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      Quantitative Easing, to put it simply, no matter what form you do it in, is only marginally effective. Most of the money goes to the rich, you may or may not get a technical win in GDP, and in many cases the money may flow out of the country. If you want to improve the [...]
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Sunday: Lori, Noam, Libya and Paywalls

Lori

Lorenda Starfelt passed away last Tuesday.  She was 56.  Her death was announced by her husband Brad Mays yesterday on Correntewire where Lori posted under the name Basement Angel.  Long time readers of this blog will remember Brad and Lori as the filmmakers who documented the dispossessed of the 2008 primary elections.  I met them on several occasions.  Brad was a loose cannon and Lori was his voice of moderation.  She was beautiful with a dazzling smile and captivating eyes.  Brad says she died of uterine cancer that had spread to her liver.  I never knew she was sick.  I am very sorry to hear that she has died.  Her voice will be missed.

Lori intuitively understood the people who defected the Democratic party for the Tea Party.  She knew that racism had very little to do with it.  She knew that the Tea Party is rallying its supporters with false messages but at least it gives them answers.  The Democrats have abandoned its base, liberals and working class and the well educated unemployed.  We shouldn’t be surprised that the movement conservatives behind the Tea Party are picking some of them up.  In one of her last posts at Corrente, she posted this clip from an interview that the Commonwealth Club did with Noam Chomsky:

I have mixed feelings about Noam.  I can’t argue with the points he made in this segment.  He understands the way the powerful elite has used language to pit the working people of the world against each other while they make off with the loot.  And he’s right to criticize those of us on the left for failing to get our act together to deliver a different message.  But in an ironic way, he’s part of the problem.  For all of his justifiable criticism of the failures of the Obama administration, which he must known were coming if he was paying attention to the language of Obama’s 2008 campaign, he was willfully blinded to considering any of the other Democratic candidates as better options.  He didn’t like any of them, he says.  Noam reminds me of the people back in 2000 who thought there was no difference between Republicans and Democrats.  Well, there isn’t much difference now but back then there was.  Maybe Bill Clinton didn’t turn out to be the uber liberal that Chomsky and others like him were hoping for but there was a world of difference between him and the Republicans.  In the same manner, there was a world of difference between the top two Democrats who ran.  One lead from deeply held left of center principles; the other was just a brand who walked and talked like the finance industry that footed the bill for his campaign.  The difference between them had everything to do with who was backing them.  (Next time, pay attention.)

Noam’s weakness seems to be that he’s stuck in the 60′s, reliving the civil rights movement, Cold War and Vietnam.  Sometimes, I just want to smack him.  No one likes war and no one on welfare would prefer it to a well paying job.  The last thing we should do to help people on welfare is make it necessary for them to receive it.  Has he forgotten that poor people on welfare tend to live in the low rent parts of town, because that’s all they can afford?  That concentrations of poor people tend to perpetuate generational poverty, substandard educations and hopelessness?  No, Noam, we don’t want that.  We want government to help poor people by helping them get jobs.  There is a role for government but welfare isn’t a goal.  It’s a stop gap on the way to something better.

What would Noam think of the air strikes on Libya?  For the most part, he’s right about the unnecessary wars we’ve been saddled with.  Iraq was a sham that many Americans were tricked into pursuing.  But the war in Afghanistan?  I’m sorry, we needed to go into Afghanistan after 9/11.  The fact that the Bush administration screwed up the country after the invasion does not alter the necessity of going there.  A country can’t allow a ragtag group of terrorists to attack it and then turn the other cheek.  It sends a bad signal to the rest of the world, which despite our civilizing evolution of the past century is still barely holding itself in check from ripping itself to pieces for power and natural resources.

This morning, we  joined the French and other countries in attacking Libya as an impressive cultural shift continues to ripple across north Africa and the middle east.  Radio Free Europe sums it up:

The British and U.S. strikes came after French warplanes fired the first shots on March 19, destroying government tanks and armored vehicles in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

The campaign, called “Odyssey Dawn,” currently involves forces and equipment from the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Italy, and Denmark. It is the biggest Western military intervention in the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It followed a decision on March 19 in Paris by Western and Arab leaders to enforce a UN no-fly zone over Libya in order to prevent Gaddafi from carrying out attacks on civilians and opposition forces.

