Tag Archives: rock

The climate fix you’ve been waiting for: Rock dust?

Scientists have been trying to figure out how to make use of one of nature’s tricks for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with rock and rain. As rain washes away tiny particles of rock, newly exposed minerals bind with carbon, transforming carbon dioxide into new chemicals. It’s a simple combination of basic chemistry and erosion.

We can speed the process up by speeding up erosion, crushing tons and tons of rock and spreading it across the earth’s surface, if we had the money to do it and a vast area where inhabitants don’t mind trucks covering everything with a layer of rock dust once a year. Farms are the most likely candidate for such a massive undertaking, because farmers already do some incidental advanced weathering as a byproduct of “liming”, where they apply crushed limestone to fields when their soils become too acidic.

A paper just published in Nature provides the most detailed calculation to date of just how much carbon this technique, known as enhanced weathering, could capture and how much it would cost. Deploying the practice worldwide could remove 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year — about a third of what the United States emits each year — and would run between $60 and $200 per ton of carbon to apply all that rock dust on fields, varying by country. It would be cheaper in places like Indonesia and India that have better conditions for weathering (warm, seasonally wet weather), and low labor and energy costs. The countries with the greatest potential to deploy enhanced weathering are, the researchers note, “coincidentally the highest CO2 fossil fuel emitters (China, USA, and India).”

One of the scientists involved in the study, James Hanson, the climate Cassandra and Columbia University climatologist, said in an email that he became interested in weathering because it can trap carbon for thousands of years. Hansen said other approaches, “such as reforestation, are important, but require management to assure that the carbon sink is maintained.”

The researchers estimate that if the United States spread rock dust on half the country’s farmland it could capture 420 million tons of carbon dioxide, at an annual cost of $225 for every American, or $176 for every ton of carbon. That’s a higher price tag than some other solutions. Building solar farms, for instance, currently cuts emissions at a rate of less than $40 per ton. But because the world is failing to slash emissions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that we will need to use “negative emissions,” expensive techniques to suck carbon out of the atmosphere, to avoid the most dangerous consequences of climate change.

Farmers stand to benefit, too. In theory, spreading much more rock dust on fields could improve soil health and crop yields. And that could help farmers get out of poverty and increase world food production at the same time they’re soaking up carbon. And, as with any major attempt at geoengineering our atmosphere, there’s likely to unforeseen pitfalls, and unexpected benefits, along the way.

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The climate fix you’ve been waiting for: Rock dust?

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The Rock From Mars – Kathy Sawyer


The Rock From Mars

A True Detective Story on Two Planets

Kathy Sawyer

Genre: Astronomy

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: February 14, 2006

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

In this riveting book, acclaimed journalist Kathy Sawyer reveals the deepest mysteries of space and some of the most disturbing truths on Earth. The Rock from Mars is the story of how two planets and the spheres of politics and science all collided at the end of the twentieth century. It began sixteen million years ago. An asteroid crashing into Mars sent fragments flying into space and, eons later, one was pulled by the Earth’s gravity onto an icy wilderness near the southern pole. There, in 1984, a geologist named Roberta Score spotted it, launching it on a roundabout path to fame and controversy. In its new home at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the rock languished on a shelf for nine years, a victim of mistaken identity. Then, in 1993, the geochemist Donald “Duck” Mittlefehldt, unmasked the rock as a Martian meteorite. Before long, specialist Chris Romanek detected signs of once-living organisms on the meteorite. And the obscure rock became a rock star. But how did nine respected investigators come to make such startling claims about the rock that they triggered one of the most venomous scientific battles in modern memory? The narrative traces the steps that led to this risky move and follows the rippling impact on the scientists’ lives, the future of space exploration, the search for life on Mars, and the struggle to understand the origins of life on Earth. From the second the story broke in Science magazine in 1996, it spawned waves of excitement, envy, competitive zeal, and calculation. In academia, in government agencies, in laboratories around the world, and even in the Oval Office–where an inquisitive President Clinton had received the news in secret– players of all kinds plotted their next moves. Among them: David McKay, the dynamic geologist associated with the first moon landing, who labored to achieve at long last a second success; Bill Schopf of UCLA, a researcher determined to remain at the top of his field and the first to challenge McKay’s claims; Dan Goldin, the boss of NASA; and Dick Morris, the controversial presidential adviser who wanted to use the story for Clinton’s reelection and unfortunately made sure it ended up in the diary of a $200-an-hour call girl. Impeccably researched and thrillingly involving, Kathy Sawyer’s The Rock from Mars is an exemplary work of modern nonfiction, a vivid account of the all-too-human high-stakes drive to learn our true place in the cosmic scheme. From the Hardcover edition.

