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Jul 20, 17

All the News You Didn’t Even Know Was Going Down

How much news can we pack into one roundup?

The big stories of the last few weeks is that another crappy version of Trumpcare is dead once again as the Trump administration postures that they will destroy the ACA and figure the rest out later as Senate Republicans have proposed yet another plan. It appears that the DACA program is in imminent threat of being destroyed, thus putting upwards of 800,000 people at risk of deportation. The climate on climate change continues to worsen and the Pentagon thinks the US empire is crumbling and wants to fix it with sweeping surveillance. Not to be outdone, some economists argue that we’re due for another recession. Yay!

The Big Picture

Around the same time the media was going into either overdrive talking about Donald Trump, Jr’s latest dealings with Russia or trying to find anything else to talk about in order to distract from it, a massive piece of ice the size Deleware broke off from Antarctica and now reportedly is breaking apart into smaller pieces. More strikingly beyond the threat of rising sea levels, is the threat that continued melting of permafrost could release large amounts of methane as well as potentially diseases locked within the ice. Fun. 

Not to be outdone, PNAS, (PNASTY to those in the know), aka Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, warned that we are in the middle of a period of literal “biological annihilation,” and currently are witnesses to the 6th largest die off of animal species in the history of the planet.

If you want a quick run down of both, check out the Dragonfly Collective’s article, Answering Annihilation: Some Notes on Earth’s Exction: 

“When Will Climate Change Make the Earth Too Hot for Humans?” Written by David Wallace-Wells, a New York article asking this question has gone viral. Within days of its July 9th publication, the piece became the most widely-read in the magazine’s history.

Instead of reporting on what scientists think is most likely to happen, Wallace-Wells highlights the worst-case scenarios. He asks what could happen by 2100 if society does not take dramatic action to curtail runaway global warming.

Temperatures could rise as high as 8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, causing global agricultural yields to drop by 80 to 100 percent. It would mean “the end of food.”

Even if temperatures rise only 4 degrees, Europe’s 2003 heat wave—that killed as many as 2,000 a day—could become a normal summer. Melting arctic ice could release trapped remnants of disappeared diseases, infecting humanity once again.

It does not take much imagination to see how such results could lead to the disappearance of the whole human species. As food, water, and fuels get scarcer and scarcer, conflict could spread and the probability of nuclear warfare would rise higher and higher, with the potential to take out not just humans but most other life forms as well.

It’s important to point out that both the liberal standard of the Paris Climate Accords as well as the acceleration of the carbon bubble that Trump proposes equally are not enough to do much of anything to avert from this course. As recent studies have pointed out, the biggest contributors to global warming and the biggest polluters are the military and corporate firms. If we want to stop climate chaos, we have to win the class war.

Meanwhile at home, the most recent iteration of the health care bill is now dead. However both Trump and Senate Republicans seem set on trying to simply do away with Obamacare and finding a replacement, (or not), sometime in the future.

One report read:

Following the lunch meeting with Trump, McConnell said he would proceed with a vote next week, without making clear whether the Senate would be voting on the “repeal” bill or the “repeal and replace” measure.

Either option would represent a devastating and unprecedented attack on health care for tens of millions of people. According to the Congressional Budget Office, a simple repeal of the ACA would strip 32 million people of health coverage by 2026, while the Republican “repeal and replace” legislation would deprive 22 million over the next decade. The latter bill would impose $770 billion in spending cuts over 10 years to the federal-state Medicaid program, which currently covers some 70 million poor and elderly Americans, and impose spending caps, meaning Medicaid would cease to be an open-ended, guaranteed entitlement program. It would also sharply raise premiums and deductibles from the already outrageously high Obamacare levels and give the wealthy hundreds of billions in tax cuts.

Everything in the proposed plans did nothing to fix the problems of Obamacare – essentially it forced lots of poor people who couldn’t afford it to pay for ‘coverage’ into plans with high monthly payments and deductibles and not much in the way of actual care. While this made sure that some people had coverage, it didn’t mean that they had access to high quality care at prices they could afford.

