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Table of Contents

Other Key Players in California's Energy Crisis

by J.A. Savage Most observers think that what California Governor Gray Davis does or doesn't do about the electricity crisis will make or break his political career -- surely a death sentence to someone so much a creature of politics. Self-preservation aside, Davis' electricity plans will impact the state's economy and everyone's pocketbook. Indeed, California's economy may not be the same after this winter's blackouts and wholesale electric price thunderstorms

Palestinians Brace For Bloodbath

by Eric S. Margolis Even South Africa's apartheid government didn't dare use tanks against rioting blacks. Israel, however, has sent tanks and helicopter gunships to pound Palestinian targets. Will Sharon now resort to heavy artillery, or mass population expulsions into the desert, to 'pacify' the rebellious Arabs? This week, in an disturbing portent, the Israeli Army announced it would destroy 26 Palestinian houses in Gaza 'for security reasons'

Arab Nations Expect Nothing From Sharon

by Kim Ghattas Newspapers in Lebanon and Syria lamented the coming to power of the man who is dubbed here as the "bulldozer" and "butcher of Beirut." The headline of one leftist Lebanese newspaper Al Safir, read "Israelis Elect Their New King, Complete with His War Program"

Colombian Paramilitaries Spill Over Venezuela Border

by Andres Canizalez Concern is growing about the emergence of paramilitary groups among rural populations along the shared border between Venezuela and Colombia. Colombian guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug traffickers have clashed at different points along the 2,200-km common border, and the civilian population, caught in the crossfire, is increasingly seeking refuge and assistance in Venezuela

Gale Norton, Secretary of War

by James Ridgeway On the eve of the biggest energy crisis since the 1970s, Norton will hold the key to a bin of rich resources, containing much of the world's untapped oil and gas and minerals from coal to iron ore. She'll control access to thousands upon thousands of acres of grazing lands, military bases, Indian reservations, fisheries, and forests, not to mention abandoned military test zones. Through a maze of waterworks, Norton would have at her fingertips the lifeblood of the Western desert: water from the Colorado to the Snake to the Columbia. The enormous dams that make electricity and the long lines that carry it to market are all within the secretary's purview

Worker Strike, Take Over Sweatshop Factory

by Naomi Klein 850 sweatshop workers in southern Mexico went on strike and took over the factory on January 9, holding it for two days until riot police attacked workers and send 15 to the hospital in ambulances (shown above). The factory makes clothing for Nike and sweatshirts for U.S. universities

California's Power Crisis A Warning to All

by Michael T. Klare Even with massive investments in new oil wells, gas fields, coal mines, dams, nuclear reactors, refineries, pipelines, power plants, and electrical grids, it is not clear that we can develop the necessary infrastructure. As California demonstrates, a wide range of political, economic, and environmental roadblocks stand in the way of rapid infrastructure growth. A new regulatory environment could eliminate some of these roadblocks, but not all of them. In short, attaining a 50-percent increase in worldwide energy production over the next 20 years is probably beyond human capacity

Amazon Road Project Could Devastate Rainforest

In a policy forum in the Jan. 19 edition of Science entitled "The Future of the Brazilian Amazon," the research team uses history as a teacher to, for the first time, project the impact of "Avanca Brasil" (Advance Brazil) -- a program to fast-track infrastructure in the Amazon for economic development. Their findings: that the roads' most significant impact will be devastation of rainforest, and a clear path to more destructive forest fires, reduced wildlife resources and more release of greenhouses gases

Global Warming Measures Can't Wait, UN Says

by Danielle Knight New scientific calculations that predict a potentially devastating global warming in the coming century underline the urgent need to resume stalled international talks on reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, say environmental advocates. At a conference in Shanghai January 22, a panel of hundreds of scientists from more than 100 countries unanimously approved a report that presents new and stronger evidence that most of the temperature increase observed over the last 50 years is attributable to air pollution caused by the burning of oil, coal and gas

