September 30, 2007

Painted in China

Filed under: Toon — Volt @ 8:02 pm

Congress Quietly Approves Billions More for Bush’s War

Filed under: Opinion — Volt @ 7:54 pm

John Nichols, The Nation, September 28, 2007

The Senate agreed on Thursday to increase the federal debt limit by $850 billion – from $8.965 trillion to $9.815 trillion – and then proceeded to approve a stop-gap spending bill that gives the Bush White House at least $9 billion in new funding for its war in Iraq.

Additionally, the administration has been given emergency authority to tap further into a $70 billion “bridge fund” to provide new infusions of money for the occupation while the Congress works on appropriations bills for the Department of Defense and other agencies.

Translation: Under the guise of a stop-gap spending bill that is simply supposed to keep the government running until a long-delayed appropriations process is completed – probably in November – the Congress has just approved a massive increase in war funding.

The move was backed by every senator who cast a vote, save one.

Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the maverick Democrat who has led the fight to end the war and bring U.S. troops home from Iraq, was on the losing end of the 94-1 vote. (The five senators who did not vote, all presidential candidates who are more involved in campaigning than governing, were Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Republicans John McCain and Sam Brownback.)

Said Feingold, “I am disappointed that we are about to begin the 2008 fiscal year without having enacted any of the appropriations bills for that year. I am even more disappointed that we voted on a continuing resolution that provides tens of billions of dollars to continue the misguided war in Iraq but does not include any language to bring that war to a close. We need to keep the federal government operating and make sure our brave troops get all the equipment and supplies they need, but we should not be giving the President a blank check to continue a war that is hurting our national security.”

Read More Here

Gay Republican Guilt Camp

Filed under: Toon — Volt @ 6:36 pm

Republicans eat their own

Filed under: Uncategorized — N @ 3:07 pm

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is a tough guy to run out of town.

Not that his Republican colleagues aren’t trying. Worried that the disgraced lawmaker intends to remain in the Senate indefinitely, they are threatening to notch up the public humiliation by seeking an open ethics hearing on the restroom scandal that enveloped Craig last month.

I love this kind of stuff. Craig has decided to stay in the Senate effectively telling his GOP colleagues to screw. Now the GOP has no choice but to eat their own. Republicans are thinking that they are going to take suck a beating in 2008 that they can’t afford Craig’s extracurricular activities to cause them any more trouble. Can’t wait to see if the hearings happen.

Republicans eat their own

Filed under: Opinion — N @ 2:58 pm

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is a tough guy to run out of town.

Not that his Republican colleagues aren’t trying. Worried that the disgraced lawmaker intends to remain in the Senate indefinitely, they are threatening to notch up the public humiliation by seeking an open ethics hearing on the restroom scandal that enveloped Craig last month.

I love this kind of stuff. Craig has decided to stay in the Senate effectively telling his colleagues to screw. Now the GOP has no choice but to eat their own. Republicans are thinking that they are going to take such a beating in 2008 that they can’t afford Graig’s extracurricular activities to cause them any more trouble. Can’t wait to see the hearings.

Bible Thumpers Plan to Revolt if Giuliani Wins the GOP Nomination

Filed under: News — Volt @ 2:49 pm

Michael Scherer, Salon, September 30, 2007

WASHINGTON — A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination.

The meeting of about 50 leaders, including Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who called in by phone, took place at the Grand America Hotel during a gathering of the Council for National Policy, a powerful shadow group of mostly religious conservatives. James Clymer, the chairman of the U.S. Constitution Party, was also present at the meeting, according to a person familiar with the proceedings.

“The conclusion was that if there is a pro-abortion nominee they will consider working with a third party,” said the person, who spoke to Salon on the condition of anonymity. The private meeting was not a part of the official CNP schedule, which is itself a closely held secret. “Dobson came in just for this meeting,” the person said.

The decision confirms the fears of many Republican Party officials, who have worried that a Giuliani nomination would irrevocably split the GOP in advance of the 2008 general election, given Giuliani’s relatively liberal stands on gay unions and abortion, as well as his rocky marital history. The private meeting was held Saturday afternoon, during a lull in the official CNP schedule. Earlier in the day, Vice President Dick Cheney had traveled to Utah to deliver a brief address to the larger CNP gathering. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also addressed the larger group.

Read More Here

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: Woodstock, 2007

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 1:48 pm

Ye Olde Scribe’s Links to Oblivion
“Finding truth while surfing digital seawaves.”

