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by Dick Fowler
Friday, Nov. 08, 2002 at 1:51 PM
Here's what really happened in Tuesday's midterm elections
I finally went to sleep at midnight Tuesday still uncertain, but by six o'clock the next morning I awoke to what I expected. For a couple of hours I read the newspaper and listened to the so-called "analysis" of the election, hoping to find one article, guest speaker, news reporter or network anchor who would correctly announce what had actually happened, and what this election really meant. Sad to say, the elite of the media, many politicians, party leaders and all the high-priced analysts still do not get the message.
The historical results of this mid-term election were not about the failures of Democrats or the successes of Republicans. It had nothing to do with party lines, single issues, nor was it about liberal or conservative ideology. It was the American people, of all ethnic and racial backgrounds and all parties, letting everyone know that they were no longer willing to accept business as usual.
The American people, myself included, are afraid, and we voted accordingly. Since the tragic events of 9/11, we are uncertain about our safety. With the economy in the doldrums, we are uncertain about our financial futures. The whole world has become a dark, confusing and dangerous place, and all the while our elected politicians have been nit-picking, politicizing, dividing us and obstructing policies that may bring normalcy back to our lives. We are fed up with the whole political mess, and this was the real message sent by our votes.
This vote was also for President George W. Bush, the man. The media and world leaders have long been scratching their heads, wondering why Bush is so popular with Americans. It is not hard to figure out if you are just a simple citizen, with no more power than a single vote. Bush is not a typical career politician. He is not a lawyer (as are most politicians) with a silver and often-forked tongue, spinning words the way the diplomatic or political elite of the world wants to hear them. He is everything the rank-and-file American citizen likes, and the rest of the world hates. He is more comfortable in blue jeans and boots than a suit, prefers to kick back on a ranch full of scrub bush and horny toads, drive a Ford pickup rather than a limousine, and enjoys a good barbecue much more than goose liver paté and caviar. He is not like Bill Clinton or even his father, the senior George. But, the American people love him, because he is genuine. He feels the way we do. We know that when tears cloud his eyes they are real, and when he speaks with emotion, it comes from the heart. We trust him, not as a politician, but as a man.
Proof is in pudding. For the next two years President Bush has the ability to deliver, and deliver he must! He can seize on this opportunity to do more than just wage war. He can stimulate the economy and create jobs. He can make us feel safer. He can change the entire tax system so that it is fair and simple. He can get badly needed judges on the bench. He can provide genuine help for our children and elderly. He can solve the health-care problem.
Few presidents have the chance to become great men. The American voters have given Bush this chance. If he fails to deliver now, come 2004 we will vote for someone who can.
And, this is what really happened in the mid-term elections of 2002!
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by Marc Stuart
Friday, Nov. 08, 2002 at 5:17 PM
The reality of the 2002 Elections is that the major parties got (again!) exactly what they wanted: low turn-out with outcomes decided by predominately party-line voters. The rebuke to the national tilt to the right, was the democratic sweep, here in California. And that is not to say that Californians are particularly enamored of their Democrats: they are merely fed up with the crop of Republicans being thrown at them. Will Schwarzenneger signify a coming change? Probably not. Unfortunately, the Republicans have yet to move very far from the ideological fundamentalism of the moral majority days of the 80's. Pity, as many Americans (and Californians) would heed the call and vote overwhelmingly for McCain, or better yet, Powell. The real signal, which national pollsters are starting to take note of, is the continued grwoth of the smaller parties, specifically the Greens. Especially in California, there is no other party which better exemplifies and represents the largest segment of under-represented citizens who are 18-35.
...hopefully we can all put down (and soon!) the video games and 40's and start voting for candidates we want to vote for, instead of continually being scared into voting for the lesser of two evils. If we don't start doing this soon, things will continue to get worse, and a lot worse, before they start getting better.
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Friday, Nov. 08, 2002 at 5:52 PM
...the election's real message:
"Why do we need two Republican parties, we already got one!"
Fuck the Democrats if they do not heed this lesson...