Joining to Fight a Greater Battle

by Naomi Klein To read the papers, these men should not be sharing a platform, let alone embracing for the cameras. Third World farmers are supposed to be at war with their European counterparts over unequal subsidies. But here in Porto Alegre, they have joined forces in a battle much broader than any inter-governmental trade skirmish. The small farmers both men represent are attempting to fight the consolidation of agriculture into the hands of a few multinationals, through genetic engineering of crops, patenting of seeds, and industrial-scale, export-led agricultural policies. They say that their enemy is not farmers in other countries, but a system of trade that is facilitating this concentration, and taking the power to regulate food production away from national governments

Anti-Globalization Summit Begins in Brazil

by Mario Osava The World Social Forum opened here January 25 with an appeal for greater social justice and international solidarity that drew thousands of marchers and some 1,600 journalists. The Porto Alegre conference, a gathering of social activists opposing globalization from a wide range of organizations, was described as a revolt against the "Darwinist vision of human relations and of a society treated like a jungle"

Don't Let Corporations Control Food Supply, Beg Farmers

by Mario Osava "Each country should produce its own food" to the extent possible, preventing imports that take away peasants's "right to produce," argued Rafael Alegria, a Honduran leader of Va Campesina, which focuses on matters of food sovereignty and security, and defends measures that protect national markets. The objective, said Alegria, is to oppose multinational corporate domination of the world food markets, because it is eliminating small farm production, expanding rural poverty, and causing an exodus from the countryside to the cities

Delegates Condemn U.S. Anti-Drug "Plan Colombia"

by Mario Osava Pedro Santana Rodrgues, president of Viva la Ciudadania (Long Live the Citizenry) criticized the environmental movement for failing to lead actions against the fumigation of coca and poppy plants, used in cocaine and heroine production, respectively. Fumigation is an integral part of Pastrana's Washington-backed plan. "Colombia is the only country in Latin America that permits the spraying of poisons over its forests," affecting 40,000 hectares and potentially destroying the rich biodiversity of the country's Amazon region, Santana said

Spirit of Urgency, Optimism Marks End of Summit

by Mario Osava Participants left no doubt that "another world is possible," the slogan of the Forum that implies the rejection of the current global situation and a commitment to drafting feasible alternatives. The heated criticisms of the arithmetic vision of a world dominated by finance did not prevent the World Social Forum's own success from being measured in numbers. Event organizers pointed to the 20,000 people who attended -- twice the number expected -- more than 400 workshops and panels, thousands of ideas debated, a diversity that bordered on chaos, and the broad impact of the event through publications in hundreds of newspapers around the world

U.S. Press Blackout of Historic Conference

by Norman Solomon . For a week, some of the world's biggest -- including the Associated Press -- produced a steady stream of informative news reports from Porto Alegre. But the day after the World Social Forum adjourned, when I did a search of the comprehensive Nexis database, it was clear that the event didn't make the U.S. media cut. The Washington Post did better than most American outlets, but it wasn't much -- a single news story on Jan. 27. The Los Angeles Times didn't mention the World Social Forum at all. Neither did USA Today

Ecuador Paralyzed by Native Protests

by Kintto Lucas Protests and roadblocks by Ecuador's Native movement against austerity measures that have driven up bus fares and the cost of cooking oil have brought business to a standstill in many parts of the country. Classes have been suspended in five provinces, and gasoline and food are becoming scarce

Pakistan's Malir Toxic Dump

by Ahmar Musti Khan The horror of Malir is not just this little toxic mountain, with its estimated 4,000 gallons of leaking ooze. Worse is that the dump was once almost one hundred times larger -- and the way the bulk of that pesticide disappeared is still a mystery

Looking for Mr. Nader

by Doug Ireland Where's Ralph? That's what many enthusiastic supporters of Nader's 2000 presidential campaign have been asking. Even though more people were paying attention to politics during the Florida election mess than they were during the campaign, Nader chose not to go to the Sunshine State. Nor has there been a coordinated effort to mobilize the tens of thousands of active Naderites recruited during the campaign to take their energy into the Green Party, let alone any serious attempt to enroll rank-and-file Nader voters as Greens. Indeed, Nader himself is still not a Green Party member. Nor has any organization been formed to give those Nader supporters who are not prepared to join the Greens another vehicle for independent, issues- oriented political action. So what's going on?

