Saturday, August 17, 2019

Just nod if you can hear me

"Sanders Says If Israel Wants to Ban Members of Congress, It Should Not Receive Billions in US Military Aid: 'The idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which, by the way, we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars is clearly an outrage.'" Even AIPAC condemned Benjy on this one. Imagine a president of the United States advising another country to insult our members of Congress!

Democratic Debate 2, in Detroit:
Night 1: Hickenlooper, Bullock, Buttigeig, Klobuchar, O'Rourke, Ryan, Sanders, Warren, Williamson, with commentary from The Majority Report crew. I was going to post night 2 but CNN apparently decided to cut off any of the feeds. I think there's universal agreement by anyone who isn't in the centrist bag that CNN's questioning was horrible and Jake Tapper might as well be on Fox.

"Progressive Democrats vote against BDS, Palestinian rights" — Really disappointed in Ro Khanna on this. (And so did my own Rep., Raskin.)

Joe Rogan did a full hour-long interview with Bernie Sanders. This is notable because more people watch Rogan's YouTube videos than watch the cable shows, and you're lucky to get a ten-minute interview full of all the wrong questions from those cable shows. Rogan actually did a good job of getting Sanders to talk in a little more depth about his plans and policies — and in front of an audience that is unlikely to see or hear them anywhere else. Of course, the only part the media is talking about is the joke about flying saucers.

Even Politifact had to admit that John Delaney is full of crap.

John Oliver explains the horror of Boris Johnson, PM.

"Leaked Draft of Executive Order to 'Censor the Internet' Sets Off Alarm Bells: Civil liberties groups are warning of a major threat to online freedoms and First Amendment rights if a leaked draft of a Trump administration edict—dubbed by critics as a 'Censor the Internet' executive order that would give powerful federal agencies far-reaching powers to pick and choose which kind of Internet material is and is not acceptable—is allowed to go into effect."

"Sanders Demands Drug and Insurance Industries Explain the Hundreds of Millions They Seem Willing to Spend to Defeat Medicare for All: 'You made a $100 billion in profits last year — how much are you going to be spending of that $100 billion to oppose Medicare for All? Is it $200 million? Is it $500 million? Is it a billion dollars in order to protect your profits?'"

"Nina Turner: There is "Something Wrong" With Dems Who Won't Support Medicare-For-All."

"Kamala Harris Releases Healthcare Plan Calling for Privatization of Medicare [...] Bernie Sanders's campaign quickly slammed Harris's plan, saying it is 'centered around privatizing Medicare, enriching insurance executives and introducing more corporate greed and profiteering into the Medicare system.' Bernie Sanders is calling for a single healthcare system, run by the government, that would essentially do away with private insurers."

"Democratic Voters Rank Bernie Sanders as 'Most Qualified' 2020 Candidate to Solve US Healthcare Crisis: 'Bernie Sanders's fight to guarantee healthcare to all Americans through a Medicare for All system is not only a moral necessity—polls show it is also the most compelling healthcare message to mobilize voters.' [...] That's according to a Morning Consult/Politico survey released Tuesday, which found that 25 percent of likely Democratic primary voters believe Sanders, a longstanding supporter of Medicare for All, has a better "understanding of the problems with the U.S. healthcare system" than his 2020 rivals."

Great interview on The Majority Report with an author who was inspired by Barbar Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, an important reminder not just that poverty is hard, but that low-waged work has gotten even worse and more soul-killing than it's been in living memory: On the Clock: How Low-Wage Work Drives America Insane w/ Emily Guendelsberger - MR Live - 8/6/19. (Link is direct to the interview but you can roll it back to watch the whole show.)

A little recommended reading, from Bloomberg, "Russiagate Is Deader Than Ever: A judge has ruled it was actually fine to publish material stolen by the Russian intelligence — even if the Trump campaign had done it The ruling by U.S. District Judge John Koeltl to dismiss the Democratic National Committee's lawsuit against Russia, the Trump campaign and others on Tuesday may look like something of an afterthought now that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has failed to find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump's team. It is, however, anything but anticlimactic: It contains some hard truths for those still hanging on to the Trump-Russia story." Obviously, the Ellsberg principle is correct, and it's nice to know there are still courts that recognize it.

