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Their chief weapons are surprise, jeers and an almost fanatical devotion to clowning on tRump

[ 55 ] February 25, 2017 |

There are many ways to resist Republicans, but I have an especial fondness for jokes and anything that makes them look as stupid as they are. Getting CPAC attendees to wave TRUMP emblazoned Russian flags earns a 10/10.

Jason Charter, 22, and Ryan Clayton, 36, passed out roughly 1,000 red, white, and blue flags, each bearing a gold-emblazoned “TRUMP” in the center, to an auditorium full of attendees waiting for President Trump to address the conference. Audience members waved the pennants—and took pictures with them—until CPAC staffers realized the trick: They were Russian flags.

The stunt made waves on social media, as journalists covering CPAC noticed the scramble to confiscate the insignia.

Funny, a little gutsy and harmless unless which one counts damage the the right wing ego, which one should not. In addition, the fact that the gag was carried out by two people who fit the neo-con profile for Normal and Safe shows that infiltration by members of the tribe, even when it is short-lived, is another valuable form of resistance.

The white supremacists’ hatred of what they call the race traitor stems from their cowardice. How can the Brave White Warrior imagine himself defending Chirsto-Western Values against the Tides of Globalist Funded Darkness (or whatever rhetorical pud pulling they’re into this week) unless he’s certain every other white person will be fighting on the same side as, and preferably in front of, him?

Just as importantly, how can he feel happy and secure unless he’s absolutely certain that everyone who looks Normal and Safe won’t make him feel awkward by disagreeing when he whines about the blahs, the quahs, the jahs and feminazi wahs who are ruining everything with their P.C.?

And in this case – how can the organizers and attendees of other neo-con cons be absolutely certain that every other attendee is on their side and not up to something that is intended to make them look and feel dumb? The answer of course is they can’t. But I hope they try. Maybe guys who wear glasses, blue t-shirts and/or maroon polos will be banned. At least until they come up with a design for the mandatory tattoo.

Or maybe they’ll just stick to what they know and take out their angst on anyone in the vicinity who doesn’t fit the Normal/Safe profile.

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If familiarity breeds contempt then a lack of familiarity must breed respect

[ 105 ] February 24, 2017 |

Members of the latest iteration of the Republican Party are less able to cope with criticism than their predecessors. Hilarity ensues.

For example, here’s Breitbartian and Bannon protege Sebastian Gorka invoking the If familiarity breeds contempt then a lack of familiarity must breed respect clause, which is regularly used by grade school students and annoying people on Twitter when someone says mean things about them.

A White House adviser made an angry phone call and threatened a lawsuit over a critic’s tweets about him, Newsweek reported Thursday.

The Newsweek story includes a recording of the lengthy phone call Gorka made after counterterrorism expert Michael S. Smith II questioned Gorka’s qualifications to be a national security adviser.

Gorka, whose experience and views on Islam have come under recent fire, phoned Smith Tuesday, asking to know “why this vitriol” was coming from him.

Just because he worked for a POS like Blightshart, is pals with white nationalists and his vanity and incompetent boobery poses a risk to the citizens of America is no reason for people to be rude.

Gorka repeatedly expressed confusion as to why Smith would attack him, emphasizing the fact that they have never met in person.

Y U talking about me? U don’t evn no me! #Wah :-(

“I look at your Twitter feed once or twice a day, and it’s half a dozen tweets about me, and I’ve never even met you,” Gorka said.

“Wow, are you defeating jihad by monitoring or trolling my Twitter feed?” Smith shot back.

lol

“Gorka asserted my tweets about him merited examination by the White House legal counsel,” Smith told Newsweek.

Ooga booga! Maybe lawyers will look at your Tweets about me! And then. You’ll. Be sorry. Or something.

Smith appears to be unimpressed and enjoying himself at the expense of Gorka and his defenders.

There Is A New McCarthyism in the United States. It Has Nothing To Do With Vladimir Putin. (Except Insofar as Putin Helped to Put the McCarthyists in Office.)

