American Elephants

A Government Shutdown? Much Ado About Nothing. by The Elephant's Child

The media, always ready to do the bidding of the Obama administration, continues to shriek about a government shutdown — as if a shutdown were unusual. It isn’t. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) even stretched mightily to claim that a shutdown would be “as dangerous as the break-up of the Union before the Civil War.” Mild. Harry Reid has called us “anarchists” and the president’s communications director Dan Pfieffer said Congressional Republicans were “terrorists with bombs strapped to their chests” in an apparent contest to come up with the worst insult.

— There have been 17 funding gaps since 1977. Under federal law, operations and services continue for those essential for “the safety of human life or the protection of property” as well as those programs funded through multiyear or permanent appropriations.

— Crucial government services and benefits continue without interruption.  A 1995 legal opinion said “the federal government will not be truly ‘shut down’… because Congress has itself provided that some activities of Government should continue.”

— Social Security and veterans benefits will continue to be paid. 80 % of Social Security Administration employees kept working in 1995 because they were considered ‘essential’ to making benefit payments.

— National Security, including the conduct of foreign relations, is considered an essential function.

— Food and Drug safety would not be affected.

— Air Traffic Control and other transportation safety operations are considered essential, and TSA agents will continue to search you.

— Federal law enforcement at all levels will continue to operate, FBI, Border Patrol, Bureau of Prisons all stay open and functioning.

— The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department continue to function, and the IRS keeps on collecting money.

— Emergency and Disaster services are essential services in the case of hurricanes or tornadoes.

— Federal employees who are not considered essential would be furloughed. Based on past examples this is a small number compared to the federal workforce.

Not much is shut down. Museums may not be open, Parks may be officially closed, but it really isn’t a big deal, contrary to the horrified shrieks of the Media. It’s just politics as usual.

The Daily Demagogue Report: Obama Says He Doesn’t Have to Offer Anything by The Elephant's Child

Here is Senator Barack Obama explaining his 2006 vote against raising the debt limit.

From Senator Obama’s Floor Speech, March 20, 2006:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Senator Obama was urging Congress not to tolerate an increase that would bring the debt ceiling to $9 trillion. Under President Obama, the debt ceiling has raised to $14.3 trillion. Without counting most of the unfunded liabilities, the national debt is now calculated to be nearing $16.7 trillion, and increasing by about $1.86 billion per day.  But things often look different from the other side of the fence.

Today the president said:

So Americans who’ve lived for years in some cases with the fear that one illness could send them into bankruptcy, Americans who’ve been priced out of the market just because they’ve been sick once, they’ll finally be able to afford coverage — quality coverage — many of them for the first time in their lives.

Some of them may be sick as we speak.  And this is their best opportunity to get some security and some relief.  Tens of thousands of Americans die every single year because they don’t have access to affordable health care.  Despite this, Republicans have said that if we lock these Americans out of affordable health care for one more year — if we sacrifice the health care of millions of Americans — then they’ll fund the government for a couple more months.  Does anybody truly believe that we won’t have this fight again in a couple more months?  Even at Christmas?

So here’s the bottom line:  I’m always willing to work with anyone of either party to make sure the Affordable Care Act works better, to make sure our government works better.  I’m always willing to work with anyone to grow our economy faster, or to create new jobs faster, to get our fiscal house in order for the long run.  I’ve demonstrated this time and time again, oftentimes to the consternation of my own party.

It would be refreshing if the president could speak honestly, without demagoging an issue. I was curious about the president’s constant repetition of the idea that everyone is only minutes away from medical bankruptcy. This is a difficult subject because bankruptcy laws are different in each state.

An essay from The American magazine from the American Enterprise Institute says : “There is no evidence to indicate that a government run healthcare system in the United States will reduce personal bankruptcies.”

Democrats are trying to push the idea that everybody is going bankrupt because of a sudden immense medical bill. They are also assuming that bankruptcy is a very bad thing. Yet our bankruptcy laws are designed to protect people from going off to the poorhouse, as they once did. There’s a big difference between medical expenses being a factor in a bankruptcy and medical expense being the cause.  When someone has to go through bankruptcy because they cannot pay their bills, medical bills might be just one of the bills. Democrats will always stretch to reach for the scariest statistic. A comparative analysis of Canadian and U.S. statistics suggests that bankruptcy statistics are being exaggerated and distorted for political purposes.

