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Rwanda: Why the High Council of Media Decided to Suspend Umuseso and Umuvugizi newspapers

The last covers of Umuseso and Umuvugizi, for a while

The last covers of Umuseso and Umuvugizi, for a while

On Tuesday, April 13, 2010, the Board of the Media High Council held an extraordinary meeting at its headquarters. This Meeting was aimed at Analyzing various articles published in the newspapers Umuseso and Umuvugizi.

As evidenced by a detailed analysis of these articles published in those two newspapers since the beginning of 2010 and in the previous years, it was found out that these newspapers have persistently violated the laws governing the media and adamantly refused to adhere to ethical demands of the industry.

Many of the articles published in these two newspapers did not meet professional standards as they continuously reflected false and inciting reporting aimed at creating a sense of fear amongst the Rwandan people.

Some of the material published was intended to undermine the reputation of the Head of State and polarize the national security organs, which evidently endangers public law and order. They have been characterized by inaccuracies, seditious material, use of abusive language, insulting and damaging reputation of individuals and calling for use of violent means to address problems facing Rwandans.

This is evidenced in the different issues of these papers some of whose articles are outlined here under:

01. UMUSESO N° 397 of March 01-08, 2010, UMUSESO N°398 of March 08-15, 2010, UMUSESO N° 399 of April 15-22, 2010, UMUSESO N° 403 of April 12-19, 2010, and others highlighted here under.

Below are some of the articles published by these two papers with inciting information:

1. “As predicted: General Kayumba has also fled the country”,

Examples:

* “Considering the love he enjoys with the army, for some of them this is an important reason to desert and group together and eventually fight Kagame.…”;
* “I swear to you that many of these soldiers will desert Kagame because of the good initiative Kayumba has taken”;
* “Secondly, those still pampered, particularly Ndahiro or Kabarebe must start thinking about their eventual end.…”,

2. “The reasons why Rwanda is drifting into darkness

Examples:

* … He who refuses a peaceful political revolution makes a bloody revolution necessary;
* … The queue of those who want change in the governance of this country, (and not a peaceful one since all avenues for peaceful revolution can no longer work) is growing by the day. This is leading Rwanda into total darkness.
* … Anyone who wishes to analyze Kagame’s policies and opinions since 1994 to date can never fail to conclude that Rwanda future is doomed;
* Even if Kagame cannot admit it openly, but anyone who concludes that Kagame leaves in fear of being overthrown anytime, would not be lying himself at all;
* If Kagame was capable, he would protect us from darkness; otherwise we are getting closer and closer to it (dark days);

Chronology of Umuseso’s mistakes since 2004

On 13/09/2004, the MHC made a decision to ask the Minister of Information to suspend the newspaper Umuseso for four months. This decision was taken after the MHC had realised that the Management of the newspaper did not comply with the formal notice of August 20, 2004, which followed the hearing of august 18, 2004 relating to the articles of Umuseso’s issue No. 186 of August 01-07, 2004.

The formal notice requested Umuseso Management to accept these errors, to apologize, and to correct them in the issue that was to follow the above-mentioned hearing. Nevertheless, the issues that followed never complied with all these requirements[1].

On receiving a complaint from the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning on 12/09/2008, the MHC wrote to the Management of the newspaper Umuseso, requiring them to explain the information they had published in their issue No 308 of August 4-14, 2008. This information related to the errors that the aforementioned Minister made according to the Newspaper[2].

The Management of the newspaper Umuseso wrote to the MHC on 18/09/2008, providing explanations[3].

After examining the explanations that had been provided by the management of the newspaper Umuseso on 31/10/2008, the MHC once again wrote to them requesting them to rectify the slanderous information and to run an apology in their next issue.

The MHC had found out that the article “Minister Musoni disobeyed the Prime Minister” was erroneous (incorrect) and did not comply with the laws and ethics governing the profession of journalism in Rwanda.

The newspaper Umuseso was unable to provide explanations or give evidence for it[4].

All the issues of the newspaper that followed, this correction demanded by MHC was not made.