In an audio message broadcast on state TV, the 68-year-old Qaddafi remained defiant, saying he was prepared to defeat the Western forces in what he said would be a “long, glorious war.”

“You are unjust, you are the aggressors, you are beasts, you are criminals. Your countries are against you. There are protests everywhere in Europe, in America against the steps you’re taking against the innocent Libyan people,” Qaddafi said. “The people are with us, even your people are with us. All the people on Earth are against you. You will fail like how Hitler failed, Napoleon failed, Mussolini failed. All tyrants fall under the feet of the people. This is the era of the people and the great [Qaddafi] revolution.”

Uh-huh.  Maybe Qaddafi should cut back on the hot sweet tea.

If you are a person of principle, ideally, you want to allow the peoples of these countries to determine for themselves what their government should be and encourage them from the sidelines.  But the possibility that civil unrest threatens to destabilize the world’s economies might also make you want to act when a divided country starts to spiral out of control towards years of violence.  Better to pick a side, preferably the anti-dictatorship one, and aid it.  In this case, timing is everything.  Be swift and thorough.

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide which American politician has been the driving force behind arguing for and assembling the allies for an air strike.  Hint: Ditherers don’t do it.  Unfortunately, unbiased reporting on foreign policy at the NYTimes is spotty, which brings me to the paywall issue announced last week.

While I admit to being a regular NYTimes reader, lately, I have been disappointed and a little shocked by what I read there.  Last week’s coverage of Japan’s struggle with their nuclear reactors was breathless and hyperbolic while reports of the dead, missing and displaced was muted.  For the “paper of record”, it was disgraceful.  Meanwhile, anti-government bias there is becoming obvious.  Maybe the editors aren’t aware of the degree to which they have conformed to the anti-government point of view.  But today, their blurb on the frontpage to their editorial on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget parrots the movement conservative line that “Governor Cuomo is right to argue for spending cuts” even while it laments that the wealthy in the state are not going to be compelled to cough up more in taxes. Who decided that the spending cuts are the right thing to argue?  Did we poll the residents of New York, consult with leading economists, call up some historians?  And this article on the sea walls of Japan that didn’t hold back the tsunamis is just downright bizarre.  Not only is the “government programs are wasteful; private industry initiatives are dazzlingly perfect!” messaging obvious, it’s worked into the piece in particularly awkward ways.  It’s almost like the editors took the original writing from the bureau in Japan and made it work for the Goldman Sachs readers.  Sometimes, I read an article and think *I* could have written it.  Recent writing in the NYTimes doesn’t have the same quality as it did even a couple of years ago.  The prose seems clumsy and amateur, even a little bit dumbed down.

So, while I love Paul Krugman and will find a way to get my fix, I’m not inclined to pony up more money for a paper that seems to be evolving towards the clueless “creative class” readers and Wall Street crowd.  For one thing, soon I won’t be getting a steady paycheck so wasteful government spending in my house is strictly forbidden by real budgetary constraints.  Besides, it’s not like the NYTimes has gone out of its way to cover those of us educated unemployed or working class stiffs.  The union busting moves in Wisconsin were definitely downplayed and even Krugman is puzzled over the way we, the degreed unemployed, are being ignored and forgotten.

The NYTimes is marginalizing itself.  It’s becoming a paper for Mike Bloomberg types and their minions.  The little people who still get the “dead tree” version will have access at no additional charge but if you have internet access, why the heck would you get a hard copy?  It just piles up in the recycling bin.  And if you’re not printing on as much paper, why charge $15.95/month for the electronic version?  Presumably, with the exception of the bandwidth, the costs of printing the paper have gone down.  Is the NYTimes just following the herd of other corporations that have given in to MBAs and consultants who don’t know the business they are asked to manage?  Cater to the money and tell them what they want to hear.  Screw the news, even if it is your core business.  By the time journalism is just a fleeting memory at the NYTimes, the business guys will have taken the money and run.

The NYTimes lost my subscription with the Judy Miller incident.  They’re not getting it back simply because they have international news bureaus, especially if those news bureaus can’t write what’s going on without passing through a political filter.  I’ll have to get my news from more international sources from now on.