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The Rock From Mars – Kathy Sawyer

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Live From New York It’s…(The End Of The Season Of) Saturday Night Live!

Mother Jones

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Saturday Night Live has been around forever. The first season wasn’t even on TV, it was performed in the fields, where people lived for millennia prior to the advent of structures. Since then the NBC sketch show has experienced hills & valleys in terms of both relevance and quality. Though the jury on the latter is still deliberating, with regard to the former it seems pretty safe to say 2017 is a peak. Everyone watches because of Trump & co, a clownish bunch who are often hard to distinguish from satire in life but somehow still laid bare in comedy.

The internet has done lots of fun and wonderful things but it’s also done bad and terrible things and, most confusingly, things that are both good and bad. Facebook has turned the world into news consumers. That is both good and bad. Good: More readers of news! Bad: No one can escape the news. So these weeks we’ve had of breaking news interrupting developing news interrupting holy shit omg news, and all of it very serious and terrible and dramatic and unreal, make everyone exhausted. They’re exhausting. So we all gather around basic cable together, like our parents and their parents before us, for some cathartic jokes about Trump and his merry band of incompetent kleptocrats.

One of my favorite lines is from the Hayden Carruth poem Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey. “Here we are now in the White Tower, leaning on one another, too tired to go home.”

It us.

Anyway, tonight is the season finale!

The Rock is the host and Katy Perry, who I still can’t hear without getting sad about the election, is the musical guest.

The cold open had the Trumps (and Death?) singing Hallelujah.

It was a call back to this:

&lt;br /&gt;

Then the Rock said he was going to run for president with Tom Hanks.

Remember a few inches above this when I was like, “Death?” That was supposed to be Steve Bannon in the cold open. It’s a recurring thing. I forgot!

Here’s an earlier skit with Bannon as Death:

Then Alec Baldwin really took his Trump impersonation to a whole new level:

Just kidding. That is a scene from the 90s thriller Malice.

This is the real clip from tonight. Alec does a perfect Trump impersonation.

This post is being updated.

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Live From New York It’s…(The End Of The Season Of) Saturday Night Live!

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Which Type of Mulch is Best for Your Garden?

Next time youre in nature, try looking at the ground. Its usually covered in old leaves, fallen branches, rocks and other debris. This layer is vital for soil health. It helps regulate moisture, provides nutrients, suppresses weeds, prevents erosion and supports resident microbes and insects.

You can recreate this effect by mulching any bare areas in your garden. Mulch is essentially anything that covers your soil. And its meant to stay on top of soil as a buffer, not to be dug in like compost or fertilizer. Organic types of mulch will break down and release nutrients over time, but keep them on the soil surface for the most benefit.

There are many different types of mulch you can use. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your site. These are some of the most common mulches available.

Wood Chips and Shredded Bark

Wood chips are primarily branches and wood fiber cut into small pieces. Whereas, shredded bark is only bark with no wood pulp. Both make excellent mulch in areas youd like to keep clean, such as under strawberries or other low-growing crops. You can also use them in pathways or around perennial plantings.

Wood chips retain water better and break down faster than shredded bark. This means that chips may be a better choice in areas like a vegetable garden where you want more moisture and nutrients. Bark may do better in long-term areas where you want better drainage, such as underneath shrubs.


Covering the soil with large rocks counts as mulch. Rock gardens may look dry, but the moisture stored under rocks helps sustain the surrounding plants.

Rocks will also capture heat from the sun and create warm microclimates around them, which can be very helpful in cooler regions. Rocks can also prevent erosion when used on a slope.

Yard Debris

Dont be too quick to clean up your yard. Lawn clippings can be left on the lawn to compost in place, or gathered and spread over your garden beds. You can do the same with any plant trimmings, especially leafy greens from vegetables or flowering plants. These can be left next to the plants to cover the soil and allow the nutrients to be recycled.

Fall leaves are a great opportunity to add extra organic matter to your beds. They also help keep the soil warm and safe over winter.

If you have your own compost pile, your finished compost can be used as mulch. Depending on how rich your compost is, you may want to spread a small amount throughout your garden and then cover it with a less nutritious mulch like dried leaves.

Gravel or Pebbles

These small stones are typically used for pathways or driveways. Unlike pavement or cement, they allow water to pass through to the soil underneath. Like larger rocks, gravel and pebbles will absorb heat during the day and release it at night.

Its best to contain gravel or pebbles within a frame or solid edging material. They often scatter into your garden beds or lawn if theyre left loose. This is annoying for bed maintenance, and can be a hazard if your lawnmower catches and throws loose gravel.

