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Butcher: Bank collapse after fair hurt city
AP via KnoxNews ^ | 5/2/7

Posted on 05/02/2007 7:33:42 AM PDT by SmithL

KNOXVILLE: Jake Butcher helped bring the World’s Fair to the city in 1982, but the collapse of his banking empire soon after "took a lot of wind out of the sails for Knoxville," he said in a recent interview.

WBIR-TV in Knoxville interviewed Butcher for the station’s coverage of the 25th anniversary of the World’s Fair that began May 1, 1982. The interview, a first for Butcher in many years, was aired Tuesday evening.

Butcher, 70, former chairman of United American Bank, also was chairman of the Knoxville International Energy Exposition board of directors and used his political ties and financing prowess to garner support for the fair.

The fair was widely considered a success and brought in more than 11 million people over its six-month run. City officials hoped the fair would lead to redevelopment at the site, a former railyard downtown.

Instead, the aftermath of the fair was the banking scandal that landed Butcher and his brother, C.H. Butcher Jr., in federal prison for fraud.

"I got a lot of misery at the end. It was my fault. I have no one to blame but myself," Butcher said in the interview.

"If I had been successful and hadn’t had the great debacle in banking that happened to me, we might have been challenging Nashville today. We really had things going for us in Knoxville. We could have had headquarters of the larger banks. We could have had headquarters of insurance companies. That’s what it takes. You’ve got to get a power base. Knoxville has never really had a power base."

The Butchers operated 27 banks in Tennessee and Kentucky. The banks collapsed in 1983 under the weight of unsecured loans, paper corporations loaded with debt and a massive shell game in which loans were shuffled from one bank to another ahead of the bank examiners. It was the fourth-largest banking failure at the time.

Jake Butcher was paroled in 1992. C.H. Butcher was paroled in 1993 and died in 2002.

Butcher said Knoxville, the third-largest city in Tennessee, stayed "flat" after the fair and scandal.

"The momentum stopped and it took a long time to build again," he said. "It took a lot of wind out of the sails for Knoxville."

The energy expo was often referred to as "Jake’s Fair," and Butcher appears to enjoy talking about bringing the large event to Knoxville. During the interview, he wore a watch with four rubies and a gold face bearing the fair’s flame logo.

He recalled many other people who worked with him, funny stories of getting the Bureau of International Expositions in Paris to approve Knoxville as a host and a late telephone call from President Carter to say he was backing it.

A mixture of Republicans and Democrats helped the fair along, and Butcher, twice a Democratic candidate for Tennessee governor in the 1970s, even talked governors around the South into giving their federal highway funds to Tennessee to help rebuild the city’s interstates in time for the fair. A project that would normally take 10 to 15 years was whittled down to only a few.

"There wasn’t an eagle that flew over this valley down here and dropped the World’s Fair. It took a lot of people," Butcher said. "Sometimes I get a lot of the blame. Sometimes I get a lot of the credit. I probably shouldn’t be blamed that much, and I probably don’t deserve all the credit."

Butcher, who didn’t disclose where he lives in Georgia, still visits Knoxville and is working in real estate development.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; US: Tennessee
KEYWORDS: bankcollapse; butcher; butcherbrothers; knoxville

1 posted on 05/02/2007 7:33:46 AM PDT by SmithL
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To: SmithL

Well, duh. I live just across the river from where this man had his mansion - and folks all around this area lost everything - he did his time, but that didn’t pay back nearly enough of his debt to society.


2 posted on 05/02/2007 7:35:36 AM PDT by Tennessee_Bob ("Those who "abjure" violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.")
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To: Tennessee_Bob

I love Tennessee, specifically the Smokies. Been through Knoxville many, many times. Knoxville is a great city, but I’m not sure it has the potential to be a great rival to other cities. I think the Butcher’s set the bar too high.


3 posted on 05/02/2007 7:42:08 AM PDT by caver (Yes, I did crawl out of a hole in the ground.)
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To: SmithL

I went to that Fair. The theme was “Energy.”

My recalled impression was “dinky” for a World’s Fair, but then I was comparing it to the Montreal Expo ‘67, parts of which still exist as a park, so that’s probably not ‘fair’ (pun intended) of me.


