On January 30th, the South China Morning Post bannered “How Donald Trump could change the course of Meng Wanzhou’s ‘years-long’ battle against extradition: Canada usually complies with extradition requests but the China-US trade war – and the US president’s apparent willingness to intervene in the case – could make the difference this time.” That “‘years-long’ battle” referred to an expected future “years-long” legal wrangling over Wanzhou, not to anything in the past, because the extradition request was made by U.S. President Donald Trump only on December 1st of last year.
Canada’s press likewise is reporting the intense political nature of Trump’s demand to bring Wanzhou, one of China’s top international corporate executives, to the U.S., on criminal charges. On January 28th, Canada’s Global News TV network headlined “Conservatives slam Liberals for handling of Meng Wanzhou case” and “Liberals say Conservatives making ‘false claims’ on China”.
On January 29th, Toronto’s Globe and Mail headlined “U.S. formally requests extradition of Meng Wanzhou to face financial fraud charges”, and reported that “Canada has received a formal request from the United States for the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, officially starting the clock on a complex process that could ultimately see her sent stateside to face multiple charges of financial fraud. … Ms. Meng, who is living in her Vancouver home, appeared briefly in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday for a bail adjustment hearing.”
China’s Government views “Western egoism and white supremacy” behind Trump’s actions in this case.
On January 9th, China’s Ambassador to Canada reacted to the 1 December 2018 arrest of the the mega-corporate Chinese executive Wanzhou by saying:
Without violating any Canadian law, Meng was arrested last month and put in handcuffs just as she was changing planes at the Vancouver International Airport. … Some people in Canada, without any evidence, have been hyping the idea that Huawei is controlled by the Chinese government and poses security threats to Canada and other Western countries, and that Chinese law requires China’s enterprises to collaborate with the government in espionage activities. However, these same people have conveniently ignored the PRISM Program, Equation Group, and Echelon — global spying networks operated by some countries that have been engaging in large-scale and organized cyber stealing, and spying and surveillance activities on foreign governments, enterprises, and individuals. … Something is considered as “safeguarding national security” when it is done by Western countries. But it is termed “conducting espionage” when done by China. What’s the logic? … The reason why some people are used to arrogantly adopting double standards is due to Western egoism and white supremacy. In such a context, the rule of law is nothing but a tool for their political ends and a fig leaf for their practising hegemony in the international arena.
The U.S. arrest warrant alleged that Wanzhou had violated Trump’s anti-Iran sanctions. However, Trump himself had instituted those sanctions after his having single-handedly, and in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that all treaties must be approved by at least two-thirds of all sitting U.S. Senators, failed to seek such Constitutionally mandated approval (and his predecessor, Barack Obama, had likewise committed the United States to ending those sanctions by Obama’s violating the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of at least a two-thirds vote approving in the Senate any treaty-change). Violating the U.S. Constitution is now perhaps even the norm for the U.S. Government, especially regarding international relations. And the U.S. Supreme Court almost never intervenes or objects, at all, in any way. The U.S. Constitution is dying, if not dead, at least on many of the most important issues.
(Incidentally, at the time, 9 June 2010, when the sanctions were first being imposed against Iran, Susan Rice, Obama’s U.S. U.N. Ambassador, had endorsed them heartily, by saying, “Today, the Security Council has responded decisively to the grave threat to international peace and security posed by Iran’s failure to live up to its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).” So, these sanctions were instituted by the U.N. Security Council in 2010 with Obama’s support. However, in order for the U.S. to participate in them without violating the U.S. Constitution, a two-thirds vote of the U.S. Senate was necessary, but no such vote was ever held in the U.S. Senate. And such ignoring of the U.S. Constitution is normal. Furthermore, the White House proudly announced on 31 July 2012, during President Obama’s re-election campaign, that “With President Obama’s leadership, the United States gained the support of Russia, China, and other nations to pass United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 in June 2010, which created the most comprehensive and stinging international sanctions the Iranian regime has ever faced.” It wasn’t until Obama’s coup in Ukraine in February 2014, that Russia’s leader, Putin, knew that Obama had been deceiving him that Obama was intending to reverse, or “reset”, former U.S. President G.H.W. Bush’s secret policy since the time of 24 February 1990 to continue America’s Cold War against Russia even after the Soviet Union and its communism and Warsaw Pact would end, as they all did in the following year, 1991. Obama had used that deceit in 2010 to get Russia and China onboard America’s anti-Iran train. Under Trump, it’s a train that’s crashing through to China. All of this — everything — is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s two-thirds-of-Senate clause. U.S. foreign policies are established, and set, almost entirely in secret, and without any public debate, even in the U.S. Senate. That’s the reality: a secretly imposed dictatorship. This is America’s reality, today.)
