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Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton

Bill Clinton’s Lasting Legacy May Be Haiti’s Earthquake Recovery Effort

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Bill Clinton’s love for Haiti began in Arkansas.

In 1975, he and wife Hillary traveled to the Caribbean nation for a delayed honeymoon. When he became president nearly two decades later, Haiti was on his early agenda, with the goal of ending the violent military dictatorship there and restoring its elected president.

After Clinton left the White House, his work continued in Haiti through his Clinton Global Initiative and the United Nations. When the devastating 7.0 earthquake struck the country a year ago, on Jan. 12, Clinton traveled to the country six days later with supplies.

The former president, who is the U.N.’s special envoy for Haiti, has returned to mark the one-year anniversary of the quake and to evaluate progress and problems. He has visited 13 times since the catastrophe that killed more than 200,000 people and left millions homeless.

In Little Rock, where Clinton’s fascination with the Third World country ignited, the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center is currently hosting an exhibit, “Haiti: Building Back Better,” that celebrates the beleaguered nation’s history and outlines its current state.

“The Haitian people are reimagining their future,” Clinton says in a film that welcomes exhibit visitors. “It won’t be easy. It won’t be quick, but it can be done. There are great reasons to hope.”

The exhibit, mounted in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, begins on the museum’s first floor with a history of Haiti and a display of pre-Columbian stone artifacts. But it quickly jumps to the 1990s when Clinton, in his first 18 months as president, worked with the United Nations and the Organization of American States to strengthen economic sanctions against the ruling junta — Haiti’s eighth — and its surrogates. When Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned as president in 1994, Clinton called it “the beginning of a new era of hope for the people of Haiti . . . and a victory for freedom throughout the world.”

News footage of Aristide and Clinton at the Presidential Palace plays on a continual loop.

Historical points, which remind visitors that Clinton has worked to change the course of Haiti’s history, are made amid displays of vivid papier-mache masks, vibrant paintings given to the Clintons (one by director Jonathan Demme) and glittery gifts from current Haitian President Rene Preval. For example, one display spotlights Hillary Clinton’s two-day visit to the country in November 1998. The purpose of the trip was “to encourage the people and assess progress” after Hurricane Georges. The floor-to-ceiling display also highlights the Clinton administration’s efforts to curb deforestation in the country. The impact: By 1998, more than 7 million trees had been planted in the country by Peace Corps volunteers.

Visitors exit the first part of the exhibit through two large doors covered with a massive picture of the presidential palace. A time stamp and date are on the picture: 4:52 p.m., Jan. 12, 2010.

On the library’ third floor, past the life-size replica of the Oval Office, two doors feature a completely different picture — the presidential palace in ruin. The time stamp: 4:53 p.m., Jan. 12, 2010. It takes visitors longer to reach the third floor than it did for the building to collapse in the 7.0 earthquake.

The exhibit’s second half shows a country torn apart by the quake It bluntly details the staggering statistics — 2.3 million people displaced; 220,000 fatalities; 300,000 injuries.

Chunks from Holy Trinity Cathedral’s historic murals offer a concrete glimpse of the disaster’s impact for those who may never visit Haiti. The Smithsonian is currently helping to restore the church, which has been destroyed six times in its history.

The final displays prop up the Clinton Foundation and its Global Initiative work in Haiti and show footage of President Obama asking Clinton and former President George W. Bush to raise money for the relief effort. But it’s the last feature — the story of the Iron Market — that highlights Clinton’s talent for uniting forces to help Haiti.

The Iron Market was built in France in the 1890s and shipped to Port-au-Prince to become the city’s core as a beloved bazaar where an array of goods, from dried starfish to artisan wares, were sold. Before the earthquake, it had already suffered a major fire and parts of it were already in rubble.

On Tuesday, the Clinton Foundation tweeted: “I just arrived at the opening of the historic Iron Market, a true symbol of Building Back Better.” The tweet included a picture of the restored structure.

