tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC September 7, 2013 4:00am-5:01am PDT
years forward. live from the apollo tonight in one hour. 8:00 p.m. eastern on msnbc. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. making his case. president obama with a new message today on syria. it comes just days before he makes a national appeal. polling the public. in town halls across this country, people voicing their pps on the syria question, will they back any action? >> scary moments. a high school football friday turns frightening. what's remarkable is the end result here. in big money headlines, new facts about the latest car sales numbers that might surprise you. good morning, everyone. welcome to "weekends with alex witt". we have a split at the g20
summit. president obama heads back to the white house this morning after getting 10 other nations to sign a joint is statement calling for a strong international response. but france, a u.s. ally, this morning now says it will wait for a u.n. weapons inspectors report before deciding on any action. russian president flood mere putin said it would destabilize the region. secretary of state john kerry is in lithuania. this comes after a week of heated town halls across this country with members of congress. we can't bomb the chemical weapons because it will kill more people. we all know that the bad guys put their chemical weapons behind their women and children. so who are we fighting?
>> we support rebel forces. how do we sort out who are the good rebels and the bad rebels. >> 25 for, 17 against in the senate. had the house, 40/150. still 260 undecided in congress overall. so we begin again with the developing news coming out of secretary kerry's trip to europe. learning of a possible setback fort u.s. as it tries to gain international support on syria. we go to andrea mitchell. andrea is is traveling with the secretary and is joining us by phone. good day to you, andrea. what are you hearing? >> good day to you. we have an extended longer than expected meeting here. i'm in vinlius, lithuania, trying to drum up support for u.s. military action against a u.n. mandate, something russia won't let happen.
he was not making much headway with the except of france. it would not go on its own if the president doesn't get a green light from congress. and the french president hollande said he wanted to wait for the chemical weapons inspection report. polls show 68% of french people against military action. so this is not looking good in terms of getting support internationally. kerry is also along the way trying to call congress members back home and cutting his trip short. he will be coming back earlier on monday trying to also lobby
for more support back home. >> okay. andrea, my question regarding france, is president hollande saying, yes, we can be certain chemical weapons were used and, yes, they were launched by assad's regime on his own people? at that point, will they come back on board? >> that's what he was saying at the g20. again, you have a situation where french head of state beginning to see the polls changing, was taking a term without informing his own foreign ministry. this is a very tough road. and the longer they wait and try to lobby for support, as we have seen back home, the softer it gets. initially there were 85 supporters in the house last tuesday with when the first
debate first began. by thursday, only 20 some supporters. or 35 and 20 by friday. they are losing, not picking up support. you know the schedule is to try to get a vote in the senate by thursday. >> andrea, what do you think the president can say on tuesday to sway people's opinion, be they members of congress or the american public? >> i think he has to try to persuade people that this is limited. but at the same time he's trying to reassure john mccain and others who want more that it will be extensive enough. a senator statement department official traveling here with us are saying, look, this is not going to change the situation on the ground. this is a strike to deter and degrade assad's ability to again use chemicals. but this will not change the ground truth, which is this is a grinding war of attrition.
