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Wednesday News

Good morning Conflucians!!

It’s hump day and I’m getting a slow start. Let’s throw out a few things going on to get the ball rolling.

A study finds that bureaucracy is linked to a nations growth. Yep, it’s a good thing:

“Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work,” said Albert Einstein, sharing a popular view about bureaucracy grinding progress to a halt.

But it now appears that the organizing functions of bureaucracy were essential to the progressive growth of the world’s first states, and may have helped them conquer surrounding areas much earlier than originally thought. New research conducted in the Valley of Oaxaca near Monte Albán, a large pre-Columbian archaeological site in southern Mexico, also implies that the first bureaucratic systems may have a lasting influence on today’s modern states.

The research by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through its Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate, is published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“The earliest evidence of state organization is contemporaneous with the earliest evidence of long-distance territorial expansion,” said lead researcher Charles Spencer, curator of Mexican and Central American Archaeology at the AMNH. “This pattern was consistent with the territorial-expansion model of primary state formation, which I have proposed in a number of publications over the years.”

Spencer’s territorial-expansion model argues that states arise through a mutual-causal process involving simultaneous territorial expansion and bureaucratization. Spencer’s model breaks with previous ideas that suggest states rise through a protracted, step-by-step process–first the state forms, then an organizing bureaucracy takes hold, and sometime later, the state begins to expand into other regions in an “imperialistic” fashion, thus giving birth to an empire.

The PNAS paper compares Spencer’s work in Mesoamerica with archaeological data from five other states most anthropologists recognize as the only other locations of true primary state formation in history: Peru, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and China. Primary states are first-generation states that evolved without contact with other pre-existing states. In each case, Spencer’s territorial-expansion theory holds. But he says more research needs to be done at the other locales.

“This result may provide a cautionary lesson as we think about international relations in our contemporary world,” said Spencer. “Since the bureaucratic state as a political form originally evolved through a process of predatory expansion, we should not be surprised if states continue to have predatory tendencies, regardless of their particular ideologies.”

Spencer said his research results could be seen as reason to support development of international organizations such as the United Nations to serve as a check on the expansionistic tendencies of individual states. “But, the administration of those organizations is also likely to be bureaucratic, so we should be watchful for predatory behavior from them as well,” he said.

Paulson’s going on the defensive about Goldman Sachs:

John Paulson hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing. But the hedge-fund billionaire has gone on the offensive to reassure investors that his huge firm will emerge unscathed from a case that has drawn him into a political and legal vortex.

The steps, including a conference call with about 100 investors late Monday, come amid indications from some clients that they might withdraw money from his firm after a lawsuit brought by the government against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. related to an investment created at his firm’s request.

Investors have indicated they are concerned that scrutiny over the firm’s deals may spread, including to overseas regulators. They said they wanted to protect themselves in case new information emerges that could damage the hedge fund, they say. Another issue, they say: The legal case could simply prove a distraction for Mr. Paulson.

“Some of the callers asked pointed questions, almost like a court inquisition, but most people were supportive,” said Brad Alford, who runs Alpha Capital Management. “I felt reassured that he did nothing wrong.”

“It’s not a rush for the doors,” said another investor in Paulson & Co. who has communicated with larger Paulson investors since Friday, when the government unveiled its Goldman case.

Mr. Paulson sent a letter to investors Tuesday night saying that in 2007 his firm wasn’t seen as an experienced mortgage investor, and that “many of the most sophisticated investors in the world” were “more than willing to bet against us.”

And so it begins.

The supreme court naming game continues:

The Big Three. Most press attention has focused on three folks: Solicitor General Elena Kagan, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, and Chicago-based federal judge Diane Wood.

Obama looked at those three last year when he nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and those were the names that surfaced right after Stevens announced his retirement on April 9.

The Expanded List. In the days since Stevens’ announcement, other possible candidates began popping up. Among them: Former Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears; Montana-based federal judge Sidney Thomas; and former Yale law school dean Harold Koh.

The Politicians. Former President Bill Clinton and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy — who will be at today’s White House meeting — have urged Obama to consider someone with a political background. They said elected officials would have a better understanding of how court decisions can affect everyday Americans.

