Daily Blog October 2019

…ment is coming

All the hand wringing, chastising and doubting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was put to rest in the last week of September.

She said early on that he would impeach himself, and that’s exactly what’s happening.

I expect all the people supporting him will become future Michael Cohens who get fired, get indicted and possibly go to jail.

Thanks Democrats for making America great again.

169 thoughts on “Daily Blog October 2019

  1. Facebook’s political ads policy is predictably turning out to be a disaster

    Democrats are testing the limits of Facebook’s refusal to take down false ads from politicians, and it isn’t pretty.

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies on Capitol Hill in October 2019. Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

    Facebook’s political ads policy that allows politicians to lie on its platform has, unsurprisingly, turned into a mess.

    As it faces pressure tests from politicians and political groups, Facebook is starting to make exceptions to its policy that it won’t fact-check advertisements published by politicians. It’s a position CEO Mark Zuckerberg in particular had taken a hard line on.

    To back up, this all began this fall when Facebook announced it wouldn’t fact-check political speech, including ads, and campaigns started to test the implications of this policy. In September, Facebook refused to take down an ad run by Donald Trump’s reelection campaign that made false claims about former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, and their activities in Ukraine. Facebook wasn’t the only platform to refuse to pull the ad — YouTube, Twitter, MSNBC, and Fox made the same call — but Facebook caught the most flak for it.

    Then, Democrats decided to challenge the policy allowing fake ads … by running fake ads of their own on Facebook. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who has emerged as a fierce Facebook critic in the 2020 primary, ran a fake ad claiming Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had endorsed Trump’s reelection. Warren also, without evidence, suggested the social network had adopted the policy as part of a backroom deal with Trump. And last week, high-profile freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got Zuckerberg to admit in a House hearing he would “probably” let her run ads against Republicans saying they supported the Green New Deal. Along the way, Zuckerberg continued defending the policy, even as his own employees, in a rare move, wrote a letter expressing concern with the stance and pushed him to rethink his decision.

    Twitter’s new ban on political ads is a silent challenge to Facebook

    But in recent days, Facebook has wavered as progressives have tested the limits of its policy. Over the weekend, the company took down an ad that falsely claimed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) supports the Green New Deal. A left-leaning political action committee, the Really Online Lefty League, had posted the ad, and Facebook said it took the action because the ad came from a political action group, not a politician, and therefore different rules applied.

    So the group found a workaround: One of the PAC members, Adriel Hampton, filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for California governor. Now a politician, as the logic of Facebook’s policies would go, he can run as many political ads as he wants.

    Except apparently not. Facebook on Tuesday evening said it was nixing Hampton’s workaround. “This person has made clear he registered as a candidate to get around our policies, so his content, including ads, will continue to be eligible for third-party fact-checking,” a Facebook spokesman said in an email to Recode.

    Read more.

  2. Twitter Says It Will No Longer Run Political Advertisements, Trolls Facebook

    “This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach.”

    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey leaves after his talk with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 7th, 2019.
    Francois Mori/AP/Shutterstock

    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced on Wednesday that the platform will no longer host political advertisements, a major shift in the social media giant’s policy ahead of the 2020 elections. “We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally,” he wrote. “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

    Dorsey posted a lengthy explanation of his rationale, threaded over several additional tweets. “A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet,” he wrote. “Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money. While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions.”

    Read more.

    1. It’s worth reading all of Jack’s thread:

  3. Baghdadi Story Reveals Divided — and Broken — News Media

    If you have two sets of news media, you have none

    Two sets of headlines over the weekend described the suicide of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. From the Washington Post Sunday morning:

    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48

    The Post has since rewritten that, though the description of an “austere religious scholar with wire-rimmed glasses” remains in the lead paragraph. Meanwhile, the headline on Foxnews.com:

    Al-Baghdadi kill: how the daring military operation went down

    The Post headline would fit a quiet academic who died in his sleep, not a genocidal jihadist leader. The Fox headline is less nuts, but still not quite right: al-Baghdadi wasn’t killed but reportedly committed suicide, while pursued by American “military dogs.”

    Donald Trump was correct when he tweeted Saturday night that something “big” had happened, but from there, America received two almost completely different versions of the story of al-Baghdadi’s pursuit and suicide. It was a vivid demonstration of how dysfunctional the modern news landscape has become.

    When important events take place now, commercial news outlets instantly slice up the facts and commoditize them for consumption by their respective political demographics. We always had this process, to some degree, but it no longer takes days to sift into the op-ed pages.