[ 382 ] February 24, 2017 |

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Based on this thread, there seems to be some confusion about what McCarthyism is. McCarthyism was a state-led campaign to suppress speech (with some private collaborators), based on conspiracy claims that were mostly exaggerated or false. There is most certainly an analogy to this happening in the United States right now:

Since the election of President Trump, Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have introduced or voted on legislation to curb mass protests in what civil liberties experts are calling “an attack on protest rights throughout the states.”

From Virginia to Washington state, legislators have introduced bills that would increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least once case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent. The proposals come after a string of mass protest movements in the past few years, covering everything from police shootings of unarmed black men to the Dakota Access Pipeline to the inauguration of Trump.

Some are introducing bills because they say they’re necessary to counter the actions of “paid” or “professional” protesters who set out to intimidate or disrupt, a common accusation that experts agree is largely overstated. “You now have a situation where you have full-time, quasi-professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,” said Republican state senator John Kavanagh of Arizona in support of a measure there that would bring racketeering charges against some protesters.

No analogy is perfect, but this is a lot like McCarthyism. What is not even remotely like McCarthyism is this:

But I do want to draw attention to an outstanding article in today’s Guardian by the Russian-born American journalist Keith Gessen, in which he clinically examines — and demolishes — all of the hysterical, ignorant, fearmongering, manipulative claims now predominant in U.S. discourse about Russia, Putin, and the Kremlin.

The article begins: “Vladimir Putin, you may have noticed, is everywhere.” As a result, he points out, “Putinology” — which he defines as “the production of commentary and analysis about Putin and his motivations, based on necessarily partial, incomplete and sometimes entirely false information” — is now in great prominence even though it “has existed as a distinct intellectual industry for over a decade.” In sum, he writes: “At no time in history have more people with less knowledge, and greater outrage, opined on the subject of Russia’s president.”

It’s hardly unique for American media and political commentators to speak of foreign adversaries with a mix of ignorance and paranoia. But the role Putin serves above all else, he says, is to cast America’s problems not as its own doing but rather the fault of foreigners, and more importantly, to relieve the Democratic Party of the need to examine its own fundamental flaws and errors…

I’m sure some claims about Putin have been exaggerated. But the possibility that the Russian state intervened in the American election is hardly without basis, like McCarthy’s “list” of Communists in the State Department. But the real problem here is that there’s no suppression of speech here. The alleged harm is not “talking about Putin is causing people to be repressed,” but “people aren’t talking enough about how Hillary Clinton sucks.” The idea that this is an any way analogous to McCarthyism is utterly absurd. And, of course, the idea that the result of the 2016 election has only One True Cause, and it’s imperative to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ the very likely decisive role of the FBI, America’s broken electoral system, and the likely role of the Russian state is transparently wrong even leaving aside the fact that it’s not even slightly analogous to McCarthyism.

And this is the dark irony here — people who worked hard to minimize the threat of Trump ex ante and think the most urgent task of American political discourse ex post is to attack someone who will never be a presidential candidate again are inveighing against an imaginary “McCarthyism” while Trump’s Republican Party is doing the real thing. I’m afraid I’m going to have to give this order to discuss one thing and one thing only about the 2016 election a hard pass yet again.

The Further Adventures of Paul Ryan, Serious Policy Wonk of Great Seriousity

[ 120 ] February 24, 2017 |

ryan is a working man

One of the most ludicrous frauds in American politics is Paul Ryan’s ability to convert exactly one note — a Cliff’s Notes version of John Galt’s courtroom speech, with Special Guest Appearances at soup kitchens to make his rapacious support for upward wealth distribution to look like concern for the poor people whose lives his political career is devoted to making worse — into a reputation is a serious policy wonk. But his attempt to defend his we’ll-have-a-plan-soon to strip health care from millions of people is making him look especially ridiculous:

Having the freedom to “buy what you want” sounds good! Only in the context of health care, it’s a disaster for the non-affluent. Many people cannot afford basic health care services, and the vast majority of people cannot afford care for an unexpected major illness. Giving rich and poor people alike the “freedom” to purchase as much health care as they think they need is a cruel joke, not a serious health care policy. And it’s worse than that; people cannot, in fact, reliably predict how much health care they might “need” in the future, which is why insurance is necessary for practical access to health care in the first place.

