Disability provider denies services to clients who get COVID–19 vaccine over unfounded shedding concerns


The head of Australia’s Immunisation Coalition has raised concerns that some of society’s most vulnerable people may not receive the services they deserve because of unfounded concerns about COVID–19 vaccines.

Coalition chairman Rod Pearce was shown an email to a patient’s grandson saying his care provider was removing her services to all clients who had received a COVID–19 vaccine, because of the “risk” of them shedding the virus.

COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) client, who has autism, received a letter from social worker Matilda Bawden on April 7, which said she was suspending services to “service providers, clients, friends and family” who receive an inoculation.

The email Matilda Bawden sent saying she would not provide services to clients who received a COVID–19 vaccine.(

Supplied: Rod Pearce

)

“My staff and I will not be exposing ourselves to the risks of shedding as I have family members with autoimmune illnesses and so do many of our clients,” she wrote.

“I also have a family member who was severely vaccine-injured and is at risk of further harm should she contract another infection.”

The email also included a link to a friend’s social media page which featured anti-vaccine conspiracy theory videos.

‘Conspiracy theory’ worrying

Dr Pearce, an Adelaide GP, said the email came as a surprise.

“It was a shock to all of us when we first of all heard of this distress and then saw in writing this conspiracy theory and then obviously it added a level of concern to say their NDIS service was being withdrawn — obviously on a false premise — that having a vaccine was putting them or a client at risk,” Dr Pearce told ABC Radio Adelaide.

Dr Rod Pearce
Immunisation Coalition chairman Rod Pearce.

“I guess it’s just an awful sort of shock and wake-up call to us who spend so much time confirming and dealing with the facts around vaccines and making sure they’re safe that there’s a group of people out there who are so concerned at a conspiracy theory and getting fake news somewhere that they’ll actually withdraw services and support.”

He said COVID–19 vaccines did not put other people at risk in the way mentioned since they did not contain a live virus.

“It’s deliberately stimulating immune response without having COVID,” he said.

Worker concerned about risks

Ms Bawden is not a registered NDIS provider, but self-managed NDIS clients can choose to spend their funding with her business. 

She told the ABC the email spoke for itself, but she was not sure if the copy given to Dr Pearce had been edited or not.

She said her clients were entitled to have any provider they chose and she had offered to have other providers replace her.

She was not concerned that clients might choose to not receive a vaccine so they could continue receiving her services, putting themselves at risk of contracting coronavirus.

“I’m taking a policy and a lot of my co-workers are doing the same thing,” she said.

An NDIS Commission spokesperson said both providers and workers, whether they were registered with the NDIS Commission or not, were required to follow the NDIS Code of Conduct.

“Amongst other things, the code requires providers and workers to act with respect for individual rights, provide supports and services in a safe and competent manner, and promptly take steps to act on concerns about matters that might impact the quality and safety of supports and services,” the spokesperson said.

“The withdrawal of supports that a person with disability relies on to meet their daily living needs and to maintain their health and safety, without consultation or putting in place alternative arrangements with a person, could constitute a breach of the code or conditions of registration

“The NDIS Commission has a range of powers available to respond to possible breaches by a provider or a worker. The NDIS Commission can take complaints from anyone about issues with an NDIS provider’s conduct.”

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AFP launch fresh probe into Ben Roberts-Smith as he denies all allegations


Ben Roberts-Smith has denied a series of disturbing allegations, including that he buried a USB containing images of misconduct in his backyard, as Australian Federal Police confirmed they had launched a fresh investigation.

On Sunday, 60 Minutes and Nine newspapers published secretly-recorded audio of Mr Roberts-Smith vowing to “destroy” those levelling war crimes allegations against him, and lauding Seven boss Kerry Stokes for financing his legal battle.

Lawyer Mark O’Brien said allegations made about the Victoria Cross recipient and alleged war criminal were “entirely untrue”.

He issued a lengthy statement on behalf of Mr Roberts-Smith on Wednesday “given the continuing, sustained attacks”.

