Saturday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    Well, the good news is for the nightmare project that required around 150 samples, these are no longer required. The bad news is they now want photographs of all products. Good thing operations came through and sent us most samples. Obtaining photos missing ones will take some doing, but it’s feasible. More important, it’s not my responsibility.

    But, seriously, this agency knows their contract ends tomorrow, and they need deliveries starting on Jan 4th. Why are they only now getting around to it? Worse yet, why didn’t they give their current supplier an extension, and then do the request for proposals with longer lead times for the participants? They could have had their samples easily that way.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Michael Cohen continues to show that he is not a reliable witness:

    Michael Cohen, the former attorney and fixer for ex-president Donald Trump, said in a newly unsealed court filing that he accidentally gave his lawyer fake legal citations that were made up by an artificial intelligence program.

    In a sworn declaration made public on Friday, Cohen told a Manhattan judge that the sham citations had been generated by the AI program Google Bard, and had made their way into his lawyer’s filing because of a pair of misunderstandings – including his failure to realize that the information spat out by the program was not based in reality.

    The false citations were included in a late November filing from Cohen’s attorney as part of a request for an early end to court supervision. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to tax evasion and campaign finance violations, served time in prison and wants the court to end court supervision based on his time served and compliance with the conditions of his release.

    “As a non-lawyer, I have not kept up with the emerging trends (and related risks) in legal technology and did not realize that Google Bard was a generative text service that, like Chat-GPT, could show citations and descriptions that looked real but actually were not,” he wrote the court in a sworn statement.

    Ooooooppps…

    This admission came after the judge overseeing Cohen’s case, Jesse Furman, said in mid-December that he could not find any of the decisions Schwartz had cited and demanded an explanation, while warning about possible sanctions against him.

    In the filing, Cohen asks for leniency for his former lawyer, asking the court “to exercise its discretion and mercy in this matter” and calling Schwartz’s bogus submission an “honest mistake”.

    I’ll give him this, he’s perfected the art of falling on his sword.

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  3. SenyorDave says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: If your main claim to fame in life is that you were Donald Trump’s fixer that says a lot about your character. Or lack of it.

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  4. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Your stories remind me of a placard we had in our shipping office when I worked at the produce wholesaler:

    There’s no reason for it, it’s just our policy.

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  5. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    @SenyorDave:

    Yeah, he gets interviewed a lot because he turned on his former employer/client. That, and he is a narcissistic attention seeker.

    You did extremely shitty stuff for an extremely shitty person for money for over a decade gladly with no remorse.

    Why should I trust you know? His “change of heart” was for self benefit. Not all fellow travelers are good allies you want to be associated with. Saul Goodman had better professional ethics.

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  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Only the best people.

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  7. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    A former coworker used to work at that agency. One reason he left, was the hurried nature of acquisitions left for very late times. Consider they not only buy food, but lots of other things. This has been going on for really long. Maybe it is institutional policy, even if unwritten.

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  8. de stijl says:

    I learned yesterday a pretty good friend died. 63. A good person, and wicked smart.

    He didn’t show up for work and didn’t answer calls or texts. Cop welfare check found him on the kitchen floor. It was quick, at least.

    Nothing terribly interesting about him. A fairly mundane life, but well lived. A decent person.

    What is most interesting was that in his early 30s he decided that the best way to get back into shape was to join an amateur, pick-up type hockey league team. 20 minutes into his first skate around he had a massive stroke and almost died.

    His smarts were fully intact, but he struggled mightily with speech afterwards, especially right after. Aphasia.

    He worked hard to recover his speech, but it wasn’t full and he struggled with it the rest of his life. I understood him fine after time. He preferred to write, so he wrote e-mails and texts a lot. Aphasia can often impact writing as well, but he always wrote clearly, if a bit abruptly.

    What was extraordinary was how he dealt with it. I saw it first hand many times – we would go to a restaurant and the server would treat him as if he was developmentally impaired and a moron. It was usually subtle, but you can flat-out discern it. They would speak slowly, simply, and loudly. Ma’am/Sir, he understands you perfectly fine, he just can’t articulate his thoughts easily! Just witnessing it made me very angry.