...oh, and the article; true to a point but full of mythologizing bullshit.
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Friday, Nov. 08, 2002 at 6:44 PM
Marc, as you can see from the token resistance that the Democrats have offered against the onslaught on civil liberties and the chichenhawk rush to war, there isn't much to be frightened of in their absence that you shouldn't be frightened of with their presence.
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Friday, Nov. 08, 2002 at 8:37 PM
Hillary Clinton a radical leftist???? That's a good one....only in your tiny little inconsequential mind could that ever be a reality...BushBlower.
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Saturday, Nov. 09, 2002 at 2:09 AM
Did anybody see the actual turn-out numbers! they were pathetic. This election was not of 'mandate' propotions. So cram the GW-is-our-fearless-leader shit. Less than half of all eligible voters showed up to the damn polls. In other countries a turn out this low would have nullified the whole process and new elections would have been held.
If you wanna look at Nov. 5th 2002 as a referendum on George W. Bush, then put it in this light: Most registered voters, who themselves are minority in America, didn't give a fuck.
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Saturday, Nov. 09, 2002 at 5:19 AM
The polls opened on time and the new voting machines worked properly, but Broward County election officials couldn't get the results right in Tuesday's election.
Between 1 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday, the elections office found it had left 103,222 votes out of the total ballots cast, including 34,136 votes for the governor's race -- even though the total announced at 1 a.m. was given as a 100 percent count.
The additional votes didn't change the outcome of any race, although state Rep. Nan Rich, D-Weston, widened her lead in a tough re-election bid. Election officials miscalculated the turnout data and said they also botched the numbers by not including ballots cast by English-speaking early voters in the tallies.
The most significant impact of the missing votes was on the size of Broward's turnout. Initial results showed an extraordinarily low turnout of 34 percent, with 337,976 casting votes, but the revised numbers boosted turnout to 45 percent with 441,198 voting.
The erroneous numbers were sent to the state, given to the news media and posted on the elections office's Web site. County Judge Jay Spechler, chairman of the election canvassing board, said officials should be more cautious in the future in releasing unofficial results before they can be verified.
"I think there are some things that need to be audited before they're disseminated to the public," Spechler said.
Some remained skeptical about what happened and raised the possibility that the county was double-counting votes. "It's another screw-up, and I'm not satisfied this is correct," Broward Republican leader George Lemieux said.
Even with the change, the turnout was Broward's lowest for a gubernatorial election in at least three decades, and one of the worst in the state. Only DeSoto, Dixie and Levy counties, each rural counties with fewer than 20,000 registered voters, posted poorer turnouts.
Overall, Florida had one of the best turnouts in the nation because of the closely watched race between Gov. Jeb Bush and Tampa lawyer Bill McBride, with 53 percent of state voters casting ballots.
A range of reasons
Since 1970, Broward turnout for a gubernatorial election had dropped below 50 percent only twice. Turnout was 46 percent in 1998 and 49 percent in 1990.
Election observers differed on the reasons why so many of Broward's 978,000 voters stayed home.
Some argued McBride never fired up the Democratic strongholds in Broward. Others said people stayed away out of disgust with the county's election problems and its latest incarnation -- hours-long waits at early voting sites.
But all said only the county's hard-core voters participated in the election, people who would vote regardless of the strength of candidates, the weather or the long lines.
Jim Kane, editor of the Florida Voter newsletter, and Lance deHaven-Smith, a political science professor at Florida State University, said voter confidence in Broward's election process declined enough that news reports about long lines dissuaded many.
"This may be a case of fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me," deHaven-Smith said. "There was concern after the 2000 election that people may be turned off by the political process and that they would be convinced their vote wouldn't count. Then there was a strong turnout in the September primary, but more problems."
But news reports weren't the only reason people didn't vote. There were problems with voter registration information, confusion about polling places and mistakes from the early voting process.
Gerald and Marie-Helene Loftus, who work at the U.S. Embassy in Luxembourg, asked for absentee ballots but never received them. It was the first time in 32 years Gerald Loftus hadn't voted.
