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Glenn Beck: Poor people are ‘lazy.’

Sat, 2007-11-24 15:32

In his new book, An Inconvenient Book, right-wing CNN host Glenn Beck argues that “poor people are, in fact, lazy” and supposedly goes “paragraph for paragraph with global-warming alarmist Al Gore, merrily slaughtering the sacred cows of the environmentalist crowd.” From the Publisher’s Weekly description:

In this appraisal of America’s woes, conservative TV and talk-radio host Beck (The Real America) lays lighthearted siege to everything that makes the world worse. [P]olitical correctness is the biggest threat this nation faces today, he declares, as it makes us prey for Islamic fundamentalists, renders taboo the roots of our economic troubles (poor people are, in fact, lazy, he argues) and creates rampant distortion in the media. Beck goes paragraph for paragraph with global-warming alarmist Al Gore, merrily slaughtering the sacred cows of the environmentalist crowd. Not sated by the hide of the former vice president, he goes after everything and everyone from poverty to perverts, offering solutions to these and other problems (e.g., the key to success in the capitalist system is to believe in it).

TVNewser has more.

Bush ally defeated in Australian elections.

Sat, 2007-11-24 09:45

Conservative Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who has been “one of President Bush’s staunchest allies,” suffered “a humiliating defeat” in national elections Saturday when the oppositional Labor Party wrested majority control of parliament away from Howard’s coalition by a 53% to 46.7% margin. Labor Party head Kevin Rudd, who is likely to replace Howard as prime minister, “has promised to immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and withdraw Australia’s combat troops from Iraq.”

UPDATE: At Climate Progress, Joe Romm explains how Howard’s climate change denial played into his defeat.

‘Wave Of Violence’ Against Women In Iraq Undercuts White House’s Claims Of Success

Sat, 2007-11-24 07:46

In recent weeks, the Bush administration has cited declining violence in Iraq as evidence of the success. Earlier this month, President Bush said that Iraqis are slowly “taking back their country.”

But last night, NBC Nightly News aired a segment about a “wave of violence that’s gone largely unreported lately against women in Iraq.” The report noted that Iraqi women, once “the most emancipated in the Arab world,” are increasingly unable to walk around without a hijab, wear cosmetics, or work. Watch the report:

Bush has largely ignored the deteriorating plight of Iraqi women, choosing instead to cite signs of “progress.” Yet earlier in the war, he and other administration officials repeatedly claimed that the rights of Iraqi women were “inseparable” to success:

The advance of women’s rights and the advance of liberty are ultimately inseparable.” [President Bush, 3/14/04]

“President Bush has made the advance of women’s human rights a global policy priority. … We all have an obligation to speak for women who are denied their rights to learn, to vote or to live in freedom.” [Laura Bush, 3/8/05]

The commitment of this administration to women’s rights in Iraq is unshakable.” [Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, 3/9/04]

“There can be no compromise on the principle that Iraqis can each have an equal role in the building of their country’s future without regard to their ethnic or religious background or gender.” [Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, 8/8/05]

Many Iraqi women who have fled to Syria are increasingly forced to turn to prostitution, as they struggle to support their children after their husbands were killed in Iraq’s violence.

Transcript: (more…)

Richard Perle: ‘I Don’t Believe I Was Wrong’ About Iraq

Fri, 2007-11-23 18:15

Appearing on BBC’s Hardtalk with Stephen Sackur this weekend, Iraq war architect Richard Perle attempted, on the one hand, to distance himself from the failures of the Iraq war, and on the other hand, to claim it was a fantastic success.

“I’m not happy about the way events have unfolded in Iraq,” Perle began. But when asked whether he felt a “sense of personal responsibility” for what has happened in the aftermath of the invasion, Perle said “I certainly don’t consider myself responsible” for the disastrous post-war occupation of Iraq.

