Monday, 12 May 2008


Ken Berwitz

Remember cindy sheehan?  She was the lefist lunatic who exploited her son's death to become a celebrated Bush-hating icon --- until she decided to run against Nancy Pelosi for Ms. Pelosi's congressional seat, at which time the left dumped her like a load of 3 week old tomatoes.  cindy sheehan is a genuine, first-rate nutcake.

Well, on the right we have her counterpart, ron paul.  paul is has political views that rival sheehan's for lunacy.  Among them, he voted against reauthorizing the voting rights act and voted against a resolution supporting Israel against the terrorist group hezbollah.  He is avidly supported by a White supremacists and nazis.  ron paul is a genuine, first-rate nutcake.

When paul ran for the Presidency, he generated something of a loyal following within the Republican party, though nothing remotely near what it would take to be competitive in the primaries.  He lost, then lost by more and more as the primaries went on.  John McCain is the presumptive Republican candidate.

paul has no intention of supporting Mr. McCain for the presidency.  That's fair enough, it is his call.  But, unfortunately for his party, paul does have the intention of putting the Republican convention into as much chaos as possible, presumably to inflict damage on Mr. McCain's chances in November.  That is another story. 

I can't imagine Republicans as a party allowing paul and his rule-or-ruin pals to accomplish this.  But, then again, who knows?  Read the following excerpts from the Los Angeles Times and see what you think (read the entire article by clicking here):

Virtually all the nation's political attention in recent weeks has focused on the compelling state-by-state presidential nomination struggle between two Democrats and the potential for party-splitting strife over there.

But in the meantime, quietly, largely under the radar of most people, the forces of Rep. Ron Paul have been organizing across the country to stage an embarrassing public revolt against Sen. John McCain when Republicans gather for their national convention in St. Paul at the beginning of September.

Paul's presidential candidacy has been correctly dismissed all along in terms of winning the nomination. He was even excluded as irrelevant by Fox News from a nationally-televised GOP debate in New Hampshire.

But what's been largely overlooked is Paul's candidacy as a reflection of a powerful lingering dissatisfaction with the Arizona senator among the party's most conservative conservatives. As anticipated a month ago in The Ticket, that situation could be exacerbated by today's expected announcement from former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia for the Libertarian Party's presidential nod, a slot held by Paul in 1988.

According to a recent Boston Globe tally, Paul has a grand total of 19 Republican delegates to Romney's 260, Huckabee's 286 and McCain's 1,413.

The last three months Paul's forces, who donated $34.5 million to his White House effort and upwards of one million total votes, have, as The Ticket has noted, been fighting a series of guerrilla battles with party establishment officials at county and state conventions from Washington and Missouri to Maine and Mississippi. Their goal: to take control of local committees, boost their delegate totals and influence platform debates.

Paul, for instance, favors a drastically reduced federal government, abolishing the Federal Reserve, ending the Iraq war immediately and withdrawing U.S. troops from abroad.

They hope to demonstrate their disagreements with McCain vocally at the convention through platform fights and an attempt to get Paul a prominent speaking slot. Paul, who's running unopposed in his home Texas district for an 11th House term, still has some $5 million in war funds and has instructed his followers that their struggle is not about a single election, but a longterm revolution for control of the Republican Party.

McCain, for his part, really can't do much more about ron paul.  He's won the nomination and voters have given paul virtually no delegate support.  That's about all you can expect.

Now it is up to the party itelf to prevent this clever, calculating, festering little boil from doing the damage he intends to do. 

It will be more than just anecdotally interesting to see if they can figure out how.  It may well affect John McCain's chances in the general election.

Robin McCarthy You surely cannot be that stupid. I see the Bushtard virus is quite contagious. Does it hurt to be such a tool? (05/13/08)


Ken Berwitz

As the bullets fly in Beirut, Lebanon is learning a lesson that some people in the United States seem incapable of learning, no matter how clear it is. 

To understand why I say this, please read the excerpts I've supplied from today's Associated Press article (which you can read in its entirety by clicking here).  The bold print is mine:

Heavy fighting breaks out in north Lebanon

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press WriterMon May 12, 11:04 AM ET

Heavy fighting broke out Monday between government supporters and opponents in Lebanon's second-largest city, where the two sides battled with rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and mortars, security officials and residents said.