Sailboat Bend residents Ronald and Sally Gonsalves searched for their polling place on Tuesday, but gave up when one had to go to work. They received two different registration cards in the mail directing them to different places and were repeatedly rerouted when they tried to vote.
Lauderhill residents Max and Evelyn Berkowitz couldn't vote because they tried to cast early ballots at the West Regional Courthouse in Plantation on Monday. They waited in line for three hours, signed in at the registration desk and left when they saw a second long line for the voting machines.
"They told us if we left we couldn't vote on Tuesday because we had already registered," said Max Berkowitz, 87. "Now we've lost our right to vote."
While changing no outcomes, Wednesday's additional votes altered results across the board.
Among the changes, McBride netted an extra 13,815 votes against Bush, Attorney General Bob Butterworth netted an extra 473 against state Rep. Jeff Atwater in a state Senate race and U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw netted an extra 935 against challenger Carol Roberts. McBride and Butterworth still lost, and Shaw widened his winning margin.
Mike Lindsey, an observer for the state Division of Elections, said the numbers that weren't reported in the initial total were never in danger of being lost.
He said that the election software system stores data in different areas and that the summary reports distributed Tuesday night and Wednesday morning were formatted incorrectly, omitting some of the figures.
The canvassing board will meet today to certify the results and submit them to the state.
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Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2002 at 11:12 PM
It's noteworthy that you consider California, New York, and Massachusetts outside of the mainstream. Not surprisingly, these states represent a substantial prportion of the nation's population. How then, could they be outside the mainstream? It has been widely reported, here in California, that one of the greatest contributors to the rise of third parties in the state was the exodus of registered Republicans. Many moved to the "New South."
You mention a few names in your posting, several of whom I also detest. But you also make reference that the voting block of 18-35 year olds haven't spent enough taxes to attain the epiphinous status of Republican. So are we to understand that only through divine intervention and a massive portfolio does one become capable of making the leap towards "compassionate conservativism?" Please. While your repsonses are often informative (if not overtly revealing), try to respect people's individualism and not lambast them with your one true version of the American world. There is no single correct answer for all that ails America, let alone the world. Let's take the time to listen to a point of view & respond to its merits without castigating the author as an idealistic simpleton.
FYI - While I do not agree with the majority of your responses, I would also voice my concern at the possibility of silencing your ability to speak it. It is a sad day when the "left" makes concerted efforts to emulate the practices of the established right, and one common theme, has been to silce dissenting voices. Or label them unpatriotic...
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Thursday, Nov. 14, 2002 at 1:46 AM
What this election truly shows is how successful the major political parties have been at monopolizing the political process of this nature. It clearly shows that most Americans are aware that their vote doesn't matter unless they have lobbyist. The turn out 0f 39%-35% of the electorate is a shame. The republicans have won control of this nation’s political machine with maybe 20% of the electorates support. This means that the overwhelming majority of the American people did not sign on to the republicans agenda. This is truly a shameful reality when after the struggles many people had to go through to get the right to vote has resulted in a new political system which alienates the majority by simply ignoring them. Case in point the war with Iraq. All members of congress received a huge torrent of mail from the American people expressing their opinion. The American people said NO. Yet our "representatives" in congress said yes. As a result we are now poised to conquer Iraq at the conservative tune of 200 billion dollars. I am sure Cheney's former company will be getting a lot of this money to assist in the war effort. Not only that but the Carlyle group will make a killing, and as I am sure you are all aware that former president Bush sits on the board of this defense contracting conglomerate. Does Bush Jr. have any conflicts of interest in going after the man who tried to kill his daddy…maybe…?
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Thursday, Nov. 14, 2002 at 9:00 PM
re: Bush Admirer • Tuesday November 12, 2002 Tuet 04:15 AM
"...Appreciate your response Marc. I don't usually get thoughtful comments like yours..."
As I had previously mentioned, I do not agree with the majority of your comments. But I value the opportunity to read them and form my own opinions. And I don't feel the need to correct you (whatever that means!) by insulting you. Where does that lead, except off the topic? Are we even discussing politics, at that point, or just caving in to ego-gratification?