4 posted on 05/02/2007 7:56:02 AM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: Yo-Yo
I too attended (was in air traffic control school in Millington/Memphis for the Marine Corps at that time). It was dinky but that area is some very lovely country.
5 posted on 05/02/2007 7:57:51 AM PDT by SF Republican
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To: SF Republican

We got to Knoxville right after the World’s Fair, just when there was a glut of rental property. That worked out great for us. I do miss East Tennessee, and suspect it’s better off for not growing too much.

There are certain attractions, including the Museum of Appalachia and the Knoxville Zoo that benefited enormously by having the fair in Knoxville.


6 posted on 05/02/2007 8:04:32 AM PDT by SmithL (si vis pacem, para bellum)
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To: SmithL

I still remember the television commercials and jingles for this event. “You’ve got to be there (pause) the 1982 (pause) World’s (pause) Fair (pause) You’ve got to be there!”

I also remember what a problem my parents had finding a hotel after we left the fair. I believe we drove almost all the way to Pigeon Forge. Great times for an eight year old!


7 posted on 05/02/2007 8:10:01 AM PDT by LanPB01
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To: SF Republican

Millinton and Knoxville are over 400 miles apart......


8 posted on 05/02/2007 8:13:15 AM PDT by Coldwater Creek
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To: LanPB01

You could do worse than Pigeon Forge. Did you at least get to visit Dollywood?


9 posted on 05/02/2007 8:14:29 AM PDT by SmithL (si vis pacem, para bellum)
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To: Coldwater Creek

You are correct, it was a road trip from one end of the state to the other, first time I saw Nashville too.


10 posted on 05/02/2007 8:15:12 AM PDT by SF Republican
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To: SmithL

If I was Jake Butcher, I would not be disclosing where I lived either.

The Butcher brothers cohort, Harold Ford Sr. is still on the loose!


11 posted on 05/02/2007 8:15:24 AM PDT by Coldwater Creek
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To: SmithL

I believe it was still Silver Dollar City back then.


12 posted on 05/02/2007 8:15:32 AM PDT by LanPB01
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To: SmithL

I was a young bank examiner for the State of Alabama at the time. This debacle had repercussions, not only in Knoxville, but in many other places as well, including Alabama.


13 posted on 05/02/2007 8:22:22 AM PDT by RatRipper
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To: RatRipper
This debacle had repercussions, not only in Knoxville, but in many other places as well, including Alabama.

Oh Yeah.

People from all over the South lost their life savings, their homes, and jobs. A lot of political careers came to an abrupt end, too. The only one involved that came out unscathed was Ford.

14 posted on 05/02/2007 8:26:21 AM PDT by SmithL (si vis pacem, para bellum)
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To: LanPB01

Maybe. As a child, I went there when it was the Rebel Railroad. They actually gave us all cap-guns to shoot at the robbers. Dolly’s train still rides the same tracks.


15 posted on 05/02/2007 8:29:33 AM PDT by SmithL (si vis pacem, para bellum)
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To: SmithL

Jake Butcher’s daughters were my older sister’s age, and they and their little brother would visit at our church from time to time. I remember the girls as being very pretty. All of Jake’s kids were very nice and well-raised, as far as I could tell. His son was a few years younger than me, and I guess he really liked the “Dukes of Hazzard”.

The boy was too young to drive on the streets, but Jake bought him a ‘69 Charger and had it modified to be identical to the General Lee. He’d drive it all over the fields behind the Butcher house, and up and down the long driveway... lol

Years ago, I heard that Jake had US coins and bills (even large denominations) encased in a solid clear plexiglass toilet seat. lol I have no idea if that was really the truth or not.

Fletcher J


16 posted on 05/02/2007 8:55:11 AM PDT by Fletcher J
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To: SmithL

I lived in the area of that World’s Fair while it was going on. It was quite interesting...China exhibited the soldiers from the tomb discovered two years earlier to the public for the first time. Butcher was a crony of Jimmy Carter and Carter’s help allowed Butcher to creatively finance much of what later failed. Blanton helped also and Blanton later went down for bribery and scandals within the Governor’s mansion...


17 posted on 05/02/2007 12:31:28 PM PDT by vetvetdoug
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To: Tennessee_Bob
Well, duh. I live just across the river from where this man had his mansion - and folks all around this area lost everything - he did his time, but that didn’t pay back nearly enough of his debt to society.

