On The Path To Plutocracy

Everything … literally everything … in the United States is a business.  Healthcare is a business.  Prescription drugs are a business.  Education is a business.  These things are all venues of profit for the already-wealthy, carefully guarded by members of Congress who are beholden to those with the money. This, my friends, is capitalism run amok.  Today’s Congress is afraid to take a single step forward for the people without consulting with the owners of the fossil fuel, pharmaceutical, technology industries and others.  Environmental regulations?  Not if they’re going to cut into the profits of corporate America!  Affordable or universal healthcare?  You’re kidding, right?  Affordable insulin and other life-saving medications?  Not a chance.  Free college?  Who do you think you are?

This is, in part, the result of the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission (FEC) back in 2010 that gave carte blanche to corporations to spend obscene amounts of money to literally buy a politician’s vote on issues important to them. It is also, in part, due to the fact that so many of our legislators are themselves among the millionaires who have various interests that are better served by laws that favour the wealthy.

Plutocracy is a government controlled exclusively by the wealthy, either directly or indirectly. A plutocracy allows, either openly or by circumstance, only the wealthy to rule. This can then result in policies exclusively designed to assist the wealthy, which is reflected in its name—the Greek words “ploutos” and “kratos” translate to wealthy and power or ruling, respectively, in English.

Plutocracy doesn’t have to be a purposeful, overt format for government. Instead, it can be created through the allowance of access to certain programs and educational resources only to the wealthy, thereby making it so that the wealthy hold more sway. The concern of inadvertently creating a plutocracy is that the regulatory focus will be narrow and concentrated on the goals of the wealthy, creating even more income and asset-based inequality.

Plutocracy more often arises informally and is implicitly embodied in constitutional, legal, or regulatory measures that create barriers to participation in politics and political life that can be met only through the possession or expenditure of significant wealth.- https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/plutocracy.asp

Why do you think the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 has not been increased since 2009?  Inflation has increased on average by 2.26% per year since 2009, for a total of 33.74% by 2022.  The purchasing power of that $7.25 today is approximately $5.35, and still Congress refuses to pass legislation to raise it.  Worse yet, the federal minimum wage for restaurant servers and other ‘tipped’ employees is $2.13, the assumption being that they will earn enough in tips to make up the $5.12 difference.  Can you imagine covering your monthly bills on just $7.25 per hour, or less than $1,000 per month after taxes?  Heck, that wouldn’t even pay our rent, let alone utilities, car payment, and food!

Guns … Nobody in their right mind actually thinks it’s a good thing that we have more guns than people in the U.S.  But … the gun manufacturers and their lobby, the NRA, put lots of money into the pockets of our members of Congress to ensure that there will be few, if any, restrictions on gun ownership.

Healthcare … take a look at this map of the countries (in blue) that currently provide universal health care to ALL residents …

Why isn’t the United States one of the ones that cares about the health and well-being of its citizens?  Because of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries who would stand to lose some bit of their profits.  They donate to politicians in exchange for the politicians striking down any ideas of establishing a universal healthcare system.

And yet, while prices rise, people struggle to buy food, pay their rent & utilities, and often go without medical care, corporate profits are zooming!

The wealth disparity today is greater than ever before … I think you can see why. Far too many members of Congress have pledged to their corporate donors that they will protect them against such things as an increase in federal minimum wages, universal healthcare, strict gun regulations, and even environmental regulations.  In 2018, the fossil fuel industry spent $84 million on congressional campaigns to help anti-environmentalists win seats.  Their profits today matter more than the lives of our grandchildren tomorrow.

So, what do We the People do?  Well, first and foremost we VOTE!  Research the candidates, their own wealth and who their donors are, then vote those who are beholden to the fossil fuel, agriculture, insurance, gun manufacturers and other industries OUT of office!  We have literally become a plutocracy, a government largely controlled by the wealthiest 1% of the nation.  But we DO still have the right to vote, even though more and more states are trying their level best to restrict our votes, especially those of the poor and minorities.  You’ve heard the term, “Use it or lose it”?  That applies here … if we shrug our shoulders and say, “Meh, what’s one vote gonna do?”, then we may not get a chance next time around.