"Golly, So Many Voter Purges After Supreme Court Declared Racism DOA! The Brennan Center for Justice, using data from the federal government, found that since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, the number of Americans purged from voter rolls has increased to are you kidding me levels of 17 million people. Worse, states that had a history of discrimination against minority voters purged a greater percentage of voters in the last two years than in other parts of the country. Before that 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 required jurisdictions that had a history of voting discrimination to get clearance from the Justice Department before making any changes to voting procedures. But in Shelby, the Supremes decided racism was largely a thing of the past, so such "preclearance" was clearly not needed anymore, and actually was very unfair to places that used to use underhanded tactics to rig the vote. After all, Republicans all over the country were emailing each other pictures of the White House surrounded by watermelon patches, not just in the South! And yet, in a development that nobody wearing opaque goggles could have seen coming, it turns out that getting rid of preclearance resulted in a big rise in voter purges, and those purges somehow managed to be even worse in the places formerly covered by Section 5 of the VRA." I still say there should be a list of known voter-suppression tactics that no jurisdiction, regardless of their history, should be permitted to use.

Speaking of that, remember that some states require you to be registered well in advance of an election, so if you want to vote in the primaries, make sure you are registered now, and that no one has "accidentally" changed your registration or removed you from the rolls. Here's the primary schedule — mark your state primary in your calendar now.

Surprisingly, Bloomberg has a good interview with Stephanie Kelton answering the question, "How will we pay for it?"

The peacefulness of Buttigeig: "McKinsey and Company Is an Elitist Cult. Why Is Buttigieg Defending It? [...] In 1993, Fortune magazine put it this way: 'These fellows from McKinsey sincerely do believe they are better than everybody else. Like several less purposeful organizations—Mensa, Bohemian Grove, Skull and Bones, the Banquet of the Golden Plate—McKinsey is elitist by design.' [...] [...] 'We are now living with the consequences of the world McKinsey created,' writes a former McKinsey consultant in an expose´ for Current Affairs. 'Market fundamentalism is the default mode for businesses and governments the world over.' [...] As McKinsey comes under heavier scrutiny for its role in the crimes of governments and powerful corporations, any 'progressive' who worked there and wants to be taken seriously should have a rather critical perspective. Buttigieg has shown no such reflection. Instead, he calls his time at McKinsey his most 'intellectually informing experience'; he left only because it 'could not furnish that deep level of purpose that I craved.' Buttigieg has said he didn't follow the story of McKinsey's OxyContin push. On McKinsey's Saudi and South African government ties, he said: 'I think you have a lot of smart, well-intentioned people who sometimes view the world in a very innocent way. I wrote my thesis on Graham Greene, who said that innocence is like a dumb leper that has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.'"