Wine Cork Mulch

Almost 13 billion wine corks are produced worldwide every year. Unfortunately, many of these end up in landfills. A much better use for corks is to repurpose them as mulch.

Wine corks are a natural material made from bark of the cork oat tree, native to the Mediterranean. Corks are dried and compressed to be water resistant, so they need to be broken into smaller pieces to make a good mulch. These are full instructions on how to make your own wine cork mulch.


Mulching is a great way to reuse newspaper. Newspaper blocks sunlight from reaching the soil, so its excellent for controlling weeds. These are some helpful tips on how to use newspaper mulch in your garden.

Newspapers that are only printed with black ink are safe to use. The black ink contains a carbon-based compound thats biodegradable. On the other hand, colored inks may contain harmful metals or other compounds, such as lead or sulfur. Not all inks are harmful, but its hard to know exactly whats in each one. Its best to avoid any colored flyers and inserts from your newspapers.


Straw is the dry stalks left-over from grain crops after the grains have been harvested. Not to be confused with hay, which is usually a mix of grasses, legumes and other plants that are grown to feed to animals. Hay includes all the seeds from these plants, which would create a huge weed problem if you used it as mulch.

Straw will have less seeds in it than hay, although some of the grain and other possible weed seeds will be present. Its good organic matter and will provide lots of carbon to your soil as it breaks down.

Although, avoid using straw if you have any rodents on your property. Rodents like mice, voles or rats love nesting in straw and will make homes in your mulch.

Landscape Fabrics

The most common landscape fabric is made from woven polypropylene, which is a type of plastic. Its typically laid directly on top of soil. The fact its woven allows water to go through the fabric while providing a solid barrier to prevent weed growth. You can cut individual holes in the fabric where you want to plant shrubs, trees or other plants.

Other mulches can be put on top of the fabric to make it look better, such as bark mulch or gravel. Although, weeds often take root in between the mulch and the fabric as the fabric breaks down over time. These weeds can be difficult to remove in older landscapes as they become entangled in the fabric.

Synthetic Lawns

Many mulches are good in garden beds, but what if you have an area you want to keep open for recreation or other uses? Thats where synthetic lawns work well. They dont require the water and maintenance of a real grass lawn, and they still provide the benefit of protecting your soil.

A synthetic or artificial lawn is made from different types of plastic materials to create a mat that looks and feels like real grass. It can be shaped to fit any area you need to fill.

Living Mulch

If you have a bare edge in your garden, try planting something low-growing to fill the space. Perennials like thyme, sedum, rock cress, snow in summer or candytuft can make excellent ground covers that will return every year. Annuals like alyssum, lobelia, begonia, bacopa or petunias will bloom all season as well as cover your soil.

10 Bee-Friendly Plants That are Easy to Grow
9 Beneficial Bugs & Insects to Welcome in the Garden
12 Ways to Get Rid of Aggressive Weeds Without Resorting to Roundup

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Which Type of Mulch is Best for Your Garden?

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The fracking industry just got more tech savvy

Shale 2.0

The fracking industry just got more tech savvy

By on 3 Jun 2015 6:43 pmcommentsShare

It looks like the U.S. fracking industry is becoming a little less “Wild West” and little more West Coast Silicon Valley. And no — I can’t decide which one sounds worse, either.

True, low oil prices recently brought the industry to its knees: The number of rigs nationwide fell by more than half since October of last year. But at the same time, the industry has been getting smarter about how it operates. Here’s the scoop from MIT Technology Review:

Much of the new technological innovation in shale comes from a simple fact: practice makes perfect. Tapping hydrocarbons in “tight,” geologically complex formations means drilling lots and lots of wells—many more than in conventional oil fields. Drilling thousands of wells since the shale revolution began in 2006 has enabled producers—many of them relatively small and nimble—to apply lessons learned at a much higher rate than their counterparts in the conventional oil industry.

Some innovations in fracking hardware include “walking rigs” that move from hole to hole, better drill bits, remote-controlled drilling capabilities, and advanced fracking liquids, Technology Review reports. Big data — like an annoying party guest who has something deep and insightful to say about everything — has also entered the picture:

Thanks to new sensing capabilities, the volume of data produced by a modern unconventional drilling operation is immense—up to one megabyte per foot drilled, according to Mills’s “Shale 2.0” report, or between one and 15 terabytes per well, depending on the length of the underground pipes. That flood of data can be used to optimize drill bit location, enhance subterranean mapping, improve overall production and transportation efficiencies—and predict where the next promising formation lies. Many oil companies are now investing as much in information technology and data analytics as in old-school exploration and production.

