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The Taxi News for Friday April 18, 2014

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Cabbie beaten in St. John's, forefinger and thumb severed

CBC News Newfoundland & Labrador - (Canada)

CBC News Posted: Apr 16, 2014 11:24 AM NT

A taxi driver who had been attending university in St. John's since arriving from Pakistan was viciously attacked by a passenger he picked up last weekend.

Police have charged Lucas O'Keefe, 33, of Mount Pearl with assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats in the attack of a part-time Co-op Taxi driver.

The driver is working on a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering at Memorial University.

According to Co-op Taxi general manager Doug McCarthy, the cabbie picked up a man in the downtown area Sunday around 2 a.m. and drove him to the Hamlyn Road area in the city's west end.

McCarthy said the man got out of the cab without paying his bill, and went to a house and started kicking the door.
Doug McCarthy

Co-op Taxi general manager Doug McCarthy says one of his drivers was savagely beaten on Sunday morning. (CBC)

The driver called the cab company to ask for some advice and was told to contact police. - more....

See also:  Taxi driving dangers escalating, says St. John's cabbie

Cab drivers worried about being targeted after murder in south St. Louis

KPLR-TV Channel 11 - (St. Louis, Missouri)

Posted on: 7:23 am, April 17, 2014, by Andy Banker

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– A murder case has shaken St. Louis’ international community:  a cab driver shot through the glass alongside his front door.

There’s now a $2,000 reward in the case that has cab drivers worried they’re being targeted.

St. Louis homicide detectives do have leads, but they’re still asking for tips in the finding the killer of Ibsa Alemu, 29.

“He’s very nice, hard-working, wanted to make a dream.  We miss him,” said Alex Asfaw, Alemu’s boss at Metro Cab.  “He’s a very nice person.  Maybe somebody followed him.  Nobody knows what happened.  It’s sad, very sad.  He has 2 kids you know.”

Friends say Alemu moved to St. Louis from his native Ethiopia about 7 or 8 years ago.

He was fixing up a house on Holly Hills in South St. Louis for his wife and two young daughters.

Around 4 o’clock Saturday morning, someone killed him there, shooting him through the front door glass.

His cab is still parked in the driveway. - more....

Cab driver found unconscious in driveway

WAVY-TV Channel 10 - (Portsmouth, Virginia)

By Erin Kelly Published: Monday, April 14, 2014, 12:55 am

COLINGTON ISLAND, N.C. (WAVY) – The Dare County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday it was investigating the possible assault of a cab driver on Colington Island.

Around 1:30 a.m., Dare County 911 received a call for an unconscious man down in a driveway at a residence on Harbour View Drive in Colington Harbour. Deputies and units from Dare County EMS and the Colington Fire Department responded.

Neighbor Jay Golliday said he saw the man on the ground when he got home early Sunday morning.

“People over there came and helped him,” Golliday said. “They were trying to ask him what his name was, trying to get him to pay attention.”

According to Lt. Kevin Duprey, Mark Harvey, 53, of Kill Devil Hills was scheduled to pick someone up in the Colington Harbour neighborhood an hour earlier, near where neighbors found him, but he never made it there. He said Harvey works for Atlantic Cab Company. Employees from the company declined to comment Sunday. - more....

Restaurant Owner, Son Plead Guilty in D.C. Taxi Bribe Case

WRC-TV Channel 4 - (Washington D.C.)

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014

A politically connected restaurant owner from Washington's Chinatown neighborhood and his son pleaded guilty to making illegal payments to the head of the city's taxicab commission.

Anthony “Tony” Cheng Sr. and his son, Anthony Cheng Jr., entered their pleas Wednesday in federal court. The younger Cheng pleaded guilty to a felony charge of payment of a gratuity to a public official, and the elder Cheng pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of making an offer of unauthorized compensation.

Federal prosecutors say the Chengs gave $1,500 in cash to the chairman of the taxicab commission for help starting a taxi business that never opened. The chairman was working as an FBI informant at the time.

The Chengs could each receive up to six months in prison under federal guidelines.

