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Archive for January, 2009

The 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

The 2009 Pro Foot­ball Class was announced today after sports­writ­ers across Amer­ica voted on who would have the honor to have a bust in Can­ton, Ohio.  In the end, six more were added.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to them all.

Bruce Smith, Rod Wood­son and Der­rick Thomas, all wit­nesses for the defense. All of them now Pro Foot­ball Hall of Famers.

The three were elected on Sat­ur­day, along with long­time Buf­falo Bills owner Ralph Wil­son, who at age 90 will be the old­est per­son ever inducted; for­mer Min­nesota Vikings guard Ran­dall McDaniel; and the late Bob Hayes, a stand­out wide receiver for Dal­las and the 1964 Olympic gold medal­ist in the 100 meters.

The induc­tion cer­e­mony will be Aug. 8 in Can­ton, Ohio.

The only can­di­date among the seven final­ists who didn’t get in was for­mer Fal­cons and Eagles defen­sive end Claude Humphrey.

For­mer com­mis­sioner Paul Tagli­abue was denied entry for the third straight year, not even mak­ing it past the first round of cuts.

Tagli­abue, who retired in 2006 after 17 years in the job, has met strong resis­tance in his three years of eli­gi­bil­ity despite the prof­itabil­ity and labor peace the league enjoyed dur­ing his tenure.

No such prob­lem for Smith and Wood­son in their first year on the ballot.

Not to lower the honor that was placed upon these six men, but I’ve always won­dered why Pack­ers Leg­end and five-time all-pro guard Jerry Kramer is not in the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame.  Kramer retired from foot­ball in 1968.  In 1969, he was named as the best Guard to ever play the posi­tion in the his­tory of the NFL as part of its 50th Anniver­sary team.

As of today, he remains the only mem­ber of that fra­ter­nity to not make it into Canton.

Kramer’s best chances to make Can­ton have likely long since passed.  As this 1997 arti­cle from the Jour­nal Sen­tinel seems to indicate.

In 1969, Kramer was named by a spe­cial Hall of Fame com­mit­tee as the best guard ever in the first 50 years of pro football.

Who knows what goes through the minds of Hall of Fame voters.

Art Daley, 79-year-old Hall of Fame voter from Green Bay, tried to per­suade the other 34 vot­ers to cast their lot with Kramer Sat­ur­day. Daley said he was well prepared.

He said he made an ”eight, nine-minute” pre­sen­ta­tion. He brought with him ring­ing endorse­ments for Kramer from for­mer Packer Hall of Famers Bart Starr, For­rest Gregg and Jim Ringo. He also had endorse­ments from guys who played against Kramer, namely Alex Kar­ras and Wayne Walker of the Detroit Lions, and Mer­lin Olsen of the then Los Ange­les Rams.

Kramer had mon­u­men­tal encoun­ters with Kar­ras, a defen­sive tackle. Daley had asked Kar­ras if Kramer had ben­e­fited mostly by play­ing next to Ringo and Gregg.

”Alex said ‘no,”’ Daley said. ”He thought it was the other way around.”

Hall of Fame selec­tion meet­ings often can turn into hol­ler­ing matches. Daley said no one objected at Kramer’s nomination.

”Only one per­son, how­ever, sec­onded my thoughts about Jerry,” Daley said. ”Don Pier­son of the Chicago Tri­bune got up and spoke highly of Kramer.”

There were 35 votes. Kramer needed 28 and failed to get them.

Jerry Mcgee of the San Diego Union-Tribune is a mem­ber of the Hall of Fame vet­er­ans selec­tion com­mit­tee that nom­i­nated Kramer last June.

Asked for his opin­ion why Kramer didn’t get enough votes, Mcgee offered these opinions:

”I think there are a lot of peo­ple in foot­ball who believe Fuzzy Thurston was bet­ter — rightly or wrongly. They just feel that way.

”Sec­ondly, there are a hell of a lot of Pack­ers already in the Hall of Fame.

”But prob­a­bly most impor­tant, we’re com­ing at an age now, most of these younger guys on the selec­tion com­mit­tee never saw Kramer play.”