“The allegation that he ‘hid’ or failed to disclose material to the assistant inspector-general of the Australian Defence Force during the Afghanistan inquiry is false,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Mr Roberts-Smith fully co-operated with the Afghanistan inquiry.”

Allegations that Mr Roberts-Smith threatened a witness or potential witness for the inquiry to stop them giving evidence was also false, the lawyer said.

Mr Roberts-Smith further denied burying a USB in his backyard, with Mr O’Brien saying “this simply did not happen”.

The lawyer also rubbished the allegation that Mr Roberts-Smith’s former matrimonial home was raided by the AFP last year, or any other time, and that USBs were “covertly seized”.

RELATED: Ben Roberts-Smith lashes 60 Minutes report, Seven confirms he’ll stay

Earlier on Wednesday, AFP deputy commissioner of investigations Ian McCartney fronted a Senate estimates inquiry where he confirmed a new probe had been launched following the media reports.

“The AFP has opened an investigation into aspects of that reporting,” Mr McCartney said.

He was questioned over whether the AFP had possession of the USB but said he did not want to launch a “running commentary” over an ongoing case.

“What I can say (is) some of the allegations that have been raised are serious issues and it’s being treated as a priority by the AFP,” he said.

The USB reportedly contained images of soldiers misbehaving on military bases in Australia and Afghanistan as well as an image of a dead Afghan man with coins placed over his eyes.

“The AFP does have access to some material. Some of that material was actually … referred to the AFP by the journalist in question and also by his newspaper,” Mr McCartney said.

Mr O’Brien said no-one from the AFP had contacted Mr Roberts-Smith about their investigation.

“If they do, he will co-operate with any investigation, as he has always done,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr McCartney confirmed the AFP had been made aware of the new information on March 25.

The matter was determined to be a sensitive investigation on March 29, the same day as the cabinet reshuffle.

He could not confirm whether former home affairs minister Peter Dutton or his successor Karen Andrews had been briefed on the meeting, saying whether to brief the minister was decided on a “case-by-case basis”.

The USB’s metadata suggested Mr Roberts-Smith had obtained, altered or transmitted the material after leaving the military, according to Nine newspapers.

Mr Roberts-Smith’s defamation trial against Nine is scheduled to begin in the Federal Court on June 7.

During a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, another lawyer for Mr Roberts-Smith accused Nine of an “abuse of process” for airing the USB allegations.

Arthur Moses said the USB issue raised a “very serious matter”, given the media outlets aired the allegations before filing them in court ahead of the defamation trial.

“They publish it and then come here and file evidence. That is an abuse,” Mr Moses told Federal Court Justice Anthony Besanko.

“If they want to run the case, they should do it properly.

“It is inappropriate – we’re eight weeks out from a trial – and anybody who reads the media or watched the program can see there’s a concerted effort by the (media) to be publishing material prejudicial to the applicant in the lead up to the trial rather than doing it the normal way by filing their evidence.”

Mr Moses said he would ask the outlets for a copy of the USB or subpoena it so it went into the court record and could be examined.

He said the outlets needed to explain how they came to rely upon it at this late stage without foreshadowing it to the court earlier.

Justice Besanko said Mr Moses could make an appropriate application to the court based on his concerns.

Mr O’Brien also said Nine’s conduct so close to the commencement of the trial was of “grave concern”.

“(It) appears to be either an attempt to intimidate Mr Roberts-Smith into discontinuing his defamation proceedings, or to punish him for bringing them,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It will neither intimidate nor deter him from proceeding with the trial and bringing the respondents … to account.”

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Biden spokeswoman calls record migrant surge a ‘cyclical issue,’ denies it’s worse than prior years


White House communications director Kate Bedingfield sparred with ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Sunday over a surge in unaccompanied minors trying to cross the U.S. southern border as Bedingfield insisted the numbers “are the same kinds of surges that we’ve seen.”