Residents said they heard strong explosions reverberating through Tripoli. At least six people were wounded, security officials said.

The fighting had stopped Sunday morning after Lebanese troops deployed between the two sides, then flared again Monday after soldiers pulled back when the situation calmed.

The fresh clashes erupted when pro-government forces thought opponents gathering for a funeral in a nearby neighborhood were preparing a new attack, the security officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

The fighting in the town of Chouweifat calmed late Sunday after Druse leader Walid Jumblatt called on his Druse opponents, who are allied with Hezbollah, to mediate a cease-fire and hand over the region to Lebanese troops.

Iran's state-run Press TV reported on its Web site that 17 opposition fighters were killed in the mountain clashes. It did not elaborate, and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia refused to comment.

After the civil war ended in 1990, all of Lebanon's various militias surrendered their weapons and transformed into political parties, keeping only small arms. Only Hezbollah was allowed to keep its arms because it was considered a resistance movement battling Israel.

But over the years, the groups have accumulated more weapons and reasserted control in different areas.

Major roads in Beirut, including the main airport highway, were still blocked Monday with huge sand barriers. The road closures are part of what the Hezbollah-led opposition has called a "civil disobedience" campaign, which it has vowed to continue until the government reconsiders the two decisions that sparked the violence.

The Hezbollah-led opposition quit the Cabinet 18 months ago, demanding larger representation that would give them veto power over government decisions. The deadlock has kept parliament from electing a new president since November.

Army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman is the consensus candidate for president and the army's success in calming Beirut over the weekend could enhance his chances of being elected.

But Hezbollah's show of force in Beirut served a blow to Washington. The U.S. has long considered Hezbollah a terrorist group and condemned its ties to Syria and Iran. The Bush administration has been a strong supporter of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's government and its army for the last three years.

Ok, let's see what we have here:

A civil war raged in Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon (a real one, not the media's wish-list civil war that never materialized in Iraq).

The Lebanese army's presence put a stop to the war -- until it pulled back.  And when that happened the civil war resumed.  This is a blueprint for what happens when an army leaves before peace has a realistic chance to take hold.  It is a clear object lesson for those of us who want US troops to just pick up an leave Iraq (I hope some of the folks who support that idea have taken notice).

Hezbollah is backed by Iran.  This is another lesson for the people who are outraged that we might consider doing something about ahmadinejad and his increasingly violent attempts to create war wherever he can.  If he does this before he has nuclear weapons, what do you think he'll do when he does have them?

-The US "considers" Hezbollah a terrorist group?  As if there is an issue here?  Incredible.  Hezbollah's sole purpose for existing is to violently end Israel by any means it can utilize and kill as many Jews as possible, civilians no less than military.  What the hell does the Associated Press think the US should call them?  A social club?

Pete Seeger, the pacifist singer/songwriter who was 89 just last week, probably wouldn't agree with me on this.  But his lament from "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" seems to be especially germane here:  "Oh when will they ever learn?  When will they ever learn?


Ken Berwitz

Now that the United States Supreme Court has ruled it is ok for states to require that prospective voters prove that they are who they say they are, more states are moving towards demanding they do just that. 

Oh my God!  The humanity!

The New York Times (among other similarly disposed media) is horrified.  That is why it ran a lead editorial denouncing the Supreme Court's decision and that is why voter identification is front page news for the paper today.

Here are excerpts from the article, which discusses Missouri's efforts to require proof.  You can read the entire article by clicking here:

May 12, 2008

Voter ID Battle Shifts to Proof of Citizenship

The battle over voting rights will expand this week as lawmakers in Missouri are expected to support a proposed constitutional amendment to enable election officials to require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote.

The measure would allow far more rigorous demands than the voter ID requirement recently upheld by the Supreme Court, in which voters had to prove their identity with a government-issued card.

Sponsors of the amendment which requires the approval of voters to go into effect, possibly in an August referendum say it is part of an effort to prevent illegal immigrants from affecting the political process. Critics say the measure could lead to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of legal residents who would find it difficult to prove their citizenship.