Oh you mean Whirlwind how fitting a name. Gone with the Wind would work also. LOL. I worked for the fair itself as a maintenance mechanic. The daily attendance as I understood just to break even would have had to have been near 100,000 or close to it. There were only about three or four such days and the daily totals were more closer to 25,000 to 50,000. I also saw quite a few 15,000 days especially when the site flooded. Nothing like wearing chest waders standing next to the creek fixing to throw the power off due to rising water near the Canadian Pavilion. Ah the good old days LOL.

It had major issues even before it opened including the air conditioning system in the European Pavilion. This is no lie. The chiller shut down one afternoon and I went in to restart it. The Chill Water circ pump tripped on overload. I opened up the access plate on the motor and not one piece of tape was on the wires. The company that installed the system went under. It was so bad we had to contract out a service company full time to keep the European and Japan air conditioning systems up and running.

Greed sank the Worlds Fair a lot of it the Butcher's and their friends. Remember such things as the AirStream Trailer Parks? One was in Powell at Emory Road plus several more around the area. All were empty even on opening day. A lot of bad planning and a lot of pre-fair bad publicity had people scared to come thinking that rooms were going to be up to $500 a night for someones garage. Remember also many UT students in the Fort Sanders area were forced to leave apartments. Those too remained empty every night.

Toward August rumors were going around the fair that things was fixing to get bad for some big investors. A guy I worked with told me the Banks were fixing to be raided. He or rather a member of his family was in a position to know is all I can say.

Some people in the area still think of the Butchers as saints. This despite the fact many lost life savings in the Southern Industrial S&L that CH junior ran. The ones who had money in United American faired much better due to federal insurance. But even their money was tied up for days. BTW this also traced back to Harold Ford SR IIRC he was the only major player not convicted.

Not even old Cas Walker in all his dealings could match the damage done by Expo 82. Perhaps the next fiasco coming close was the city backing Whittle Communications which Lamar Alexander had strong ties to.

18 posted on 05/02/2007 4:40:34 PM PDT by cva66snipe (Kool Aid! The popular American favorite drink now Made In Mexico. Pro-Open Borders? Drink Up!)
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To: Fletcher J
The boy was too young to drive on the streets, but Jake bought him a ‘69 Charger and had it modified to be identical to the General Lee. He’d drive it all over the fields behind the Butcher house, and up and down the long driveway... lol

Didn't one of Jakes daughters get caught driving without a license {underage} on Ridgeview Road near the house? IIRC it was either Ridgeview or Blockhouse Valley.

19 posted on 05/02/2007 4:43:44 PM PDT by cva66snipe (Kool Aid! The popular American favorite drink now Made In Mexico. Pro-Open Borders? Drink Up!)
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To: LanPB01

Hey, I was 8 years old when I went to that fair, too !


20 posted on 05/02/2007 5:40:24 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Would you vote for President a guy who married his cousin? Me, neither. Accept no RINOs. Fred in '08)
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To: fieldmarshaldj

One of the few things I remember was the giant Ferris Wheel. That, and how bored I was in the exhibits from other countries.


21 posted on 05/02/2007 6:43:42 PM PDT by LanPB01
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To: LanPB01

Oh, I liked the foreign exhibits. But I tended to like stuff most other kids didn’t care for. Do you remember they had people sitting at tables that if you gave them a buck or two, they’d write your name in that particular foreign language ?

Funny, I don’t remember the Ferris Wheel...


22 posted on 05/02/2007 6:57:34 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Would you vote for President a guy who married his cousin? Me, neither. Accept no RINOs. Fred in '08)
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To: fieldmarshaldj
Funny, I don’t remember the Ferris Wheel...

A lot of people likely couldn't find it. The overall layout wasn't that good because of limited land aviability. The rides were down past the China exibit away from all other exhibits along the river on UT property. I don't know who decided to put the fair in that location but right through the middle of it was a railroad track. Every morning before opening time a train went through and back again at night. The location was actually largely built on the old Knoxville L&N Rail Road Depot land.

23 posted on 05/02/2007 7:05:34 PM PDT by cva66snipe (Kool Aid! The popular American favorite drink now Made In Mexico. Pro-Open Borders? Drink Up!)
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To: cva66snipe

Where they put it was the equivalent of our rapidly changing railroad gulch here in Nashville. I mean, where else could they have put it ? The only alternative was out in the sticks.