Thank goodness Brooke is a budding polyglot.

I Am Not A Feminist

deeandlouI am not a feminist.  For one thing, I’ve never really known exactly what the term means.   Thankfully, Murphy at PUMA Pac provided me with a clue by posting this quote:

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”
– Rebecca West

While that’s nice to know, I’ve been more inclined to accept the “me, a name I call myself” type labels ever since I first learned the song that line comes from.  Which brings me to another point, if feminist means celebrating the “feminine” that lets me out right there.  I’ve never been, nor wanted to be, “feminine.”  While I’m perfectly comfortable embracing the “female,” “feminine” has always seemed to me to be the definition of  female as “less than,” and I can’t go for that.   The “just a girl” attitude I’ve always perceived to be associated with the word “feminine” has always pissed me off.

Some might say that’s because I was born gay, but I’m not buying that either.  While I was born gay, I didn’t really recognize that about myself until my mid-twenties, believe it or not, and didn’t really accept it until even later than that.  “Gay” was just not talked about in my house, or anywhere else I was exposed to growing up in the late fifties, early sixties; there were girls, boys and tomboys.  I was a tomboy.  But even once I embraced my lesbianism, actvism was never an option I considered; nobody I cared about, gay or straight,  discriminated against me, and that was all that ever mattered to me.

I feel the same way about my blackness; I’m not militant about it; like being a gay woman, it is simply who I am, who I was born to be.  I’ve always known I was black, everybody in my house was too, even though none of us really have the same hue.   The first time I was aware of it was probably about the same time I realized girls were just as good as boys, about the same time I first heard “doe, a deer…”  Seeing people on TV who were just like everybody else I knew, only a different color, made me ask my mother what was up with that one day around the time I started school.  The nature of society as it was reflected on the news probably had something to do with my racial awakening, but even with all the unrest roiling around the country, to me my blackness was no big deal.  Some people didn’t like girls and tomboys either, but that was their problem.  Politicizing my “me-ness” has always seemed to me to be accepting of other people’s definition of who they think I should be, in fact, in my mind, to be radical about one’s inherent physical qualities requires that one define oneself on others’ terms.

I am a black gay woman.

Deal with it.

But, first and foremost, I am a human being.  On that level, I’ve always been pissed off that some people think they’re better than other people, no matter what the reason.  So what if you’re rich, or white, or smart, or tall, or go to a different church, or pee standing up?  That’s who you are, we either like each other or we don’t; life goes on.

Maybe that’s why I’ve never been able to abide anybody abusing anybody else.  Who do you think you are?  What gives you the right to try to impose your will on somebody else?  What makes you think you can hit, or hurt, or be mean to another person just because you’re mad about who they are?  Because that’s what just about all conflict comes down to.  We get mad at our lovers, spouses, friends, children, enemies because they’re not who we want them to be at that moment.  The same is true for religion; you don’t worship the way I think you should so I hate you, you’re not the right kind of believer.   You don’t drive the way I think people should drive so screw you, you’re not the driver I want you to be.  You’re gay, you’re white, you’re stupid, you’re wrong.  For some reason, too many of us think some aspect, any aspect, of other people’s reality is subject to our approval.

So people around the world blow other people up because they exist in places they don’t want them to be, people dedicate their lives to trying to force other people to behave according to the standards of their “one God who loves everybody the way they are,” people shoot other people because they own things they want and don’t want other people to have, people invent ways to hurt other people for being who they are.  And nobody ever stops to consider how silly it all is.

A man wants a woman to behave the way he wants her to; he wants what he wants, when she won’t allow it, he shoots her in the face with a shotgun.  That is the way he is.  He has done things like that before, if not stopped, he will do it again.  But, how do you stop him without becoming like him?  If you do, when will the cycle stop?  Because he hurts the woman, the people who love her will want him to be hurt the same way, that’s human nature.  But, no matter how unreasonable he is and always has been, somebody loves him, too.  And, even if they don’t love him, if he is hurt in return, some who identify with him will take up his cause and hurt people on his behalf.  Which will of course require further retaliation; and so on, and so on…Ongoing wars that began millenia ago have been started in much the same way, many feuds, fights, turf wars, etc., have been started for less.

