Monday, 29 October 2007


Ken Berwitz

Donald Lambro is the chief political correspondent for the Washington Times.  His latest column is a very interesting, mostly (though not completely) optimistic view of where the USA stands right now. 

Although I can't say I fully agree with Lambro's level of optimism, I do agree with a lot of what he says, and find his analysis to be very worthwhile reading.   Maybe you will too, so here it is:.


The Glass is Filling Nicely
By Donald Lambro
Monday, October 29, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Just nine weeks before the 2008 election year begins, the nation's political climate seems to be cooling down a bit from the fiery debates and battles that blackened headlines earlier this year. We can't exactly say everything is fine, but the sky isn't falling, either, as the doom-and-gloomers were predicting it would. A lot of things are getting better.

Media pundits, notably those at The New York Times, were asking last week, what has happened to the Iraq war? It seems to have vanished from the front pages of the nation's newspapers and the top of the nightly news shows, they noted, somewhat unhappily.

To be sure, things seem to have quieted down somewhat in Iraq lately as a result of President Bush's surge plan to crush the terrorist insurgency there. The country still faces a long battle against Al Qaeda in Iraq, but the statistics coming out of Baghdad lately show that there's been a significant decline in violence in the capital and in some of the worst terrorist-infested provinces.

Indeed, the focus has shifted to other trouble spots, such as Iran's march toward nuclear hegemony in the region and its efforts to support terrorism across the Middle East through its deadly Revolutionary Guard Corps and elite Quds Force.

Bush last week turned up the heat against Tehran with his toughest sanctions to date to show them the United States means business. Life is about to get a lot harder for the Iranian regime that has been supplying high-tech bombs and other explosives that have killed our troops in Iraq.

Here at home, the sharp downturn in housing sales and the subprime mortgage market's upheaval have continued to rattle our economy, amid predictions that it is only going to get worse before it gets better. But the economy also continues to show substantial strength, evident last week from a rash of strong, third-quarter corporate-earnings reports.

If the economy is falling headlong into a recession, as the naysayers keep parroting, then corporate earnings and profits should be declining. But, quite the opposite, they were remarkably strong, and, more importantly, reflect sustained consumer buying power that is at the core of a healthy and growing economy. A few examples:

-- Apple's fourth-quarter profit leaped 67 percent on sales of its computers, iPods and iPhones, capping a record-breaking year for the high-tech company.

-- Merck, the pharmaceutical giant that developed a vaccine for cervical cancer and a new pill for diabetes, reported a 62 percent gain in profits in the third quarter.

--, the country's largest Internet retailer, said its profits had more than quadrupled in the last quarter.

-- Google, the fabulously successful global Internet information system, saw its stock climb to a stunning $676 a share based on record earnings.

America's largest corporations, most of them major players in the global economy, reported similarly strong earnings and profits: from McDonald's and Coca-Cola to top defense-industry leaders, such as Boeing, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin.

These earnings statements helped to stabilize a jittery stock market last week, at least for a time. But the financial markets remained volatile as a result of troubling evidence that the housing sector was still in decline.

The National Association of Realtors said existing-home sales dropped last month, for the seventh consecutive time, by 8 percent, which sent the closely watched Dow into another steep drop -- though the blue-chip index was still up by nearly 10 percent for the year.

No one knows how much deeper the housing slump has to go or how much longer it will last. Millions of adjustable-rate mortgage holders still face interest resets that many may not be able to handle amid predictions this will trigger a wave of foreclosures that will worsen the credit crunch.

But the good news is that the Fed has been pumping billions of dollars into banking institutions, and lenders have begun to preemptively offer refinancing packages for endangered homeowners that could ease the credit downturn.

The other side of this problem is a positive development for people who want to buy a home but have been effectively priced out of the market by exuberantly irrational real-estate prices of recent years. Housing prices are slowly but surely coming down in a self-correcting adjustment by market forces that at some point, when they get low enough, will lure new buyers into the housing market. I think this is going to happen sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, let's keep the excesses of the housing crunch in perspective. It's one sector of a $14 trillion economy, but by no means the biggest one. We will get through this, because 150 million people are still working and we have full employment, consumer spending remains healthy, 70 percent of Americans still own their own home, half of them outright. .