Ryan is also attacking the regulations that require insurance—both employer-provided and purchased on exchanges—to meet minimum coverage requirements. But this is not “freedom” of any value.  Regulations that protect customers from junk insurance reduce their “freedom” in the sense that FDA regulations take away people’s “freedom” to buy beef laced with strychnine. It’s true that under the ACA young and healthy people pay more for insurance than they would under a “free market” in health care, but this is how insurance works: You pay more now so you can afford insurance later. Objecting to the ACA because the young and healthy pay more than they otherwise would is like saying its unjust to pay taxes to support the fire department when your house hasn’t burned down.

While it would be very wrong to be complacent, at least it’s looking more and more likely that Ryan won’t be able to pull ACA repeal off. That members of Congress who actually believe this abject nonsense about the value of the freedom to be bankrupted by and perhaps to be killed by preventable illnesses might be responsible for saving the ACA would be like a black fly in your Chardonnay, but we also have to credit the many members of the public who have stood up to Ryan’s war on access to health care.

Nick Kristof Didn’t Get My Memo

[ 200 ] February 24, 2017 |
Portrait of me, vacuumslayer

Portrait of me, vacuumslayer

Because here’s article number *mumble mumble mumble thousand mumble testicles* imploring us to cut Trumpkins some slack. For the last time…no.

Friday Links

[ 126 ] February 24, 2017 |
Warren Zevon 1978 press photo.jpg

Some Guy.

We open with a Letter to the Editor:

You have stolen a fantastic song by the brilliant Warren Zevon and turned it into a confusing political nonsensical rant.  Worse, you don’t even acknowledge Zevon or his inspiration H.S. Thompson.

Hunter and Zev will long be remembered by their artistic genius.   You, on the other hand,  will go down in history for vulgar plagiarism, or more likely,  be forgotten altogether.

Moving on…

 

4chan and Trump

[ 396 ] February 24, 2017 |

I know next to nothing about the subcultures explored in this essay, and therefore can’t vouch for its accuracy,  but it’s a fascinating read.

On Gamergate:

Again, here we can understand this group as people who have failed at the real world and have checked out of it and into the fantasy worlds of internet forums and video games. These are men without jobs, without prospects, and by extension (so they declaimed) without girlfriends. Their only recourse, the only place they feel effective, is the safe, perfectly cultivated worlds of the games they enter. By consequence of their defeat, the distant, abstract concept of women in the flesh makes them feel humiliated and rejected. Yet, in the one space they feel they can escape the realities of this, the world of the video game, here (to them, it seems) women want to assert their presence and power.

If this sounds hard to believe, take for example Milo Yiannopoulos, the “Technology Editor” at Breitbart News, whose scheduled lecture this month at Berkeley spawned massive riots and protests. Yiannopoulos rose to prominence via Gamergate. He is not a “technology” editor because he compares the chip architectures of competing graphics cards. Rather the “tech” here is code for the fact that his audience is the vast population of sad young men who have retreated to internet communities. Likewise the mainstream press sometimes describes him as troll as a way of capturing his vague association with 4chan. This term, too, is inaccurate. He is 4chan at its most earnest, after all these men have finally discovered their issue — the thing that unites them — their failure and powerlessness literally embodied (to them) by women.

