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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 29, 2023 by Tony Wikrent   Altercation: Goodbye and Thanks Eric Alterman, January 27, 2023 [The American Prospect] The key question I want to leave people with is this: Given the lack of guardrails, how far are these people willing to go? Trump is as popular as he was before January 6th and has been invited back on […]
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Friday Morning at The Confluence: News and Views

Another rainy day in Boston

Another rainy day in Boston

Good morning Conflucians! It’s another cold, rainy day in the Boston area. I’ve gone through the stages of grief, from denial to anger, and so on, and I think I’ve almost reached acceptance. Summer is just not coming to New England this year. It’s 57 degrees on July 3. So what? I should be grateful it’s raining and not snowing, right? The local papers have started publishing snarky little articles like this one about the “bright side” to all this rain and cold.

OK, it’s wet. OK, everyone’s miserable. OK, the sun shines on every other city in the country and Mother Nature is spitting on Boston.

But instead of thinking of this weather front as a personal affront, why not grab onto that silver lining and recognize the rainfall for what it is: a respite from the rat race known as summer.
Yes, summer, the ultimate setup for personal and recreational failure, when every day is supposed to be a mini-vacation….

But now, thanks to unremitting clouds and drizzle, it’s off.

No need to squeeze into the bathing suit. Or do your hair (it’ll frizz up faster than a flash flood). Or sport a tan. Or go for that walk or run or bike ride or show up for bootie boot camp at 6 a.m. It’s pouring!

As for the beach, no wonder everyone’s lying down, exposing themselves to deadly UVB rays. Getting there is exhausting. Lewis and Clark had an easier time looking for the Northwest Passage.

Oh hardy har har. Don’t get me wrong. I’m really happy for all of you Conflucians who don’t live up here in the Northeastern corner of the country. Who knows? Maybe God is punishing us for our sins or something.

The Boston Globe reports that there is one genuine positive to all this ghastly weather.

While the onslaught of miserable June weather played havoc with people’s plans and psyches, it has also provided a quiet benefit to many city neighborhoods. Fatal and nondeadly shootings in Boston have plunged, and police acknowledge the weather has been a key factor.

Well I’m glad there really is one positive effect of the horrible weather…. So let’s see… what’s happening in the rest of the country this morning?

You’ve probably heard the Washington Post did a quick reversal yesterday on its plan to sell access to politicans and Post writers and editors. It was all just a big misunderstanding, according to Howard Kurtz.

Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth yesterday canceled plans for a series of policy dinners at her home after learning that marketing fliers offered corporate underwriters access to Post journalists, Obama administration officials and members of Congress in exchange for payments as high as $250,000.

“Absolutely, I’m disappointed,” Weymouth said in an interview. “This should never have happened. The fliers got out and weren’t vetted. They didn’t represent at all what we were attempting to do. We’re not going to do any dinners that would impugn the integrity of the newsroom.”

Sure Katharine, we believe you. Some guy in marketing is taking the fall for the public relations nightmare:

The fliers were approved by a top Post marketing executive, Charles Pelton, who said it was “a big mistake” on his part and that he had done so “without vetting it with the newsroom.”

I’d just love to know if the Post actually had an agreement with the White House to participate in these “salons.” It really does sound like something this administration would do, but we’ll probably never know for sure, since investigative journalism is dead.

It looks like the Washington Post still has at least one real reporter on staff though. R. Jeffrey Smith read some recent court filings and found some interesting background on the Valerie Plame case showing that Dick Cheney was in control of the Bush administration’s revelations about Plame’s status with the CIA in order to minimize the damage caused by her husband Joseph Wilson’s critique of the case for war in Iraq. Surprise, surprise, the Obama administration is trying to keep Cheney’s activities secret.

A list of at least seven related conversations involving Cheney appears in a new court filing approved by Obama appointees at the Justice Department. In the filing, the officials argue that the substance of what Cheney told special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald in 2004 must remain secret.

No such agreement was reached between Fitzgerald and Cheney at the time of their chat, according to a 2008 Fitzgerald letter to lawmakers. But the Bush administration rejected requests by Congress and a nonprofit group for access to two FBI accounts of the conversation, saying the material was exempt from disclosure under subpoena or the Freedom of Information Act.