The Republican plans simply continue this process, moving more and more money out of the hands of the poor and working-class and putting it into the pockets of insurance companies and corporations. Hit hardest in all current iterations of the plans that have been proposed will be the elderly, the poor and low income, and those with existing conditions. Meanwhile, the Democrats do nothing to confront this reality:

The Democratic Party response to Republican disarray over health care is to step up its campaign for negotiations with the Republicans to pass a bipartisan bill that would “fix” Obamacare to make it even more punitive for working people and more profitable for the giant insurance companies. The statements of leading Democratic politicians and the editorials and commentaries in newspapers generally aligned with the Democrats, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, make clear that the overriding focus of the establishment opposition party is the defense of the capitalist market and the interests of the health care industry, not the health care needs of working people.

If you want an even worse picture of the state of American health care and what it says about poor and working-class life and death, check out the new report from the Commonwealth Fund, which argues that the US lags last in providing quality access and care of all industrial first world nations.

The recent healthcare debacle shows growing tensions within both parties, as Republicans don’t want to axe Obamacare or attack medicaid because they fear working-class backlash from their constituents and Democrats must deal with growing calls for universal healthcare. Protests and demonstrations targeting Republicans who are backing the healthcare bill have also been continuous and ongoing, as have angry town hall meetings.

But the failure of both Trump and the Congressional GOP to pass the new healthcare bill, which will hurt attempts at ‘tax reform,’ has lead to more and more breaks between Trump and other GOP leaders:

Trump aides have already expressed concern that Trump’s agenda will be impossible in the wake of the healthcare law’s failure.

Jackie Kucinich, D.C. bureau chief for the Daily Beast, noted that the president celebrated with Republicans in the Rose Garden but then the following day attacked their bill as “mean.” Thus, many Republicans aren’t willing to stick their necks out for the bill when they don’t know if Trump will back them up.

In sticking either with Obamacare – or getting rid of it altogether, the power and profit from the healthcare industry will still reside in the hands of large scale insurance corporations. Poor and working people aren’t going to find a solution within the two parties, but instead by fighting for something that speaks to their own needs and interests, against those as the rich. 

In regards to immigration, weeks after the suit and tie white nationalist group FAIR held their annual ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ gathering that was attended by politicians and professional racists alike, GOPers in red states began to call on the President to put an end to the DACA program, which allows the children of undocumented people to stay in the country. Soon after, Trump made an announcement that he was going to destroy the DACA program, thus putting upwards of 800,000 people in danger of deportation.

According to New York Mag: 

Last month, advocates for the approximately 780,000 beneficiaries of Barack Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative aimed at protecting Dreamers (young people whose parents brought them into the country illegally, but who have kept their own noses clean) breathed a sigh of relief. On the fifth anniversary of DACA, the Trump administration officially killed expanded protections for the parentsof Dreamers (known as DAPA), which a federal judge had already suspended — but did not eliminate DACA itself, as the president promised to do during his 2016 campaign. The administration made it clear at the time that it was only leaving DACA untouched temporarily. And now fears are returning that death for DACA could be part of a planned autumn immigration offensive by Trump and his congressional GOP allies.

And so: Trump and his advisers might well decide that if DACA is going to end anyway, the president rather than some obscure judge should get the credit. And just as important, the threatened lawsuit puts the ball squarely in the court of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an immigration hardliner whose former staffer and protégé, Stephen Miller, is the anti-immigration point man in the White House.

To put things in an even bigger picture, according to Jay Zagorsky at PBS along with a few other economists are predicting another economic crash in 2017. Despite this, others and many in the media are busy talking about the low unemployment rate and ‘robust job growth,’ and how much the economy has ‘rebounded’ since the crash. In reality, since the Great Recession, what has really taken place is that work and capital have been completely restructured and people are working longer and longer hours for less and less money. According to one recent study, 1 in 3 Americans still haven’t recovered from 2007, with women and African-Americans being hit the hardest. Meanwhile, millennial workers are working more than their parents and often in more precarious forms of unemployment, often in greater forms of impoverishment.