An article by Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute, points out President Obama’s claim that the cost of health care causes a bankruptcy every 30 seconds.

But the alleged link between health costs and bankruptcy is about as real as the tooth fairy. The overwhelming body of research shows that medical costs play little or no role in the vast majority of U.S. personal bankruptcies. …

The study also reviewed Warren’s early research on medical bankruptcies and found that medical spending was a factor in no more than 17 percent of U.S. bankruptcies.

A detailed analysis by The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle further discredited the link between bankruptcy and medical expense. She found that Warren’s team classified a filing as a medical bankruptcy whenever unpaid medical bills were resolved through bankruptcy proceedings — even if other debts were far bigger contributors to insolvency.

“Tens of thousands of Americans die every year because they don’t have access to affordable health care.”  Uh huh. “I’m always willing to work with anyone of either party to make sure the Affordable Care Act works better, to make sure our government works better.” Award that man multiple Pinocchios. Did he not just say that he “will not negotiate with the House?”and “I don’t have to offer anything.” Going to have a big conference with the president of the country that is supporting world terrorism though.

The Daily Demagogue: In Full Vitriolic Attack Mode by The Elephant's Child

As for not letting America pay its bills, I have to say, no Congress before this one has ever – ever — in history been irresponsible enough to threaten default, to threaten an economic shutdown, to suggest America not pay its bills, just to try to blackmail a President into giving them some concessions on issues that have nothing to do with a budget.

That was President Obama, last Thursday, out on the campaign trail, insulting Republicans,, as usual, and trying to sell ObamaCare to a public that clearly doesn’t want any part of it. The House of Representatives has the responsibility of managing the government’s  finances. They believe that it is prudent to delay ObamaCare for a year, since it is more obvious each day that Obama’s health insurance plan is not ready for prime time. Democrats have delayed all sorts of parts of it — everything except for ordinary citizens’ forced participation. They just delayed small business participation. The Republicans in the House are attempting to do a big favor for the Obama administration, in giving them more time to fix the plentiful bugs.

Republicans have also proposed eliminating the tax on “medical devices,” a tax everyone agrees was a stupid idea that has already had disastrous consequences. A medical device is everything from a stent, to a crutch, a hospital bed, a wheelchair, or any of the technological breakthroughs like laser-assisted surgery, new prosthetics that respond to nerve stimulus, and CT scans and the like. The companies that produce medical devices have laid off people, moved offshore, or shut their doors. The tax will stifle innovation, which means some new life-saving or life-enhancing devices will never be invented.

And “no Congress before this one has ever—ever— in history been irresponsible enough to threaten default, to threaten an economic shutdown.” The demagogue in full attack mode. Since 1975 we have had 17 government shutdowns, of varying lengths from two days to 32 days, and we have never defaulted on our debts. We have enough income to pay all our debts on time. For a little perspective on the defunding “battle” the Daily Caller has rounded up videos of some great parliamentary fights. And defunding the Affordable Care Act would not be the first law defunded.

Mr. Obama keeps telling his audiences that health care is a “right.” First of all, the government is not offering health care. ObamaCare is a system of government-run health insurance. It is NOT free health care. You have to pay for it, and it costs significantly more than under the previous system, which was far from perfect. As Thomas Sowell keeps pointing out, you can’t expect to add some hundreds of offices, agencies and bureaus on top of the cost of insurance and expect it to be more affordable. So if you have insurance, and are all paid up, and you can find a doctor willing to see you in a world of fewer doctors and longer waits — then you have a right to whatever sort of health care you can pay for. If you think a “right” to health care means someone else will pay so you can have the care you want — that’s not the way it works.

Kathleen Sibelius announced in the Detroit Free Press

Being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies are forbidden by law from discriminating against a consumer or potential consumer just because she happens to be female.

