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The Questionable Conduct of Today’s GRG

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seto2001
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Dear forum members and researchers,
 
I must admit that I am somewhat bothered by the necessity of making a post like this, as it takes the valuable time away from the actual SC-related topics such as research, news preparation, and biographical articles. However, the recent actions of the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) have been intolerable to such an extent that it has become both ridiculous and offensive to supercentenarians, their families, and researchers alike. I dare say, it borders on being immoral. The GRG is unrecognizable from the organization it was 10 years ago.
 
Leaders of the mentioned organization have previously threatened legal action against both myself and others for merely describing their actions. Therefore, I will provide a lot of evidence below because legally, the truth cannot be considered defamatory. Most of this, however, is just describing their recent actions, as you will see below.
 
Let's start with something that's very obvious. It is evident that their validation speed increased due to the appearance of a new rival (LQ). Just before LQ became public in January 2023, and shortly before our first validations were announced, a member of this forum compiled a list of all GRG public validations for the period between June 2021 and January 2023, totaling 29(!!) validations in total, with only 9 living SCs being validated at the time.
 
Their new website was launched in January 2023, just shortly after LQ (not even a full month later). However, while LQ had been in development for over six months by that time, it appears that their new website domain was registered in November 2022 (you can check here, LQ domain for example was created in Feb 2022). They were definitely aware of LQ being in development, as their director was already our member at that time. However, a particular second-in-command was not invited to join LQ due to his past behaviors (It was under consideration, but it never happened), and we witnessed the consequences of that decision in Jan/Feb 2023. While he may claim that the plan for their new website was started years ago and that it just happened to become reality after LQ was already in development, I find it difficult to believe that an organization that validated 29 SCs in a year and a half would undergo such a radical change after nearly a decade of slow validations, and asking for milions in donations just to speed up the validations. Furthermore, they even built their new website to attempt to mimic LQ. 
 
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But I'm sure most of you are already familiar with this, so let's review the new actions that made me make this post.
There's a reasonable suspicion that they are now monitoring which SCs we validate at LQ and simply adding them to their website with a retroactive date (to make it appear as if they were the first to validate them), without having complete documentation or reviewing their own records. If you were monitoring the validations of both organizations, you might have noticed it yourself, so please leave a comment if you did. Let's check this.
 
Some of the recently validated and announced LQ cases were:
(by announcement date):
- Mrs. Gurley and Mrs. Ivy on 1 May. // They happen to have been validated a few days ago by GRG as well, with a retroactive dates of 15 and 25 Jan 2022. A coincidence that they are so close to each other on their list as well? Let's check further.
- Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Cagle, announced by LQ c.25 April. Shortly after, they were added to GRG with retroactive dates of 7 and 16 June 2021.
- Then some of the cases that follow on their list are Mr. Iwakawa and Mrs. Keller, validated on 22 and 25 June 2021 respectively. Once again, LQ validated them in April 2024.
- Shortly after that we have Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Gwynn, validated retroactively by them on 7 and 19 July 2021 respectively. At LQ, validated on 11 and 13 April respectively.
 
[8 May Update]:
Mr. Smith was announced as validated by LQ on 7 May. On 8 May, he was added to GRG 2022 list of validations. Additionally, on 7-8 May, Mrs. Rodenstein, validated by LQ in April, was added to GRG as validated in July 2022. Ms. Gaukler, another LQ case from April, was added to GRG as validated in June 2022.
 
[9 May Update]:
The best situation so far: I caught them red-handed. Yesterday, on May 8th, LQ had three announced cases: Mrs. Kimball, Mrs. Bagne, and Mrs. King. I predicted the same would happen as with the previous cases. So when I woke up this morning, I took a screenshot of their 2022 validations on the Wayback Machine, where these three ladies were clearly not listed. Just an hour later(!), I took another screenshot, and all three were there, practically one after another on the list.
 
As they were adding retroactive validations for 2021 this April, continuing with 2022 ones in May after 2021 was completed, they just happened to validate/announce the exact same SCs that LQ validated in April and May, sometimes in the precise order we validated them? Please keep in mind that most, if not all, of the mentioned validations were added to their website in the past 10 days or less.
 