“What we see from the data is that these surges are cyclical, they’re cyclical, they’re not the result of one administration’s policies or another administration’s policies, the result of, for example, weather disasters in the region. They’re the result of people fleeing poverty and violence,” Bedingfield said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” 

BIDEN STAFFER BLOCKS TED CRUZ FROM TAKING VIDEO AT MIGRANT FACILITY

“We saw spikes in 2014. We saw them in 2019 when the Trump administration had perhaps the cruelest imaginable policies in place, family separation, to try to deter people from coming, and they still came. So this is a cyclical issue. It’s one that President Biden has said is unacceptable to him and he’s working very quickly to address it,” she continued.

Karl interjected.

“There is something different here, and that is the unaccompanied minors, and we already have a record number of unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody. And in just a single day last week there were 1,000 additional minors who were brought into U.S. custody coming across the border,” he said. “The seasonal surge you’re talking about is only just beginning. … This is not the same as it’s been. This is worse, is it not?”

A photo of a CBP overflow facility for migrants in Donna, Texas. (Office of Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas)

Bedingfield disagreed.

“It is the same. These are the same kinds of surges that we’ve seen,” she said.

BIDEN’S BORDER CRISIS: 6 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

“It’s also important to be clear that our policy hasn’t changed. The vast majority of people who arrive at our border, we’re turning away under Title 42, under a health code that requires us to, or allows us to, turn people away in this period of Covid. So people should understand that the vast majority of people who show up at our border, we’re turning away,” Bedingfield continued.

She said the administration wants to address the root causes of such migration including a lack of places like Boys & Girls Clubs in northern triangle countries that allow children to have somewhere safe to go.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki spoke to “Fox News Sunday” about the administration’s response to the surge.

“Just last week we had a pool camera providing footage to Fox News just last week into the shelters. We want to provide access into the Border Patrol facilities. We are mindful of the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic. We want to keep these kids safe,” Psaki said. “We are absolutely committed to transparency and providing access to media … and we’re working to get that done as soon as we can.”

“At this point, in allowing access to border patrol facilities for reporters, you are being less transparent than the Trump administration,” host Chris Wallace said.

“The Trump administration was turning away kids at the border and sending them back on the treacherous journey, or they were ripping kids from the arms of their parents. We’re not doing that. We are committed to allowing cameras into the border patrol facilities, absolutely,” Psaki said.

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Biden on Thursday appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to lead his administration’s efforts to address a record surge in migrants, including unaccompanied minors, that has strained capacity at immigration facilities at the southern border in recent weeks.

“When she speaks, she speaks for me,” Biden said Thursday. 

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and FOX Business’ Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.

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Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys denies new rules causing injuries as 18th man change to be examined


The Sharks lost three players during the match to concussion and the Raiders lost two, with both John Morris and Ricky Stuart lavishing praise on their sides as both tired badly in the final quarter.

The AFL introduced a medical substitute on the eve of their season commencement, and NRL executives insisted they could tinker with their interchange policy and have it amended almost overnight.

Sione Katoa was one of four Sharks players whose night was ended early by injury.Credit:Getty

V’landys reiterated he thought this season’s new rules – including six again calls for offside infringement and a reduction in scrums which are designed to increase ball in play time – were not responsible for the staggering injury toll, which has seen almost 20 players alone unable to finish matches this weekend.

“It’s actually pleasing the clubs are adhering to the protocols, which are a lot more vigilant,” he said. “Previously, where players may have went back on, they are being subject to a much more cautious approach, which I absolutely welcome.”

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St George Illawarra Dragons coach Anthony Griffin denies talk with Andrew Fifita


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“I see it as a pretty good addition for the club if that’s the route they want to take,” Hunt said. “I think he adds something a bit different to us. He’s big, mobile and has a great offload that can create second phase play. With how fast the game is at the moment I think that’s something that could help us.”

The Dragons still have two spots left on their roster and will be monitoring Fifita when he turns up for Newtown in their NSW Cup clash against Parramatta on Saturday.

