Saturday, July 3, 2010

California has NOTHING on Illinois for fiscal disaster

For years, many Illinoisans have heard the rumors of the fiscal house is shaky, well now we see how shaky it is.

There is no way Illinois can survive without drastic cuts in services, re-doing its pension programs, and laying off massively all over the state.

Even by the standards of this deficit-ridden state, Illinois’s comptroller, Daniel W. Hynes, faces an ugly balance sheet. Precisely how ugly becomes clear when he beckons you into his office to examine his daily briefing memo.

He picks the papers off his desk and points to a figure in red: $5.01 billion.

“This is what the state owes right now to schools, rehabilitation centers, child care, the state university — and it’s getting worse every single day,” he says in his downtown office.

Mr. Hynes shakes his head. “This is not some esoteric budget issue; we are not paying bills for absolutely essential services,” he says. “That is obscene.”

For the last few years, California stood more or less unchallenged as a symbol of the fiscal collapse of states during the recession.

Now Illinois has shouldered to the fore, as its dysfunctional political class refuses to pay the state’s bills and refuses to take the painful steps — cuts and tax increases — to close a deficit of at least $12 billion, equal to nearly half the state’s budget.


Then there is the spectacularly mismanaged pension system, which is at least 50 percent underfunded and, analysts warn, could push Illinois into insolvency if the economy fails to pick up.

States cannot go bankrupt, technically, but signs of fiscal crackup are easy to see. Legislators left the capital this month without deciding how to pay 26 percent of the state budget.

The governor proposes to borrow $3.5 billion to cover a year’s worth of pension payments, a step that would cost about $1 billion in interest. And every major rating agency has downgraded the state; Illinois now pays millions of dollars more to insure its debt than any other state in the nation.

“Their pension is the most underfunded in the nation,” said Karen S. Krop, a senior director at Fitch Ratings. “They have not made significant cuts or raised revenues. There’s no state out there like this. They can’t grow their way out of this.”


The Community Counseling Centers of Chicago is another of those workaday groups that are like the stitches on a baseball, holding together poor and working-class neighborhoods. With an annual budget of $16 million, the agency tends to families torn by crime and violence as well as people who are psychologically stressed and abusing drugs.


On any given Monday morning, the agency’s chief administrative officer, John J. Troy, 61, has no idea how he is going to keep its doors open until Friday. He said the state had not come through with an expected $2.2 million, which is about six months of arrears. He has laid off and recalled employees three times in the last two years.

“Two weeks ago, I had days to meet my $420,000 payroll and all I was looking at was a $200,000 line of credit from a bank,” recalled Mr. Troy. “I drove down to Springfield and said, ‘Hey, you owe us $3 million.’ They said: ‘Oh, that’s nothing. We owe another agency $10 million.’ ”

“The fact of the matter is,” he added, “I don’t sleep much these days.”

The reality is this, many of these states across this nation was helped by stimulus money and they need the same money to keep their doors open, as last year. The other reality is that this economy has not grown much, the stimulus stopped the states from closing doors and laying massive employees off. If these states do not get any more stimulus money, which looks like they will not, expect double digit unemployment. THE REAL NUMBERS and far worse than the 9.5-10.0% that this country has been lingering at since 2009.


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Friday, July 2, 2010

President Obama's speech on comprehesive immigration reform (Video, Transcript)

President Obama calls for both parties to come together to fix a broken immigration system and implement comprehensive reform that demands accountability from government, from businesses, and from individuals. July 1, 2010.


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Jobless rate 9.5%, jobs lost in June, still bad all around for jobs

The 9.5% is for folks that have stopped looking. The jobs lost are those CENSUS JOBS, the TEMPORARY JOBS. The hiring from private industry is only 83K and jobs in this country are still non-existent. And ain't it nice that congress gets to go home without extending unemployment benefits for the over 1.2M that need it. In fact, when they get back to D.C. and look it over, more than 2M will be bounced off. Nice, congress, for an institution that has more DAYS off of work than actually DOING WORK. And D.C. wonders why people HATE congress....

