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Eric Greitens, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, is facing bipartisan criticism after airing a campaign ad that promoted “RINO (Republicans In Name Only) hunting.” Many Republicans and Democrats alike have called out the video, saying it promotes political violence. Social media companies reacted quickly, with Facebook removing it while Twitter prohibited users from sharing it, prompting some conservatives to accuse these platforms of political censorship. The controversy has reignited questions about Greitens’ candidacy, including if he could cost Republicans an anticipated safe-red Senate seat.
Controversy. In the political ad, Greitens urges his supporters to get a “RINO Permit” and “join the MAGA crew.” The video shows Greitens breaking into a home while holding a shotgun alongside men in camouflage uniforms. Opponents of the ad say it promotes political violence during a heightened focus on the issue amid a string of mass shootings and threats to government officials. This incident is not the first time critics have accused Greitens of promoting violence. During his run for Missouri governor in 2016, he released a campaign video in which he was using an automatic machine gun.
Social Media Takedowns. On Monday, Facebook removed the video from its platform, saying the post violated its “policies prohibiting violence and incitement.” Meanwhile, Twitter said the ad violates its rules about abusive behavior but left it up because it was in the “public’s interest” to view it. Twitter added a warning label to the post and prevented users from sharing it.
Encouraging Violence? Democrats responded with concerns about sparking violence. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) tweeted, “This type of fa[s]cist messaging needs to stop. It only encourages political violence.” Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX) called the ad “sociopathic,” saying it was “going to get someone killed.”
Conservative Backlash. While Greitens has dismissed his Republican critics as RINOs, most of the Right has turned against him. GOP Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, who are running against Greitens in the primary, released a joint statement condemning the ad. The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, which has endorsed Greitens’ primary opponent Eric Schmitt, said that Greitens “does not possess sound judgment.” Lastly, state GOP Majority Leader Caleb Rowden published a tweet saying, “Anyone with multiple accusations of abuse toward women and children should probably steer clear of this rhetoric.”
Tech Censorship. Greitens complained that social media companies were censoring his ad. He slammed these companies on Twitter, saying, “Big Tech is once again meddling in our elections and putting their thumb on the scale.” Greitens continued, “When I’m U.S. Senator, I will fight against the disgusting tech oligarchs from stealing any more elections.”
Greitens’ Candidacy. When incumbent Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (R) announced he would not seek reelection last March, political analysts widely considered the seat a lock for Republicans. The last Democratic Senator from the state was Claire McCaskill, who lost in 2018 by nearly 6%. Yet many pundits — and even some in the Republican establishment — have suggested that nominating Greitens to replace Blunt could make the race unnecessarily competitive, even in an election year that is shaping up to be a good one for Republicans.
Greitens is considered to have substantial baggage, running for Senate four years after he resigned as Governor amid a potential impeachment inquiry into alleged sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations. In March, his ex-wife claimed he physically abused her and their children.
A Historical Parallel. The current frontrunner’s attempted comeback has reminded some political analysts of one of the most infamous missed pickup opportunities in modern history. In 2012, Senate Democrats faced a tough electoral landscape, defending seats in several states that were trending conservative, including Missouri, where freshman Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill was seeking reelection. According to most polls and pundits, McCaskill faced an uphill battle and was one of the chamber’s “most endangered Democrats.”
Yet her opponent, Representative Todd Akin (R), essentially sank his own campaign just three months before the election, justifying his opposition to all abortions by saying that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy, igniting a political firestorm. The comments upended the race, making abortion one of the top issues and turning many Republican voters against Akin. While Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney beat President Obama by nearly 10%, McCaskill bested Akin by over 15%.
Some question how applicable the historical analogy is in today’s climate. Missouri has shifted further to the Right since the 2012 election, and with increasingly polarized voters, it is unclear if enough Republicans would cross the line to oppose Greitens — should he be the GOP nominee. How the race plays out remains to be seen, but those who expect a rehashing of Akin’s loss could have a surprise in store.