the rebels, they believe, are beginning to get an upper hand. but this has been going back and forth depending whether they get the weapons they need. rebels have been complaining they are not getting the weapons they were promised by the united states. mccain backs them on that. but the state department is arguing that it has -- the u.s. has been supplying them with what they need. so there's a lot of dispute over that. to get back to your question, i don't know what the president can say to persuade people, first of all, that chemical weapons are different than conventional weapons. we know that. that's what treaties over decades have determined since world war i. there's an assumption in the civilized war that you don't use chemical weapons. but then you let saddam hussein use chemical weapons without u.s. interference. more people have died by conventional weapons. the argue here by kerry is that
these chemical weapons, they can be weapons of mass destruction. they kill millions. they are not aimed at opposition military forces. civilized society cannot use them. once they are used this massively, as assad has, you cannot tolerate this to go unchecked. what they have promised the russians, by the way, is u.s. intelligence officials will be briefing them probably in new york when they come to u.n. meetings to try to persuade them that the u.s. intelligence is solid. >> andrea mitchell, thank you very much for phoning in with this develop. thank you. on the heels of andrea, ed o'keefe approximate. and elise. good morning to both of you. ed, give me your opinion on what this means, this setback that andrea mitchell is reporting, france is backing off saying
we're going to wait for the u.n. report to decide whether or not we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the u.s.? >> it's bad enough that the british couldn't get a parliamentary resolution passed. it's now even worse than france, who was really the only one willing to put up military support, is now waivering. that will only make lawmakers much more nervous. she mentioned the whip count. we count at the post 224 members of the house, either completely no or leaning no at this point. you're only going to need 217 votes to defeat a resolution because there's two vacancies in the house. 224 is the perilous number. you have 52, 56, depends on how you count it, still undecided. once lawmakers get back to town on monday and head into the closed door classified briefings away from the cameras, away from their constituents, away from the polls, and they start
looking at the evidence, it is very possible a lot of skeptical folks will be convinced that something has to be done. you couple that with the general group thing that goes on once lawmakers return to washington plus potentially a compelling national address by the president and they think that will convince a few people to head in a more supportive direction. you'll wonder if that's not enough perhaps to keep people from voting for a resolution. >> elise, we know that secretary kerry is going to come back and try to lobby congress for more support. what do you think he can say on the heels of this trip? >> well, it's hard to see him making a case that would be compelling to house republicans who long thought john kerry was the wrong choice for secretary of state and don't have the best relationship for him. i think john kerry and the senate could be crucial in turning some waivering democrats back towards the president. and i would echo what ed said, once they enter the briefings
where they will see classified evidence and some of the clearest photos and videos of the gas being used, it's possible we could see some people turn. senator feinstein was talking to reporters and she said the videos were absolutely horrifying. this is someone who has the broader sketch of u.s. interests in mind. but she had her visceral reactions in the evidence was unbelievable and really led her to support the strikes. >> you know, ed, you look at the latest polls, opinion polls, they show americans against the strike. do you think the president can say anything in his remarks tuesday that might sway public opinion, or do you think he's in part at least, in the midst of a national primetime speech? >> i think a lot of americans and certainly members of congress are waiting to see him do that. especially in congress they want to see him stick his neck out by boldly giving a primetime address. whether that is enough to
persuade people remains to be seen. they put a lot of credence in his words and actions and they didn't necessarily deliver. what will he do to convince folks otherwise remains to be scene. perhaps he makes a much more compelling case. perhaps he gets specific about the evidence and he finds a way to frame it all. the balance that he is going to have to strike between convincing those that are skeptical is i think a very tall order. this is a guy who has had to give several difficult significant and tricky speeches before. you can pile this one to all the others. >> absolutely. >> in terms of a timetable, elise, apparently thursday has been tentatively set for a vote in congress on syria. but do you get a sense that the longer this drags out the less likely any action will be taken? >> i think it depends on that address that's going to come out
of the oval office, like ed said. i think lots of members are on the fence, as we know. but if we see the same trend continue it's really not going to pass. those are the numbers we're seeing. there is strong opposition. unless members are getting lots of calls saying support the president, i see it not passing at this point. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. could the national address sway your opinion on military action in syria? talk to me on twitter. i will be reading some of your tweets throughout the day. frightening moments at a high school football game. will the the surprise move by one of the few american allies change the president's message on syria tuesday? i'm . so now i can help make this a great block party. ♪ [ male announcer ] advair is clinically proven
