by these guys. If you do a little research, you'll find that they are hardly the moderate civil-rights movement they come across as.

@Fandel and Kajex...

If you'll recall, I didn't even mention censorship. I may have worded myself poorly, but I'm rather notorious for that...

What i DID mention, however, was the fact that I was glad the game was raising a controversy. Doing so brings many facts to light, including resolving many myths regarding a topic many of us Americans know so little about.

Fandel, I don't have any problems with the existence of this game, other than the fact that I won't likely play it. What i do have a problem with, however, is the implied racial and cultural slurs contained therein.

And i appreciate your sentiment on hypocracy regarding the 1st Amendment, but while i defend the existence of Quake 4, the Strogg are a fictional race. Muslims aren't.

Hello everybody. Uhm, allow me to just say a couple of words. I am not able to have a solid meaning about this, but hear me out...

When I play games with people, Medal of Honor, it kind of becomes a battle between German and American. Say at a LAN party, it will turn out to be something like: German against American.

Now that is OK I think... If you have your "american" friends, but my German friend had to feel uncomfortable for a while.

Make it a religious battle and there you have it... Chaos once again...

Hmm? The books? It is not something you enjoy, it is not entertainment, it is more like... Something you read to hear opinions and stuff. That SHOULD be allowed, and should also get rated as "bad opinion" or "good opinion". Again freedom of speech for the books, but not for the video games.

On the other hand; you simply cannot take a game seriously, no matter what, but should we really put religion inside of these things? Race is fine with me, or is it?

Argh! This is really hard to have an opinion on that is solid and stuff...

Guys seriously, relax, why are you making religion such a bad thing? Look at god for a moment and see the freedom our lord gave us, why are you abusing it soo much?!

ZOMG! I just realized i've been spelling "hypocrisy" wrong this entire time!

...my bad.

@X4J

"Smarten up. Your ignorance is showing." Yeah. I said it. But it's relevant, and it's accurate.

@Grahamr

I'm impressed that you knew that. And glad that there are those who understand that can twist anything around to fit their agenda- like Osama, and Fred Phelps.

On an added note, I also think that Frichner is being ignorant, which is no excuse for depicting another religion in that way.

@Robb
@Phrogg

I find it interesting that everyone loves the first amendment... as long as it doesnt offend them.

While I agree with nothing that this game portrays. Asking stores to pull the game off the shelves is no different than asking them to pull a book off the shelves because you disagree with it's particular message.

People aren't demanding stores to pull this game off the shelve because of it's message. They are demanding that stores pull the game off the shelves because that message is being portrayed in a video game.

Bottom line, you can't be a hippocrate. If people defend the existence of games like Grand Theft Auto, Bully, Doom, etc.. Then they have to defend the existence of this game.

I have no problem with people criticizing the message of this game. What I do have a problem with, is people are outraged that this message is being portrayed in a video game. If all the critics of this game were so outraged about the message of this game, then were the hell were they the past 10+ years when the Left Behind books and movies were on the same store shelves at Wal Mart? Because the themes of those books/movies are almost identical to that of the new Left Behind video game.

Mecha - good point about the books... I haven't read them myself, but I'm dying to hear from some of these groups - especially the Christian groups to whom the bulk of more than 60 million copies have been sold - what's do different about the game?

I'm guessing that the answer may be the interactivity argument, the so-called "training" for violence theory espoused by Jack Thompson and others.

Have you checked out UbiSoft's upcoming PS3 game Assassin's Creed? That's a little like what you mean but in a fictional setting and not given that name. Not saying its exactly the same thing, but there are similarities.

@ Johnny Q Doe
@Xlorep DarkHelm
@ Adar

There's already a company that has produced a game along that vein. Not a terror cell training game per se, but i do seem to recall on this same forum announced, discussing the appearance of games from the opposing point of view.