Who knew? These demagogues attack insurance companies, yet clearly have no idea how insurance is supposed to work, nor why there are actuaries and what they do. Most of what was wrong with health insurance was because of government interference in the marketplace in the first place.

Medicine is far more an art than a one-size-fits-all situation. Each person is different. A pill that works for one person may not help another at all. Medicine is on the brink of all sorts of marvelous breakthroughs in learning how to tailor a medicine to a specific person through sequencing their DNA. The newest experimental prosthetics respond to nerve stimulus.We’re getting closes to a tricorder.

Everything about ObamaCare is in direct opposition to the free market, to innovation, to free people. It’s a cut-and-dried attempt at complete government control of you, your health and your person. These apparatchiks have no respect for real people. They believe you are dangerous and need to be controlled. Who knows what you might do? They really are afraid of you. That’s’ why they have the media in full cry  warning that those crazy Republicans want to shut down the government.

The House holds the power of the purse. It is their Constitutional duty to pass responsible spending bills.  It is the Democrats who ignore all constitutional checks and balances.  And the president of the United States states explicitly that he will negotiate with the despots who sponsor world terrorism and mass murder, but not with Republicans. Go figure.

Haying in Umbria by The Elephant's Child
September 28, 2013, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Europe, Freedom, History | Tags: , ,

Here’s how they cut hay in the mountains in Umbria, in Italy. I’ve seen plenty of haying, and various methods of stacking, baling, and storing hay. I don’t know if this is as relatively easy as it looks, but I’m impressed.  In my part of the world, you grow alfalfa on the flat parts and let the hills grow wild and the cows wander.

In many ways this is a reminder of how old Europe is as a well settled place. America grew gradually by waterways. Towns were built here there was a source for transportation: rivers, the confluence of trails, mountain passes, old Indian trails eventually became modern highways. Because land was plentiful, the best level farming land close by a water source was taken up first. Railroads followed the lay of the land and connected the areas that were built up. Europe was more crowded, towns and cities are built in places that in America would remain national parks. Building on a mountain or on an outcropping could protect from invading armies, and in Europe there were always invading armies.

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)

ADDENDUM: If you are so inclined, it’s fun to go to You Tube, and enter haying in the search function. You can see the Amish method, haying with mules, and all sorts of amazing farm machinery.

Other Voices: by The Elephant's Child

“…it’s worth noting … that there is something fundamentally unpatriotic in the yearning to fundamentally transform your country. I love my wife. Inherent to loving her is loving her for who she is. Gentlemen, turn to your wife and say, “Honey, I love you completely. It’s just that I want to fundamentally transform you into someone else.” See how that plays out. If you want to fundamentally transform the object of your affection so that it conforms to your fantasies, that is not love…” —Jonah Goldberg, National Review

Psychologically (as well as rhetorically), the individual mandate is very important to the left.  Obamacare is all about coercion—about forcing people to do things they don’t freely choose to do—and the individual mandate serves as its coercive core.  It’s what allows Obama to grasp onto the thinnest reed of legitimacy when describing Obamacare as offering “universal coverage,” despite the CBO’s estimate that, even after ten years and $1.8 trillion, Obamacare would cover less than 45 percent of the uninsured (at the whopping cost of $72,000 per newly insured person).  That’s a far cry from “universal coverage.”  But one can think of it—and describe it—as “universal,” so long as one is forcing every American, as a matter of federal law, to do the government’s bidding.  Without the individual mandate, Obamacare would cease to be “universal coverage,” even in the sense of being universally coercive, and would simply become “45 percent coverage.”  That would be demoralizing to the left. Jeffrey H. Anderson, Weekly Standard

…the implication from Democrats that once a bill becomes a law, it is as indelible as the Ten Commandments, etched into rock by the hand of God Himself, is precious when we consider the source. The Democrats, after all, mounted a 10-year campaign against the “Bush tax cuts,” and did so despite defeat after defeat on the issue. Those tax cuts joined a long line of laws that the country later substantially revised or repealed entirely. A partial list includes: the Clinton tax increases, portions of the Reagan tax cuts, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, portions of the Kennedy tax cuts, the gold standard, portions of the National Labor Relations Act, Prohibition, the direct election of senators, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, innumerable tariff schedules set during the 19th century, the three-fifths clause, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Missouri Compromise, the Second Bank of the United States, the original rules of the Electoral College, the Articles of Confederation, and, of course, the rule of King George III. Jay Cost, Weekly Standard