In other words, it’s get­ting harder and harder for old-timers to get in because the NFL is crank­ing out dozens of eli­gi­bles annu­ally. Play­ers become eli­gi­ble five years after they retire; a coach needs only to be retired.

Only a prima dona of a sports writer would used that sec­ond argu­ment.  (Whatever.)

It’s the last part which stings fans like me the most.  Kramer is see­ing places in the Hall of Fame go to  for guys who’s fathers and grand­fa­thers idol­ized him.  He’s being over­looked not because he wasn’t great — the num­bers and footage tell us he was — he’s being over­looked because those sports writ­ers who would be nom­i­nat­ing him aren’t in the room anymore.

As seen from this footage ear­lier today, all ESP­News can talk about are the mod­ern play­ers (one of which is on ESPN’s pay­roll as an ana­lyst) who didn’t make the cut.

Kramer has long since said, not mak­ing the Hall of Fame has stopped being some­thing he wor­ries about.  He is respected across the sport for his work on and off the field.  But still, I often won­der how the Kramer’s good friend the late Dick Schaap would have felt on days like this.

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Detroit Still Has a Game on Thanksgiving

Well, at least for this year.

The Detroit Lions‘ Thanks­giv­ing Day game is safe, at least for 2009. But NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell says that could change.

Dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Fri­day, Good­ell said own­ers will dis­cuss hav­ing other teams host Thanks­giv­ing Day games “as we get later into the year.”

The Lions have hosted Thanks­giv­ing Day games since 1934, but the club fought off a res­o­lu­tion to rotate the game among NFL teams in 1999.

The Lions going 0–16 this past sea­son has only sped up the idea of strip­ping the Thanks­giv­ing Day Game from the fran­chise.  It has been a near rat­ings night­mare for whichever net­work (Fox or CBS) gets the chore of air­ing the game since the Lions’ 50 Years of futil­ity has made them impos­si­ble to mar­ket to foot­ball fans.

There is a rea­son why they’re con­stantly the ‘early game’ after all.

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From Stadium to Mall

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment media reports a three to five year effort will soon begin to turn the amaz­ing “Bird’s Nest” Olympic Sta­dium into the cor­ner­stone of a major shop­ping complex.

The area around Beijing’s mas­sive Bird’s Nest sta­dium will be turned into a shop­ping and enter­tain­ment com­plex in three to five years, a state news agency said Friday.

Offi­cially known as Bei­jing National Sta­dium, the show­piece of the Bei­jing Olympics has fallen into dis­use since the end of the games. Paint is already peel­ing in some areas, and the only vis­i­tors these days are tourists who pay about $7 to walk on the sta­dium floor and browse a pricey sou­venir shop.

Plans call for the $450 mil­lion sta­dium to anchor a com­plex of shops and enter­tain­ment out­lets in three to five years, Xin­hua News Agency reported, cit­ing oper­a­tor Citic Group. The com­pany will con­tinue to develop tourism as a major draw for the Bird’s Nest, while seek­ing sports and enter­tain­ment events.

The only con­firmed event at the 91,000-seat sta­dium this year is Puccini’s opera “Turan­dot,” set for Aug. 8—the one-year anniver­sary of the Olympics’ open­ing cer­e­mony. The sta­dium has no per­ma­nent ten­ant after Beijing’s top soc­cer club, Guo’an, backed out of a deal to play there.

Details about the devel­op­ment plans were not avail­able. A per­son who answered the phone at Citic Group on Fri­day said offices were closed for the Chi­nese New Year holiday.

A sym­bol of China’s ris­ing power and con­fi­dence, the sta­dium, whose nick­name described its lat­tice of exte­rior steel beams, may never recoup its hefty con­struc­tion cost, par­tic­u­larly amid a global eco­nomic slump. Main­te­nance of the struc­ture alone costs about $8.8 mil­lion annu­ally, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to turn a profit, Xin­hua said.