Yiannopoulos’ rambling “arguments” against feminism, are not arguments at all, as much as pep talks, ways of making these dis-empowered men feel empowered by discarding the symbol of their failure — women. As an openly gay man, he argues that men no longer need be interested in women, that they can and should walk away from the female sex en masse. For example in a long incoherent set of bullet points on feminism he states:

The rise of feminism has fatally coincided with the rise of video games, internet porn, and, sometime in the near future, sex robots. With all these options available, and the growing perils of real-world relationships, men are simply walking away.

Here Yiannopoulos has inverted what has actually happened to make his audience feel good. Men who have retreated to video games and internet porn can now characterize their helpless flight as an empowered conscious choice to reject women for something else. In other words, it justifies a lifestyle which in their hearts they previously regarded helplessly as a mark of shame.

On Trump as Pepe the Frog:

We know, by this point, that Trump is funny. Even to us leftists, horrified by his every move, he is hilarious. Someone who is all brash confidence and then outrageously incompetent at everything he does is — from an objective standpoint — comedy gold. Someone who accuses his enemies of the faults he at that very moment is portraying is comedy gold. But, strangely, as the left realized after the election, pointing out Trump was a joke was not helpful. In fact, Trump’s farcical nature didn’t seem to be a liability, rather, to his supporters, it was an asset.

All the left’s mockery of Trump served to reinforce his message as not only an outsider, but as an expression of rage, despair, and ultimate pathetic Pepe-style hopelessness.

4chan’s value system, like Trump’s ideology, is obsessed with masculine competition (and the subsequent humiliation when the competition is lost). Note the terms 4chan invented, now so popular among grade schoolers everywhere: “fail” and “win”, “alpha” males and “beta cucks”. This system is defined by its childlike innocence, that is to say, the inventor’s inexperience with any sort of “IRL” [in real life] romantic interaction. And like Trump, since these men wear their insecurities on their sleeve, they fling these insults in wild rabid bursts at everyone else.

Trump the loser, the outsider, the hot mess, the pathetic joke, embodies this duality. Trump represents both the alpha and the beta. He is a successful person who, as the left often notes, is also the exact opposite — a grotesque loser, sensitive and prideful about his outsider status, ready at the drop of a hat to go on the attack, self-obsessed, selfish, abrogating, unquestioning of his own mansplaining and spreading, so insecure he must assault women. In other words, to paraphrase Truman Capote, he is someone with his nose pressed so hard up against the glass he looks ridiculous. And for this reason, (because he knows he is substanceless) he must constantly re-affirm his own ego. Or as Errol Morris put it, quoting Borges, he is a “labyrinth with no center”.

But, what the left doesn’t realize is, this is not a problem for Trump’s supporters, rather, the reason why they support him.

Trump supporters voted for the con-man, the labyrinth with no center, because the labyrinth with no center is how they feel, how they feel the world works around them. A labyrinth with no center is a perfect description of their mother’s basement with a terminal to an endless array of escapist fantasy worlds.

Trump’s bizarre, inconstant, incompetent, embarrassing, ridiculous behavior — what the left (naturally) perceives as his weaknesses — are to his supporters his strengths.

In other words, Trump is 4chan.

While Clinton won young voters (18-29) by a wide margin (55-37), that margin was sixteen points lower than Obama’s margin over McCain, and six points below Obama’s margin over Romney.  To be fair, sex-starved semi-employed white guys living in their moms’ basements represent only a small part of this larger demographic. Hopefully.

 

 

 

 

 

The Trump Administration: Restoring Integritude to the White House

[ 51 ] February 23, 2017 |

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On the plus side, the FBI rejected the request. On the massively minus side, the White House violated long-standing restrictions designed to protect ongoing investigations.

The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN.

But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14.

It gets better:

The White House initially disputed that account, saying that McCabe called Priebus early that morning and said The New York Times story vastly overstates what the FBI knows about the contacts. But a White House official later corrected their version of events to confirm what the law enforcement official described. The same White House official said that Priebus later reached out again to McCabe and to FBI Director James Comey asking for the FBI to at least talk to reporters on background to dispute the stories. A law enforcement official says McCabe didn’t discuss aspects of the case but wouldn’t say exactly what McCabe told Priebus

No, of course we don’t need to worry about the ghost of Richard Nixon haunting the White House. Why would you ask?