Denis O’Brien, an Irish billionaire who is founder and chairman of Digicel, the largest mobile telecommunications operator in the Caribbean, had been interested in restoring the dilapidated market before the earthquake. Afterward, O’Brien, whose company was already the single largest private sector investor in Haiti, moved quickly to do so. In turn, he also became a facilitator for the Clinton Global Initiative’s Haiti Action Network. O’Brien has been named the Goodwill Ambassador for Port-au-Prince by its mayor. He invested $12 million of his own money into the restoration and has committed to oversee the Iron Market for 50 years.

The new Iron Market, painted in its original bright red with a clock tower and minarets, meets international codes, features solar panels and was built to resist hurricanes and earthquakes. It could become an engine to help fuel Haiti’s economy.

“When you look at what you have achieved here, this should be a sign to you that you can have success in the reconstruction, in education, in health care,” Clinton said Tuesday at the Iron Market’s opening.

Clinton’s work, and hope, for Haiti may just be his most lasting legacy.

During the 1990s, Haiti seemed like a blip on the radar screen of a U.S. administration trying to tackle myriad world and domestic issues simultaneously. The Little Rock exhibit, and Clinton’s visit to Haiti this week, show that he is still married to a place he discovered 35 years ago.


Bill Clinton Stumps for Struggling Democrats in Arkansas

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BATESVILLE, Ark. – President Bill Clinton descended on this small college town Wednesday with a mission: To stop the Republican wave threatening his state.

An hour and half away from Little Rock in north-central Arkansas, Batesville sits on the edge of the 1st Congressional District, which has been Democratic since the Reconstruction Era. This district is the bluest of the Blue Dog districts, and like most of Arkansas, it withstood the GOP’s national gains over the last 30 years.

But today, incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln is in the political fight of her life against Republican John Boozman.
And here in the 1st CD, Chad Causey, the Democrat hoping to replace retiring Rep. Marion Berry, is lagging 12 points behind Republican Rick Crawford.

On Wednesday, with Causey at his side and Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” blaring in the background, Clinton walked onto the community college auditorium stage and did his best to rally the crowd of 300.

“This is serious with me,” he said about this year’s midterm elections. “When it started out, I didn’t intend to do much in this election.”
Clinton’s been campaigning ferociously for Democrats — he told the crowd it was his 74th stop this season — in part to thank them for supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential race. He said that Hillary Clinton cannot campaign because of her duties as secretary of State. “There’s no one but me to honor the help they gave her,” he said.

Clinton framed his message around football, telling those in the crowd that they need to look at politics like a football game. He said football fans know every stat when it comes to their favorite teams, and voters should have that same focus.

“When we care about something, we pay attention to the facts,” he said. “Give me 15 to 20 minutes like this is a football game.”


The former president delved into Economics 101, talking about the country’s debt and the need for banks to loan more money. He talked about the need for clean energy jobs – emphasizing the influx of wind turbine plants in Arkansas – and a balanced budget like the one in Arkansas. State law requires the governor and legislature in the state to balance its state budget yearly.


Clinton highlighted Causey’s work on two farm bills as Berry’s chief of staff. The 1st CD relies on agriculture as the main component of its economy.

Clinton sprinkled his speech with references to Lincoln, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and planned to attend a campaign rally for her in an airplane hangar in Jonesboro on Wednesday night. Lincoln represented the 1st CD for two terms during Clinton’s presidency.

The 1st CD remains a critical bulwark for Arkansas Democrats, said Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.

“I do see it as a firewall for the Democrats’ hopes of maintaining the U.S. House,” said Barth. “If they lose a district like that, any hopes of Nancy Pelosi being re-elected speaker are gone. I’m not as sure that if the 1st goes Republican, that it’s gone forever for the party. That said, a loss there (along with loses in the 2nd Congressional District and U.S. Senate race) would be psychologically devastating to the Arkansas Democratic Party. And, we know that political dynamics are driven to a great degree by psychology.”