Potential political names include homeland security Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Both were considered for the high court slot that opened last year.

What’s your guess?

The Anti-Counterfiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been released. Here’s some analysis:

Under ACTA, ISPs are protected from copyright lawsuits as long as they have no direct responsibility for infringement. If infringement merely happens over their networks, the infringers are responsible but the ISPs are not. This provision mirrors existing US and European law.

Two key points need to be made here, however. First, the entire ISP safe harbor is conditioned on the ISP “adopting and reasonably implementing a policy to address the unauthorized storage or transmission of materials protected by copyright.” (This is much like existing US law.)

An earlier footnote found in a leaked draft provided a single example of such a policy: “Providing for termination in appropriate circumstances of subscriptions and accounts in the service provider’s system or network of repeat infringers.” In other words, some variation of “three strikes.” That footnote is now gone from the text entirely.

New to this draft is an option, clearly targeting European law, that would explicitly allow Internet disconnections. Countries will be allowed to force ISPs to “terminate or prevent an infringement” and they can pass laws “governing the removal or disabling of access to information. So, basically, Internet disconnection and website blocking.

The option also allows rightsholders to “expeditiously obtain from that provider information on the identity of the relevant subscriber” and it encourages countries to “promote the development of mutually supportive relationships between online service providers and right holders.” This option has not been approved by all ACTA members.

The ACTA draft also makes clear that governments cannot mandate Internet filtering or affirmative action to seek out infringers.

Second, the ISP immunity is conditioned on the existence of “takedown” process. In the US, this is the (in)famous “DMCA takedown” dance that starts with a letter from a rightsholder. Once received, an ISP or Web storage site (think YouTube) must take down the content listed in order to maintain its immunity, but may repost it if the uploader responds with a “counter-notification” asserting that no infringement has taken place. After this, if the rightsholder wants to pursue the matter, it can take the uploader to court.

This will strongly affect countries like Canada, which have no such system.

While the ACTA draft adopts the best part of the DMCA (copyright “safe harbors”), it also adopts the worst: making it illegal to bypass DRM locks.

ACTA would ban “the unauthorized circumvention of an effective technological measure.” It also bans circumvention devices, even those with a “limited commercially significant purpose.” Countries can set limits to the ban, but only insofar as they do not “impair the adequacy of legal protection of those measures.” This is ambiguous, but allowing circumvention in cases where the final use is fair would appear to be outlawed.

Fortunately, a new option in this section would allow countries much greater freedom. The option says that countries “may provide for measures which would safeguard the benefit of certain exceptions and limitations to copyright and related rights, in accordance with its legislation.”

(Emphasis mine.)

There’s more analysis in the article, and more to come.

Looks like the people behind that hitler movie that is used in so many fun parodies on youtube has ordered that all the parodies be taken down. Lots have. Here is EFF’s complaint about the takedowns:

One the most enduring (and consistently entertaining) Internet memes of the past few years has been remixes of the bunker scene from the German film, The Downfall: Hitler and the End of the Third Reich (aka Der Untergang). EFF Boardmember Brad Templeton even got in on it, creating a very funny remix with Hitler ranting about troubles with DRM and the failure of DMCA takedowns to prevent fair uses. (Ironically enough, that video resulted in the Apple Store rejecting an EFF newsfeed app.)

In a depressing twist, these remixes are reportedly disappearing from YouTube, thanks to Constantin Film (the movie’s producer and distributor) and YouTube’s censorship-friendly automated filtering system, Content I.D. Because the Content I.D. filter permits a copyright owner to disable any video that contains its copyrighted content — whether or not that video contains other elements that make the use a noninfringing fair use — a content owner can take down a broad swath of fair uses with the flick of a switch. It seems that’s exactly what Constantin Film has chosen to do.

This is hardly the first time that Content I.D., has led to overbroad takedowns of legal content. Copyright owners have used the system to take down (or silence) everything from home videos of a teenager singing Winter Wonderland and a toddler lip-syncing to Foreigner’s Juke Box Hero to (and we’re not making this up) a lecture by Prof. Larry Lessig on the cultural importance of remix creativity.