… it is widely presumed that the president’s wishes should serve as the baseline for the debate. This makes little sense. Yes, the president can veto anything he doesn’t like. But so can the House. Why is it incumbent upon the House to come up with a platform that the president likes and not vice-versa? After all, the House is at the top of the fiscal hierarchy, followed closely by the Senate, and then, last and very much least, by the president, who, remember, is supposed primarily to concern himself with foreign affairs. Sure, Barack Obama may have won election to head up the executive branch. But, this being a constitutional republic not an parliamentary monarchy, that doesn’t give him carte blanche over legislative and fiscal matters. The idea that there is anything wrong with the House demanding fiscal and legislative concessions from the executive branch is absurd. Especially, perhaps, when the point of contention is a deeply unpopular piece of legislation and the matter at hand is fiscal. Charles C.W. Cooke, National Review

…they paled in comparison to the dishonesty of the president’s central claim, which was that the attempt to link defunding to the debt-ceiling fight is illegitimate because Obamacare has “nothing to do with the budget.” I struggle to imagine how the president could have kept a straight face when he said this. This is a law, remember, that was crowbarred through Congress with the questionable use of reconciliation, a parliamentary procedure that is reserved exclusively for budgetary matters; a law that was sold as a deficit-reduction measure; a law that contains a significant spending component, including a 5-10 percent increase in the size of the federal budget; and, alas, a law that boasts a central mandate that was upheld (rewritten) by the Supreme Court as a tax, thus ensuring that any changes to the penalties must be approved by the House. “Nothing to do with the budget”? This is what we call a lie…Charles C.W. Cooke, National Review

Neil Cavuto Speaks Up! Enough is Enough! by The Elephant's Child

Obama’s Very Bad. Horrible, No Good Month. by The Elephant's Child

Ted Cruz

A lot of people have misunderstood Ted Cruz’s valiant “filibuster.” It wasn’t really a last-ditch plea for Congress to defund ObamaCare. That was never in the cards, The Republicans need to control the Senate to accomplish that. There just aren’t the votes, and Democrats will not allow their people to fail to support the party line. They use the hardest of strong-arm tactics. They are not nice people.

What Ted Cruz did, eloquently and precisely was to spell out the problems inherent in ObamaCare. He spoke calmly and carefully for 21 hours explaining just what was in the law and why it was a problem. Oddly enough, the media suck-ups found the brief reading of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham as a bedtime story for his two small daughters, the most important part to talk about.

The ObamaCare Law is indeed a train-wreck and even Democrats are coming to agree that it is. Not yet ready to turn against their president, however.

The law is and was clearly unconstitutional, but through some convoluted reasoning, the Supreme Court decided it was Constitutional. The Court is very reluctant to directly defy a law passed by Congress. There are many lawsuits proceeding through the courts, and more being filed.

Hearts sank when the Supreme Court failed to act. Many placed a lot of faith in the ability of the House to defund the law and still believe that we can somehow defund it.

Some believe that we just have to elect a Republican Senate next year, so that it can be repealed. Others believe that we must just allow the law to collapse of its own internal conflicts, which are innumerable.

Obama is angry, and I believe, frightened. He hates Republicans on general principles, he is losing supporters, his approval rate is plummeting. He has had neither interest nor skill in foreign policy.  He opposed the Iraq War as a “dumb war” without ever getting beyond far left propaganda to find out what it was all about. He assumed the only reason to be in Afghanistan was to “get” bin Laden, and once he was dead, al Qaeda would no longer be a threat. The Arab Spring has turned to a bloody debacle, he has supported all the wrong people, and embarrassed himself and America with his bumbling in Syria, red lines and all. Now he’s back to wanting dialogue with Iran, sure that his persuasive powers, honed by Alinsky will allow him to convince Iran to stop with the nuclear weapons.