On December 11th of 2018, the economist Jeffrey Sachs bannered, at Asia Times, “Meng arrest a huge provocation to China”, and he said:
The context of the arrest matters enormously. The US requested that Canada arrest Meng in the Vancouver airport en route to Mexico from Hong Kong, and then extradite her to the US. Such a move is almost a US declaration of war on China’s business community. …
The US rarely arrests senior businesspeople, US or foreign, for alleged crimes committed by their companies. Corporate managers are usually arrested for their alleged personal crimes (such as embezzlement, bribery or violence) rather than their company’s alleged malfeasance.
Yes, corporate managers should be held to account for their company’s malfeasance, up to and including criminal charges; but to start this practice with a leading Chinese businessperson, rather than the dozens of culpable US CEOs and CFOs, is a stunning provocation to the Chinese government, business community, and public.
Meng is charged with violating US sanctions on Iran. Yet consider her arrest in the context of the large number of companies, US and non-US, that have violated US sanctions against Iran and other countries. In 2011, for example, JPMorgan Chase paid US$88.3 million in fines for violating US sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Sudan. Yet chief executive officer Jamie Dimon wasn’t grabbed off a plane and whisked into custody.
And JPMorgan Chase was hardly alone in violating US sanctions. Since 2010, the following major financial institutions paid fines for violating US sanctions: Banco do Brasil, Bank of America, Bank of Guam, Bank of Moscow, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Clearstream Banking, Commerzbank, Compass, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, JP Morgan Chase, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, National Bank of Pakistan, PayPal, RBS (ABN Amro), Société Générale, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Trans-Pacific National Bank (now known as Beacon Business Bank), Standard Chartered, and Wells Fargo.
None of the CEOs or CFOs of these sanction-busting banks was arrested and taken into custody for these violations. …
Quite transparently, the US action against Meng is really part of the Trump administration’s broader attempt to undermine China’s economy by imposing tariffs, closing Western markets to Chinese high-technology exports, and blocking Chinese purchases of US and European technology companies. One can say, without exaggeration, that this is part of an economic war on China. … They certainly have nothing to do with upholding the international rule of law.
The US is targeting Huawei especially because of the company’s success in marketing cutting-edge fifth-generation (5G) wireless technologies globally. …
Sanctions regarding non-national parties (such as US sanctions on a Chinese business) should not be enforced by one country alone, but according to agreements reached within the United Nations Security Council. In that regard, UN Security Council Resolution 2231 calls on all countries to drop sanctions on Iran as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. Yet the US – and only the US – now rejects the Security Council’s role in such matters.
Michael Moore’s latest documentary film, Fahrenheit 11/9 (not to be confused with his 2004 Fahrenheit 9/11) documents that throughout the career of Donald Trump, he has been racist in his actions, even where he wasn’t also racist in his explanations of his actions. Moore also documented there the full participation of Trump’s predecessor, President Obama, in the Republican Michigan Governor Richard Snyder’s having caused and then covered up the lead-poisoning of Flint Michigan’s children, who are overwhelmingly Blacks. However, with Obama, the contempt appears to have been against the poor, whereas with Trump, there is, in addition to that classism, clearly a hatred of racial and ethnic minorities. That’s perhaps the major difference between the two men.
Could it then be that Trump’s now-indubitable racism is part of his sense of “Make America Great Again” (the alleged basis of his trade-policies)? The Republican Party says that it’s not, but they also deny that Trump is a racist, which now clearly is a false allegation about him — he certainly is a racist.