Present a reasoned argument to a conservative — and, all at once, completely ignoring the tenet, tone and thrust of the point, they begin hallucinating a creature, only known to exist in the right-wing bestiary, known as a “moonbat” — a mythological beast that, ironically, seems to appear when a conservative is confronted with reality.

Analyzing Using Analogy for Fun
“Because just saying it plain would forego the red rubber nose.”

The little bitty car labeled, “We Still Fund the War,” drove into one of the three rings and out piled Democrats. The audience roared in laughter and each one tried to explain why they didn’t support the war. Then, once again they squeezed in.

Then a herd of clowns insulted the Ringmaster, Junior, while they kicked each other because “Please kick me” signs, also translated as “impeachment is off the table” were on their backs.

Slapstick never seemed less funny to Scribe, and more democratically terrifying as 08 approached… but the crowd loved it.

But then again, that’s why American Idol gets such high ratings.

Ye Olde Scribe’s Simple Solutions for Idiotic Problems
“So, why the *^%$# didn’t YOU think of this?”

Global warming? Pollution? Too many cow farts? Well if Junior, Dimbulb, O’Lielly, Handjob Hannity, the Savage Weiner and the rest of this polluted pond scum would SHUT UP… less methane: less of a problem! The world would surely be a ^%$# of a lot safer without them passing gas out of the wrong portal.

Finally… THE TRUTH!
Rewarding truthtellers with more digital hits than before.

“…unitary executive” is how you say “fuhrer” in modern American English.

And, from the same source…

A Brief Guide to the Aesthetics of Fascism:

–Hypnotized by symbols: Whether it be the swastika of the Nazis, the rising sun of imperial Japan or the fasces of the Italian National Fascist Party, simple, visually striking and endlessly repeated symbols are the “look” of a fascist government. Check out any Bush speaking engagement, from his “mission accomplished” speech on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to the Republican National Convention, and you will see him surrounded by the Stars and Stripes. And where Nazi leaders wore swastika armbands, American fascists wear American flag pins on their lapels. Sinclair Lewis observed that, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” The symbols may be different, but if it looks like fascism, it’s probably fascism.

Damn, That’s Good
“Scribe: servicing his readers far better than Jeff Gannon, and with less hypocrisy: more morality.”

Insomuch as I suspect, that if, during a rare press conference, George W. Bush’s face were to suddenly shed its skin right on camera, live on national television, on all channels, broadcast and cable, to reveal the countenance of a Gila Monster — the elitist beltway punditry would begin to catalog the merits of his reptilian single-mindedness. Then they would proceed to an interview with an “expert” from a right-wing funded zoological think tank, “The American Institute for the Advancement of Predatory Policy,” which would assure us that: “…in an era when evil is as proliferate as flies around the stinking dumpster of the world, Americans will be kept safe by a lizard-faced leader who eats flies for breakfast.” And the general public would only be concerned because the broadcast happened to preempt the finals of American Idol.


And from the same column: same verbally well-endowed author, and the inspiration for this week’s Scribe…

The media is rife with right-wing fantasist nonsense about the “feminized” American male, when, in fact, the country has grown outright psychotic from testosterone-induced toxicity (TIT). In the 1960s, hippies were ridiculed for their naive assumptions that life on earth could be magically transformed into an egalitarian paradise of free love, good dope, waterbeds and Lava Lamps for all, if “the straights” could simply be induced to “raise their consciousness” by the engagement in and the utilization of the erotic acts, illicit substances and goofy counterculture accoutrements mentioned above. Accordingly, the current fantasy — that all US soldiers are good, righteous and brave, standing ever vigilant against all threats to the Homeland — could be regarded as a kind of Woodstock Militarism.

Woodstock, 2007


The Pentagon Gives Blackwater a New Contract

Filed under: News — Volt @ 1:29 pm

Ali Gharib,, September 29, 2007

A U.S.-based private security firm received a contract worth up to 92 million dollars from the Department of Defense amid hard questions about its involvement in two separate violent incidents in Iraq.

“Blackwater has been a contractor in the past with the department and could certainly be in the future,” said the U.S.’s top-ranking military officer, General Peter Pace, at an afternoon press conference here.

The future arrived just two hours later when the Pentagon released a new list of contracts – Presidential Airways, the aviation unit of parent company Blackwater, was awarded the contract to fly Department of Defense passengers and cargo between locations around central Asia.

The announcement comes as a cloud of suspicion is gathering around the “professional military” firm for its actions as a State Department security contractor in Iraq in which at least eight Iraqis and possibly as many as 28 were killed, including a woman and child.