There is a lot here that makes me stop and think.  Especially the part which mentions how, as the troop surge has taken hold and yielded significant success, Iraq has faded from the front pages.

Funny thing about that;  when we are taking it on the chin, mainstream media can't wait to tell its readers/viewers/listeners about it.  But when we are doing well, it's not a story.

If you didn't know better, you'd think a lot of media people don't like to give us good news about Iraq.  But you do know better.

Don't you?


Ken Berwitz

Joe Biden is one of the biggest mouths in the senate.  Even he would admit to that (I know he would because he did).

But what is also true, and something Biden won't so readily admit to, is that he is perfectly willing to ignore facts that he is fully aware of, and instead put out spin and propaganda he knows to be untrue. 

In my old neighborhood we called someone like that an effing liar. We did, however, use the long form of eff.

Here is a long, but eminently important article by Scott Malensek of, which gives you all the specifics:.

Senator Joe Biden Still Misleading About Al Qaeda in Iraq
The Fifth Column Scott Malensek, Featured Writer
October 29, 2007

Earlier this month, as Senator Joe Biden looked at his latest poll numbers, then he looked at his schedule of campaign appearances (not his Senate schedule, thats secondary to his real job: campaigning to get a better job), then the Democratic candidate for President decided that he needed to mislead people about the war in Iraq again. If thats not what happened then all of his years on committees, all of the meetings he allegedly attended, all of the briefings he supposedly read were for nothing; useless, nothing but resume fodder. Either he chose to deliberately mislead people again this month or hes completely ignorant about the war which he seeks to command.


Senator Biden tried to repeat the Democratic Party talking point that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the fight against Al Qaeda:


"I hope the administration stops this malarkey about that the war in Iraq is about Al Qaeda." Sen. Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate and veteran of the Senate Armed Services Committee CBS Early Show interview with Hannah Storm. October 16, 2007


Senator Biden either deliberately misled the American people, or he showed the ultimate in wartime ignorance.


1) Al Qaeda is in Iraq and the Al Qaeda forces that are in Iraq are in fact part of the same Al Qaeda that Osama Bin Laden leads (or figuratively leads at least).


2) Another of the Democratic Partys to-date successful pieces of propaganda is the claim that Al Qaeda wasnt inside Saddams Iraq before the invasion when the Bush Administration claimed, but instead Al Qaeda just so-happened to be there during and after the invasion. That piece of political propaganda too has come to pass for the spin it is, and the fact that Al Qaeda has been in Iraq since before the US invasion has now been proven by multiple, independent sources, multiple detainees, mountains of documents, and more.


3) Democratic Party leaders hoping to cling to their careers as professional, Beltway politicians have also made the claim that Saddams regime (which had a long history of using Islamic extremists/terrorists to implement foreign policy) would never work with Al Qaeda or its Islamic extremist affiliates.


Other Democratic Senators/Presidential candidates are deliberately misleading as well...again (or still?). Yet these lies go unchallenged by a media that is either supportive, ignorant, or both.


Al Qaeda in Iraq is the same Al Qaeda as the group that Bin Laden leads. The Los Angeles Times has shown us that the two share financial ties . All sixteen American intelligence agencies confirm that they share the same logistical network as described in a National Intelligence Estimate that was presented to Senator Biden and all members of Congress. Barely a week after Senator Biden made his remarks that the two Al Qaeda groups are disconnected, Osama Bin Laden put out a video in which he issued commands and clearly expressed his leadership to Al Qaeda groups in Iraq thus showing that there is a shared command and control element: Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda leadership councils he leads. If they share the same name, cause, objective, financial, logistics, and command and control, then they are the same. Al Qaeda in Iraq is just another one of the arms of Al Qaeda (recall that Al Qaeda translates as The Base or The Center or The Origin and is a network of groups).


Al Qaeda in Iraq has been there since before the invasion. Prior to the U.S. led invasion, there were numerous Islamic extremist groups operating freely and even with the support of Saddams regime and Al Qaedas command councils. Among these groups, Ansar al Sunni, Ansar al Jeddah, and Ansar al Islam were the most prominent. Saddams intelligence forces supported them, and in exchange these groups conducted assassinations and other attacks on Saddams opponents in Northern Iraq. Numerous detainees; captured Iraqi intelligence agents of Saddam as well captured members of those groups and captured Al Qaeda detainees all make this claim.