How much more about America’s foreign policies might Trump’s deep-seated white-supremacist racism be affecting those policies — especially trade-policies (and this includes, of course, economic sanctions)?
Given the evidence that’s presented in Moore’s documentary, his racism has been expressed — in his actions — against Blacks, and it has also been widely expressed, even also verbally, against Hispanics, and, perhaps even more blatantly, against Muslims (except not against U.S.-allied aristocracies, such as the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia).
In keeping with the majority of America’s Christians, Trump is not racist against Jews. He even is largely financed by Jewish billionaires, such as the Israeli Sheldon Adelson. But whether he is racist against Chinese is, as of yet, an open question. But now, China’s Government has raised the issue.
The Chinese Government is certainly not going beyond the bounds of the evidence and of logic, to raise this question.
Furthermore, Sachs’s own statement against Trump on this matter is actually a damnation against not only Trump but also against all recent U.S. Presidents and their Administrations, when Sachs said, “Yes, corporate managers should be held to account for their company’s malfeasance, up to and including criminal charges; but to start this practice with a leading Chinese businessperson, rather than the dozens of culpable US CEOs and CFOs, is a stunning provocation to the Chinese government, business community, and public.” Sachs was saying there that, up till the present time, it has never been the case that “corporate managers” are “held to account for their company’s malfeasance, up to and including criminal charges.” He is there alleging that the only, or virtually only, people who are in prison in the United States, are people who are not “corporate managers” who themselves carried out, or rewarded or incentivized their employees to carry out, “their company’s malfeasance.” Only lower-level people are subjected to any significant imprisonment in the United States, no matter how corrupt the mega-corporations are. He is saying that America, which has the world’s highest percentage of people in prison, allows “corporate managers” to perpetrate, and to reward their employees for perpetrating, “criminal” acts. So, although America is an incredible police-state regarding its poor (and the Moore film also copiously displays that fact) Sachs, there, is saying that “corporate managers” in the United States are actually above the Law. That’s a remarkable admission from him — and it’s true. For the aristocracy, America is no police-state at all, except one that protects them and their privileges — privileges both legal and otherwise, both in prison and on the outside.
Another meticulously researched nonfiction movie, this a top-quality “docu-drama,” is the 2014 Kill the Messenger, about how the CIA was caught organizing and protecting narcotics kingpins and using kickbacks from this multibillion-dollar-per-year illegal business to finance off-the-books foreign regime-change operations, which are too costly to be funded merely in the official ways. The same U.S. Presidents who were famously waging “The War Against Drugs” were secretly having their CIA use the illegal narcotics trade in order to pump up up their regime-changes abroad, to serve America’s billionaires’ interests. And then the mainly Blacks who became victimized by, and who participated in, this trade got slammed into prison for it, while their CIA-cooperating bosses did not. This movie is a cult classic amongst investigative journalists, because it shows how the CIA destroyed and perhaps murdered the great investigative reporter, Gary Webb, who revealed the scandal. America’s major ‘news’-media fired him and never allowed him ever again to work for them. Then, once Webb’s career was destroyed by that blacklisting of him on the part of the ‘news’-organizations, and he was in obscurity, he died mysteriously with two bullets in his head, and few among the public even heard about the murder, at the time. It seems that Webb never got to know that the CIA’s narcotics trafficking kickbacks had begun with the CIA’s first-ever coup, which was in 1948 Thailand and installed there a general who was the lynchpin for the southeast Asian narcotics network and who helped establish, with Nugan Hand, the CIA’s future dependence upon drug-trafficking. So, both regime-change and narcotics-trafficking were joined together right at the CIA’s very start. But Gary Webb reported only about the Reagan-era part of this longstanding (if not permanent) CIA system. And this was the first time that any part of this seedy history became publicly known (to the extent it did, at all).
It’s not merely Trump, and Moore’s documentary made clear that Obama was just as psychopathic against the poor as Trump is, though slick enough to hide it, even from the people who despise Trump for his racism.