Shameless Pollsters Already Making 2004 Predictions

by Arianna Huffington A poll, conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, found that "if the 2004 presidential election were held today" 49 percent of registered voters would vote for Bush, 44 percent would pick Gore, while 7 percent were undecided. That's quite an "if." Why not just phrase the question, "If the world were to stop spinning and all life were placed in a state of suspended animation, who would you like to see in the Oval Office when you thawed out?"

Tax Cuts for Campaign Contributors

Some 12.2 million low-and moderate-income families with children would not receive any tax cut at all, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The Center also argues that Bush's plan would cost more than stated -- more like $2.1 trillion -- because the Bush estimate does not include the cost of federal interest payments. Should this really be a surprise? After all, Bush's campaign for the presidency was funded by the wealthiest of Americans

Conservative Rage vs. Liberal Guilt

by David Morris Conservatives are driven by rage; liberals by guilt. Conservatives attack. Liberals equivocate. Liberals inhabit a world painted a thousand shades of gray. Conservatives live in a black and white world. Conservatives believe they are battling evil. Liberals believe they are struggling to overcome human frailties

Bush's Mocking Inaugural Address

by Joyce Marcel The whole country watched Bush's men steal the election for him. Many of us were naive enough to expect him to step in and demand that all the votes be counted, let the chips fall where they may, for the good of the nation and the legitimacy of his administration. He did not do that

Ashcroft No Extremist By DC Standards

by Alexander Cockburn Where's the "extremism" of Ashcroft? Given the Christian pietism that is compulsory in Washington, he looks entirely mainstream to me, except he appears to take his religion seriously. Scaremongering about Roe v Wade, Gore's central strategy last fall, is an increasingly threadbare tactic, particularly since First Lady Laura Bush has made it her initial investment of political capital to insist that it shouldn't be touched by her husband or his administration

House Has No Place In Media Criticism Of Election Night

by Steve Chapman Being instructed on fairness and accuracy by a member of Congress is a bit like being tutored in hygiene by a buzzard. Telling the truth, which is the cardinal rule of journalism, is something that politicians tend to do only when it's convenient

The Myth of Clinton, Balancer of Budget

by Steve Chapman Turned a deficit into a surplus? Though it may surprise his fans, Clinton never said his 1993 budget bill would do anything of the kind. In fact, the budget he submitted the following February, after the package was approved, envisioned a neverending river of red ink

House Committee Outreach to Opponents of Clinton Land Preserves

by Cat Lazaroff Leaders of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Friday launched an informal review of the 19 new national monuments and monument expansions enacted during the Clinton administration. The representatives promised to help House members draw up legislation to overturn the monuments

Bush is Charming the Truth Aside

by David Corn In the first fortnight of the second Bush presidency, charm trumped truth. That's not so surprising. Truth is easy prey in Washington. But it certainly was rolled these past two weeks. The media devoted more ink and airtime to George W. Bush's punctuality (finally, a President who can keep track of the big hand and the little hand!) than to puncturing the various misrepresentations and mischaracterizations that zoomed through the initial policy initiatives and debates (make that, discussions) of Bush II

All Clinton, All the Time

by David Corn Instead of news, the mainstream media has been churning out a new political soap opera -- "As the Clintons Turn." Will Bill and Hillary survive or be voted off? Will they succumb to temptation? What will those rascals do next?

Does Bush Know He Could Scuttle Democrats?

by David Corn Over the past several years, the anti-reform Republicans have avoided an obvious opportunity McCain-Feingold presented them. They should have agreed to a soft-money ban, for the GOP's true advantage lies in hard money. Look at the figures. In the 2000 election cycle, the Republican Party bagged $245,966,463 in soft money contributions; the Democrats, $245,096,175. As close as the election in Florida. (A Naderite might quip that there's only $870,288 worth of difference between the two parties.) But in hard money, the GOPers had a 1.6-to-1 advantage over the Dems

Scandals, Intrigue, and Lies

by David Corn Anyone who has ever worked here knows that government agencies -- including the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon's assorted components, the Justice Department, the House, the Senate, the White House -- are all bureaucracies that cannot stand to cooperate with one another, which does render it difficult to mount long-term, wide-ranging conspiracies. Indeed, there is deceitful back-stabbing, Machiavellian deal-cutting, and massive influence peddling