YouTube users do have options for response (read our “Guide to YouTube Removals” for details.) But YouTube’s procedures for “removing” videos have created considerable confusion among users, and it’s a fair bet that most YouTube users aren’t aware of their ability to “dispute” these removals. Others may be leery of exercising the dispute option. While the risks may be low, our broken copyright system leaves users facing the prospect of paying outrageous statutory damages and even attorneys’ fees if they stand up, fight back and, despite overwhelming odds in their favor, lose. It’s a gamble many people just aren’t willing to take, even when their works are clear fair uses.

If copyright owners want to block remix creativity, they should have to use a formal DMCA takedown notice (and be subject to legal punishment if they fail to consider fair use), rather than a coarse automated blocking tool. That is one reason we called on YouTube to fix the Content ID system so that it will not automatically remove videos unless there is a match between the video and audio tracks of a submitted fingerprint and nearly the entirety (e.g, 90% or more) of the challenged content is comprised of a single copyrighted work. That was over two years ago, and YouTube told us then that they were working on improving the tool. If YouTube is serious about protecting its users, it is long past time for YouTube to do that work.

That’s a few of the things going on today. Please chime in with other things you’re finding.

65 Responses

  1. Nice roundup, Dandy. Just a reminder, since I see a fair amount of it on this site, fair usage is generally deemed to be quotations of no more than three paragraphs per article. The rest of the article is what links are for.

  2. I’m under the impression that there is no standard of “fair use” and the copy right holder can sue you for using their own words against them in a criticism.

    For instance, a radio talk show host makes inflammatory remarks that could incite violence and you quote those remarks he or she can sue for infringement.

    Since many bloggers do it as a hobby not many can pony up the bucks to defend themselves in court.

    That why these hosts hate mediamatters, they can defend themselves.

    • There are`standards for fair use that are issued by the US Copyright office- they’re just more than a little vague. I design online educational materials, and I have found that the best way to deal is to bite the bullet and ask the owner of the copyright for permission to use her stuff. Linking is always my option if the material is online, and I can do that without copyright worries, but then I risk having the material disappear. I usually ask for permission to “ghost” the material so that it appears to be on her original site, but actually is a copy. If I can’t get that, then I ask for notification if the material is removed or the link is changed. If the material is worth it, I, of course, can always offer to pay a royalty. I used to be a lot more loosey-goosey about copyrights until people started stealing MY stuff. 8^)

      • What you describe is a “best practice” — under current case law anything under 250 words is generally considered “fair use” — that fun fact might come in handy someday.

    • In practical terms, you’re right. It’s the lack of funds to defend against spurious copyright claims that has the chilling effect.

      But fair use is an established thing, it’s just poorly understood and judicially poorly enforced.

      http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/

    • Good points all around on the fair use and volume of quotation issues. I have to admit, I was very lazy and didn’t take the time to analyze vs. just throwing quotes and article pointers up there. I’ll make an effort to keep the quotes smaller just because it’s a good idea anyway, regardless of the gray area and current state of the law in that area.

  3. Happy Wednesday DT! Interesting that article about bureaucracy and predation. Sounds like the definition of a multinational corporation.

    • Thanks, and I agree, I thought that was pretty interesting. Worth exploring further in fact.

  4. This from the Washington Post on spending by the RNC and DNC. Both parties are arrogant and corrupt, IMHO.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/20/AR2010042005183.html?hpid=topnews

    “Both the national Democratic and Republican party committees spend about two-thirds of the money they take in on the care and comfort of committee staffs and on efforts to raise more funds, with lavish spending on limousines, expensive hotels, meals and tips, an analysis of the latest financial disclosure data shows.”

    “Ken Berger, who runs Charity Navigator, a New Jersey group that monitors nonprofits across the country… said his advice for prospective donors to any nonprofit group that spends as much as 60 to 70 percent of revenue on overhead, including fundraising, would be to “run away.” “

  5. Far be it from me to disagree with Bill Clinton, and I understand the advantages of having a political background on the SCOTUS, but I really have issues with how politicized the SCOTUS is. As a Canadian, I don’t understand that. Most Canadians couldn’t tell you the name of the chief justice of the Canadian supreme court, because she’s just some Judge. There’s fairly limited political involvement in the appointment process.