On 16/12/2008, the members of the Board of the MHC held a meeting with the Minister of Information and discussed the state of the media in Rwanda and jointly sought ways of finding lasting solutions to the problems facing it. Within the framework of promoting Media Freedom in the country MHC followed up the issue of some newspapers including Umuseso and Umuvugizi boycotted by government because of their continuous publication of fabricated material.

On 10/03/2009, the MHC wrote to the boycotted newspapers particularly Umuseso, Umuvugizi, and Rushyashya, to review together their working methods and to adopt new resolutions that would encourage the MHC to help them out of the boycott. A meeting for this discussion was held on 13/03/2009 between the Managements of these newspapers and the MHC

In this meeting, the MHC showed Umuseso a detailed analysis of its errors which appeared in its 14 issues between 2007 and 2008. In short, the most outstanding of those errors are as follows:

* Publishing false news with the intention of inciting or discouraging security organs.
* News that are detrimental to public order and the security of the country
* Insulting, slandering, defaming innocent individuals
* Interfering in other people’s private lives without good reasons;
* Publishing photographs without any relationship with the news published, without caption, or without indicating their source;
* Publishing biased information;
* Using journalism as a means of confrontation and intimidation;
* Abusing and insulting the President of the Republic of Rwanda.

Umuvugizi newspaper

Just like the Umuseso newspaper, the articles appearing in the Umuvugizi newspaper are also characterized by violation of laws and principles governing journalists and the journalism profession, particularly in the following issues:

Umuvugizi n° 74 of Mata 9-20, 2010, n° 67 of January 8-16, 2010, n° 69 of February 14-25, 2010, n° 66 of December 18-27, 2009, Umuvugizi n° 23 of 23 February-March, 2007, Umuvugizi n° 38 of February 23-8, March 2008, Umuvugizi n° 41 of February 17-28, 2008, Umuvugizi n° 59 of July 16-30, 2009, Ikinyamakuru n° 60 of 26 July, 2008-August 2009.

Illustrative examples are given in the information below:

1. “A colonel and three (3) captains of RDF degraded due to intrigues

Examples of offensive statements:

« … As for colonel Semana, after his seven (7) month suspension, he was arrested after having been attributed gratuitously crimes like those of Lucifer, and later on, the J7 stick was inflicted to him. » (MHC’s comment: J7 is not a true or correct division, unit or real thing but a creation of this newspaper often used to negatively portray some RDF official).

« … He was accused of having disobeyed his superiors, a shadow position was given to him, and since 1993 to date, he kept the rank of major… a part from his great heart, anyone else in his place would apply for retirement instead of being abused unceasingly and would leave for private business, given that he is a doctor, and he was a doctor when he joined the rebellion and he was in a better situation. » (For the MHC, this is an open call and encouragement to the military to disobedience and to desert the army.)

Examples of questionable sentences:

2. « List of RPF Inkotanyi sycophants said to be behind the move to overthrow Kagame’s government! »

Examples:

«The truth behind what is said of this report is that most people confirm that this report is an act intended to have some among RPF Inkotanyi members killed. To that end there are some who are on the said list due to their misunderstanding with the ‘clique of hunters’ »

« Our dear readers, information reaching us, confirms that this report is likely not reliable given that the people mentioned therein were the first to speak against Kabanda Charles and the resolutions of the said meeting were submitted to their superiors.»

3. ‘‘RPF Inkotanyi dogs Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party footsteps“,

Examples:

– ‘‘Others too, namely those girls and young men wishing to work out side the RPF Inkotanyi are most likely suicide prone in a country like Rwanda, where no one would come running to join politics. If you are not careful you would fall down and die but if you are so lucky you hurt yourself”;

‘‘They begun to wonder whether what was done by Mugabe’s Zanu-PF is likely to be replicated by RPF Inkotanyi ”

4. “They vowed to kill him, but alas they missed

Examples:

* “…Jack Nziza who is notorious for committing such practices of human rights abuse and Musoni James alike”.
* “There is much more information pointing to the failure of the Police in its intervention for they covered up the killers.”
* “Umuyanja Kanuma who comes from unknown family and unknown village in Rwanda and who is dwelling in Rwanda as a mercenary”.

