MartiniPundit

Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Archive for November 2004

A Difference of Degree?

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Sometimes, one is forced to wonder why the Dutch have gotten so worked up over the deaths of Theo van Gogh or Pim Fortuyn. They were just midway between the extremes after all.

Written by martinipundit

November 30, 2004 at 6:37 pm

Posted in GWOT

Aunt Helen in the Spotlight

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I know that Helen Thomas has been called the “crazy old aunt” of American politics, but one really has to wonder why she is even sent to the White House press briefings anymore. After all, when this is what she asks:

Q Why are we killing people in Iraq? There are many men, women and children being killed there. I mean, what is the reason we are there, killing people, continuing. It’s outrageous.

MR. McCLELLAN: The reason we are there is the same reason the international community is, is united in helping Iraq — the international community is united in helping Iraq move forward on a free and peaceful and democratic future. I think you can look to the recent commitments from the United Nations, from the European Union, from the recent meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh last week, there is a united front from the international community in working together to help the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future. There are terrorists and other Saddam loyalists who continue to seek to derail that transition to democracy, but they will —

Q They are fighting for their own country.

MR. McCLELLAN: — they will not prevail. And we are there to partner with the Iraqi people as they work to realize a better future, one that stands in stark contrast to the past of Saddam Hussein and his brutal regime.

To be sure, others will say it’s a valid question and perhaps it is. But isn’t the format a trifle tendentious? Does she really expect him to come agree with her premise and say, “yeah, we are killing an awful lot of people for no good reason.” One would be forgiven for thinking she just wants to get her complaint in the record, but one might also wonder of her editors (does she have editors?) are getting their money’s worth.

Meanwhile, some are speculating that the Iraqi elections will need to be postponed (Auntie Helen no doubt among them) but Amir Taheri explains why that would be a colossally bad idea.

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November 30, 2004 at 12:34 pm

Dan’s Not Even Cold Yet

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Matt Welch is saying goodbye to Dan Rather over at Reason Online but not in a good way:

The battle over Diamond Dan’s obit continues to be waged elsewhere. My own two cents has nothing to do with fonts, pajamas, liberal bias, or the name “Kenneth.” What irked me about Rather was that he was one of journalism’s all-time great self-flagellators, always eager to confess blame for the declining standards of the trade, always making sure to spread that blame out nice and thick on the rest of us…and always showing up on time to collect his seven-figure paycheck.

There’s a lot more.

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November 30, 2004 at 10:13 am

Washington State Gubernatorial Follies

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In today’s Opinion Journal, John Fund recounts the current sorry state of the Washington governor’s race. It’s not pretty:

[T]he one out of 50 Americans who live in Washington state are living through a Florida-style nightmare, with Republican Dino Rossi clinging to a 42-vote lead over Democrat Christine Gregoire in the governor’s race after a machine recount of 2.8 million ballots. In the latest example of why this country needs to clean up and clarify its sloppy election systems, Douglas firs substitute for palm trees as the backdrop.

In Seattle’s King County alone the vote counting so far has featured such anomalies as 10,000 ballots being mysteriously discovered nearly two weeks after Election Day, election officials “enhancing” hundreds of unreadable optical-scan ballots, and a judge allowing political partisans to selectively track down voters who cast questionable provisional ballots to see if they could turn them into valid votes. Ms. Gregoire gained several hundred votes through such maneuvers, so she has now declared her intention to pay for a hand recount of some of the state’s precincts to see if she can take the lead. If a selective recount changes the overall winner, the state would pay for a laborious hand recount of all the votes The process could drag on past Christmas and might eventually have to be settled by the state Supreme Court. Gov. Gary Locke is scheduled to leave office on Jan. 12, but wags are already joking he shouldn’t pack his bags too soon.

It should be funny, but it isn’t, to look at such maneuvers and see business as usual for the Democrats. Indeed, the one trick Al Gore did manage to pull off was to offload the blame for attempting to steal the 2000 election onto Bush. For anyone actually paying attention to the last century, it should be clear by now that such shenanigans come from the donkeys. Indeed, here it is baldly stated:

Ryan Bianchi, communications assistant for Ms. Gregoire, made it clear how blatantly partisan the approach was. Democratic volunteers asked if voters had cast ballots for Ms. Gregoire. “If they say no, we just tell them to have a nice day,” he told the Seattle Times. Only if they say yes, did the Democrats ask if they want to make their ballot valid.