Voting experts say the Missouri amendment represents the next logical step for those who have supported stronger voter ID requirements and the next battleground in how elections are conducted. Similar measures requiring proof of citizenship are being considered in at least 19 state legislatures. Bills in Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma and South Carolina have strong support. But only in Missouri does the requirement have a chance of taking effect before the presidential election.

In Arizona, the only state that requires proof of citizenship to register to vote, more than 38,000 voter registration applications have been thrown out since the state adopted its measure in 2004. That number was included in election data obtained through a lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates and provided to The New York Times. More than 70 percent of those registrations came from people who stated under oath that they were born in the United States, the data showed.

Already, 25 states, including Missouri, require some form of identification at the polls. Seven of those states require or can request photo ID. More states may soon decide to require photo ID now that the Supreme Court has upheld the practice. Democrats have already criticized these requirements as implicitly intended to keep lower-income voters from the polls, and are likely to fight even more fiercely now that the requirements are expanding to include immigration status.

In most of the states that require identification, voters can use utility bills, paychecks, drivers licenses or student or military ID cards to prove their identity. In the Democratic primary election last week in Indiana, several nuns were denied ballots because they lacked the required photo IDs.

Measures requiring proof of citizenship raise the bar higher because they offer fewer options for documentation. In most cases, aspiring voters would have to produce an original birth certificate, naturalization papers or a passport. Many residents of Arizona and Missouri already have citizenship information associated with their drivers licenses, and within a few years all states will be required by the federal government to restrict licenses to legal residents.

Critics say that when this level of documentation is applied to voting, it becomes more difficult for the poor, disabled, elderly and minorities to participate in the political process.

Can you imagine?!!  Voters have to show they are legal to vote!!  What an outrage!!

Ok, now let's get real.  Why would it be any problem at all for a legal voter to show that he/she is a legal voter?  Why would it be any more or less of a problem for someone who is disabled or someone who is a minority?

Try taking a book from the library by just telling them your name as you walk towards the door.   See how fast they stop you.

Try paying for a supermarket order with a personal check by just assuring them you're you.  See how fast they demand ID.

If ID is second-naturedly required for things as simple as getting a book out of the library or buying groceries or 100 other everyday activities, why is it a hardship at the voting booth?

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  The only people who have a problem with this are people who have no legal right to vote.  And if it is a problem to them, then GOOD.  It SHOULD be.

And the only people demanding that voters not be required to show identification, in my opinion, are people who want illegals to vote.


Ken Berwitz

It seems like an eternity ago that Hillary Clinton was the near-certain Democratic nominee for President who was also near-certain to be our next President.  Dick Morris put her chances at 80%.  Few disputed him.

So what happened? 

Charles Krauthammer, the superb Washington Post columnist, has written an analysis of how Hillary Clinton snatched defeat from jaws of victory.  It is so good that I don't want to excerpt it at all.  Here is Mr. Krauthammer's complete column, from the Washington Post:

Too much, too late, Hillary

WASHINGTON By the time Hillary Clinton figured out how to beat Barack Obama, it was too late. When she began the race in 2007 thinking she was in for a coronation, she claimed the center in order to position herself for the real fight, the general election. She simply assumed the party activists and loony left would fall in behind her.

However, as Obama began to rise, powered by the party's Net-roots activists, she scurried left, particularly with her progressively more explicit renunciation of the Iraq war. It was a fool's errand. She would never be able to erase the stain of her original war vote and she remained unwilling to do an abject John Edwards self-flagellating recantation. It took her weeks even to approximate the apology the left was looking for, and by then it was far too late. The party's activist wing was by then unbreak-ably betrothed to Obama.

But going left proved disastrous for Clinton. It abolished all significant policy differences between her and Obama, the National Journal's 2007 most liberal senator. On health care, for example, her attempts to turn a minor difference in the definition of universality into a major assault on Obama fell flat. With no important policy differences separating them, the contest became one of character and personality. Matched against this elegant, intellectually nimble, hugely talented newcomer, she had no chance of winning that contest.