No one knows that better than Clinton, who kept the crowd spellbound as he spoke. He received loud applause numerous times throughout his speech. Clinton lashed out at the Bush administration and the eight years that the Republican Congress borrowed money from China to pay for two wars and a senior drug package.

“If ever there was an example of not watching the game film, this is it,” he said, adding that Republicans have forgotten the deficit they created. “The game film shows the facts.”

Clinton then became more passionate as he reeled off one economic fact after another. “I am the most fiscally responsible president you’ve had in your lifetime,” he said to explosive applause.

He added that it is too early – 21 months – to elect a new team.

“They [the Republicans] are playing you folks — don’t be played,” Clinton said.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Barbie, Journalism’s New Ambassador (and Badly Needed Savior?)

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Journalism has needed a global ambassador. Now it has one — Barbie.
Yes, Barbie has transformed into a news anchor. For the first time in the doll’s 51-year history, Mattel asked consumers to pick Barbie’s new adventure from five careers – architect, computer engineer, environmentalist, news anchor and surgeon. Forget Barbie designing her own dream home or saving the planet. No, Barbie needs to be in the middle of the action, and journalism certainly provides that some days.
In her new incarnation, the doll — looking like she just returned from Malibu — wears a pink suit with black and silver accents and black pumps with pink bows. Her long, blond hair is cut bluntly with bangs highlighting blue eyes with pink eye shadow. Her accessories include a microphone, a news camera and news folder — pink, of course — with a “B” on it. (Hint to Mattel: A notepad might have been a better prop. The folder makes her look like a secretary.) She does look a tad like the “bubble-headed bleach blonde” that The Eagles’ Don Henley sung about in 1982’s “Dirty Laundry.” Still, she has a mission.
News Anchor Barbie“Barbie as a news anchor can help inspire future female journalists with interactive role play that can help foster skills like storytelling, verbal/written communication, and creativity that comes with being a journalist,” according to a release from Mattel.
Journalism certainly can welcome an ally these days as newspapers and magazines struggle to stay afloat, and Sarah Palin turning red-state America against the “lamestream” media.
This isn’t Barbie’s first endeavor as a reporter. In 1960, just two years after the statuesque doll hit the toy scene, she could be dressed as a fashion editor. In 1985, Television News Reporter Barbie hit the shelves. That same year, she worked as a business executive, dress designer, veterinarian and a teacher. Busy girl. Last year, she took a page from “The Devil Wears Prada” and worked as a fashion magazine intern. (Who has time for Ken?)
Because Barbie is cute with fashionable looks, she could easily land interviews with Sarah Palin, who herself was a television sports reporter, and Christine O’Donnell, who could double as Gidget (as my Woman Up colleague Donna Trussell wrote) or even Barbie’s modern cousin, Francie.
But I like to imagine News Anchor Barbie pushing the journalism envelope more than settling for sit-downs with Palin and O’Donnell. Mattel should create an entire line of news anchor outfits. Any good reporter worth her byline should have camouflage in her closet (in case, she’s called to Afghanistan in the middle of the night), a pair of comfortable, chic black boots, a nice black pantsuit to blend in at news conferences and a passport. Think Christiane Amanpour.
But other questions arise: Would Barbie be more at home beside Fox News’ Sean Hannity or MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann? She could play the middle ground and find a home on CNN. Perhaps Barbie, having been born in 1959 at the height of the television revolution, would be old school and kick it on one of the three original networks, as Amanpour does these days.
Barbie has certainly evolved since her inception as a teen fashion model showing her curves in a black-and-white swimsuit. Unfortunately, she still gets a bum rap for her “perfect” figure and for once saying that math was hard. But what public figure hasn’t uttered something they regret saying? At least she hasn’t admitted to dabbling in witchcraft.
For all the shallowness, Barbie broke career barriers before women in the United States did. She was an astronaut in 1963, long before women busted the all-male space club. Ten years later, she was a surgeon — a ground-breaking career in the 1970s for women. In fact, the Association of Women Surgeons wasn’t even founded until 1981.
In 1992, Barbie ran for president while Hillary Clinton bucked the old-fashioned first lady stereotype. Politics called her again in 2000 and 2004, when she made runs for the White House.
As much as journalism needs Barbie, she should push the envelope. Maybe 2012 is the year she will forego news reporting to finally sit behind the desk in the Oval Office and become President Barbie.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Rush Limbaugh: A (Fourth) Wedding in Pictures

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There’s something satisfyingly voyeuristic about exploring people’s wedding photos online. Of course, in turn, those who post could very well be labeled exhibitionists.