The Obama administration has since agreed that the material should not be disclosed. A Justice Department lawyer at one point last month argued that vice presidents and other White House officials will decline to be interviewed in the future if they know their remarks might “get on ‘The Daily Show’ ” or be used as fodder for political enemies.

Gasp! Heaven forbid! You mean politicians could be laughed at? Or their actions might be used to defeat them in an election? I can certainly see why our Department of Justice would be fighting hard to prevent that. Seriously, do we live in anything event resembling a free country anymore?

World News: Iran

In world news, Iran is threatening to put some British embassy staff members on trial after they were apparently forced to “give confessions.” Isn’t it time for President Obama to either speak up more forcefully on the Iran situation? Or maybe he could allow Secretary of State Clinton to do so? On a side note, Tom in Paine has a great post up about Obama’s weak response to the aftermath to the Iranian election:

Obama played for the Fool by Amadinejad.

Gordon Brown is “concerned,” according to The Independent.

And from The Guardian UK: Iran and Britain: a new low in troubled relations

And The Lede has a photo of ballots that were used for the “recount” by Iranian officials, and they appear to be phonies (see the 12:15PM July 2 update).

There’s growing commentary and criticism of photographs released by Iranian authorities of ballots included in the Guardian Council’s recount on Monday. The Huffington Post and Roozonline, an online news daily, are among the many observers, including opposition candidate Mohsen Rezai, highlighting two points:
1. The name Ahmadinejad appears to have been written on many of the ballots in exactly the same handwriting.
2. The ballots don’t appear to have been folded.

Reuters has a somewhat unsettling story about Israeli submarine drills in the Red Sea.

World News: Honduras

I’m still confused about what is really happening in Honduras. I realize that a few of our readers do have strong opinions about this situation, and I’d love to hear more from them. I found a few opinion pieces this morning, but I’m not sure which writers to trust.

Octavio Sanchez, “a lawyer, [and] a former presidential adviser (2002-05) and minister of culture (2005-06) of the Republic of Honduras” writes in The Christian Science Monitor that there hasn’t been a coup, and the ousting of Zelaya was in accord with the Honduran constitution and the rule of law:

When Zelaya published that decree to initiate an “opinion poll” about the possibility of convening a national assembly, he contravened the unchangeable articles of the Constitution that deal with the prohibition of reelecting a president and of extending his term. His actions showed intent.

Our Constitution takes such intent seriously. According to Article 239: “No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform [emphasis added], as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.”

Notice that the article speaks about intent and that it also says “immediately” – as in “instant,” as in “no trial required,” as in “no impeachment needed.”

Johann Hari writes in The Independent that there has indeed been a coup and it is a reminder of “the other 9/11.

For the people of Latin America, this is a replay of their September 11. On that day in Chile in 1973, Salvador Allende – a peaceful democratic socialist who was steadily redistributing wealth to the poor majority – was bombed from office and forced to commit suicide. He was replaced by a self-described “fascist”, General Augusto Pinochet, who went on to “disappear” tens of thousands of innocent people. The coup was plotted in Washington DC, by Henry Kissinger.


Honduras is a small country in Central America with only seven million inhabitants, but it has embarked on a programme of growing democracy of its own. In 2005, Zelaya ran promising to help the country’s poor majority – and he kept his word. He increased the minimum wage by 60 per cent, saying sweatshops were no longer acceptable and “the rich must pay their share”.

The tiny elite at the top – who own 45 per cent of the country’s wealth – are horrified. They are used to having Honduras run by them, for them.

But this wave of redistributing wealth to the population is washing over Latin America. In the barrios and favelas, I have seen how shanty towns made out of mud and rusted tin now have doctors and teachers and subsidised supermarkets for the first time, because they elected leaders who have turned the spigot of oil money in their direction. In Venezuela, for example, the poorest half of the country has seen its incomes soar by 130 per cent after inflation since they chose Hugo Chavez as their President, according to studies cited by the Nobel Prize-winning US economist Joseph Stiglitz. Infant mortality has plummeted.