A wave of census layoffs cut the nation’s payrolls in June for the first time in six months, while private employers added a modest number of jobs, according to the government’s latest report on the labor market.

Employers cut 125,000 jobs last month, the most since October, the Labor Department said Friday. The loss was driven by the end of 225,000 temporary census jobs. Businesses added a net total of 83,000 workers, an improvement from May. But that's also below March and April totals.

The unemployment rate dropped from 9.7 percent to 9.5 percent, the lowest level since July 2009. But it fell because 652,000 people gave up on their job searches and left the labor force. People who are no longer looking for work aren't counted as unemployed.


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Thursday, July 1, 2010

President Obama's Town Hall Meeting on the Economy in Racine, WI (Video, Transcript)

This town hall meeting was in Racine, Wisconsin, June 30, 2010


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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Gulf Coast, its beaches, life is just a hot mess

I wrote a diary last week about Pensacola, Florida beaches smelling like a gas station, well on Hardball today Chris Matthews asked MSNBC's Science and Environment Expert, Jeff Corwin does it smell like that? Corwin replied, " smells like a gas station...."


Hurricane Alex is wrecking havoc winds and surge in the Gulf. Alex is now poised at category 2 and dumping all that oil from the gulf onto Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

In the above report a couple of things are thrown out, first, the government is saying the dispersant is less toxic than oil. Remember, more than 1.47M gallons of this dispersant has been dumped in the Gulf of Mexico. I am here to say, I don't believe that, look at all the dead marine life on the gulf shores daily and how was this conclusion (WITH TESTING) determined. Also, notice how the loop current is now being mentioned and the possible affects. My question is this, "When will the government, BP, NOAA, all powers that be tell the public that after all this time, of course the oil is in the loop current?" I state this because, how can it not be? This oil is pumping non-stop and is a horrific sight to see. If this oil gets to the Tampa/St. Pete area, of course it is in the loop current. And experts state it IS in the loop current:

Some oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill is "increasingly likely" to be dragged into a strong current that hugs Florida's coasts, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials said today.

But other experts say that the oil is already there—satellite images show oil caught up in one of the eddies, or powerful whorls, attached to the Loop Current, a high-speed stream that pulses north into the Gulf of Mexico and travels in a clockwise pattern toward Florida.

Now the oil spill and its damage on families in the Gulf Coast:

What can you or I say about that....sigh....

And these beaches, with the faux perception that it is OK to go and get in the water? Read what the CDC says, especially for pregnant women:
Swimming in water affected by the oil spill will be unpleasant and could cause harm. For now, pregnant women should avoid zones where there are reports of oil reaching the shore. It is important to stay away from any oil that reaches the shore because coming into close contact with the oil for long periods of time could cause harm. Avoid touching any of the oil you find, as well as oil-stained water and sand. If some of the oil gets on your skin, wash it off as soon as you can with soap and water. If you notice rashes or dark sticky spots on your skin even after you’ve washed the area of skin that came in contact with the oil, consult your doctor or other health care professional.

I ask that you all read what CDC says about this oil from the link provided, including the possibility that you may need a N95 respirator to combat the smell. And for children? I bring this back up because of that video in my previous diary that showed kids just frolicking through the oil in sand and oily water, well, read this from The American Academy of Pediatrics:
Oil is a complex mixture of chemicals and metals that can be toxic depending upon the amount and duration of exposure and the susceptibility of the exposed person. Children are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of certain substances due to factors like higher respiratory and metabolic rates and systems that are still developing, like the nervous system. Because some agents are heavier than air, they accumulate close to the ground, right in the breathing zone of children. Some agents can also be absorbed through a child’s skin. Children are in a critical period of development when toxic exposures can have profound negative effects, and their exploratory behavior often places them in direct contact with materials that adults would avoid.

After reading that, why would any parent take their children to any of these toxic gulf coast beaches. YES, TOXIC!!!

And from Keith Olbermann:

and John Wathen documents this devastation and states it is worse than BP has told us...YOU MUST LISTEN TO HIM.....and bookmark his website......