    To him, it was a daily thing that he learned to cope with/accept. Water off his back. No big deal. I don’t know if I could reach his level of generosity and acceptance. That’s lived zen. It would piss me off mightily. I was in awe of his ability to just shake it off as to how people treated him in everyday interactions.

    He dealt with that stuff daily. Multiple times a day for decades. I’m not sure if I could cope with what he put up with. I’d probably pretend muteness and communicate with notes.

    A hearty “skol!” to Mark!

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Police killed Niani Finlayson seconds after responding to her 911 call, video shows

    Body-camera footage from two deputies showed that when they arrived outside the apartment, they could hear a woman screaming from inside. When Finlayson opened the door, her 9-year-old daughter was standing next to her and appeared to tell the officers that the man had hurt her – seemingly saying that he had “punched” or “pushed” her, although LASD distorted the daughter’s voice and her comments aren’t clearly discernible.

    Finlayson appeared to be holding a kitchen knife and seemed to say the ex-boyfriend had attacked them, saying: “I’m about to stab him because” he had hurt her daughter. A female deputy entered the home first, and Finlayson and her ex moved to the opposite end of the room. Shelton followed inside a moment later and fired four shots at Finlayson almost as soon as he entered.

    Shelton fired at Finlayson as her daughter stood nearby. The daughter ran into the kitchen after he fired the shots and her mother collapsed on the ground. The ex screamed: “No, no, why did you shoot?” LASD did not release footage of the aftermath. The video showed that Shelton had entered with a Taser in one hand and a firearm in the other, but it did not appear that he or the two other deputies on scene used any “less lethal” weapons or other tactics to de-escalate the situation before Shelton fatally shot Finlayson.

    To serve and protect, my ass.

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  10. CSK says:

    @de stijl:

    That’s a nice memorial to him you wrote.

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  11. de stijl says:

    I’m not sure what to make of the Russian War on Ukraine. Is it a forever stalemate?

    By any measure, the Russian military has performed laughingly poorly. They had and have a vast numerical advantage. At the start of the war, a vast technology and system advantage, though stymied now.

    Seriously, I expected Russia to wipe out all Ukrainian opposition within a week. To fully occupy. That they didn’t and couldn’t was shocking. To me, at least. Okay, they underestimated the force required and will overwhelm Ukraine after reinforcing in a week or so. Nope. Unable. Still unable. That stuns me.

    And this isn’t Viet Nam or Soviet Afghanistan or US Afghanistan style main, heavy occupation force versus guerrilla hit and run insurgents. It’s main force vs. main force WW2 style fighting with tanks and the best Russia can do is a pull a draw against relatively tiny Ukraine. It’s shocking to me.

    A straight-up debacle. A massive failure that undermines any Russian claim of strength. Frankly, I’m surprised Putin is still alive. I would have expected cooler heads to figure out that the time was ripe for a soft coup and a “sudden heart attack” for Putin. This is a stunning fuck-up on every level.

    The whole situation baffles me utterly. Apparently the Russian bear is of the teddy variety.

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  12. steve says:

    Every now and then stuff hits you that makes you realize how little freedom others have and how much they are controlled by their authoritarian government. Putin is preparing to run for office again. (I know, funny.) He met with a woman who is “supporting” him. Her son died in Ukraine. She was very careful when explaining that giving up in Ukraine means her son’s life was wasted to refer to it as a special military operation. Hundreds of thousands of casualties, occupying another country and you still not dare call it a war.

    Steve

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  13. DrDaveT says:

    If you were worried that world sea surface temperatures might be returning to normal, you can stop worrying.

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  14. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Kathy’s First Law: Nothing lasts forever.

    The parallel I see is WWI in the western front. Not in the kind of combat actions, but in that it’s become a war of attrition. If so, then it’s even more imperative for the US and Europe to keep Ukraine supplied, or to force a settlement to end the war.