Last week, the Iraqi government announced that it had revoked Blackwater’s license to operate in the country.

Read More Here

Seymour Hersh: Shifting Targets: The Bush Administration’s Plan for Iran

Filed under: Opinion — Volt @ 1:09 pm

Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, October 8, 2007

In a series of public statements in recent months, President Bush and members of his Administration have redefined the war in Iraq, to an increasing degree, as a strategic battle between the United States and Iran. “Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people,” Bush told the national convention of the American Legion in August. “The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased. . . . The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And, until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops.” He then concluded, to applause, “I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.”

The President’s position, and its corollary-that, if many of America’s problems in Iraq are the responsibility of Tehran, then the solution to them is to confront the Iranians-have taken firm hold in the Administration. This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to former officials and government consultants. The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism.

The shift in targeting reflects three developments. First, the President and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed (unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally, there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq.

During a secure videoconference that took place early this summer, the President told Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, that he was thinking of hitting Iranian targets across the border and that the British “were on board.” At that point, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice interjected that there was a need to proceed carefully, because of the ongoing diplomatic track. Bush ended by instructing Crocker to tell Iran to stop interfering in Iraq or it would face American retribution.

Read More Here

Maureen Dowd: The Nepotism Tango

Filed under: Opinion — Volt @ 6:52 am

Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, September 30, 2007

Maybe it’s fitting that a woman who first sashayed into the national consciousness with an equation — “two for the price of one” — may have her fate determined by the arithmetic of dynasty.

The town is divided into two camps: those who think that, after 16 years of Hillary pushing herself forward, the public will get worn out and reject her, and those who think that, after 16 years of Hillary pushing herself forward, the public will get worn down and give in to her.

In his new book, “The Evangelical President,” Bill Sammon interviewed President Bush and his senior aides about the ’08 election. Mr. Bush told the author that Hillary Clinton would beat Barack Obama, because she is “a formidable candidate” and better known — the better to raise money.

Despite all he has done to help Democrats, W. maintains that Republicans can hold the White House. But just in case the Clinton dynasty once more succeeds the Bush one, the Texas president has been sending the New York senator messages to “maintain some political wiggle room in your campaign rhetoric about Iraq,” as Mr. Sammon puts it.

Whoever gets the White House, W. contends, faced with the prospect of a vicious Middle East vacuum, will “begin to understand the need to continue to support the young democracy.”

(As Dana Perino noted on Friday, on a different topic, “The president does not have second thoughts.”)

Read More Here

Thomas Friedman: 9/11 Is Over

Filed under: Opinion — Volt @ 6:45 am

Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, September 30, 2007

“At a well-attended rally in front of his new ground zero headquarters Monday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani officially announced his plan to run for president of 9/11. ‘My fellow citizens of 9/11, today I will make you a promise,’ said Giuliani during his 18-minute announcement speech in front of a charred and torn American flag. ‘As president of 9/11, I will usher in a bold new 9/11 for all.’ If elected, Giuliani would inherit the duties of current 9/11 President George W. Bush, including making grim facial expressions, seeing the world’s conflicts in terms of good and evil, and carrying a bullhorn at all state functions.”

Like all good satire, the story made me both laugh and cry, because it reflected something so true — how much, since 9/11, we’ve become “The United States of Fighting Terrorism.” Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates, but there’s no rule against saying who will not get my vote: I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.

What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.

Before 9/11, the world thought America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”

Read More Here

Frank Rich: Is Hillary Clinton the New Old Al Gore?

Filed under: Opinion — Volt @ 6:32 am

Frank Rich, The New York Times, September 30, 2007

Some 13 months before Election Day, the race’s dynamic seems immutable. Americans can’t wait to evict the unpopular president and end his disastrous war. As the campaign’s poll-tested phrasemaking constantly reminds us, voters crave change above all else. That means nearly any Democrat might do, even if the nominee isn’t the first woman, black or Hispanic to lead a major party’s ticket.

The Republican field of aging white guys, meanwhile, gets flakier by the day. The front-runner has taken to cooing to his third wife over a cellphone in the middle of campaign speeches. His hottest challenger, the new “new Reagan,” may have learned his lines for “Law & Order,” but clearly needs cue cards on the stump. In Florida, even the most rudimentary details of red-hot local issues (drilling in the Everglades, Terri Schiavo) eluded him. The party’s fund-raising is anemic. Its snubs of Hispanic and African-American voters kissed off essential swing states in the Sun Belt and moderate swing voters farther north.