Yes, our government is now, by definition, a plutocracy, but we can turn that around … maybe.  If we vote wisely in 2024, if we let our elected officials know loud and clear that we are sick of being trampled by the causes of the wealthy, then maybe we can make a difference.  If we don’t try, we’ll never know if we could have changed the course of the future.

James Ferguson Web

THERE WAS APARTHEID, AND THERE IS STILL APARTHEID — IF WE CHOOSE TO LOOK AT THE TRUTH

I’ve been friends with rawgod for many years now, and I have to say that this is by far the BEST post he has ever done! It is a timely post, a humanitarian one … a reminder to us all. The video is particularly interesting and I learned a lot from it about Apartheid in South Africa only a short 50 years ago … and as I watched, I thought, “Is this where the U.S. is headed?” (I recommend using the closed captioning for the video, as the narrator’s accent is sometimes difficult to keep up with, at least for me) Thank you, rg, for this excellent post.

Ideas From Outside the Boxes

On Sept. 12, 1977, Bantu Stephen Biko was murdered by the South African government. They considered him the biggest threat to their apartheid way of life. Little did they know that he had already accomplished his goal of raising the consciousness of the black people of South Africa. It took another 17 years before Apartheid was officially ended, but it would not have happened without the hard work and great insight and organizing ability of Stephen Biko.

I have been singing his praises for more than 40 years now, but few seem to really care. So, when I found the video below, I just had to post it. It is only a summary of his life and work to make South Africa free, and does not present the real struggles he went through daily, but it is something.

So why do I keep coming back to the life and accomplishments…

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Tolerance, Love, Kindness Instead of Hate … PLEASE!

Mass shootings, racist teachers, pushing, shoving and name-calling … so may signs of increasing incivility in the U.S. today.  Where does it all come from and more importantly, how do we stop it?  Where do people get the idea that one race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, or religion is somehow superior?  Humanity sometimes seems to be almost a thing of the past.  Dan Rather and Elliott Kirschner have a few worthy thoughts on the topic …


Combating Hate

Silence is complicity

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

29 November 2022

Antisemitisim. Racism. Homophobia. Misogyny. Bigotry. The demonization of immigrants.

That these forces are ascendant is newsworthy. And it is vital they are considered thus. That these forces exist, however, is not news. Neither is the fact that they are being stoked, winked at, and normalized by the previous president. And neither is how most of the Republican Party leadership is silent, supportive, or insufficiently disapproving.

To say all this is not a political criticism. It is about confronting a grave threat to our nation and the world. Politics should be about a competition for ideas that fall within the realm of civilized discourse. What these people are peddling is not policy, but prejudice.

Repeating these sentiments should not diminish the importance of the message. The need for us all to confront this with the frequency that we are is evidence of the salience of the mission. And let’s be clear: It is of extra importance for those not directly targeted to speak the loudest. Silence is complicity. To speak softly is cowardice. 

The latest outrage swirls around an occasion at Mar-a-Lago in which the former president dined with avowed antisemites. But we do a disservice to history and the dangers we face by bundling recriminations under the banners of combatting “MAGA” or “Trumpism.” The former president may have built his political power by tapping into a well of hate, but the reservoir was already there. Others are eager to draw from its waters as well.

Discrimination, often enforced with violence, has been a hallmark of our country since its founding. White supremacy is embedded in our Constitution. And the biases and bigotries of the American electorate have shaped some of our national narrative ever since.

To be sure, there is a powerful counter-narrative. It begins with the noble words of our founding documents, which laid out a vision of equality and justice unimaginable at the time of their writing. Over the centuries, countless activists and dreamers have leaned on the courage of their convictions to wrest the nation toward a path of greater inclusion and enlightenment. Most who signed up for service in this army of conscience are not famous, but we are lucky to live in a world made better by their mettle. They have helped to make the nation better and now keep hopes alive that it can and will be getting better, a lot better, still.

We have undoubtedly made progress, but the undercurrents of hatred have never been fully expunged. It takes very little for them to resurge. Far more energy and commitment are required in combating them than in fomenting them.

We should find hope in the journey our nation has taken before. The bigotry we are now decrying was once largely accepted political discourse, in both parties. This is not ancient history. Many of us were of memory age when antisemitic, homophobic, and racist statements were spoken without a second thought. Our country was a weaker place because of it. Our struggle now is to be vigilant in making sure we do not return to that darkness.

