Progressive News Digest

News


| Commentary | Events |

US: White House says “no” to Snowden pardon petition

The Washington Post Washington Post

"More than two years later, after more than 160,000 people signed an official White House petition asking that the administration pardon Edward Snowden, the government is finally responding. But the people who signed the petition, which called the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed information about government snooping a national hero, aren't likely to be pleased with the response." [editor's note: No surprises there. Authoritarian regimes -- to re-purpose a term in the response -- never pardon the heroes who expose them - TLK] (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pme9w8j

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GOP congressman launches bid to oust John Boehner as House speaker

The Washington Post Washington Post

"A Republican congressman has filed a request to oust House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in a new and unusual challenge to his leadership from the GOP's right flank. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Tuesday evening filed a 'motion to vacate the chair,' which, if successful, would force the election of a new speaker. Such a challenge has never before succeeded in the House, and only once before -- 105 years ago -- has it been attempted. Meadows said Tuesday that he was trying to force a 'family conversation' among Republicans on the course of congressional leadership after a series of conflicts between Boehner's leadership team and a cadre of a few dozen conservatives." (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q5o5fe8

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US to free Pollard in November

USA Today

"Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, imprisoned since 1985, will be paroled Nov. 21, officials said Tuesday. Pollard, 61, was granted parole by a 3-0 vote Tuesday by the U.S. Parole Commission. ... Pollard, a U.S. Navy Investigative Service analyst convicted of spying for Israel, was sentenced to life in prison following his 1985 arrest. Working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy at the time of his arrest, Pollard pleaded guilty to selling classified information to Israel." (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q394ola

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TX: Officials, alleging death threats, release new Sandra Bland jail video

Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times

"Texas officials released new video on Tuesday showing that Sandra Bland was alive while she was processed in the Waller County Jail, a move designed to dispel social media rumors that the woman was mistreated or mortally harmed before she was placed in the Texas jail cell where officials say she committed suicide. ... [Waller County Judge Trey] Duhon said he was releasing the hours of video to rebut accusations, especially on social media, that Bland had been harmed while being held. Such suspicions have also led to death threats, he said. 'We have received death threats against Waller County officials. We have received threats to our facility,' Duhon said." (07/28/15)

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-sandra-bland-20150728-story.html

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Chris Christie torpedoes his own presidential campaign again

Bloomberg

"Residents in U.S. states that have legalized marijuana should toke up while they still can, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said. 'If you're getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,' Christie, a Republican campaigning for the 2016 presidential nomination, said Tuesday during a town-hall meeting at the Salt Hill Pub in Newport, New Hampshire. 'As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.' ... Christie is trying to pump up his candidacy ahead of the first Republican debate on Aug. 6 by talking to voters in New Hampshire, the state with the first primary. Fox News, the debate sponsor, plans to winnow the party's field of 16 candidates down to 10 using an average of five national polls. The RealClearPolitics polling average currently has Christie in ninth place." [editor's note: If Christie ever had a real shot, which seems unlikely, he's worked diligently with idiocy like this to reduce his chances from "slim" to "none" - TLK] ()7/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q376rws

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US court upholds California ban on shark fins

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"A federal appeals court upheld California’s ban on possession or sale of shark fins Monday, rejecting a challenge by Bay Area suppliers and sellers of shark fin soup, a traditional dish in the Chinese American community. The law prohibited selling and serving shark fin soup when it took effect in July 2013. Opponents, including restaurants, Chinese American community organizations and shark fin suppliers, argued that the law exceeded the state’s authority and interfered with a commercial fishing market that federal regulations were intended to preserve. Federal laws prohibit shark 'finning,' the removal of fins from live sharks, but do not forbid possessing or selling shark fins." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nthona3

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Virgin Galactic spacecraft crash “due to braking error”

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"Investigators say a Virgin Galactic spaceship crash was caused by structural failure after the co-pilot unlocked a braking system early. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says resulting aerodynamic forces caused the brakes to actually be deployed, tearing apart the craft. The NTSB has been probing what caused the craft to break up over the Mojave Desert in a test flight 10 months ago. The accident killed co-pilot Michael Alsbury and badly injured the pilot." (07/28/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33690446

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“Jaw-dropping” Medicare study: Deaths, hospitalizations & costs reduced

USA Today USA Today

"The U.S. health care system has scored a medical hat trick, reducing deaths, hospitalizations and costs, a new study shows. Mortality rates among Medicare patients fell 16% from 1999 to 2013. That’s equal to more than 300,000 fewer deaths a year in 2013 than in 1999, said cardiologist Harlan Krumholz, lead author of a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. 'It’s a jaw-dropping finding,' Krumholz said. 'We didn’t expect to see such a remarkable improvement over time.'” (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qbaztkf