In Starving Iraq, Art Thrives

by Kim Ghattas The image of Iraq today is of a country under siege, of Iraqis selling their belongings for basic medication and children dying by the thousands. But amid the misery, sadness and bitterness at what Iraq has become after 10 years of a United Nations embargo, a booming trade in artwork is thriving

Report Backs Amazon Native Suit Against Texaco

by Tito Drago The Yana Curi report indicates that the residents of communities near the oil wells and installations are exposed to high concentrations of heavy metals -- originating from the crude -- that end up in area rivers and even in aquifers. In some waterways, concentrations of heavy metals like mercury and lead are more than 100 times the European Union's limits

Vieques Residents Alarmed Over U.S. Use Of Radioactive Ammo

by Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero According to a study carried out by the Puerto Rico Health Department, the cancer rate in Vieques is 26.9 percent above Puerto Rico's average. The study, which covered the years 1990-94, says nothing about the possible causes of this unusually high cancer rate. But the Navy's opponents are certain that military activities on the island, including target practice with DU munitions, are to blame

Polar Bears and 3-Year-Olds on Thin Ice

by Donella Meadows Every five years the world's climatologists assess current knowledge about global warming. Their latest report was just released. It erases any doubt about where this warming is coming from and warns that we ain't seen nothing yet. If we keep spewing out greenhouse gases according to pattern, we will see three to ten times more warming over the 21st century than we saw over the 20th

Farming Methods Threatens World Food Supply

by Danielle Knight Agriculture practices worldwide endanger wild plants and animals, degrade the soil, pollute water and deplete aquifers, says the World Resources Institute and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), two think-tanks based here. The resulting environmental destruction in turn lowers agricultural productivity, says the 110-page report. Increased food productivity, say the researchers, will become increasingly important over the next 40 years when food demands will likely double

Touching Wild Plants Might Kill Them

In the 1970s, people were fascinated by the thought that talking to houseplants could increase their growth. Now, a team of ecologists has discovered that touching plants in the field may alter the chance that insects will feed upon the plants' leaves. More than a novelty, this study may change the way future ecological studies are conducted

Canadian Natives Suing Churches For Child Abuse

by Mark Bourrie At least 10,000 victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse in church-run residential schools have joined class-action suits to seek compensation, the head of the country's largest Native association says. That figure is expected to rise over the next few years to 15,000, according to some observers, who peg the total settlement bill from residential school civil actions at $670 million

Pimps, Pedophiles Prey on Canada's Native Children >

by Mark Bourrie 90 percent of child and teen prostitutes in some of Canada's major cities are Native, a government-sponsored NGO report has found. The 97-page report, called "Sacred Lives," says the Native community is being preyed upon by pimps and pedophiles who lure impoverished children into the sex trade. Child prostitution is also fostered by racist attitudes and government policies that have fostered cultural breakdown, the report says

India Turns Away Ship With Cargo of U.S. Mercury

by Danielle Knight The shipment was part of a large stockpile of mercury that was left when a chemical plant in Maine closed down. Environmentalists in India and the United States have been trying to halt the transport of the mercury. They viewed the shipment as a wealthy nation dumping a toxic substance on a developing nation that does not have well-enforced environmental regulation

NY Times Admits Misleading Reporting -- Two Years Later

by Randolph T. Holhut During the period between first breaking the story and Wen Ho Lee's release, the Times did print some stories that were critical of the government's case. But the initial splash of the March 1999 coverage was hard to overcome, even after subsequent stories debunked it. Conservatives may always complain about the Times, but they are quick to use the seal of approval created when the Times' coverage lends credence to any of their crusades

A Life Sentence at Age 14

by Steve Chapman Lionel Tate, a Florida boy was recently convicted of first-degree murder in adult court for beating to death a 6-year-old playmate. Now 14, he got a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole, or just what a hardened, gray-haired sociopath might have gotten. With his youth and life expectancy, Lionel has only one thing to look forward to: making the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest sentence ever served behind bars. This case is one more item of evidence suggesting that when it comes to juvenile offenders, we don't have the slightest idea what we're doing