I pray for the people in the Gulf Coast. My father lives in Pensacola and the community is angry, overwhelmed and desperate. While all this is going on parents need to be responsible and put their families first in safety, which means stay away from the Gulf Coast Beaches, period.

Finally, all of these horror stories will continue for weeks, months and years to come. The next step after the well is capped is what will BP really do. After all this time, trust is not an option with this company. Why ask? Because everyone here KNOWS 20B is not enough to clean all this up, make folks whole, bring the Gulf back next year. It is just not. But for right now, pray that the damage from Hurricane Alex will not be as bad as anticipated.

The floor is now open....

Update [2010-6-30 21:48:16 by icebergslim]:

Great pictures, up close by jeff in nyc on Pensacola Beach

Cross-posted @ Daily Kos

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

No fierce urgency of NOW for unemployment extension....

There is no fierce urgency of now for those on their last tether for unemployment extension, in fact, congress seems to be happy with just letting 200K slip from the unemployment rolls, a week to compensate the deficit.

Is that right? Just?

No, it is not.

It is uncaring, unethical and immoral. How some can sleep at night is beyond me.

With Republicans citing concerns about the growing national debt, the House rejected a bill Tuesday to extend unemployment benefits for people who have been out of work for long stretches.

The House, however, is expected to vote on the bill again as early as Wednesday.

Without an extension, payments would continue to phase out for more than 200,000 people a week. The last extension expired at the end of May. House Democrats said more than 1 million people have already lost benefits.

Who is in charge in the House? Democrats? And how is this getting rejected? I must ask because of this:
Congressional Democrats have been trying for weeks to pass the extension as part of a larger tax and spending package, but the larger bill stalled in the Senate. On Tuesday, House Democrats brought up a standalone bill on unemployment benefits.

Democrats brought up the bill under a special procedure in which no amendments were allowed and debate was limited. Under the procedure, the bill needed a two-thirds majority to pass. The vote was 261-155, short of the two-thirds needed.

This goes along with the continued premise of congress doing whatever is necessary for the next election to retain their seats, instead of doing what is best for millions of Americans who are unable to FIND A JOB, because unbeknown to congress there are NO JOBS OUT HERE.

My take on this, I will be surprised at any unemployment extension. Why? Because there is no heat to extend unemployment. These politicians only care about November and then after that, they will look it over. These politicians will turn a deaf ear and cover their eyes at what throwing millions of families off unemployment will hear or look like. The Republicans will continue to believe there are jobs out there and tell you to go find one, Democrats will holler about it, but won't be able to move their Blue Dogs to vote for it.

In other words, all we are hearing about is reducing the deficit, while the unemployment rate is 10% in this country and the June unemployment numbers are out Friday. The June numbers can be 100K jobs created, but does that dent the unemployed numbers ACROSS THIS COUNTRY? We are about to see people thrown out of homes, apartments, families on the streets because of politicians trying to keep their jobs and give "ALL OF A SUDDEN" concern about the deficit. Yet, I have failed to see any real concern on that fucking defense budget, with 2 wars draining this country dry, along with continuing to put ourselves at the feet of China, while faux paper is being created at the Federal Reserve, in lieu of 2 wars costing 8-10B a month. What about that? Sure don't hear congress concerned about that across the board, but helping citizens who have worked their whole lives, while unable to find jobs that have continued to be outsourced in this country, and needs help, this congress turns a deaf ear.

Lastly, where is the bully pulpit about unemployment? I know President Obama is giving another speech on the economy tomorrow, but what about this President, well, GOING THE FUCK OFF on congress for the millions being thrown off unemployment in the next week? What about shaming congress ON BOTH SIDES, because that house vote to deny benefits was not WITHOUT SOME DEMOCRATS crossing to the dark side!!! What about that? President Obama crossed this country when CANDIDATE Obama and knows about jobs out here. The stimulus did one thing good, it helped states keep their employees employed (for now, because these states need more money to keep the same people EMPLOYED), but for the private sector from large to small businesses the growth has been anemic.