One of the down­sides of host the Olympic Games is what to do with all the venues once the games are over.  After Atlanta hosted the Games in 1996, they turned the Olympic sta­dium into “Turner Field,” the new home for the Atlanta Braves.  One can guess what Lon­don will turn their future sta­dium after the 2012 Games into a soc­cer sta­dium to be used by a num­ber of Foot­ball Clubs.

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Quote of the Day

(From Mike Allen of the Politico Play­book)

House Minor­ity Whip Eric Can­tor (R-VA) last night at the House Repub­li­can retreat in West Vir­ginia  after read­ing the news HHS Secretary-Designate Tom Daschle hasn’t paid $128K in taxes for the past:

‘It’s easy for the other side to advo­cate for higher taxes because you know what? They don’t pay ‘em.”

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‘For the People?” Try for Big Labor">For the People?” Try for Big Labor

Yes­ter­day, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama signed four exec­u­tive orders he said were meant to ‘level the play­ing field’  between man­age­ment and labor.

Here’s what they did.

The orders, which union offi­cials say will undo Bush admin­is­tra­tion poli­cies that favored employ­ers, will:

– Require fed­eral con­trac­tors to offer jobs to cur­rent work­ers when con­tracts change.
– Reverse a Bush order requir­ing fed­eral con­trac­tors to post notices that work­ers can limit finan­cial sup­port of unions.
– Pre­vent fed­eral con­trac­tors from being reim­bursed for expenses meant to influ­ence work­ers decid­ing whether to form a union.

I do not view the labor move­ment as part of the prob­lem. To me, it’s part of the solu­tion,” Obama said to applause as he signed the orders at a launch of a task force on the mid­dle class, where its chair­man, Vice Pres­i­dent Biden, explic­itly wel­comed labor lead­ers back to the White House.

Today’s actions show that the Obama White House is the work­ing fam­i­lies’ White House,” AFL-CIO pres­i­dent John Sweeney said in a statement.

No, it’s a union thug White House.

I ques­tion one of the above list.  How is it exactly wrong for there to be a sign at the work place say­ing “Hey, you don’t have to be in the Union?  You have a choice.”  This is a total pay­back for unions and takes away the employee’s indi­vid­ual right to either aban­don the union for another or turn the shop union-free.

As for the orders related to union con­tract­ing, I can under­stand the one about reim­burse­ment.  Tax­pay­ers should not be required to pay for a company’s efforts to dis­cour­age a union from being orga­nized.  Though I will say, the one regard­ing reten­tion could cause prob­lems since many times when a fed­eral con­tract changes, the fed­eral con­trac­tor also changes.

(Ah, mem­o­ries…)

Not sur­pris­ing, the National Asso­ci­a­tion of Man­u­fac­tur­ers has been watch­ing all of this since it effects the bot­tom line of many of their mem­bers and in the end, the work­ers who work for them since it is man­u­fac­tur­ing which is tak­ing a heavy blunt of the eco­nomic down­turn.  On their “Shop Floor” blog, they noticed some­thing inter­est­ing about the Obama Transition’s legal team for the Labor Department.

Check the meta­data of the fol­low­ing exec­u­tive order signed by Pres­i­dent Obama yes­ter­day, and you’ll find the author of the orig­i­nal .pdf document:

It’s Craig Becker, asso­ciate gen­eral coun­sel of the Ser­vice Employ­ees Inter­na­tional Union, the SEIU. (Or counsel.)*

Becker served on the Obama transition’s “agency review team” for the Depart­ment of Labor.

Guess that’s what they meant by “Your Seat at the Table.”

* It’s entirely pos­si­ble that Becker has joined the Admin­is­tra­tion. He’s not on the Depart­ment of Labor’s key per­son­nel list, how­ever. (And we’re not able to check since it’s early Sat­ur­day morn­ing. The exec­u­tive orders are still not posted at the White House’s web­site, we note. We received the .pdfs via e-mail from an attor­ney friend.)

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Favre Hasn’t Returns Rodgers Calls

Brett Favre — Class­less act.