Griffin insisted he hasn’t been satisfied with his team’s performance in their opening two matches despite a wave of optimism sweeping over the club following a gutsy win against the Cowboys.

The Dragons defended resolutely in the final quarter to seal a 25-18 win and can make it back-to-back wins for the first time since August last year if they beat the winless Sea Eagles at WIN Stadium on Friday night.

Having worn his fair share of criticism since arriving at the Dragons, Hunt has now watched his Queensland teammate and Manly No.7 Daly Cherry-Evans in the gun for his slow start to the season. And he was quick to leap to the defence of his school football rival.

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“I don’t think you can throw him under the bus because of those two losses,” Hunt said. “He’s a very hungry player and I think he leads their team really well.

“We’ve known each other for a long time and there’s always been a bit of a rivalry there, but away from footy I’m good mates with ‘Chez’. We catch up a fair bit and I enjoy playing against him.”

Said Griffin: “They’ve got the Australian halfback who has had some questions asked about him this week, he’ll be at his best.

“Knowing Manly and the way they’re coached, they’re at their best when their backs are against the wall, so to speak. I’m not happy with what we’ve done the last two weeks regardless of the win, we’ve got an enormous amount of improvement in us.”

Cherry-Evans was on Thursday named as Cameron Smith’s replacement as the general president of the Rugby League Players Association.

“I’m looking to help out the team at the RLPA and voice any matters that the players feel they need to get across,” Cherry-Evans said. “The RLPA has certainly grown a lot in recent times but I still think the best work is ahead for us.”

Manly have lost their last seven clashes against the Dragons at WIN Stadium stretching back to 2005.

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Brandon Smith denies reports he wants to buy out of Melbourne Storm NRL contract


Brandon Smith has denied reports he is willing to sacrifice $200,000 of his salary to get away from the Melbourne Storm.

The Sun-Herald reported Smith was willing to sacrifice a big chunk of his salary for his remaining contracted season to find a new team.

Smith has been named starting hooker to kick off the Storm’s first season since the retirement of Cameron Smith, but Harry Grant is the Storm’s preferred number nine.

Fresh off his one-year loan to the Tigers, Grant was set to start at dummy half until a knee injury ruled him out for the first few rounds of the season.

Smith, the starting hooker for New Zealand, has said he wants to be a long-term number nine, rather than filling the utility forward role he has been forced into in Melbourne.

But he used Instagram to deny the reports he was planning to exploit potential new rules around transfers to buy his way out of Melbourne.

“Hey guys this isn’t true,” the 24-year-old wrote in an Instagram story in response to an NRL On Nine story.

The reports said Smith’s agent put several proposals to the Storm in a bid to get his player out early.

The story of Smith wanting an early exit came the same weekend The Courier Mail reported Cameron Munster was open to the idea of joining the new Brisbane NRL team if and when it came into the league.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V’Landys said a 17th side could be added by 2022 or 2023 and Rockhampton native Munster was asked about the prospect of joining the expansion team.

“If another Brisbane team comes in, I won’t say no to going back home,” Munster told News Corp.

“I do see myself moving to Queensland after football and if a second Brisbane team comes in, I could go back earlier than expected.

“I wouldn’t say no to that [joining a second Brisbane team] … for sure.”

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Brandon Smith denies reports he wants to buy out of Melbourne Storm NRL contract


Brandon Smith has denied reports he is willing to sacrifice $200,000 of his salary to get away from the Melbourne Storm.

The Sun-Herald reported Smith was willing to sacrifice a big chunk of his salary for his remaining contracted season to find a new team.

Smith has been named starting hooker to kick off the Storm’s first season since the retirement of Cameron Smith, but Harry Grant is the Storm’s preferred number nine.

Fresh off his one-year loan to the Tigers, Grant was set to start at dummy half until a knee injury ruled him out for the first few rounds of the season.

Smith, the starting hooker for New Zealand, has said he wants to be a long-term number nine, rather than filling the utility forward role he has been forced into in Melbourne.