And, that is not the way we should be.  But, what to do?  No one should bear the pain of losing a family member, let alone two, to someone else’s ego-driven rage of insecurity.  We can never, ever expect anyone to accept that kind of injustice.  Their anguished howls of outrage and pain are outrageous and painful to all who hear them, and if they are unbearable for those of us not directly affected, and they are, we can only imagine the depths of the despair they feel, which anguishes us even more.  Never would I suggest that anyone in that situation simply “take it” in the name of “getting along,” or “stopping the cycle.”   But my outrage, pain and anguish is not because I empathize with another woman, but because she’s a human being.

As am I.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, as long as we, as a global society, a human family, approach our attempts at conflict resolution as feminists, blacks, gays, Christians, Jews, Muslims, whites, Democrats, Republicans, or any other kind of “-ists” “-isms” “-ians,” or “-ites,” we’re doomed to perpetual warfare, personally, nationally, politically, and ethnically.  Until we see ourselves and others as what we are, human beings, there’s no hope for any of us.

My thoughts and prayers go out to fellow PUMA Betty Jean Kling and her daughters, Denise Richardson and Louisa Richardson-Rodas.  May God bless them and show them mercy.  I support her in all her endeavors to seek justice for her family and all who have ever, or might ever, find themselves in a similar situation, which is, unfortunately, all of us.

This angry, black, lesbian, Baptist human being reaches out with open arms to another human being suffering a fate no one should ever have to even contemplate, and offers her and her family love.

What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.

Though we have never met, Betty Jean, this post goes from my heart to yours.

If I have trivialized, misrepresented, sensationalized, or offended you in any way, please accept my humble apologies.

NO WE WON’T: Don’t hold back

Sheri left Denver this morning and can’t host NO WE WON’T tonight so I’m subbing for her.  We will be talking to Brad Mays and what he’s caught on video and we’ll try to touch base with John West and Michelle Thomas about what went on behind the scenes with the delegates.  Call in and tell us what you’re thinking about Nancy Pelosi, faithless delegates, Superdelegates who were derelict in their duty and whether you intend to jump on the Obama Love Train. That’s NO WE WON’T at 9:00PM EST, 7:00PM MT.

Monday: The Audacity

Jessie partying with Hillary

Jessie partying with Hillary

Last night, we had the premier party for the Audacity of Democracy and the media came.  The Boston Globe, CNN, NPR and Japanese TV among others came to the Fuel Cafe on the outskirts of Denver for screening a 40 minute cut of the movie.  Brad and Lorenda aren’t finished with the final product and won’t be until after the election.

Brad added a new section in the beginning of the movie about Barack Obama’s impact on his home town.  What did he do for Chicago when he was a community organizer and a state senator?  Turns out: Not Much.  Brad also catches an Obama supporter and quizzes her about Obama.  She can’t name a single accomplishment but she’s going to vote for him because he has “charisma”.  I know, I know, you just lost your breakfast.  But it’s very powerful to contrast her beliefs with the reality of the rest of the film.  You come to realize just how out of touch Obama people here.

Talking with the press has been a little like talking to Obamaphiles resigned to their fate.  There isn’t any real enthusiasm for Obama.  It has now become just another election and they have become assimilated.  The pattern is no different than any other year when the predetermined outcome prevailed- at least that’s how they sound.  They acknowledge that Hillary got a bum rap.  They admit that there’s something weird about how Obama got to where he is.  But that’s so five minutes ago.  Hardly worth pursuing.  Why do we have to go over the numbers again?  What can Obama do to get us onboard?

LadyboomerNYC is pretty in purple

LadyboomerNYC is pretty in purple

It really is astonishing to me that the media is missing one of the biggest stories of the whole election- the gaming of the convention itself.  This is going to be one giant caucus fraud and it’s going to be shown before a huge, televised, national audience and yet, the DNC and the Obama campaign are trying to force delegates into a final official vote before the actual roll call vote.  Do they think no one will notice?