In the chat [yes­ter­day at the Super Bowl’s Radio Row with for­mer Dal­las Cow­boys Wide Receiver Michael Irvin and Kevin Kiley on Dal­las’ ESPN 103.3 FM], Rodgers said that, after the Pack­ers lost to the New York Giants in the NFC Cham­pi­onship in Jan­u­ary 2008, he and Favre left as friends. But there’s been no com­mu­ni­ca­tions since.

Here’s the transcript:

Kiley: “You must say to your­self, why doesn’t Brett speak to me. What could it pos­si­bly be? …”

Rodgers: “I don’t know. That’s a ques­tion for him. I’m not going to put words in his mouth…. When we lost to the Giants [in the 2007 NFC Cham­pi­onship], we left as friends, and I haven’t talked to him in a year….”

Irvin: “Why will you not reach out to him?”

Rodgers: “I did.”

Irvin: “So you called him and he did not call you back.”

Rodgers: “Yeah.”

On a per­sonal level I know how you feel Aaron. 

Not the ‘Brett Favre hasn’t spo­ken to me in over a year” thing.  But I think all peo­ple with friend­ships end­ing bit­terly can relate.

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A Lefty Says it, So I Don’t Have to

The Polit­i­cal Environment’s James Rowen on why WMC is really pulling out of this year’s Wis­con­sin State Supreme Court race.

The Wis­con­sin Man­u­fac­tur­ers & Com­merce has announced it is sit­ting out the April State Supreme Court race.

So is the state’s lead­ing Deep Pock­ets, Deeply Reac­tionary Big Busi­ness orga­ni­za­tion reform­ing itself after spend­ing mil­lions on neg­a­tive TV ads to get ethically-challenged local judges pro­moted to the high court?

Hardly.

The WMC can read a poll and assess an incumbent’s huge trea­sury and grasp that a nobody from Jef­fer­son County is an easy shove under the bus dri­ven by sit­ting Chief Jus­tice Shirley Abra­ham­son — - whose re-election is a lock, and deservedly so.

The WMC will come back into the fray when there are eas­ier pickings.

Frankly, I don’t get why state con­ser­v­a­tives are invest­ing the effort in tak­ing out Abra­ham­son.  Given the state left’s con­tin­ual rage over how they still believe the last two races were ‘stolen and cheated’ away from them, you could feel the forces of dark­ness ris­ing up to save Shirley before she even announced she wanted to run again (and leave the State Supreme Court cham­ber at room tem­per­a­ture in a pine box).  Heck maybe I was fool­ish enough to believe a two-year detante on Supreme Court races could be issued, since the state left will likely return in force against con­ser­v­a­tive favorite Jus­tice David Prosser, who’s up for re-election in 2011.

See­ing Charlie’s post the other day only made me sigh.  WMC didn’t cave, they bowed to reality.

Abrahamson’s has nearly $700,000 in the bank com­pared to what exactly for her oppo­nent?  She has the legacy of hold­ing the office so long, she’s made friends with nearly every­body.  She has busi­ness execs, legal schol­ars, and even reli­able con­ser­v­a­tive allies all in her cor­ner.  With her closer to 80 than 70, I never under­stood why our side didn’t think it would be smarter to just wait until the seat opens upon her retire­ment or death.

State con­ser­v­a­tives would bet­ter spend their time this spring fight­ing to get one of the two legit­i­mate con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­dates elected as State Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion.  You don’t have it much bet­ter than run­ning against the Deputy of a failed state bureau­cracy.  Despite all the entrenched help from WEAC, Doyle-allies, and the like, Deputy Super­in­ten­dent Tony Evers has to defend an inde­fen­si­ble record at DPI.  The way he and Libby Bur­mas­ter have run the place is a dis­grace and I’d love to tell us why he didn’t do a bet­ter job as the Department’s #2.

My advice for those back home:  Hold your pow­der on Shirley Abra­ham­son, it’ll go for naught.  You want to best move Wis­con­sin in a more con­ser­v­a­tive direc­tion, help either Rose Fer­nan­dez or Van Mob­ley defeat the WEAC can­di­date of choice, Tony Evers.

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Who Here Loves Trade Wars?

We might be on the verge of one.