The biggest attention-getter in all the land – aside from Sarah Palin – may be Rush Limbaugh. This week, the radio host posted 20 wedding photos on his recently created Facebook page from his June wedding to Kathryn Rogers.

The couple married in a lavish ceremony in the Ponce de Leon ballroom of the legendary Breakers hotel in Palm Beach, Fla. Rogers, 33, looks like a golden goddess with long, blonde hair framing her face ever so elegantly in a white appliqued veil.

Rogers is Limbaugh’s fourth wife. They met when she was running a charity golf event. Fifty-something men everywhere must be wondering how they can land such a woman. Hint: Money and power woo. Limbaugh, 59, signed a $400-million contract extension with Clear Channel in 2008.

Rogers met Limbaugh six years ago, according to People magazine. Limbaugh was in the process of divorcing for the third time. Hello, family values?

Superstar Elton John entertained the 400 wedding guests. A strange combo, considering Elton is flamboyantly gay and Limbaugh touts family values and opposes gay marriage. Again, money talks. He reportedly played at the wedding for a cool $1 million smackeroos.

The pictures were taken by Donna Newman, a Miami South Beach photographer, who also shot the weddings of Howard Stern and Katherine Heigl and is the family photographer for “Today Show” host Matt Lauer.

In one picture, Elton John in sunglasses is laughing with Rush and Kathryn sans veil. The caption underneath reads, “Sharing a laugh with Elton John backstage before his performance.” Another picture shows Limbaugh almost mesmerized by the gay megastar, who has a civil partnership with David Furnish.

John is an avid supporter of AIDS charities and created his own AIDS foundation. Last year, Limbaugh said, “Everything in Africa’s called AIDS. The reason is [that] they get aid money for it. AIDS is the biggest pile of — the biggest pot they throw money into.”

Furnish told People that John justified the appearance with: “Life is about building bridges, not walls.”

Never let it be said that music is not a uniting force. One follower wrote on Limbaugh’s page, “Props to Elton John . . . I love it when life gets past politics and is simply lived and enjoyed.”

The Rev. Ken Hutcherson and Judge Stephen Limbaugh, Sr., Limbaugh’s cousin, officiated the elaborate wedding, complete with mammoth sprays of white flowers. Hutcherson is a former NFL linebacker and pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Kirkland, Wash. Hutcherson rejects the notion that the gay civil rights movement mirrors the 1960s civil right movement. Wonder what he and Elton discussed?

In other photos, Limbaugh holds up his hand, flashing his wedding band like a first-time groom. Except, oops, he isn’t. But never mind that. As one Rush fan wrote under the picture, “This pic is my favorite. I am not sure why, but it’s just the raw happiness in both of your faces and the cute lil gesture you are making showing off your ring.”

In one picture, Limbaugh appears to be luring his bride into joining him in a terrorist fist jab. Or is that simply a victorious fist pump? Limbaugh should have placed thought bubbles on the pictures. But he didn’t, alas. We’re left only with the thousands of followers’ comments like: “Rush you provide the USA with confidence. I can see it in your face.” More than 600 people like the fist-pump picture.

Limbaugh’s wedding also featured a military color guard – a huge hit among his Facebook followers. “Rush, you are a national treasure. Don’t ever stop what you’re doing,” wrote one. Another wrote, “Don’t see this often at a wedding…awesome! You are a class act Rush!”