    Although, give us time, Harper is working on Americanizing our government every day, the sick bastard.

    • Our Supreme Court once decided a presidential election — that’s about as political as it gets.

  6. Taken from this article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36671979/ns/politics-white_house/

    President Barack Obama, treading carefully on the explosive issue of abortion and the Supreme Court, said Wednesday he will choose a nominee who pays heed to women’s rights and privacy when interpreting the Constitution.

    “That’s very important to me,” Obama said. Yet he insisted he will not make any potential nominee pass a “litmus test” on abortion rights.
    ——-
    How do you select a nominee that focuses on women’s rights, but not require them to pass a litmus test on abortion rights?

    Personally, I don’t even want to guess who he’ll choose. It’ll just be more political posturing.

  7. Donny Deutsch Gets Himself Fired From MSNBC After Pissing Off Keith Olbermann.

    • Whoa. I wonder what KO has over the MSNBC execs, because he certainly doesn’t have the ratings for that kind of thing.

    • Yeah. He was playing example clips of “angry news commentators fueling public resentment”, and threw Obie in there along with all the ones on the right. Whiny assed titty baby Keith got miffed that his obvious anger was portrayed as…..um…… anger. Which it is. But you are not allowed to say that. The script is that leftists have never been and will never be angry. They have been the soul of decorum and emotionless reason in all of their political commentary, forever.

      In the brave new world of media message control, I never carried a nasty sign calling Bush awful things, and I never once raised my voice. None of us did. We sat around having civil decorous discussions about how he was an awfully nice man whom we liked, but just disagreed with. Who, us, angry? Never happened.

      • LOL

        I hear Olbie is taking 2 days off, too,—for a routine colonoscopy. He really IS a whiny titty baby.

        But Donnie Deutsch got cancelled, cuz Keithie-poo was angry that he was called angry.

        In the words of Chris Matthews, it’s a bit of a Stalinesque purge.

        • There’s no such thing as a “routine” colonoscopy. The process is hell period.

          • Oh, I never said it was fun. I used the quotation marks because that’s what MSNBC said.

            Colonoscopies don’t take 2 days.

            Keith’s pouting.

          • I can see why it’s 2 days – one day to wash out with the laxatives and enema and one day to undergo the colonoscopy and recover from it and the sedation.

          • And another day to recover from the shock of the hospital co-pay.

          • Votermom, you’re so right. What a disgrace. I didn’t think of it because it is my father who had the procedure several times and he has FEHB. I, on the other hand, have nothing and I haven’t been to a doctor in years.

        • Given the dimensions of the area to be surveyed, I’m surprised that it would only take two days to give Olbie a colonoscopy. Must be one of those 24-hour clinics to get results like that.

    • I actually have a very low opinion of Keith Olberman but I would have fired Donnie Deutsch on the spot.

      You don’t bring people in your business (RW freak Hugh Hewitt of all people) to trash your co-workers.

      That simply unacceptable, especially in the competitive, contentious and conflict-laden environment those people are in.

      You. Just. Don’t. Do. That.

      • Donnie would not have had much credibility discussing “Angry America” and how the media whips the anger into a fury, if he had included only the rightwingers.

        Donnie was actually trying to say that BOTH sides are to blame, and please, would ALL the pundits just stop it.

        For that, he got fired.

        • He got fired rightfully because his behavior was detrimental to the business. So simple is that.

          If he wants to say both sides are at fault fine. However, he should find a way to day that without having “the competition” to trash his co-workers.
          That’s inexcusable behavior and would result in a firing (probably without compensation) in any business.

          • Nonsense.

          • KO’s ridiculed his coworkers on air before, and he hasn’t got fired.

          • Agree with Mary. And would add that a big problem with the “news” is that it is treated as a business with business decisions guiding it. It should not be that way.

          • Gotten

          • Go to your place of work and come in with somebody who would trash your co-workers. Let me see how well that goes.

          • If Deutsch was rightfully fired for “trashing his co-worker,” then Fox would also be correct to cite the same reason for never calling out Beck, Hannity, or O’Reilly.