The point in mentioning all of this is simply that the wealth and abundance that is generated in the United States by the vast majority of the population is funneling more and more into a select bracket of disgustingly wealthy people. At the same time, basic services, access to healthcare, and being able to make ends meet is quickly becoming a luxury for fewer and fewer that actually work to produce all of this wealth. The reality isn’t brought on by immigrants or refugees, and it certainly isn’t brought on by the government spending a meager amount of money on programs like food stamps, but instead a system of globalized neoliberal capitalism that is designed to function this way.

While this process is being accelerated under Trump despite all his tough talk against ‘globalism,’ it’s a project that is being carried out by both corporate parties. Industrial capitalism continues to be a death machine that has locked humanity inside of it, and working-class and poor people across the globe must get serious about understanding their own needs, their desires, and their goals outside of and against the wishes of the mega-rich and their apologists.

Speaking of that, the Pentagon has a new report that talks about the the declining power of US hegemony, the threat of popular rebellion, and also the need for mass surveillance and the manufacturing of consent across the broad population.

As Nafeez Ahmed writes:

An extraordinary new Pentagon study has concluded that the U.S.-backed international order established after World War 2 is “fraying” and may even be “collapsing”, leading the United States to lose its position of “primacy” in world affairs.

The solution proposed to protect U.S. power in this new “post-primacy” environment is, however, more of the same: more surveillance, more propaganda (“strategic manipulation of perceptions”) and more military expansionism.

The document concludes that the world has entered a fundamentally new phase of transformation in which U.S. power is in decline, international order is unravelling, and the authority of governments everywhere is crumbling.

Having lost its past status of “pre-eminence”, the U.S. now inhabits a dangerous, unpredictable “post-primacy” world, whose defining feature is “resistance to authority”.

Danger comes not just from great power rivals like Russia and China, both portrayed as rapidly growing threats to American interests, but also from the increasing risk of “Arab Spring”-style events. These will erupt not just in the Middle East, but all over the world, potentially undermining trust in incumbent governments for the foreseeable future.

The report, based on a year-long intensive research process involving consultation with key agencies across the Department of Defense and U.S. Army, calls for the U.S. government to invest in more surveillance, better propaganda through “strategic manipulation” of public opinion, and a “wider and more flexible” U.S. military.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the news. 

Trump that Regime

We’re not six months into the Trump fiasco and as Trump’s base falters, he hasn’t been able to replace Obamacare with anything, and if he does, it will probably be even worse. Tax cuts haven’t come through and if they do it’ll be for the wealthy. His ‘investment plan’ in infrastructure is simply payouts for big corporations and it is still stalling. The swamp hasn’t been drained, but filled with corporate bigwigs and CEOs, far-Right blowhards, and his ugly looking kids. He hasn’t kept jobs in the US, he’s already engaged in interventionist attacks on other countries killing thousands and already more than Obama, drug prices haven’t come down, and he’s rolled back legislation on the big banks and Wall Street – not taken them to task. In short, like most politicians Trump was good at bluster and bullshit, but in reality he hasn’t been able to deliver to his base that actually cared about working class issues.

But to roundup the Trump news, apparently his ugly kids are ‘miserable,’ not in the sense that they are poor, have to work 60 hours a week, and are being evicted, but sad that their dad is President and embarrassing them. Meanwhile, they’ve been using taxpayer money to make themselves rich off promoting their hotels.

Anger continues to mount against the so-called ‘voting panel,’ as the project which will lead to widespread voter suppression continues to hit massive road blocks:

As Kobach put it to Ari Berman last month, his whole master plan for world dominion was so simple: to create in Kansas—where he is running for governor and has been secretary of state for a number of years—a template for programmatic vote suppression nationwide. If he created “the absolute best legal framework,” other states and the federal government would follow. Somehow, though, Trump’s “election integrity” commission turned into one of the most colossal cockups in an administration already overflowing with them.

Less than two weeks after its attempts to extract voter information from every state, including birth dates, voting histories, and the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, the commission has been stymied by varying degrees of resistance in almost every state. In addition, lawsuits have ground the commission’s work to a halt. One filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and another by the American Civil Liberties Union alleged violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires notice of public meetings and open public records surrounding such a federal commission. Yet another by the Electronic Privacy Information Center sought a restraining order and alleged that the panel had violated the 2002 E-Government Act by not undertaking a required privacy impact assessment of its request.

