25 November, 2007

Terrorism or Tyranny?

Reading through the comments on the online petition against fingerprinting (click the signatures link if you want to see them), it's easy to see that many of the non-Japanese resident community are hurt, puzzled, shocked and outraged about this step taken by the Government of Japan to, as they say, combat terrorism. There are a few holes in that argument. As I said in a previous post, all the terrorism in Japan has been carried out by Japanese people, and since they are excepted from fingerprinting, its not likely that this legislation is going to catch any real terrorists.

The second problem is that it looks like Japan will not have the mandate of the government to continue its support of the war in Iraq, so the possibility of Japan angering anybody there is going to be reduced.

The third and most convincing thing to me, is that the whole terrorist threat is over-rated. It has been used by governments as a pretext to increase police powers. Because really, the government is not that worried about terrorism, as their targeting only non-Japanese proves. They are really interested in catching "dangerous criminals" like visa over-stayers, and establishing a data-bank of fingerprints that they can use in case any crimes may be committed.

It's lazy police-work. The police won't actually have to do anything when there's a crime committed, except scan through their computer database and try to find someone to arrest. Whether that person may have been somewhere perfectly innocently or not probably won't be considered, because once they have the "evidence" they will go into typical mode here, arrest the suspect and then question them for up to 23 days with no recourse to a lawyer, using tactics of sleep deprivation and psychological intimidation until they confess. Even the courts have been chiding police and overturning confessions lately citing unusually harsh questioning procedures.

That's what I'm afraid of anyway. With the idea in everyone's minds, stoked by the government and its tame pet, the media, that foreign crime is rising (it isn't) and non-Japanese are dangerous criminals, I don't think it's that far of a stretch.

And is "terrorism" really that big a problem, or is it just the scare tactic conservative governments are using to whip up an atmosphere where dualistic rather than critical thinking prevails and the average person lets their common sense fly out the window?

Take a look at this opinion by John Mueller (written in 2006):

Is There Still a Terrorist Threat?

And please sign the online petition to protest fingerprinting only non-Japanese.

52 comments:

  1. You sound like you are part of the revolution.

    He who exchanges liberty for security will have neither. - Ben Franklin

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  2. ......it's time to change the world.....we are feeding on our young.

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  3. This is the first I've heard of this issue. Scary!

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  4. Here's another Benjamin Franklin qoute I enjoy (more or less the same):
    Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
    Wise words.

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  5. I personally had planned to go to Japan within the next couple of months, but most likely will not due to this new prerequisite. I was against the US doing this as well (and wrote a whole slew of letters about it). I feel it is unnecessary. If immigration was handled better in general such measure would not necessary. Many people who are in a country "illegally" often entered on a legitimate visa, usually to work for a company that pays low wages, and do not leave. I think immigration and the companies that hire such people need to be held accountable. Why should vacationing travelers and legal residents of a nation be inconvenienced?

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  6. Click here to see it:

    Thanks for commenting and welcome.

    Maybe I am; I'm sure for people thinking for themselves rather than relying on government to do it for them. 'Cause the way they're going, I'm pretty sure any of us could do it better.:)

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  7. It sounds to me as though the Japanese government is still clinging to their xenophobic ways and you are right, it is offensive to non-Japanese residents. I think it is also lazy police work.

    Great article and congrats on being chosen as a Blog of Note.

    Chelle B.
    The Offended Blogger

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  8. Oberon:

    Welcome. Thank you for your comment.

    I guess that a metaphor, and it seems pretty apt if you mean that we are messing up the world pretty well for our children and grandchildren.

    I hope enough of us wake up and change ourselves, whether by taking action against global warming, or raising our voices for peace and food security for everyone. I personally feel responsible for our friends in the world who are not thriving, partly because of our actions. We need to make life good not just for ourselves but for everyone. There are no "enemies" on the earth, just we people together.

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  9. raw by default:

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.:)

    It is scary what's happening. And not only in Japan. Governments need to be told that freedom and human rights are more precious to us than Big Brother technology that will be used to surveil without providing any more real security. The illusion of absolute security may be attractive to some scared people but in truth there is no absolute security.

    It seems to me better security will be the result of making more friends in the world and stopping wars, than by making every place full of police, and targeting certain people for them to harass based on their ethcic origins.