I have noticed, unfortunately, that a great deal of time and energy spent by some of the contributors to these comment pages (which should be an opportunity for people to post uncensored opinions!) is nothing short of venomous. Pity. Think of the amount of time that could otherwise have been devoted to expanding the dialogue and knowledge amongst differing schools of thought. Those responsible (and there are many, so no names) only validate the opinons of the "sleeping majority" of Americans who do NOT voice their opinons (for shame) that the political process is nothing but 3rd grade populism. C'mon, people. If you vehemently oppose a point of view, deconstruct it with the dearth of information available to all ("uhh, the internet has sites other than porn?"), don't stoop to slander. THAT is the failure of American Democracy. AND the failure of most American political parties: what once stood for ideas (and ideals) has become a gagle of pompous suits telling us why the other guy is wrong, not why they are right (and not "R"ight). Both sides are culpable.
I would hope that all sides agree that one of the worst things to happen to civic participation (or, more aptly, NON-participation) in politics is the rampant spread of apathy amongst the electorate! It is somewhat arrogant (of us all! guilty myself!) of us to assume we know what the American people think, as most American do not voice their concern(s). Anyone remember hearing some words to the effect of "redressing their grievances to the government?" There seems to be a growing wave of nauseau relating to the "American Democracy," which is fueled by the polarizing presentations of the news media organizations. A lack of respect? What, respect?! Yes, respect for people (a good start), and their ability, some might say inherent right, to formulate their own opinions, rather than have them regurgitated to them via stuffy "anchors."
Respect. Respect for Americans from our elected officials. Hey guys, while you're all out there at ,000 plate rund-raising dinners, have a care and remember that you hold a sacred trust: our governance! Remember that no president (not even Reagan) has ever really held a mandate from the people, as the people haven't been holding up their end of the bargain and voting! We can all postulate on the reasons, which are many, but it is plain to see that the way we (the people!) are treated is lacking in respect. Respect that a majority of Americans do not participate (but should) in politics. Respect that they may (MAY) hold opinions different than the "Big 2." Simply respect that there are more than two opinions! The country isn't a magnet, despite attempts to polarize everyone into "right" & "left."
In short, have a care to leave this forum accessible to those who may not share your way of thinking! Diatribes only obfuscate matters, and turn off others who might engage in discourse. Just like in elections, when that happens, we all lose.
...and again, that's just MY opinion...
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Thursday, Nov. 14, 2002 at 11:46 PM
Hey Marc, who's not leaving this forum open to anyone? It's open and free still, I think.
People are free to talk about all kinds of stuff here and debate and express their views and argue with other people.
You criticize nameless people for apparently not engaging in meaningful dialogue with the likes of Bush Admirer (or any others who don't agree with them--I'm assuming that's who you are talking about since you are dialoguing with BA here in this thread). What I think you might not recognize in this assessment is that a lot of what BA has to say appears to be geared not toward understanding one another, but toward doing the very thing you criticize others of doing toward her/his points of view. Posting a thread that is a list of who the "dumbest" people are is not, in MY opinion, an engagement of meaningful dialogue, but rather, a bait tactic. Nor is the opinion that we should kick Al Qaeda POWs in the genitals an example of an inquisitive, sincere mind interested in pursuing the lofty ambitions of democracy and open dialogue etc that you so eloquently wax on here.
Do a search as I have and go over BA's posts (and others like BA)--in her/his "debate" style and presentation of views, there is little display of a sincere interest in understanding and exchanging views in order to enrich one another and arrive at a deeper understanding of things. It's understandable that you and anyone else who has sincere interests along this line might give someone like that the benefit of the doubt before writing them off, since that is how YOU claim to be approaching things. But it is not how BA is approaching this forum--in my opinion and assessment.