S.F. taxi official steps down over YouTube videos

SFGate - (San Francisco, California)

Posted on Tuesday, April 15 at 7:03pm | By Kale Williams

Trevor Johnson, a board member of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association, has stepped down after videos he made with offensive titles surfaced. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Trevor Johnson, a board member of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association, stepped down Tuesday. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

Trevor Johnson, a vocal critic of ride-sharing companies and a member of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association board of directors, stepped down Tuesday after videos with vulgar titles surfaced on his YouTube channel.

Johnson recorded the videos in his cab and said they were meant to remain private. One showed him slapping the rear end of a friend (at her request, he said); another featured a group of seemingly inebriated women trying to cram seven people into a four-person taxi.

The videos, which were made roughly three years ago, were titled “smack dat ass” and “stupid bitches,” according to Johnson.

In an email obtained by The Chronicle, Barry Korengold, president of the association, distanced himself and his organization from Johnson. - more....

Some Cleveland Hopkins cab drivers refuse to drive with Gay Games signage

The Plain Dealer - (Cleveland, Ohio)

By Alison Grant, The Plain Dealer
on April 14, 2014 at 6:04 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Some drivers of the zone-based taxis operating out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport have notified their companies they don't want to drive the cabs for religious reasons, citing rooftop placards that are advertising the upcoming Gay Games.

Hopkins released a statement saying that two of the three taxi companies operating at the airport -- Ace and Yellow Taxi – were informed by several of their drivers they will no longer participate in the airport's dedicated taxi cab program.

The airport said it brokered an agreement between the taxi cab stand operator, Standard Parking, and the cab companies to allow for replacing drivers who don't want to drive in the 75-cab Hopkins fleet. The companies plan to backfill the fleet with metered taxi cabs until each company can hire permanent drivers for the airport program. Hopkins cabs charge fixed amounts for the zone of the metro area you're going to, rather than charging based on a running meter. - more....

San Diego taxi drivers claim wage exploitation

San Diego City Beat - (San Diego, California)

By Joshua Emerson Smith

Last Friday afternoon, taxi driver Osman Ibrahim Osman had picked up only two customers. He started at 7 a.m. and anticipated being on the road until 2 the next morning. If lucky, after gas and a permit fee, he might make about $75.

“I never tried to work taxi, but the situation put me to work taxis,” he said. “There’s nothing. There’s no manufacturing. There’s not another job to work at, only this taxi.”

Granted asylum from Sudan, his home country, Osman moved to the United States more than a decade ago. After being laid off during the recession from two successive security-guard positions, a friend got him a job driving a cab. For the last three years, he said, he’s brought home about $11,000 a year, working 14-hour shifts.

“Working taxi, you’re disconnected with your social [life], with your people, with your family,” said the 41-year-old refugee, who lives in City Heights with his wife. “I don’t like it, but I don’t have choice.”

Osman is subject to a system that critics say enriches taxicab owners by exploiting the city’s roughly 1,850 drivers—about 90 percent of whom are Middle Eastern or African immigrants and lease their vehicles.

“It’s hundreds of refugees that are being affected,” said Sarah Saez, program director with the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, a member organization formed in 2010. “It’s an area-specific, cultural-specific issue that they’re just not dealing with.”

Under mounting pressure to reform the system, Mayor Kevin Faulconer is expected to soon issue new rules regulating the industry. However, it’s unclear if his changes will address cab-driver wages.

Faulconer declined to comment for this story. But a spokesperson said the mayor supports regulations that would take older vehicles off the road, as well as require owners to issue and maintain records for lease payments. Such policies are commonplace in large cities around the state and country. Also on the table is the creation of a city-run forum to settle wage disputes between taxicab owners and lease drivers, the details of which are murky at best.

However, the Mayor’s office wouldn’t say if Faulconer supports the taxicab drivers’ primary demand: setting a cap on how much money cab owners can charge drivers to lease a vehicle.

“This is a common-sense solution for reducing the dangerously long hours they’re required to drive to barely make a living,” Saez said.

Backing the United Taxi Workers of San Diego are more than a dozen groups and officials, including the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, state Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez and the Employee Rights Center.

However, the San Diego Transportation Association, a coalition of taxi-permit holders and cab-company owners formed last year, has vehemently opposed a lease cap. - more....