In Praise of the Lioness of Law: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her Jurisprudence
The death of the US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has created an abyss in the court for the liberal voice where justice Ginsburg was seen as the linchpin of the liberal block of the Supreme Court at a time when that block was shrinking. Especially late judge had vociferously advocated for women ‘rights, environmental issues and often came up with unique dissents in delivering her judgements which were propelled by her jurisprudence which embodied the solemn ideal in American legal system “Equal Protection under the Law “. She was on a quest to defend the delicate balance between honoring the timelessness of American Constitution and recognizing the depth of its enduring principles in new centuries and under new circumstances.
She grew up in an era where men held the helm in every aspect of social life and especially the legal profession was utterly dominated by men. Recalling her legal studies at Harvard law school in the 50’s judge Ginsburg had stated later how she was once asked by the Dean of Harvard law school to justify her position as a law student that otherwise would have gone to a man. Yet she had the spunk to overcome all the obstacles stood on her way and excelled as a scholar becoming the first female member of the Harvard Law Review.
In tracing her legal career that it becomes a salient fact, Judge Ginsburg marked her name in American legal history even decades before she joined the bench. While at the American Civil Liberties Union in the early seventies she made an upheaval in American in legal system in famous Supreme Court Case Reed Vs Reed. In Reed Vs Reed the brief drafted by Ginsburg provided an astute analysis on the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause. Ginsburg’s brief changed the aged long practice existed in the State of Idaho on favoring men over women in estate battles by paving the path for a discourse on gender equality rights in the USA.
Judge Ginsburg’s appointment to the Supreme Court in 1994 during Clinton administration marked the dawn of new jurisprudential chapter in the US Supreme Court. Two terms later, in the United States v. Virginia (VMI), Justice Ginsburg applied her lucid perspective to a sharply disputed constitutional claim. The United States challenged Virginia’s practice of admitting only men to its prestigious military college, the Virginia Military Institute. Writing for six Justices, Ginsburg held this policy unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. In reaching this result, Ginsburg adroitly cut away potentially confounding issues about women’s participation in the military or the advantages of single-sex education.
Her robust activism in securing gender equality often attracted the admirations of the feminist scholars and activists, but it should be noted that her contribution was not only confined to the protection of gender equality. She was a robust critique of racial dissemination which still pervades in American society and she frequently pointed out how racial discrimination has marred the constitutional protections guaranteed to every citizen. Especially in the case of Gratz Vs Bollitnger, she stressed on the commitment that the state ought to fulfil by eliminating the racial biases existing employment and education. Moreover, disabled citizens. In Olmstead v. Zimring, she held that “unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination” violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.45 She elaborated a two-fold concept of discrimination, noting that unneeded institutionalization both “perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life”.
In remembering the mortal departure of this prudent judge that one cannot forget her keenness in incorporating international law into her judgements regardless of the disinclination shown by conservative judges like Antony Scalia. Going beyond the mere textualism approach to the law, Ginsburg’s jurisprudence was much more akin to using international law to make substantive decisions. For instance, in her concurring verdict in Grutter Vs Bollinger, Justice Ginsburg relied upon international human rights law, and in particular upon two United Nations conventions, to support her conclusions.
Indeed, the demise of Ruth Ginsburg is a major blow for the liberalists in the USA, especially in an era where liberalist values are at stake under the fervent rise of populist waves propounded by Donald Trump. Especially late judge had been one of the harsh critics of Trump even before ascendency to the Oval office. The void created by the demise of judge Ginsburg might change the role the US Supreme Court if the successor to her position would take a more conservative approach and it will fortify the conservative bloc in the US Supreme Court. Trump has already placed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh and the third pick would more deeply entrench the conservative views in the US Supreme Court, which would inevitably undermine the progressive policies taken during Obama’s administration towards issues such as the environment. The political storm appeared after the death of the late judge has already created a tense situation in US politics as president Trump is determined to appoint a judge to fill before the presidential election in November.