The EU trade com­mis­sioner vowed to fight back after the bill passed in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives late on Wednes­day included a ban on most pur­chases of for­eign steel and iron used in infra­struc­ture projects.

The Senate’s ver­sion of the leg­is­la­tion, which will be debated early next week, goes even fur­ther, requir­ing that any projects related to the stim­u­lus use only American-made equip­ment and goods.

The inclu­sion of pro­tec­tion­ist mea­sures has quickly raised hack­les in Europe.

Cather­ine Ash­ton, the EU trade com­mis­sioner, said: “We are look­ing at the sit­u­a­tion. The one thing we can be absolutely cer­tain about, is if a bill is passed which pro­hibits the sale or pur­chase of Euro­pean goods on Amer­i­can ter­ri­tory, that is some­thing we will not stand idly by and ignore.”

Despite the par­lous state of the US econ­omy, some major Amer­i­can firms, includ­ing Gen­eral Elec­tric, are also opposed to the Buy Amer­i­can stip­u­la­tions, fear­ing reprisals from over­seas and fur­ther dam­age to the global economy.

Bill Lane, gov­ern­ment affairs direc­tor for Cater­pil­lar, which has just laid off nearly a fifth of its 112,000 work force and is the tenth largest US investor in Britain, warned it was a dan­ger­ous step.

He said: “We are the first to recog­nise that if the US embraces Buy Amer­i­can then the whole notion of buy­ing national will mes­tas­ta­size and limit our abil­ity to take part in over­seas projects.

We are stu­dents of his­tory. A major rea­son a very deep reces­sion turned into the Great Depres­sion was the fact that coun­tries turned inward.”

It isn’t just the EU.  By the close of busi­ness yes­ter­day, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Canada, Aus­tralia, and many of the major U.S. trad­ing part­ners were issu­ing offi­cial state­ments regard­ing their con­cerns on what is clearly a pro­tec­tion­ist stance by mem­bers of Congress.

And for those of you won­der­ing, even though no tar­iffs or quo­tas aren’t actu­ally being raised, a “Buy Amer­i­can” pro­vi­sion (or the sim­i­lar “Buy Wis­con­sin” pro­vi­sion) is in fact a pro­tec­tion­ist tac­tic.  You’re cre­at­ing a class of ‘pre­ferred, if not forced, set of con­trac­tors’ on a buyer; in this case the gov­ern­ment.  Even more inter­est­ing, is how this added stip­u­la­tion — accord­ing to Chicago Cus­toms Attor­ney Larry Fried­man — could in fact be a vio­la­tion of sev­eral trade pacts the United States is mem­ber to.

While this strikes some as a sim­ple mea­sure intended to ensure that stim­u­lus money stay in the US, oth­ers are con­cerned that it is a step toward pro­tec­tion­ism. Fur­ther, it likely vio­lates our com­mit­ments under the WTO agree­ment on gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment and the pro­cure­ment pro­vi­sions of sev­eral free trade agreements.

The WTO’s court is not exactly known for tak­ing vio­la­tions lightly.

Finally, you think that’s fun, wait until they re-introduce the Orwellian-named “Patriot Cor­po­ra­tions of Amer­ica Act,” which died in Com­mit­tee last Con­gress but is said Pres­i­dent Obama is quite a fan of.

Here’s what it would do.