Some might be shocked, but as I said – business as usual for the Democratic Party.

What is perfectly clear is that the next Governor of Washington will have no real legitimacy, and that the state is doomed to repeat this sort of nonsense until they clean up their act.

Written by martinipundit

November 29, 2004 at 1:10 pm

Anniversary of the UN Vote on Resolution 181

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This BlogBurst piece is cross-posted by participating websites, to commemorate a milestone in Israel’s history. The list of the participating sites is appended at the end of this post.

November 29, 2004:

Anniversary of the UN vote on Resolution 181

Today is the anniversary of the UN vote on resolution 181, which approved the partition of the western part Palestine into a predominately Jewish state and a predominately Arab state. (It is vital to recall that the UN partition plan referred to western Palestine, to underscore that in 1921 the eastern part was ripped off the Jewish National Home by the British Government and handed over to the then Emir Abdullah.)

The partition plan was approved by 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions.

The 33 countries that cast the — Yes” vote were: Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussia, Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Ukraine, Union of South Africa, USSR, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela. (Among other countries, the list includes the US, the three British Dominions, all the European countries except for Greece and the UK, but including all the Soviet-block countries.)

The 13 countries that chose the Hall of Shame and voted — No” were: Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen. (Ten of these are Moslem countries; Greece has the special distinction of being the only European country to have joined the Hall of Shame.)

The ten countries that abstained are: Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia.

On November 30, 1947, the day following the vote, the Palestinian Arabs murdered six Jews in a bus making its way to Jerusalem, and proceeded to murder another Jew in the Tel-Aviv – Jaffa area. This was a prelude to a war that claimed the lives of 6,000 Jews, or 1% of the total Jewish population in 1948. This toll is the per capita equivalent of today’s Canada losing 300,000 lives, or the US losing 3,000,000.

The object of the war, launched by the Arabs in the former Palestine and the armies of Egypt, Tansjordan, Syria and Lebanon (with help from other Arab countries), was to “throw the Jews into the sea”. As the partition map indicates, however, rather than annihilate the Jewish population, the Arabs ended up with less territory than they would have gained by peaceful means.

In addition to the bloodshed in nascent Israel, immediately after the UN vote, Arabs attacks their Jewish neighbours in a number of Arab countries, the murders in Syria’s Aleppo being the best known.

Bruised and bleeding, Israel prevailed nonetheless. May our sister-democracy thrive and flourish.

List of participating sites, in alphabetical order of site name

 

Written by martinipundit

November 29, 2004 at 10:21 am

Posted in Anti-Semitism, Israel, UN

Feasting Kitties

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Carnival of the Cats #36 is up, and many feasting kitties can be seen.

Written by martinipundit

November 29, 2004 at 10:01 am

Posted in Catblogging

Tagged with

Sunday Reads

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Elections are things we tend to take for granted in the United States, but it’s good to remember that even our democracy, with strong roots in the British experience, had some teething pains (link to PDF). This is important in light of the precarious state of democracy in the Ukraine.

France has been having some difficulty in the Ivory Coast, but then, France is used to trouble.

Of course, France could always continue its attempts to use the United Nations as a counterweight to the US, but some think that tactic is outdated, especially given the rampant corruption permeating the UN.

We conclude today with more proof that Bill O’Reilly is an entity unto himself and not much use to either side of the political debate.

Enjoy!

Written by martinipundit

November 28, 2004 at 1:20 pm

Posted in General

John Emerges

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There has been little reason to write about John Kerry around here lately, and we had hoped he would sink back into his former senatorial obscurity. We may not be so lucky, but in the end, I suspect it’ll be his fellow Democrats who wish he’d grown a beard and put on a few pounds in Europe.

Mirabile dictu, it appears Kerry has decided that all that silly talk about bipartisanship was, well, silly.

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) signaled a return to partisan warfare with President Bush yesterday in an e-mail to supporters in which he accused the administration of preparing a “right-wing assault on values and ideals” and called on Democrats to fight back against what he labeled Bush’s extreme agenda.

Two weeks after delivering a generous concession speech that called for a lessening of the bitter partisanship that had marked the contest with Bush, Kerry picked up where the campaign left off and demonstrated his determination to be the leader of the opposition, in spite of his defeat.