She tried everything. Her charges that he was a man of nothing but words came off as a petulant, envious attack on eloquence. The power to inspire may not be sufficient to qualify for the presidency, but it is hardly a liability.

She tried a silly plagiarism charge, then settled for the experience card. In a change election, this was not a brilliant strategy. It forced her to dwell on the 1990s, playing candidate of the past to Obama's candidate of the future. Her studied attempts to embellish her experience led her into a thicket of confabulated Bosnian sniper fire.

It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter that she figured out the seam in Obama's defense. In fact, Obama handed her the playbook with Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Michelle Obama's comments about never having been proud of America and Obama's own guns-and-God condescension toward small-town whites.

The line of attack is clear: not that Obama is himself radical or unpatriotic, just that, as a man of the academic left, he is so out of touch with everyday America that he could move so easily and untroubled in such extreme company and among such alien and elitist sentiments.

Clinton finally understood the way to run against Obama: back to the center not ideologically but culturally, not on policy but on attitude. She changed none of her positions on Iraq or Iran or health care or taxes. Instead, she transformed herself into working-class Sally-get-her-gun, off duck hunting with dad.

The gas-tax holiday was never an economic or policy issue. It was meant to position her culturally. It heightened her identification with her white, working-class constituency. Obama played his part by citing economists in opposing it. That completed her narrative: He had the pointy-headed professors on his side; she had the single moms seeking relief at the pump.

It was an overreach. It not only deflected attention away from the amazing Rev. Wright at the height of his spectacular return. It also never played as the elitist-versus-working-folk issue she had hoped, because it isn't just economists who know the gas-tax holiday is nothing but a cheap gimmick. Ordinary folks do too. And the gas-tax idea had the unfortunate side effect of reinforcing Hillary's main character liability vis-a-vis Obama: cynical Washington pol willing to do or say anything to win votes versus the idealistic straight-shooter refusing to pander even if it costs him.

The lightness in Hillary's step in the days before Indiana and North Carolina reflected the relief of the veteran politician who, after months of treading water, finally finds the right campaign strategy. But it was far too late. And the gas-tax overkill, one final error of modulation, sealed the deal for Obama.

There's only one remaining chapter in this fascinating spectacle. Negotiating the terms of Hillary's surrender. After which we will have six months of watching her enthusiastically stumping the country for Obama, denying with utter conviction Republican charges that he is the out-of-touch, latte-sipping elitist she warned Democrats against so urgently in the last, late leg of her doomed campaign.

Terrific analysis.  Krauthammer almost completely nails it

The only area I'm shaky on is that Ms. Clinton is going to "enthusiastically" help Mr. Obama out in the general election.  Yes, she'll outwardly support and campaign for him.  But I am certain she will be rooting for him to lose, so that she can run in 2012.  If so, it will obviously inform the quality of her "help".

In any case, there are a number of object lessons to be learned from Hillary's Folly.  Here are two of them: 

-When you run Democratic you can never let someone out-left you during the primaries - not with and the dailykos/crooksandliars/huffingtonpost crowd in charge;

-When you keep reinventing yourself over and over again, even your media suckups are going to have to talk about it.


Ken Berwitz

Let's take a quick trip back a couple of years.  We were deeply involved in a war in Iraq at that time.  And for a period of time the armed forces were not meeting their recruitment goals.

Media attention to this shortfall was intense.  Every day we were treated to articles, analyses, panel discussions on the cable news shows, etc. about how dire the situation was, how the war in Iraq was causing it and - to some - how clearly it meant President Bush would be reinstating the draft.

Ok, now let's go to the present. 

Here is a tiny little piece from the Associated Press (usually I excerpt AP articles but this is one is so short that it would be impractical to do so).  Please read it and then we'll chat a bit about what it says:

Marine Corps meets 142 percent of recruiting goal

5/12/2008, 12:52 p.m. PDT
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) The Marine Corps far surpassed its recruiting goal last month and could eventually be more than a year ahead of schedule in its plan to grow the force to 202,000 members.

All military services met or exceeded their monthly recruiting goals in April, with the Marine Corps signing 142 percent of the number it was looking for, the Pentagon said.