Documents captured in when American Special Forces overran the Ansar al Islam camps in Northern Iraq support this as do documents captured from Saddams regime. Various investigations into pre-war intelligence on Iraq have made ambiguous statements about the depth of the relationship between Saddams regime and Al Qaeda before the invasion, but none have conclusively declared that there was no relationship. Quite the contrary, investigations like the (independent and bi-partisan) 911 Commission, the (bi-partisan) Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and at least four pre-war CIA publications all stated emphatically that there was not enough evidence collected between 1998 and 2003 to form a conclusion, but that there was evidence of a relationship. Of course, there wasnt enough evidence gathered because the entire United States intelligence community, all sixteen intelligence agencies, couldnt manage to get a single human intelligence asset inside Iraq during those four entire years.  


When Coalition forces did invade Iraq, they encountered thousands of foreign fighters who were there to wage jihad. Even today, Coalition forces are stationed at the very same places that had once been training camps for international terrorists. As time passed, more and more insurgents were captured. It was discovered that a great number of insurgents were actually henchmen for Saddam acting in direct concert with Al Qaeda groups. The list of regime members caught or killed fighting alongside Islamic holy warriors is in the hundreds. Not long after the invasion, those Al Qaeda affiliate groups mentioned earlier joined together and formed Al Qaeda in Iraq (actually several different Al Qaeda umbrella groups), and this summer even Ansar al Islam changed its Al Qaeda.


Senator Biden and other Democrats have told us that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror; the fight against Osama Bin Laden and his network of terrorist groups.  The Democrat Partys Congress has ordered that the words, Global War on Terror no longer be used.  Senator Edwards (another Democrat seeking the Presidency) has said that the war on terror is just a bumper sticker. Leaders of the partys base like Michael Moore and Bill Maher have told us that there is no war on terror at all. Speaker of the House Pelosi has told us that the war in Iraq is not only not tied to a war that her partys leaders say doesnt exist, but she goes further to say that its not even a war. Its a situation to be solved.


Meanwhile, the bodies pile up in Iraq. Thousands perhaps tens of thousands of Al Qaeda foreign fighters have been killed or captured in Iraq. Potential future Presidents with a (D) next to their name flat out tell us this is not happening. Theyll readily admit Al Qaeda is in Iraq killing Iraqis, in Iraq killing Americans, but they wont admit Al Qaeda is in Iraq. The opening quotation from part-time Senator and full-time Presidential hopeful, Senator Joe Biden, specifically tells us contrary to the bodies Al Qaeda is not in Iraq; the thousands of Al Qaeda bodies and the tens of thousands of bodies that succumbed to Al Qaeda torture and killing are ignored either deliberately or through political incompetence and personal ignorance.


These people also claim President Bush lied about pre-war intelligence regarding Saddams weapons of mass destruction. Well, the CIA investigated Iraq after the war, and they found that there were no stockpiles, but there was indeed a different kind of WMD threat from Saddam. Moreover, the ISG Deulfer report, like a dozen other independent and bi-partisan investigations, all found that the pre-war intelligence regarding WMD was weak, and there was no lying, no manipulation, not fiction.


President Bush was wrong in some of his claims about pre-war Iraq.  So too are these Democrats wrong about Iraq intelligence. Many, like Senator Biden, Senator Edwards, Senator Clinton, and dozens more, stood by the President. They echoed his concerns and assessments. Whats different now is that these same people who were wrong then are wrong again in saying that the war in Iraq is not a war, that it has nothing to do with the fight against Al Qaeda, and that the Al Qaeda in Iraq is not the same as Bin Ladens Al Qaeda. If they are not wrong, then they are deliberately misleading. In either case, they are still misleading the American people in direct and open view of the reality on the ground, the 20-20 hindsight of history, the reports from detainees, the assessments of 16 different intelligence agencies, millions of captured documents and tapes, reports from the a wide variety of news media outlets, and even in lieu of Bin Ladens own words on his own video.