We know we have shared these sentiments in this space before. And we know we will almost assuredly have ample reason to do so again. That is the reality. And that is all the more reason this needs to be said. By all of us. Often.

Just A Few Of The Ol’ Snarky Snippets

Once again, I have no single topic in mind, but a number of things are bouncing about in my head … have you noticed this seems to be happening a lot lately?  Hmmmm … I wonder if I’m trying to cram too much into my head and bits of this and pieces of that just keep getting embedded.


Fuel prices – no, Republicans can’t ‘fix’ the problem

Republicans point to specific targets they know are personal for many voters, such as fuel prices, and say, “Look how much you’re paying for a gallon of gasoline!  Elect Republicans and we’ll fix the problem.”  Well, sorry, folks, but Republicans cannot ‘fix’ the ‘problem’.  Gas prices are not set by the president nor by Congress, as they would have you believe.  To a large extent, fuel prices are driven by us, the consumers.  You’ve all studied the “law of supply and demand” in school, and as long as demand exceeds supply, the oil producers have the upper hand.  Supply is driven by a number of things but is often manipulated by OPEC to ensure that the bottom doesn’t fall out of the market, that the oil companies will continue to rake in profits.  Anyone, including Kevin McCarthy, who tells you otherwise is lying to you.  If you really want to do your part to help bring down oil prices, drive less, turn your thermostat down and don a sweater, skip the vacation this year and have a ‘staycation’, turn some lights out (candlelight is more romantic anyway, though admittedly it makes it hard to read).  Lower your demand, and the market will respond.  Yes, this is a simplification and there are other factors as well, but We the People don’t have much control over the war in Ukraine, the impending rail strike, or other global issues affecting fuel supplies, while we do have a degree of control in how much fuel we use.  Once again, we have met the enemy and he is us.


Angry at 18???

I’m thinking back to when I was 18 years old … I didn’t hate anybody.  I loved hanging out with friends when I wasn’t either studying or working, was saving up for a newer car (at the time, circa 1969, I drove a ’56 Chevrolet Bel Air that I had paid $50 for), had a boyfriend, learned to hot wire a car and occasionally ‘borrowed’ my dad’s car when my parents were out of town, but I didn’t have an abundance of raw anger, didn’t hate anyone.

On May 14th, an 18-year-old man (boy?) bought a gun, traveled 200 miles from his home in Conklin, New York, to Buffalo, entered a supermarket and killed 10 people in cold blood simply because they were Black.  18 years old!!!  WHY does a kid that age hate Black people?  Both of his parents are civil engineers, and he was studying engineering science, hoping to follow in their footsteps.  This wasn’t some spur-of-the-moment thing … he had traveled to Buffalo in March and visited the store, and again the day before he went on his killing spree.  He graduated from high school in June 2021, and when a teacher asked him about his plans for the future, he replied, “I want to murder and commit suicide.”  Was that not a red flag???  Why wasn’t it reported and followed up on?

Yesterday, the gunman pleaded guilty to 15 charges, including 10 charges of murder and one charge of domestic terrorism.  While I am thankful that he will likely never walk free again to murder even more, I think this entire situation shows a pathetic negligence to recognize and identify a serious mental health issue.  It also furthers my position that guns are too damned easy to obtain in this country!  Next thing you know, they’ll be packaging derringers (very small, but lethal guns) as the prize in packages of Cracker Jacks!


Some honest Republicans?  Be still my heart …

Maricopa Country in Arizona is home to over half the population of the entire state!  So, what happens there matters … a lot.  I was encouraged last night to read that the Republican-controlled election board voted unanimously to certify the November 8th election, whereby Democrat Katie Hobbs won the governorship.  Hobbs’ Republican opponent, the conspiracy-theorist, Trump-backed Republican Kari Lake, insists that Republican voters were denied the opportunity to vote, that there was some irregularity with voting machines, and … ho hum … same ol’ same ol’ … we’ve heard it before and no doubt we’ll hear it again.  Other counties have put their certification on hold based on Lake’s claims, but I find it very encouraging that the largest county by far has certified the election.