Asked whether he was wrong on Iraq, Perle gave this response:

Well, I don’t believe I was wrong. Let me be very clear about that. What I think happened is that a successful invasion was turned into an unsuccessful occupation. I didn’t favor the occupation strategy. I think the occupation was a mistake.

Perle also defended his pre-war claim that regime change in Iraq would bring about “dancing in the streets.” “Essentially,” there was, said Perle. “The Iraqis actually tend to shoot weapons in the air rather than dance in the streets,” he observed. “But we were regarded as liberators at the beginning.” Watch it:

Before the war, Perle advocated simply bombing and leaving Iraq. “We do not have to go into Baghdad,” he said in Oct. 2002 on NBC. “We do not have to engage in door-to-door, street-to-street fighting.”

But once the war began, Perle specifically endorsed the Paul Bremer-led occupation of Iraq. And repeatedly claimed it was producing good results. Appearing on Fox News on April 7, 2004, Perle said, “We’re making so much progress with most Iraqis that those who feel threatened by the progress are more devoted and more energetic than ever to try to destroy the progress we’re making.”

UN: Iraq still too ‘volatile and unpredictable’:

Fri, 2007-11-23 17:58

Recently, many displaced Iraqi refugees have been returning to their homes as levels of violence decline in Iraq. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), however, “does not believe that the time has come to promote, organize or encourage returns,” as security “remains volatile and unpredictable.” The UNHCR uncovered several reasons besides security for the increased returns:

Of some 110 Iraqi families UNHCR spoke with in Syria the majority said they are returning because they are running out of money and/or resources, face difficult living conditions, or because their visas have expired. … The incentives offered by the Iraqi government of some $700-$800 to return home, as well as free bus and plane rides, have also played a role in returns. […]

UNHCR staff also did quick interviews with returnees in Baghdad, who cited economic difficulties caused by their long displacement as a major reason for going home. Many had run out of or nearly depleted their savings. Some returned as it was the last chance to get their children back into Iraqi schools before the end of the first term.

Poland to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of 2008.

Fri, 2007-11-23 14:54

In October, Poland elected Donald Tusk as Prime Minister, ousting Bush-ally Jaroslaw Kaczynski. In his first address to parliament today, Tusk promised to withdraw all 900 Polish troops from Iraq by the end of 2008.

If you’re still making your shopping list…

Fri, 2007-11-23 12:02

don’t forget the Donald Rumsfeld doll. Al Kamen reports: “It’s a 12-inch ‘Rummy’ doll that looks vaguely like him and features bits of his historic news conferences that you can play just by pressing a little button on the back of his coat.”

Via FDL.

Resurgent Taliban in control of half of Afghanistan.

Fri, 2007-11-23 10:55

According to a new report, “The conflict in Afghanistan has reached ‘crisis proportions,’ with the resurgent Taliban present in more than half the country and closing in on Kabul.” A separate Oxfam report states that spending on aid for Afghans is only a tiny fraction of military expenditure:

“As in Iraq, too much aid is absorbed by profits of companies and subcontractors, on non-Afghan resources and on high expatriate salaries and living costs,” said the report. “Each full-time expatriate consultant costs up to half a million dollars a year.”

Meanwhile, Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said civilian casualties caused by military action is “eroding support among the Afghan community for the government and international military presence.”

Nord leaves country on biggest shopping day.

Fri, 2007-11-23 10:10

As Americans head to the mall today on “Black Friday,” the biggest shopping day of the year, they face worries about the millions of Chinese-made toys that have been recalled in recent months. But Nancy Nord, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, won’t be around to allay shoppers’ fears, as she is traveling in Japan on a trip paid for by the Japanese government. Earlier this month, the Post recently revealed that Nord has taken nearly 30 trips paid for by industries the CPSC is charged with regulating.

Pentagon leaves 20,000 out of wounded soldier tally.

Fri, 2007-11-23 07:19

A USA Today analysis of data provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs has found that “at least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries.” The numbers “show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30.” The uncounted cases compiled by USA Today are “not reflected in the Pentagon’s official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.”