Jeff Sessions recently spoke at an event for the anti-LGBT hate group the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Betsy DeVos sat down with Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) to discuss sexual assault against women and how they think it doesn’t really exist. Meanwhile, Steve Bannon wants private contractors to set policy and strategy on the ground in Afghanistan. Lastly, a recent poll shows that 76% of Americans fear another major war.


675 people have been killed by American law enforcement since the start of 2017, for an average of almost 3.5 per day.

In North Carolina, an autopsy confirms that an African-American man that was killed by a state trooper was shot in the back. In Bakersfield, a African-American woman was beaten after police mistook her for a male suspect, punching her in the mouth and allowing a police dog to bite her.

In various cities, actions took place to remember the life and death of Sandra Bland and Eric Garner:

Four years after the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, Louisiana police are literally suing Black Lives Matter leaders for the ambush of several police officers in Baton Rouge, claiming that their movement caused anti-police sentiment. According to Think Progress: 

Arguing that founding BLM organizers DeRay McKesson, Johnetta Elzie, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi “not only, incited the violence against police in retaliation for the death of black men shot by police, but also did nothing to dissuade the ongoing violence and injury to police,” the suit both seeks damages from the five named organizers and aims to render “#BlackLivesMatter” as a courtroom defendant.

Each of the men who ambushed and murdered police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge last summer pointed to their outrage with police violence as motivation for their violence. Each man also acted alone, explicitly disavowed the reform-oriented street protest movements in favor of bloodshed, and made a premeditated choice to spill blood. The attacker in the Baton Rouge ambush was a member of a so-called “sovereign citizen” group, one of many in a ragtag underground movement whose adherents have frequently killed police during traffic stops and in intentional ambushes.

Protests and street marches took place in Merced, California after police opened fired inside a Hookah lounge while looking for a robbery suspect. As the local newspaper wrote:

Cellphone footage from a security guard shows portions of the encounter. Immediately, we see an officer with a large “anti-riot” gun pointed at patrons, screaming at them to back up. Another officer uses a baton to force patrons toward the exit. People, hands up, are leaving the room. In the background we see an officer pushing a black man. The first officer – who was screaming and pointing his anti-riot gun – shoots the man being pushed backward, hitting him with a rubber projectile.

Meanwhile, other protests took place around so-called North America in response to continued police killings:

Lastly, the police killing of a white Australian woman by a Somali-American police officer has led to both a reopening of discussion around police shootings and also the Black Lives Matter movement itself. Many on the Right are breezing past the issue of police and focusing on the race of the police officer, while others are asking, “Where are the protests,” despite the fact that protests and vigils have happened both in the US and in Australia, and demonstrations were organized on July 20th, several days after the killing.

Unicorn Riot writes:

Late in the night of July 15, 2017, Justine Maia Ruszczyk called 911 after she heard a sound in the alley of her Southwest Minneapolis home. That call turned into her death. Two Minneapolis Police officers responded to the 911 call in the upper scale neighborhood at 51st Street and Xerxes Avenue South around 11:30 p.m. Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor shot and killed the 911 caller from the passenger seat of the squad car.

The killing of Ruszczyk is disgusting and horrific, as are the over 3 1/2 people per day which are slaughtered by American law enforcement. It ends when we make it end.


In Calgary antifascists clashed with far-Right Christians:

Also in Tampa, antifascists stood in solidarity with those fighting to bring down Confederate monuments:

Two big stories that have been unfolding, the first being that Milo Yiannopoulos apparently has been lying about how many copies of his new book Dangerous have sold. While most critics have panned the book as simply a rehash of his Breitbart articles, many of which were written by ghostwriters anyway, and as being the kind of book you wouldn’t even read at the airport, Milo alleged that the book has been moving large volumes. However according to a new report, the book has sold only around 18,000 copies in the US and a staggeringly low 152 in the UK.

While all of this is worth a chuckle, the real interesting news this week is that it appears that Milo is getting financial support from the Mercer family, the same group of billionaires that also have been backing Donald Trump’s campaign as well as Breitbart. 