'Be polite' proposal could punish wrong taxi drivers without due process, reps say

The Times-Picayune - (New Orleans, Louisiana)

By Adriane Quinlan, | The Times-Picayune
on April 16, 2014 at 10:44 AM

A proposed law to make Jefferson Parish taxicab drivers "conduct themselves in a polite and professional manner" might punish drivers who did nothing wrong, say a cabbie union representative and an owner of a Metry Cab. On top of that, they say, the law could be completely unnecessary.

"All the drivers I know for the most part - they're all respectful," said Ed Parker, a union rep. "They don't have to told to be polite. They are polite."

Metry Cab already has a similar policy in place, part-owner Danny Herbert said. He said he understands why Jefferson Parish would value polite drivers but doesn't see why it's necessary to put that into law.

"We feel that Jefferson Parish has a very good point here," Herbert said. "But even if it wasn't going into the ordinance, every company, every person should act this way when they're dealing with the public."

Parish President John Young's administration put forth the proposal as an amendment to existing law governing taxis. It goes before the Parish Council on April 30.

The proposal goes further than New Orleans' requirements for driver appearance and conduct. It asks that drivers be polite and professional to "positively represent Jefferson Parish, the taxicab industry and the Jefferson Parish tourism industry at all times when serving our customers." - more....

Seattle Cabbie Must Repay Washington State For Fraud - (Internet)

By 04/16/2014 05:06:00

Seattle,WA ( - A Seattle cab driver who defrauded Washington state of workers' compensation benefits must pay back the state and spend 20 days in confinement.

King County Superior Court Judge Carol A. Shapira on Friday sentenced Shahin I. Shahin to 20 days in jail, credited him for one day served and agreed to let him serve the remaining time in electronic home monitoring.

Judge Shapira also ordered Shahin, 53, to repay the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) more than $14,000 for workers' comp benefits he received. - more....

Council tunes up taxi regulations

Argus Leader - (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)

J.L. Atyeo 12:32 a.m. CDT April 17, 2014

The taxi business is already a tough one to compete in, and some companies in Sioux Falls say new regulations approved by the City Council this week will make it even more of a struggle.

Among the changes, the city is doing away with a surcharge that let companies change their rates based on the price of gas.

“Nobody’s getting rich in the cab business, and this is going to make it tougher,” Yellow Cab owner Brent Kinsley said.

With a fleet of about two dozen Buick LeSabres, the company cars burn as much as 1,500 gallons of fuel a week.

The city, which sets maximum rates for taxi fares, has allowed companies to tack $1.70 onto their base charge to pay for fuel. They will be able to continue to do that until the new ordinance takes effect this October.

Kinsley said the fuel surcharge is a great convenience because it allows them to respond to the price of gas in real time.

Only a few companies besides Yellow Cab use the fuel surcharge, and some were unaware they had to file a request with the city before adding the fee.

“It was very difficult to keep track of who was charging what,” city planner Sam Trebilcock said.

The fuel surcharge also makes up for that time the meter is not running. Falls Metro Taxi owner Joseph Goodface pointed out that when cab drivers are waiting for a call, especially in the winter, they have to sit with the motor running and the heater on.

“We have to somehow recover from that cost,” he told the council Tuesday.

Yellow Cab isn’t charging the maximum rate now, but Kinsley said the company will have to up its fees. - more....

Uber Drivers Say They Need a Union

The Strangler - (Internet)

Meanwhile, the Company Says the Taxi Industry Is Fomenting Labor Unrest

by Ansel Herz

At a packed forum at the Yesler Community Center on April 13, nearly 250 drivers for rideshare company Uber signed "Show of Interest" cards handed out by Teamsters Local 117. Current and former UberBlack drivers organized the event, and said they intend to form a union, or join the Teamsters taxi drivers association. The mood was hyped, and the crowd at the community center was nearly all immigrants or children of immigrants from East Africa, most of them dressed for the occasion in impeccable black business clothes.

"We are the faces of Uber," said Zerfu Takele, a bespectacled Ethiopian American driver with graying hair who's lived in Seattle since 1990. "We need to be respected." Right now, he claimed, communication with Uber management is "simply a one-way message—you accept it or you get kicked out." The audience erupted in applause.