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  10. Glad to see your blog on "Blogs of Note" The food looks great too, but most of all thanks for posting about this. I have linked your blog and the petition on my blog. Hope you don't mind, but you saved me a rant which was long overdue!

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  11. The trend is similar here in New Zealand although the xenophobia isn't as apparent (in general, I mean). With luck, the fiasco over the recent "terrorist" arrests will encourage more rational thinking, including recognising the truth of some of the good points you make in this post. Well said, vJ.

    BTW, did you realise you are a "Blog of Note"? Congratulations; well deserved. :^)

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  12. rreally, really great blog.

    if you are interested in music, check mine out: http://hellopeppermint.blogspot.com/

    feedback is GREATLY appreciated!

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  13. Vegetable, you are absolutely right. But, politicians will go aheaad and do it anyway, unless there are mass demonstrations by the Japenese people, which I doupt it will happen.

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  14. Good for your efforts. You help lots of people who comes overseas and visit their families in Japan. I am such person from Canada visiting Japanese relatives.
    On the side, I do like your blog and the pictures of food looks tasty.

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  15. When you mentioned that they are out to get the really bad terrorists like over stayers with expired visas, I thought that it was funny and it made me think about my sit. here in the philippines! If overstaying were a true form of terror that the philippine gov't is looking for, like you say the japanese gov't is, then I'd have been deported long ago! ha ha! Thank God it's not like that here!

    I think that you have a lot of issues there in japan that are localized to japan, and probably don't reflect how it is in all gov'ts. But, I can't argue with you...the 'war on terror' truly is a global thing that we all see wherever we turn our faces to! Geez!

    I'm not sure enough to say that it's totally overrated, but I do think that it's hostile towards people who are another race. There's such a fake front of 'untiy' and 'oneness' of races, but I think it's really not bridging the gap and bringing nations together. It's bringing nations together against other nations. It's creating great divides in the globe.

    We aren't uniting against terror we are driving far away from each other while huddling together inside our own kind.

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  16. Yes, interesting, indeed, thank you for this.

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  17. Looks like a worldwide trend to have all individuals identified and marked eventually for convenient monitoring.

    Nothing new in George Orwell's '1984' with Big Brother watching over everyone!

    When you can't fight the 'system' there is no choice but to learn to live within it and make the best out of it.

    Samuel Goh Kim Eng
    http://MotivationInMotion.blogspot.com
    Tue. 27th Nov. 2007.

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  18. I enjoyed the John Mueller article, thank you for posting it.

    The whole Japanese immigration finger printing thing is quite bizarre. I'm not sure how widely known it is that Accenture is behind it - and bid the government a mere Y100,000 for the contract..
    http://gyaku.jp/en/index.php?cmd=contentview&pid=000188

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  19. Hi there, Great blog. I also like your tips on reducing bags - i actually do that myself (here in US) and also admire other people/friends who do it! Hope the culture of reusing cloth bags comes back again - like it used to be 10-15 years back before the plastic mania came over!
    Cheers and I will be visiting your blog regularly now! I stumbled upon here from my dashboard!

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  20. Thank you so much everyone for your comments. I will take the time to answer them in more detail later.

    Somehow blogger swallowed some of your comments. If you don't see your comment here it's because, though I tried to publish it, it didn't go through and I couldn't get back to the comments page. I'm so sorry; I enjoyed every one of them. I remember one that I was trying to publish, was from Shaun. If you all want to try to come back and say hi again, or just leave your link, I'll try to take a look at all your blogs.

    It feels great to be part of this caring community. :)

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  21. And thank you someone for pointing out that the video was not "Bollywood" at all, but from a film. A little ignorance is a dangerous thing. :)

    Whoever the singer, and one of the missing comments identified him (which I'm very sorry was lost) I enjoyed the performance very much. That tune keeps playing around in my head, very addictive. Now if only I had those gorgeous gold boots. :)

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  22. Sorry, everyone, happy to report that I found the "lost" comments distributed among other posts. You can't tell that I usually don't have this many comments, can you? ;)

    Being a "Blog of Note" hasn't gone to my head; I'm usually this confused. :)

    Cheers, everyone.

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  23. The same thing is happening in the US and I fear that the One World Government is well on its way. I am not a kook in beliving every conspericy theroy. But I really believe that the world governments are preparing us for something.