Meanwhile, anger and mobilization continues to build to oppose the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, VA on August 12th, while in Nova Scotia neo-Nazi groups have ‘doxxed’ a bunch of random people they found on Facebook, and people have currently been arrested in the wake of the large scale antifascist mobilization in Sacramento last year, with only one neo-Nazi being arrested as another was taken in by police on weapons charges. 

Speaking of Charlottesville, in a bit of brilliant gumshoe work:

The investigation into the vandalism of a statue in a Charlottesville park might take a little longer for police to solve.

Authorities had placed unmarked surveillance cameras at both Emancipation and Justice parks sometime in June. Both parks are home to a statue of Confederate Army general – Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, respectively – and have been the center of controversy for the city.

The Charlottesville Police Department told NBC29 on Thursday, July 20, that the camera that was supposed to be on the Lee statue had been turned, and that the culprit(s) came from behind the statue.

As a result, the department does not have video of the vandalism.

In the Pacific Northwest, people are also organizing in the local music scene to kick out neo-Nazi, fascist, and white nationalist bands:

On a recent Sunday evening, members of the music community met at The Vera Project to discuss the increasing presence of white nationalism in Seattle’s scene. An open call on social media summoned bookers, promoters, bartenders, venue owners, staff, and musicians to participate and to brainstorm creative solutions to counter fascism: “This is a heads-up: There have been recent reports of white nationalists infiltrating Seattle music spaces. They’ve been hanging out at local bars and nightclubs, and even getting their bands booked, often as a mistake by progressive folx…This is an opportunity to share resources, network, and collaborate around how to keep each other safe against these fascists in our music spaces and in our greater communities.”

Inside The Vera Project, many attendees were longtime veterans of the punk and hardcore scene, who had been privy to racism and violence in their communities for years. One antiracist activist and artist who attended, and who also wished to remain anonymous, told me, “I’ve generally stopped going to shows. And the reason I’ve stopped going to shows is because I feel unsafe, not only with an uptick in crimes but with the measurable increase in racism in Seattle. And when someone who’s spent time in the skinhead scenes feels unsafe enough that they’re not even going to shows, that says a lot. And it’s getting even worse.” She added later, “As a woman of color, I’ve felt a change in the air; there’s something intangible but threatening. When I’m in public, the back of my neck tightens in anticipation of racism, misogyny—really, any of the forms of hatred that Trump has not only condoned but actively encouraged through his heinous example.”

Check out this awesome article from Erin Gallagher about mapping fake antifa twitter accounts and what is all means.

Lastly, there is a call to resist a “white genocide” protest put on by Augustus Invictus in Florida:

Class War

In some states, they are lowering the minimum wage. Meanwhile, the opioid epidemic continues full steam ahead. In Vermont, workers are taking action against liberal ice-cream king pin Ben N Jerry’s. In Boyle Heights, CA, acts of vandalism continue against symbols of gentrification. Meanwhile in Haiti, action from garment workers continues:

The Bloomington Solidarity Network has been hard at work organizing with tenants. Check them out here and support their organizing.

Indigenous Resistance

27 years to the day, indigenous people once again are fighting over development at Oka, which led to a massive armed standoff in 1990.

In New Brunswick:

Members of Maliseet First Nations have started to build a protest camp at the proposed site of the Sisson mine near Napadogan.

Tents, campers, and other homemade structures have been set up in hopes of deterring future development of a proposed tungsten and molybdenum mine.

“I am a Wulustukyik grandmother and I am here defending the land,” said Terry Sappier, who has been living in the camp most of the time since it was built July 2.

“I’m defending it for our future generations.”

In Halifax:

Municipal crews draped a black cloth over a statue of Edward Cornwallis in a downtown Halifax park Saturday as protesters gathered with a plan to remove the statue.

After a city truck arrived, crews informed the gathering they would shroud the monument as a sign of good faith.

Cheers went up from the crowd as the monument disappeared under its new veil. Some demonstrators chanted and raised their fists in the air as others drummed and sang. Afterward, people joined hands and slowly circled the statue.

CBC News reporters on the scene estimated there were about 150 people at the gathering.