Uber, recently valued at $3.4 billion, is widely seen as a game-changing entrepreneurial force in the world of transportation. But the local Uber drivers' complaints revolve around what they describe as indifference, even disrespect, by Uber's young downtown managerial staff toward their own entrepreneurial ambitions. There is also a racial element to the concerns, with Uber drivers saying their managers are mostly white.

The company says it embraces diversity. It denies drivers' allegations that they are routinely threatened with "deactivation" from Uber's system at a moment's notice, and that Uber's rating system is unfair because drivers can be terminated via e-mail after, say, a drunk customer gives them a poor rating. Drivers also complain that Uber doesn't allow them to collect tips in the traditional fashion. If a customer offers one, the driver has to refuse it three times before accepting. In other cities, the company tells prospective riders that a 20 percent gratuity is included in the fare, and Uber takes a portion of it. That practice has made Uber the subject of a high-profile lawsuit in California, a lawsuit that in December was granted national class-action status. When asked, Uber general manager Brooke Steger did not clearly explain what the company's tip practices are in Seattle. - more....

Tensions growing over Lyft, UberX regulations in Minneapolis

StarTribune - (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: April 16, 2014 - 10:43 AM

The city’s taxicab industry is growing increasingly frustrated with a City Council effort to legalize app-based transportation companies like Lyft and UberX.

A group of taxicab drivers and company owners looked on Tuesday as a council committee discussed new regulations governing Lyft and UberX, which essentially allow people to act as chauffeurs of their own vehicles. They said afterward that the rules are unfair, since taxicabs are subject to more burdensome regulations.

The committee decided to hold a public hearing on the proposed regulations on April 28. The city is hoping to hear back from the state’s insurance commissioner and several insurance trade groups, which are reviewing UberX’s insurance policy.

“Within two weeks it’s going to escalate,” said Zach Williams, owner of Rainbow Taxi, surrounded by taxi drivers in a hallway. “You’re going to have a much bigger crowd out here two weeks from now.” - more....

Resnick challenges mayor on Lyft/Uber ride-sharing regulation

The Badger Herald - (Madison, Wisconsin)

While Mayor Paul Soglin is concerned new ride-sharing programs such as Uber and Lyft will potentially diminish the business of Madison’s traditional taxi companies, Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, is urging these new transportation methods to continue serving the city.

Soglin did not respond to The Badger Herald’s request for comment, but told the The Capital Times that allowing ride-share services to be exempt from the 24/7 rule, which mandates taxi cab companies provides cabs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, gives these services an unfair advantage.

He said the exemption means ride-share services can operate only during profitable hours, giving them an advantage over traditional companies bound by city regulations.

Soglin said he worries this discrepancy will ultimately kill existing taxi companies which could deprive Madison residents of an essential public service.

Resnick spoke out against this view, saying the 24/7 rule is likely outdated.

“24/7 indicates the hours between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., where there is simply very low demand for service,” Resnick said. “I would like to investigate whether that is still a needed regulation because Madison has grown in size.” - more....

Why UberX Will Win in the End

The Atlantic - (Washington D.C.)

    Eric Goldwyn
    7:00 AM ET

 The rise of the low-tech jitneys coincided with a spike in unemployment  at the outset of World War I, and the availability of affordable secondhand cars. With more cars on the road and fewer jobs to occupy the labor force, drivers began picking up rides for a nickel. The appeal of flexible service — in conjunction with streetcar dissatisfaction, low rates of automobile ownership, and shifting housing and travel patterns in many cities — led to a dizzying increase in jitney operations across the country. "The mushroom growth of the jitney has been so rapid that cities which were in blissful ignorance of it in the evening found cars in operation the next morning," The New York Times reported in 1915.

As quickly as jitneys flooded into cities, however, local regulations washed them back out to sea. Streetcar companies, which paid more in state and local taxes and maintained roads adjacent to tracks, complained that the jitneys reaped the benefit of these roads without paying for their upkeep. Municipalities largely sided with streetcar interests because they didn't believe jitneys could handle the same passenger loads, and thought the loss of streetcars would be disastrous at a time when the vast majority of Americans relied on transit for travel. Between 1915 and 1918, the number of jitneys operating nationally declined from 62,000 to 6,000.