5. ‘‘Journalists interfered in the Prosecutor Mutangana and Dr Diane Gashumba‘s adultery published in the newspaper number 59 of 16-30 July 2009“;

Examples:

* “… So she met with the Prosecutor Mutangana the skirt-hunter with no border, who is like a Commune’s bull ”;
* -“… but had the bad luck to marry an adultery woman”.
* “ The Prosecutor Mutangana used the public powers in his own interest ”;
* “The Prosecutor has forsaken his legal spouse and took one else’s wife”;

6. Scandal: Police, Prosecutor Mutangana and Dr Diane in the plot to sweep off adultery related information Umuvugizi number 60, of 16-30 July 2009

Examples:

* « … Such men destructors of other people’s households due to adultery would be called ‘the Commune’s bull » ;
* « Information reaching the newspaper UMUVUGIZI shows that Prosecutor ended to destroy his family in order to enjoy sex with Kanyamahanga’s wife without pain ».
* « Information we hold, is from women friends of Prosecutor Mutangana Jean Bosco telling that they express concern about the way he destroys other people’s households… » ;
* Information we hold affirms that the Prosecutor would have just prepared the to blast UMUVUGIZI, by force and different ways … ».

7. “Misunderstanding, greed and opulence can destroy RPF-Inkotanyi

Examples:

* “Our dear readers, RPF situation is so horrible, that many of those men count among greedy people [to insult] not committed to the benebifit of the party in particular and that of the country in general“.
* “And this reminds me the proverb which goes like this ” `[Tutsis]`share blood, they do not share milk”

And apart from this, this newspaper from time to time did not respect laws and principles governing the profession in their publications issued from 2006, in addition to this it does not respect authorities responsible for law application.

Umuvugizi newspaper offences as presented by MHC

As shown above, on 13 March 2009, the Media High Council held a meeting with the newspapers said to be isolated by Government which included Umuvugizi. In that meeting, the Umuvugizi management, after being shown different offences it committed, it was advised to be careful and to change its publication by avoiding offences against the dispositions in the law on information and principles ruling the profession of journalism.

On 16 July 2009, the High Council of the Press received the complainant of people accusing the newspaper Umuvugizi of slandering, being hurtful and interfering in the privacy of other people with no grounds. On assessing the charges it received, MHC requested the newspaper Umuvugizi authority to provide explanations but that newspaper had never answered about the offences it was accused of. Furthermore, it had never presented any grounds to the MHC. Considering that it was found guilty of all the faults and that newspaper is characterized by not abiding to applying laws and principles on the journalits and their profession in Rwanda, MHC requested the authority of that newspaper to correct those errors of slandering which appeared in the number 60 of 26 Jully-8 August 2009 and concerning them it did not show any reaction.

Generally, the various frequent faults in the writings of the Umuvugizi are as follows:

* Publishing false news with the intention of inciting or demoralizing security organs.
* Publishing news that are detrimental to public order and the security of the country
* Publishing stories that are insulting, slandering and defaming innocent individuals
* to spread rumours, to amplify them Groundless information containing exaggerated language;
* To disseminate partisan information
* to insult to slander, to hurt any body and to threaten authorities and national institutions
* to interfere in the privacy of people with no reason;
* Not to present information source;
* To support riots;
* Mixing news and a journalist’s own thoughts and opinions.

Conclusion

Considering that those media organizations have been advised and warned many times but did not pay attention to such advice, the MHC decided to react to this situation because they are knowingly not observing laws, moreover such publications where they would keep on being released through media organizations, they could bring about destabilization of security of the country as a whole and they are aimed at dividing institutions responsible for national security.

The MHC considering that it has been warning those media organizations very often at different times but they did not change attitudes, pursuant to Article 83 of Law n°22/2009 of 12/08/2009, decides as follows:

To temporarily suspend both Umuseso and Umuvugizi newspapers for a six-month period starting from this 13th day of April 2010.

Since the offenses committed by these newspapers are serious and constitute offenses punishable by criminal laws, the MHC requests the judicial institutions concerned to follow up it up.