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Senate aims to vote on defunding Planned Parenthood

Reuters Reuters

"U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning a vote in coming days on Republican legislation halting federal funding for Planned Parenthood, following the release of secretly recorded videos about its role in supplying aborted fetal tissue for medical research. 'The leader is working with his members to address this horrific issue and intends to have a vote before we leave' for a five-week summer recess, said McConnell spokesman Michael Brumas. Republican Senator Rand Paul has introduced legislation to prohibit any federal funds for Planned Parenthood, which provides screening, contraception services and abortions at clinics nationally." [editor's note: Anyone seeking to fund a non-govt organization via the 1040 should be able to do so, with a pretax-deductible donation - SAT] [additional editor's note: Why should government forms be used to make charitable donations -- and why should people get special tax treatment for doing so? Separation of charity and state seems like a better policy - TLK] (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/owcbd5x

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Report: Half of biomed research studies don’t stand up to scrutiny

Raw Story Raw Story

"What if I told you that half of the studies published in scientific journals today (the ones upon which news coverage of medical advances is often based) won’t hold up under scrutiny? You might say I had gone mad. No one would ever tolerate that kind of waste in a field as important (and expensive, to the tune of roughly US$30 billion in federal spending per year) as biomedical research, right? After all, this is the crucial work that hunts for explanations for diseases so they can better be treated or even cured. Wrong. The rate of what is referred to as 'irreproducible research' exceeds 50%, according to a recent paper" (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q8w6qla

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Obama: “If I ran again, I could win”

Fox News Fox News

"President Obama is feeling good about his chances at re-election -- if he could run again. The president went off-script Tuesday during his address before the African Union, as he talked about the importance of term limits. After citing the example of the U.S. presidency, he quipped: 'I actually think I'm a pretty good president. I believe if I ran again, I could win. But I can't, he added. Obama later said, 'I don't understand why people want to stay so long, especially when they've got a lot of money.'" [editor's note: The tragedy is, he's right; given the pathetic array of contenders (and the electorate-segment still drinking the Obombya kool aid), he'd smoke them all - SAT] (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/put5yep

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Boy Scouts OK gay leaders; Mormon church may quit

Seattle Times

"The Boy Scouts of America on Monday ended its nationwide ban on openly gay adult leaders. But despite a compromise allowing conservative church-sponsored units to pick their own volunteer leaders, the Mormon church, the country’s largest sponsor of Scout units, said it might leave the organization. ... Mormons use the Boy Scouts as their main nonreligious activity for boys, and the Cub Scout and Boy Scout units they sponsor accounted for 17 percent of all youths in Scouting in 2013, the last year for which data have been published." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nmntaxm

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Hawking, Musk, Wozniak, 1,000 robotics researchers warn of threat of military artificial intelligence

Ottawa Citizen [Canada]

"A letter, presented at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Argentina, is warning about the threat of military artificial intelligence. It is signed by 1,000 artificial intelligence and robotics researchers as well as high profile individuals such as Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and scientist Stephen Hawking." (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o5qc9ot

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Koch-backed political group struggles in conservative Alaska

Raw Story Raw Story

"When it comes to influencing politics, few billionaires are more effective than the industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the nonprofit organization they founded and continue to support, achieved a 95 percent success rate in the 2014 election races where it spent money. But in Alaska, a state that could be pivotal in the 2016 elections, the group’s reception has been surprisingly chilly. ... The conservative AFP’s message of free markets and limited government, along with its strong support for oil industry interests, resonates here. But the same independent spirit that defines Alaskans also makes them bristle at attempts by outsiders to shape their thinking, political analysts say, and the Kochs are viewed as outsiders here by many Democrats and Republicans alike." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/olsklfw

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Study: Cannabis can help treat opioid addiction

San Francisco Chronicle Smell the Truth

"Researchers believe that smoking marijuana could help rehab patients to kick their painkiller addiction. A Columbia University study published earlier this month took a group of 60 patients dependent on opiates and placed them in a clinic to detoxify. 32 percent of the patients were given 30 milligrams daily of dronabinol (a form of THC) during treatment, and was found to drastically reduce the severity of withdrawal, and patients were more likely to complete the 8-week program. A further analysis showed that the percentage of patients who smoked cannabis regularly during the outpatient phase also showed significantly lower ratings of bad health symptoms as well." [editor's note: Uh oh, it helps people kick drugs AND that means Big Pharma poisons? Shhh! - SAT] (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nnu5zn7

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Scandal and hypocrisy British-style: A tale of two speakers