The Politics of (In)security in Mexico: Between Narcissism and Political Failure
Security cannot be that easily separated from the political realm. The need for security is the prime reason why people come together to collectively form a state. Providing security is, therefore, one of the most basic functions of the state as a political and collective entity.
Last Friday, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) laughed during his daily morning press briefings over a national newspaper headline about 45 massacres during his presidency. This attitude summarises in a macabre way his approach to insecurity: it is not his top priority. This is not the first time that AMLO has showed some serious and deeply disturbing lack of empathy for victims of crimes. Before taking office, he knew that insecurity was one of Mexico’s biggest challenges, and he has come to realise that curbing it down will not be as simple as he predicted during his presidential campaign.
Since the start of the War on Drugs in 2006, Mexico has sunk into a deep and ever-growing spiral of violence and vigilantism as a result of the erosion of the capacity of the state to provide safety to citizens. Vigilantism is when citizens decide to take the law into their own hands in order to fill the vacuum left by the state, or to pursue their own very particular interests. Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Veracruz have over 50 vigilante organisations that pose substantial danger to the power of the state.
Vigilantism is not the only factor exacerbating the security crisis in Mexico: since 2006, young people have also started to join drug cartels and other criminal organisations. There are important sectors of the population who feel that the state has failed to represent them. They also feel betrayed because the state has not been able to provide them with the necessary means to better themselves. These frustrations make them vulnerable to the indoctrination of organised crime gangs who promise to give them some sort of ideological direction and solution to their problems.
As a result, it is not enough to carry out a kingpin arrest strategy and to preach on the moral duties we have as citizens as well as on human dignity. People need to be given enough means to find alternative livelihoods that are attractive enough to take them out of organised crime, Mexico can draw some important lessons from Sierra Leone who successfully demobilised and resettled ex-combatants after the armed conflict. Vigilantism, recruitment by organised crime, and insecurity have also flourished because of a lack of deterrence. The judicial system is weak and highly ineffective. A large proportion of the population does not trust the police, or the institutions in charge of the rule of law.
A long-term strategy requires linking security with politics. It needs to address not only the consequences but also the roots of unemployment and deep inequality. However, doing so requires decisive actions to root out widespread and vicious corruption. Corruption allows concentration of wealth and also prevents people from being held accountable. This perpetuates the circle of insecurity. Mexico has been slowly moving towards a borderline failed state. The current government is starting to lose legitimacy and the fragility of the state is further perpetuated by the undemocratic, and predatory governance of the current administration.
Creating a safer Mexico requires a strong, coherent, and stable leadership, AMLO’s administration is far from it. His popularity has consistently fallen as a result of his ineffective policies to tackle the pandemic, worsening insecurity, and the economic crisis. Mexico has reached over 72,000 Covid-19 deaths; during his initial 20 months as incumbent president, there has been 53,628 murders, among them 1800 children or teenagers, and 5888 women (11 women killed per day) This criminality rate is double than what it was during the same period in the presidency of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012); and 55% higher than with the last president, Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). Mexico is also experiencing its worst economic recession in 90 years.
Insecurity remains as the issue of most concern among Mexicans, seeing the president laughing about it, can only fill citizens with yet more despair and lack of trusts in the government and its institutions. AMLO’s catastrophic performance is not surprising, though. Much of his failures and shortcomings can be explained by both ideology and a narcissistic personality. Having someone with both of those traits ruling a country under normal, peaceful times is already dangerous enough, add an economic crisis and a pandemic to the mix and the result is utter chaos.
AMLO embodies the prototypical narcissist: he has a grandiose self-image; an inflated ego; a constant need for admiration; and intolerance to criticism. He, like many other narcissists, thinks about himself too much and too often, making him incapable of considering the wellbeing of other and unable to pursue the public interest. He has a scapegoat ready to blame for his failures and mistakes: previous administrations, conservatives, neoliberalism, academics, writers, intellectuals, reporters, scientists, you name it, the list is long and keeps getting longer.