Articles of Law n˚ 22/2009 on media in Rwanda violated by the two newspapers

Article 12:

A journalist shall have the following main responsibilities:

1° to publish authentic and verified information;

2° to give all parties subject of news and information an opportunity to respond to allegations made against them;

Article 13:

A journalist shall be prohibited from:

5. Slander, libel or defamation;

9. Pass judgment while publishing information.

Article 83:

Without prejudice to provisions of Article 82 of this Law, the following crimes committed through the media are punishable with penalties provided for by the Criminal Law, and so notwithstanding their suspension by the Media High Council:

3. Contempt to the Head of State of Rwanda, the Head of a foreign State, Ambassadors and representatives of countries and international organizations accredited to Rwanda;

4. Inciting the army or the national police to insubordination;

5. Publication of false information intended to undermine the moral of Rwanda Defense Forces and the National Police and to endanger national security;

Articles of the professional code of ethics violated

Article 5: Avoid rumors, amplifying or keeping it alive, speculation, staged news events, falsification of documents or suppression of essential information.

Article 11: Always question the motive of, and identify sources. The only exception to this rule shall be in relation to information given in confidence. Before making any promises, always clarify conditions attached. Whenever such a pledge is made, keep the promise.

Article 20: Avoid intrusion and inquiries into an individual’s private life without the person’s consent unless public interest overrides.

Article 22: Respect the presumption of innocence for suspects and cases until concluded by competent courts or tribunals. This shall include avoiding implicating innocent persons not involved in the case but who may be directly related to the suspect or referring to his/her ethnicity, tribe, religion, sex, family or friends, unless their mention would serve public interest.

[1]Formal notice of 13/09/2004 to journalists

[2]Letter no 475/HCP/08 of 12/09/2008 requesting written explanations from Umuseso.

[3] Letter no 009/RMG/04 from RIMEG to MHC exculpating against the complaint of the Ministry of Economy and Economic Planning.

[4] Letter no 529/MHC/08 of 31/10/2008 requesting the newspaper Umuseso to correct slandering news and to apologize for it in the next issue

April 20, 2010   4 Comments

FDU-Inkingi Chair Victoire Ingabire considers Joseph Ntawangundi as a stooge into remorseless hands

Mr. Joseph Ntawangundi was arrested in Kigali on 06th February 2010 on genocide charges. He is now serving a 17 year term in jail given by an ad hoc Gacaca court in a retrial hearing on 25th March, confirmed by a shady rushed appeal on 15th April 2010.

Since his arrest, his ever-changing statements and his much publicised “tearful-on kneels” confessions make him a good weapon to thwart the opposition, tarnish the good image of the UDF Inkingi and belittle its Chair.

We regret that his unstable condition is used for selfish political purposes.

This is a deal gone bad for a stooge under visible influence. After thorough psychological preparation, Joseph Ntawangundi declined to be assisted by two hired lawyers and curiously preferred to use an invisible saviour’s offer conveyed through Prison’s staff that generously availed all the logistic support to draft his deepest genocide memories and confessions.
For example, on 22nd March 2010 one lawyer had to wait 3 hours behind the prison’s office while the detainee was in a closed door meeting with some governmental agents.

If President Paul Kagame and partisan media are referring to him as a party Chair-Deputy or Assistant, they know very well that he has never been an Executive Committee member but are exploiting his weak-mind to criminalize the whole party and all the leadership.

If President Paul Kagame feels no blame after the Gacaca system sentenced for genocide crimes some fallen key figures of his regime – i.e. the ex- Speaker Alfred Mukezamfura (life sentence) and ex-Prime Minister Pierre Celestin Rwigema (30 years in jail), Senators and army senior officers- we wonder how comfortable he is when he questions the credibility of the UDF Inkingi leadership because of a confessing infiltrated stooge?

In this particular case the concept of individual criminal responsibility is a well-established principle.

According to our records, in April 2009, Mr Joseph Ntawangundi joined a UDF Inkingi local section in Lille (France) and informed that he was already in a voluntary repatriation process with the International Migration Organization (IOM).
He asked for a chance to do some Kinyarwanda- French translation job in Kigali during the registration process of the party.
His curriculum seemed clean and he was accepted in the party on that basis and we encouraged him to join his motherland.

Genocide and crimes against humanity that bedevilled Rwanda left undeletable scars and therefore our political party can not harbour any member found guilty of such crimes.