Actually, I think that a game which focused on a terror cell could be quite interesting. From the standpoint of getting a feel and/or an idea of what goes on there. One of the main strategies in any military games & theory training is to know your enemy, study them, be familiar with them. That way, you have an advantage. I'm not saying that such a game will provide complete understanding of everything about terrorist cells, but it could be quite educational.

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

@Xlorep DarkHelm

I think the fact that it a terror cell training game could be quite educational would be the part a lot of people would have a problem with.

After reading some of the points of others, I was wondering if you would be okay with an extreme fundamentalist Islam terror cell training camp game?

I not trying to play the devil's advocate (no pun intended), but actually figure out where I stand. I think the game sounds of poor taste (the Left Behind One), but I also don't believe in censorship. But, when faced with my own proposed dilemma, I can't say that I'd initially whole-heartedly support a development of the terror-cell game. And to me, the terror-cell game and the Left-Behind game are equivocable.

"Kajex Says:
December 20th, 2006 at 12:36 pm
@X4J

“Smarten up. Your ignorance is showing.” Yeah. I said it. But it’s relevant, and it’s accurate.

@Grahamr

I’m impressed that you knew that. And glad that there are those who understand that can twist anything around to fit their agenda- like Osama, and Fred Phelps.

On an added note, I also think that Frichner is being ignorant, which is no excuse for depicting another religion in that way."

Such is the magic of wikipedia :) .

"Zerodash Says:
December 20th, 2006 at 1:55 pm
@ Grahamr

Go and read their holy text."

No offence, but why?

I'm thinking I'll have to give a good "Huttah" for Beacon's comment:

Simply put, if we were suddenly flooded with anti-Islamic movies, games, books, TV shows, etc., I believe there would be an increase in anti-Islamic behavior. We are influenced by everything. One game, one book, that’s just a drop in the bucket.
Writing this has helped me clarify how I feel on the subject, although I’m still divided. I think in the long run, Left Behind is insignificant. However, there has to be some point where CAIR has to try to step in before things build up momentum. This is probably a bit early, but I won’t fault them for this decision.


This is exactly correct. Many people here will (to my knowledge, I may be wrong) not acknowledge any effect of video games on the mind. It does, without a doubt (although probably less than other media right now because of its reputation as being "just a kid's toy" or "a hell-spawned demon of social destruction"). However, it is insignificant on its own.

@Mossa TheGreat

"Hmm? The books? It is not something you enjoy, it is not entertainment, it is more like… Something you read to hear opinions and stuff. That SHOULD be allowed"-Mossa TheGreat.

I don't know if you were reffering to books in genral or the left behind series, but personally all the books I read are for entertainment. The left behind series is a work of fiction created for the entertainment of readers, most of them are proably christian and agree with the opions to some extent but thats besides the point. I read books because I enjoy them. I play games becuase I enjoy them. They should be granted the same protection under the first amendment.

I understand their point, but I think that they should aim for aligning themselves with all the Christian groups who have spoken out against the game for its Convert or Be Killed mentalitiy (I haven't played the game, but am going with other information from this site).

Regardless, this game is just getting more press which is free advertising.

@Mossa TheGreat Says:
Again freedom of speech for the books, but not for the video games.

I think you need to rethink that, video games are part of the 1st amendment and therefore protected.

Honestly, I find this a bit ironic. First, the game is ironic in that at least for me, I just don't see it as being very Christian at all -- but I've never liked the Left Behind series, nor the millennialistic ideology it presents. However, I simply view them as works of fiction, and honestly nothing and no one is twisting my arm to read them or buy them, nor the movies they spawned. The whole notion that it presents is, well, laughable at best to me -- but I also understand that there are people who completely agree with the ideas presented in it, and I am in no way attempting an argument with those people.