Right now, Washington, D.C. expects us just to deal with unemployment at 10% for a long time, expect us to accept throwing millions of hard working Americans off unemployment. The speeches will continue with the same mantra of "we must work harder at the unemployment numbers", while not much will be done. And the anger grows as we see Wall Street get away with wrecking this economy, the housing situation in the country continue to crumble, and folks still unable to secure a job; as the divide of rich and poor continues to evaporate the middle class, if there is one anymore.


Update [2010-6-29 17:52:14 by icebergslim]:

h/t to RFK Lives from Bob Herbert:
Employment is the No. 1 issue for most ordinary Americans. Their anxiety on this front only grows as they watch teachers, firefighters and police officers lining up to walk the unemployment plank as state and local governments wrestle with horrendous budget deficits.

And what do these worried Americans see the Obama administration doing? It’s doubling down on the war in Afghanistan, trying somehow to build a nation from scratch in the chaos of a combat zone.

By nearly 2 to 1, respondents to the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll believed the United States is on the wrong track. Despite the yelping and destructive machinations of the deficit hawks, employment and the economy are by far the public’s biggest concern. Mr. Obama is paying dearly for his tin ear on this topic. Fifty-four percent of respondents believed he does not have a clear plan for creating jobs. Only 45 percent approved of his overall handling of the economy, compared with 48 percent who disapproved.

Direct Link to Bob Herbert's column

Update [2010-6-29 19:19:5 by icebergslim]:

Here are the Democratic members who voted NAY in the House:
Adler, Baird, Bean, Berry, Bright, Childers, Cooper, Donnelly, Herseth Sandlin, Hill, Kratovil, Markey, Marshall, Minnick, Nye, Shuler

Contact the House of Representatives, here.

Cross-posted @ Daily Kos

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President Obama's remarks at G20 Press Conference in Toronto, Canada, 6/27/10 (Video)


President Obama meets with other leaders at the G20 Summit:

President Obama & Prime Minister Cameron at G20 Summit
President Obama & Prime Minister Singh at G20 Summit
President Obama & Prime Minister Kan at G20 Summit
President Obama & South Korean President Lee at G20 Summit

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Monday, June 28, 2010

It doesn't smell like a beach. It smells like a gas station.

Pensacola Beach, the way it used to be.....


I know the panhandle is going though a serious economic turn right now, but to keep beaches open at this point is unconscionable.

This is what a Pensacola, Florida resident said about the water and smell:

"I only went into the water up to my ankles. That's as far as I wanted to go," said Joe Chambers, 28, of West Pensacola as he scrubbed off oily residue from himself and his son, Ethan, 4, in the public showers at Casino Beach. "It doesn't smell like the beach. It smells like a gas station. There are no fish in the water. There's nothing alive in the water. I don't know how public officials can just look at the water and make a call to reopen it for swimming."


Carol Doster of Grand Isle, Miss., said her son Dallas, 12, was frightened by the oil that streaked his legs and arms after a five-minute swim in the Gulf on Friday. "It won't rub off," Doster said.

Who in their right mind want to go into water that smell like a gas station? Can someone help me understand that? I carry and KEEP Purell in my car just for cleaning my hands after pumping gas into my car, and this is even if gas does or does not get on me.

The authorities in Florida need to do the right thing and close those beaches. Furthermore, residents need to STAY AWAY.

There are several components working here, one is the toxicity of this oil which is dealt by professionals with HAZ MAT SUITS, second is the dispersant still being sprayed in the Gulf of Mexico. BP is still using high levels of corexit, with 1.47 million gallons being used to this day. For any rational thinking person, going into ANY GULF WATERS at this point is a NO CAN DO. Then there is the health part of this equation:
Similar to the health advisory, the impact advisory would warn beachgoers to avoid touching oily product on the beach and in the water, and it would advise them leaving the beach and seeking medical help if they experience respiratory problems.

So far, 400 people have sought medical care for upper or lower respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, and eye irritation after trips to Escambia County beaches, Lanza said.

OK, we don't KNOW what affects this water will have on the marine life, which by the way is washing up dead on the Gulf Beach shores daily. If we don't know the full account of what is happening to the marine life, why would we even ponder to have humans go in this water.