At The Washington Post, Carlos Alberto Montaner writes about the importance of “Preventing a Honduran Bloodbath,” by holding the November election right away and reducing the influence of Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega, who are “already talking about invasions and resorting to force.”

…if there is still something worse than the depressing spectacle of a freely elected president forced to leave his country at gunpoint, it is that same leader trying to force his way back in. If Zelaya returns, he will be arrested and charged with an array of crimes. His imprisonment will embarrass any who decide, irresponsibly, to accompany him on such a mad adventure.

This is most grave. Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega are already talking about invasions and resorting to force. That could unleash a bloodbath and would certainly destroy the weak political institutions that Honduras labored to achieve three decades ago, when the era of military dictatorships mercifully ended. Peter Hakim, president of Inter-American Dialogue, put it this way: “Zelaya is fighting with all the institutions in the country. He is in no condition really to govern.”

And that’s the truth. According to Mexican pollster Mitofsky’s April survey, Zelaya was Latin America’s least popular leader. Only 25 percent of the nation supported him. Another survey found that 67 percent of Hondurans would never vote for him again. Why? Because the Hondurans attributed to him a deep level of corruption; because they assumed he had links to drug trafficking, especially drugs originating in Venezuela, as former U.S. Ambassador to the O.A.S. Roger Noriega revealed in a well-documented article published in his blog; and because violence and poverty — the nation’s two worst scourges — have increased dramatically during his three years in power.

The BBC has interviews with Hondurans on the ground.

Alexander Cockburn: Did Obama know about the Honduran coup all along?

The Honduran elite viewed Zelaya, elected to his four-year term in 2006, with growing alarm and communicated their disquiet to Washington, where the military and civilian intelligence agencies were already being diligently primed by their substantial assets and agents inside Honduras, historically an important CIA and military staging post in Central America.


If you have other useful links on the Honduran situation, please post them in the comments.


Vanity Fair Story on Joseph Cassano, the man who bought down AIG (PDF).

I wrote a post on Cassano a couple of months ago: I’m no Economist, but I Think We Need Prosecutions.

Andrew Grice tells the banksters to “get real.”

The Lighter Side

Is Mark Sanford mentally ill? Some say yes.

An interesting blog post on Mark Sanford

Sanford: I’m too Sexy for my State

Disclosure: I was bored by the Sanford story, but now that mental illness may be involved, I’m fascinated.

Prehistoric Cave Artists were Women: Study

Andrew Sullivan still thinks there is something fishy about Trig’s birth and parentage. WTF?!

Richard Posner (a judge, seriously!) thinks all hyperlinks to and paraphrasing of news sources should be banned in order to save dying newspapers. Again, WTF?!

Michael Jackson’s $25,000 custom casket. That’s chump change!

Statue of Liberty Crown to Reopen on July 4.

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49 Responses

  1. Well I’d gladly send you some of our heat from down here and take some of your rain if I could. Our June temps were in the mid 90’s almost everyday. That temp is usually what we get for July not June and we’ve hardly had any rain but frankly all the rain does is make it more humid down here.

    • At this point, I’d take the 90 degree weather–at least for the weekend. I imagine we’ll get it eventually.

  2. One of our sons thinks this is God saying – I turned my head for one moment and you go and steal the nomination? Gotcha! 😕

    With all the rain we’ve had here in NJ you’d think people would be used to it – yesterday, the sun came out (whopee!) – I was driving to a meeting when all of a sudden it started to pour – well, the traffic all but stopped – it was like the drivers all sat there and said “AAuuggh – WATER”

    So far today we’ve had sprinkles, sun and now it’s cloudy, no, sunny, no cloudy, no sunny… 😉

  3. Sorry for your miserable weather, bb. How far would you have to travel to get a little sunshine?

    The Cheney revelations are not surprising. Underlines why he was so upset with W for not pardoning Libby. Cheney owes Libby, but only W Bush could have pardoned him. Dick didn’t get his way or that little bit of conscience assuaging. Sympathy anyone?



    • I guess it’s not that surprising that Obama is protecting Cheney either. But it still really bothers me.