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in the coming days i'll continue to consult with my fellow leaders around the world and i will continue to consult with congress and i will make the best case that i can to the american people, as well as to the international community, for taking necessary and appropriate action. and i intend to address the american people from the white house on tuesday. >> that was president obama laying out his plans to gain support for military action in syria. he is poised to spend the entire weekend focusing on congressional buy-in. good saturday morning to you, peter. do you know what the white house's game plan is this weekend? >> it's been described full-court press. pick your own phrase. it's what the white house is use to go describe the next several days or so. more significantly, procedural vote on the issue of syria could
come as early as weapons. time ask limited for this white house. even before the president arrived back here yesterday, senior administration officials tell us while aboard air force one he called democrats and republicans while flying back to the summit, of world leaders. we know tomorrow, sunday, chief of staff will do the rounds trying to make the the case tomorrow night. the vice president joe biden will be hosting a dinner with some influential key republican senators that the white house knows it needs the support of. on monday, susan rice, the national security adviser, will be giving a speak. and more significantly congress in its entirety returns from its five-week summer recess. it is open to all members of congress, which the white house could believe it could be important in swaying the opinion of a lot of people who have not yet heard from the administration directly so far. finally, tuesday is that white
house, that national address from the president. we're getting a preview of what the remarks might look like in the weekly address out this morning. >> failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again. they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us. it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons. all of which would pose a serious threat to our national security. >> alex, most observer feel stropblgly that national address on tuesday night could be a defining moment of president obama's presidency. >> i agree. peter alexander, thank you so much. a federal appeals court is blocking texas from primary elections. the lawsuit filed in 2011 by
minorities and civil rights groups said it illegally drew maps that diminished the voting power of racial minorities. first lady michelle obama said her anti childhood obesity is changing. >> if we keep pushing forward, we have the potential to transform the health of an entire generation of young people. >> also in d.c., vice president joe biden praised outgoing chief janet napolitano's leadership abilities and added this. >> look, i told the president when he asked me to do the job. one, i'm not wearing any funny hats and, two, i'm not changing my brand. but here's the deal. i think janet should be in the supreme court of the united states. >> she is becoming to be president of the university of california system. a move by the irs might
change tipping at restaurants. how? details in our big three money headlines. but first today is the day we find out the host city for the 2020 olympics. tokyo is believed to be the favorite, madrid and istanbul, which could become the first muslim country to host the games. the decision comes down 4:00 p.m. eastern. we want to hear more from you. head over to facebook and like us, won't you? [ male announcer ] nobody knows where or when the next powerful storm is going to hit... but it will... that's why there's a new duracell battery. introducing duracell quantum. with its high density core, it's a quantum leap in battery power. the next storm is out there. but so are the heroes. so we're giving a million duracell quantum to first responders everywhere. power. in the hands of the most powerful. duracell. trusted everywhere. a man who doesn't stand still.
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contend. only 63% of people who could be working or looking for work are. that's the lowest level in 35 years. they say if you went back to when obama started, unemployment would be closer to 10%. the groups are opting out, baby boomers. thousands retiring every year. women not coming into the workforce the way they were in the early 2000s. and younger people deciding to stay in school. we will have a more, qualified, educated workforce. but on average they're graduating with $26,000 in student loan debt. >> now to the irs with the new rules on restaurant tipping. what's that all about? >> when you have a party of six or eight, there's auto gratuity. it happens at olive garden, red
lobst lobster, cheesecake factory. if you are running a restaurant and you've got thousands and thousands of employees, now suddenly your paycheck process is very complicated. what did you make this hour, what did you make that hour? if you are a waiter or waitress you would have to wait two weeks until all of that got sorted out until you got your tips. you will see what you see in taxicabs and new york city where they give you options. 15,%, 18%, 20%, what would you like to leave? remains to be seen if it will be better for the servers. >> what about the latest car sales numbers? >> through the roof. 1.5 million vehicles sold last month. we're looking at numbers prerecession, now getting up to the heyday of the early 2000s. and the auto manufacturers are making more money per vehicle. of course they had to get their house in order. it used to be that the cost of health care for union workers who had pensions was $2,000 per
vehicle. so that sorted itself out. lower promotional cost. ford is selling a truck on average every 42 seconds, 24 hours a day. amazing. >> yeah, that is amazing. okay. thank you so much. regina lewis. >> sure. jimmy fallon with a video that's pretty hard to forget. >> if you haven't seen this it's unbelievable. before i show it to you, i want to say this girl is fine. she's okay. don't be scared. i just want you to enjoy this. you know what i'm going to show? she was making a video of herself twerking. upside-down twerking. it really did not go well. watch this.