The second part I find ironic, is the way that Islam is presented, both in the game, and in the real world. Partially by those who oppose Islam -- by frequently misstating, and showing incredible incompetence and lack of understanding, typical in a prejudicial and highly bigoted point of view, quick to stereotype anything and everyone related to Islam. Partially also by those who practice Islam -- honestly, I find it incredible how quickly the Muslim world launches an attack against anything even remotely anti-Islam, but is not so public and quick to attack the fundamentalist groups who are misrepresenting Muslims around the world, and the Islamic faith with anti-USA statements or more; it just seems there's a bit of a double standard there is all.

And finally, what I find ironic about this whole thing is that the CAIR would attack the Left Behind GAME, and not attack the books nor movies made on it. I mean honestly, like other people have posted in this thread already -- there's nothing in the game which isn't already covered in the books the game was based on. (Yet, at the same time, there's no equal outcry for the games that have come from the Middle East making political statements to oppose Jews or Americans in some way...)

So, I leave this as just ironic. I'll just sit off to the side, shaking my head at the ludicrousy of the whole deal.

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

I agree with you Robby sir, I too, feel your pain and discomfort at those both religious leaders.

Although the islamic people were wrong to start a riot just because of the Muhammad cartoons, but the cartoonists were also at fault too, they shouldn't be making fun of other people's religion and it is not a joke to do that though. If they Denmark cartoonists wouldn't do that, there won't be a riot at the first place and things will not go out of hand.

And one thing I hate about these fundies (I hate fundies), is their racist behaviour and intolerance. Just because someone doesn't agree with them, they will start a fight, be it a street fight or a war, what someone can tell them is that fighting is not the answer to problems, if someone don't agree with you (fundies, I mean), shut up and get on with it.

@Phrogg

No, I understand what you meant, and I know that you didn't say anything about censorship- I was talking in regards to Nihad Awad, actually. I can understand that the game offends him, it's easy to see why it would offend him and many other Muslims, but it would still fall under Free Speech protection all the same, is what I'm saying.

@Grahamr

Wikipedia- a good resource to find info on anything. I learned my muslim knowledge from my ex-girlfriend when I considered converting.

You know, to be perfectly honest, i'm glad this game is causing such a controversy.
Being Christian myself, i certainly can enjoy literature of the "Christian fiction" genre. However, this game is just a bit over the top, displaying Islam in an almost satanic light (mind, this is not to say the books don't convey the same, but it is far less blatant). I'm sure, if converted to a different graphic media, say, a movie, that displays the same sort of violent nature and demonizes Islam, the CAIR would have stood up to defend their culture just as quickly.

Please, let us not forget that Islam in fact teaches tolerance and temperance, and it is only a select few sects that turn extremist and become bent on the whole "death to the infidel" mentality.
Being here in Kuwait at the moment, I talk to local Muslims every day, and am constantly impressed by their generosity and friendliness...i've just got to remember not to offer them Jell-o.

This religious intolerance is one of the reasons i don't affiliate myself with a church anymore. Instead, i've chosen to practice my faith without my thoughts being polluted by the ignorance and hypocracy and hatred i've witnessed in the churches.

ISLAM glorifies religious violence!

@XFJ-Nah, islam is a religion of peace and fogiveness. It's these fking radicals like osama bin laden who twist it into their own tool of hatred.


For instance,"Jihad" actully refers to the battle going on inside one's soul between good and evil. That would be the greater jihad, and the lesser jihad is one where people fight with weapons.

But all these bastards turned it around into"OMFG ALL AMERICANZ MUS DYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

@Phrogg

I'm with you on how this game essentially depicts Muslims as non-believers, and therefore another target, and I am, like you, probably one of the few non-muslims who actually knows what the religion actually preaches. And the hypocrisy of churchs is why I, too, don't go to church anymore, and instead believe what I want. But that's a discussion for a topic on religious intolerance elsewhere.

I didn't, and will not, buy this game because of the content. However, as incorrect and damaging as the message may be, it's still a form of speech, an opinion displayed in a viewable medium, and it would still be protected, so long as it's not illegal. I don't know if this is content that could incite riot or anything, but... 1st Amendment does work both ways. I'm sure there are people who didn't like the fact that the French were mocked when Call of Duty 3 was released, but anyways...