    One spark of hope lies in the end of WWI. Germany held lands in France and other countries, and was not invaded itself. Yet it lost at the conference table after the cease fire, because it could not sustain the fight any longer.

    there are several major differences, though. For one thing, the Royal Navy had blockaded trade into German ports. Scarcity ruled, and starvation was a possibility. This is not even close to being the case in Russia, even if a blockade were feasible.

    Wars of attrition are the worst. On the one hand, nothing seems to change much in the battlefield. On the other hand, a lot of people die every day.

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  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    From a piece at MSNBC dot com, written by Simon Rosenberg who correctly predicted the Red Dribble.

    As we head into 2024, the conventional wisdom is that Democrats are on the back foot for next year’s elections. But there are three reasons I am optimistic that 2024 is going to be a good year for Democrats:

    First, President Joe Biden has kept his central promise in the 2020 election: that he would lead the nation to the other side of Covid, successfully. The pandemic has receded. Our economic recovery has been better than any other G7 nation. GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.9% last quarter, and more than 3% for the Biden presidency. We have the best job market since the 1960s and the lowest uninsured rate in U.S. history. The Dow Jones broke 37,000 this month for the first time. Wage growth, new business formation and prime-age labor participation rates are all at historically elevated levels. Prices fell — yes, fell — last month. Rents are softening, and gas prices and crime rates are falling. Domestic oil and renewable production are at record levels. The annual deficit, which exploded under Trump, is trillions less today.

    Consumer sentiment has risen sharply in recent weeks, and measures of life, job and income satisfaction are remarkably high. There is no doubt that recent years have been hard — Covid, an insurrection at the Capitol, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, repeated OPEC price hikes, global and domestic inflation — but it is increasingly clear that America is getting to the other side of this challenging period, and are in a far better place than when President Biden took office.

    Second, the strength of the president’s record is only matched by the strength of his party. I don’t think it is widely understood how strong the Democratic Party is right now. The party has won more votes in seven of the past eight presidential elections, something no party has done in modern American history. Over the last four presidential elections, Democrats have averaged 51% of the popular vote, their best showing over four national elections since the 1930s.

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  16. de stijl says:

    @steve:

    A dead Putin (sudden heart attack, obviously) is a dead scape goat you can blame the massive fuck-up on. Disassociate your new regime from the old, degenerate one that started an “easy” war that they couldn’t win.

    It’s soft coup 101.

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  17. Bill Jempty says:

    Oscar nominated actor Tom Wilkinson has passed away. RIP.

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  18. CSK says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    I saw Wilkinson in several films. He was terrific.

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  19. Bill Jempty says:

    Today’s adventures on the internet

    I unsubscribe from an Amazon Kindle newsletter and what do I get? A confirmation email for my unsubscribe.

    My NY Times promotion discount subscription was about to end and my cost go from $6 to $25 a month. So I try to unsubscribe and I’m told I am a bot. This happened for three straight days before I found a work around. I went from using Firefox to Microsoft Edge as my web browser. Then I could manage my subscription.

    BTW by threatening to cancel, NYT offers me a discounted subscription. This time it is $4 a month. Hint to NYT subscribers- Threaten to cancel if you want to get a better rate. I have done just that 2 years in a row when my promotion discount subscription was about to end.

    I subscribe to the NYT, WAPO, The Palm Beach Post, The Sun-Sentinel, The New Republic, Chess Life and The National Review. AARP and AAA send me magazines that I put in the recycle bins every month.

    My next book is finished. I am just going to reread/fix it up before submitting it to my editor sometime next week. I go traditional publishing* next year. I sell books in bookstores, do book signings and maybe travel to Japan** to better research my unfinished Yakuza story.

    *- I have 4 more books that are at least 50% finished. Now that I can concentrate on writing- health permitting- and not so much on all the duties (Taxes and upkeep of my S corp, Marketing my books, having to edit and proofread my own writings etc etc) that come with self-publishing, I could have a very productive year writing wise in 2014.
    **- Because of first financial then health reasons, I haven’t traveled outside of Florida since 2007.