Reuters Reuters

"British politicians are fond of holding up their gothic riverside parliament as a model of how democratic politics should be done, but two high-profile scandals have exposed hypocrisy at its core, placing its reputation in peril. In the first, John Sewel, a lord and the deputy speaker of the House of Lords, the upper chamber, was filmed snorting what The Sun on Sunday newspaper said was cocaine with two prostitutes. In the second, a freedom of information request showed that John Bercow, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, the House of Commons, had made a series of startling expenses claims that raised questions about his use of public funds. Hypocrisy appeared to loom large in both episodes." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qzdwcsw

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House leader rules out Senate version of highway bill

Fox News Fox News

"Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday that the House will not consider the Senate version of a long-term, must-pass highway bill, setting up an apparent impasse as Congress faces a Friday deadline. The Senate's version of the highway bill, which is on track to pass later in the week, sets policy and authorizes transportation programs for six years, though with funding for only three of those years. The Senate also is moving toward reviving the federal Export-Import Bank and adding it to the bill." [editor's note: Ex-Im revival tacked onto a highway bill? Show me a more blatant example of abusing the legislative process - SAT] (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q6kyquk

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UK: Key suspect in Litvinenko inquiry “‘cannot testify”

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"A suspect in the inquiry into the death of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko has told the BBC he has not obtained permission to give evidence. UK officials believe Dmitry Kovtun and another man, Andrei Lugovoi, poisoned Mr Litvinenko in 2006, which they deny. Mr Kovtun had been due to appear by videolink from Moscow on Monday, but said he had been unable to get permission from Russian authorities. Mr Litvinenko's family lawyer said it seemed the case was being manipulated. Sir Robert Owen, the chair of the inquiry, gave Mr Kovtun a deadline of 09:00 BST on Tuesday to begin giving evidence." (07/27/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-33674469

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Boston out as US bid city to host 2024 Olympics

USA Today USA Today

"Boston will not vie for the 2024 Olympics, a decision ends the beleaguered bid after seven months in which it struggled to gain support. According to a press release, U.S. Olympic Committee and Boston 2024 organizers said they jointly decided to end the bid. The decision came hours after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced that he could not support the city’s bid of the 2024 Olympic Games if that meant signing a host city contract now, as he has been asked to do by the USOC." [editor's note: Sanity prevails - SAT] (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qe5d2x5

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US: Regime removes Cuba, Malaysia from human trafficking list

Time

"The U.S. State Department removed Cuba and Malaysia from its human trafficking blacklist on Monday as part of an annual update to its contentious Trafficking in Persons report. The 2015 report separates 188 nations into three tiers based on their efforts to combat human trafficking. The lowest tier nations face the threat of diplomatic repercussions at the discretion of the U.S. President. Cuba and Malaysia's ratings were watched closely this year in light of both nations' growing economic ties with the U.S." (07/27/15)

http://time.com/3973022/cuba-malaysia-human-trafficking/

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Clinton denies sending classified information from private email server

Fox News Fox News

"Hillary Clinton told reporters Saturday that she never sent or received classified information using her private e-mail server when she served as secretary of state, and that the facts on the issue 'are pretty clear.' The Democratic presidential hopeful spoke briefly about the growing controversy surrounding her use of the server after a Democratic gathering at the Madison County Historical Complex in Iowa. Reporters raised the issue during a news conference that followed the event." (07/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nj5xodd

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Scotland: Second independence referendum “inevitable,” says Salmond

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]

"A second referendum on Scottish independence is inevitable, according to former first minister Alex Salmond. Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme, he said the question was over the timing which was 'in the hands of Nicola Sturgeon.' The SNP MP argued there were three things driving the issue forward. He said these were a failure to deliver on the so-called 'vow,' the possible outcome of the EU referendum and 'divergent views' over austerity cuts." (07/26/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-33668002

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FBI mined secrets from George McGovern’s past

USA Today USA Today

"On April 16, 1975, two FBI inspectors met with Sen. George McGovern in Washington. A month earlier, McGovern had written a letter to FBI Director Clarence Kelley asking for a copy of any file that the FBI kept on ... McGovern, according to an FBI account of the meeting, was agreeable to a compromise. There was a chance, he told the inspectors, that he might be on the national ticket in the next presidential race in 1976. He ... he wanted to be able to tell any potential running mate if the FBI possessed derogatory information about him. Specifically, he wanted to know if the FBI had information about a child he had fathered as a young man." (07/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qbpv3xy

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New car seat reminds you not to leave kid in car