Limbaugh was disqualified from the Vietnam-era draft due to a pilonidal cyst. Never mind that. As one fan wrote, “Keep plugging on Patron Saint of Patriatism!!!” (Yes, he spelled it that way.)

Almost every picture is stamped with EIB – Excellence in Broadcasting. That’s part of Limbaugh’s brand and he touts it heavily on his Web site, which incidentally promotes his nuptials as “the wedding of the year.”

Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton may disagree.

Written by suziparker1313

March 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Bill Clinton: Economic Literacy a Must for America

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. – It’s the economy, stupid. Still.

That’s according to Bill Clinton, who returned to his old stomping grounds Wednesday to address the topic about which he has been called an expert.

Springdale is an appropriate place to talk economics. The region is the home of two of the world’s largest companies – Tyson Foods, Inc. and Walmart.

Both companies sponsored the fundraising luncheon for the private non-profit, non-partisan Economics Arkansas, which promotes training for K-12 teachers to integrate economic and personal finance concepts into the classroom. Twenty-one states have such classes in school. This fall, all ninth grade students in Arkansas will be required to take an economics course.

Clinton, in a black suit and pale green tie, received a standing ovation when he entered the room over an hour late.

“The mess we got into in this country is that people didn’t have enough economic literacy,” Clinton told the 1,000 people gathered in the Holiday Inn Convention Center. “Economics became of less concern to people.”

In his view, the recent financial meltdown and recession can be tracked to that lack of concern. In the last decade, Americans maxed out credit cards and took advantage of the subprime mortgage situation. “We pay a terrible price when people don’t understand economics.”

Clinton did not say he supported another stimulus package, but strongly cautioned Washington about passing another one, considering the size of the national debt. Government bonds are bought by China and other countries instead of individuals and American companies as was the case during the Great Depression.

“Since we are on the dole, we can’t enforce our own trade agreements,” Clinton said.
He stressed that Washington needs to focus on corporate treasuries and banks. Corporations need to invest more and banks need to loan more money to small businesses and individuals to stimulate the economy.

“We need to figure out whatever is needed to get that done,” he said. “What would make bankers feel good? Until that happens we aren’t going back” to a balanced and thriving economy.

Earlier in the day, he popped into a coffee shop and ran into the daughter of a deceased friend. He spoke to a meeting of a local economic council and visited the construction site of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a mammoth project funded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton.

Later, he was to visit the house where he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton married in 1975. The street in front of the 1930s English-style house was renamed last week from California Boulevard to Clinton Drive.

Indeed, throughout his luncheon speech, Clinton seemed wistful and homesick for Arkansas. He talked about old political allies and singled them out in the crowd.

“I think about you more than you might imagine,” he said.

Written by suziparker1313

March 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Bill Clinton’s Marital Tips to Newlyweds

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Bill Clinton is a romantic at heart.

The former president penned a letter dated Aug. 8, 2007, to Sarah Fortune McGregor and Jeremy Todd Gill, congratulating them on their nuptials. It wasn’t just any Arkansas wedding, though.

McGregor and Gill decided to marry in the Fayetteville house where Bill and Hillary Clinton tied the knot. They were the first couple to do so since the famous political couple married there in October 1975. The couple’s friend had a connection to Clinton and presented them with the letter as a wedding gift.

“We wanted a place that was intimate and that we could make our own,” Sarah Gill says. “It’s right by campus, so I drove past it quite a bit and one day I thought to just give the [Clinton House] Museum a call. The way it happened was very similar to how Bill and Hillary ended up in the house, which I love.”

Indeed, Bill drove Hillary past the house in May 1975 on the way to the airport for her trip to the East Coast to visit friends. When she returned, he told her he had bought her dream house and popped the question.

Bill Clinton plans to visit the 1930s English style house on August 11 – the Gills’ third wedding anniversary.

Sarah Gill met Clinton before her marriage when he dropped into the library where she was working during a visit to northwest Arkansas. Her dream is to meet the former president in the house where they both married .