Someone ought to tell him that Democrats are awfully unforgiving of losers. He might ask George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Al Gore, all of whom know a thing or two about it. Meanwhile, there’s this too:

The senator from Massachusetts promised to introduce legislation to provide health care to every child — a scaled-back version of his campaign plan for expanded access to health care coverage — when the Senate convenes next year.

Muddying the waters now by trying to leverage his disastrous campaign into a legislative mandate after two decades in the Senate is so, well, Kerry. Maybe he’ll at least show up for the job Massachusetts voters elected him to four times.

Written by martinipundit

November 28, 2004 at 8:53 am

Comment Spam II

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While enjoying the Thanksgiving break, I noticed that this blog has again been the subject of severe comment spam, although this time by only one virulent spammer pushing some home-grown drug remedy. Those of you with blogs may wish to take note of the collected IP addresses:

  • 69.5.75.246
  • 62.38.176.59
  • 69.31.79.162
  • 204.60.65.164
  • 193.170.65.249
  • 80.32.92.183
  • 24.138.46.134
  • 80.65.102.162
  • 64.125.108.114
  • 203.113.29.1
  • 213.172.36.62
  • 200.31.79.214
  • 80.25.156.151
  • 213.56.68.29
  • 80.32.92.183
  • 193.255.207.253
  • 63.72.136.96
  • 195.245.247.155
  • 217.125.45.61
  • 64.132.198.149
  • 80.65.102.162
  • 80.33.191.159
  • 212.117.152.70
  • 213.97.239.13
  • 220.90.132.183
  • 210.212.6.132
  • 203.113.29.2
  • 81.208.62.130
  • 80.25.156.151
  • 148.244.150.57
  • 80.24.122.246
  • 209.33.210.2
  • 203.197.234.177
  • 213.172.36.62

This time, I would also appreciate if the spammer didn’t attempt to smear me with ridiculous comments about ‘censorship’ while stealing my bandwidth to hawk products no one needs.

Update And now having been hit by ‘online poker’ enough is enough. I’ve enabled ‘capcha’ which I apologize to my readers as it’s a bit annoying. Hopefully however, less annoying than wading through hundreds of comment spam messages. What do they hope to accomplish one wonders – will I not be deleting them as they appear? How ridiculous.

Written by martinipundit

November 27, 2004 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Blogging

Hungry Cats

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We traveled for Thanksgiving and so did most of our friends who would be entrusted with the care of the kitties. As a result, we left out as much food as possible for the little ones, but Daphne has yet to eat dry food. There was the possibility she might make a virtue of necessity, but one must always keep in mind she’s still a cat. Chloe has no such problem, but judging from the amount of food left, it seems she’s been picking up bad habits from her smaller compatriot.

As you can see, I barely had time to take this picture as they inhaled the can of food I had put down but moments before.

Written by martinipundit

November 26, 2004 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Catblogging

Tagged with , ,

Something to Think About for Thanksgiving

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It had been suggested by some on the Left in the months and even years running up to the election, that President Bush would find some excuse – most likely a terrorist attack – to postpone or even cancel the 2004 election. That did not happen, of course, and most people never gave that any thought at all. It was, after all, a ridiculous notion, for even staunch Bush supporters like myself would have abandoned him in droves had he ever attempted anything so repugnant to our democracy.

Yet, there was another election which some feared might be postponed or cancelled, and with perhaps greater cause. At the time, the nation was engulfed in a catastrophic Civil War, and there was no precedent for holding a national election in its midst. Lincoln might very well have gotten away with it, but he did not even try. He defeated his Democratic rival – George B. McClellan – handily in 1864, with 55% of the popular vote and 212 electoral votes to 21. Soon afterwards, in response to a serenade, Lincoln had this to say:

It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies.

On this point the present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test; and a presidential election occurring in regular course during the rebellion added not a little to the strain. If the loyal people, united, were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided, and partially paralized, by a political war among themselves?

But the election was a necessity.

We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. The strife of the election is but human-nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case, must ever recur in similar cases. Human-nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.

But the election, along with its incidental, and undesirable strife, has done good too. It has demonstrated that a people’s government can sustain a national election, in the midst of a great civil war. Until now it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility. It shows also how sound, and how strong we still are. It shows that, even among candidates of the same party, he who is most devoted to the Union, and most opposed to treason, can receive most of the people’s votes. It shows also, to the extent yet known, that we have more men now, than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, patriotic men, are better than gold.