Corker ‘underwhelmed’ by Bush’s knowledge of Iraq.

Thu, 2007-11-22 18:29

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) “raised some eyebrows” with his recent remarks about President Bush’s knowledge about Iraq. His comments “about his experiences with the White House during meetings on the war in Iraq” left some conservatives in the crowd “befuddled.” Chattanooga’s NewsChannel 9 reports:

“I was in the White House a number of times to talk about the issue, and I may rankle some in the room saying this, but I was very underwhelmed with what discussions took place at the White House,” Corker said.

A few minutes later during a question and answer session a man in the audience asked him to clarify his statement.

“I was concerned about your statement that you were underwhelmed with what was going on in the White House. Did you mean with him or with his staff?”

In response, Corker said, “Let me say this. George Bush is a very compassionate person. He’s a very good person. And a lot of people don’t see that in him, and there’s many people in this room who might disagree with that…. I just felt a little bit underwhelmed by our discussions, the complexity of them, the depth of them.”

Former top commander in Iraq calls for withdrawal.

Thu, 2007-11-22 14:45

In the Democratic Radio Address to be aired this Saturday, retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004, put his support behind legislation calling for combat operations in Iraq to be over by Dec. 15, 2008. Sanchez, who has been criticized over his handling of the Abu Ghraib scandal, said that the lack of political progress has not “matched” the “courage and blood of our troops” and that there is “no evidence” that reconciliation is possible:

“The improvements in security produced by the courage and blood of our troops have not been matched by a willingness on the part of Iraqi leaders to make the hard choices necessary to bring peace to their country,” Sanchez said in remarks to be aired Saturday for the weekly Democratic radio address.

“There is no evidence that the Iraqis will choose to do so in the near future or that we have an ability to force that result,” he said.

Sanchez added that the House bill “makes the proper preparation of our deploying troops a priority and requires the type of shift in their mission that will allow their numbers to be reduced substantially.”

In October, Sanchez said that in Iraq the United States is “living a nightmare with no end in sight.”

Bob Woodward Still Has Never Heard Of The Voter Suppression Tactic ‘Caging’

Thu, 2007-11-22 12:27

Earlier this week, Washington Post investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Jeff Leen hosted an online chat at One of the participants asked Woodward and Leen how pervasive the voter suppression tactic known as “caging” is. The investigative reporters had no idea what it was:

Washington, D.C.: Don’t you have a duty to report criminal activity to the appropriate authorities?

How pervasive is “caging”?

Bob Woodward and Jeff Leen: We publish what we can find and document. Many times over the years government authorities have pursued the information we have dug up and launched their own investigations. But we’re trying to serve the readers, and we do not act as police or prosecutors. And please send us an e-mail explaing what “caging” is.

Woodward and Leen aren’t the only Washington Post reporters who are clueless about caging. In a online chat with congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman in May, a questioner asked “why Congress didn’t jump on Monica Goodling’s testimony about caging.” Weisman’s response: “So what is this caging thing?

So for all those Washington Post reporters out there, let’s go over the facts again.

Caging most recently gained attention in the U.S. attorney scandal. In 2004, BBC News published a report showing that Tim Griffin, the former Rove protege who was placed as a U.S. attorney in Arkansas, led a “caging” scheme to suppress the votes of African-American servicemembers in Florida.

On Nov. 5, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Caging Prohibition Act, a bill to outlaw this “long-recognized voter suppression tactic which has often been used to target minority voters.” Bush administration officials have repeatedly tried to dismiss this as “direct-mail term.” But the charges are serious enough that earlier this year, several senators called for an investigation into the RNC’s use of this voter suppression tactic. Whitehouse and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) explained:

Caging is a voter suppression tactic whereby a political campaign sends mail marked “do not forward” to a targeted group of eligible voters. A more aggressive version involves sending mail to a targeted group of voters with instructions to sign and return an acknowledgment card. The campaign then creates a list of those whose mail was returned undelivered and challenges the right of those citizens to vote — on the ground that the voter does not live at the registered address.