24 posted on 05/02/2007 7:11:34 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Would you vote for President a guy who married his cousin? Me, neither. Accept no RINOs. Fred in '08)
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To: fieldmarshaldj
Where they put it was the equivalent of our rapidly changing railroad gulch here in Nashville. I mean, where else could they have put it ? The only alternative was out in the sticks.

Plenty of places believe it or night. Downtown Knoxville which is where they had it was dying in the mid 1970's. It was hard to access, hard to find parking spaces, and lacked other businesses which had migrated to West Knoxville. At that time there waws plenty of highly accessable and more visable land in north, east, and west, Knoxville. There were just too many issues including a major creek {Second Creek I think} running through the middle which carried the city storm run off.

I worked there {in maintenance as a HVAC and Electrical mechanic} and several times we had to kill power to buildings because the flood water approached the power panels located on the creek bank. Once I walked in near knee deep water down one of the main walk ways next to the Convention Center beside the Holiday Inn which was another mess. Poor design in a poor location. Limited space for the number of persons they were trying to attract.

25 posted on 05/02/2007 7:31:46 PM PDT by cva66snipe (Kool Aid! The popular American favorite drink now Made In Mexico. Pro-Open Borders? Drink Up!)
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To: cva66snipe

What’s more remarkable is that Knoxville landed the World’s Fair at all. You think of all the major city locales they’d usually be at, New Orleans, Vancouver, Montreal, et al, but Knoxville ? It was no surprise there was some funny business to get it there (between Carter, the Butchers, etc.), rodent shenanigans in a Republican city, no less.


26 posted on 05/02/2007 7:42:30 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Would you vote for President a guy who married his cousin? Me, neither. Accept no RINOs. Fred in '08)
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To: fieldmarshaldj
What’s more remarkable is that Knoxville landed the World’s Fair at all. You think of all the major city locales they’d usually be at, New Orleans, Vancouver, Montreal, et al, but Knoxville ? It was no surprise there was some funny business to get it there (between Carter, the Butchers, etc.), rodent shenanigans in a Republican city, no less.

Butcher and the mayor more or less pushed it plus a couple of more developers who left town afterward some to Chattanooga actually. But in Knoxville both parties have their share of bad deals. Alexander was a backer of Whittle Communications which cut a deal to build it's corporate Head Quarters in Knoxville. The campus was built and they left town shortly after. The city was stuck with a building one of many at the time in the downtown area empty.

Downtown has come back a little bit mostly being converted to residence etc but if you want to shop you better hit the outlying areas such as Knoxville Center {formerly called East Towne Mall or West Town Mall. Most business development is west actually. East and west Knoxville and County has better terrain for building on. North Knox County has some places but not quite as flat. Emory Road on I-75 north is about the limit of it on the north side and it's growing up fast now.

One last thing. I think if the fair hadn't gone bust contributing to the banking failures Jake Butcher and not Clinton would have been the DEMs 1992 choice in the POTUS race.

27 posted on 05/02/2007 7:59:49 PM PDT by cva66snipe (Kool Aid! The popular American favorite drink now Made In Mexico. Pro-Open Borders? Drink Up!)
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To: Yo-Yo
Living near DC you get spoiled by the Smithsonians. I was pretty disappointed. I think it was too much for a small city to take on.
28 posted on 05/02/2007 8:10:04 PM PDT by Boiler Plate ("Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame." Benjamin Franklin)
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To: cva66snipe
"One last thing. I think if the fair hadn't gone bust contributing to the banking failures Jake Butcher and not Clinton would have been the DEMs 1992 choice in the POTUS race."

Butcher was never going to be elected Governor, so a possibility for President in '92 was highly unlikely. He ran in '78, not in '82 (and even so, he would've been out of office as Governor for either 6 or 10 years by then, unless he would've challenged Gore for the Senate seat in '84, a bloody primary that might've resulted in our holding Baker's seat with, say, former Congressman Robin Beard, Sasser's challenger in '82), and although he had to inherit the substantial baggage that Ray Blanton's Democrat affiliation, I doubt he would've won even if Blanton had been clean (and the sole reason Blanton won in '74 was because of Watergate and Lamar! working for the Nixon WH). You might recall that Alexander obliterated Mayor Tyree in the '82 election by 60-40%, and that was a bad GOP year. Probably even helped carry one Don Sundquist to an open House seat over the favored Bob Clement in a 'Rat gerrymandered seat that is now one of the most GOP in the state, the 7th.