But something even more intriguing is the case of Mrs. da Conceicao Souza. Remember, this lady claimed to have been born in 1909, but this March, LQ uncovered evidence suggesting she was born in 1910 instead. It's important to note that this evidence isn't available online and required considerable effort to locate. We validated her on March 31st, and what a coincidence, GRG validates her retroactively (with September 2021 date) in April. They also credited a relative of hers, but using only the first names she uses on her public Facebook account. Furthermore, the last part of her name, "Souza," was not used (or even known, I believe?) prior to her LQ validation, yet it appears they were aware of all this in September 2021. What remarkable research skills! If we had known this, we might never have needed to start with LAS, lol.
 
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This isn't even the worst part. They use validation dates that precede the discovery and documentation of some cases. For instance, Mrs. Camargo Veiga of Brazil was validated by them a few days ago. She became pending on June 6, 2021, and was validated on March 25, 2022. Ignoring the fact that Oliver T. (the first on the validator list) joined GRG in 2023, this lady was first discovered by LAS researchers in April 2022, as you can see on the forum. Their director and second-in-command even left comments on this post, without mentioning that they were already aware of her, let alone had full documentation. Based on their post, do you think they had know about this lady beforehand? The validation date they used happens to precede the actual discovery of the case by about a month? Additionally, documentation for her is available and compiled online, which is probably how they found documents for her. However, they did not bother to credit the person who made the list of documents (even as ''anonymous''), instead taking credit for themselves. Of course, LAS members are not credited for the discovery at all.
 
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But to move on to another topic. Validating SCs with incomplete or partial documentation:
 
Retroactively for 2019, they validated two Chilean ladies: Mrs. Canevaro and Mrs. Begue. The sole credit for both is A.K. (I will not use the full name out of respect for him, but you can see it on their lists). I happen to know what he found because he made his research public on the former Yahoo WOP group, and I have that email in my inbox. He located the birth and death records for Canevaro and the birth record and obituary for Begue. Both ladies were married, but those records are not available online. Therefore, the documentation is incomplete, and we could probably confirm with A.K. that he did not locate/order marriage records – especially because that's not an easy thing to do.
 
A case far worse is that of Mrs. Montoya of Colombia, validated on August 11, 2020, by Santiago G. (who happens to be both a LAS and LQ member). This lady had a copy of her baptismal record and ID card, but no sibling check, marriage record, or mid-life records. It was obviously easy to confirm with Santiago that he did not submit enough evidence for this lady to be validated, but it seems they deemed it more than enough.
 
Cases of Mrs. Becerra, Ms. Moreno, and Mrs. Paredes, all announced on 8 May 2024, are not ready for validation. The evidence is either weak, or there are doubts regarding their age. I can confirm that as one of researchers of these cases (the main researcher for two of them). The validations of Mr. Pereira Ayala and Mrs. Mojica Torres are also questionable. Mr. Chanca as well – he wasn't even given a pending status by the LAS due to many doubts we had, yet they validated him. One has to wonder if they actually conducted a proper sibling check, considering that records are not available online.
 
Mrs. V. Williams was born in Cuba, and the earliest record for her is the immigration record when she was 18.
 
Mrs. Dolezalova application date/pending status was listed as January 2007, and yet their public pending list for 2015 does not mention her at all.
 
Mr. Tseng was born in Japan, and moved to the US in 1975. They validated him, using MHLW Japan as the main validator. As far as I know, they do not validate the ages of Japanese emmigrants. 
 
I am curious how they validated Mr. Wesley and Mrs. Hasenkampf, as most researchers know that both cases have major gaps in documentation.
 
Mrs. Cammock. Her death date was confirmed by a Twitter post, and there's not even a guarantee that it's about her.
 
On 9 May, they validated Ms. Villanueva retroactively for 2022. Not only is she missing mid-life records, but her death date was also never publicly confirmed outside of LQ.
They use death dates that were confirmed by LQ, and nowhere else publicly: Mrs. Makishi and Mrs. Aguilar Aizprua
 
[Pending cases]:
Mrs. Hayashi was marked as pending as of September 9, 2023. Neither her name nor her date of birth was ever made public outside of LQ. They credited MHLW Japan for this case. However, the application date they used predates even the press release date of Fukuoka City, where the city's statistics on centenarians were disclosed. Yet again, neither the city nor the prefecture ever released any information about this lady, besides her being a single number in statistics. All information was obtained through LQ research. Additionally, this is just another privacy violation because I'm quite certain they did not contact the family to obtain permission before publicly disclosing her name on their website.
 
Similar situation with Mrs. Kiyuna. Made pending for September 2023, but her date of birth was never publicly released outside LQ.
 
I believe that date of birth of Mrs. Naito was also never publicly released in MHLW documents, yet the MHLW is credited.
 