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor

"A new car seat with the potential to save lives is now available for purchase. The Evenflo Advanced Embrace with SensorSafe infant car seat, available at Wal-Mart, aims to cut down on the number of deaths resulting from children being left in hot cars. An average of 38 children die from being trapped inside cars every year, according to the nonprofit KidsAndCars.org. Many of these deaths occur when parents forget to drop their child off at daycare before work." (07/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o8geb2m

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Greece: Banks reopen, cash limits remain & taxes soar

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle

"Greek banks reopened Monday for the first time in three weeks, but strict limits on cash withdrawals and higher taxes on everything from coffee to diapers meant the economic outlook for the recession-battered country was far from back to normal. There were hopeful developments: The cash-strapped nation got a short-term loan from European creditors to pay more than 6 billion euros ($6.5 billion) owed to the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. Non-payment of either would have derailed Greece's latest bailout request. But for most Greeks, already buffeted by six years of recession, Monday was all about rising prices as tax hikes demanded by creditors took effect." (07/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p5hk27l

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Commentary


| News | Events |

Entire check system is flawed

USA Today USA Today
by Erich Pratt

"FBI Director James Comey recently said a flaw in the gun background check system allowed Dylann Roof to purchase the gun he allegedly used to kill nine people in a church in Charleston, S.C. But the fact is, the entire background check system is flawed. Not only is it unconstitutional -- and disarming many law-abiding citizens -- it’s failing to keep guns out of criminals’ hands and is not keeping people safe." (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pql7jo7

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Obama buys false Iran narrative

OpEdNews
by Gareth Porter

"The administration's determination to be just as alarmist about Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions as its opponents creates a U.S. political discourse on the Iran nuclear issue built around two dueling narratives that disagree about the effect of the agreement but have one politically crucial common denominator: they both hold it as beyond debate that Iran cannot be trusted because it wants nuclear weapons; and the only question is whether and for how long that Iranian quest for nuclear weapons can be held off without war. ... The administration's determination to be just as alarmist about Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions as its opponents creates a U.S. political discourse on the Iran nuclear issue built around two dueling narratives that disagree about the effect of the agreement but have one politically crucial common denominator: they both hold it as beyond debate that Iran cannot be trusted because it wants nuclear weapons; and the only question is whether and for how long that Iranian quest for nuclear weapons can be held off without war." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p857yns

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Zero waste remains a dirty business

Michelle Chen The Nation
by Michelle Chen

"In an age of global warming, two global capitals, Los Angeles and New York, are going 'zero waste.' Following a nationwide trend, the cities have launched new plans to aggressively reform their waste-management and recycling systems to nearly eliminate dumping in landfills. While zero waste seems like a tall order for the two arguably trashiest places on earth, LA’s city government is currently rolling out a full-fledged Zero Waste plan that will 'divert an estimated 90 percent of local waste from landfills by 2025,' including commercial and residential garbage. The system parallels a similar reform plan in New York City, as well as a national resolution on zero waste by a coalition of mayors." (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q5m7jnr

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Gun-free zones are killing us

Fox News Fox News Forum
by John R Lott

"Hours before the latest shooting at a movie theater in Louisiana, President Obama lamented what he regards as his greatest failure as president: his inability to pass gun-control measures. ... Obama offers no explanation for why the worst mass shooting during his presidency occurred in Europe, not in the US. Nor did he explain why many European countries have a higher frequency of attacks and a higher death rate from mass public shootings. ... The expanded background checks Obama has advocated wouldn’t have stopped a single one of the attacks that occurred during his presidency. The killers either passed background checks and bought the gun legally or stole the guns." (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nnjmeo4

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The debate over free [sic] community college

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Emily Deruy

"This fall, Cesar Sanchez, 18, will do something he never thought possible. He'll enroll at Southwest Tennessee Community College through a state program called Tennessee Promise, which lets students complete two years of community college at no cost [sic]. ... While the Obama administration's proposal to make community college free [sic] languishes in the Beltway, several states, including Tennessee, are moving ahead with their own plans to make earning an associate's degree as standard as a high-school diploma." [editor's note: Of course it's not "free" or "at no cost." It's just that someone other than the end use is paying the cost - TLK] (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ofuw36j

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Why voters don’t trust Hillary Clinton

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders

"Voters in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia think Hillary Clinton is not honest or trustworthy. According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, a mere 34 percent of Colorado voters think she can be trusted; 62 percent do not. In Iowa, those numbers are 33 percent to 59; in Virginia, Clinton is underwater on trust, too, 39 percent to 55 percent. Clinton's conduct is catching up with her." (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nky2oo3

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TPP undermines user control and that’s disastrous for accessibility

Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Maira Sutton

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens all users' ability to access information and participate in culture and innovation online, but it's especially severe for those with disabilities or who otherwise depend on content in accessible formats. That's because it doubles down on broken policies that were heavily lobbied for by Hollywood and other major publishers that impede the distribution of accessible works." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nlhbplb

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The money primary

Our Future
by Jim Hightower

"In this exclusive election, Jeb is way out front of the GOP pack with a record haul of $100 million, while Hillary has bagged $45 million to lead among the Dems. Hold on. Here come the Koch brothers from out of nowhere, overwhelming all the other campaigns with nearly a billion dollars for their secretive effort to put the presidency under their private control. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s corporate-friendly Citizens United ruling, running for America’s highest office in our democratic republic has been perverted into a gold rush. Candidates shamelessly grub for cash, molding their policy proposals to fit the narrow interests of plutocratic elites." (07/28/15)

http://ourfuture.org/20150728/the-money-primary

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Why Donald Trump matters

Paul Waldman The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"The political press is struggling over how exactly to report on Donald Trump. On one hand, we absolutely love covering him -- Trump's intoxicating combination of boorishness, ignorance, tactlessness, and overconfidence, all wrapped up in a gold-plated package, is utterly irresistible as copy. On the other hand, we feel a little guilty about it, as though we know it's bad for us and bad for the public. Which is what produces the endless assurances that, despite his rather remarkable strength in the polls, you should rest assured that he is not going to be his party's nominee." (07/26/15)

http://prospect.org/article/why-donald-trump-matters

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Will Kasich’s anti-green resume kill his presidential hopes?

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Harvey Wasserman

"Kasich will ultimately have to be heard on an issue that could decide [Ohio's] financial and industrial future. For Ohio's teetering economy, sinking yet another $3 billion into obsolete fossil/nuke burners would be suicidal. Germany, California and other advanced powers are now transition into a future defined by green power. If Kasich continues to steer Ohio away, the state is doomed to obsolescence and decline. ... Kasich is well positioned to become at least the GOP's Vice-Presidential nominee. Ohio is always a key swing state, making the governor a valuable geographic asset. As a candidate, where he stands on the future of energy will be heavily scrutinized. Thus far he seems firmly in the Koch camp, supporting the billionaire brothers' attacks on any energy source that threatens their gargantuan investments in obsolete fossil fuels/nukes." (07/28/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qem6hhr

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How not to promote economic equality

Kevin Carson Center for a Stateless Society
by Kevin Carson

"At the Washington Post, Max Ehrenfreund argues ('Hillary Clinton's top goal as president could be effectively impossible to achieve,' July 20) that Hillary Clinton may be hampered in her stated goal of raising middle class incomes and reducing economic inequality by factors beyond her control. These factors include forces such as 'technological automation and globalization,' which -- along with competition from Chinese manufacturing -- have devalued semi-skilled labor and driven down wages. But the real problem is not that these things are forces of nature like glaciers or continental drift, beyond our control. They're the result of a system of power that promotes certain institutional arrangements, because those arrangements serve the interests of those who control the system. The problem is that Clinton is a part of that system of power and she shares its underlying assumptions." (07/28/15)

https://c4ss.org/content/39202

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How disability law went nuts

James Bovard USA Today
by James Bovard

"Good intentions are no excuse for perpetual legal chaos. The Americans with Disabilities Act promised a bright new era of equality and freedom. Instead, it has spawned endless lawsuits and absurd federal decrees while harming some of the people it sought to relieve. The 1990 ADA defined disability as 'a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities' -- a far broader definition that what previously prevailed in the statute book. In 2008, Congress vastly expanded that definition to include people with diabetes, depression, heart disease, or cancer, as well as people who have significant troubles standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking and communicating." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nj2trwt

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Have Republicans learned to love the Berlin Wall?

Roderick T. Long Center for a Stateless Society
by Roderick T Long

"While restrictions on the right to enter a country are widely accepted, restrictions on the right to exit a country are usually regarded as a tool of dictatorship. Lord's own former boss, Ronald Reagan, famously gave a speech in front of the Berlin Wall in 1987, condemning the structure as 'a gash of barbed wire,' 'a restriction on the right to travel,' and 'an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state' -- and concluding with a rousing cry to 'tear down this wall!' But apparently some Republicans are learning to make their peace with the idea of an Iron Curtain." (07/27/15)

https://c4ss.org/content/39221

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Real nightmare for Republicans: Third-party Trump