Meanwhile, Back in Texas

by Molly Ivins Rep. Susanna Gratia Hupp, R-Lampasas, the ferocious gun advocate, is sponsoring a bill to make Sept. 25 "Bill of Rights Day." You might mistake this for a project of the Civil Liberties Union, but you would be wrong. Hupp wants "appropriate programs in the schools and other public places" to inspire a greater appreciation and understanding of ... the Bill of Rights." She means the Second Amendment; we're talking Gun Day in the schools

Hello, Global Warming Calling

by Molly Ivins Look, this is really simple. The single greatest threat to the national security of the United States is the rapidly deteriorating global environment. National Missile Defense does not do a thing to protect us from global warming. Nor does NMD do dog to protect us from drug-resistant strains of TB that are spreading concomitantly with AIDS, or from the consequences of massive poverty in the Third World and what are called "failed states" -- the new politically correct way to say "regimes corrupt to the point of disaster"

Texas Dems Know What's Wrong, But Not How To Fix It

by Molly Ivins The new standards would require that health-care providers obtain written consent from patients for the use or disclosure of information in their medical records. Quite a concept: You should have full say over who gets to see information about everything from your hernia to your face lift to the time you had that embarrassing medical problem. Now let's see how much your privacy is worth to this administration compared to the combined contributions of those lobbying to shelve or at least weaken the new rules

Medical Privacy For Sale

by Molly Ivins The new standards would require that health-care providers obtain written consent from patients for the use or disclosure of information in their medical records. Quite a concept: You should have full say over who gets to see information about everything from your hernia to your face lift to the time you had that embarrassing medical problem. Now let's see how much your privacy is worth to this administration compared to the combined contributions of those lobbying to shelve or at least weaken the new rules

Tax Cut Class Warfare

by Molly Ivins Passing a tax cut that gives 42.5 percent of the cut to the wealthiest 1 percent of the citizens is, in fact, class warfare. One cannot even make the pathetic argument that since the rich pay more in taxes, they should get a bigger cut, as though the principle of progressive taxation were a foreign concept. The top 1 percent of taxpayers pays 21 percent of all federal taxes but will get 43 percent of the tax cut -- which, if you do the math, is more than twice their share

Dubya's Corporate Cabinet

by Molly Ivins President Inclusive chooses a Cabinet that looks like America. Just one catch: Every member is a corporate creature. In fact, the corporations have just taken over the government. Why hire lobbyists when your CEOs and board members are running the show? Who's left to lobby?

Does Bush Know The Consequences Of His Acts?

by Molly Ivins The more alert among them have noticed that the policies don't seem to quite perfectly reflect the charm offensive. Welcome to Dubya's World's: Bush is a walking definition of cognitive dissonance -- what you see is not what you get. Frank Rich of The New York Times noted that in his relentless photo ops, Bush has "surely posed with more black Americans than voted for him." As Texans know, the eternal Bush photo op of the man posing yet again with small children of minority persuasion is always stepped up just before he does something awful

Corporate Greedfest Coming

by Molly Ivins Those with long memories will recall the education of David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's first budget director. Reagan started with an across-the-board cut for individuals and wound up with a corporate greedfest that sent the national debt roaring up and interest rates with it

Dubya's Fuzzy Thinking Already Causing Problems

by Molly Ivins Bush is especially pushing religious programs that work at rehabilitating inmates on the grounds that it will encourage such splendid programs as Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship. What is believed to be the largest religious program for prisoners? The Nation of Islam, headed by Louis Farrakhan, the noted loony and racist. This is why the "faith-based" proposal does not work. It's because the government has to keep deciding what's legitimate religion and what's not

A Step Forward For Texas, Two Steps Back For U.S.

by Molly Ivins So here we are in Texas, poised to make progress on a variety of fronts, and here's the nation stuck with George W., who thinks that John Ashcroft will make a dandy attorney general

Economic Nincompoopery

by Molly Ivins One of his most useful observations concerns why politics in the '90s was so often surreal -- populism got stood on its head. Anyone who questioned the Great God Market was held to be an "elitist." Pointing out that the majority of American workers either lost ground or barely kept up with inflation during the '90s was considered bad form, like belching in church. While the likes of Rush Limbaugh and George Gilder raged against "elitists," CEO compensation during the decade went from 85 times more than what average blue-collar employees received in 1990 to 475 times what blue-collar workers received in 1999