One reporter got a clue last night (though we’ll see if she actually follows up on it).  She said something like, “Aren’t they supposed to do that on the convention floor?  If the vote is official before they vote, isn’t that breaking the rules?”  Ding! Ding! Ding!  Now, as a journalist, it would be super keen and nifty if she would use her credentials and find out if the scenario I am painting for her is true.  In normal conventions, is is the practice to take an informal vote before going to the floor, I guess to make sure there are no surprises, like Louisiana suddenly displaying a fondness for some obscure blue dog.  But if it is true that *this* year, the pre-roll call vote that happens in the hotels is the vote that will be considered official and final, then it seems to me that we have taken the scripting of the convention too far.  Other rumors are that some of the states are going to be skipped over until the end when they will be “adjusted” to make sure Obama is over the top ala the Indiana primary.

Patrick and Brad critique the hummus

Patrick and Brad critique the hummus

We hope to be hearing the delegates again before Wednesday so we can firm up some of what is actually going on.  But I challenge the press to investigate this more thoroughly.  The convention is just a giant caucus and it is very easy to pressure the delegates, mislead them and game the system.  Why would Obama have to do this if he were winning so handily?

We hope to see Gary and Mawm today in the PUMA Mobile.  (We need a Chitty-Chitty-Bang- Bang song to go with it) Today is The Beautiful Protest and Rise in Cheeseman Park from 2-10pm MT to honor Hillary Clinton.  We finish tonight in candlelight as we light our own little flames for Democracy.

More Tea Leaves: Heidi Li is following the conclusion of the FL and MI conundrum.  I believe the credentials committee restored them to 100% voting strength.  That means the final numbers to be the presumptive nominee have changed and presumably Obama is simply presumptuous.  The DNC is desperately trying to manage perception again with false reports of Clinton releasing her delegates but it turns out that some of those pesky delegates still want to honor their voters.  The reporter I spoke to last night was a pretty smart cookie, actually.  She started to make connections and I saw her brain clicking to life right before my eyes.  She fought through the confusion about the ROOLZ and the RBC meeting and credentials committee and I think she might finally see that the whole thing was Kabuki theater.  FL and MI were ALWAYS going to have to count 100%.  Withholding them was only a strategy designed to make sure that Hillary lacked the critical mass to put her ahead after superTuesday.  The states were “adjusted” to make sure that Obama had just enough delegates to make him look inevitable and resign the public to their fate.

But *WE* can always go our own way:

Wednesday: The Core

Brad Mays, PUMA conspirator and documentary film maker.

Brad Mays, PUMA conspirator and documentary film maker.

As I mentioned last night, I met with Darragh Murphy yesterday in Princeton. I hope she got home alright so, Darragh, if you’re reading this, just wave your hand. We were in Princeton to meet with independent film maker Brad Mays. He’s commenter Lori’s husband. Lori roped him into doing a film for PUMAPac and the concept was interesting so Brad graciously offered to help us out. Little did Brad know what he was getting into. (Why does Rocky Horror Picture Show suddenly come to mind…?)

So, Brad sets up his equipment and Darragh, who conducts an interview as well as Terry Gross, starts asking me questions and in spite of the fact that all three of us met each other only moments before, something wild happened- the conversation went straight to the heart of the situation. It was intense and multilayered and Brad, who thought this was going to be an easy project, got sucked in.

What we were talking about was how did so many reasonable, open, intelligent people change so much in the span of a year. Anyone who attended the YearlyKos conferences in 2006 and 2007 knows what I’m refering to. In 2006, the first YearlyKos as like a big family reunion. Everyone came together in Las Vegas for a single purpose- defeating the Republicans. I can remember Wes Clark, jumping up on a table in the Hard Rock Cafe, giving an impromptu speech and telling us that what we were doing was important and we were “Sooo close” to winning back majorities in the House and Senate but that blogging wasn’t going to be enough. He urged us to get out from behind our keyboards and put our energy into campaigning and volunteering in any way we could so that we could make it happen. And he presented Markos with a medal of sorts, a Clark coin that he used to give out to people under his command in NATO when he was running it.

This photo is unretouched.  I *saw* it happen with my own two glassies.

This photo is unretouched. I *saw* it happen with my own two glassies.

It was Clark’s way of saying thanks for all of the work Kos had done to bring us all together at a time when it seemed there was little else between the Rethugs and Democracy but a band of hardass, ragtag bloggers with a killer app.