The jitney more or less disappeared by 1920, but the idea of car-like convenience at the price of transit never disappeared — most U.S. cities still run public vanpool and dial-a-ride services — and with TNCs it's returned with a vengeance. The situations aren't entirely the same; TNCs compete with taxis, which are seen as a luxury, rather than transit, which is seen as a public service. Still, city regulators and competing interests have once again mounted a response. Only this time around, the power has shifted to the TNC side, largely on the back of technology and organization. - more....


The New York Times - (New York City, New York)

January 13, 1915

Sound Cannons to Be Fired at Drivers

Patheos - (Internet)

April 15, 2014 By Thomas L. McDonald

LRAD stands for Long Range Acoustic Device, and it’s a kind of sonic weapon created for breaking up large protests and hailing people at extreme distances.

And now it’s going to be fired at motorists driving at high speeds through construction zones.

Missouri’s Department of Transportation is going to give the device to road workers to warn speeding motors to slow down:

    The device emits a targeted, deafening siren that “easily penetrates the windshield and well-insulated cab of a car, even overriding the vehicle’s engine sounds and a radio turned up loud enough to jam to tunes at highway speeds.”

    The state has already conducted tests with LRAD, loading it onto the back of a truck and sending out verbal “slow vehicles ahead” warnings to nearby vehicles. But now Missouri has committed to the technology by purchasing two of the pricey devices. Transportation officials claim that they provide an unmistakable alert about slower roadwork vehicles up ahead, and insist LRAD will only be directed at speeding drivers that haven’t yet moved out of work lanes. Still, critics maintain that the ear-piercing nature of the alerts presents a clear danger in and of itself. - more....

Europe, Africa, and the Middle East

Uber Tries to Rise Above the Brussels Taxi Cartel

Bloomberg - (New York City, New York)

2 Apr 16, 2014 11:15 AM EDT
By Leonid Bershidsky

Truly disruptive technology is always socially disruptive: It challenges the established order. In some cases, that order is good at fighting back.

A Brussels court has banned Uber, the taxi app, and threatened drivers using it with a 10,000-euro ($13,800) fine every time they pick up a passenger. Brussels mobility minister Brigitte Grouwels, who supported local taxi companies in seeking the ban, explained that Uber simply failed to follow the rules: Its drivers do not have special licenses, are unregistered and unregulated.

That's exactly the point of Uber, though. In Brussels, where it has been operating since February, it has been accepting pretty much any driver with a car fewer than six years old, valid insurance, and drivers' license issued more than three years ago. Customers know that's the San-Francisco firm's policy everywhere. If they want regulation, registration and licensing, they can go to traditional taxi services. Uber users, however, trust that the firm's system, in which customers rate their experience and other customers pick a driver based on those ratings, works just as well. In a world where approval levels are instantly reflected in a smartphone app, government interference in taxi services has become unnecessary.

The Uber ban is not about customers, however: It is about taxi drivers and owners. They are the ones who hate the upstart app-based services the most. During a recent cabby strike in France, "Ubertarians" were physically attacked. Cab drivers' protests against the new technology have led to a weird regulation being enacted in France: Car services such as Uber and its competitors have to wait 15 minutes before picking up a customer's order. That's longer than the typical waiting time for an Uber car in Paris. - more....

See Also:  Uber’s Ban Called Crazy by EU Official as Taxi Challenges Mount

Newcastle Borough Council votes to tighten taxi age restrictions

The Sentinel - (Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England)

By The Sentinel  |  Posted: April 17, 2014


TAXI drivers have lost their fight against plans to tighten age restrictions on their vehicles.

Newcastle Borough Council has decided to stop re-licensing Hackney carriage saloon car vehicles once they are eight-years-old.

Previously saloon cars could remain licensed as Hackney carriages as long as they passed an annual MOT test, while only those licensed as private hire vehicles had to be 'retired' after eight years.