Matt Stoller, "Why Private Equity Should Not Exist [...] I'm going to explain what private equity is and why it is facing these attacks. I'll also go into a bit of history, how private equity, which used to be called the leveraged buy-out industry (LBO), was started by a Nixon administration official who oversaw the both the bankruptcy of New York City and the intellectual attack on antitrust in the 1970s. Finally I'll also discuss what it would mean to eliminate PE from our economy and politics. [...] So what is private equity? In one sense, it's a simple question to answer. A private equity fund is a large unregulated pool of money run by financiers who use that money to invest in and/or buy companies and restructure them. They seek to recoup gains through dividend pay-outs or later sales of the companies to strategic acquirers or back to the public markets through initial public offerings. But that doesn't capture the scale of the model. There are also private equity-like businesses who scour the landscape for companies, buy them, and then use extractive techniques such as price gouging or legalized forms of complex fraud to generate cash by moving debt and assets like real estate among shell companies. PE funds also lend money and act as brokers, and are morphing into investment bank-like institutions. Some of them are public companies. While the movement is couched in the language of business, using terms like strategy, business models returns of equity, innovation, and so forth, and proponents refer to it as an industry, private equity is not business. On a deeper level, private equity is the ultimate example of the collapse of the enlightenment concept of what ownership means. Ownership used to mean dominion over a resource, and responsibility for caretaking that resource. PE is a political movement whose goal is extend deep managerial controls from a small group of financiers over the producers in the economy. Private equity transforms corporations from institutions that house people and capital for the purpose of production into extractive institutions designed solely to shift cash to owners and leave the rest behind as trash. Like much of our political economy, the ideas behind it were developed in the 1970s and the actual implementation was operationalized during the Reagan era. [...] PE firms serve as transmitters of information across businesses, sort of disease vectors for price gouging and legal arbitrage. If a certain kind of price gouging strategy works in a pharmaceutical company, a private equity company can roll through the industry, buying up every possible candidate and quickly forcing the price gouging everywhere. In the defense sector, Transdigm serves this role, buying up aerospace spare parts makers with pricing power and jacking up prices, in effect spreading corrupt contracting arbitrage against the Pentagon much more rapidly than it would have spread otherwise."

"White-Collar Slowdown Forces Law Firms, Ex-Prosecutors to Adapt: The slowdowns in white-collar enforcement activity and litigation have coincided with diminished hiring demand from law firms, while some white-collar defense attorneys are shifting their practices to focus on other areas.

Pierce, "The Democratic Party May Finally Be Emerging From the Shadows of 1980: I occasionally talk about the most singularly dismal episode in my experience hanging around politicians and political events, and it is not the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, nor is it the events that occurred between the beginning of November, 2016 and the end January, 2017. It isn't even Betsy DeVos's confirmation hearing, although that's a real contender. No, the episode in question occurred in 1982, when I was just a young alternative journo, and I attended something called the Democratic Midterm Issues Convention. It was at that event that you could see what was coming for the next 30 years or so, and what you saw wasn't pretty.

"The American Medical Association Is Taking a More Aggressive Approach on Abortion Legislation: The American Medical Association is suing North Dakota to block two abortion-related laws, the latest signal the doctors' group is shifting to a more aggressive stance as the Donald Trump administration and state conservatives ratchet up efforts to eliminate legal abortion. The group, which represents all types of physicians in the U.S., has tended to stay on the sidelines of many controversial social issues, which, until recently, included abortion and contraception. Instead, it has focused on legislation affecting the practice and finances of large swaths of its membership. But, says AMA President Patrice Harris, the organization feels that, in light of new state laws in the U.S. that would force doctors who perform abortions to lie to patients—put 'physicians in a place where we are required by law to commit an ethical violation'—it has no choice but to take a stand. One of these laws, set to take effect Aug. 1, requires physicians in North Dakota to tell patients that medication abortions—a procedure involving two drugs taken at different times—can be reversed. The AMA said that is 'a patently false and unproven claim unsupported by scientific evidence.' North Dakota is one of several states to pass such a measure."

In the wake of Donald Trump's attack on Baltimore, Dave Ettlin takes you on his tour of the city, in "Defending Baltimore: The City Of My Birth Has Problems But Promise, Reflecting Urban America." I was sorry to learn that his old house on Calvert Street, Toad Hall, where I had many adventures, has been turned into apartments, "most of its original features stripped away."

Dave Langford reports in Ansible: Court Circular: The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (of 'Urban Spaceman' fame; see SFE entry) found their name had been trademarked by Anglo Atlantic Media Limited, which claimed ownership at the Intellectual Property Office website — no evidence required, just a £200 fee — and then sued them for using their established name. Directors of AAML include the band's former promoter Bob Carruthers. A fundraiser for the Bonzos' legal costs at www.crowdjustice.com/case/bonzodogbanned/ reached its £15,000 target on 26 July, but more would be welcome. [JD] The IPO has scheduled a hearing of the case for 5 September 2019."