And then there is this:
Lanza said he lifted the health advisory on Pensacola Beach early Friday on the advice of W.A. "Buck" Lee, Santa Rosa Island Authority executive director. Lee said he made the recommendation based on a visual inspection.

A visual inspection? Are you kidding me? From a propped up local bureaucrat whose sole responsibility is to keep money coming into this region.

But this from the EPA for Pensacola Beach, confused much?
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency plans to put decontamination stations along the beach, possibly as early as this weekend.

It is time for the Federal Government to step in and ban going to these beaches, as they have set a moratorium on deep water oil drilling.

Why? Because coming down the pipe with this mess will be huge affects of this oil in humans. That deals with the unknown and HEALTH CARE COSTS. That is why.

I know that the people in this area are pissed and mad at BP, the government, point taken, but to allow people in these toxic waters which CAN GIVE YOU CANCER with the chemicals in this oil is totally irresponsible.

Yes, a beach that smells like a gas station is just too much, for me.

Source : PNJ
Bloomberg Business Week

Update [2010-6-28 1:23:9 by icebergslim]:

This is the bureaucrat BUCK LEE (who comes across as a slick used car salesman, in my view) on Hardball, June 24, 2010 saying there is NO SMELL. But from what is being reported that is VASTLY INCORRECT.

Update [2010-6-28 1:27:34 by icebergslim]:

h/t Sagebrush Bob, kids just walking through OIL on Destin Beach in Florida, June 23, 2010. Unbelievable.

Cross-posted @ Daily Kos

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

This congress don't give a MICKEY-FICK, about any of us....

Yes, this congress don't care.

This congress don't care about yours, mines or ours.

Why should this congress care?

Most of this congress are MILLIONAIRES.....

Even in tough times, it's good to be a lawmaker: According to a report released this week by the Center for Responsive Politics, there are 237 millionaires serving in Congress, according to 2008 figures.

That's a slight decline from the previous year, when there were 239 millionaires in the House and Senate. But it still reflects the fact that the average lawmaker is far wealthier than his or her typical constituent. While about one percent of Americans are millionaires, 44 percent of those serving in Congress can claim as much.

"The biggest takeaway from all of this is that even thought the collective wealth of members of congress appears to have declined, members of Congress are still so much more wealthy than the average American – and even more wealthy than a lot of wealthy Americans," CRP spokesman Dave Levinthal told Hotsheet.

How can a millionaire even care about 10% unemployment, technically 9.7%, but not going down anytime soon? Shit, their bank accounts are full, their needs met at a fucking snap, why should they care?

Why should these individuals care about millions of Americans unable to pay rent, mortgage, utility bills, health insurance, car insurance....??? These millionaires have someone PAYING this for them while they run around D.C. to the various cocktail parties or making sure they are on TV looking like they are doing something!!

Why should these individuals be swayed by their own constituents, AMERICANS, unable to purchase food, sustain, etc.? Food?? For these millionaires??? PUHLEAZE...that is not even a THOUGHT for them....

This congress has repeatedly showed the ability to be the most unsympathetic congress in a very long time.

These individuals are playing with people's LIVES HERE. We, Americans, constituents are nothing but political football, being kicked around to see who wins the game. This is not right.

And it does not help anyone when we have a Democrat who states the following:
"We've had four straight months of job growth," said Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) after the House approved its version of the bill in May. "At some point you have to take a step back and look at the relative value of unemployment benefits versus people looking for jobs."

Are you kidding me? 4 straight months of job growth? Did he read the report that most of May job growth was PART TIME, TEMPORARY, CENSUS JOBS that are OVER in September? Meaning, these folks are back at the unemployment office?

It is unbelievable that congress would actually play with folk, families, individuals lives out here. It is unbelievable that congress thinks there are JOBS out here? Well, HELLO, there are not.

The days of just getting a job is over. Hell, you can't even get jobs for minimum wage at McDonald's, Duncan Donuts, Burger King, etc. In my neck of the woods, Illinois, many of these establishments have "NO HIRING" before you can even ask. For the record, Illinois' unemployment rate is 10.8%.