      • Me too! I don’t know why Obama is protecting him really. So he (Obama) doesn’t get Republican payback? Because he (Obama) doesn’t stand for anything? Because no one will talk if they face consequences, as per the quotation.

        I guess that’s the goal. Achieve enough status that you face no consequences for your actions. Pres. of U.S. seems to qualify and now VPs of U.S. Back to relying on karma I guess.

        • I think it’s because Obama wants to hold onto the executive power that Bush/Cheney took and he also wants to make sure no one can prosecute the Obama administration down the road.

    • The whole upper East Coast is like this, so I’d probably have to go to PA or OH to get out of the gloom. But who knows? Maybe the sun will peek out here today. It’s not as dark out there as it was yesterday.

      • That’s weird. We’ve been under the same cloud cover as you have for June but yesterday was pretty good. Only sporadic sunshowers and partly cloudy with sun. I think it might have gone up to 80, although it has been pretty humid.
        It was sunny this morning but the clouds have rolled in again.
        I hear tomorrow will be nice.

        • Hi RD!

          Our current forecast is for rain all weekend and continuing through next week. I hope it’s wrong. We had a couple of days when the sun came out for short periods this past week, and it was warmer. But for the past three days, it as been in the 50’s and low 60s. I had to turn on the heat for awhile yesterday morning because I was shivvering.

        • Maybe I should drive down to the Jersey Shore. I haven’t been there since I was a teenager.

  4. Oh, dear. The combination of crap weather and depressing news stories … phew! Bit of a downer this early in the morning, so I’m just going to read the lighter side section.

    Can I put a suggestion in the “ideas” box? Can you do just an odd news summary one of these days. We need some laughs.

  5. And here’s the perfect summer weather quote:

    Summer has set in with its usual severity. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  6. Spotted on WaPo comment thread, new name for the paper. It is now called The Poshington Host.

    • ROFLOL!

      • It’s funny but uncannily apt at the same time. I think it’s a hit. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.

        • I think we should use it from now on. BTW, I’ve always refered to the NYT privately as the Knee-Jerk Times.

          • The Washington Post it seems had an under writer for the event, Kaiser Kaiser Permanente so says Rove on FOX. They intimated that someone from the White House would have said yes to the invite, for them to go forward.

            So, much for transparency…guess you have to have 25-250K to see or be told what is going on?!? The White House should come clean if indeed as Rove states, someone was going to this private ‘salon’ (not th news site)…

            It is strange seeing Rove acting like he is sooo clean though…HA!

  7. Apropos of SOD’s excellent piece on Sestak, and the kind of strong-arming that is taking place under Obama (just as it did under Bush), Glenn Greenwald now has up the transcript of his fascinating interview with Charlie Savage of the NYT. Savage recently wrote an article outlining how the Bush policies of stripping citizens of our constitutional rights is being continued under Obama. Savage comes right out and says that Obama was merely pandering to liberals during the primaries, and that it’s now pretty clear he never meant anything he said about reversing Bush’s policies. (Well, the rest of us had that figured out with his FISA vote.)

    What Glenn continues to skirt around, because I don’t think he can bring himself to say it, is that those of us who thought that–in the absence of Hillary being the Dem. candidate–we would be better off with a strong opposition Dem. congress and a moderate Republican Pres. have turned out to be prescient. Other than a few outspoken senators, such as Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold, it’s apparent that most of the Dems in D.C. are terrified of opposing Obama for fear of being tagged non-team players, and, consequently, cut off at the knees by Dem. insider henchmen. With continued undeserved Obama worship by the A-list bloggers and their blog communities, all checks and balances have disappeared. We PUMAs are the last of the “loyal opposition,” it seems.

  8. Is Mark Sanford mentally ill? Some say yes.

    Could be , but we are conditioned to give guys more of a pass…..so behavior that would get a woman committed, is looked over . If a woman Gov , CEO, hell a grade school principal, had been gone even a half a day unexplained and then showed up saying she meet her ” soul mate” , the tar would be on the bubble. Guys are given alot of lee way and that’s often their down fall ….because they get sloppy .Women are often more discreet cause few will clean up after them and there is little “forgiveness”.imo

    • Or is it a clever ploy? I’m betting people can excuse a lovesick governor more than a governor who didn’t tell his lieutenant governor where the fuck he was going.
      Keeping the focus on the romance might be a unique strategy to keep him from resigning but oddly enough, it seems to be working.