Last fall Democrats were told a flat out lie by Chairman Howard Dean and other Democratic Party leaders who were trying to find a way to take power on Capitol Hill. Americans were told that Democrats would provide a New Direction in Iraq, and that it wouldnt be an immediate rout or redeployment or withdrawal.  Americans were told that there was a plan for success; a change in direction. On election night Gov. Dean revealed that there was never even a committee formed to brainstorm ideas on when to hold a meeting to draft such a plan. The people who elected them sought excuses, were given them, but as time passed and as excuses got older and weaker, every person who voted Democrat realized theyd been a mere ballot box pawn. The party deliberately misled Americans to get elected (again). Now, one wonders if those who were lied to in 2002, in 2004, and in 2006 will believe the same old one trick jackass that the New Democratic Party is selling (again)? That trick is simple: deny reality regardless of how certain and widespread its recorded and reported, blame others for any and all problems real or not, and make promises without ever having the intention of fulfilling them (see also a comparison of the Democrats do-nothing Congress to the list of accomplishments by any other Congress in American history).


Its time to recognize that the Democrat Partys leadership of professional lawyers has distorted the truth well enough to take a mere reasonable doubt and mold the mindset of millions of great Americans into believing their own campaign promises, and at the same time theyve fully closed peoples minds to the ideas the truths presented by Republicans or anyone who is not a KOSsack, a CODE PINK clown, or an anti-American ANSWER coalition socialist. Its an ironic thing to watch open-minded liberals shout down others for speaking their mind, for asking unpopular questions or for having different opinions in general. One thing is certain above all, the Democratic Party is no longer for liberals. Its for pretend liberals; people with closed minds (not open, liberal minds) who want others to not only hear their concerns and ideas, but to accept them without question,


I question whether Senator Biden and others who have misled the nation for the past five years are: deliberately misleading people (i.e. liars) or if theyre that ignorant and incapable of even attending intelligence briefings that clearly show their statements are grossly incorrect? In either case, the more important question is, How long will the people of the Democrat Party and other Americans allow themselves to suck at the tit of propagandists rather than sit at the table with the rest of the grownups, talk freely and without fear of being shouted down, recognize problems and dare to work together to solve them? The first steps are simple:


▪ Recognize that Al Qaeda is Americas enemy-not American history


▪ Recognize that there is a worldwide war against misguided Islamic holy warriors who belong to the death cult that IS Al Qaeda


▪ Recognize that there is a war in Iraq-not a mere situation


▪ Recognize that Al Qaeda is in Iraq, has been and is being decimated


▪ Recognize that wars never go as planned, but the war in Iraq is not lost


▪ Recognize the lies and distortions of truth from politicians, try to see through them, and demand accountability for those who promote, authorize, support, then oppose, then support the war effort

▪ Unite to face a foe. Together, the American people can put men on the moon for fun, and make it look not only easy, but boring. Together this nation has managed to fight in 3 dozen countries at once against 6 different nations even in typhoons and the worst weather imaginable, and won Dividedliberty will collapse.


▪ Realize that being liberal doesnt mean playing gotcha politics. It means listening, contemplating and seeking consensus for a greater good.


Who will dare take that challenge? Today, one doubts a Democrat has the character or fortitude.


That's pretty damning stuff, isn't it?  But if you care to click on the numerous links that Mr. Malensek offers, you'll see that it is fully and completely referenced - a refreshing change from the charges that are tossed around by so many "experts" without any basis other than their personal opinions. 

Biden is going nowhere in the presidential sweepstakes.  All he is doing is looking more and more dishonest, more and more ridiculous and more and more pathetic. 

With all those more and mores, maybe Senator Biden should try a less and less:  Less talking and less lying.  In his case the two certainly correlate.

Alejandro Well argued, It has aalwys been an obvious argument you put on weight when you eat more than you need excercising will never reduce weight on a body badly nourished.Eating the right food is more difficult nowadays with modern habits as against old -time habits when food was made from fresh ingredients and you knew what was going in the pan and then in your stomach, not so nowadays. Keep up the campaign it is much easier to eat healthier with all that is available but knowing what is best needs to be learnt and all processed food should be put to the sword, apart from corned-beef and baked beans !!!! (05/02/12)


Ken Berwitz

Ok, ok, this is a political blog and Alex Rodriguez has nothing to do with politics.