And with rigorous data analysis comes another important life lesson: how to take a chill pill. Here’s more from Technology Review:

At the same time, producers have learned when to pause: more than half the cost of shale oil wells comes in the fracking phase, when it’s time to pump pressurized fluids underground to crack open the rock. This is known as well completion, and hundreds of wells in the U.S. are now completion-ready, awaiting a rise in oil prices that will make them economical to pump. Several oil company executives in recent weeks have said that once oil prices rebound to around $65 a barrel (the price was at $64.92 per barrel as of June 1), another wave of production will be unleashed.

We’ll know these fracking companies have gone full-on Silicon Valley when they ditch their old names (Pioneer Natural Resources Co., EOG Resources, etc.) for something a bit more trendy — drlr? FrackIt?

Big Data Will Keep the Shale Boom Rolling

, MIT Technology Review.



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The fracking industry just got more tech savvy

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Everything Changed on 9/11, Starting With Ted Cruz’s Musical Taste

Mother Jones

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During a segment of CBS’s This Morning show, Senator Ted Cruz attempted to explain how the attacks on September 11 moved him to shun the soulless genre of rock music and pick up country:

You know, music is interesting. I grew up listening to classic rock and I’ll tell you sort of an odd story. My music tastes changed on 9/11. And it’s a very strange—I actually, intellectually, find this very curious, but on 9/11, I didn’t like how rock music responded. And country music collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me and I have to say, it—just as a gut level, I had an emotional reaction that says, “These are my people.” And so ever since 2001 I listen to country music, but I’m an odd country music fan because I didn’t listen to it prior to 2001.

September 11, the day the music died for our only declared presidential candidate and now the phoniest dude you’ll run into at a country concert. This is going to be a wildly entertaining road to 2016.

(h/t Slate)


Everything Changed on 9/11, Starting With Ted Cruz’s Musical Taste

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A Mesmerizing, Freewheeling JD McPherson Recaptures the Golden Era of Rock and Roll

Mother Jones

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JD McPherson
Let the Good Times Roll

More than a half-century after the original golden era of rock and roll, it can be hard to remember just how disruptive—even dangerous—early stars like Eddie Cochran and Little Richard seemed with their crazy beats and oversize personalities.

Though no revivalist by any stretch, Oklahoma’s JD McPherson does a swell job of recapturing that freewheeling sense of abandon on his terrific second album. Not nearly as predictable as the generic title suggests, Let the Good Times Roll gets its sizzle from a rip-snorting backing band, snappy original songs and, most important, McPherson’s fiery vocals, which find him howling one moment and pleading the next, as if barely able to maintain control. Recalling the Blasters at their peak, he’s a mesmerizing showman with a timeless gift for deliciously greasy sounds.

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A Mesmerizing, Freewheeling JD McPherson Recaptures the Golden Era of Rock and Roll

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Could this rock save the planet?

Could this rock save the planet?

10 Nov 2014 4:02 PM



Could this rock save the planet?


Meet olivine, a greenish rock that is basically the Clark Kent of the mineral world: It may look boring, but it has a secret superpower. Specifically, it can pull CO2 from the air and sequester it — nothing to sniff at when facing down the supervillain of our age: anthropogenic climate change.

Retired geochemist Olaf Schuiling has spent decades advocating for using the abundant mineral as a solution to our climate change woes — by carpeting as many surfaces as possible in the stuff, from playgrounds to roads to beaches, we could allegedly remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to slow the rate of climate change. According to one analysis, one ton of olivine can dispose of approximately two-thirds of a ton of CO2 — impressive, but that’s still a LOT of rock when we’re talking billions of tons of CO2 a year.

“Let the earth help us to save the earth,” Schuiling says, which makes for a catchy quip, but may not count as a scientific endorsement; Schuiling’s skeptics point out that the olivine cure would take 20 years to start making a difference, and likely account for a slew of new emissions from mining and distributing tons of rock over the surface of the planet. Schuiling rejoins:

Industry extracts and transports huge quantities of coal, oil and gas, he notes, so if society decided that geoengineering was necessary, why couldn’t it do the same with olivine? The annual amount needed, equivalent to about 3,000 Hoover Dams, is available around the world and is within the limits of modern large-scale mining. “It is not something unimaginable,” [Dr. Schuiling] said.

Of course, other geoengineering solutions might be easier to implement — say, spewing clouds of sulphur into the air to imitate volcanic cooling, or fertilizing the ocean to pull CO2 out of the air with a massive algal bloom — but they also hold way more potential for disaster. (As in, “Oh you liked your oceans alive and full of food? Oops.”)