Eric Greitens’ latest campaign ad represents a greater darkness within the Republican Party. Political violence is now mainstream among the GOP, with right-wing candidates actively encouraging attacks on elected officials. As alarming threats against these individuals surge, ads like this further fan those flames. No network, streaming service, or social media platform should host this video or anything like it. Greitens and those that amplified this ad should face punishment for openly advocating for harming those they disagree with politically.
Most Republicans disagree with the content of this ad. While it was unsettling for many, others may have liked the harsh stance Greitens takes against RINOs. The only piece of Republican agreement is that Big Tech should not have censored the ad. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook should not suppress political candidates, it is the job of the voters to oust them instead. If fewer people have access to the advertisement, less people are likely to see it and be dissuaded from voting for Greitens.
Investigation. The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack has interviewed over 1,000 witnesses, including former Trump aides, government officials, and even some Capitol rioters. While most testified voluntarily, the panel has issued over 100 subpoenas. The investigation has culminated in a series of televised public hearings throughout June. So far, the panel has held three hearings, with two more currently scheduled.
In its first prime-time televised hearing, the committee argued that former President Trump knowingly lied about the election, inspiring the Capitol riots. They further suggested these claims present an ongoing threat to American democracy. Trump and other Republicans have dismissed the narrative that he bears responsibility for the attack, pointing to video footage of Trump asking protestors to act peacefully.
AG Barr. The panel played testimony by former Attorney General Bill Barr that the claims of election fraud were “bulls***” and of Ivanka Trump saying she accepted that statement. Following the hearing, Trump dismissed Barr as “weak and frightened” and claimed his daughter was “not involved in looking at… Election results.”
Miller Testifies. Former Trump spokesman Jason Miller testified that a data expert told the former President he had lost. However, Miller claims the panel did not air part of his testimony that the former President disagreed with the analyst’s conclusion.
Cipollone. According to the committee, former White House counsel Pat Cipollone threatened to resign several times over the former President’s post-election activity. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a former adviser, dismissed those threats as “whining.”
Pardons? The House panel says several Republican lawmakers — specifically Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) — asked for presidential pardons following the Capitol riots, raising ethics questions. A Perry spokesman called the allegation “a ludicrous and soulless lie.”
According to footage of Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former Vice President Mike Pence requested National Guard troops come to the Capitol. Some conservative commentators have suggested Milley’s revelation means Pence violated the chain of command.
Documentarian. The committee also heard testimony from Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards and Nick Quested, a documentary filmmaker. Edwards detailed how she sustained an injury during the January 6 attack and recalled how her fellow officers suffered. Meanwhile, Quested described the Proud Boys’ escalation on January 6, explaining how they played a role in the riots.
The panel’s second hearing focused on Trump’s election fraud claims and heard testimony from officials from his administration and conservative analysts saying they had no merit. They also criticized how the former President raised money from its election allegations.
Fraud Claims. The committee played extensive testimony from Bill Barr discrediting Trump’s fraud claims, specifically those related to Dominion voting machines. Eric Herschmann and Matt Morgan, two Trump lawyers, echoed Barr’s sentiment.
Benjamin Ginsberg, a renowned conservative election attorney, testified that there was “no evidence” to the former President’s allegations and that his campaign failed to prove any fraud in court, despite numerous legal challenges.
Byung J. Pak, a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, explained his investigation into Trump and his allies’ claims that a poll worker had pulled out a suitcase full of ballots and counted them again, saying the allegation was false.
Former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt (R) described death threats he received following a tweet from Trump attacking his assertion that there was no evidence of widespread election fraud in the city. Trump and his allies repeatedly claimed that 8,000 dead people had voted in Philadelphia, something Schmidt debunked.
Red Mirage. Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political analyst, explained the network’s decision to call Arizona for President Biden before any other outlet. He also discussed the so-called “Red Mirage” political phenomenon. Many states count in-person votes — which favor Republicans — before they count absentee ballots — which favor Democrats. As a result, initial vote totals skew toward Republicans, giving the illusion that they have a large lead.