And just a handful of ‘toons to add to the fun!

Rainy Day Thoughts

Just a few thoughts on this rainy Sunday afternoon …


No longer should we be shocked or even surprised by man’s inhumanity to man, for we have seen enough instances of it to know it exists.  Humans have great capacity for love, but for many there are too many conditions placed on that love, and their capacity for cruelty and hatred is even greater than their capacity for love.


You may not have heard about the teacher in Pflugerville, Texas (yes, there really is a town by that name, but don’t ask me to pronounce it!) who was fired a couple of weeks ago.  Why?  Because of the conversation he had with his class of 6th grade children …

Teacher: “Deep down in my heart, I’m ethnocentric, which means I think my race is the superior one.”

Student: “So White is better than all?”

Teacher: “Let me finish. I think everybody thinks that. They’re just not honest about it.”

Student: “You said you are a racist, right?”

Teacher: “I did, yeah, I’m trying to be honest.”

When a student asked him to repeat what he had just said, he lashed out …

Teacher: “I said, ‘I am a racist.’ That’s what I said. Do you know what that means?”

My jaw dropped when I read that! Those kids were 12-13 years old! This man was never fit to be a teacher, to be alone with a group of children at all!!!  Does this man believe that being a racist is something to be proud of?  Somebody, presumably one of the students, recorded the incident and when parents found out, naturally they were outraged and reported the conversation to the school board, who promptly fired the unnamed teacher the following Monday. How many more teachers are of the same belief, and while perhaps are not as blatant about it, subtly allow their racism to bleed into their interactions with their classes?


On Wednesday, I was at my local Kroger grocery store picking up a few last-minute things for Thanksgiving dinner.  As I was trying to reach something on a high shelf, a man literally pushed me aside to get by me.  Surprisingly, I remained cool, calm and collected, saying only loudly enough for him to hear me, “Oh, that’s okay … just shove me aside, for I’m sure that you are so much more important than I am.”  He glanced back at me and nodded.  Yes, he nodded!  No, I didn’t throw anything at him, but merely rolled my eyes and muttered an obscenity under my breath.


We have so many different ‘hate groups’ in this country that I’ve lost count of them all, media figures and even church pastors are preaching hate and inciting violence.  Pair that with the gun culture that has suddenly run amok and … is it any wonder that we must look over our shoulders in any public venue, and cross our fingers when we send our children to school in hopes that they will return in one piece rather than in a body bag?

There is a saying that “Politics makes strange bedfellows,” but the opposite is also true … it makes enemies of people who would ordinarily be friends, drives a wedge between people whose goals, hopes and dreams are really the same, but they are blinded by the loud voices telling them that the paths to their dreams are different.  Would that we humans were smart enough to realize that we are being manipulated, not for our own good, but for the wealth and power of the already wealthy and powerful.  Would that we realized that we are all – regardless of skin colour, gender identity, religion, or ethnidity – in this world together and it is only when we pull together that we can make progress toward making the world a better place.

“United we stand.  Divided we fall.” – Winston Churchill

Robin Hood Reversal

Hypocrisy abounds in the United States.  Take, for one example, those who call themselves ‘pro-life’.  They will take away women’s rights in order to ensure that a fetus, that may or may not turn into an actual human life, is protected, sometimes at the cost of the woman’s life, yet they will go out and shoot innocent animals, not for food, but simply for the ‘pleasure’ of killing, of taking a life.  Oh … you say it’s only human life they are ‘pro’?  Well, let’s delve a little deeper there.

Many of the very same ones who call themselves ‘pro-life’ support the death penalty, whereby at some point we could take the life of a perfectly innocent human who will later be exonerated … but he cannot be freed, for he is dead.  They rail against tax dollars being used in support of single mothers struggling to buy food to feed those babies that the ‘pro-lifers’ insisted they have.  They also stand firm for unlimited guns in the hands of any who want them, claiming it is a “god-given” right.  Guns, I might remind you, have a singular purpose:  to kill, to take those lives that these people claim to be protecting.  ‘Pro-life’ is really nothing more than anti-women.  Call a spade a bloody shovel, as my friend Mary says.