Bush's Divisive Agenda

by Molly Ivins Here's the deal: If the R's would stop saying that they won the election, the D's could stop pointing out that it's not true, and our political life would become a great deal less repetitious. I am fully persuaded that Bush did not win Florida; the only thing he won was a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court. OK, that makes him president. I'm over it. I just think that given the circumstances, it behooves him to behave in a less confrontational and divisive manner

The Energy Crisis Scandal

by Molly Ivins The energy suppliers are making out like bandits. Companies like Enron of Houston (CEO Ken Lay is one of George W. Bush's largest financial backers) are raking it in, as is PG&E's parent company, which happens to own generating plants. And guess what else? The utilities put millions of dollars into a secret slush fund to keep Congress from deregulating utilities because they can roll state legislatures far more easily

Good/Bad Reporting on African AIDS

by Norman Solomon In Africa, 17 million people have already died of AIDS. In developing countries around the world, twice that many are now HIV positive. Such statistics are largely unfathomable. And news accounts rarely explore basic options for halting the deadly momentum. But during the past several weeks, some major U.S. media outlets have taken bold and valuable steps in coverage of the global fight against AIDS

Press Too Cozy With Political Elite

by Norman Solomon Reporters with outsized reputations for investigative vigor -- Bob Woodward, for example -- may be the most compromised. Behind the scenes, the tacitly understood tradeoffs amount to quid pro quos. Officials dispense leaks to reporters with track records of proven willingness to stay within bounds. "It is a bitter irony of source journalism," Karp observed, "that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the 'best' sources"

Media Shilling For Reagan, Clinton

by Norman Solomon Now, bygones are pretty much bygones along the Potomac. A tacit understanding prevails: If you can't say something nice about Ronald Reagan, better not to say anything at all. The present-day media verdict on Bill Clinton's legacy is a whole other matter -- polarized and contentious. His longtime foes are eager to define his presidency as eight disastrous years (mitigated by a strong economy). Meanwhile, lots of liberals take a completely different stand

Clinton's Massacre

by Alexander Cockburn On Jan. 17, the day after Bill honored the imperialist hero of the Spanish-American War, and when Albright and the others were still chortling at their ingenuity in circumventing the human rights provisions, the BBC's correspondent in Bogota, Colombia, Jeremy McDermott, reported that "alleged right-wing paramilitaries" had attacked a village on Colombia's northwest coast, killing 25 people

Goodbye, And Don't Come Back

by Alexander Cockburn Off he rushed to the airport and thence to Chappaqua, N.Y., but if ever there was a man who left a sour taste in the mouth by the manner of his parting, it was surely Bill Clinton. From time to time, against my better judgment, I've thought kindly of the man, and time after time he's brusquely brought me to earth with some bleak reminder of his rottenness

How Will Clintonomics Look From Harlem?

by Alexander Cockburn As the prospect of a Bush tax cut looks more and more as though it will come to pass, the air is filled with righteous passion about how the Republicans are about to steal dollars from the little people. Democratic pundit Mark Shields howls that under Bush the super rich are stealing from the rich, and the class war is over; the super rich won

Panam 103 Case Far From Solved

by Alexander Cockburn Qaddafi is now thundering his outrage from Tripoli, Libya, to the gratification of many in the West, but Libya's leader has a point: The evidence the judges used to find Megrahi guilty is entirely circumstantial and extraordinarily weak. It is with good reason that Robert Black, professor of law at the University of Edinburgh and the man who persuaded Qaddafi to release the two Libyans for trial in Holland, denounced the verdict as "astonishing"

Court Releases Great-Grandmom Forest Protester

by Neville Judd A 73 year-old great grandmother sentenced to a year in jail after peacefully protesting logging in British Columbia has been released early on appeal. Betty Krawczyk has been imprisoned since September 15, 2000 after British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett found her guilty of criminal contempt of court. The previous September, Krawczyk had defied a court injunction by blockading a logging road into the upper Elaho Valley, 105 miles north of Vancouver near the world class ski resort Whistler Mountain

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