Extra special bonus: listen to Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka make an unhinged phone call to Michael S. Smith II (via Pejman Yousefzadeh). Really, listen to all twenty-some minutes. It isn’t just that Gorka’s an unqualified hack and a charlatan, it’s also his pseudo-academic bluster. Gorka sounds like someone trying really, really hard to come across as a Deep Thinker™️ and scholar in an attempt an intellectual dominance. He fails.

Trump and Antisemitism

[ 135 ] February 23, 2017 |

BritLibCottonNeroDiiFol183vPersecutedJewsIs Donald J. Trump an antisemite? If so, he would not be the first American president to harbor prejudices against Jews. Nixon, despite his close relationship with Henry Kissinger, obsessed about whether Jews were out to get him. Regardless, this question was the subject of a heated exchange on CNN yesterday.

CNN commentator Kayleigh McEnany posed a simple question to Steven Goldstein, the Anne Frank Center’s executive director, on Tuesday night: “You think the president does not like Jews and is prejudiced against Jews?”

Goldstein’s response was unequivocal: “You bet.”

So began an intense exchange on CNN’s “Out Front” that escalated when McEnany suggested that President Trump cannot be anti-Semitic because his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner.

“Does he hate his daughter?” McEnany asked. “Does he hate his son-in-law?”

“You know what, Kayleigh?” Goldstein shot back. “I am tired of commentators like you on the right trotting out his daughter, trotting out his son-in-law as talking points against the president’s anti-Semitism. They are Jewish, but that is not a talking point against anti-Semitism, and that is a disgrace. Have you no ethics?”

Indeed, ‘some of my best friends are Jewish’ isn’t much of an argument—even when it extends to one’s own family. As Erin Burnett correctly noted, it’s far from unheard of for people to make exceptions to their prejudices when it comes to, say, ‘their Jews’ or ‘their blacks’ or ‘their Catholics.’ For that matter, it doesn’t really matter whether or not the Prime Minister of Israel praised a President supportive of his policies.

However, I think that a focus on Trump’s personal views misses the point entirely. Since the start of his campaign, Trump has rarely missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity to condemn antisemitism, whether among his supporters or in the form of anti-Jewish terrorism. The administration’s exclusion of Jews from its Holocaust remembrance statement, and the way that it doubled down on the matter, justifiably provoked concern among members of the Jewish community and their allies.  Consider the statement by the Trump that McEnany invoked:

Well, I just want to say that we are very honored by the victory that we had — 306 electoral college votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221, but then they said there’s no way to 270. And there’s tremendous enthusiasm out there.

I will say that we are going to have peace in this country. We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on because lot of bad things have been taking place over a long period of time.

I think one of the reasons I won the election is we have a very, very divided nation. Very divided. And, hopefully, I’ll be able to do something about that. And, you know, it was something that was very important to me.

As far as people — Jewish people — so many friends, a daughter who happens to be here right now, a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren. I think that you’re going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening, and you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love. Okay? Thank you.

As Callum Borchers noted:

“For those wanting to give the president a fair chance,” McEnany said, “you would have heard him condemn anti-Semitism. … That sounds like a condemnation to me.”

If it was a condemnation, it was one that did not specifically mention anti-Semitism and began with an off-topic boast about Trump’s electoral college win — all in all, an unconventional answer from a president.

To put it differently, Trump took a softball question—’Mr. President, I am providing you an opportunity to condemn a wave of antisemitic incidents’—and provided an discursive and elliptical answer. We shouldn’t have to be parsing his precise meaning. When Trump did call antisemitism “horrible,” it shouldn’t have come across as petulant damage control. What this suggests to me is not so much that Trump is antisemitic—but rather that he just doesn’t care that much. It’s another example of his narcissism and spotty empathy for the suffering he might inflict—by commission or omission—on others. Trump’s Jewish problem, in other words, is merely a symptom of the fundamental flaws that render him unsuited to the Presidency.