John Nichols The Nation
by John Nichols

"It is no easy task to chair a political party that is in opposition. Even when the chair of the national committee of one of the two major parties navigates the partisans into position to elect a president (as did DNC chair Paul Butler did in the turbulent 1950s, RNC chair Ray Bliss after the 1964 defeat of Barry Goldwater, and DNC chair Howard Dean with his 50-state strategy) credit invariably goes to the winning candidate. But people who understand politics know that party chairs are the ones who must keep things together in order for presidential nominees to win November elections. Reince Priebus understands politics." [editor's note: I'd call this a "real nightmare" for anyone without a certain warped sense of humor! - SAT] (07/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q8xqk6b

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Donald Trump is an actual fascist: What his surging popularity says about the GOP base

Salon
by Conor Lynch

"In the political discussion of today, there always comes a risk of being discounted as a crackpot when using a word like 'fascist' to describe a political opponent. The word, much like 'socialist,' has been so abused since the fall of fascism that it lost its meaning quite some time ago. Comparisons of modern leaders to Hitler tend to be completely void of any substance, and there is even an Internet adage, 'Godwin's law,' that says, 'As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.' In a recent article by Jeffrey Tucker, however, it is argued, quite justly in my opinion, that Donald Trump, whether he knows it or not, is a fascist (or is at least acting like one)." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/plr7dv5

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Cultures of impunity

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Paul Starr

"It is sometimes hard for us to recognize problems in our own society that we can readily identify abroad. International human-rights and anti-corruption reformers talk about 'cultures of impunity' in Third World countries where murder, the looting of economic resources, and other crimes by the powerful regularly go unpunished. The police, high government officials, and their cronies in the private sector not only abuse their power; they do so knowing that they will never be held to account and that their victims know that, too. ... One of the themes running through our own recent history is that cultures of impunity are also an American problem." (07/24/15)

http://prospect.org/article/cultures-impunity

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Donald Trump a superhero, but not in a good way

Reuters Reuters
by Neal Gabler

"Hovering above all the brouhaha about Donald Trump’s bizarre presidential candidacy floats one critical question: Are we an electorate or are we an audience? Trump has bet on the latter, while his competitors, even one like Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has positions close to Trump on many issues, bet on the former. Trump has received a lot of opprobrium for his antics, but it isn’t clear that he is wrong. Even if much of the establishment and leading political analysts have already rendered their verdicts." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qe5d2x5

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Even if Sandra Bland did commit suicide …

Dave Johnson Our Future Blog
by Dave Johnson

"We don’t know what the evidence will show happened to Sandra Bland in that jail cell. It shouldn’t matter. Does it really matter if Sandra Bland committed suicide while in police custody or was murdered? Does a suicide under police watch in any way absolve the police of responsibility? Why was she in a jail cell in the first place, and why was she able to commit suicide in that cell? Look how she got there in the first place: A person is pulled over for changing lanes without first signaling, apparently thinking she was getting out of the way as a police car came speeding up behind her. The driver is threatened with a Taser, pushed to the ground, taken to jail. Would she have been pulled over if she was driving a Mercedes? Would she have been pulled over if her skin was a difference color? Most of us can safely bet the answer is no." [editor's note: I've been in an argument with some Facebookers about this issue; some folks just don't get it! - SAT] (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p78o3p5

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Stop CISA: Join EFF in a week of action opposing broad “cybersecurity” surveillance legislation

Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Nadia Kayyali

"How do you kill a zombie bill like CISA? Grassroots action. That's why EFF and over a dozen other groups are asking you to join us in a Week of Action to Stop CISA. The Senate is likely to vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) in the coming weeks, and only you can help us stop it. We keep hearing that CISA and the other 'cybersecurity' bills moving through Congress are “must-pass” legislation. But just like the original version of CISA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), we think grassroots activism can stop this legislation in its tracks." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pgrq3jd

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What Flint, MI & Salem, MA have in common

In These Times In These Times
by Daniel Hertz

"Once upon a time, there was a town. For a while, it existed more or less peacefully. But one day, the residents of an outlying neighborhood decided to secede. Their prospects for economic growth depended on acquiring more land and establishing their own government to look out for their interests. The campaign for suburbanization made many townspeople angry. Finally, a few secessionists accused several secession opponents of being tools of Satan and, after a series of show trials, condemned them to death by hanging or being crushed under rocks. Perhaps the only way to make a witch trial dull is to frame it as a dispute over municipal boundaries, but the historical evidence suggests that just such a dispute was a key part of the context in Salem, Mass., 300 years ago." (07/27/15)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/18162/under-the-wrecking-ball

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In Iraq, I raided insurgents. In Virginia, the police raided me.