Eskow, "What the Fight Over Means Testing Is Really About: What started as a tool to target need has spread into an ideology that runs the risk of puzzling the public and overcomplicating policy. [...] Sanders, who has thus far refrained from criticizing Warren, kept his remarks positive. But Omar's office contrasted Warren's proposal unfavorably with hers, calling it 'a complicated means-tested plan to keep out a doctor or lawyer who might be earning a good living.' 'Means-tested' is clearly used unflatteringly here, because it has become a pejorative shorthand to describe and dismiss a certain kind of Democratic politics. As the headline to a 2017 essay by The Week's Ryan Cooper put it, 'The road to hell is paved with means-testing.'" I actually think he understates the case, here. The simple fact is that when you throw a load of administrative crap at low-income people in need, you make it harder for them to receive the benefits you claim you want to give them. The more they need it, the more they get tripped up by red tape. It's easy for people of means to hire someone to navigate these obstacle courses for them, but it can be insurmountable for people who actually need those benefits the most.

Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent's Stealth Takeover of America: Nobel laureate James Buchanan is the intellectual linchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions, argues Duke historian Nancy MacLean."

Down in Fulton, Georgia, the first #BlackLivesMatter organizer elected to public office in America has a rebirth. "Councilman khalid: Why I'm Still Sanders [...] In June, Vermont's Public Access Channel CCTV released the entire archives of 1980s TV show: Bernie Speaks. The City of Burlington cable access show was created in 1986 by then-Mayor Bernie Sanders to circumvent commercial media and promote his political agenda directly to constituents. Late-night host Trevor Noah featured a few funny clips from the show, exposing America to this forgotten trove of what he called 'Bernie gold'. I went online and began binge-watching episodes. I was looking for reasons to believe in Bernie again. I found them. I also found myself. It was Bernie's 2016 Presidential Campaign that inspired me to run for local office. Little did I know that since winning, I was still following in his footsteps. [...] Many of the same issues I discuss on khalidCaresTV — political education, equitable economic development, divesting in policing and investing in young people before they get into criminal trouble — I saw Bernie address on this 30-year-old TV show. As it turns out, the Blackest City in America is suffering the same problems as overwhelmingly-white, 1980s Burlington, Vermont. Civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King was right. We are tied together in a single garment of destiny.

"When Will Obama Stop Dividing Democrats by Attacking Obama's Record? An idea that has entered the political universe this week is that certain 2020 Democratic candidates are 'attacking' Barack Obama by employing certain campaign themes and proposing certain policies, a trend that purportedly came to a head during Tuesday and Wednesday's primary debates in Detroit. [...] Have 2020 presidential candidates begun engaging in suicidal attacks on Obama's legacy by suggesting ambitious universal care policies, critiquing free trade's effects on American workers, discussing the downsides of capitalism, and calling for a reduction in criminal prosecutions of undocumented immigrants? Not really. For one, if you look at the transcripts, you find that almost none of the candidates who've taken those positions actually criticized Obama during the debates; in fact, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Julián Castro only used the former president's name to praise him or to suggest that his example supported the cases their campaigns are making. More importantly, though, none of those individuals nor any other 2020 candidate is doing or proposing anything that departs significantly from the path that Obama himself set for the Democratic Party." TL;DR: Eric Holder is a disingenuous putz.

"Stephen Colbert Jumps The Shark With Cringey Bernie-Bezos Bit:" Bernie Sanders made the completely unremarkable statement that it's unsurprising that media owned by billionaires would not support a candidate who rails against billionaires, and for some reason, Colbert thought this was occasion to attack him. The Majority Report is dismayed. Meanwhile, The Washington Post's New Social Media Policy Forbids Disparaging Advertisers.