And the congressman, the Democrat from Pennsylvania? The unemployment in his neck of the woods is 8.7% and CLIMBING. And this gasbag has the nerve to even attempt to make a reference that maybe people are not looking for jobs? At least, it reads that way to me.

This is why people are sick of congress. And these idiots in office are OUR FAULT. Instead of electing individuals that will do what we tell them to do, they get in office and get caught up on bullshit and take their eye off the ball, us, their constituents.

For anyone in congress to believe that their are jobs out there, they are smoking some good shit and need to pass that blunt to ME, because I don't see it.

Lastly, I have many friends that have gotten their last check. One friend read to me what it stated in a letter sent to her, here in Illinois:
You have exhausted your entitlement to benefits. Legislation is pending that could make you eligible for further benefits. You will be notified if you are determined eligible for further benefits. Continue to certify every two weeks.

This coming with her having to pay her mortgage July 1, 2010. This coming that she has two kids. This coming with panic, stress and the asking of "What will happen to me, to my kids?"

This is what fucking congress is doing and it is not fucking funny.

Congress, don't give a MICKEY-FICK for what is happening to millions of Americans, but only care about the political points for November.

Well, congress, millions of these Americans vote and I hope to GOD that any one who was an obstructionist and is on the ballot, which is the Republicans and some spiny Democrats are voted the fuck out of congress. And President Obama, we need your bully pulpit NOW, we need your anger at congress NOW, we need you, NOW.....not later...

Update [2010-6-27 13:43:15 by icebergslim]:
The obstructionists are the Republicans with some spiny Democrats that go along. (this is stated in the diary) The point is that people are not going to be able to make it with their unemployment benefits squashed from a view of fat cats sitting in Washington, D.C. who believes that there are an abundance of jobs out here. This is a pure disconnect and a easy argument for the Democrats to make, NOW and use against the Republicans in November.

Update [2010-6-27 14:29:19 by icebergslim]:

Contact your congress members, here, I have already contacted mine's. Thanks to ridemybike for the links.

Update [2010-6-27 14:29:19 by icebergslim]:

And congress what is up with this? WTF?
The current lapse in extended benefits is unprecedented: Data compiled by the National Employment Law Project show that since 1959, the government has never allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire when the national unemployment rate is still above 7.2 percent. The current rate stands at 9.7 percent.

Update [2010-6-27 15:15:37 by icebergslim]:

This economy will be horrific for a very long time. As we saw the bump in housing was only due to the first time tax credit and slashes in prices. Now we see the real deal in the housing market which is not good.
KB Home (KBH) said Friday that its second-quarter orders tumbled 23%, knocking more than 7% off the stock price and providing further proof of a softening U.S. housing market that no longer offers a home-buyer tax credit.

KB Home has revamped its product line, dramatically shaving its square footage and prices, letting it compete with foreclosed houses and to focus on first-time buyers tapping the credit. But the offer expired on April 30, leading to a slowdown in that segment.

"We like this business model and generally its execution during four of the last six quarters; unfortunately, this quarter's results should send a big wake-up call," Stephen East, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities, wrote in a client note. He expected orders to rise 19%.

The order drop comes as the home-building sector struggles to recover from its worst downturn in generations. Confidence has tumbled as buyer traffic grows sparse. The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday said new-home sales plunged in May to a record low, dragged down by a lackluster job market and the foreclosure crisis that has shaved values nationwide.

If people don't have jobs and are unemployed then who is out there to purchase ANY GOODS? Can someone answer this question because this is a faux, vicious circle that keeps swarming this economy? It has not recovered, there are no jobs, foreclosures still at a record high and no relief in sight. But the smart thing is to throw folks off unemployment, into the streets?

Cross-posted @ Daily Kos

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POTUS, FLOTUS at G20 Summit

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (2nd R) and U.S. President Barack Obama stand with their wives first lady Michelle Obama and Laureen Harper (R) at the G20 Summit in Toronto, June 26, 2010.

G20 Summit

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