Drunk Mishap? Jason Miller testified that Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, was intoxicated on Election Night and told the President to declare victory, despite several top aides urging him not to — including his campaign manager. Giuliani has denied claims that he was drunk.
Election Defense Funds. The panel also claims Trump and his allies raised $250 million from the stolen election claim, asking supporters to donate to the “Election Defense Fund.” According to its investigation, the committee says no such fund exists, and it was merely a marketing strategy — they say most of the money went to support Trump, not election-related litigation.
The committee’s third hearing focused on a Trump-supported legal strategy from one of his advisors — John Eastman — to have Pence unilaterally delay electoral certification or reject swing-state electors outright. It also claimed Trump endangered his Vice President after Pence refused to act on that plan.
Potential Political Move. Former Pence lawyer Greg Jacob and retired conservative Judge J. Michael Luttig testified that the former Vice President did not have the legal authority to do what Trump and Eastman were pressuring him to do. Pence’s Chief of Staff, Marc Short, said the Vice President repeatedly told the pair that the plan was unconstitutional. Jacob claims that even Eastman admitted his suggested actions violated federal law and says Eastman conceded to him that they would lose unanimously if the issue went before the Supreme Court. The panel released an email from Eastman to Rudy Giuliani asking for a presidential pardon in the aftermath of the Capitol riot.
Committee’s Argument. Despite those legal doubts, advisors say Trump continued to press Pence to throw out swing-state electors, insulting him repeatedly for his opposition. However, Trump has since denied saying some of the comments.
The committee argues that Trump and Eastman’s continued public insistence that Pence could throw out electoral votes spurred violence and caused rioters to target him. They claim that Trump sent out a tweet attacking Pence even after his advisors told him there was violence at the Capitol, further suggesting that the tweet led the mob to hunt the Vice President. Investigators also revealed that the rioters came within 40 feet of Pence.
Criminal Charges? Given committee members’ repeated assertion that the former President committed crimes, some wonder if the investigation will result in a criminal trial. While the panel cannot indict Trump, it can recommend charges to the Department of Justice. Members have given conflicting messages about whether it will do so, though Attorney General Merrick Garland has publicly stated he is watching the hearings. Whether that will result in a criminal indictment against Trump remains to be seen.
Solitary. Many participants in the January 6 Capitol riots are being held in solitary confinement in Washington, D.C.’s city jail for 23 hours a day. The decision is unusual since people accused of a crime must first receive a bail hearing. There has been bipartisan opposition as Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has stated, “I do not believe in solitary confinement for extended periods of time for anyone.” The ACLU issued a statement saying, “Prolonged solitary confinement is torture and certainly should not be used as a punitive tool to intimidate or extract cooperation.”
Partisan Claims. Many Republicans have criticized the January 6 committee as a political tool for election purposes. Similar to the Russian investigation, which didn’t convict President Trump of any wrongdoing, Republicans claim the committee’s purpose is to turn media coverage away from recent economic issues. Republicans point to an ex-ABC executive being used as a “secret advisor” and the lack of chosen Republicans on the committee as evidence the hearings are a partisan show.
The January 6 committee’s bombshell hearings have made it abundantly clear that former President Trump and his cronies knowingly pushed election lies to overturn a free and fair election. They did so for financial and political advantage, with no regard to the immense harm to American democracy. These actions were criminal, and all those responsible should bear the full penalty of the law. Now, Trump is going on a revenge tour, trying to replace those who rejected the attempted coup with insurrectionist-sympathizers so they can overturn future elections. We must remain vigilant and keep election-deniers out of office — America’s democracy depends on it.