does your dog food have? 18 percent? 20? new purina one true instinct has 30. active dogs crave nutrient-dense food. so we made purina one true instinct. learn more at purinaone.com welcome back to "weekends with alex witt" at 30 minutes past the hour. here are your fast five headlines. pope francis is imposing air strikes on syria and is declaring today a day of fasting and prayer. more on syria in just a moment. and that's australia's opposition leader being heckled while campaigning on this election day. the conservative will be prime
minister kevin rudd in a land slide. some pretty terrifying moments there. part of the bleachers at a high school football game in columbus, ohio collapsed last night. five people hurt, none seriously. what caused the accident is unknown. a new york man is facing a series of charges including reckless driving after posting a youtube video shows him speeding around manhattan. and nasa's spacecraft is soaring towards the moon. it will spend 100 days orbiting the moon. congress and the white house debate the use of force in syria, u.s. military is preparing for more substantial strikes than president obama previously proposed. pentagon officials are calling it all politics. as president obama preparing
this weekend to try to win support from congress and the american people, from missile strikes against syria, he's ordered the military to come up with new options to hit the syrian military harder than originally planned. for the first time, the pentagon is looking at using long-range bombers for potential a i strikes on syria. b-2 stealth bombers flown all the way from missouri. b-52s from louisiana and b-1 based in qatar. well outside of syria's anti aircraft denies. the u.s. military has been ordered to come up with a longer list of potential targets, aimed at destroying more of syria's chemical weapons program than first planned. and bashar al assad. >> only assad used more chemical weapons than he had on august
21, he has barely put a dent in his enormous stockpile. and four guided missile ships on stand-by in the red sea. a limited attack would only diminish the chemical weapons capabilities would have no lasting impact and only draw the u.s. into a larger war. >> this is probably not the last time that they use chemical warfare agents no matter what we do. military officials claim it looks more like political strategy than a military one, aimed at winning votes on capitol hill. >> thank you for that. joining me with more,
christopher hill who served as special envoy to kosovo. and liz sly with the "washington post". there's a new development. france now saying it will not support air strikes until the u.n. investigation is complete. what is your response to that? >> well, i think like everyone else, they have a war weariness among the public and a sense that really the u.n. ought to be back. this is a longstanding friendship position. i was a little surprised when they got kind of ahead of it and was not prepared to wait. but now they are. i'm not sure that really changes the the basic equation that the administration faces. on the one hand they want to differentiate the issue of protecting the chemical weapons ban from the syrian conflict. on the other hand, it needs to show these air strikes, or whatever they eventually are, are ones that are more than just a pinprick, to use a term often
used in early bombing during the bosnian conflict, but actually inflicts real damage. as soon as they go into that it looks like they're more into the syrian situation or the syrian political situation without a diplomatic strategy forward. so it's a bit of an effort in trying to thread the needle. >> i'm at a bit of a loss as to why all this importance is put on the u.n. results, their investigation. we have to remind viewers that all they are going to tell us is whether or not they believe chemical weapons were used. that's it. they're not going to ascribe any sort of responsibility is for the attack. they're not going to say whether it came from the regime or syrian rebels as bashar al assad claims. so really? that's what the holdup is? or is this just buying time? >> well, it's not going to be much of a holdup, my understanding. this is just a matter of days. you're right. this is not going to point the
finger at assad. just say chemical weapons have been used. i think almost everyone agrees chemical weapons were used. even president putin. but somehow the opposition got a hold of these things. the rebels got a hold of these things and have used them themselves as a provocation. but i agree. it looks a little funny to be waiting for something that we already know about. but i think this is the kind of mood in the world which is that the u.n. should be call the shots here, not the united states. >> and before i get to you, liz, sir, the u.s. seems to be deciding at this point between air strikes and doing nothing. what about other options, like covert actions. some sort of a broker deal to divide the territory? ambassador hill, that question was to you, sir. >> oh, okay. i think there needs to be a diplomatic strategy to show that our strategy in syria is not
just about dropping bombs on bad guys. first of all, there are a lot of bad guys out there. i think the issue is to show we want a way forward. even if assad is hit by a bus today, you still have a problem. what do you do when there's a minority ol' why the. what kind of constitutional arrangements do you have going forward? the notion that somehow they will march through damascus where everyone gets something out of this. that's been the real difficulty because it's hard top find interlockers there. i would say we start diplomatly with european union countries. >> the president said almost three months ago now that the u.s. was going to start arming the rebels. by most accounts, those promises never materialized. would that still be effective if done in a serious way?