But A-Rod is arguably the greatest hitter I have ever seen in over 50 years of watching baseball and among the most publicized - both positively and negatively.  So I want to say something about the fact that he apparently has finished his tenure with the New York Yankees.

Rodriguez was signed to an utterly insane $250 million dollar contract by the Texas Rangers 7 years ago.  The idea was that he would draw so many people that the team would turn that astonishing money outlay into a profit. 

Well, it never happened.  In terms of won-loss record, the team actually did less well with A-Rod than without him.  And attendence didn't increase.  A lose/lose situation if ever there was one.

So the Rangers traded Rodriguez to the New York Yankees.  In order to get the Yankees to bite, Texas agreed to pay one-third of his salary.  Thus the Yankees have been paying under $17 million a year for A-Rod's services;  still enormous but at least somewhere in the general vicinity of reason.

Now here's where it gets real interesting.  Alex Rodriguez's contract allows him the option to leave his team after 7 years.  He has a ten day window to exercise that option after the 2007 world series - the one that ended last night. 

Rodriguez immediately did exercise the option.  He didn't wait the ten days, he didn't wait ten hours.  Now he can negotiate with any team he wants for any amount they are willing to pay him.  This includes the Yankees.

But wait, there's another fascinating little issue to contend with.  Because Rodriguez opted out of his contract, the Texas Rangers are no longer bound by its terms.   That means if they Yankees signed him today for the same amount they were paying him, they would be shelling out over $7 million more per year, because Texas is no longer subsidizing the contract.

The Yankees said they would not negotiate with A-Rod if he did this and it seems pretty clear that they mean it.  

So goodbye Alex Rodriguez.  We'll see if someone else will pay $25 million a year (or appreciably more, as I suspect he hopes) to get an all-time great hitter, an excellent fielder and someone who plays at 100% every time he goes out on the field. 

(Of course the team he winds up with will also be paying for an all-time head case, someone whose playoff production is nothing at all like the regular season and who appears to have a not very wholesome private life.  That comes along for the ride too.)

Thanks for the three years, Alex.  No one can say it hasn't been interesting.  I always appreciated the fact that, with all those millions contractually assured, you never let up for even one game.  A lot of players lose their intensity the day they sign a long-term contract, but not you.  For that reason, I hope you make out well.

Now, what is Mike Lowell's phone number?


Ken Berwitz

Last week I blogged about Ellen DeGeneres' maudlin sobfest regarding the dog she took from a rescue group. 

As you may remember, DeGeneres signed an agreeement that, if she did not want the dog, it would go back to the rescue group she got it from.  But DeGeneres broke her signed agreement by giving the dog away to another family -- worse still, a family with children her agreement deemed too young to have the dog.  Not surprisingly, the rescue group took the dog back.

I have always admired Ellen DeGeneres and thought she was a tremendous talent.  But the cry-a-thon she taped and aired about the dog has greatly diminished my admiration.  To me, it was an abuse of the power major celebrities like DeGeneres have.  She used her power to make the rescue group look bad and turn the two women running it into villains.  Suddenly she wasn't wrong, they were.  It stunk.

Now lets contrast this with another situation in which a major celebrity cried over something that happened.  Here, courtesy of the New York Post, is what I'm talking about:.


Post staff writer

October 29, 2007 -- A tearful Oprah Winfrey begged parents to for give her for an alleged abuse scandal at her girls' school in South Africa.

"I've disappointed you. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," Oprah told parents at an emergency meeting, South Africa's top news Web site reported yesterday.

It was the talk-show host's second trip to South Africa in recent weeks, according to reports.

The school was hit two weeks ago with allegations that one of the matrons fondled a girl and physically abused other students.

The school's principal - indentified only as Dr Mzimane - and at least one other matron were put on administrative leave following the charges,, the nation's No. 1 news site reported.

"I trusted [Dr. Mzimane]," the station quoted Oprah as telling parents.

"But, I've been disappointed," she said.

"It's not your fault. We don't blame you.," a father was quoted as saying.

"You have more passion for the school and its existence than anyone else in this country, including us parents."

The talk-show host reportedly gave students her personal phone number and email address if they needed to contact her again, the station reported. .

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful personalities in show business today, maybe the single most successful of them all.