          • Did I say anything about Fox?

          • And if MSNBC’s right to protect their brand and act like a corporation rather than a news organization (cue Al Pacino getting upset that CBS News would kill a story because CBS Corporate told them it would hurt a company they’re doing a deal with), then they should fire KO, because not only has he done the same thing, he brought a lot of bad PR down on them when he was caught using his show’s on-air email system to pick up women.

          • No, but if no one on MSNBC can call out Olberamnn, then no one on Fox can call out anyone, and no one on CNN and so forth, and they all stay echo chambers.

          • Remember when Olbermann said Rita Cosby was dumber than a box of rocks or something?

          • I don’t even like Deutsch and think it was a stupid move from a business perspective, but on the other level– if Olbermann is too off limits to be mentioned in a segment on angry pundits, then what’s the point of having a show called “America the Angry” ? It’s just more slanted news begetting slanted news. We all know the right is full of haters and bozos, just turn on Maddow or Olbermann and you’ll get that rundown. What’s wrong with adding a little balance to that? Why should Olbermann be such a sacred cow?

          • Are you guys just missing my point on purpose?

            You don’t take the airwaves to trash your colleagues or bring someone on the the air who would do so. No where is that type of behavior accepted, nor should it be.

            No other FNC host can go on the air and criticize his colleague, even if I would like to see it happen because it makes good theater and gives me something to laugh at. Any type of criticism from that sort happens internally.

            I’m speaking about strictly professional behavior, and yes it’s required even if one of the people involved is Keith Olberman.

            PS: Btw, for those citing what KO said about Rita Cosby, are you giving that example because it was a good thing?

          • PS: Btw, for those citing what KO said about Rita Cosby, are you giving that example because it was a good thing?

            No. I remembered what he said about Cosby reading Seriously’s comments at 5:29 and 5:57. I don’t think Olbermann said it on air but he wrote it from an MSNBC e-mail account. Not the height of professionalism.

          • No, we’re giving that example (and there are others), because you’re saying that Deutch’s firing was a slamdunk. And yet, KO routinely gets away with this stuff, so there’s apparently something else going on besides MSNBC’s ironclad policy. What KO said was a lot worse than Deutch’s example, and he survives. Deutch made a legitimate point, KO just gets rude and personal. Do you honestly think KO would be fired for saying he has a problem with Donny’s show? Of course not. The point is, if they want to pose as a news organization, they should act like it. And ” We’re Hacktacular, We Protect Our Own” is not part of that. If KO can get away with vulgar abuse of colleagues, then there’s no reason why legit criticism should be a fireable offense unless KO is somehow sancrosanct, and if he is they should spell out the reasons why.

          • Well, MSNBC is basically going down. This was a good way for Donnie to push off to better pastures. Most of the nation is independent, not far right or far left. There is a market for opinion news from the middle, not partisan right or left, but from the perpective of the people, challenging the establishments in Washington. Donnie at least gets that, unlike CNN who is clueless and still fluffing BO.

          • There is something very fishy about the MSNBO/KO relationship. The whole KO/O’Reilly BS a while back stank up the place.

          • TW,

            you’re little off on your analysis. Have you seen FNC’s ratings? Even during the Bush years when they were cheerleaders.

            The nation is polluted with RW radio, even in a Blue State like my native MA.

          • MaBlue

            As big as FNC is right now, their max viewership is still 5% or less of the national audience. Like the Tea Party, they can seem like they’ve taken over the country when projected by the politically motivated at the politically motivated. Not everyone watches news for politics regularly. Even among people that do, many are turned off today by the faux partisan circus in cable news. Most Americans care deeply about what’s going on in the country, but making sense of the newstainment gibberish on Fox and MSNBC can be taxing.

        • WTV, you said hat KO did was “not the height of professionalism”.

          Are you condoning Donnie’s unprofessional behavior? The fact that MSNBC didn’t fire KO in the Rita Cosby “incident” doesn’t mean they should never fire anyone for such destructive behavior.