Perhaps one of the greatest hypocrisies that abound in the U.S. today is the attitude of some toward immigrants.  I would bet money that every single person who wants to ‘build a wall’ or ‘shut down the border’ is the child of immigrant ancestry.  Their grandparents or great-great-great grandparents – someone from their family tree came to this country from another seeking freedoms or opportunities they were deprived of in their ancestral land.  And yet, when people are knocking on the door at our southern border or seeking admission from a Middle Eastern nation, the people of this nation would turn them away.  Too bad the Indigenous People of North America didn’t have the wherewithal to turn away those who came to our shores in the 16th and 17th centuries and beyond!

As a child, I was told that ‘America’ is the land of opportunity, the ‘Land of milk and honey’, the land where you can grow up to be anything you want.  And that’s true for the mostly-white, mostly-male millionaires and billionaires, but for the rest of us … we have an opportunity to try to survive as best we can.  Dodge the bullets, folks, keep your head down and work your ass off and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to afford to pay your rent and buy groceries next week.

And speaking of those wealthy people … here’s a statistic that will blow your mind.  19,000 – The number of Americans who made at least $1 million in 2020 who also collected unemployment assistance that year, according to new IRS data. That included 4,500 people who earned between $5 million and $10 million and 229 people with eight-figure incomes or more.  Think on that one for just a minute … a person whose total salary in 2020, the year of the pandemic when people were in serious danger of going hungry or losing their homes, was over a million dollars, got an additional $13,900 from our taxpayer dollars!!!  Not just one person but 19,000 millionaires got extra money from We the People.  Talk about hypocrisy!!!  That anyone who had already made $1 million or more that year, or had millions in the bank, would even apply for unemployment benefits is the lowest of low.

Certain members of Congress are hoping to be able to cut Social Security and Medicare soon … programs that we working people have paid into every day of our working lives … but there is no mention of cutting their own pensions or salaries or perks.  I call it Robin Hood Reversal … rob from the poor to give to the rich.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 11/26

My mind seems not to have yet recovered from the Thanksgiving holiday and I can’t even seem to figure out what day of the week it is, much less put fingers to keyboard to write a reasonably coherent post.  But that’s okay — fortunately the cartoonists have my back and are as sharp as ever!  Our friend TokyoSand is also right on top of things and has searched the world over via the internet to find the best of the best.  Needless to say, Elon Musk heads the list of things that go ‘bump’ in the night, but there are plenty of others, as well.  So, without further ado, heeeeeeeeere’s TokyoSand …


As a heavy Twitter user for the past 6+ years, forgive me for all the cartoons about Twitter. It has been an important place to share news and opinions, and it’s hard to watch it overrun with trolls, especially its CEO. But there was other political news, which you’ll find covered below.…

Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons!

My Thoughts On Thanksgiving This Year

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.  The origins of this day mean nothing to me, for they are based on lies, on the whitewashing of the factual history of the nation.  However, I still treasure the day for other reasons.  It is a time to stop for a minute, to remember the things that most of us have to be thankful for, starting with family & friends.  But this year feels different to me.  I am sad.  I feel guilty that I do have so much to be thankful for.  I have my family, small though it is, and wonderful friends, all of you included.  I have electricity and can keep my house reasonably warm or cool, can keep my food cold in the fridge and then cook it in the oven.  I have hot and cold running water and plenty of it.  I have a car that runs.  We have enough money to pay our bills and still have a bit left over at the end of the month.  So yes, I am thankful, but I still feel guilty when I think of all the people, both here and elsewhere, who have none of those things.

In Ukraine, winter is setting in and many residents have no electricity, no water.  Some have lost their homes to Russian bombs.  Some have lost their spouses, their children and grandchildren. Can you imagine living under those conditions?  And apart from donating a few dollars here and there, there is little to nothing that most of us can do to help.

Even here in the U.S., often referred to as a wealthy nation, more than a half-million people are living on the streets or in homeless shelters.  37.9 million people in this country are living in poverty … that’s 11.6% of the population!  6.6 million people worldwide have died of Covid since March 2020.  Imagine how many grieving friends and family members they have left behind.

Then there is the rise in all forms of bigotry … LGBTQ people being shoved back into the proverbial closet, Black people being murdered simply because of the colour of their skin, women being stripped of their rights, and religious extremism threatening to invade the very foundation of human rights.