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  24. Prosperity and security will not last long where there is no liberty for the individual. Only when the state protects the rights of the individual will the individuals be able to protect the state from invasion from outside enemies. When the state takes the away the rights of the individual in the name of providing prosperity and protecting security, it creates a state not worth saving and incapable of prosperity. You can’t protect freedom by taking it away from the people. There is no enemy so great we must sacrifice liberty and individual freedom to conquer it. In fact, our freedom from state intrusion is our greatest defense against all foes. The greatest threat to our freedom, prosperity and security are those who would trade our individual rights for false claims of protection and prosperity of stronger central government. – The Patriot Underground

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  25. Major problem is education. And a great movement that defend this idea comes from the same country. People all over the world are learning to respect each oher, live in peace and valor theirselves through the teachings of Makiguti, Toda and Daisaku Ikeda. Those are great minds whose thoughts "fight" against governments contradictions. They were chased and arrested but survived to create a society based on Budist ways that aims to achieve the world peace. Everything began with values of pre-school teaching methods and now is as great as any fellowship association arround the world. Personally I believe it is hard to change the old and the ones who live in the old ideia. But if you are young enough to change, teach the even younger arround you. Then hope will increase its power.

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  26. Welcome to everyone who is a new
    reader, or who just dropped in for a visit. I am so pleased to read your thoughtful words, and I think I'm learning a few things too. Thank you!


    garg the unzola (creative name!) Thanks for the quote; it bears repeating. :)


    critical region consulting:

    I agree about the "illegal workers". If Japan were a bit more friendly with its immigration and refugee policy a lot of people who came here from other places in Asia to find work wouldn't have to be illegal. And it's disgraceful that the government is not supervising the "trainees" here better. They are allowing abuses like low pay and poor working conditions which help Japanese businesses but don't protect the non-Japanese workers. The fact that the bosses of these people are generally wealthy is something that should make them ashamed, but doesn't seem to.

    chelle b.:

    Thank you for your support and the encouragement. :)

    Jax:

    Welcome. Always happy to see bloggers in Japan. Thank you for linking to the petition. The more voices we can get the more likely the government will have to take notice. So far they seem to be doing nothing more than smugly raising their eyebrows in interviews when they are questioned about the fingerprinting policy.

    About the long overdue rant; I understand because until a week or so ago I was one of the "scared sheep" I was talking about in a previous reply I made to a commenter. I was worried about not getting my visa renewed, but really I finally just got angry enough to overcome my fears. Come what may, from now I refuse to live like that. And you know, it feels much better. :)

    ableanswer:

    I'll check it out and see if it's something I want to support.

    Pete:

    Thanks for visiting again; I have spent so many hours on your wonderful blog that it's kind of like having a visiting celebrity. :)

    I hadn't heard about recent terrorist arrests. Is that in New Zealand?

    And thanks for the encouragement. It's really appreciated!

    Thank you, nina and lindwee and anonymous #2! Encouragement is always appreciated! :)

    Anonymous #1:

    I agree it's doubtful that Japanese people will demonstrate en masse, but some already joined the demonstration on November 20th in Tokyo outside the Justice Ministry. However, as in any protest movement I think we have to mainly "do it ourselves". There is now talk ( check out debito.org) of forming an association to promote the human rights of non-Japanese in Japan. I think it could be effective and hope it gets off the ground soon.

    Charity:

    That's so true. Unfortunately people seem to revert to their most defensive whenever they are threatened. Sometimes that might be a necessity, but in this case I think fear is being used as a weapon by governments on their own people. Keep them afraid and you can get them to agree to almost anything. :(

    Glad to hear that you are okay in the Philipines and nice to hear from someone else in Asia. :)

    Simona : You are most welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

    samuel goh kim eng:

    I agree that the world is getting more Orwellian every year. In Japan you literally can't move out of your house in some places without beng captured on multiple video cameras. And with fingerprinting and databases, soon governments will be able to tell you the names of your unborn children.

    But I don't agree that we just "have to live with it". Someone said that you get the government that you deserve, which means that without responsible citizens there won't be responsible government. Maybe we have been forgetting that and it's one reason we are in this mess.

    Chris:

    I'm not American so I wasn't aware of Accenture, but guess it is linked to the Enron scandal. Thank you for the link; I'll read more about it.