And speaking of that, there's now a Bernie substack, and it has "BERN NOTICE: What We Cannot Discuss: Pundits freak out over the suggestion that billionaire media tycoons don't like Bernie Sanders"

"Chase Bank Erases All Debt For Credit Card Customers In Canada: Imagine if that massive credit card bill in your name just magically disappeared. For Chase Bank credit card customers in Canada, that dream became a reality. 'I don't know why they're doing it,' Toronto airbrush artist Randal Thibodeau wrote on Twitter. 'Good news for me.'"

"We Need A Wizard Who Can Appeal To The Moderate Orc Voter: I may be just an ordinary orc, but I wasn't at all surprised when the Dark Lord Sauron became the leader of Mordor. A lot of my smart, liberal friends, though, reacted as if Middle-earth was coming to an end. Dwarves in the barroom of the Prancing Pony said it was the pride of the High Elves. Ravens twittering under the eaves of Mirkwood blamed the cunning of dragons. The Steward of Gondor, posting on FacePalantir, said it was because of Sauron's hatred for the heirs of Isildur. I'm here to tell you: it's the economy, stupid."

"A Bear Somehow Fell Onto A Moving Police Car, Then Things Got Really Weird"

"A Lost Album From John Coltrane, With Thanks To A French-Canadian Director [...] Now comes word of another new album by the classic John Coltrane Quartet, with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Blue World will be released on Impulse!/UMe on Sept. 27, and like Both Directions it offers an unexpected view on a pivotal period in the band's evolution. It was recorded at Van Gelder Studios on June 24, 1964 — a few weeks after the quartet put a finishing touch on the album Crescent — as the soundtrack to a Canadian art film. Because the date had gone unnoted in session recording logs, this music has occupied a blind spot for Trane-ologists, archivists and historians."

Mark Kernes reminds me that the complete run of the late Paul Krassner's The Realist is available online.

RIP: Martin Hoare (1952-2019) was well-known to anyone who loves Dave Langford, since they often seemed inseparable. (When Dave met me at Heathrow to pick me up for my TAFF trip, Martin was driving — and, having heard that I was interested in seeing interesting old pubs, pulled us up to a weird little thatched place as soon as the pubs opened. The place had such a low ceiling that I could reach up to lean on a ceiling beam.) (Graham Charnock posted the best photo of Martin I've seen.) More from Langford in Ansible.

RIP: Toni Morrison: Nobel Prize-winning author dies at 88: Her family confirmed 'with profound sadness' that Morrison had died 'following a short illness'. Author of 11 novels, she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, having published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. Her 1987 book Beloved told the story of a runaway female slave and was made into a film starring Oprah Winfrey in 1998. [...] Morrison once said: 'We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.'"

RIP: "Peter Fonda, celebrated actor known for Easy Rider, dies aged 79: Son of Henry Fonda and brother of Jane Fonda died after battling lung cancer, family says"

RIP: "Film-maker DA Pennebaker dies aged 94: The documentary-maker's work included Monterey Pop, Bob Dylan's Don't Look Back and Bowie's Ziggy Stardust concert film.

"Why They Hate Bernie: Remember the frenzied, paranoid style of right-wing anti-Clintonism? The lies, the conspiracy theories, the deeply personal disgust? Well, it's back — only this time it's migrated to the Democratic Party and its unhinged attacks on Bernie Sanders." I've actually remarked myself on the way a lot of it has the same features from the same sources of the Arkansas Project.

Liz's inside-outside game: "Elizabeth Warren Took On Obama Over Student Debt Forgiveness. How She Won Is Central To Her 2020 Campaign. [...] She did it by turning to what had become the core tool of her political life: a potent combination of grassroots activism, intense political pressure, and detailed analysis of consumer law. And she used that tool in part against her own party's administration, strengthening a political identity that cut against what was then the mainstream of American liberalism." And here's a little more from Dday.