So nothing can go wrong for the Democrats. Can it?

Of course it can, and not just because of the party’s perennial penchant for cutting off its nose to spite its face. (Witness the Democratic National Committee’s zeal in shutting down primary campaigning in Florida because the state moved up the primary’s date.) The biggest indicator of potential trouble ahead is that the already-codified Beltway narrative for the race so favors the Democrats. Given the track record of Washington’s conventional wisdom, that’s not good news. These are the same political pros who predicted that scandal would force an early end to the Clinton presidency and that “Mission Accomplished” augured victory in Iraq and long-lasting Republican rule.

The Beltway’s narrative has it not only that the Democrats are shoo-ins, but also that the likely standard-bearer, Hillary Clinton, is running what Zagat shorthand might describe as a “flawless campaign” that is “tightly disciplined” and “doesn’t make mistakes.” This scenario was made official last weekend, when Senator Clinton appeared on all five major Sunday morning talk shows — a publicity coup, as it unfortunately happens, that is known as a “full Ginsburg” because it was first achieved by William Ginsburg, Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer, in 1998.

Read More Here

September 29, 2007

Paul Krugman: Hired Gun Fetish

Filed under: Opinion — Volt @ 6:11 pm

Paul Krugman, The New York Times, September 28, 2007

Sometimes it seems that the only way to make sense of the Bush administration is to imagine that it’s a vast experiment concocted by mad political scientists who want to see what happens if a nation systematically ignores everything we’ve learned over the past few centuries about how to make a modern government work.

Thus, the administration has abandoned the principle of a professional, nonpolitical civil service, stuffing agencies from FEMA to the Justice Department with unqualified cronies. Tax farming – giving individuals the right to collect taxes, in return for a share of the take – went out with the French Revolution; now the tax farmers are back.

And so are mercenaries, whom Machiavelli described as “useless and dangerous” more than four centuries ago.

As far as I can tell, America has never fought a war in which mercenaries made up a large part of the armed force. But in Iraq, they are so central to the effort that, as Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution points out in a new report, “the private military industry has suffered more losses in Iraq than the rest of the coalition of allied nations combined.”

And, yes, the so-called private security contractors are mercenaries. They’re heavily armed. They carry out military missions, but they’re private employees who don’t answer to military discipline. On the other hand, they don’t seem to be accountable to Iraqi or U.S. law, either. And they behave accordingly.

We may never know what really happened in a crowded Baghdad square two weeks ago. Employees of Blackwater USA claim that they were attacked by gunmen. Iraqi police and witnesses say that the contractors began firing randomly at a car that didn’t get out of their way.

Read More Here

How Texas Republicans Will Be Spending the Money They Made During the Bush Years

Filed under: News — Volt @ 4:40 pm

David Kaplan, The Houston Chronicle, September 29, 2007

When Kevin Munz makes his less than bashful entrance into the restaurant business, Clear Lake may feel a bit more like Las Vegas.

His Cullen’s Upscale American Grille, set to open in January, will be about 38,000 square feet, which is gigantic, about 10 times larger than a typical restaurant.

His lounge will have a fiber-optic floor, a player piano and — far more rare — a player violin.

Cullen’s will boast 56 large LCD screens projecting art by the masters, thousands of images changing every few minutes.

An all-glass private dining room, suspended high in the air, will allow its diners to hover above the masses. They can pre-order their china pattern in their choice of Wedgewood, Versace or the Titanic.

A concept this extravagant could sink like a great ship or rake it in like a casino.

Read More Here

Pink tutus fail to fight again

Filed under: Uncategorized — brew @ 1:12 pm

Next Monday, Mark Udall (D-CO) is going to introduce a resolution condemning Rush Limbaugh for his “phony soldiers” comment.

Condemning Limbaugh might feel good, but what the Senate and House ought to do instead is use the power of the purse to ban him from Armed Forces Radio.

Limbaugh has given them the perfect excuse.  All they have to say is that we can’t have our soldiers in a war zone listening to a lying blowhard who condemns them and their service.

That would leave a mark, and also show they weren’t a bunch of pussies.

Which means it won’t happen.

The Democrats are very, very disappointing.