The Army signed 101 percent of its goal, recruiting 5,681 against a goal of 5,650. The Navy and Air Force met their goals 2,905 sailors and 2,435 Airmen.

The Marine Corps enlisted 2,233 recruits against a goal of 1,577.

"The Marine Corps, if they continue to achieve the kind of success they have had, could meet their growth figures more than a year early," Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters. That would mean by around the end of 2009.

Stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon last year recommended that the Army be increased by about 65,000 soldiers to a total of 547,000, and the Marines be increased by 27,000 to 202,000.

Recruiting is easier in a slow economy, which limits other job possibilities that are available. But officials also noted that the Army and Marines have added recruiters as well as bonuses and other special benefits to attract more recruits in the midst of the unpopular war in Iraq..

So what happened?  Did the war end without you or me noticing?  Nope.  Not only did it not end, but we implemented a troop surge. And the armed forces are having no problem at all in meeting and exceeding their recruitment goals.

Think back once more to when recruiting goals were not being met and the predominant reason was the war in Iraq.  How many articles did you read and how many TV news reports did you see that told you it was because of full employment?  How many did you see or read that blamed it on inadequate compensation packages? 

What you read and saw was that recruitment was down because of the war in Iraq. 

But now that recruitment goals are being met without a problem (and have been for some time, by the way)?  Hey, what does the war in Iraq have to do with anything? 

A classic media "180".

You might want to remember this the next time you get a doomsday-scenario analysis from one of these self-impressed talking heads. 

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


Ken Berwitz

Venezuela's head of state is hugo chavez (or Yugo chavez as I call him, because of the similarity in performance between him and the car).  He may or may not have legitimately won the presidency, but either way he's in charge.

As head of state, chavez has shown himself to be a pathetic buffoon, with a nasty streak to boot.  An international embarrassment.  He has insulted President Bush, insulted President Zapatero of Spain as well as his predecessor, Aznar (which caused King Juan Carlos to, famously, tell him to "shut up: at an international forum) and a succession of other heads of state who run rings around him capability-wise.  And now he is at it again.

Read about Venezuela's latest embarrassment at the hands of chavez below, courtesy of the German magazine Der Spiegel (

Chavez Says Merkel a Political Descendant of Hitler

The German government has shrugged off a verbal attack on Chancellor Angela Merkel by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez who called her a political descendant of Adolf Hitler and stopped just short of telling her to go to hell. The two leaders might meet at an upcoming summit in Peru.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has joined a long list of government leaders to receive a verbal savaging from Venezuela's outspoken President Hugo Chavez, but she appears to be intent on ignoring the abuse.

Chavez, speaking on Sunday in his weekly TV and radio program, said of Merkel: "She is from the German right, the same that supported Hitler, that supported fascism, that's the Chancellor of Germany today."

"Ms. Chancellor, you can go to ..." said Chavez, before pausing. Then he added: "Because you are a lady, I won't say any more."

German deputy government spokesman Thomas Steg responded on Monday by saying that Merkel was looking forward to the upcoming summit of heads of state from Europe and Latin America in Peru on Friday. Regarding Chavez's comments, Steg said Merkel had "made her position clear" last week.

It was that position, voiced in an interview with the German news agency DPA, that appears to have provoked Chavez's outburst.

Merkel had told DPA: "President Chavez does not speak for Latin America. Every country has its own voice with which it pursues its own interests." She had also noted that Venezuelan voters had rejected (more...) his push for wider powers in a referendum last December.

Chavez said he could confront Merkel about the statements if he attends the summit. Merkel will set off on Tuesday on her first trip to Latin America.

"Maybe I'll say something to her and she'll get mad and say 'why don't you shut up?'" he said, referencing Spanish King Juan Carlos' 2007 admonition of Chavez that touched off a bilateral dispute with Spain.

Chavez on Sunday also called Colombian President Alvaro Uribe a "liar" who "shouldn't even run a corner store."

Chavez once called United States President George W. Bush "the devil" at the United Nations General Assembly. He has also railed against other leaders including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Mexican President Vicente Fox.

What a jerk.  What a joke.  What a crude, embarrassing fool.