Fill in Woodward and Leen on caging by contacting them here and here.

Rove Tries To Rewrite History: Claims WH ‘Opposed’ Politicizing Pre-War Iraq Vote

Thu, 2007-11-22 09:16

Last night on The Charlie Rose Show, former Bush political adviser Karl Rove claimed that he was “opposed” to holding the pre-war Iraq vote just ahead of the 2002 elections. “The administration was opposed to voting on it in the fall of 2002,” Rove said. He stated that his upcoming book will argue that the administration did not want to schedule an Iraq war vote prior to the 2002 elections:

ROSE: But you were opposed to the vote.

ROVE: It happened. We don’t determine when the Congress vote on things. The Congress does.

ROSE: You wish it hadn’t happened at that time. You would have preferred it did not happen at that time.

ROVE: That’s right.

Watch it:

Recall, the House and the Senate voted on whether to authorize war against Iraq in October 2002, just a few weeks prior to the 2002 elections.

Rove’s claim is utterly dishonest and flat-out false. In Sept. 2002, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) asked President Bush to delay the vote on the Iraq war:

“I asked directly if we could delay this so we could depoliticize it. I said: ‘Mr. President, I know this is urgent, but why the rush? Why do we have to do this now?’ He looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: ‘We just have to do this now.’”

While some Democrats — particularly Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) — were arguing that it was “imperative” that Congress vote immediately to authorize war, had the White House wanted to delay the vote until after the 2002 elections, they would have found a great deal of support. Here’s what a few key leaders were saying at the time:

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL): “It would be a severe mistake for us to vote on Iraq with as little information as we have. This would be a rash and hasty decision.”

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA): “I do not believe the decision should be made in the frenzy of an election year.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “I know of no information that the threat is so imminent from Iraq” that Congress cannot wait until January to vote on a resolution.

But Karl Rove and President Bush weren’t interested in delaying the vote. Rather, the administration actively politicized it. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “Delaying a vote in Congress would send the wrong message.” President Bush explicitly told Congress to “get the issue done as quickly as possible“:

My answer to the Congress is, they need to debate this issue and consult with us, and get the issue done as quickly as possible. It’s in our national interests that we do so. I don’t imagine Saddam Hussein sitting around, saying, gosh, I think I’m going to wait for some resolution.

On Sept. 11, 2002, administration officials briefed Congress on Iraq, with the goal of persuading them to schedule a vote to authorize military action. And the administration’s congressional allies were clear on why they wanted to rush the war vote. “People are going to want to know, before the elections, where their representatives stand,” said Rep. Thomas M. Davis (R-VA.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “This could be the vote of the decade, so why wait?”

Digg It!

Transcript: (more…)

21 Reasons To Give Thanks

Thu, 2007-11-22 07:30

This Thanksgiving, progressives have a lot to be thankful for. Here’s our list:

We’re thankful for our country’s troops.

We’re thankful the minimum wage has been increased for the first time in a decade.

We’re thankful MC Rove has more free time to work on his dance moves.

We’re thankful Congress has “wasted time” trying to end the war in Iraq.

We’re thankful radio stations don’t play “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.”

We’re thankful for journalists like Molly Ivins, who was never afraid to “raise hell.”

We’re (not) thankful for wide stances.

We’re thankful to Michael Moore, whose documentary SiCKO started a national discussion on health care reform.

We’re thankful people don’t call us Buzzy, Cookie, Brownie, or Scooter.

We’re thankful we can now call Al Gore the “Oscar-winning, Emmy-winning, Nobel Prize laureate” former vice president of the United States.

We’re thankful Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales won’t visit our bedside if we’re
sick in the hospital

We’re thankful not all Dick Cheney’s cousins think like he does.