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We could continue discussing how they also fail to credit people properly (both LQ and ESO members), how they credited Oliver T. and Dejan V. with cases validated before 2023, even though both of them joined in 2023. However, there's something that went a step too far. On May 6th, they committed two privacy violations by publicly validating SCs whose families did not wish for their identities to be revealed. Not only that, but as present-day LQ members were responsible for both validations, our names are now on the credit list, implying we might be held responsible for this scandal. When this post becomes public, they will be informed about their mistake. If you're reading this part of the post, it means they are now fully aware of their privacy violation and have not made any correction.

LAS Member/Administrator (since January 2020)
ESO Correspondent for Croatia (since 2 August 2021)


   
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I eagerly await when some Haitian cases with mid-life but no online early-life documentation have their early-life documentation uploaded to FamilySearch, and LQ validates them, and then the GRG presents fake retroactive validation dates from several years ago.

Will they have the nerve to give a fake validation date to, say, Duranord Veillard if/when he gets validated by LQ if his baptismal record ever gets uploaded?


   
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Ale76
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Thanks, S. for sharing this important info.

http://www.supercentenariditalia.it/persone-viventi-piu-longeve-in-italia.
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ChrisR
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I’ll raise this with Ben.

Diabolical conduct.

I wouldn’t take their legal threats too seriously to be fair.  


   
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MrCatlord
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Look at this. They have reserved spots on their 2022 validations list every three days

In fact, if you go to any recent year there are validations every three days (except 2024 where there is one every day)

The GRG is making it so incredibly obvious for us now

 

Also they validated Matsu Gaja (with a younger birthdate than claimed) and Shige Mineshiba. Yumi Yamamoto said after Gaja's death that the GRG and LQ would not publicly release her validation...


   
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seto2001
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10 May Update:
Mrs. Reid was announced by LQ on 9 May. Today, she was added to GRG 2022 validations list. You can see on Wayback machine (and on the screenshot by MrCatlord above) that she was not on their list yesterday.

They are not even trying to hide it.

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ESO Correspondent for Croatia (since 2 August 2021)


   
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Ale76
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Disgraceful.

http://www.supercentenariditalia.it/persone-viventi-piu-longeve-in-italia.
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Marco
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First of all, seto2001, thank you for your elaborate post. As much as it pains me to say, I have to agree that there's a lot of truth to what you have analysed. Despite my resignation a couple of years ago and the ensuing witchhunt by some - but mostly one - of the remaining GRG members, I always hoped the best for the GRG, and genuinely wanted it to find solutions to its existing problems, in order to return to its former glory. However, in these past few months, but accelerated in these last couple of weeks, I have unfortunately had to come to the sad realisation that the GRG is no more, and that Robert's grip on the organisation - as he would NEVER have allowed for any of this nonsense - is no longer apparent/existent. I know others arrived at this conclusion much more quickly than I did, but hope had got the better of me.

As mentioned, the situation has become really dire in these last few weeks. Apart from obvious cases such as Rosalia Hasenkamf (there isn't even early-life evidence to begin with) and Daisy Cammock-Bennett (indeed, no official confirmation of her date of death), they have also attributed "dates of death" to limbo cases such as Hildegard Lange Kamada Shimabukuro. However, none of those dates of death have been confirmed. Yet, oddly enough, for limbo cases whose dates of death HAVE been confirmed, such as Tameko Shijo, they refuse to show/publish it.

And they don't just try to "beat" LQ. The ESO discovered Maria d'Almeida's date of death back in 2021 by going through the trouble of contacting the Portuguese authorities. I am confident we were the first organisation to discover her date of death, as it had definitely not yet been found by the GRG when I left in 2020, and there was no (active) Portuguese correspondent by then. Obviously, the GRG could have made an effort since then - although I doubt it - but to say the evidence was located in or before 2018 by Filipe Prista Lucas - who was not even active anymore by the time I began helping out the GRG in late 2012 - is unscientific, especially because the GRG has her name wrong and is now suggesting Filipe Prista Lucas has made this error.