...the game “glorifies religious violence and may harm interfaith relations."

Oh the irony.

Want even more bad news for the game? There's more than just religious bigotry in the underlying themes...

What will the Women's Lib advocates think when they discover this?
I've never even seen a screen-cap of this game, and i despise it more and more every time i read something about it.

(Oh, and don't worry, i remembered to close my tags this time.)

There is a lot of misinformation being spread about LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces.

This has been written to respond to media reporters who, in most cases, haven’t played our game. They are not credible. Here’s what real experts are saying:

- The Anti-Defamation League: Although they speak out against the book’s theology, this is what they have to say about the PC game, “Conversion to Christianity in the game is not depicted as forcible in nature, and violence is not rewarded in the game.” http://www.adl.org/Interfaith/leftbehind.asp

- IGN says, "To keep the balance of power in your favor, you'll have to find non-violent ways to avoid getting killed. Your units will definitely fight back in a life or death situation but, for the most part, you want to either avoid your enemies or have a ready plan to convert to your side using musicians and disciples. This gets much harder as the game progresses.” http://pc.ign.com/articles/745/745956p1.html

- GameSpot declares "Given the game's Christian devotion, your goal is not to wipe out the enemy as in a typical RTS game but to convert as many neutrals and baddies as possible by raising their spirit level."

- Wired Magazine says, “So the great surprise of LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces is that it actually kind of rocks...few titles are as ambitious and as polished as this title.” http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,72071-0.html

- ArsTechnica.com says, “Many groups have made inaccurate statements about this game that need to be corrected. For one thing, it is not particularly violent. While there are violent aspects of the game, the game makes it clear that shooting is the last resort. Second, it is not hateful to other religions. It does have an agenda, and I think you need to know that going in, but there's no bashing of other faiths.” and “…the game is fun, it'll keep parents happy with its light levels of violence, and it'll be sold at video game stores, religious book stores, and everywhere else people spend money on God. This game will certainly get the message out.” http://arstechnica.com/reviews/games/leftbehind.ars

Many of the technical issues these reviewers experienced were with a non-updated version of the game. A brand new free update just went live (for registered owners of the game) and can be retrieved by clicking the update button from the main menu in the game. In the future, we will be offering additional free updates.

Play the game and decide for yourself. You can download the demo on many sites. This site does not require you to create an account: http://www.vgpro.com/file/20183_EternalForcesDemoSetupfull.exe.html

Should you have any concerns about this game, please go to the contact us page on our website at www.leftbehindgames.com and we’ll do our best to connect with you.

Sincerely,
Troy Lyndon
Co-founder, CEO
Left Behind Games Inc.

Why dont they just go in a new frenzy and burn some more dolls, flags, cars, houses. All religious people are getting their buttons pushed by their so called religious leaders. After the islamic reaction to the so called 12 drawings of muhammed, they just come of as undereducated (read stupid) fanatics who would do the world a favor (especially women) if they just went home and died!!!!

I have great respect for the CAIR as well as for Mr. Nihad himself. Lord knows they had a lot to go through with the rampant rise in racism against his faith after the events of 9-11. However, He needs to realize that the only people who come away from the game with an attitude of religious isolationsim are the same people who harbored such emotions and beliefs before they approached the game.

I will say, however, that if the phone conversation with the CEO did show a bit of ignorance. However, to be even more fair, it looks like it was a prime opportunity for Mr. Nihad to educate someone on a little known fact outside of muslim populations.

So this game “glorifies religious violence and may harm interfaith relations.” Man I'm glad the The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is around to put a stop to it. Nice and safe opposing a video game. I wonder if they'll be vocally opposing any other actions in the world that could be detrimental to American Islamic relations?
 
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Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
 

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