I don't know of any other such personality who has contributed more time and money to helping others than Ms. Winfrey.

What she has done in South Africa is wonderful.  It is genuinely inspiring.  Her intentions are absolutely above reproach.

So what are we supposed to think if several personnel at the school she built turn out to be either incompetent or predatory?  Are we supposed to blame Ms. Winfrey?  Are we supposed to see this as a diminution of what she personally is trying to accomplish?  Does this in any way negate the vast amount of time, effort and money Oprah Winfrey has spent on the school or the intended benefits of that school? 

Maybe some people will come to such conclusions.  But I assure you I'm not one of them.  I have no doubt about the honor of Ms. Winfrey's intentions and no doubt that she will do everything she can to transform those honorable intentions into a life-changing reality for youngsters in South Africa. 

If a celebrity wants to cry about something, this is worth the tears.  Even if Oprah didn't tape it for your viewing pleasure.

Steve Schneider We don't agree. Oprah spent a fortune on this one exclusive school. She could have built schools in many villages helping hundreds of children, for the money she spent on special linens etc. She also had a special on TV regarding this spectacular school. I think this was done more to maintain Oprahs God like image rather that to help the children, why else produce a TV special? Now she's getting bad publicity, well too bad for her, much worse for the children. Perhaps I'm more cynical than you. Steve (10/29/07)


Ken Berwitz

For the last two years we have been told we were going to be socked with hurricanes.

And for the past two years we haven't had one on mainland USA.  That's right.  Not one.

This year, in particular, I recall the prediction that there would be 14-17 hurricanes in total, and that 6 - 8 would be major.

Did you see any?  I know I didn't.  Not the major ones.  Not the minor ones.  Nothing.  Zero.  Zip.  Nada.

Here are the particulars, from COAPS (the Center For Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies:.


2007 Yearly Tropical Cyclone Activity to Date

By: Ryan N. Maue, Florida State University

Cross Post at Climate Audit (h/t) Steve McIntyre

Unless a dramatic and historical flurry of activity occurs in the next 9 weeks, 2007 will rank as a historically inactive TC year for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole. During the past 30 years, only 1977, 1981, and 1983 have had less activity to date (January-TODAY, Accumulated Cyclone Energy). For the period of June 1 - TODAY, only 1977 has experienced LESS tropical cyclone activity than 2007. For the North Atlantic basin, Tropical Storm Noel is currently too weak to impact any of these results. However, one should always be prepared for late-season developments since hurricane season ends on November 30.

2007 lowest September activity on record since 1977

2006 and 2007 lowest October activity on record since 1976 and 1977

There are currently two worldwide tropical cyclones: Tropical Storm Noel and Unnamed Arabian Sea TS...

The North Atlantic hurricane season is currently nearly 30% below normal in terms of a well-known activity metric called ACE. While the number of named storms is above normal, their integrated intensity has not matched the hyper-active expectations of many seasonal forecasters (e.g. NOAA 140-200% above median). The Eastern Pacific off the western coast of Mexico is also experiencing record inactivity. NOAA Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook Update

Note: on average to date (1970-2006), the Eastern Pacific season is 97% completed, Western Pacific 82%, North Atlantic 93% and overall Northern Hemisphere 87%. .

Ok, here are a few little questions for you:  If this had been a rip-roaring hurricane season, do you think you'd be reading about it in the media?  Do you think there would be expert after expert assuring you that we are experiencing the consequences of global warming and that we had better listen to the doom and gloom squad? 

Do you think there would be more media people singing songs of praise about Al Gore?  Oh, wait, forget that one.  There's no one left in media who hasn't already beatified Gore and his predictions, except for a few conservative talk show hosts.  And everyone knows they don't count.

Here's a little dose of reality you might want to consider.  The predictions about hurricanes were wrong.  Not a little wrong, but immensely, spectacularly wrong.   And media are ignoring it as if it were not newsworthy at all.

Then they squeal like stuck pigs if you say they are biased.  Go figger.

Tell me, how many of the same geniuses who predicted the phantom hurricane epidemic are also among the ones assuring you with cosmic certainty that global warming is going to fry us all unless we dramatically alter our behavior (unless, of course you can afford carbon credits, in which case fell free to gluttonize energy resources to your heart's content).

Think about it.

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