The world is interfering with his battles at home, The Republicans in Congress are attacking his precious ObamaCare, and threatening to defund it,  or demanding to delay it for a year. This would be an extremely successful thing to do, for Americans are angry that everybody gets a waiver except ordinary citizens. And the plan is clearly not ready to roll out.

Obama cannot admit that it is flawed. All  is subject to the budget talks, raising the debt ceiling so our bills can be paid is one thing, convincing the administration that they really have a spending  problem is quite another. Democrats will demand that the sequester be ended. Forcing them to cut back on their spending is impossible. As Nancy Pelosi, brilliant mathematician, insists “The cupboard is bare. There just isn’t any place where we can cut at all.”

A world of troubles. And to top it all off, the IPCC has had to back off of their claims of alarming global warming. Al Gore is demanding prison sentences for anyone who denies climate catastrophe. And all those billions of green investments? Graft. Enriching his cronies and supporters. Chicago politics.

Are the American people finally beginning to recognize the failure? Or are they still hoping, waiting for things to change?

Another Union is Striking Over ObamaCare Job Cuts s by The Elephant's Child

Members of the Service Employees International Union local 1 (Chicago) have gone on strike over recent cuts in employees hours at a janitorial company called Professional Maintenance. Here’s another union who were big Obama supporters who are suddenly confronted with the realities of ObamaCare.

Tyler French, Local 1’s organizing director, said the company claimed it had to cut its employees hours due to ObamaCare mandates. Mr. French does not believe that explanation, He’s sure it’s the latest excuse in a long line of many that we’ve seen from corporate America.”

SEIU enthusiastically backed ObamaCare when it passed, and is sending unionized health professionals out to promote the law in 30 cities over coming months. How interesting that they seem completely unaware of what the new law is doing to employment all over the country.  I guess it’s hard to give up your illusions.

The Unions are being screwed. I wonder if we will see more strikes?

Anarchy in Detroit: Or Free People At Work! by The Elephant's Child

I love this!  Don’t whine. Don’t wait for government to act responsibly. Just go to work. The American Spirit lives!

ObamaCare is Rolling-Out On a Bumpy and Potholed Road—That Wasn’t Shovel Ready. by The Elephant's Child


The Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services has not assessed whether ObamaCare will be ready to roll out on October 1, a spokesman for the Inspector General said today.

They have not done in-depth inspections of specific parts of the law, the spokesman said. “Whether the Affordable Care Act will be able to be up and fully functional on October 1, is not something that we have done assessments of,” said Donald White, a department spokesman.

That immense stack of paper is a printout of the Affordable Care Act. Nancy Pelosi thought she was being cute when she said “We have to pass it to find out what’s in it.” It wasn’t funny, but unbelievably crass. Passing a bill with not so much as a single word included from a  Republican, a bill ginned up in a back room, passed with the most corrupt form of bribes, and without a single Republican vote — is not the way things are supposed to work.That alone should be enough to fire every single Democrat congressman.

Democrats have long wanted single-payer health care, like the British have. Because it is paid for through taxes and a reduced standard of living, the Brits believe that their health care is free at the point of service. If it’s free, then you can run off to the doctor for every sniffle and cold, and over-use becomes a real problem.

But the British have long been glad to return to power whoever promises not to interfere with their “free” healthcare. Unfortunately, the service is terrible; waits for service long; hospitals are filthy; the aged are left without water, clean sheets, or care to die from neglect. The scandals are real, people die, because the incentives are all wrong. Doctors are servants of the system, the newest medicines or newest diagnostic tools are too expensive to buy. Patients are encouraged to over-use the system, hospitals and doctors offices are encouraged to treat more patients in less time so it will cost less. And Doctors and hospitals are desperate to be paid adequately for their services. Incentives are really important.  So, as was completely inevitable, Britain’s National Health Service is going broke.

Forbes magazine reports that ObamaCare will increase the average Individual-market insurance premiums by 99% for men, 62% for women.  The technology problems involved in the exchanges are huge, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be ready or functional at all. The U.S. has had to delay the deadline for finalizing the final agreements with  insurance plans. In some cases they say they’re ready, but nobody has checked.