This tactic they have applied to other longstanding pending cases as well. Suddenly, all these formerly skipped pending cases - such as Marjorie Macgown, Ingeborg Mestad, Pearl Lutzko, Gloriam Bellerive-Hébert, Yvonne Lamoureux, and Arie Jane Robinson, just to mention a few - have been rushed through the validation process, even though their documentation was still far from complete in 2020 and will likely still be incomplete by now. Marjorie Macgown's case, for instance, was completed by Andrew in late 2020, and with strenuous efforts. I sincerely doubt, looking at who's left the GRG, the GRG has the skillset to perform the kind of validation that Andrew's performed in order to complete this case. For Pearl Lutzko, only ONE document - and a weak one at it - was known by the time I left in 2020, and I don't think much effort has been made to complete this case. Gloriam Bellerive-Hébert and Yvonne Lamoureux were missing mid-life documentation [i.e. proof of name change] and it's difficult to obtain this for Canadian cases, especially if you don't have the right contacts.

But, I suppose, the tipping point for me is the more recent validations of Leny Mackenbach and Ebe Tosi. Leny Mackenbach's case CANNOT be completed before 2025, for the simple fact that this documentation will only be made available by authorities for over a year after her death. She was unmarried, so mid-life evidence is lacking, and this becomes available once I [or anyone else] can apply for that documentation on 1 January 2025. Yet the GRG validated her "back in 2023." Impossible. And for Ebe Tosi, the GRG hasn't even bothered to obtain her birth certificate, which unequivocally states her date of birth as "14 July 1913." They simply followed her claim of 11 July 1913, assuming this would be reliable as she was born in Italy. (But sometimes, like with Arturo Licata, the evidence showed the claim was incorrect...)

All in all, it's taken me a long time to accept, but I can no longer trust GRG data. I should probably even remove some of the GRG validations from my list of "validated supercentenarians."

Overduidelijk misschien.


   
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Ell
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Posted by: @marco

First of all, seto2001, thank you for your elaborate post. As much as it pains me to say, I have to agree that there's a lot of truth to what you have analysed. Despite my resignation a couple of years ago and the ensuing witchhunt by some - but mostly one - of the remaining GRG members, I always hoped the best for the GRG, and genuinely wanted it to find solutions to its existing problems, in order to return to its former glory. However, in these past few months, but accelerated in these last couple of weeks, I have unfortunately had to come to the sad realisation that the GRG is no more, and that Robert's grip on the organisation - as he would NEVER have allowed for any of this nonsense - is no longer apparent/existent. I know others arrived at this conclusion much more quickly than I did, but hope had got the better of me.

 

Inasmuch as Robert certainly never rushed validations, it's important to note that he was a bully and also complicit in much of this farce. I'm not sure an organisation with a power-mad bully in charge that presents three validations a year is really much of an improvement.

 


   
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Marco
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Posted by: @ell

Inasmuch as Robert certainly never rushed validations, it's important to note that he was a bully and also complicit in much of this farce. I'm not sure an organisation with a power-mad bully in charge that presents three validations a year is really much of an improvement.

True. You'd almost forget that in all the consternation.

 

Overduidelijk misschien.


   
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AQ
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@ell I would totally agree.

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MrCatlord
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Seki Yoshida is now validated with a retroactive date of 8 November 2022, before she was publicly known

Although it's pointless to bother mentioning this anymore


   
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[Off-topic posts moved to this thread.]


   
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seto2001
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Just when you think things can't get any worse, they do. Recently, I've seen multiple people mentioning how they no longer trust GRG validations, and their recent actions probably won't help change anyone's mind.
 
[This time I will only use initials for SCs, to respect them and not involve their names in this mess]
 
First of all, something we've already gotten used to: Mrs. M.D. (USA), announced as validated by LQ on May 12, was validated by GRG with a more recent retroactive date of April 10, 2024, and this was announced shortly after her LQ validation was made public. Dozens of cases like this so far, all coincidences?
 
Now let's check some more problematic stuff.
 
1. Recent validations of Mrs. M.T.B. (Argentina) and Mrs. A.T. de E. (Panama) are concerning:
These two could not be validated with online documents alone, but a relative was credited for each of them. However, one of the credited relatives is an elderly lady, which raises doubts about her involvement in the validation. The family of the other one was not cooperative at all, even though we contacted multiple different relatives. But let's not jump to conclusions; perhaps they did contact the families?
 
However, we have reasonable doubts. Since the first post was made, we reached out to a relative credited for another validation. She never assisted the GRG with this validation—her name was in the credit list without her knowledge.
 