Consider that the anger and unwillingness to "dialogue" with BA that you criticize appear to come after many sincere attempts to do so, and that when they do come, it is a mirror of her/his own anger, maliciousness, and unwillingness to really engage in meaningful dialogue. BA seems interested only in proving that s/he is right and everyone on the other side is wrong. Is this the basis for dialogue? To me this is just petty oppositional violence and war, and this, in my opinion, becomes quite readily apparent in reading through just a few of her/his postings. I agree that BA's name-calling and pettiness should not be met with the same, though I understand why people would become frustrated when their own sincere attempts at engagement are taken advantage of in this way, and when they see a free and open democratic forum like this being used for violence instead of a real exchange of ideas. But I would go further and say that not only should BA's maliciousness not be mirrored, but her/his entire approach of diverting real discussion and engaging in a big, violent waste of time should not be mirrored either. Putting this into practice, it becomes clear to me that there will quickly be nothing more to talk about with BA, since there is nothing else to her/his postings beyond the surface violence. This leads me to my opinion that there is nothing else to do but ignore BA's tactics until this person really does come here with a sincere heart and willingness to engage in an exchange of ideas. But I imagine this will prove very difficult for someone who is already convinced they are right and comes to a forum with the sole intention of proving to everyone else not only how absolutely right s/he is, but more importantly, how wrong everyone else is.
My own opinion is that the great majority of Americans probably don't voice their opinions because they are frustrated at having them met with the violence of people like BA, and soon enough learn that one (some would say the only) effective way to deal with unrelenting, uncompromising force (or any force, really) is to yield to it and deflect it in a way that uses its power against itself. This may manifest itself as apathy, but there is a lot of kinetic energy in apathy. Conscious silence and apathy are very real and powerful tactics, especially against a dualistic system that depends so much on opposition and violence and work work work in order to keep its bloated corpse propped up and lumbering along. As long as you remain caught up in the oppositional exchange of force and violence, you are still trapped by its power, and you are still feeding its power.
Your posting somehow seems to turn this around and make BA one of the "victims" in this equation of apathetic Americans and lost dialogue and political process, but I disagree with this assessment. If BA is not really saying anything creative, then why should it come as a surprise if s/he is ultimately met with silence? In my opinion, in a situation like this, silence is much more meaningful and powerful than mirroring violent words with more violent words--and no one is censored, the forum is still kept free and democratic. Consider the possibility that the silence of non-voters IS a vote--a vote that maybe could be directed into more conscious form, but a vote nevertheless. I imagine the elite find it quite unsettling to see all the disruption taking place at WTO meetings etc, but I like to imagine how disturbed they would be if all of a sudden one day everyone turned into Bartlebys and just stopped doing anything (http://www.litrix.com/bartleby/bartl001.htm). A world of consumer drones who suddenly say, "I would prefer not to," seems, to me, much scarier than a bunch of oppositional groups clashing with riot police and the other BAs of the world. I think Melville was right on: "Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance."
If you do have something to say, say it to those who are open and listening. This is how we use people like BA to hold power over ourselves--by directing our energy oppositionally to meet BA's violence, we divert it from the more productive and creative task of directing it to those who are not engaging in violence and who are interested in listening and who will hear us. Ignorance is not a passive noun--it is an active verb. In the hands of someone like BA, it becomes a weapon. Use its force against itself, and the weapon's power dissolves.
Conscious silence, passive resistance, deflection. THESE, I think, are "powerful" ideas, and "some powerful concepts at work." But, again, that's just my opinion.
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Friday, Nov. 15, 2002 at 12:31 AM
I choose not to name names, because it is exactly the point I am trying to avoid.
And be utterly fair: there are more "allegedly" progressive/liberal respondents on these threads than any other group, and read some of the illuminating responses they have posted.
I have taken the time to read BA's (as well as others) postings in different threads. I am not naive to the situation. I choose not to be involved in personal insults. My reticence is not to invoke such baiting tactics, as, say, "fascist nazi right-winger," or some of the other more colorful euphimisms which are not coming from BA. I am not here to be a buffer for, or defend BA's opinions (I don't even know him or her, or anyone else, for that matter!), just becoming concerned by some of the "opponents" who are only too willing to engage in such conduct. Primarily, my concern is not over profanity, but it is over the chorus of voices who were calling for emoval and exclusion for certain individuals. The tone and rancor of these postings was disgusting. It engages no one, and deters many from becoming involved, at all! That is a loss. Some who purport to be on the "left" calling for censorship? Did some people wake up as McCarthy?