    Read more.

  4. White House Ukraine Expert Sought to Correct Transcript of Trump Call

    Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who heard President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president and was alarmed, testified that he tried and failed to add key details to the rough transcript.

    White House Ukraine Expert Sought to Correct Transcript of Trump Call
    Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who heard President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president and was alarmed, testified that he tried and failed to add key details to the rough transcript.

    WASHINGTON — Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that the White House transcript of a July call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president omitted crucial words and phrases, and that his attempts to include them failed, according to three people familiar with the testimony.

    The omissions, Colonel Vindman said, included Mr. Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.

    Colonel Vindman, who appeared on Capitol Hill wearing his dark blue Army dress uniform and military medals, told House impeachment investigators that he tried to change the reconstructed transcript made by the White House staff to reflect the omissions. But while some of his edits appeared to have been successful, he said, those two corrections were not made.

    Colonel Vindman did not testify to a motive behind the White House editing process. But his testimony is likely to drive investigators to ask further questions about how officials handled the call, including changes to the transcript and the decision to put it into the White House’s most classified computer system — and whether those moves were meant to conceal the conversation’s most controversial aspects.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  5. From the Bottom Of The Barrel department

    Republicans Accuse Colonel Vindman, a Jew Who Fled Soviet Persecution, of Dual Loyalty

    Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, testified to the House impeachment inquiry on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

    DESPERATE TO UNDERCUT the credibility of a White House official who testified to the House impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, Republicans resorted to an age-old smear tactic by questioning the loyalty of the witness, a naturalized American citizen who fled the Soviet persecution of Jews as a child and rose to the rank of Army colonel.

    The witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, is a decorated Iraq war veteran who advises the National Security Council on Ukraine and Russia. According to his prepared testimony, Vindman notified White House lawyers on two occasions in July that President Donald Trump and his aides had politicized aid to Ukraine, by pressing Ukraine’s president to help smear Democrats in return for nearly $400 million in security assistance.

    Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, reportedly told House impeachment investigators that the “transcript” released by the White House of a July call between Trump and Ukraine’s president was edited to exclude some references to Joe Biden and the Ukrainian gas company advised by his son Hunter.

    Even before he testified, Republican operatives and cable news pundits began a coordinated effort to attack Vindman, implying that a man whose family had been forced to flee the Soviet Union as members of a persecuted minority when he was three years old might secretly have been working to advance Ukrainian interests over those of the United States.

    Read more.

  6. WhatsApp sues Israeli firm, accusing it of hacking activists’ phones

    NSO Group’s spyware allegedly used in cyber-attacks on lawyers and journalists

    WhatsApp said it believes the technology sold by NSO was used to target the mobile phones of more than 1,400 of its users. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA

    WhatsApp has launched an unprecedented lawsuit against a cyber weapons firm which it has accused of being behind secret attacks on more than 100 human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, and academics in just two weeks earlier this year.

    The social media firm is suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance company, saying it is responsible for a series of highly sophisticated cyber-attacks which it claims violated American law in an “unmistakeable pattern of abuse”.

    WhatsApp said it believed the technology sold by NSO was used to target the mobile phones of more than 1,400 of its users in 20 different countries during a 14-day period from the end of April to the middle of May.

    Read more.

  7. In Praise of ‘Human Scum’

    It’s not easy to turn your back on political comrades.
    By Michelle Goldberg

    Senator Mitt Romney has staked out a lonely role as President Trump’s most prominent Republican critic.Credit…Michael Reynolds/EPA, via Shutterstock

    Those of us who regard Trump as an existential threat to the Republic should try to make it easier for wavering conservatives to make the leap. I don’t mean we should nominate a bland centrist for president, just that we should recognize when people show courage, even if we wished they’d show more.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  8. The debate over chanting “lock him up” at Trump, explained

    Is it a troubling sign of deteriorating political norms — or is it absolutely called for?

    There are multiple valid arguments how to look at this, this is one based on the Constitution

    When President Donald Trump was displayed on screen at Nationals Park during Game 5 of the World Series Sunday night, he was greeted with a chorus of boos — and then, a chant of “lock him up.”

    And since then, a debate has broken out among some critical of Trump in the political world. Was “lock him up” an acceptable way to taunt this perennially under-investigation president? Or was it a troubling sign of the deterioration of norms about the rule of law and political disagreement?

    The context, of course, is that the chant is a variation of the “lock her up” chant — aimed at Hillary Clinton — that has been a mainstay of Trump events since 2016, and that Trump has been much-criticized for encouraging.