Maybe if chavez ever allows a legitimate election (i.e. an election he could lose) he'll get a job more suitable to his talents.  Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are always looking for new apprentice clowns.


Ken Berwitz

You've seen this commentary from me already.  Numbers of times.  But Investors Business Daily said it so well in today's editorial that I thought I would like you to see it again.  My contribution is bold-printing the last several paragraphs:

Who Is Really Responsible For The High Prices You Pay For Gasoline?

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 4:20 PM PT

For the last 28 years, Democrats in Congress and a few Republicans have again and again opposed our drilling for oil in Alaska's ANWR area when we knew it contained at least 10 billion barrels of oil we could be using now.

For the past 31 years, Congress repeatedly prevented us from building any new oil refineries that we now badly need.

More recently, congressional Democrats defeated and discouraged any bill that would let us drill in the deep sea 100 miles out. However, it's somehow OK for China to drill there.

As a further indictment of our Congress, since the 1980s it has continually stopped all building of nuclear power plants while France, Germany and, yes, Japan, plus 12 other major nations, did build plants and now get 20% to 80% of their energy from their wise and safe nuclear plant investments.

From 1990 to 2000, U.S. crude oil demand rapidly accelerated by 7.41 quadrillion BTUs, according to Department of Energy data. And our rate of foreign oil dependency dramatically increased while our domestic oil production steadily declined.

Under the eight Clinton years alone, U.S. oil production declined 1,349,000 barrels per day, or 19%, while our foreign imports increased 3,574,000 barrels per day, or 45%.

During this time, President Clinton vetoed ANWR drilling bills that would have clearly made Alaska our No. 1 state in the production of our own vitally needed oil supply, not only for all Americans but also for national defense emergencies.

So were Democrats and members of Congress together merely short-sighted, with only a few having any real business experience?

Or were they just ignorant about economics the fact that the law of supply and demand determines the price of all commodities such as oil, steel, copper and lumber?

Or were they simply and utterly irresponsible and incompetent in their actions that led us to become dangerously dependent on increasing oil imports from foreign countries?

We think it was "all of the above."

The unintended consequence of the Congress members' poor judgment and meddling micromanagement of U.S. energy policy is that they actually hurt most the very people they always profess to be able to help the average American consumer, lower-income workers and those in the inner city who can't afford an extra $100 a month to drive to and from their jobs.

Democrats kowtowed to the wishes of their environmental supporters over the basic needs of 300 million American citizens.

It is a national disgrace that all they now know how to do is relentlessly criticize, complain and condemn. They always attempt to blame, investigate and scapegoat someone else, in this case U.S. oil companies, when Congress is the true villain of ineptness for constantly blocking and obstructing every effort for us to become more productive and less dependent on foreign oil.

Do those now in Congress really think Middle America's voters are so gullible that they will believe that its latest best and brightest answer to increasing our supply of oil and gas is to slap a 25% windfall penalty tax on oil companies and remove all other incentives for oil companies to drill and explore for oil?

The right time to release oil from, or stop adding to, our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not now. That will do nothing to increase our ongoing oil supply needs and will have limited affect on oil prices while increasing our national security risks.

Only after we first announce to the world a bold new change in our policy by proclaiming that we intend to begin drilling in ANWR and selected outer sea areas, plus adopt new conservation programs, will the release of oil from our reserves have a major impact on breaking the price of oil.

If our congressional leadership can't muster the courage to begin reversing past mistakes now and allow our companies to drill in ANWR and off-limits offshore areas, and build essential refineries and safe nuclear power plants, what will an even-more-discredited Congress do in 2009, 2010 and 2011, when millions of new city dwellers in China and India will be driving the cars their countries are now producing, thereby materially increasing their already huge demand for oil and gas?

It's wake-up time for America. Maybe we should investigate the blame-throwing investigators in Congress.

If the American public re-elects people who perpetuate this idiocy, then we deserve what we get. 

I hope that, this time, we'll finally wise up.  I can't say I'm optimistic.

free I have to agree with that Ken. I was saying before the 2006 election, you want to send a message to congress, vote out every incumbent. (05/12/08)

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