29 posted on 05/02/2007 8:40:58 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Would you vote for President a guy who married his cousin? Me, neither. Accept no RINOs. Fred in '08)
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To: fieldmarshaldj
Jake ran both in 78 and 82 actually. He lost to Alexander in 1982. He lost in large because most of East Tennessee by November knew what was fixing to happen. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see the vacant investments in Knoxville and Knox County. In 1978 most of Tennessee had no clue who Butcher was. I'm old enough to remember when the Butcher's were two brothers in Union County who ran an oil business then later owned City and County bank. Pappy ran an old country store. But they were born poor.

Someone was backing Jake politically. Quite possibly the same ones who brought Clinton up through the ranks. Jake had the charm CH had the shrewdness. The 1982 Worlds Fair left a bitter taste in many peoples mouth. From persons who had converted carports into apartments to rent out to people who were forced out of apartments they had long rented. Knoxville as a whole didn't want that fair. Blanton, the Mayor, and the Butchers and friends however did.

30 posted on 05/02/2007 9:14:25 PM PDT by cva66snipe (Kool Aid! The popular American favorite drink now Made In Mexico. Pro-Open Borders? Drink Up!)
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To: fieldmarshaldj

BTW on a funny note. The Mayor Randy Tyree-D was not invited to the opening day celebrations which included a visit from President Reagan.


31 posted on 05/02/2007 9:18:27 PM PDT by cva66snipe (Kool Aid! The popular American favorite drink now Made In Mexico. Pro-Open Borders? Drink Up!)
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To: cva66snipe

Mayor Tyree was the Democrat nominee in ‘82, not Butcher. Butcher didn’t run in 1982 (if he did, he never made it to the primary). Tyree’s main opponent was Gov. Frank Clement’s sister and Bob Clement’s aunt, State Sen. Anna Belle Clement O’Brien, whom Tyree edged 50-40%.

1982 Dem primary candidates:
http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=28526

Interestingly, I rechecked and noticed Butcher did run in the 1974 Dem primary, and trailed ex-Congressman Blanton by only 2.5% (Blanton won only a paltry 22.7%, and of course, absent runoffs... moonbats and criminals have quite the opportunity). Had Butcher been the nominee that year, it’s quite likely he would’ve won the general, indeed.

It’s frightening to realize that the Dem party in this state has had a near-permanent criminal class every inch as bad as Arkansas or Louisiana running this state, or coming achingly close to running it. Reminds me of why I became a Republican in the first place, solely in reaction to their permanent corruption.


32 posted on 05/02/2007 9:38:48 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Would you vote for President a guy who married his cousin? Me, neither. Accept no RINOs. Fred in '08)
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To: fieldmarshaldj
OK I found the source of my confusion. I had read where he had ran twice. I thought it was 82 in the back of my mind. But while Jake was raising money for Tyree, his brother CH was raising money for Alexander. They played both sides. Investigation uncovered fraud by Butchers Like I said Knoxville politics was dirty. Alexander had a knack for magical deals himself in that era and following his term as governor.
33 posted on 05/02/2007 10:29:26 PM PDT by cva66snipe (Kool Aid! The popular American favorite drink now Made In Mexico. Pro-Open Borders? Drink Up!)
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To: cva66snipe

I figured Tyree was a puppet. The Butchers would’ve been stupid (from a business perspective) not to hedge their bets. Tyree was not much of an opponent for Alexander as it turned out. I was never terribly enamored of Alexander, and I’d vote for anyone running against him in the primary. I personally hope he retires next year. President Fred can make him Ambassador to Botswana. We’ve had far too many grab-the-ankles Republicans in this state.


34 posted on 05/02/2007 10:49:45 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Would you vote for President a guy who married his cousin? Me, neither. Accept no RINOs. Fred in '08)
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To: fieldmarshaldj
Tyree's last political venture was running for sheriff of Knox County last election. He lost to a three term sheriff who was unseated recently by a court ruling concerning the County Charter and term limits. Tim Hutchinson won a fourth term which was a first in Knox County. He was also the best one elected in many years. A court ruling unseated him and several county commissioners. Tyree did not challange the seat and a deputy took over as sheriff.
35 posted on 05/02/2007 11:08:33 PM PDT by cva66snipe (Kool Aid! The popular American favorite drink now Made In Mexico. Pro-Open Borders? Drink Up!)
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