The January 6 committee is a partisan show trial made up of Democrats and two wannabe Democrats that were censured by the Republican Party. This prime-time event is a poor attempt to shift the news narrative away from President Biden’s failures and to persecute Republicans for the acts of a few rioters. Where was the outrage and prime-time committees when Left-wing extremists rioted throughout the country in 2020. On 5/29, violent Leftists attempted to storm the White House, burn down a historic church, injured hundreds of police, and send the President to the security bunker. This received praise in the media, while grandmas who were invited into the Capitol by police are being placed in solitary confinement. In addition, we have yet to figure out why Ray Epps received a pardon by the January 6 committee when there is video evidence of him inciting the riot, removing barricades, and entering the building. The double standards, lack of evidence, and partisanship demonstrate that Democrats are facing a terrible 2022 election year, and will stop at nothing to change the narrative.
With inflation surging to a four-decade high last month, pressure has increased on the Federal Reserve — often called the Fed — to take more aggressive steps to combat rising prices. The Fed is the United States’ central bank and oversees the nation’s monetary policy. Among other goals, the Fed sets a target inflation rate of 2% each year — far below current levels. Since March, the Fed has repeatedly raised the federal funds rate to combat surging inflation, including a 0.75% increase on Wednesday — the largest hike since 1994. Yet economists say that such rapid hikes could negatively impact economic growth and warn a recession might be on the horizon.
Inflation. According to Investopedia, “inflation is the decline of purchasing power of a given currency over time.” This means that one dollar cannot buy the same amount of goods or services as it could in years past. While moderate, steady inflation promotes spending and marks a healthy economy, rapidly rising prices are problematic. Currently, record inflation is straining Americans’ wallets, especially as groceries and gas prices continue to increase. Prices rose 8.3% from last year — the largest jump in the past 40 years.
Federal Funds Rate. The Fed plays a key role in moderating inflation primarily by changing the federal funds rate. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sets this rate for banks to borrow and lend money to one another. The federal funds rate has varied wildly, from a historic high of 20% in the early 1980s to near-zero levels during the Covid-19 pandemic. Following Wednesday’s hike, the target range is 1.5-1.75%. The Committee’s decision to raise this rate effectively makes borrowing more expensive for consumers and drives down demand. This reduced demand can lower prices.
Fed’s Economic Outlook. The 0.75% rate hike is a drastic step to rein in inflation, and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that he does not expect such increases to be common. However, the FOMC says it will continue to raise rates until it sees “compelling evidence” that prices are decreasing. Yet even amid the economic uncertainty, the Committee released a generally optimistic statement about the economy, touting an increase in overall economic activity, “robust” job gains, and low unemployment. It expects inflation to be substantially tamer next year, with its projections showing a 2.6% rate — slightly higher than its preferred target but a sharp decrease from its current levels.
Rate Hike Impact. The Fed’s rate hike will have ripple effects throughout the economy and impact American consumers in various ways. Concerns over how the Fed’s actions could weaken economic growth have already contributed to a volatile stock market, with stocks dropping notably and traders becoming more and more nervous. Its persistent increases will also drive up mortgage rates and loans without fixed interest rates — such as car loans and credit card debt. Consequently, financial analysts are encouraging consumers to pay off any debt that they currently have.
Lowering Prices. While the Fed plays a significant role in driving the money supply, impacting supply and demand and thus inflation, it does not have the tools to address many other factors contributing to rising costs, like clogged supply chains and labor shortages. Additionally, experts say the move will have a minimal impact on surging food and gas prices. While raising interest rates decreases borrowing and demand, it does nothing to address supply shocks in those markets, such as those created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ensuing sanctions.
What is a Recession? A recession is a sustained period of significant economic decline. Analysts have traditionally measured it by two consecutive quarters (six months) of declining economic performance, though the modern definition considers other factors, such as increasing unemployment. Recent polls have shown many Americans are increasingly fearful that the U.S. is on the verge of a recession.
Doubts About a “Soft Landing.” In raising interest rates to combat inflation, the Fed has repeatedly asserted the idea of achieving a “soft landing” — a term economists use to describe a slowdown of growth that does not induce a recession. However, many economists are increasingly doubtful that the Fed will be able to reduce inflation without causing a downturn. If the Fed raises interest rates too quickly, they risk decreasing consumer demand too much and harming the economy, driving businesses to lay off workers. In the past five times that inflation peaked above 5%, a recession followed, raising doubts that the Fed can successfully tighten rising prices without inducing one this time.