      • And it looks like Sanford is enjoying telling his stories.

      • Isn’t it a State Constitutional provision that when the Governor leaves the State, the Lt. Governor is the Standing Governor? So, didn’t he fail in his duties to duly notify the Lt. Governor, that he was in charge?

    • You bring a good point, lets see if we can find the women on this list:

      Posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 1:54 PM

      Sex Scandals Through the Years: Both Parties Even

      1. Wayne Hays (1976): Affair with secretary (one of the first major sex scandals)
      2. Allan Howe (1976): Solicited sex with two prostitutes (both of whom were undercover cops)
      3. John Young (1976): Staffer alleged sexual harrassment
      4. Fred Richmond (1978): Charged with soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy.
      5. Gerry Studds (1983): Reprimanded for having sex with a male teenage House page
      6. Gary Hart (1988): Affair with model Donna Rice.
      7. Barney Frank (1989): Affair with male prostitute, who also conducted business in Frank’s home.
      8. Chuck Robb (1991): Admitted to receiving a nude massage from a former Miss Virginia.
      9. Brock Adams (1992): Eight women accused him of sexual harassment, abuse, and rape.
      10. Mel Reynolds (1994): Sexual relationship with 16-year-old campaign volunteer.
      11. Bill Clinton (1998): Affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.
      12. Gary Condit (2001): Affair with (murdered) intern Chandra Levy.
      13. Paul Patton (2002): Affair with nursing home operator; when the affair ended the state of Kentucky filed numerous violations against her business.
      14. Bob Wise (2003): Affair with a state government staffer
      15. Jim McGreevey (2004): Resigned as NJ governor after admitting that he is “a gay American”
      16. Neil Goldschmidt (2004): Admitted to having a relationship with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s.
      17. Roosevelt Dobbins (2005): Congressman form Arkansas, pleaded guilty to fondling a 16-year-old.
      18. Gavin Newsom (2007): Affair with the wife of a top aide.
      19. Antonio Villaraigosa (2007): Affair with a television reporter.
      20. Tim Mahoney (2008): Admitted to multiple affairs.
      21. Eliot Spitzer (2008): Involved in prostitution scandal.
      22. Paul Morrison (2008): Affair with administrative staffer while Attorney General of Kansas, pressured her to reveal information about Kansas D.A.
      23. Marc Dann (2008): Attorney General of Ohio, had an affair with a staffer.
      24. David Paterson (2008): Admitted that both he and his wife had extramarital affairs
      25. John Edwards (2008): Had an affair with a campaign employee while running for President.
      26. Kwame Kilpatrick (2008): Text messaging sex scandal
      27. Sam Adams (2009): Portland, OR mayor lied about relationship with 18-year-old male intern.
      TALLY: 27