The Washington Post Washington Post
by Alex Horton

"I got home from the bar and fell into bed soon after Saturday night bled into Sunday morning. I didn't wake up until three police officers barged into my apartment, barking their presence at my door. They sped down the hallway to my bedroom, their service pistols drawn and leveled at me. It was just past 9 a.m., and I was still under the covers. The only visible target was my head. In the shouting and commotion, I felt an instant familiarity. I'd been here before. This was a raid. I had done this a few dozen times myself, 6,000 miles away from my Alexandria, Va., apartment." [hat tip -- David Klaus] (07/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/oqqmosb

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Gay rights may come at the cost of religious freedom

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Emma Green

"The Supreme Court's ruling in favor of same-sex marriage at the end of June has set the country up for two new waves of discrimination claims: those made by same-sex couples and LGBT workers, and those made by religious Americans who oppose same-sex marriage. The two may seem distinct or even opposed, but they're actually intertwined: In certain cases, extending new rights to LBGT workers will necessarily lead to religious-freedom objections, and vice versa." [editor's note: There are no "new rights." Any right you have now, you've always had. And any time you have a situation where one "right" conflicts with another, it means that one of those "rights" isn't actually a right after all - TLK] (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ohmy8af

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Bernie Sanders: Savior or seducer of the anti-war left?

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Howard Lisnoff

"In spite of claims of being antiwar, his 'hawkish' support of Clinton's military actions in the 1999 Kosovo War caused one of his advisers to quit. When antiwar activists occupied Sanders'[s] office in 1999 because of that support of Clinton's war policies, he had them arrested. In 2001, Sanders did not support the vote in Congress to oppose the war in Afghanistan. Congresswoman Barbara Lee stood alone! This vote was followed by his support for appropriations to support both the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2003 he supported the resolution that gave support to George W. Bush in both Iraq and in the larger war against terrorism, although Sanders has been a critic of the Iraq War." (07/27/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nkfwbp3

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“Defense” spending: Time for more than cosmetic cuts

Thomas L. Knapp William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Studies
by Thomas L Knapp

"A 75% reduction would still leave the US in the position of, by far, top military spender in the world (the cut would have to be more like 90% to match China, the second place spender). Given the American weapons technology edge, an existing arsenal that can be mothballed and re-activated at need, a reserve and National Guard system which can deliver well-trained troops on relatively short notice, and a buffer zone of two oceans between the US and its most likely future enemies, 25% of current spending levels would remain an embarrassment of riches." (07/26/15)

http://thegarrisoncenter.org/archives/2320

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Bobby Jindal’s opiate for the masses

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jamil Smith

"Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, back in late January, hosted a prayer rally on the LSU campus. There was a considerable amount of scrutiny on the event, entitled 'The Response: A Call To Prayer For a Nation In Crisis,' due to the anti-gay, anti-abortion dominion theologians who organized and paid for it. The event’s leaders insisted that it wasn’t about elevating elected officials or candidates. Jindal, in inviting the 49 other governors to the event, bought into the organizers’ 'non-political' framework. In the letter he wrote to every one of them, even those who aren’t Christian: 'There will only be one name lifted up that day: Jesus!' This was false." (07/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/no3jn5x

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New rule hurts US economy

USA Today USA Today
by Debbie Hoffman

"As bankers, financial experts and regulators sifted through the financial rubble in 2009, many came away with the conclusion that banks were under-capitalized, and lacked the equity to back up their assets. Last week, the Federal Reserve approved a rule requiring eight systemically important banks to hold additional capital. Its purpose is to retain financial stability in the United States in the event of a bank failure. But it may not be doing enough to facilitate lending and stimulate economic growth." (07/26/15)

http://tinyurl.com/onugm2c

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Get ready for the next wave of education “reform”

Jeff Bryant Our Future
by Jeff Bryant

"Education activists are rejoicing that the latest versions of No Child Left Behind reauthorization coursing through Congress may give struggling schools a way to have more control over their own governance and destiny. NCLB originally mandated such unreal expectations on schools the vast majority of them would be branded 'failed.' New legislation, as currently written, would change that. Prominent education groups representing teachers and administrators like this turn of events and want bills from the House and the Senate to quickly proceed to conference. Should the onerous provisions imposed on schools by NCLB indeed be lifted, lots of struggling schools will breathe easier without the 'failed' brand looming over their buildings." (07/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ofvxzub

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Bringing labor rights back to Bangladesh