We’re thankful to be considered one of the “ten most dangerous organizations in America.”

We’re thankful that visiting the Mall of America isn’t really like visiting Iraq.

We’re thankful President Bush isn’t giving out any more back rubs.

We’re thankful for 12-year olds who can take down Rush Limbaugh in a fight.

We’re thankful our Halloween costumes aren’t very “original.”

We’re thankful no one (except the birds) gets hurt when Dick Cheney goes hunting now.

We’re thankful for “phony soldiers” who have the courage to speak out about the war in Iraq.

We’re thankful the “Commander Guy” has only 425 days left in office.

And last but not least: We’re thankful to ThinkProgress readers for their tips, energy, and support.

Happy Thanksgiving! — The Think Progress Team.

Gibson: WH deserves a medal for outing Plame.

Wed, 2007-11-21 17:51

In his “My Word” segment this afternoon, Fox News pundit John Gibson applauded the White House’s decision to blow the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. “I’m the guy who said a long, long time ago that whoever outed Valerie Plame should get a medal,” Gibson said. “And if it was Karl Rove, I’d pin it on him myself.” Gibson argued the outing of Plame was justified because “this was about an anti-Bush cabal at the CIA” that needed to be “rooted out.” Watch it:

Given the standards that Bush has set for medals (see Norman Podhoretz, George Tenet, and Paul Bremer), it certainly wouldn’t be outside the bounds of White House ethics to find a way to reward “the most insidious of traitors.”

UPDATE: After revealing Bush was “involved” in distributing “false information” about who leaked Plame’s identity, Scott McClellan was doing some damage control today. Peter Osnos, the founder and editor-in-chief of Public Affairs Books, which is publishing McClellan’s book in April, told NBC that McClellan “did not intend to suggest Bush lied to him.”

Bush Administration Refuses To Condemn Saudi Court’s Punishment Of Gang Rape Victim

Wed, 2007-11-21 14:27

In his second inaugural address, President Bush stridently declared that his administration would not compromise on its demand for basic human rights:

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend…that women welcome humiliation and servitude.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice referred to these goals as the “non-negotiable demands of human dignity.” But a recent Saudi court decision has shown the administration very willing to fold when this rhetoric is tested.

A week ago, a Saudi appeals court increased the punishment for the female victim of a gang rape. The woman, who had been appealing her original sentence of 90 lashes, was sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes after her appeal.

The Saudi judges more than doubled the punishment for the victim because of “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.” The Saudi Justice Ministry confirmed that the stiffer sentence handed out on appeal stemmed from the fact that the victim had gone to the media with her story. “Media may have adverse effects on the other parties involved in the case,” a statement said.

Asked to offer the administration’s position on the court ruling, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Monday that the administration was “astonished,” but had “nothing else to offer“:

QUESTION: A very quick question also from this morning. Your comment, please, on — in reaction to the young Saudi woman having her sentence more than doubled the –

MR. MCCORMACK: Right, yeah. I saw the news reports and I guess the first thing to say is, while this is a judicial procedure, part of a judicial procedure overseas in the courts of a sovereign country, that said, I think that most would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happened. So while it’s very difficult to offer — you know, offer any detailed comment about the situation, I think most people would really be quite astonished by the situation.

QUESTION: Would you like the Saudi authorities to reconsider it or do you encourage them to do that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, you know, again, I can’t get involved in specific court cases in Saudi Arabia dealing with its own citizens, but most — I think most people here would be quite surprised to learn of the circumstances and then the punishment meted out.

QUESTION: Does that mean that the State Department is astonished by it, too?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll leave the answer where it –

QUESTION: Well, what does “most people” mean? I mean, most of who?

MR. MCCORMACK: I would just leave — I don’t have anything else to offer.