Patriot Cor­po­ra­tions of Amer­ica Act of 2007 — Grants after 2007 a pref­er­ence to Patriot cor­po­ra­tions in the eval­u­a­tion of bids or pro­pos­als for fed­eral con­tracts. Defines ” Patriot cor­po­ra­tion” as a cor­po­ra­tion which: (1) pro­duces at least 90% of its goods and ser­vices in the United States; (2) does not pay its  management-level employ­ees at a rate more than 10,000% of the com­pen­sa­tion of its low­est paid employee; (3) con­ducts at least 50% of its research and devel­op­ment in the United States; (4) con­tributes at least 5% of its pay­roll to a portable pen­sion fund for its employ­ees; (5) pays at least 70% of its employ­ees’ health insur­ance costs; (6) main­tains a pol­icy of neu­tral­ity in employee orga­niz­ing dri­ves; (7) pro­vides full dif­fer­en­tial salary and insur­ance ben­e­fits for all National Guard and Reserve employ­ees who are called to active duty; and (8) has not vio­lated fed­eral reg­u­la­tions, includ­ing reg­u­la­tions relat­ing to the envi­ron­ment, work­place safety, labor rela­tions, and con­sumer protections.
Amends the Inter­nal Rev­enue Code to: (1) reduce the income tax rate for Patriot cor­po­ra­tions; (2) reclas­sify for­eign cor­po­ra­tions cre­ated or orga­nized to avoid fed­eral tax­a­tion as domes­tic cor­po­ra­tions for income tax pur­poses; and (3) increase, for the period between Jan­u­ary 1, 2007, and Decem­ber 31, 2010, the income tax rate for indi­vid­ual tax­pay­ers with adjusted gross incomes of $500,000 or more ($1 mil­lion or more for joint returns).
Where do I find the line to file for cor­po­rate bankruptcy?
It had 18 co-sponsors, one of whom was Wisconsin’s Steve Kagen.

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Words of Wisdom, from Michael Weston

Burn Notice” is per­haps the coolest show I’ve ever seen on cable TV in some time.  I speak its gospel quite often and believe I’ve con­verted a few friends and co-workers into fans. (Thank you DVD sets!)

When the show first got its start, USA Net­works began a series of “Ask a Spy” infomer­cials to give peo­ple a feel for the lead char­ac­ter Michael Weston.  Weston used to be a spy, until he got burned.

Enjoy.

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Stimulus Support is Tanking

Looks like the Left’s gonna need newer, more up-to-date polling.  Things aren’t look­ing too good accord­ing to Ras­mussen.

Pub­lic sup­port for the eco­nomic recov­ery plan crafted by Pres­i­dent Obama and con­gres­sional Democ­rats has slipped a bit over the past week. At the same time, expec­ta­tions that the plan will quickly become law have increased.

Forty-two per­cent (42%) of the nation’s likely vot­ers now sup­port the president’s plan, roughly one-third of which is tax cuts with the rest new gov­ern­ment spend­ing. The lat­est Ras­mussen Reports national tele­phone sur­vey shows that 39% are opposed to it and 19% are unde­cided. Lib­eral vot­ers over­whelm­ingly sup­port the plan while con­ser­v­a­tives are strongly opposed.

Last week, sup­port for the President’s plan was at 45% and oppo­si­tion at 34%.

The party break­down shows much more is going on in the mind of the Amer­i­can Public.

Over the course of the past week, there has been lit­tle change in the views of either Repub­li­cans or Democ­rats towards the leg­is­la­tion. Seventy-four per­cent (74%) of Democ­rats sup­port the plan along with just 18% of Repub­li­cans. Both those fig­ures are up just a sin­gle point from the pre­vi­ous poll.

How­ever, sup­port among unaf­fil­i­ated vot­ers has fallen. A week ago, unaf­fil­i­at­eds were evenly divided on the plan, with 37% in favor and 36% opposed. Now, 50% of unaf­fil­i­ated vot­ers oppose the plan while only 27% favor it.

From the actions and state­ments of many lib­er­als, it is becom­ing clear to me at least they are los­ing the PR war on the Obama Stim­u­lus bill.  They have the num­bers to steam­roll this thing through both Houses of Con­gress, but aren’t.  They need Repub­li­can votes for the biggest polit­i­cal CYA job pos­si­bly ever.

This bill has so many toys and trea­sures in it, it’s an inves­tiga­tive reporter’s wet dream.  Day by day they unveil bit by bit what’s exactly in its pages.  And in the end, that’s the biggest PR prob­lem Democ­rats have on a bill they once promised they’ve have passed by Inau­gu­ra­tion Day — Now 9 Days past.  Peo­ple are ask­ing the two ques­tions they should be about this boon­dog­gle: “What’s in here?” and “How does THAT cre­ate and sus­tain jobs?”

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