    Unfortunately profit seems to have been a motive in the Middle East war and now in Japan. Maybe the Americans sold this idea to Japan so their friends could make money? Not out of the realm of possibility, though depressing to think about.

    nari:

    Thanks so much for coming and I sure hope you do come back, maybe with some environmental hints for me.

    You can make presents of cloth bags to your friends at Christmas or their birthdays. If you're artistic you could paint something on the canvas with Acrylic paint, or just hunt around second-hand stores for unique and cool ones.

    Anyway, I applaud your efforts in the UK. Keep up the good work! :)

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  27. What a great blog men... It makes me hungry every time.

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  28. blog of note, eh, well it will certainly cut down the tourism, moronic eh or what? IMHO

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  29. I love Japan and everthing's Japan. One time i will go there and try to eat that creppy DAHL-LING!

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  30. Hi, wow! A blog of note! Cool.

    What a nice looking blog. The food looks delicious and right up my alley. I'm not a vegetarian but I am trying to get my son to eat more and to eat as healthy as possible with what he does eat.
    We're in Osaka by the way.

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  31. Congrats on the"blog of note".See i noticed too :)
    Have not read everything yet...but i noticed the curry and bollywood..which was enough to send you a note. Hey do buzz me if you need some South Indian veg recipes.But only if you are ready to have a coconut time.

    Takecare
    M

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  32. r2k:

    Thank you.Coming from "the expert on such matters and all other matters" I take that as a compliment.

    Just had a quick look at two of your blogs "R2K" and "The Toilets of the World". There are enough quirky and interesting things there
    to keep me reading and laughing for awhile. I'll be back to read some more. :)

    moronic:

    My hope is for the government to change this law before it comes to that.

    jack:

    Japan has a lot of good points and I do hope you come. Just hope the government decides to be more welcoming. I'm not sure what "creppy" is, but assure you the dahl tastes good. You won't find it in Japan, though, unless you come to my house. Try cooking it at home. :)

    blooming:

    Welcome! Always really happy to see other bloggers in Japan. If you want something for kids, I'd try the Tomato and Coconut curry and add the larger amount of oil. The coconut milk makes it creamy and mild, which should be good for kiddies.

    They might like the chocolate pudding, too. :)

    maxine;

    I always need more recipes for Indian food. Love it!

    Thanks for the kind words.:)

    And I love coconut.

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  33. It is nt only in Japan but most developed countries seem to be doing it...some developing countries too...not good at all...

    and the food pictures on the right are really mouth watering stuff...great photos and food tutorials on this blog...

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  34. I agree that "terrorism" has always been used very loosely. Especially because many things that countries do subversively can be counted as terrorist tactics. In history the victorious get to revise "terrorism" as being utilitarian or doing what was required.
    In this day and age of information though I find it appalling that things like this have gotten so out of hand with no intervention on anyones part. Wether its the indifferent Japanese, the pushy Americans, or any other political party.
    This act is just a small step in a way that pushes Japans good rep down in my view. I've always viewed Japan as something else but hearing about this saddens me as there is really no reason for something like this to occur. Especially as the terrorism occurs from inside Japan and not outside.
    In short,
    Interested agreement

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  35. I never hear about that. But the blog is great.

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  36. Fantastic blog entry! I have lived in Japan (Osaka) for four years and am engaged to a lovely Japanese woman ( so i am here to stay indefinitely). I have to agree with most everything you said in this very well-worded and lucid entry to your wonderful blog.

    Just for discussions sake, though, i would also like to point out that very often English speakers or "Westerners" of all languages tend to be a bit ethnocentric in their view of other "gaijin" in Japan. I think that the government is taking a hefty misstep in its policies with the whole fingerprinting program BUT one should also be aware that this "lazy policing" is in fact mostly aimed at entrants to Japan from other Asian countries (from which there is more and more illegal immigration and human-smuggling, as well as illegal importing/exporting and from where most of the drugs and guns in Japan arrive).
    I hope that the police do not abuse this new information database that they are creating, but history tells us that they will. It will also serve to further alienate other Asian governments in a time when Japan really needs to be working hard to make friends in the Asian region.
    Keep up the excellent blogging about food and other topics. I enjoy this blog very much! Though i am not vegetarian myself i was amazed to find how difficult it was for my Western friends who are when they arrived in Japan, a country in which would have expected to be much easier to find animal-less products. =) Keep up the good work!

    -ian.