The tactics you describe are useful, when they are actually used, but they also further the problem. We are avoiding engaing in dialogue over issues, and reverting to children on the playground. Much like our elected officials ON BOTH SIDES (and, oh, how it burns that we have let ourselves be blocked into sides!)
I'm for the freedom of speech, for the freedom of thought, and for the freedom to express your views without being pigeon-holed into a safe little category. Freedoms can be costly. Sometimes you must accept the ability (and, in THIS country, right) of those you disagree with to espouse views you find loathesome.
I guess I'm hoping for lofty ideals...
Or maybe some just aren't up to the challenge of listening to points of view they disagree with without going into a frenzy. I do relish EVERYONE'S ability to post their views, as this is an ability sorely lacking in so many other parts of the world. I just want to make sure it doesn't happen in ours...
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Friday, Nov. 15, 2002 at 1:26 AM
Marc---I agree, there was a lot of "filter out this spam!" stuff and sentiment going on--I count myself guilty in some instances when the frustration overwhelmed. In that sense, I have to admit that I have learned a little from the experience of dealing with some of these postings, and I agree that no one should be censored--though there is still the question of what constitutes "spam" and similar kinds of speech.
But, it still seems to me that I am not talking about avoiding dialogue, but rather, about finding a way to avoid those who are actively avoiding dialogue, in order to devote energy to engaging with those who are not avoiding it--in this sense, I think you and I are aiming for the same thing (ie, your concern over turning people off from the whole process). I can see how the difference between avoiding dialogue and avoiding the dialogue-avoiders could be lost in all the frustration and sincerity and effort.
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Friday, Nov. 15, 2002 at 7:27 PM
Like I said, previously, I am not directing my comments (unless specifically stated) at any particular person. So I never intended to infer that BA, or anyone, was writing "spam," or staying off the topic. If they took that, I apologize for your misunderstanding. I do think that SOME people represent their comments as "True" or unrepudiated "fact." Unless someone wants to post all their personal/professional information (which I have seen done before), I don't see any of us having the merit to post our COMMENTS as fact, just opinions. AS such, I'm just asking that everyone take everyone else's statements as opinions, and treat them as such. If you feel someone is trying to goad you into a rhetorical debate, or that they are hitting you over the head with ideological nonsense, you are only enabling them by responding in kind. That gets us nowhere. That leads to gridlock. And THAT has a great deal to do with the stagnation of the American political process: less ideas, more rhetoric.
I would agree with the assessment (or at least part of it) from BA, that the Democratic Party is floundering, and that the election of Nancy Pelosi (who is from San Francisco, no less!) by House Democrats will (hopefully) force some issues amongst the DNC. I would argue that this would be a GOOD thing. Remember that not too long ago, the Laborers, the Greens, and many other smaller parties were incorporated in the DNC, much like the Reform party was more or less a split by some of the less-ideological members of the RNC. In most Parliamentary countries, the parties reach out and make compacts with smaller parties, realizing that their combined strength often outweighs a larger single group. Not so, here in America. Everyone is so concerned with their little slice of the pie, that they wantonly exclude other groups, which might normally side with them. Maybe if we had some REAL campaign finance reform, this would start to change.
ME (see it's addressed to someone), I do think we are closer on the stop-the spam issue than might appear. I would hope that we both are fervent in our opposition to censorship, and can understand the tactics employed by many others, not specifically any one commentator. But shouldn't our understanding enable us to avoid the trap and not enter into senseless personal attacks? Some food for thought to some other contributors, I hope...
Also, to all: I've seen numerous atempts to define "fascism." Most are regurgitated nonsense, and even the academic community agrees that the definition inherently depends upon the context, so unless we're referring to its etymology [fasces (sp?) - Romans carrying axes bound with rods, reinforcing their superiority], we're only adding spin.
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