But the rebellion continues; and now that the election is over, may not all, having a common interest, re-unite in a common effort, to save our common country? For my own part I have striven, and shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom.

While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re-election; and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by the result.

May I ask those who have not differed with me, to join with me, in this same spirit towards those who have?

And now, let me close by asking three hearty cheers for our brave soldiers and seamen and their gallant and skilful commanders.

(Abraham Lincoln, November 10, 1864)

Lincoln’s wisdom is as applicable today as it was then, and reminds us how much we have to be thankful for.

Barring some major news, I won’t be blogging again until Friday evening. A happy and safe Thanksgiving to all.

Written by martinipundit

November 24, 2004 at 1:26 pm

Israel, Palestinians, and Peace

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In the long course of the Israeli conflict with the PLO and other more recent manifestations of terrorism, there has been a tension between those of us on the outside who feel that the Israelis need to make concessions and those of us who feel that it’s the terrorists who need to make concessions.

In the wake of Yasser Arafat’s long overdue demise (still dead apparently as of this writing) many are openly speaking of the possibility of peace if Israel will back down. This is pretty amusing in its way. Before he stiffed Bush after 9/11, Arafat was continually hailed as the man to make peace with – did he not win a Nobel Peace Prize to the everlasting degradation of that award? Did he not reject the Oslo accords? Did not the Europeans (as if) continually insist that Arafat had to be accommodated? Indeed, was not Israel’s hand stayed from dispatching the demon back to his master by the very international community which insisted that Israel needed to make concessions? How many anti-Israel resolutions has the UN passed anyway?

In listening to Fox News last night, I heard something which astounded me. In the course of the conversation, Jeff Birnbaum and Juan Williams took the position that Powell had been sent to the Middle East at this time because incoming SecState Rice would not put sufficient pressure on Israel to come to the peace table. At one point the argument was made that it was Israel occupying territory, not the other way around.

Stuff and nonsense. Pray tell, why did Israel occupy those territories? Could it be because the Arabs invaded and the Israelis beat them like gongs? Hasn’t Israel handed back Gaza and the West Bank and aren’t the Palestinians making a complete mess of both places? Wasn’t Arafat the leader who brought the Palestinians to this sorry state?

There is a chance for peace. If the Palestinians can overcome a generation of hate-filled propaganda and indoctrination, if the PLO leadership rejects terrorism – not just in word but in deed – if the PLO explicitly in English, Arabic, and even Hebrew avows Israel’s right to exist in peace behind secure borders, and if the PLO immediately begins to assist in suppressing Hamas, Hezbollah, and all the others, then there may be a chance. Meanwhile, there is no onus on Israel to change her policies one bit. Target terrorists, defend citizens, finish the wall.

In this spring of the post-Arafat era, the opportunity for peace exists. But not by putting pressure on Israel – flowers will bloom only if the Palestinians take this opportunity to renounce Arafat’s poisoned legacy and set aside their hatred. It’s a nice fantasy, but I’m not holding my breath.

Written by martinipundit

November 23, 2004 at 11:27 pm

Posted in Anti-Semitism, GWOT, Israel

Seems Like Good News

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If this is failure, I’d like to see what success looks like:

The U.S. military has captured what officials termed a senior Sunni commander in Iraq, near the Syrian border.

The military said the Marine Corps detained the top commander in Al Anbar province in western Iraq. The commander, who was not identified, was one of six insurgents captured on Nov. 21 in the Anbar town of Haqlaniya.

“One of the six detainees is believed to be a high-ranking cell leader of anti-Iraqi forces operating in and around the Al Anbar province,” the military said in a statement on Monday. The military did not provide additional details.

Hmm, near Syria, you say? Whatever are they doing there?

Written by martinipundit

November 23, 2004 at 4:46 pm

Posted in GWOT, Iraq

Tabby Update

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Dean Esmay has an update on Tabby, the little Iraqi girl with a rare condition. She’s apparently doing quite well.

I donated some of my own Delta miles and they’re clearly better spent this way than anything I might have used them for. All who helped or contributed should be proud of the generosity of the American spirit, writ as large in this little girl and as in her country.