      1. Tom Evans (1980): Along with other politicians, accused of being involved with lobbyist/former Playboy model Paula Parkinson.
      2. Bob Bauman (1980): Solicited sex from a 16-year-old boy
      3. Jon Hinson (1980): Caught attempting to have oral sex in a men’s House restroom.
      4. John G. Schmitz (1982): Had an affair that led to an out-of-wedlock child.
      5. Dan Crane (1983): Reprimanded for having sex with a teenage House page.
      6. (Buz Lukens (1989): Spent time in jail after having sex with a 16-year-old girl.
      7. Jon Grunseth (1990): Swam nude with group of 13-year-old girls; suspended gubernatorial run.
      8. Ken Calvert (1993): Arrested while soliciting a prostitute.
      9. Bob Packwood (1995): Resigned from Senate amid allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.
      10. Bob Livingston (1998): Admitted to multiple extramarital affairs.
      11. Helen Chenoweth-Hage (1998): Admitted to a six year affair with a married rancher in her home state of Idaho
      12. Henry Hyde (1998): Admitted he’d had an affair many years prior
      13. Rudy Giuliani (2002): Ex-wife Donna Hanover accused him of “notorious adultery”; he’s now married to Judith Nathan, his girlfriend at the time.
      14. Steve LaTourette (2003): Accused of affair with staffer, who he later married.
      15. Jack Ryan (2004): Former wife Jeri claimed he took her to sex clubs and pressured her to have sex in public.
      16. James West (2005): Removed as mayor of Spokane, WA after an gay Internet sex scandal.
      17. Don Sherwood (2006): Affair with 29-year-old woman while he was a PA congressman.
      18. Mark Foley (2006): Involved in a texting scandal with male House pages
      19. Bob Allen (2007): Solicited oral sex from a male undercover cop.
      20. Newt Gingrich (2007):Acknowledged having an affair in the 1990s
      21. Charles Boutin (2007): Resigned from MD Public Service Comission after email exchanges with a prostitute surfaced.
      22. David Vitter (2007): Part of the DC Madam scandal
      23. Larry Craig (2007): Bathroom sex solicitation scandal.
      24. Vito Fossella (2008): Affair with a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.
      25. John Ensign (2009): Admitted to having an affair with a married staffer.
      26. Mark Sanford (2009): Affair with a woman in Argentina.
      TALLY: 26

  9. Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth yesterday canceled plans for a series of policy dinners at her home after learning that marketing fliers offered corporate underwriters access to Post journalists, Obama administration officials and members of Congress in exchange for payments as high as $250,000.

    The mistake was mentioning the money…they should have pretended it was ” a frank exchange of ideas” …in their greed, someone mess up and inserted the exactly frank exchange. It will most likely be retooled and back in a few months .

    • Like leaving the money part out would make it more acceptable. Even without paying money, the lobbyists and admin officials are getting a great deal by gaining access to one of the most influential billboards in Washington and the country. The paper is just charging for a service they’ve been providing for free for years. Ok, maybe not free. That level of networking is priceless. The fee for service is just handling the overhead at this point.

      • Like leaving the money part out would make it more acceptable.

        lol! Well not in reality… but it makes it easier to sell. The crassness of actual numbers be discussed that openly is a turn off to their very target audience . It’s like if the menu has a price, then it’s not the finest restaurant .

    • I think it was the offer of access to the Obministation through the newspaper that was scandalous. Backdoor lobbying on background via the press reeks as far as I’m concerned.

      • of course, if we had a real press…..but they are usually shameless. It seems they only get a clue when the customer recoils… Perhaps there was too much ” transparency ” lol!

    • At laest someone was trying to make them honest whores.

  10. OOpps, forgot Spammy reacts to the Anglo-Saxon for “prostitute.”

    • Prostitutes have more integrity. They let you know when you are paying to get screwed.



  11. Could you please send a little of your rain to southern California? We have water rationing. Just don’t send it on Friday or Saturday as I have to go to work and people can not drive in rain out here.
    Would it help to post links to songs about the sun?

    I hope this helps



  12. WE’LL TALK ABOUT IT NOW! Helen Thomas White House Daily Brief

  13. They managed to take out Palin, she will shortly announce she will not run for re-election as Alaska’s Governor. Misogyny pays off. 😦

    The Cheer Leaders (press/media) must be very proud of themselves.

    We Must Divest From Misogyny, Our Lives Depend On It!

    • It may actually be good news. It may mean she is thinking of running in 2012. I can think of worse choices for the GOP.

      • NO, I think they were set on destroying her and her family and she is a mother/wife first. I think we can disagree with Republicans but there is no need to destroy them on a personal level and it is evil to attack their children.

        We Must Divest From Misogyny, Our Lives Depend On It!

    • Wow, she is stepping down… 😦

      We Must Divest From Misogyny, Our Lives Depend On It!

  14. CNN (just look at what photo they used…dare I say they would dance on her grave)

  15. Her brother just confirms, he too learned about it two hours ago and he sounded very upset.

    We Must Divest From Misogyny, Our Lives Depend On It!

  16. […] elevation of the cult of Horus/Jesus.  As a side note, this article, linked to by Bostonboomer at The Confluence, claims evidence that early European cave paintings were likely done by women, while there has long […]

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