In any case, Schuiling’s proselytizing has caught on in the Netherlands, where those in the know can spot green-sanded paths and gardens throughout certain cities. A Dutch company called greenSand (I bet you can guess why) has sprung up to provide Spanish-mined olivine to enterprising DIY geoengineers in the Netherlands. And more research is being done about the efficacy of fighting climate change with sandboxes:

At the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research in Yerseke, on an arm of the North Sea, Francesc Montserrat, an ecologist, is investigating the idea of spreading olivine on the seabed. Not far away in Belgium, researchers at the University of Antwerp are studying the effects of olivine on crops like barley and wheat.

The National Academy of Sciences is expected to release a report on geoengineering sometime this year, but I’d bet it will still include more questions than answers. Meanwhile, the things we know about climate change — that we caused it, and will continue to do so until we drastically cut emissions — are pretty straightforward.

I guess all I’m trying to say is that if we really want to address the problems of human-caused climate change, it might not make the most sense to start with a magical rock garden.

Climate Tools Seek to Bend Nature’s Path

, New York Times.

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Who Makes Those Top 40 Piano Covers You Hear on American Airlines? We Found Out

Mother Jones

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If you’ve been on an American Airlines flight in the last few years, you may have noticed that the airline pipes in piano renditions of popular songs pre-takeoff and post-landing. “We typically offer slower piano music during the boarding process and more upbeat piano music upon arrival,” notes an airline spokesman. Interestingly, American is one of the few domestic airlines that play any music at all—much less these somewhat Muzak-y offerings.

Most of these covers were produced by a Minneapolis-based group called the Piano Tribute Players. According to their group’s website, they are “a diverse group of talented musicians devoted to transforming the music of rock and pop’s biggest acts of the past and present into unique piano arrangements.” To say that they are prolific would be an understatement: The Players have produced hundreds of tribute albums, spanning all eras and genres. It is, without doubt, the only group that has covered both Lil’ Wayne and the soundtrack to “Rent.”

It turns out that their covers, which run the gamut of Top 40 past and present, are the subject of contentious and often snarky debate among some of the airline’s regular passengers—there is a long thread devoted to the subject on FlyerTalk, a popular travel site. Here are a few of their thoughts, along with some tracks that have been in heavy rotation on American flights recently.

“The AA piano rips are dreadful. The worst one, from a mire of inadequacy, is OneRepublic’s ‘If I Lose Myself,’ truly horrific and I simply can’t believe the lead singer would have authorized his work to be massacred in this fashion.” —corporate-wage-slave

“I did not enjoy hearing “Blurred Lines,” by Robin Thicke. “What a crappy song to choose!” —FriendlySkies

“I really despise the music. Classical would be much nicer. The piano covers are actually very depressing.” —jmc1K

“Both times deplaning I heard “Lights” by Ellie Goulding. Could not figure out why, but it was a nice soothing touch after a long flight.” —dadaluma83

“I like the music…Guess I’m in the minority.” —jaimelannister

OneRepublic and Blink-182 did not respond to my requests for comment.

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Who Makes Those Top 40 Piano Covers You Hear on American Airlines? We Found Out

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Quote of the Day: Honda Is Keeping Car Thievery Alive

Mother Jones

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From Josh Barro:

One of the factors that keeps car theft going in the United States is the reliability of old Hondas.

Think about the advertising possibilities! Hondas are built so tough that thieves want them no matter how old they are. If you’re wondering what this is all about, Barro is explaining why car thefts in New York City have declined by 96 percent over the past couple of decades. In a nutshell, the answer lies in high-tech ignitions:

The most important factor is a technological advance: engine immobilizer systems, adopted by manufacturers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These make it essentially impossible to start a car without the ignition key, which contains a microchip uniquely programmed by the dealer to match the car.

Criminals generally have not been able to circumvent the technology or make counterfeit keys….Instead, criminals have stuck to stealing older cars. You can see this in the pattern of thefts of America’s most stolen car, the Honda Accord. About 54,000 Accords were stolen in 2013, 84 percent of them from model years 1997 or earlier, according to data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

This has created a virtuous circle. Only old cars are vulnerable, and they aren’t worth much. That makes it less lucrative to run illegal chop shops, which makes it harder for thieves to sell their cars. This in turn allows police forces to concentrate more resources on the small number of thefts (and chop shops) remaining.

In any case, it turns out that Hondas remain the most stolen cars in America because they’re still worth something even if they were built before 1997. Looked at a certain way, that’s a badge of pride. In another decade, though, even Hondas from the Seinfeld era won’t be worth stealing. And that will put car thieves almost entirely out of business.

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Quote of the Day: Honda Is Keeping Car Thievery Alive

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