>> i think there's a big question for that now. we have reached a point where the rebels seem to have pushed very fast. when you think how much they have gained the last year they have done a lot. they are bumping up against areas with real regime support in damascus. they want to be able to move into the big cities and take those big areas. it was a a lot of weapons to be given to the rebels at this point, which could make a difference. >> i'm looking at your two most recent articles. here's what happened wednesday. syrian rebel leader said any strike should be powerful. jump ahead to friday. that piece is titled syria protests u.s. strikes. what do you think would be the reaction from rebels if there are strikes?
>> well, i think the vast majority who live in opposition areas would like strikes. they are desperate. conditions are desperate there. they are being shelled and bombed every day anyway. there isn't any difference whether more strikes happen or a few extra are carried out. they just want this to as soon as possible. and they're grasping at straws. anything they think might an accelerate an end to this war they want. you have a lot of islamists who are not al qaeda and who also are not very fond of the west. they don't support the west in a general sense. they're very ambivalent with the strikes. and then you do have undeniably from al qaeda groups, they are expanding their influence this they don't support this at all.
>> they said there's no hope for u.n. action in syria and the u.s. has exhausted all other options. has it? >> i think she's probably right. there's no hope for a u.n. security council resolution because china and russia will veto it. u binge the effort to internationalize this, to get paurps to at least support us, you have to understand very few countries have cruise missiles. so what we are looking for is declaratory support from as many countries as possible. we could probably get a number of countries with to support us. most countries look at those rebel groups and to the floor the confidence in them that somehow supporting them will bring this conflict to an end. and in the post conflict phase in syria, whenever that companies, it will somehow be a better day for syria. so there's a real concern out
there in the world that in the absence of a diplomatic strategy and in the absence of political arrangements for syria, once the fighting stops, that there's really no plan right now. for that reason a lot of people are skittish about getting involved. >> many thanks to you both. a skeptical american public is sounding off in polls and in town halls about military strikes against syria. >> none of the neighbors around syria seem to be willing to lift a finger. i don't see how we can do this all alone. up next, we'll talk with a congressman leaning against military strikes about what he needs to hear to win his support. ♪ ♪ we go, go, we don't have to go solo ♪ ♪ fire, fire, you can take me higher ♪ ♪ take me to the mountains, start a revolution ♪ ♪ hold my hand, we can make, we can make a contribution ♪ ♪ brand-new season, keep it in motion ♪
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summit on friday. >> these actions are always unpopular because they seem distant and removed. and i want to make sure i'm being clear. i'm not drawing an analogy to world war ii other than to say when london was getting bombed it was profoundly unpopular both in congress and around the country to help the british. it doesn't mean it wasn't the right thing to do. >> joining me now democratic congressman david sicilini, member of the foreign affairs committee. with a big welcome to you. i want to look at what you said on monday. you were on msnbc. you said it would be a very heavy burden to convince you that strikes are necessary for the u.s.'s national security. with what you know right now, these four or five days later, are you still leaning towards or certainly a no vote?
>> i'm still not convinced that military action is in the best interest of our country. i've studied this issue carefully. i continue to be briefed by members of the administration. spoke yesterday with u.s. ambassador samantha power, participated in calls and briefings and continue to read and listen carefully and of course listen very carefully to the president's address on tuesday. i'm not persuaded that military strike is in the best interest long term of the united states and will advance our national security. and i think one of the things i hear from my constituents who are like most americans, weary of war, why aren't we doing a set of things that might show the kind of condemnation we need to show, build an international coalition, punish the assad regime, short of a military strike. have we exhausted every single
possible alternative or set of actions that might accomplish that. that's where he continue to have questions. why aren't we doing more of that. again, considering a military strike as an absolute last resort. >> isn't it awfully hard to rationalize and deal with a mad man? >> absolutely. >> there's that. but then when you look at what's happening. in essence, even now with france, france has said we're going to back off and see we're shoulder to showered and wait and see what the united nations says, which is whether or not chemical weapons were used. is it a fear of going in this alone? would you feel better? do you think many of those that are on the fence or leaning no would feel better if we felt there was international force going into this together? >> absolutely. i think that's part of the problem. this is an example of the united states once again sort of going
at it alone. if this is the international norm and an important principal of international law, and i believe it is, a broad coalition should stand with the united states to protect this international interest. everyone benefits. 98% of the countries have signed a chemical weapons ban. they benefit from a world free of chemical weapons in general. they ought to bear some of the cost. i think that's part of what we need to build, this international support for this. that's why i think when you go to the u.n. security council, make the presentation, require russia and china to stand up after this has been presented and defend assad. go to the international criminal court. indict all the people responsible. make them war criminals. isolate them further. try to build international support for this condemnation. >> do you think the humanitarian case is get lost in all of this, under a veil of politics? >> not at all. look, this is horrific. you look at that video. you cannot get that image out of
your mind. the use of chemical weapons is an atrocity. but the question is, what's the most effective way for us to punish, send a strong international message and discourage the regime from doing it again. i think if we build -- what i'm wondering is why aren't we worried about the steps we could take. we have to hold them accountable to military strike. there's a whole bunch of options in the middle. we have to think really hard about what kind of case could we build to do them with us to really isolate and make the assad regime and assad himself a pariah and hurt the regime in a way that strongly condemns what they did and discourage them from doing it again but doesn't come with all the risks of a military strike where we don't know what the end result will be. we don't know what the response will be. >> right. >> it will never play out the right way. we run the risk of being dragged into another civil war.