But he used Instagram to deny the reports he was planning to exploit potential new rules around transfers to buy his way out of Melbourne.

Melbourne Storm's Harry Grant looks to pass the ball while playing Brisbane Broncos' David Fifita tries to tackle him.
After years being stuck behind Cameron Smith, Brandon Smith is now second choice behind Harry Grant (pictured).(

AAP: Richard Wainwright

)

“Hey guys this isn’t true,” the 24-year-old wrote in an Instagram story in response to an NRL On Nine story.

The reports said Smith’s agent put several proposals to the Storm in a bid to get his player out early.

The story of Smith wanting an early exit came the same weekend The Courier Mail reported Cameron Munster was open to the idea of joining the new Brisbane NRL team if and when it came into the league.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V’Landys said a 17th side could be added by 2022 or 2023 and Rockhampton native Munster was asked about the prospect of joining the expansion team.

“If another Brisbane team comes in, I won’t say no to going back home,” Munster told News Corp.

“I do see myself moving to Queensland after football and if a second Brisbane team comes in, I could go back earlier than expected.

“I wouldn’t say no to that [joining a second Brisbane team] … for sure.”

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EU’s UK ambassador denies ‘vaccine nationalism’ amid export row – POLITICO



The EU’s ambassador to the U.K. denied the bloc is involved in “vaccine nationalism” but demanded more transparency from Britain as tensions simmer over the export of coronavirus jabs beyond borders.

“I refute completely the accusation that the EU is protectionist or has engaged in vaccine nationalism,” João Vale de Almeida told British broadcaster ITV’s Robert Peston on Wednesday night.

The EU has been criticized and at times accused of protectionism over a new vaccine export control mechanism it says is intended to ensure suppliers are fulfilling their contractual obligations.

European Council President Charles Michel claimed in a written rebuttal of that criticism Tuesday that the U.K. had imposed its own “outright” ban on the export of vaccines produced inside British borders. He issued a fresh plea for transparency from London on Wednesday in an interview with POLITICO.

But the claims have sparked anger from the British government, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab dismissing the suggestion as “completely false” in a letter to Michel, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain had “not blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine components.

Vale de Almeida told ITV Wednesday night that the war of words had “put transparency on the table” regarding the export of vaccines beyond borders.

“Vaccine producers can only be held to their commitments to supply doses if countries are transparent about exports,” Vale de Almeida said, speaking from Brussels. “This is why we support greater transparency … it is important that we know what is going on.”

Though Britain has not imposed a direct export ban on vaccines, the government’s contracts with vaccine producers have ensured Brits have received jabs at a quicker rate than other Europeans. EU leaders have claimed this achieves the same effect as an export ban and demanded more clarity on the inner workings of the contracts.

Statistics presented by the European Commission to EU diplomats on Wednesday show that as of March 9, some 9.1 million doses had been exported from the EU to the U.K., according to diplomats and officials who were briefed on the data.

The spat over vaccines comes amid a separate row between Britain and the EU over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement’s Northern Ireland Protocol, following Britain’s move to unilaterally extend grace periods on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Vale de Almeida described the split with the U.K. as a “difficult divorce,” but said that it was wrong for the U.K. to have acted alone over the Northern Ireland checks and confirmed the EU would launch legal action in the “coming days.”

“There is absolutely no alternative to the Ireland/NI Protocol, and both sides need to work towards its full implementation,” he said.

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Attorney-General Christian Porter identifies himself as the Cabinet minister at centre of historical rape allegation, denies claims


Attorney-General Christian Porter has identified himself as the Cabinet minister at the centre of an historical rape allegation and strongly denied the claims.

Mr Porter said he will not be standing down as attorney-general in the wake of the allegation. 

He will instead be taking a short period of leave to improve his mental health. 