This 1993 article from The American Prospect is a good reminder that all those left-wing losers of the Democrats' past were, in fact, not left-wing - and that it's always the right-wing Democrats who have the temper tantrums. "The Myth of the New Democrats [...] The notion that the Democratic Party is a captive of left-wing extremists is a familiar one to readers of the American press. It has been a staple of conservative Republican doctrine since 1932. In itself, this does not make the point incorrect, although it suggests that it is a bit musty. Reminiscent of the analysis that has been nurtured for decades in places such as the National Review, New Democrats have a tendency to argue at a level of abstract generalization that permits them to leap over some facts that would otherwise puncture their case. The first set of facts is historical. With the exception of McGovern in 1972, in five of the last six presidential campaigns, the Democratic candidates--Humphrey, Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis--ran as centrists. Humphrey was the establishment candidate against Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy. Carter ran as a conservative southerner moderate on race. The centerpiece of Mondale's campaign (for which Galston served as chief issues adviser) was deficit reduction. And Dukakis ran as a technocrat who, until the last two weeks of his campaign, avoided attacking Ronald Reagan because he didn't want to sound too partisan. Even McGovern didn't run as a "tax and spend" Democrat; a central part of his platform was a proposal for a huge middle-class tax cut. Indeed, the Carter presidency--the failure of which still weighs heavily on the Democratic psyche--was the exemplar of the New Democrat spirit. The New Republic reports that when Al From talked with Carter about forming the DLC, the latter said: 'Boy, could I have used a DLC to back me up.' [...] Naureckas concludes that 'when the "pragmatists" lose badly with their centrist approach, they are repainted after the fact as radicals, so the strategy of tilting to the right can be tried again and again.'"

"After 48 Years, Democrats Still Haven't Gotten the Memo: Lewis Powell once drafted a how-to guide for maximizing political power. Only one party took his advice. Here's how Democrats can catch up."

Michael Moore at Common Dreams, "30 Years Ago: The Day the Middle Class Died: From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated. Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, 'When did this all end?', I say, 'It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981.' Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to 'go for it' -- to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves. And they've succeeded. On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who'd defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days." Moore overlooks a lot of what came before (like the 1973 HMO bill that made profiteering off of medical care legal), but make no mistake: The firing of the air traffic controllers was a very big deal. And it wouldn't have happened without the help of an unlikely culprit.

Never forget that when it came to reproductive rights, Barack Obama never missed a chance to spit in our eyes: "As of this writing, House Democrats passed a health care reform bill that would extend the principles of the Hyde Amendment to proposed overhaul of the health care system, and further block federal subsidies for private health insurance that covers abortion care. While President Obama reportedly opposed the move, he told Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News in July that there is a 'tradition' in Washington 'of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care.' [31]".

An oldie but a goodie, "One Chart About Income Inequality That Will Make Your Blood Boil"

I can't believe people are still throwing out the "Bernie Sanders has no accomplishments" meme. Bernie Sanders' Accomplishments.

Pink Floyd, "Comfortably Numb"

2 comments:

  1. Never ceases to amaze me how dishonest the left is. Trump isn't out to censor the internet. He's out to stop the tech companies from censoring citizens in the new, global public commons.

    Facebook and Google should not have this much power. But because the left went full-authoritarian and used their control over the tech and media companies to censor and oppress people who don't agree with them, you're fine with corporate power. You love to use corporate power as an end-run around the constitution despite the fact that the government created the internet.

    All the last two years have proven is, progressives and liberals only believe in freedom when it benefits them, and call any attempt to ensure free speech 'censorship' in the most Orwellian display I've seen. Even Bush wasn't this brazenly un-American. And yes, if you're in favor of censorship of dissent against globalism and neoliberalism, then you are un-American.

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    1. It's very easy to notice when your own ox is being gored. What we've seen is that lots of people you never heard of or paid attention to *on the left* have been censored/deplatformed and we really only hear about it when it's someone on the right. I don't hear the right-wing crying about censorship when it's the left being censored, or any other move that creates too much power for a big media company. Do you have talking points about the Venezuelan news page on FB that was blocked? It would have been interesting to see right-wing outrage when Time Warner et al. got prices raised on sending out small magazines, or hear complaints about mega-mergers, but no, let's just pretend that only the right-wing is ever victimized by any of this stuff.

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