Written by martinipundit

November 22, 2004 at 12:21 pm

Posted in General, GWOT, Iraq

New Jetta Underwhelming

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Speaking as someone who once bought a Jetta, I find the new model underwhelming. Perhaps it’ll look better in the metal.

A glass raised to Instapundit.

Written by martinipundit

November 22, 2004 at 11:45 am

Posted in General

Assuming Cheney Stays …

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Charles Krauthammer has a typically insightful piece in Time about the rare freedom Bush enjoys from the fact that Dick Cheney will not run in 2008:

But early in Bush’s second term, the fact that Bush-Cheneyism will never have to seek popular ratification again gives Bush unique freedom of action. Which, in the hands of a President with unusually ambitious goals, will yield perhaps the most energetic — to some, the most dangerous — presidency of our lifetime.

Bush is fully aware of his situation. Hence the remarkable alacrity with which, after the election, he seized the moment. No two-month vacation to unwind. No waiting for the January Inauguration to set the agenda. He waited but two days to lay claim not just to victory but to a mandate.

Then, even more audacity. He not only claimed his mandate. He defined it right on the spot. Seizing the third rail of American politics, he promised to reform Social Security with, at minimum, partial privatization. He then added his intention to radically redo the tax code — which includes entertaining such ideas as entirely abolishing the Internal Revenue Service by going to a national sales tax. You cannot get more radical than that. His subsidiary aims, earthshaking in any other context but almost minor in this one, are kneecapping the lawsuit industry with serious tort reform and installing a conservative judiciary that will long outlive his presidency.

This will scare some people, and give others cause to celebrate. But it does hinge on one premise – that Dick Cheney serves out the term. If he, as some suspect, steps down for ‘reasons of health’ in the next couple of years, Bush will have to appoint a replacement, and that person would automatically become heir presumptive to the Bush Presidency.

Some of us see Condi Rice in that role, and her recent elevation to State will do nothing to diminish her stature in such a case. Her lack of elective office is a hindrance, but not insurmountable. Another possibility is Colin Powell, but that seems somewhat more far-fetched. Krauthammer is on to something – but only if Cheney sticks it out.

Update Outside the Beltway adds this practical insight:

At some point, one has to actually govern rather than worrying about the next election. Otherwise, what’s the point of winning in the first place?

Written by martinipundit

November 22, 2004 at 11:27 am

Posted in Conservatives, Politics

Blogging at the Tire Shop

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I’ve been a customer of Direct Tire in Watertown, MA for many years now, and make roughly two stops there per year – one for the winter tires and one for the summer tires. Today, obviously, is for the former. Recently, they installed free WiFi for their customers, and so I’m now able to blog and surf while I wait. More businesses ought to do this – the appeal of turning the waiting time into productive time is huge.

If you live in the Metro Boston area, these guys do a great job.

Written by martinipundit

November 22, 2004 at 11:10 am

Posted in Blogging, Boston, General

Carnival of the Cats

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This week’s Carnival of the Cats is up, although they mistake Daphne for Chloe there. Not surprising – sometimes I get them mixed up.

Heh.

Written by martinipundit

November 21, 2004 at 10:00 pm

Posted in Catblogging

Tagged with , ,

Sunday Reads

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It’s been a quiet week, what with President Clinton opening up his library being the big story for much of the MSM, but there are a few other things going on. For one, the US military has won a whopping victory in Fallujah:

Fallujah ranks up there with Iwo Jima, Inchon and Hue as one of the greatest triumphs of American arms, though you’d have a hard time discerning that from what you read in the newspapers.

Meanwhile, some think that Europe faces civil war.

Closer to home, we’ve heard about “turmoil” in the CIA as if this were a bad thing. The handwringing comes from the very people who’ve opposed intelligence agencies in the past, but no matter. Stephen Hayes explains it’s all part of the plan. Indeed, the same people got so much else wrong, as Victor Davis Hanson reminds us.

But they do have therapists, or something similar …

Meanwhile, for those of you in the mood for something meatier, here’s a look at the Supreme Court from First Things.

Enjoy!

Written by martinipundit

November 21, 2004 at 1:41 pm

Posted in General

Daphne Demonstrates Her Technique

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It’s important for a kitten to remain limber – there are so many opportunities to pounce, slay, and carry off. Daphne demonstrates the latest technique for Chloe, who does seem unimpressed.

Written by martinipundit

November 19, 2004 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Catblogging

Tagged with , ,

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