 

 

Republican States Rights Doctrine

[ 87 ] February 23, 2017 |

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Spicer really laid out Republican states rights doctrine today in about 3 seconds. First, he was asked about transgender people and bathrooms.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that the White House had rescinded guidance to public schools on transgender students’ access to facilities that match their gender identity because it ought to be a “states’ rights” issue.

Spicer also pointed to a federal judge in Texas who blocked implementation of the Obama administration’s guidance last August. Obama had instructed the Department of Education to instruct public schools not to discriminate against transgender students.

“It’s a states’ right issue. And that’s entirely what he believes,” Spicer said, referring to President Donald Trump, “that if a state wants to pass a law or rule or an organization wants to do something in compliance with the state law, that’s their right, but it shouldn’t be the federal government getting in the way of this.”

A mere few minutes later, he was asked about states that had legalized marijuana.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday suggested the Trump administration will step up enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana.

“I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer said, while adding the exact policy is “a question for the Department of Justice.”

It’s the latest sign President Trump is poised to take a tougher approach than the Obama Justice Department did in states that have legalized the use of recreational marijuana.

And there you have it. States’ rights for policies that President Bannon and Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III when states do something they like, full-throated federal repression when states do something they don’t like. Why, it’s almost as if “states’ rights” is not a principle!

Today in Trump’s America

[ 106 ] February 23, 2017 |

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White people feel emboldened to kill people of color in Trump’s America.

A Missouri man is accused of shooting and killing an Indian immigrant engineer he thought was Middle Eastern and wounding two others after shouting “get out of my country” and opening fire.

Adam Purinton was arrested after fleeing Austin’s Bar and Grill, a suburban Kansas City restaurant that was packed Wednesday night when he allegedly blasted off several rounds at 7:15 p.m.

Cops arrested the 51-year-old at an Applebee’s hours later in Clinton, Mo., some 80 miles away after they were able to negotiate with him over the phone early Thursday morning.

The fatal victim was identified by the Kansas City Star as Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an aviation engineer at technology company Garmin whose Facebook page says he is from Hyderabad, India.

Surprised ICE doesn’t sign this guy up.

The American Gestapo

[ 99 ] February 23, 2017 |

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Above: Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents

ICE is the American version of the Gestapo and they should be demonized as such, individually.

An undocumented woman in desperate need of brain surgery has been forcibly removed from a Texas hospital — and her relatives in New York fear she could lose her life, a family representative said early Thursday.

Sara Beltran-Hernandez was detained after trying to migrate to the Big Apple from El Salvador without proper documentation in November 2015, family spokeswoman Melissa Zuniga told the Daily News. Beltran-Hernandez has been held at the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas ever since, as her Queens-based family members have tried to petition for her asylum.

Earlier this month, Beltran-Hernandez, 26, began complaining about severe headaches, nosebleeds and memory loss. Last week, she collapsed and was subsequently taken to a hospital. Doctors diagnosed her with a brain tumor and determined that she needed surgery.

But Zuniga told The News that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents forcibly removed Beltran-Hernandez from the Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth on Wednesday evening.

“They had her tied up from hands and ankles,” Zuniga said. “She was brought in a wheelchair and is not being given treatment even though her nose continues to bleed and she has told them her head is exploding.”

Beltran-Hernandez had been put on a surgery waitlist over the weekend, according to Zuniga. But when Beltran-Hernandez’ relatives called on Wednesday night, the surgery was suddenly off the table.

“ICE was preparing paper work to get her back to the detention center,” Zuniga said.

We need to find out who these terrible human beings and confront them. We need to make working for ICE so shameful for these people that they quit. More directly, we need to take radical action to stop this. Maybe I don’t know what the right path is, but we need to do something. This is horrifying and despicable and we cannot allow it to continue.

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