We must be clear — the economy will face short-term pains to combat rising inflation. Yet Republicans are weaponizing Americans’ pain, wrongfully and knowingly pinning sole blame on Democrats. Any economist will tell you that their talking points are lies. Incredibly complex circumstances have combined to cause surging prices, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and lagging supply chains. Further, their false messaging has given greedy corporations a cover to hike prices and weakened consumer confidence, prolonging economic suffering.
Months ago, President Biden received a letter from oil associations listing recommendations for mitigating the coming recession. These included proposals like eliminating tariffs which increase the price of goods, reducing federal spending, and removing regulations. In response, Biden sent a letter insulting oil executives as greedy, and rather than accepting his policies have devastated America, he blamed Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the economic crisis. The Democrats are driving the economy into the ground as Americans begin to realize the only economic fix is to vote for Republicans.
In the wake of the mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, and several others around the country in recent weeks, lawmakers have grappled with how to approach gun violence in the United States. While many Democrats have called for stricter gun regulations, Republicans argue for enhanced school security and addressing rampant mental health issues. As part of those proposals, some on the Right have called on states to arm teachers.
On Monday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed a bill to do just that. Under House Bill 99 (HB 99), school districts can allow employees to carry firearms after up to 24 hours of training. Republicans say the law will prevent shootings and save lives, while Democrats say it will result in deadly accidents and send the wrong message.
Reducing Extensive Training. Last year, a narrow majority of the Ohio Supreme Court interpreted a longstanding state law to require teachers to undergo the same training as a peace officer — over 700 hours — before carrying a firearm at school. DeWine and other Republicans argued that the ruling made it unmanageable for districts to arm teachers. In response, they put forth this measure, reducing that requirement substantially. The bill passed through the General Assembly largely along partisan lines, with a handful of Republicans joining unified Democratic opposition.
New Program. DeWine argued that he and the legislature had eliminated hundreds of hours of the existing training program irrelevant to school safety, ensuring the curriculum is specific to schools. Under HB 99, teachers can begin carrying after up to 24 hours of training, although school districts can require additional hours. All programs must receive approval from the Ohio School Safety Center, which is receiving funding for 28 new employees under the legislation to work with the districts to improve security. Armed personnel must take up to eight hours of training each year to remain eligible, which school boards would authorize, pay for, and then notify the public. However, the program is entirely optional, and no teacher will have to carry a weapon if they do not want to.
Other Programs. At a press conference discussing the bill, DeWine touted several other measures he believes will combat shootings, including increased school safety and mental health initiative funding. The state allocated $100 million for school security upgrades and $5 million for universities. Additionally, Ohio has approved $1.2 billion for mental health programs and other school wellness initiatives.
Opposition. Several Ohio Democratic Mayors slammed the legislation, saying Republicans failed to consider stricter gun control, such as universal background checks, red flag laws, and raising the legal age to buy a gun to 21. Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who is running against DeWine for governor, argued that HB 99 makes communities less safe and said DeWine has “once again ignored calls from Ohioans to ‘Do Something’ about gun violence.”
Several lobbying groups also opposed the measure, including teachers’ unions, the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, and pro-gun control groups. They argued that arming teachers increases the risk of dangerous accidents and is irresponsible.
Republicans Defend. While some Republicans — like DeWine — say they prefer districts hire additional school resource officers, they argue the law presents another tool for schools to protect students. They suggest armed school personnel will discourage shootings and reduce their deadliness. Others claim that the legislation is essential for rural schools. State Representative Thomas Hall (R), who sponsored the bill, said that those districts often cannot afford school resource officers and face longer response times from law enforcement.