So yes, I feel guilty.  I am no better than a homeless person, no better than a person in Ukraine, so why should I be enjoying a veritable feast with my family and good friends, while others suffer so much?  It isn’t a perfect world, but frankly … the world could be a whole lot better if governments worked together to solve problems instead of creating them, if those who can afford to shared their wealth with others less fortunate, and if everyone set aside petty differences to work for the collective good.

That said … it is not my intent to be dreary and depressing.  We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with our dear friends, the al-Dabbagh family.  They came to this country as refugees from Iraq about 10 years ago, and almost immediately we became close friends.  They are warm and loving people and we do so enjoy sharing cultures, food, and much joy with them.  They have a new baby, Naya, this year who is just 3 months old, so I’ll get to spend time spoiling her!  I don’t suggest that we all shouldn’t have a great holiday, but I just wanted to share with you some of my own thoughts, my feelings that despite our troubles, we all have so much to be thankful for.

And on that note, I wish all my friends in the U.S. a very happy holiday with friends & family (and turkey), and to the rest, I just wish you a happy day.  I will be busy cooking for our two families (9 people in total), so I won’t likely have an afternoon post nor be answering comments today, but I will try to get caught up on Friday.  Love ‘n hugs to you all!

And Yet Again …

I have not yet written about the horrific massacre in Colorado that left 5 people dead and 25 injured, not because I had nothing to say, but rather because I have too much to say.  Meanwhile, Dan Rather and Elliott Kirschner have said it for me, and in a much better way than I could have, for mine would have been a rant.  I will, no doubt, have more of my own words on this subject sometime soon, once I can stop 🤬.


Guns and Hatred

Once more

Dan Rather and Elliott Kirschner

22 November 2022

Guns and hatred collide once more.

Peace is broken; lives are shattered.

Again we see the pictures and learn the names of those who have been slaughtered.

“Authorities are trying to determine a motive.” But the broader narrative is already known.

Those who feed the hate, stoke the vitriol, and profit off of our divisions hide behind meaningless expressions of thoughts and prayers. For them, there is no pause for reflection, no sense that we can do better.

Anger, waves of anger, sweep over a deep trench of hopelessness.

We have mourned before, and we surely will again.

A cycle repeats. The words we uttered for the last tragedy could be reprised for this one, and likely the one to come.

In what sane world do we accept a national impotence in the face of unending bloodshed? None.

Why do we demonize people for how they express their love for others? Or for what they look like? Or for how they pray?

Why is celebrating our common humanity not enough?

What do we tell our children? How do we teach them?

Hate is learned, and it is being taught.

If we are honest with our history, we know that hatred has been a constant in our national story. But so too have attempts to rise above it, to make progress toward a more just and equitable nation, to strive for that “more perfect union.”

We celebrate acts of heroism. We find support in our collective grief. But we should never accept this murderous hostility to our diversity. Our national strength is rooted in our differences. We are all at our best when we support each other.

Far too many continue to live in fear because of who they are. This fear is not an accident or unintentional. There are powerful people in this country who base their power on the ability to frighten.

Cultivated terror is a poison that infects our society. Once unleashed, it is impossible to control. It easily explodes in violence, as it did in Colorado Springs. There will be another set of charges to mark, another court case to cover, another verdict to await. But we can already pass a verdict on a society that allows this to continue.

Completely eliminating cultivated hate and violence is not possible, but we can drastically reduce it — if only enough Americans unite to make it happen.

Club Q

Short, sweet, and to the point … words of wisdom from across the pond.

Coalition of the Brave

Six years ago, Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, came under attack by a gun-toting lunatic, who killed 49 people at the LGBT venue. On Saturday, Club Q in Colorado Springs, came under attack from a maniac, and five people are confirmed to have lost their lives, thanks to a combination of the strange attitude towards guns in the US, and prejudice against the LGBT community.

The situation is still evolving, but it seems likely this attack was motivated by homophobia. It was made possible by easy access to deadly weapons, and a culture that worships guns. We hear the usual arguments, namely that guns are necessary to oppose tyranny, but how many lives have been sacrificed in the name of that particular philosophy, versus how many tyrants removed from power in the US? When does the culture of gun love change?

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