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  20. Mister Bluster says:

    Broadway actor, dancer and choreographer Maurice Hines dies at 80
    RIP

    This is the best video I could find.
    Cotton Club
    Crazy Rhythm
    1984

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  21. gVOR10 says:

    Yesterday Dr. T posted that Trump did break his oath and should be disqualified under the Fourteenth Amendment. Many pundits are caught up in saying Trump running and losing is the best outcome. Dr. T recognized that, given the EC, letting Trump run is a huge risk of the worst outcome.

    NYT has a typical story this morning, Would Keeping Trump Off the Ballot Hurt or Help Democracy? It’s typical he-said-she-said, maybe it would help, maybe it wouldn’t. Except for the exact quotes you already know what it says. I’m not wasting a gift link on it. Everything I see talks about the effect on democracy, but there’s another bedrock principle at stake, the rule of law.

    Trump got away with making a joke of the emoluments clause because, while they wrote it into the Constitution, the Founders neglected to create legislative mechanisms for enforcing it. And nobody since did because it never became an issue. The congress that wrote 14A also failed to establish a mechanism for enforcement.

    The problem is we all know the Supremes will not remove Trump. (OK, there’s a very small chance Chuckles Koch and Leonard Leo will decide Trump is too much of a risk in the general and they’d rather back Haley. I’d bet they’ve got better private polling than anything I’ve seen.) Instead of agonizing over the nuances and imagined consequences, and providing the Supremes with excuses, centrist and liberal writers and pundits would do better to make it clear a plain vernacular reading of the Fourteenth says Trump MUST be disqualified and if the Supremes offer any weasel worded opinion otherwise they deserve the hit to their legitimacy.

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  22. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Maurice and his brother Gregory: Great, great dancers and actors.

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  23. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..Great, great dancers and actors.

    I’m glad that I saw Cotton Club on the big screen when it first came out.

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  24. Kathy says:

    The UK is undergoing a period of massive Bregrets.

    Ah, if only someone had warned them.

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  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR10:

    the Founders neglected to create legislative mechanisms for enforcing it.

    Perhaps the Founders never intended for it to need to be enforced? It appears that they never intended for anyone not “one of their own” to ever hold office. In such a situation, a “gentlemen’s agreement” was probably considered adequate.

    An even more seditious ETA: Is it possible that Trump would meet the Founders’ qualifications as “one of their own?” Scary thought.

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  26. DK says:

    @Mister Bluster: Love that movie. The Hines Brothers were both fantastic talents and class acts. Feels like a bygone era. Remembered and missed.

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  27. dazedandconfused says:

    @Kathy:

    WW1 was on the way to a negotiated settlement but the introduction of millions of US troops turned the tide against Germany, and the Germans knew they had nothing left between the front and Berlin. The French troops had been in partial mutiny, they had told their generals they would defend but no longer attack. The German morale was in similar straits with the addition of badly depleted resources..which was their barrier to staging anything like a meaningful attack.

    Nukes make this a different game. There will be no marching on the capital of a country that has thousands of nukes and nothing to lose.

    Pickering is our most experienced and distinguished diplomat. His comments at the outbreak are probably going to pan out. Barring a significant breakthrough by one side (which increasingly appears unlikely) the time for negotiations will come, and the US should position itself for that day.

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  28. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    No, no, no, Trump would NEVER be one of them. A crude slob like that? An oaf and a boob? Never.

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  29. Tony W says:

    Apparently the Maine Secretary of State was “Swatted” and has received numerous threats since trump posted their contact info on his social media feed.

    Which member of this forum could get away with schotastic terrorism like trump does every day?

    At some point do we have a legal process or not? Does the law matter?

    Trump needs to be imprisoned and silenced.

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  30. CSK says:

    @Tony W:

    I heartily agree with the sentiment, but unfortunately it would be impossible to prove that Trump ordered this, or that these people were acting at his direction.