    So MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski argued Monday morning that the chants were “sickening” when Trump supporters did them — and that they were also “sickening” when aimed at Trump himself.

    For that, the pair faced a torrent of Twitter criticism, mostly based around the retort that, actually, the two situations are quite different — either because of the differences between Trump and Clinton’s scandals, or the differing contexts (a baseball crowd vs. a political rally).

    But within that backlash, there was an interesting split among some who argued that the sports fans shouldn’t be taken literally or seriously — and others who argued that, no, Trump really has committed serious crimes and he really should be in prison. The divide is a sign of differing viewpoints both on political rhetoric and on criminal prosecutions more generally.

    The controversy comes just days after Trump’s own lawyer argued that, even if Trump murders someone in broad daylight, no charges can be brought against him while he is president. And despite the seemingly trivial setting, the incident does raise questions about how the Democratic Party will handle the issue of potential Trump administration criminality going forward.

    Read more.

  9. The fight to stop Nestlé from taking America’s water to sell in plastic bottles

    Creek beds are bone dry and once-gushing springs are reduced to trickles as fights play out around the nation over control of nation’s freshwater supply

    A proposal for Nestlé to build a water bottling plant in Cascade Locks, Oregon, was one of the most heated battles in the state in its 2016 primary. Photograph: Don Ryan/AP

    The network of clear streams comprising California’s Strawberry Creek run down the side of a steep, rocky mountain in a national forest two hours east of Los Angeles. Last year Nestlé siphoned 45m gallons of pristine spring water from the creek and bottled it under the Arrowhead Water label.

    Though it’s on federal land, the Swiss bottled water giant paid the US Forest Service and state practically nothing, and it profited handsomely: Nestlé Waters’ 2018 worldwide sales exceeded $7.8bn.

    Conservationists say some creek beds in the area are now bone dry and once-gushing springs are reduced to mere trickles. The Forest Service recently determined Nestlé’s activities left Strawberry Creek “impaired” while “the current water extraction is drying up surface water resources”.

    Nestlé plan to take 1.1m gallons of water a day from natural springs sparks outcry
    Read more

    Meanwhile, the state is investigating whether Nestlé is illegally drawing from Strawberry Creek and in 2017 advised it to “immediately cease any unauthorized diversions”. Still, a year later, the Forest Service approved a new five-year permit that allows Nestlé to continue using federal land to extract water, a decision critics say defies common sense.

    Strawberry Creek is emblematic of the intense, complex water fights playing out around the nation between Nestlé, grassroots opposition, and government officials. At stake is control of the nation’s freshwater supply and billions in profits as Nestlé bottles America’s water then sells it back in plastic bottles. Those in opposition, like author and nutritionist Amanda Frye, increasingly view Nestlé as a corporate villain motivated by “greed”.

    Read more.

  10. Facebook employees ‘strongly object’ to policy allowing false claims in political ads

    A letter to Mark Zuckerberg says the exemption is ‘a threat to what FB stands for’ and called for the same standards as other adverts

    More than 250 Facebook employees signed a letter condemning Mark Zuckerberg’s policy on political ads. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

    Hundreds of Facebook employees have signed a letter to executive Mark Zuckerberg decrying his decision to allow politicians to post advertisements on the platform that include false claims.

    More than 250 employees signed the letter, which was posted on an internal communication message board for the company, the New York Times reported Monday. They expressed concern that Facebook “is on track to undo the great strides [its] product teams have made in integrity over the last two years”.

    “Misinformation affects us all,” the letter said. “Our current policies on fact checking people in political office, or those running for office, are a threat to what FB stands for. We strongly object to this policy as it stands.”

    Facebook has come under fire in recent weeks after the company rescinded an internal policy in late September, exempting political advertising from factchecking.

    Previously the social network banned adverts containing “deceptive, false or misleading content” but later clarified this policy does not apply to paid advertisements from politicians.

    Politicians including the senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and the representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have publicly spoken out against this policy. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support of the employees who spoke out against the policy on Monday, calling them “courageous”.

    Read more.