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  37. well, what can we do? people may want to look good for others. it's about image. if you can't be it, look like it.

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  38. Hi VegatableJ,
    Some very interesting comments. I have to agree with your comments with regard terroism. Governments in general overstate the risks for their own individual reasons. 'At least they can be seen to be taking any threats seriously!'
    Take a look at my blog, I would welcome any comments!
    dave-caswell.blogspot.com

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  39. indyank:

    Thanks for the nice words; please try some of the recipes. I'm still waiting for some feedback. :)

    _Too many_ countries jumping on the blind-leading-the-blind bandwagon.

    Chengo:

    Very cute cat avatar! Laughing cats, a nice idea.

    Thanks for your savvy comments. Yes, absolutely the victors re-write history to their liking. They become the heroes and everyone else the trash. Wrong! As long as some people are recognizing that, we MAY be safe.

    Hi, yourself, anonymous.

    Thanks, g-mo!

    ian/symian:

    Thanks for the encouragement and thanks for making so many great points in your comment!

    You know I've been here awhile so there are things about Japan that I love, including many of my students, the farmers at my local market who remind me of the people in the little village I grew up in, teachers at my local school, shopkeepers around town, the wonderful temples and shrines and the good food. The reason I'm upset about this policy and the discrimination I see here is in part because of that love. I really believe that the Japanese are doing themselves a disservice when they don't take more of an interest in having an active voice in what the government is doing. And I think they need to be more accepting and more "multicultural" in the main.

    But I don't blame everything on the people; a conservative government has been in power here too long and with little opposition thinks it can do just about anything. The recent pension scandal let them know they have to watch out when they go into the public's pocket, but they have not yet learned the meaning of "responsible" government , in my opinion.

    I sure hope this issue will rally people so that they can have a stronger voice in their own governance for the betterment of all.

    And I know that there must be people coming in here with drugs and guns and such from wherever, BUT there are regular policing methods used in other countries to stop them. Not sure that fingerprinting will catch any but the innocent. :)

    Hope you will use a recipe or two when your vegetarian friends visit.:)

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  40. It's interesting that the government's official line includes those who have been expelled from the country in the past, but when asked about it, government officials always cite terrorism.

    At least they have netted a few previous visa violators. Hey, they're criminals too!

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  41. This is the first I have heard. U would have thought that Japan is more tolerant & less discrimminating, but probably not the case.
    Discrimination exists in some form or the other in every country of the world, will we ever overcome it?

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  42. Dear Ms.Kagawa,
    Thanks for posting many of Vegan recipes on the blog. I will try some of them soon... I also like your comments on recycling.
    Thanks,
    Valluru

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  43. Tyranny it is, all that can be done is to raise more people's consiousness to a level that they recognise it as such and take action to prevent it from happening. Thanks for helping do that :D. And thanks for the great recipes!

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  44. i think i will try some of yr recipes....especially the one for healing tea which sounds good...right now i am experimenting with teas which do not require milk...thanks,

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  45. Kenni:

    I don't really understand your comment,
    but thanks for stopping by.

    david john caswell:

    Welcome. I took a brief look at your blog; I'll be back to read in more depth. Thanks for your comment. I think they are taking threats seriously, but to me what they are doing is not going to stop any but casual terrorists. But probably they will succeed in registering the world for the pleasure of police perusal. Is that something we really want to support?

    thomas:

    Thanks for your comment.Probably they had those people on a list already, and the fingerprints had nothing to do with it. I hear they are not processed in real time anyway, but stockpiled for later.

    Yeah, anything to seem like they are catching "dangerous visa-overstayer criminals"(sarcasm intended).

    anr:

    I sure hope so! If the commenters on this blog are any indication, I think there's some hope in the world. :)

    Valluru:

    Thanks for your kind words, I sure hope you cook something and then come back and tell me if you liked it or if you had any trouble. I always need suggestions!

    Kagawa is the prefecture I live in , but I don't mind being called Ms. Kagawa. :)

    andy baird:

    Thanks for your thanks! I appreciate it. :)

    umsy:

    I've found the healing tea to be really good for low energy, getting a cold, or upset stomach. It's pretty spicy. Hope you like it and thanks for stopping by.

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  46. yammy blog! i learned a lot on your blog.

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  47. marilyn:

    Hope so. Thanks for your comment. :)

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