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  31. de stijl says:

    Hey, it’s New Year’s Eve. I spaced that out all day. I had an invite to a house party, but graciously declined.

    Age 20: This party is insane! Anything can happen. It’s awesome!

    Age 60: This party is insane! Anything can happen. It’s terrifying!

    I have no booze in the house. Mark that, there might be some vodka in the freezer. Last year, I had a six pack of beer available. I drank one and a half over the span of four hours. Chocolate stout, iirc. I party pretty hard, obviously.

    If you are going out tonight, have a crap ton of fun and get home safe. I’ll probably be asleep by 10.

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  32. Mister Bluster says:
  33. Mister Bluster says:

    @de stijl:..Hey, it’s New Year’s Eve.

    What time zone are you in?

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  34. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I was just about to ask the same thing.

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  35. Jax says:

    @de stijl: Tomorrow, my friend!

    Man, we’ve all had days around here the last few weeks where we forgot what day it is. I’m still not recovered from that one whole week I was off on my days. 😛

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  36. Mister Bluster says:

    It is Sunday morning in Guam, “Where America’s Day Begins”.
    I have it on good authority that the party never stops in Guam.

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  37. Beth says:

    @de stijl:

    Of course you don’t need booze darling, you’ve got a gas leak! Get out!

    (Just teasing)

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  38. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Aw, I screwed up. December has 31 days.

    Anyway, it gives me tomorrow to go buy beer.

    You know that little song they teach kids “30 Days Hath September” et cetera? I could never recall it. When you’re a kid ABCs are important. Simple addition. How many days in a given month isn’t really salient when you’re 4. Or when you’re retired, apparently. I often forget/am unaware of what day of the week it is. It is mostly is of no importance.

    I rely on the knuckle mechanism for month lengths to this day. Knuckle means 31, trough means 30, except for February. I saw Dec 30 on my phone and made a bad assumption.

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  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: You clearly imagine the Founders to have been Übermensch-types. I see a lot of rich cracker pseudo-gentleman farmers. Trump probably doesn’t have any beliefs that most colonial planters wouldn’t have had.

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  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: I have a bottle of rum in my cereal and cooking oil cabinet. I bought it in about July. I have a rum highball about once a month. Although these days, I’m drinking more than I have. Luddite and I have been having dinner at a local cigar bar on Wednesdays while Mrs. Luddite et al. go bowling, so I have a cider or raspberry ale with dinner/cigar.

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  41. Slugger says:

    @CSK: I agree. Trump was never accepted in New York which is why he never married an elite woman; eastern European immigrants are not elite. I think that sentiment is despicable (my Mother was an eastern European), but that’s the way it is. In my psychoanalysis of him this resentment plays large.

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  42. al Ameda says:

    @Kathy:

    The UK is undergoing a period of massive Bregrets.

    A few months ago I read a piece on the ongoing mess that is post-Brexit Britain, and Nigel Farange, the preeminent advocate of Brexit, said, “Brexit has failed,” he added. “We’ve not delivered on Brexit and the Tories have let us down very, very badly.” But he didn’t think that Britain should have stayed in the EU, rather that the exit was handled poorly. Never mind that the OECD projects that the UK economy will continue to perform poorly relative to most other EU nations.

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  43. CSK says:

    @Slugger:

    Indeed. Trump was desperate to infiltrate the NY haut monde, and they scorned him. Same with the founding fathers.

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  44. Kathy says:

    @al Ameda:

    But he didn’t think that Britain should have stayed in the EU, rather that the exit was handled poorly.

    The eternal lament. “Our crazy, cockamamie ideas did not fail. They were implemented badly and thus were failed.”

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  45. Tony W says:

    @CSK: It would be easy to prove that Trump makes threatening statements to judges, court staff, and jury members & their families though.

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  46. Zachriel says:

    @Kathy: The UK is undergoing a period of massive Bregrets.

    The U.K. government proudly announced that you can now buy beer at the pub in pints, one of the best things about Brexit, they say. The problem is that most people don’t know what a pint is.

    How much is that in liters? Nobody knows.

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