  11. She Represents More of the Planet Than Any Other Legislator on Earth

    Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, 25, was just elected to the Canadian House of Commons.
    By John Nichols

    Mumilaaq Qaqqaq’s official headshot for her 2019 campaign to become a member of Parliament in Canada. (Courtesy of Mumilaaq Qaqqaq)

    The physically largest electoral district represented by a single legislator on the face of the planet is Nunavut, a vast region of northern Canada that stretches across three time zones and extends from islands in Hudson Bay all the way to an Arctic community (Alert, population: 62) that is ranked as the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited place. The Nunavut electoral district covers more square miles than Germany, France, and Italy combined, and it is three times the size of Texas—a state that sends 36 members to the US House of Representatives.

    Nunavut’s population is small. But because Canadian political and election reforms have guaranteed the overwhelmingly indigenous population of the territory the authority to elect a member of the country’s House of Commons, the far north has the opportunity to send a mighty signal to Canada and the world at a time when climate change and the rise in advocacy on behalf of long-neglected and disenfranchised peoples are turning attention to Arctic regions.

    Last Tuesday, Nunavut seized that opportunity when it elected Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, a 25-year-old Inuk woman who promises to challenge a government that has “left us on the back burner too long.” The success of this candidate from Canada’s social democratic New Democratic Party, who promises a fight to “dismantle systemic racism from the top down and bottom up,” is surely a victory for “not me, us” movement politics. “This isn’t about me,” Qaqqaq says. “This is about everybody in my territory.”

    Read more.

  12. ‘It feels like a horror movie’: Republicans feel anxious and adrift defending Trump

    The Capitol dome is reflected in a rain puddle on Oct. 22. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
    Robert Costa and
    Philip Rucker

    Republican senators are lost and adrift as the impeachment inquiry enters its second month, navigating the grave threat to President Trump largely in the dark, frustrated by the absence of a credible case to defend his conduct and anxious about the historic reckoning that likely awaits them.

    Recent days have delivered the most damaging testimony yet about Trump and his advisers commandeering Ukraine policy for the president’s personal political goals, which his allies on Capitol Hill sought to undermine by storming the deposition room and condemning the inquiry as secretive and corrupt.

    Those theatrics belie the deepening unease many Republicans now say they feel — particularly those in the Senate who are dreading having to weigh their conscience against their political calculations in deciding whether to convict or acquit Trump should the Democratic-controlled House impeach the president.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  13. Trump’s Baghdadi press conference shows how he ruins even his best moments

    Trump could’ve just given his Baghdadi remarks and walked away. He didn’t — and made a mess.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) listens as President Trump delivers remarks on the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 27, 2019. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

    During his question-and-answer session, Trump divulged multiple sensitive details about the raid in Syria that could possibly give US enemies intelligence advantages; admitted to keeping Congress in the dark about the operation; openly mocked the terrorist leader; praised his controversial travel ban; and insinuated the September 11 attacks might not have happened had Washington heeded his advice.

    Overall, Trump squandered one of the best moments of his presidency by speaking cavalierly in his free-wheeling and self-aggrandizing manner.

    “Talking about how many aircraft, where the aircraft are flying in, how they’re breaching a building, other technology they can bring to bear, knowledge about the tunnels and the mapping of those tunnels, these are operational details which are only about preening,” Michael Leiter, who led the US National Counterterrorism Center from 2007 to 2011, told me.

    Which means that Trump turned a historic moment into one that many may remember more for his carelessness and bravado.

    What follows is a quick guide to Trump’s remarkable and controversial comments.

    Read more.

  14. Trump’s Black College Spectacle

    He was honored on the issue of criminal justice, where his record is shameful.

    By Charles M. Blow
    Opinion Columnist

    Trump doesn’t care about justice, criminal or otherwise. He cares about moments, images and monuments. He wants to be able to plaster his name across any big, important thing, stand proudly before it and take credit.

    This is the same Trump who responded to the case of the Central Park Five by taking out newspaper advertisements calling for New York State to adopt the death penalty. The black and Latino boys were just teenagers at the time, and he refused to apologize or change his position on their guilt even after they were exonerated.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  15. Donald Trump booed and greeted with ‘lock him up’ chants at World Series

    President attended Sunday’s baseball game in Washington DC
    Crowd booed when Trump appeared on video screen

    Trump left the game with one inning to go, although it was unclear whether he was unhappy with the reaction of the crowd, the fact that the Nationals were losing or just wanted to beat the traffic.

    Astros one win from World Series title after victory over Nationals in DC
    Read more

    Every US president since 1910 has thrown out a ceremonial first-pitch at a baseball game during their time in office, but Trump is the first to break with that tradition. Major League Baseball’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, said the President had told him he did not want to participate in the ceremony at this year’s World Series “in order to make the fan experience as positive as possible”.