Attorney-General Christian Porter identified himself as the Cabinet minister accused of an historical rape.
Attorney-General Christian Porter identified himself as the Cabinet minister accused of an historical rape. (Getty)

“I can say what has been put forward in allegations simply did not happen,” Mr Porter said at a media conference in Perth this afternoon.

Mr Porter said standing down would set a precedent for anyone in Australia who has accusations presented to them. 

“If I stand down from my position as attorney-general because of an allegation about something that simply did not happen, then any person in Australia can lose their career, their job, their life’s work based on nothing more than an accusation that appears in print,” Mr Porter said.

“If that happens, anyone in public life is able to be removed simply by the printing of an allegation.  

“Every child we raise can have their lives destroyed by online reporting of accusations alone.” 

Michaelia Cash will take over Mr Porter’s duties as attorney-general and industrial relations minister.

Christian Porter strongly denied the allegations and said he would not be standing down from Cabinet, but would take leave.
Christian Porter strongly denied the allegations and said he would not be standing down from Cabinet, but would take leave. (Getty)

The allegation dates back to 1988 when the woman was 16 and before Mr Porter entered politics.

A document outlining the woman’s claims was circulated to several politicians, including the office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Police said in a statement it had sought legal advice about the case which determined there was “insufficient admissible evidence to proceed”.

The woman who made the allegation first went to police in Adelaide in November 2019 and the matter was referred to NSW Police in February last year.

The woman took her own life in June.

Mr Porter said he had not had contact with the complainant involved in the allegations since they last spoke in 1988. 

He said he had never seen the statement from the complainant which detailed the allegations nor had any formal or substantive detail presented to him.

Mr Porter was emotional during the press conference and said he would seek treatment for his mental health. (Getty)

The attorney-general said he first heard of rumours around November last year, but nothing formal was presented to him. 

He said no journalist had presented the allegation to him in a way that allowed for a response. 

“None of the senior politicians or ex-politicians that have known about these allegations and rumours put them to me,” Mr Porter said.  

“No journalist has put the detail of the allegations to me in a way that would allow seeking a response, not ever.

“All I know about the allegations is what I have read in the media.” 

Attorney-General Christian Porter in parliament last week.
Attorney-General Christian Porter in parliament last week. (Alex Ellinghausen/Sydney Morning Herald)

Mr Porter opened his media conference by addressing the parents of the woman who made the allegation.

“You did not deserve the frenzied circumstances of this past week,” Mr Porter said. 

“I hope you can understand that.” 

Earlier today, the woman’s family released a statement requesting privacy.

“The family of the deceased do not wish to make any comment in relation to this matter as they continue to experience considerable grief arising from this loss,” a statement released through lawyer Shona Hoskins read.

“They request that their privacy be respected during this difficult time.”

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Australian attorney-general denies historical rape allegation


CANBERRA, March 3 (Xinhua) — Australia’s Attorney-General (AG) Christian Porter has identified himself as the government minister facing a historical rape allegation and fronted the media on Wednesday to deny the allegation.

The allegation came to light at the end of February in an anonymous letter sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and members of the Greens and Labor parties.

The letter included detailed allegations that Porter raped a 16-year-old girl in Sydney in 1988 – about 20 years before he entered politics in Western Australia and 25 years before he entered federal Parliament – at which time he was 17.

Porter said that it “simply did not happen.”

“Nothing in the allegations that have been printed ever happened,” he said on Wednesday.

“Because what is being alleged did not happen, I must say so publicly.”

The alleged victim contacted New South Wales (NSW) Police in 2019 but took her own life in 2020.

On Tuesday NSW Police said there was “insufficient admissible evidence” to investigate the allegations and it was closed.

Porter said he would not stand down as AG but would take a “short period of leave” to improve his mental health.

Porter’s press conference on Wednesday came days after former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said he learned of the allegations in 2019, publicly urged the minister accused of rape to “front up” to the allegations.

The government is facing increasing pressure to establish an independent inquiry into the allegations.

Porter on Wednesday apologized to his ministerial colleagues who have been the target of “allegations and speculation.”

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