STRONG Ohio. Following a mass shooting in Dayton in August 2019, the Governor proposed his “STRONG Ohio” plan, which would impose harsher penalties for violent felons caught with guns and keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people. It also expanded the state’s existing background checks system. However, his fellow Republicans in the legislature have shown little interest in taking up these proposals.
Removing Restrictions. In recent years Republican lawmakers have eased some firearm laws. In December 2020, they approved a bill changing the rules for using deadly force — known as a “stand your ground” law. Previously, the state required a person to attempt to retreat in public before firing a weapon. Under the new law, Ohioans may shoot wherever they are, provided they “fear for their life or serious bodily injury.”
Earlier this year, Ohio Republicans also passed a “permitless carry” or “constitutional carry” law. This legislation allows Ohioans 21 and older to carry and conceal a firearm without a permit or completing the eight-hour training course that was previously required. After Governor DeWine signed it into law in March, the law took effect on Monday.
House Bill 99 is a slap in the face of gun violence survivors. Instead of addressing the core cause of gun violence — the vast presence of firearms — Ohio Republicans are doing the exact opposite. Teachers and law enforcement agree with Democrats — putting guns in the classroom is irresponsible and dangerous. This new law allows teachers to carry firearms with almost no hands-on training, greatly increasing the chance of deadly accidents in our schools. We must enact commonsense gun reforms that will actually address the roots of these shootings, including red flag laws and universal background checks.
It is a shame that Democrats believe your Second Amendment rights to self-defense stop at the school doors. Having seen the lack of police response in shootings like Uvalde and Parkland, Republicans have taken a step toward ensuring schools are no longer a soft target. Republicans have created an optional program of training to help teachers safely carry their firearms on campus. This preventative measure is a return to how schools operated before the school gun ban and will deter evil individuals from attacking our schools.
In the aftermath of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, a bipartisan group of senators — led by Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) — worked to create a gun reform bill that could garner enough support to overcome the chamber’s 60-vote filibuster threshold.
These lawmakers faced a daunting task — despite many similar meetings following past mass shootings, Congress has not approved gun-related legislation in years. Yet despite long odds, the working group announced yesterday they had created a framework they believe can pass. The proposal includes grants to states for enacting red flag laws, background check reform, and funding for school safety and mental health initiatives.
Goals. In revealing the framework, the group said: “Today, we are announcing a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country. Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities.”
Framework. According to the bipartisan working group, the proposal:
Noteworthy Absences. The deal falls far short of the many strict regulations President Biden called for in a national address in early June (see Civil’s breakdown of those policies here). Last week, the House approved a sweeping gun package along largely partisan lines with many of those provisions. However, many of its measures were notably absent from Sunday’s compromise, including a ban on selling semiautomatic weapons to under-21 buyers.
Democratic Praise. Several prominent Democrats praised the legislation as modest but meaningful. President Biden said the deal “does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.” He called for both chambers to approve the bill, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) vowed to put the agreement to a vote as soon as it is finalized. Senators Sinema and Joe Manchin (D-WV) — both of whom have deviated from their party on many high-profile issues — support the deal, suggesting a unified Democratic front.
Clearing the Filibuster. Twenty senators — including 10 Republicans — released a statement calling for the framework’s passage. In the evenly split Senate, 10 is the magic number for Democrats, who need that many GOP votes and all 50 Democrats’ approval to pass the bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised the bipartisan group’s work but stopped short of an outright endorsement of the deal. He said he hopes the agreement “makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate, and makes a difference for the country.”
House Progressives. While the deal faces an uncertain future in the Senate, most analysts expect relatively easy passage in the House. Although some more progressive House members have shown mild displeasure at the proposal, they will likely still support the legislation. President Biden and Democratic congressional leaders have already endorsed the deal — as have several prominent pro-gun control groups (see Brady, Giffords, and Everytown) — increasing pressure on Democrats to vote for the bill.
Official Bill Still to Come. According to negotiators, the finalized legislative text will take shape over the coming days. It is unclear how long it will take, and the bill’s exact language could spark new debates. However, the announcement indicates strong momentum toward enacting the deal.
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