Though we strongly reprehend his credentials and his handlers’ political agenda, we still believe he deserves fair and free justice.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
UDF Inkingi, Chair

April 20, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda Green Party Leader Frank Habineza Elected President of African Greens Federation

Frank Habineza - Chair of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

Frank Habineza - Chair of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

[wpaudio url=”http://www.thepriceofuranium.com/images/mp3s/rwandafrankdidasbernardann.mp3″ text=”Radio Report by Annie Garrison” dl=”0″]
In this report:
– Frank Habineza elected as Head of the African Greens
– The real problem in Rwanda is not Hutu and not Tutsi, that it is poverty and the extreme concentration of wealth. (Bernard Ntaganda)
– Americans should know that their tax dollars are going not to schools and hospitals, but to prop up dictatorship. (Didas Gasana)

Frank Habineza, chair of the Green Party of Rwanda, has been elected as President of the Executive Committee of the Federation of African Greens on April 18th in Kampala – Uganda.

Although his party and others, and the press, are still challenged in Rwanda, this is considered as a significant step.

Annie Garrison has made a radio report on Frank Habineza’s election and on the conditions prevailing in Rwanda before the presidential elections.

April 20, 2010   9 Comments

ICTR Arusha: French defense attorney accused of “racism”

Arusha – Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Monday accused a French lawyer, Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse, of using abusive language with racial connotations against the bench.

‘’Defence counsel made several utterances which may amount to abusive language with racial connotations,” alleged Ugandan presiding Judge, Solomy Balungi Bossa, at the beginning of the afternoon session in the on-going trial of the genocide-accused former Rwandan Youth Minister, Callixte Nzabonimana.

The French lawyer is the lead defence counsel for the accused.

Judge Bossa, flanked by Judges Mparany Rajohson from Madagascar and Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov from Russia, alleged that the counsel went as far as referring the Chamber as ‘’Mongolian Chamber” and the whole Tribunal ‘’A Banana Republic”.

‘’This is an insult not only to the Chamber but also to the whole Tribunal,” Judge Bossa charged, demanding an explanation from the lawyer.

Responding, the French lawyer quickly said he had no knowledge of ‘’what the Chamber was talking about”. Judge Bossa took the trouble to explain further that the words were spoken among the members of the defence team shortly before lunch-break.

The defence counsel was quick to intervene by saying: ‘’ Anything stated outside the hearing process is beyond the jurisdiction of the Trial Chamber.”

‘’The Chamber seizes the matter and will act according to the rules of this Tribunal,” Presiding Judge said and closed the discussion.

Nzabonimana is facing five charges– genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination and murder. He has denied the charges.

His defence case started on April 14. The prosecution presented 19 witnesses and concluded its case on April 13.

The trial continues Tuesday.

[Hirondelle News Agency]

April 20, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: Two Generals of the Rwanda Defence Force arrested

Gen Karake and Lt-Gen Muhire, arrestedGen Maj Karenzi Karake and Lt-Gen Charles Muhire arrested

Kigali – The Defence and Military Leadership, yesterday, suspended from duty and arrested Lieutenant General Charles Muhire and Major General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake.

This was revealed by the Defence and military spokesman, Major Jill Rutaremara, who said that the two senior army officers committed serious offences.

“Lt. Gen. Muhire was suspended due to serious charges of corruption and misuse of office while Maj. Gen. Karenzi was suspended on serious charges of immoral conduct that contravenes and undermines the values and ethos of the Rwanda Defence Force,” Maj. Rutaremara said in a statement released yesterday.

“This action was taken in order to enforce discipline, moral conduct and accountability in the Rwanda Defence Force.”
Rutaremara added that investigations continue.

It is only ten days ago that President Paul Kagame had appointed Lt. Gen. Charles Muhire as the Reserve Force Commander – a new arm of the army. Until then, Lt. Gen Muhire had been heading the Rwanda Airforce – where he has worked for several years.

Major General Karenzi Karake led the UN Peacekeeping Forces in Darfur, Sudan before being recalled over accusations of war crimes and genocide committed between 1994 and 1998 against Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese and the killing of Spanish catholic missionaries. Upon his return from Darfour, General Paul Kagame assigned him to a position of the director of a military training school for army officers.

People have heard the official reasons given by the defence and army spokesman, but are still waiting to know the real reasons behind the arrestation of those high ranking officers of the Rwanda Defence Force.