In the letter, Bill wrote that he and Hillary wish them the best. “Your lives will be richer and happier because you have chosen each other,” he wrote. “May the coming years bring the abundant laughter in the good times, courage in the tough times, growing wisdom, and an enduring love.”

Clinton told the young couple to treasure the memories they made at the house on their wedding day just as he and Hillary still do.

When Sarah and Jeremy married, then Sen. Hillary Clinton e-mailed a quote via Mo Elleithee, who worked as Hillary Clinton’s spokesman for her exploratory presidential campaign, to the local newspaper about the wedding: “The home may be small but it is filled with lots of love and tremendous memories. It is so touching to me that they chose to start their lives together there. I wish them much love and happiness as they start this journey together.”

The Clinton home is much cheaper to rent than, say, Astor Courts where Chelsea Clinton plans to marry Marc Mezvinsky Saturday in Rhinebeck, N.Y., in what has been estimated as a $2 million wedding. Couples can rent the grounds — house included — for $150 an hour. Granted, the wedding would have to be intimate. The backyard garden can seat 100 people comfortably with about 50 in the house at any time.

Sarah Gill had her picture snapped in her wedding dress beside the replica of Hillary’s dress. She also posed in front of a picture of a young Bill Clinton, offering him a champagne toast.

“The wedding was very casual just like Bill and Hillary’s,” Gill says. “It was great, and we were part of history.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Michael Reagan to Arkansas GOP: What Would Ronald Reagan Do?

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Michael Reagan knows what fires up the Republican base — his father.

On Friday night, Reagan visited Arkansas — a battleground state in the midterm elections — to urge 300 GOP faithful at the state’s annual convention to focus on the big picture, not the small details. That is, if they want to recapture Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on a hill.”

“We shouldn’t worry about who gets the credit,” said Reagan, a former conservative radio host and the adopted son of Ronald Reagan and the actress Jane Wyman. “We should worry about winning the elections in November.”

In Arkansas, Republican Rep. John Boozman, who won the May Senate primary against seven contenders, faces Democratic incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln in November. Lincoln squeaked out a win in the June Democratic run-off against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

Michael Reagan speaksA recent poll showed Lincoln trailing Boozman by 19 points — 54 percent to 35 percent.

Arkansas’ Second District seat could also flip from Democratic to Republican. It is currently held by Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder, who announced in January that he would not seek re-election after 13 years in the House of Representatives. Former Bush White House aide Tim Griffin is vying for the House seat against Democratic State Senator Joyce Elliot, who would be Arkansas’ first black member of Congress.

Reagan said the GOP should remember his father’s 11th commandment — “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” The 24 -hour news cycle, he said, has made politics “too personal.”

“You have to keep it at a political level,” Michael Reagan added. “It hurts the cause when it gets too personal.” For Republicans to win, he told a dinner audience, “We have to look at the big picture like Ronald Reagan did. How do we change the world?”

He spent part of the night reflecting on his father’s legacy, especially the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan visited Berlin last November — the 20th anniversary of the wall’s collapse — and said he felt ashamed that President Barack Obama was not present.

“The president of the United States would go to Copenhagen, instead, to try and bring the Olympics to Chicago,” he said.

He pointed out that Obama sent a video, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced in Berlin, explaining to her audience that Obama had to overcome his own walls. Reagan said he was irate that Hillary Clinton chose to “play the race card on that kind of day.”

The Arkansans cheered.

But Reagan didn’t throw blame just at Obama. He said that if the Republican Party had done its job when it held the presidency and Congress, “Barack Obama would not have been handed the keys to the White House.”

In a media availability before the dinner, Reagan lashed out at the proposed Ground Zero mosque in New York. Earlier this week, he wrote a column agreeing with Sarah Palin who regards the mosque is an unnecessary “provocation.”

“People in the Middle East don’t look at things like we do,” Reagan said. “Mohammad Atta wins, that is how it will be viewed. I don’t need a kumbaya at Ground Zero to know America cares. That’s hallowed ground”

Written by suziparker1313

March 6, 2011 at 10:26 pm