          As an example if the police stopped me among 5 people driving too fast on the highway, I could not get away with “every one else was driving 90 mph” (Btw I’ve tried that a couple of times and it just didn’t work)

          • That doesn’t work? 😯 I’ve always thought I had that excuse in my pocket if the need arose. Damn.

          • I don’t agree that Deutsch’s behavior in this particular instance was unprofessional. It was a stupid move to do on MSNBC, only because MSNBC isn’t a news network, it’s more interested in protecting a sacred cow like Olbermann than giving actual analysis. They shouldn’t bother with a show looking at the fauxrage in American politics today if they have to omit Olbermann.

          • SoD,

            I came once from NJ with a $300 speeding ticket and I tried that excuse with my dad. His response was “you’re not supposed to drive that fast on the hwy. The police officer was right to stop you and punish according to the law”.
            I was expecting him to take my side and say “Those bastards! It’s just because you’re black”. No such luck.

          • And MSNBC is going to argue that KO was going too fast to catch? That they can’t bear to watch his shows even to document how he’s violating company policy? That Rosemary Woods is always lurking around his tapes? 😉

          • A California highway patrol car nabbed me and two other cars once on I5 just north of LA doing 90. One of him, three of us, all in the same run. It was masterful to watch. He was like a rodeo cowboy with a lasso.

          • Too bad our “cowboy” president was not as masterful.

          • Yeah, he passed me and said on his speaker “I have your license, follow me..” and we tracked down the other two cars in order.

          • This is the segment in question. Olbermann is extremely thin-skinned for having Deutsch fired over this.

          • Lol Well, he’s always had an anger management problem, just ask Suzy Kolber. Maybe he was hurt on Big Eddie’s behalf. How are they gonna enforce this new “if anybody on your panel says anything bad about MSNBC, you’re fired” policy, anyway? Pre-beat the guests with rubber hoses until they’re too weak to form words?

    • Whilst this episode was funny, Deutsch was on at 3:00 p.m. which is the hour that David Schuster had before he was sent to his room for filming the pilot for a CNN tryout. Obviously Nurse Ratched has completely lost control of the asylum.

  8. Glenn Greenwald had an interesting and thoughtful post regarding Diane Wood. He’s an unabashed admirer but makes a good case in terms of her suitability as a replacement for Justice Stevens. Even more interesting he ended up the article with a comparison of Wood and Kagan.

    Worth a look-see at:

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/04/19/wood/

  9. Rendell appears to think that the Dems only have a PR problem (i.e. words rather than actions) :

    But the event was not without self-reflection. While the panel discussion was officially about the fight for the Republican Party’s soul, Rendell seemed most concerned with the core and character of his fellow Democrats.

    “I don’t think we have a battle for our soul — I think we have lost our soul,” he said. “We have been cowed into [sic] stop talking about the things that made us Democrats in the first place; that we believe the government can and should make a difference in people’s lives; that we can protect the most vulnerable in our society; that we can, in fact, give opportunities to people who haven’t had it. And that government can be an important catalyst — they can’t do it by itself — but they can be a catalyst for growth.”

    That’s what we believe in. But [Republicans] have us cowering behind the shower curtains,” he concluded.

    The Huffington Post approached Rendell after the affair and asked him to elaborate on what, exactly, he meant by saying the Democratic Party is soulless.

    “We have been out-spun and we are scared,” he said. “And when you are scared, you can do one of two things: you can circle the wagons and hide inside or under the wagon, or you can get out and fight for what you believe in. I think we are starting — President Obama started when he went to the Republican caucus — to fight back and for what we believe in. If we do that, I think our losses will be much less [in 2010] than what anybody suspects.”

  10. Quinnipiac:

    President Barack Obama’s job approval, which bounced slightly to a 45 – 46 percent split March 25 in the wake of his health care victory, has flattened out at 44 – 46 percent, his lowest approval rating since his inauguration, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

    Up slightly from 44-46 to 45-46 and then flattened. That was some bounce while it lasted.

  11. It baffles me how these professional pollsters are sometimes unable to read and interpret their own polling results.

    44-46 to 45-46 are all within the margin of error: There was no movement at all, not a bounce and not a flattening.

  12. Elected officials better understand everyday Americans? Since when?

    *****A

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