    On Friday, Trump had joked his bullet-proof vest would make it hard to throw out the first pitch. “I don’t know. They gotta dress me up in a lot of heavy armour. I’ll look too heavy. I don’t like that,” he said.

    Sunday’s first pitch was instead thrown by Washington DC chef José Andrés, a vocal critic of Trump. Andrés has repeatedly opposed Trump’s immigration policies and his government’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

    Trump attended the game with his wife, Melania, and several Republican politicians including Lindsey Graham, Matt Gaetz and David Perdue.

    Read more.


    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, center, accompanied by Facebook vice president for U.S. public policy, Kevin Martin, right, takes a break from testimony before a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 23, 2019. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

    DURING A CONGRESSIONAL hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked Mark Zuckerberg about his “ongoing dinner parties with far-right figures.”

    This was terribly unfair to Mark, and Ocasio-Cortez owes him an apology. Yes, as Politico recently reported, he’s been holding lots of private get-togethers with prominent hard-right media figures. According to the article, these include Tucker Carlson of Fox News; talk show host Hugh Hewitt; Ben Shapiro; former Free Beacon editor Matt Continetti; and Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, which exists “to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media.”

    But this isn’t because Mark is cultivating right-wingers specifically. Rather, as he explained on Facebook, he just loves to have dinner with “lots of people across the spectrum on lots of different issues all the time.”

    Read more.

  17. Opinion

    ‘Human Scum,’ ‘Lynching’ and Trump’s Tortured English

    The president needs a thesaurus and a therapist, though not necessarily in that order.

    Nicolas Ortega

    You campaign in poetry, according to a popular saying, and govern in prose.

    Donald Trump will be impeached in doggerel. I mean his own.

    The other day he turned to the bounteous trove of the English language for a pejorative worthy of his critics’ awfulness, at least as he sees it. He decided on “human scum.”

    He sought to capture the horror and injustice befalling him. What he came up with was “lynching.”

    There’s being crude with language, there’s being loose with it, and then there’s being Trump, who uses words the way a toddler does marbles, grabbing the ones that are most bluntly colorful and tossing them into the air just because he can.

    Trump is as inept at English as he is at governing. He’s oxymoronic: a nativist who can’t really speak his native tongue.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  18. Opinion

    We’re Less and Less a Christian Nation, and I Blame Some Blowhards

    Some intolerant conservative evangelicals have tainted the faith.

    By Nicholas Kristof
    Opinion Columnist

    Perhaps for the first time since the United States was established, a majority of young adults here do not identify as Christian.

    Only 49 percent of millennials consider themselves Christian, compared with 84 percent of Americans in their mid-70s or older, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

    We don’t have good historical data, and the historians I consulted are wary of definitive historical comparisons. But something significant seems to be happening. The share of American adults who regard themselves as Christian has fallen by 12 percentage points in just the last decade.

    “The U.S. is steadily becoming less Christian and less religiously observant,” the Pew study concluded.

    Some on the religious right will thunder that this as a result of a secular “war on Christianity.”

    “Christians and Christianity are mocked, belittled, smeared and attacked,” declared an essay on Fox News’s website, plaintively titled, “How Long Will I Be Allowed to Remain a Christian?”

    This mockery of Christians is, as I’ve written many times, both real and wrong. But a far bigger threat to the “brand” of Christianity comes, I think, from religious blowhards who have entangled faith with bigotry, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. For some young people, Christianity is associated less with love than with hate.

    “Pompous right-wing political chest-thumping, and an unwillingness to listen on matters like climate change or racism, has contributed to a perception by millions that Christianity is irrelevant, or worse yet, a threat to progress,” the Rev. Richard Cizik, the leader of a group of self-described “new evangelicals” with moderate views, told me. “That’s a real burden to carry going into the 21st century.”

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  19. Extra, Extra! Prez Won’t Read All About It

    Snowflake Trump wants us off his lawn.

    By Maureen Dowd
    Opinion Columnist

    In dropping The Times and The Post, the president came across like all those liberals on Twitter who bristle with cancelitis. They’re always huffing away from our paper only to sneak back a few days later.

    Newspapers are liquid history, with deadlines pressing and people trying to pull the wool over our eyes. God knows, we’re not perfect. But we’re definitely better arbiters of objective reality than Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise.

    Given the perverted values we’ve seen in other institutions, such as Facebook, the Catholic Church, the Bush-Cheney White House and the Trump White House, it feels good to be part of an institution that aims to illuminate rather than obscure.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

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