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in this week's office politics, wes moore, the former army paratorooper served in afghanistan. i asked him to evaluate the angles in syria. >> facts on the ground always change. when the president says that absolute norms of international law have been violated by bashar al assad and very publicly, very intentionally violated by bashar al assad that there needs to be a response and answer to that, i think he's right because i think the fact is what bashar al assad is doing not even just to his own people but what's happening within the entire region with impact of the refugee crisis and impact of other regional players
and how they're viewing it needs to be kept into consideration. the thing that i'm primarily cautious of is thinking about when we talk about limited strikes. what exactly is -- what exactly does that mean to the long-term conflict in syria and what exactly is that -- what message is that saying to the syrian people. >> how can you predict the exit strategy? you have to have an exit plan. you say things always change when you get in. >> it's not our exit path or strategy to determine, right. you have the cries about what happens with chemical weapons, which is completely understandable and correct. but let's say we were to do a completely targeted and effective strike on all chemical facilities. any kind of chemical baseline. delivery systems. whatever the case may be. the challenge isn't necessarily the weapons. it's the person who ordered the weapons to be used. bashar al assad whether it's using chemical weapons in cities outside of damascus or like he did two weeks ago which is
dropping it on a school. this is a person who has zero regard for human life. >> how do you deal with someone like that effectively? >> that's the cries we've been hearing for so long from the syrian people and entire international community. how many lives need to be claimed before the international community reacts and before the international community responds? >> do you worry the military is at all stretched too thin even for this limited action? or are you confident that we're good? >> it's a very real concern. we're coming off of the heels of two of the longest wars in our nation's history. we currently still as we speak now have tens of thousands of troops who are still fighting in afghanistan. literally as we speak. >> how important do you think it is as a member of the military to know that you have congressional approval going into something like this opposed to just following orders from the president? >> i think as a member of the armed forces, is it in a way
reassuring that congress has given approval on an action? i guess so. but at the same time, we follow the constitution of the united states and we follow how those laws are made out. commander in chief has the authority to make the call as to when military force is or is not used. congress' approval is fantastic. american people behind that is wonderfu wonderful. we follow orders laid out lby te constitution of the united states. >> how war weary do you think this country is? >> incredibly. this has to be a sell job not just to senator x and congressman y. but the american people. after coming off the heels of iraq and afghanistan, why is this necessary and why is this necessary now and why is it such a national security issue that we're willing to put if not boots on the ground put resources back up there and open ourselves up for what can happen next. >> at 12:00 noon, we talk about
the tale of two wes moors and the message he hopes to sell in his bestselling book. straight ahead, more smart political talk on "up with steve kornacki." humans. even when we cross our t's and dot our i's, we still run into problems. namely, other humans. which is why at liberty mutual insurance, auto policies come with new car replacement and accident forgiveness if you qualify. see what else comes standard at libertymutual.com. liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? little things anyone can do. it steals your memories. your independence. ensures support, a breakthrough. and sooner than you'd like. sooner than you'd think. you die from alzheimer's disease. we cure alzheimer's disease.
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