YearlyKos 07 was not like that. The easy comraderie was gone. The presidential contenders were acknowledging us in Chicago, except for Hillary. There was some controversy over whether she would make the breakout session that was planned for her. There was a scheduling conflict caused by the event planners, as it turned out. But she rearranged her schedule at the last minute and had her breakout before the presidential forum planned for later in the afternoon. I had chosen Hillary’s breakout session even though I was an Edwards fan at the time because I felt kind of sorry for her. Edwards’ session was going to be well attended and there was no more room at Obama’s so I thought, why not? How bad could she be? It turned out that she blew me away even before she took my question at the end. I left her session still planning to vote for Edwards but Hillary had definitely left an impression.

Then I went to the presidential forum and suddenly, everything changed. Edwards instantly mesmerized the crowd. He was playing them like a virtuoso. He knew every word that would get the Kossacks to their feet. Here’s the diary I wrote for the Cheeto that day: Dear John, You lost me today. When I look back on that diary, I see that the seeds of what would happen during the primary season were planted last year. Take a look at the poll that went with the diary. Oddly enough, only 3 points separated Hillary and Barack Obama in preference among the Kossasks after the breakout sessions and the forums. It wasn’t like Barack Obama was some transcendent figure back then in spite of his wild popularity going into the forum. He was only a mere three points ahead of the presumably least popular person there, Hillary Clinton. The trick of “how they did it” is in Edwards’ wild, frenzied presentation that left me oddly cold. Why didn’t I get it? What was *wrong* with me?

My guess was that I share more in common with the Wes Clarks and the Hillary Clintons than the Kossacks. What I noticed in the lead up to the primaries is that most of the presidential candidates openly flirted with the Kossacks. They flattered them, pandered to them. Some even wrote diaries. But not Hillary. I think the exception was when she wrote a small piece for FireDogLake but she didn’t stick around to answer comments. Wes Clark dropped in from time to time but as the season wore on, it became clear that he was no longer welcome. Clark considered himself a Kossack. The Kossacks felt otherwise. Hillary barely acknowledged us and this is, I think, what separated her from candidates like Edwards and Obama. She never seemed to feel the need to go to different groups and suck up to them. She invited *us* to come to her. Where Barack Obama appeared to cater to the lefties at DKos to win their support in the primaries, Hillary stuck to a set of core Democratic principles. Here’s a clip of what I’m talking about, although not exactly the one I was looking for, where she is talking about a core Democratic principle when it comes to health care- shared responsibility:

This response perfectly illustrates Hillary’s appeal to me. She did not try to make a deal and “love the one you’re with” in order to score points with various constituencies. She had a set of core principles and she asked voters to join her there. She leads based on principle. Now, that doesn’t mean that Clinton isn’t capable of playing politics or getting down in the dirt like the rest of them. It merely means that when it comes down to putting her money where her mouth is, she votes and plans and prioritizes based on some inner guidance. I think the only time I’ve seen her slip was on the Iraq War Resolution and even there I can see her struggling internally. I think it was a bad vote but in her voting repetoire, it is one of the very few glaring examples where she doesn’t stay true to herself. On FISA, there is no doubt in MY mind that her vote was predictable. She was always going to vote no. Democrats respect privacy and the 4th amendment. If you believe in those things as core Democratic principles, the vote is not a difficult one. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

So, this kind of stuff came at the very end of the conversation that Darragh, Brad and I had. What came before was more about what happened to the Democrats this year. How did the split happen? And how is it that so many otherwise rational, reasonable people underwent such profound personality changes in order to wholeheartedly support a man of very little means and no qualification?

PUMAs, we’re going to get ourselves a movie! Brad hopes to get a teaser clip for us in a week or so. But there is so much material to cover and the project has so many layers and so much depth that we’ve barely scratched the surface. But we have plans, oh my droogs. And we can all play a part in this endeavor. I’ll be talking about that at the time we bring out the teaser.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank Lori for helping to set this up and having the insight to see where it all fits together. Way to go, Lori!

And for all you Conflucians, here is the perfect song for those of us who lead from some inner core. Our task is to lead the rest of the party back to that place. Now is the time on The Confluence venn ve dahnce:

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