Yesterday, McCormack was asked if the administration’s silence was “driven by a desire not to offend Saudi Arabia as a close ally.” “No, it’s — no, that’s not it at all,” he claimed, but then acknowledged the administration has yet to convey its “astonishment” directly to the Saudis. “I am not aware of any direct contact with the Saudis on this issue,” he said.

Apparently, there is some negotiability in Bush’s demands for human freedom.

UPDATE: The Muslim American Society Freedom called the court ruling “a clear violation of the compassion and mercy taught by the religion of Islam.”

UPDATE II: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) states, “I urge President Bush to call on King Abdullah to cancel the ruling and drop all charges against this woman.” In a letter to Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) wrote, “I strongly urge the Department of State to condemn this ruling.” Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and John Edwards released statements expressing their outrage.

Pentagon Bends (But Does Doesn’t Reverse) Policy That Withholds Bonuses From Wounded Vets

Wed, 2007-11-21 11:20

Yesterday, the blogosphere erupted in anger over the report that Pfc. Jordan Fox was being asked by the Pentagon to return some of his enlistment signing bonus because he was injured by a roadside bomb while in Iraq and did not have the opportunity to complete his full tour.

Appearing on Fox News this morning, Pentagon spokesman Michael Tucker announced that the Pentagon was reversing course and would not force Jordan to repay the bonus. “It doesn’t pass the common-sense test,” he said.

Jordan appeared on the same show an hour later to respond to the Pentagon’s decision. “That’s impressive,” he said, “but my next question is how many other mistakes have been made?” Last night, appearing on a series of cable news shows, Jordan said he’s heard of many other soldiers who have faced similar circumstances. He told MSNBC’s Dan Abrams:

I do have to say — this isn’t the end. This is just the beginning because it’s still a continuing problem amongst other men that maybe are too afraid to speak up. Well they need to speak up and we need to end this now.

Watch it:

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Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), who has introduced the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act to prevent the Defense Department from penalizing wounded soldiers, put out this statement this morning:

I am heartened by Brigadier General Michael S. Tucker’s announcement of the Army’s policy that it will not ask for repayment of bonuses paid to those soldiers who are injured in the line of duty. However, I am disappointed that the policy does not go further by stating that wounded soldiers will also receive the remaining balance of future bonus payments. It is preposterous for our government to have a policy that says that a soldier who has sustained serious injuries in the field of battle has not fulfilled his or her service obligation.

While serving in Iraq, a roadside bomb knocked Jordan unconscious and blinded him in his right eye. He is now recovering a portion of his eyesight, but continues to have back pain. Jordan had received $10,000 as a signing bonus for enlisting. The Army originally demanded that he return $5,000, but reduced the amount to $3,000 after transferring his unused leave pay.

Jordan’s parents started Operation Pittsburgh Pride, a nonprofit organization that sends care packages to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In May, Jordan’s mother personally met President Bush. “I asked him to look in on the First Cavalry,” she said. “My son was injured on Sunday in Iraq. He has a concussion, and some issues with his sight in his right eye. I asked him to check on the Calvary, to make sure we had enough equipment.” Here’s Jordan’s mother shaking hands with Bush:

ThinksGiving: ThinkProgress Reader Cenk Uygur

Wed, 2007-11-21 11:07

Our guest blogger is progressive radio host Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks.

If you don’t check Think Progress you better check yourself. I read TProg (that’s what the cool kids are calling it these days) to make sure I haven’t missed any of the important news stories because … if it’s not on Think Progress, it didn’t happen.


To contribute, simply click on this icon:

Huckabee: Bush’s role in Plame leak should be ‘investigated.’

Wed, 2007-11-21 10:46

In an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball yesterday, former Republican Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee called Scott McClellan’s revelation that “the President himself” was involved in the Valerie Plame scandal “stunning.” “They deserve to be thoroughly examined, investigated, and the truth brought to the American people,” he said, adding that President Bush should personally respond to the charges. Watch it:

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View Plame’s response to McClellan’s statement HERE.

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