Cornwallis, a governor of Nova Scotia, was a military officer who founded Halifax for the British in 1749. The same year, he issued the so-called scalping proclamation, offering a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaq person.

Meanwhile in Winnipeg people are fighting the destruction of a wetland:

Fire to the Prisons

In Tennessee, inmates are getting reduced time if they let the state sterilize them. This harkens back to both the eugenics movement and the push to sterilize the poor and especially black women in the earlier part of the century, through programs that would make Richard Spencer giddy:

Prisoners at the White County jail in Sparta, TN, have recently been given a horrifying choice: Serve their entire sentence behind bars or agree to undergo a sterilization procedure, courtesy of the Tennessee Department of Health, in exchange for a reduced sentence.

The program, approved by local Judge Sam Benningfield in May, has divided local officials and raised serious concerns from rights groups who argue that coercing prisoners with medical procedures is wholly unconstitutional.

As of May 15, more than 30 women have had Nexplanon—a small rod that can prevent pregnancies for up to four years—implanted in their arms, free of cost, in exchange for 30 fewer days in jail, according to News Channel 5. Thirty-eight men have also agreed to undergo vasectomy surgery as part of the same program.

Also in Arizona, women are on strike against high commissary prices:

A Nature Valley granola bar, previously 37 cents, now costs nearly a dollar. A pack of unfiltered Camel cigarettes goes for $8.15, a 78-cent increase. Antacids went from $1.80 to $2.20. A set of shoelaces nearly doubled in price, from 37 cents to 70 cents.

To someone on the outside, an extra 40 cents here or there might not seem like much. But for people who are incarcerated, that’s often more than they make for several hours’ work — which is why female inmates at the state prison in Perryville are going on strike by refusing to buy anything besides a single toothbrush.

A group of women participating in the strike, who requested their names be held for fear of retribution, wrote in a joint statement: “We get one roll of toilet paper per week and 12 pads a month. Everything else comes out of our pockets, including [non-cafeteria] food. We make between $0.10-$0.45 cents an hour. 20 percent of our wages go to restitution and we get charged $2 a month for electricity.

“With so little, we already struggle to make ends meet — often being left to choose between buying a bar of soap, which is now $1.50, or making a phone call home at $0.20 a minute. Now we’re expected to pay 70 percent more for staple items, like peanut butter.”

Selling basic necessities like aspirin, shampoo, dental floss, and cough drops to a captive audience is a highly lucrative business model. In 2012, the Keefe Commissary Network, which contracts with Arizona state prisons, reported total sales of $375 million and a profit margin that exceeded Walmart’s.

Lastly in Oklahoma a prison riot broke out:

Anarchist Movement

A week of solidarity has kicked off to #DefendJ20. Check out all that is going down here. Actions are popping off acro

We also encourage people to take part in the call-in campaign to demand that police be investigated for assault, negligence, and sexual assault:

In the Twin Cities, members of the GDC marched against police to the Mayor’s house:

People with Solidarity and Defense are putting in the hard work:

Marius Mason gives a big thank you for everyone that took part in making June 11th pop off.

In Chicago, people dropped a banner for Rob Grodt, a anarchist volunteer with the YPG who was killed in combat fighting ISIS:

In New York, workers at the Ellen’s Famous Stardust Diner are still taking action as part of the IWW campaign against attacks from management:

Redneck Revolt continues to grow and organize. They have been having a series of ‘meet and greets’ in various communities.

People with the Burgerville Workers Union took to the streets to shut down a Burgerville store for management’s refusal to negotiate with the union, who has recently had to pay $10K in fines for violating wage and hour violations. They write:

HUGE thank you to the dozens of supporting community organizations, labor unions, workers, and inflatable rat who braved the heat and took to the streets yesterday late afternoon/evening to SHUT the 92nd and Powell BV DOWN!

Even though Burgerville is still refusing to negotiate–– preferring to waste resources (the profits we produce for them) by hiring meathead, anti-union security goons to surveil, taunt, and intimidate picketers!–– the BVWU keeps gaining momentum and membership.

Remember….solidarity is always in season with the BVWU

Anarchists continue to fight in the struggle to defeat ISIS and in solidarity with the YPJ and YPG: 

It’s Going Down

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