AMLO keeps contradicting himself and he does not realise it. He has been claiming for months that the pandemic is under control: it is not. He declares Mexico is ready to face the pandemic and we have enough tests and medical equipment: we do not. He says Mexico is on its way to economic recovery: it is not. He states corruption is a thing of the past: it is not. He says Mexico is now safer than ever before: it is not. When told the opposite he shrugs criticism off and laughs, the behaviour of a typical narcissist.
AMLO, alike narcissists, due to his inability to face criticism, has never cared about surrounding himself by the best and brightest. He chose a bunch of flunkies as members of his cabinet who try to please and not humiliate their leader. A further trait of narcissistic personalities is that they love conflict and division as this keeps them under control. The more destabilisation and antagonism, the better. AMLO since the start of his presidency has been setting states against states for resources and for pandemic responses, instead of coordinating a national response. He is also vindictive: playing favourites with those governors who follow him and punishing those that oppose him.
Deep down, narcissistic leaders are weak. AMLO is genuinely afraid to lead. He simply cannot bring himself to make decisions that are solely his. This is why he has relied on public referendums and consultations to cancel projects or advance legislation. He will not take any responsibility if something goes wrong: It was not him who decided, it was the people, blame them. He inherited a broken system that cannot be fixed during his term, blame the previous administrations, not him.
AMLO is a prime example of a textbook narcissist, unfortunately he is not the only one: Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Recep Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte are only a few more examples of what seems to be a normalised behaviour in contemporary politics. Every aspect of AMLO’s and other leaders presidencies have been heavily marked by their psychopathology. Narcissism, however, does not allow proper and realistic self-assessment, self-criticism, and self-appreciation therefore such leaders will simply ignore the red flags in their administration and have no clue how despicably and disgracefully they will be remembered.
Minor Successes And The Coronavirus Disaster: Is Trump A Dead Duck?
That reminder from the Bible, ‘He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone’ may give us pause — but not journalists who by all appearances assume exemption. And the stones certainly bruise.
Evidence for the bruises lies in the latest poll numbers. Overall, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump 50 to 43 percent, a margin that has continued to increase since January. It is also considerably wider than the few points lead Hillary Clinton had over Trump four years ago. It gets worse for Trump.
In the industrial states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump in 2016 won by razor thin margins, he is losing by over 4 percent. Also key to his victory was Wisconsin where, despite his success in getting dairy products into Canada, he is behind by a substantial 7 percent. Key states Ohio and Florida are also going for the Democrats.
Trump was not doing so badly until the coronavirus struck and during the course of his news conferences he displayed an uncaring persona larded with incompetence. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man he fired for correcting Trumpian exaggerations became a hero and Trump the bully.
If that bullying nature won him small rewards with allies, he hit an impasse with China and Iran … while bringing the two closer to each other. Then there is the border wall, a sore point for our southern neighbor Mexico. President Lopez Obrador made sure the subject never came up at the July meeting with Trump, Thus Mexico is not paying for it so far and will not be in the foreseeable future.
The United Arab Emirates, a conglomeration of what used to be the Trucial States under British hegemony. have agreed to formalize its already fairly close relations with Israel. In return, Israel has postponed plans to annex the West Bank. Whether or not it is in Israel’s long term interest to do so is a debatable question because it provides much more powerful ammunition to its critics who already accuse it of becoming an apartheid regime. However, it had become Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sop to the right wing who will have to wait. Of course, the reality is that Israel is already the de facto ruler.
If Mr. Trump was crowing about the agreement signed on September 15, although it is akin to someone signing an agreement with Puerto Rico while the United States remains aloof. As a postscript, the little island of Bahrain also signed a peace deal with Israel. Bahrain has had its own problems in that a Sunni sheikh rules a Shia populace. When the Shia had had enough, Saudi and UAE troops were used to end the rebellion. Bahrain is thus indebted to the UAE.
How many among voters will know the real value of these historic (according to Trump) deals particularly when he starts twittering his accomplishments as the election nears?
There things stand. As they say, there is nothing worse than peaking too early. Bettors are still favoring Trump with their money. The longer anyone has been in politics the more there is to mine, and for an opponent to use to his/her advantage. Time it seems is on Trump’s side.
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