2. Validations of Japanese SCs:
In my previous post, I mentioned that there wasn't a single public source mentioning Mrs. M.H. (JPN, born 1911) and that she seemed to be made GRG-pending with no sources at all. Besides LQ, no public source had mentioned her. Since that post, they fully validated her age. They credited MHLW Japan, which, as mentioned before, never released anything related to this lady, as well as the GRG's director and second-in-command, who are not Japanese, do not speak the language, and have no way to contact the family. Additionally, they credited a Japanese fan who was never involved in research to such an extent that he would be able to find family contacts. But again, let's not jump to conclusions... or at least I would've said that if this lady's family was more cooperative. We were barely able to validate her, with so much efforts of our Japanese team.
 
They recently validated Mrs. N.K. (born 1911) after her date of birth was mentioned in a news report about her 113th birthday (which, interestingly, mentions the LQ visit to her, so it's possible they used information provided by LQ for their report). However, the application date for this lady is listed as September 21, 2023, which is when she was first mentioned in the media. At that time, her date of birth was not publicly known; LQ discovered it first via family contact. So, how exactly did they make someone pending without knowing her date of birth?
 
3. Possibly falsely crediting relatives for validations, and validating SCs with no/not enough documents?
Besides the three cases I mentioned earlier, there are more issues. A few days ago, they retroactively validated Mrs. N.V. of Croatia with the date of August 8, 2023. As someone who actually validated this lady with proper documentation, I can attest that it was not easy to obtain the evidence, even though I live in the same country. The two validators in this case are a researcher from Serbia, who.... you will read below about him... and the supercentenarian's granddaughter, who is Croatia's Minister of Culture. Am I the only one who finds it hard to believe they managed to reach out to her?
 
While I mention Croatia, they validated a Croatian-born American SC, Mrs. C.P., and the sole validator of this lady is the GRG's second-in-command, who lives in Poland. Can a Polish person easily get documents from Croatia?
 
Let's jump to Latin America and the recent validations of Mr. E.Q.L. and Mr. E.A.R.G., both of Colombia. Many years ago, we submitted some evidence for them, but not enough for validation. While Mr. EQL's case is in a slightly better situation because we provided more evidence, we only ever submitted a baptismal record for Mr. EARG. This was before we obtained mid- and late-life documents and conducted a sibling check. For both men, they credited LQ/LAS researcher Santiago and a presumably inactive GRG correspondent from Argentina.
 
4. Some dates of death are possibly wrong or incomplete?
One of their 2015 validations is T. Y. (JPN, listed as deceased on 1 Oct 2015), who was listed as anonymous until recently. This lady did not pass away on 1 October as far as we know. She passed away between 1 Oct and 1 Nov 2015, but there's no confirmation of her exact date of death. So 1 October is the earliest date she could've passed away on.
 
One of 2022 validations is K.H. (JPN), recently retroactively validated with 21 Jan 2022. This lady is listed as deceased as of 1 Oct 2019. However, the lady who passed away on that date is known to researchers as an anonymous lady of Ebina, and it was never confirmed if she was indeed K.H., or another lady with initials M.O.. 
 
Another strange validation in 2022 is Mr. K.I. (JPN), listed as deceased on 17 October 2010. His exact date of death was never confirmed by the Japanese research team.
 
Now, let's check the worse...
 
5. Validating a SC with forged evidence
While this cannot be confirmed 100% (as we don't know exactly what they used in the validation report), we experienced a very similar situation, so our doubts are legitimate.
 
They recently validated an Albanian lady, Mrs. Z.P.. Application date (pending status) is 10 May 2021, and the retroactive validation date is 5 Aug 2023. While I was at ESO in March 2022, we received an application for the validation of this lady. The only problem is that, after analyzing the documents, it turned out the birth and marriage registrations we received were forgeries, made by the very same person who is credited for her validation at the GRG. This person presumably has the ability to edit the new GRG website, as he was seen making news articles and being one of the most active members at the moment.
 
If true, this would be scandalous—a supercentenarian claimant validated with fake documents. The lady in question may not have even been age claimed.
They, of course, credited one relative as well, but as you can guess, we already have reasons to doubt that this relative helped in validation or if she would even be able to obtain early and mid-life documents (if those even exist).

LAS Member/Administrator (since January 2020)
ESO Correspondent for Croatia (since 2 August 2021)


   
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Ale76
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@seto2001 Thanks for sharing this post!

http://www.supercentenariditalia.it/persone-viventi-piu-longeve-in-italia.
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Marco
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Thank you for addressing all of this questionable GRG-behaviour. If all of this indeed turns out to be the case, it's mind-boggling how a once respected and respectable organisation has resorted to these strategies.

Overduidelijk misschien.


   
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