April 20, 2010   4 Comments

Indian firm excited after buying Rwanda tea factories

Rwanda Tea

Rwanda Tea: Tea was the only export which remained resilient from the global economic downturn. Exports instead short up and prices kept rising over the past two years

Kigali: Jay Shree Tea & Industries (JTIL) is close to acquiring tea estates in Rwanda – and is already telling its investors that the purchases are a good deal for the Indian conglomerate and parent company BK Birla group, its management announced Tuesday.

JTIL has also finalised plans to enter into a marketing pact with a yet unnamed Rwandan tea company. Together, they have formed the Tea Group Investments Ltd which has acquired 60% stakes in Mata and Gisakura tea factories – both located in South west.

According to this tie-up, JTIL will buy 6 million kg of black tea through its Dubai-based subsidiary, Birla Holdings Dubai. The Dubai company will market the tea internationally under the Birla brand name.

The firm has also bought one tea factory in Uganda.

A board meeting has been called on April 28 to approve the overseas acquisition and pave the way for signing agreements with Ugandan and Rwandan partners.

“This time, the acquisition of tea estates in Uganda and Rwanda is surely going to happen. We will acquire two tea estates in Rwanda and one in Uganda. The three estates together produce 5 million kg of tea,” said DP Maheshwari, managing director of JTIL, according to The Economic Times of India

But Mr Maheshwari did not divulge the deal size. “It will be announced on April 28 only,” he said.

This will be the company’s first overseas acquisition in the tea space and would lift production from 23.5 million kg to nearly 29 million kg in 2010-11.

[ARI-RNA]

April 20, 2010   1 Comment

Rwanda: Suspended newspaper accuses Media Council of illegal action

The last covers of Umuseso and Umuvugizi, for a whileThe most recent covers of Umuseso and Umuvugizi (source: KigaliWire1, http://bit.ly/aTu5sN). The two newspapers were also said to be creating the impression among investors that the country was not safe. UMUVUGIZI (here on the right) says the High Council of the Media bundled it like a “best man” to UMUSESO (left). The Office of the President has also been notified.

Kigali: UMUVUGIZI newspaper – one of the two suspended last week has accused the High Council of the Media of basing its decision on “sentiments and disregarding the law”, RNA reports.

In a petition to the Council on Monday, also copied to the Office of the President and several ministries, UMUVUGIZI publisher Mr. Jean Bosco Gasasira wants the decision reversed immediately.

On Wednesday last week, just hours before a major speech in which President Kagame demanded that media which was trading rumour “must stop” or they are stopped, the Media Council slammed a 6-month suspension on UMUSESO and UMUVUGIZI.

The Council says the two papers have since January been insulting the Head of State, sowing discontent in the army and causing panic in the population. Brandishing many copies of UMUSESO about two of UMUVUGIZI, the Council chairman Mr. Arthur Asiimwe and Executive Secretary Patrice Mulama argued that the papers were also creating the impression the situation in the country was insecure to investors.

However, in the petition, UMUVUGIZI chief says his paper is being treated as a “best man” for UMUSESO by being bundled together because no reasons were given for the suspension of UMUVUGIZI.

The only Issue 60 of UMUVUGIZI which the Council based on is that in which the paper details a complicated extramarital affair between state prosecutor Jean Bosco Mutangana and Dr. Diane Gashumba, head of the Rwanda Women Network.

The two senior officials have dragged the paper to court, which according to Mr. Gasasira bares the Media Council from prejudging the case. The case is in the appeals court.

Basing his arguments on articles 16, 73, 82, 83, 84 and 94 of the media law, Mr. Gasasira says UMUVUGIZI has “never been summoned” by the Media Council over the issues raised in the suspension decision. Mr. Gasasira also says the law states that before a paper is suspended for six months, it is warned, and then handed two months before the final decision.

“None of these were done,” he noted. “Instead [the media council] kept on saying UMUSESO, just like UMUVUGIZI is doing this and that…”

The controversial journalist says the Council disregarded the law with intent to “suppress freedom of press”.

Media rights groups have also come out in spirited defense of the papers. President Kagame for his part said he would not allow any media undermining national security to operate.

April 20, 2010   1 Comment