Members of the Newcastle and Kidsgrove Taxi Association staged a protest prior to the meeting at the Civic Offices in Merrial Street last night.

But the full council voted to change the licensing policy to ensure the safety and reliability of the vehicles.

Tariq Mahmood, chairman of the Newcastle and Kidsgrove Taxi Association, has hit out at the decision and said the group would not give up its fight.

The 50-year-old, of North Road, Cobridge, who has been working as a cabbie for eight years, said: "We are angry about the decision and we do not accept that this is the right thing to do.

"It is stupid that in neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent the policy is completely different in that Hackney carriage vehicles don't have to retire at a certain ago, as long as they pass a MOT and a suitability test.

"A lot of taxi drivers can't afford to buy new cars and this will hit us hard. - more....

Asia and the Pacific

Adelaide taxi driver's throat slashed: Brothers Zachary and Jake Wakefield jailed for knife attack

Yahoo!7 News - (Australia)

By court reporter Loukas Founten April 17, 2014, 10:45 am

Suleman Khalid fled after his throat was slashed. ABC Suleman Khalid fled after his throat was slashed.

Two brothers who slashed a taxi driver's throat and stole his cab have been jailed by an Adelaide court.

Driver Sulemen Khalid received a 15-centimetre laceration to his throat and cuts to his hands in the attack in April last year.

Zachary Connor Wakefield was in the back seat of the taxi when he held a 25-centimetre knife to Mr Khalid's throat.

The driver had asked his passengers for a deposit before making a short trip from inner suburban Ashford to the city.

Jake Thomas Wakefield, 20, was in the front seat and jabbed Mr Khalid with another knife.

The driver fled his attackers, flagged down another taxi and was taken to hospital.

Both taxi passengers pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated recklessly causing harm, and Zachary Wakefield also admitted driving in a manner dangerous to the public.

He drove the taxi away from the crime scene and later abandoned it at Brooklyn Park.

The men said they had been on "a 13-day bender", using methylamphetamines and alcohol.

District Court Judge Paul Rice told the brothers their actions had been terrifying and dangerous.

"[Mr Khalid] noticed that you both appeared to be drunk and possibly under the influence of drugs and worried you would not pay the fare," he said. - more....

Apps for taxi services: easier made than sold

VietNamNet - (Ha Noi, Vietnam)

VietNamNet Bridge – Mobile app developers have launched a series of products for taxi services. However, they have not been welcomed in the Vietnamese market.

Rocket Internet, which is listed as a major player in Vietnam, has launched another app into the market, EasyTaxi. The app allows users to find taxis with smart phones, with no need to call the operators or wait for taxis on the street.

Having established itself in 150 cities in 23 countries, and available in 11 languages, EasyTaxi is believed by many to be poised to quickly become popular in Vietnam among taxi drivers and clients.

With EasyTaxi, users need only to enter their itineraries and intended destinations, while the app responds by displaying the estimated fare and automatically contacting taxi drivers.

Once the connections succeed, users are informed about the taxi drivers and the car models. A history of the trips and data about the taxi drivers is also recorded by EasyTaxi.

“It would be easy to call for taxi in HCM City with EasyTaxi.  However, this may be quite different in other localities,” commented Nguyen Tuan Anh, Managing Director of GrabTaxi Vietnam, a rival of EasyTaxi.

Operating in a similar mode, GrabTaxi, which is prevailing in Malaysia, has been marketed in Vietnam. Developed to serve the Malaysian taxi market two years ago, GrabTaxi is now used by 1/3 of the taxi drivers in the country.

However, despite the great advantages promised by the app developers, the products have not been well-received in Vietnam.

One of the reasons GrabTaxi quickly gained favor in Malaysia is the country’s complicated taxi market, where taxi service providers are numerous and hard to control. Given those conditions, GrabTaxi can help customers avoid problems.

At the same time, taxi drivers joining the GrabTaxi network have found that it provides opportunities to increase their income by 300 percent. They can cut down expenses on fuel because they don’t have to roam around looking for fares, while they can serve more passengers because they can so easily be contacted by them.

Things are quite different in Vietnam, however. - more....

Ender Wiggin

Updated apr 17 @ 19:44 GMT


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