The architects and supporters of ObamaCare had wonderful visions about the possibilities of information technology, the kind of visions held only by those who have never been more deeply involved with their computer than moving the mouse around. Megan McArdle said she worked in an IT consultancy, and she thought setting up this system would be something like an eight-year job. You should hear the doctors who have to switch from handwritten notes to entering data in a laptop. My doctor says the errors are going through the roof (how often do you have a typo? And it’s worse with numbers) and endangering patients.

A Price-Waterhouse study found that “insurers passed over major medical centers” in many states to keep premiums down. Those buying a Blue Cross plan in California’s exchange will have access to 47% fewer doctors and 22% fewer hospitals than subscribers can get today. The Blue Cross plan in New Hampshire excludes more than half of the state’s hospitals. That’s what the incentives direct insurers to do, and how the best intentions go astray. Having an insurance card does not guarantee access to specialists or other providers.

At the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, President Obama did admit that  his health care law does raise taxes after all. ” So what we did— it’s paid for by a combination of things. We did raise taxes on some things.


More ObamaCare Effects: by The Elephant's Child

Well, this should be interesting. Puget Sound grocery workers have voted to authorize a regionwide strike. That’s something like 30,000 workers at Safeway, Fred Meyer, QFC and Albertsons. The strike authorization was approved by 98 percent of union members. It allows the union to call a strike and set up picket lines if an agreement is not reached with employers.

Union members are angry that the companies want to reduce holiday pay, hold wages at current rates, and force part-time workers to get health benefits through ObamaCare. Well, welcome to the club.

Stores throughout King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties could be affected with shorter hours or closing some locations. So far, of course this is simply a threat, and when people in various industries across the country are already deprived of full-time work and reduced to 27-28 hours, and forced to get insurance through the ObamaCare exchanges, or pay the fine.

The minimum wage here is $9.19, so young people working part-time are better off than in many other parts of the country. It’s hard to tell exactly what would transpire if they do strike. Do I have to cross picket lines, will the stores close, or do I have to rely on Whole Foods or Uwajimaya, which are closer?

The Unions are very upset. They were big backers of Obama, and probably under the delusion that Obama’s promises about health care meant something.  They didn’t. He just says what he thinks people want to hear.

Dear Congressmen: Are You Sure You Want To Be Exempted From ObamaCare? by The Elephant's Child


Americans don’t like ObamaCare, and the more they learn about it, the less they like it. Obama promised that their costs would decline by $2,500 for a family of four, and they are learning that is not true. Obama promised that they would have the same excellent health care plan that members of Congress had. So when the Affordable Care Act (the formal name makes me snicker) was passed, a caveat was included that members of Congress and their staffs had to participate, just like everybody else.

Members of Congress squawked, as did their staffs, many of whom suggested they might have to resign rather than bear the cost. So of course Obama ordered an exemption for members of Congress and staffs. But he cannot do that. This the law of the land, as they keep reminding us. Not even the President of the United States can just say nevermind. It doesn’t work that way. Zero legal authority.

The Affordable Care Act requires the 11.000 people who work on Capitol Hill to purchase their health insurance on its exchanges, but many of them earn too much to qualify for subsidies. That’s a financial hit worth about $5,000 for individuals and $11,000 for families. Polls show that over 90 percent of Americans object strenuously to the special privilege the Obama  administration has delivered to members of Congress.

Republicans have voted to defund ObamaCare somewhere around 44 times, but nobody is fooled by the gesture. No member of Congress, especially Republicans, should dare face the voters next year if they have not enlisted in ObamaCare just as they are forcing the rest of the country to do. The Congress are the servants of the American people and serve at their pleasure, and can be removed at their pleasure. Yes, you won’t like it. Yes, it will cost you a whole bunch more. You put this wretched law together behind closed doors with no input from Republicans, forced it through with all sorts of sleazy deals, and passed it without a single Republican vote.

If this represents a struggle between your wallets and your principles, Republicans had better opt for principles. This one is a no-brainier. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) has been shopping around an amendment to overturn the opt-out. He is not being well received. Republicans should think again. Senator Vitter is right. And do allow all the Democrats to exempt themselves. The more of them defeated at the polls, the better.


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