The Double Standard: The Psychotic Right Gets a Free Pass

Filed under: Guest Comment — Joseph52 @ 10:29 am

In light of Draft Dodging/Drug Addicted/Fat Assed/Pigboy Rush Limbaugh’s smear against any U.S. soldier who dares to question the wisdom of Dear Leader, and also in light of the outrageous, phony Move.on “scandal”, I’ve been thinking of something I saw earlier this year. It’s this piece by Digby that says it all: the savages of the radical Right can say anything, can utter any smear, can advocate butchering their political opponents, can spread any lie, and they will still be treated respectfully by the mainstream media. This is the same MSM that will wildly exaggerate any misstep by a Democrat and scream and shout about how “unhinged” the political left is in America.

The depth of the Right’s viciousness is almost beyond belief. Digby–and I–take them seriously. Some of her examples:

When Limbaugh said, “I tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus – living fossils – so we will never forget what these people stood for,” we didn’t doubt him anymore.

When Ann Coulter said “we need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too, otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors,” to rapturous applause at the 2002 CPAC, we knew she wasn’t just kidding.


It continues today. Dinesh D’Souza just published a book saying that liberals are the cause of terrorism. Ramesh Ponneru calls us “The Party of Death.” And when Michele Malkin then creates a career out of calling the left “unhinged” the Washington Post treats her like she’s discovered the Holy Grail.

This is why it is so shocking to us when we see people like Howard Kurtz and various others call for the smelling salts when some members of the left have reacted in kind by saying hateful, violent things about Dick Cheney’s assassination attempt. (These anonymous commenters, by the way, are not best selling authors making a personal televised appearance at a gathering that includes most of the Republican presidential candidates, members of congress and even the Vice President himself.)

I certainly agree that such appalling comments are not to be accepted. Indeed, I recall how my stomach turned when when I read what Coulter had to say at CPAC last year:

On Democrats: “Someday they will find a way to abort all future Boy Scouts.” College professors: “sissified, pussified.” Harvard: “the Soviet Union.” John Kerry: the other “dominant woman in Democratic politics.” Her post-9/11 motto: “Rag head talks tough, rag head faces consequences.” For good measure, she threw in a joke about having Muslims burn down the Supreme Court — with the liberal justices inside.

Then came questions. A young woman asked Coulter to describe the most difficult ethical decision she ever made. “There was one time I had a shot at Bill Clinton,” Coulter said.

And yet, vile scum like Limbaugh, Coulter, O’Reilly, Hannity, Kristol, Savage, Beck, Cavuto, Gibson, D’Souza, Malkin, and all of their poisonous offspring continue to be feted by their friends in the so-called “mainstream media”. Democrats in general and liberals specifically are ridiculed and attacked relentlessly while Right wingers advocate genocide and war. Al Gore, WHO HAS BEEN 100% RIGHT ON EVERY ISSUE IN PUBLIC LIFE, is called mentally unbalanced by sneering little bastards like Chris Matthews while Bill Kristol, WHO HAS BEEN 100% WRONG ON EVERY ISSUE IN PUBLIC LIFE is promoted and given increasingly broad platforms from which to brand anyone who disagrees with his lunatic neocon agenda a traitor.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ann Coulter is wildly popular with the hardcore Right that runs the Republican Party. These people hate anyone who disagrees with them, and would sincerely like to see people like the readers of BartCop either killed or intimidated into silence. They routinely speak out for mass murder, as when Coulter suggested carpet bombing Iran, and yet continue to get a free pass by our media “watchdogs”. (And let’s not forget Ted Nugent’s vile death threats against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Dixie Chicks express embarrassment at George Bush and are publicly crucified. Nugent says Hillary and Obama should “ride out of town on my machine gun” and not one g-d damned thing happens.) We need to call these “watchdogs” on this sickening double standard loud and clear.

Shamefully, the Democratic Party’s congressional “leadership” lets this unrelenting slander against the those who oppose Bush, otherwise known as THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE,  happen, either out of cowardice and ineptitude (like Harry Reid) or because they’re totally tied into the Washington Good Ol’ Boy system (like Dianne Feinstein). We need to call them out, too, even more loudly and more clearly. If these people don’t have the guts or inclination to fight back, let’s find Congressional leadership that will.

There can be NO COMPROMISE with the radical Right. There can be NO DIALOGUE with them. They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be talked to, they cannot change. These are the delusional 29% of the American people who actually think Bush is doing a good job as president. They cannot be engaged; they can only be utterly and totally opposed, crushed, and defeated. The murderous radical Right commentators are not at the fringe of the Republican party–they are the Republican Party. The sooner those of us in the sane, reality based part of America grasp this, the sooner these people will be politically destroyed for all time.

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