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Robert JS Ross

"Two years after the April 24, 2013, collapse of the Rana Plaza building, Bangladesh has become a laboratory to test whether pressure from worldwide labor unions and NGOs in support of local unions and labor activists can improve life in the world’s sweatshops. The Rana Plaza disaster capped a series of fires and other fatal collapses in Bangladesh garment factories. Its death toll was at least 1,130. Another 2,500 workers or more were injured, many crippled for life and deeply traumatized. The survivors’ terrible stories include on-site amputations and workers being trapped underground for days. Some can no longer enter tall buildings without uncontrollable trembling and crying. One woman described attempting to go to work on 19 occasions but failing each time to overcome her anxiety. Thousands of livelihoods have been crushed." (07/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q7bcqmp

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Other candidates saying things basically as crazy as Trump

David Sirota In These Times
by David Sirota

"Since announcing his 2016 White House bid, Donald Trump has been the central focus of the campaign; by one estimate, he has garnered almost 40 percent of all election coverage on the network newscasts. Clearly, The Donald’s attempt to turn 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. into Trump White House has attracted so much attention because the candidate is seen as a Bulworthesque carnival barker who will say anything, no matter how hypocritical, factually unsubstantiated or absurd. Yet for all the hype he’s generated, Trump is not the only presidential hopeful willing to make utterly mind-boggling statements." (07/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qjt66cv

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Uber wins a battle with New York, now it’s war

Michelle Chen The Nation
by Michelle Chen

"When New York Mayor Bill De Blasio talked of a Tale of Two Cities on the campaign trail, promising to address an epidemic of social inequality, he probably wasn’t expecting a viral app to drive a multibillion-dollar wedge through Gotham’s fault-lines of race and class. But now De Blasio and city lawmakers have been blindsided by Uber’s corporate surge, forced to stall an attempt to cap the company’s expansion. The City Council has reportedly shelved for at least four months a proposal to limit Uber’s rate of growth (that is, slowing, not stopping, the expansion) for an assessment of its environmental and traffic impacts. Now the smartphone ridesharing app that traditional cabbies deem an 'existential threat' will keep pouring thousands more cars and part-time drivers onto the streets, angling for digital ride-hailers." (07/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/obwjq5c

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People still can’t breathe. Police still don’t care.

C4SS Center for a Stateless Society
by Ryan Calhoun

"Little more than a year after the death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD, another man with a family and a case of asthma has been killed by a reckless police force. Troy Goode was visiting Mississippi for a concert. As many concert goers do, Goode got drunk. Goode's wife, who was sober, began the drive home with Goode in the passenger seat. At some point, Goode exited his vehicle and began 'acting erratically.' The police were called. Upon their arrival, Goode continued his drunken behavior opening up the door to the police K9 car, exciting their dog. The police subdued Goode and hogtied him, putting him face down onto a stretcher. Much like the Garner case, Goode informed police he couldn't breathe and a bystander exclaimed what a bad idea the face down hogtie was. Two hours later the Goode family was informed Troy was dead." (07/24/15)

https://c4ss.org/content/39125

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Sheldon’s stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Uri Avnery

"In Japan in the good old days, Binyamin Netanyahu would by now have committed hara-kiri. In England at that time, the monarch would have appointed him governor of the most remote little island in the Pacific Ocean. In Israel, his popularity rating is bound to go up. Because in our country, the old adage is getting a new twist: Nothing Succeeds Like Failure." (07/24/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nh75ecj

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Peter Beinart’s fantasy

Justin Raimondo Antiwar.com
by Justin Raimondo

"Does Beinart really believe the media complex that gives the War Party a guaranteed platform suffers from amnesia? I hardly think so. And as for the historians, surely they'll be a bit more perceptive than Beinart gives them credit for. The answer to Beinart's conundrum is that there’s no difference whatsoever between the media and 'the political-intellectual complex that made the Iraq War possible.' As writers like Glenn Greenwald have demonstrated again and again (and again) the 'mainstream' media functions as the regime's Praetorian Guard." (07/24/15)

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2015/07/23/peter-beinarts-fantasy/

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Breaking down the legal issues in Sandra Bland’s arrest

Reuters Reuters
by Helen Coster

"On July 10 Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman, was pulled over by a state trooper in Prairie View, Texas, after allegedly failing to use a turn signal. The confrontation turned violent, and Bland was arrested and charged with assaulting an officer. She died three days later in her jail cell, after hanging herself. On Tuesday authorities in Texas released dashboard camera footage showing the arrest. The video shows how the traffic stop quickly escalated. After pulling Bland over, the state trooper, Brian Encinia, who is white, wrote up a ticket and returned to Bland’s car. He then asked Bland to put out her cigarette." [editor's note: This is a very good overview of your rights when a cop stops you, for ANY reason (hint: he has to begin by telling you why) - SAT] (07/23/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q5rlml7

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A deficit of debt discussion

USA Today USA Today
by Tom Coburn

"The 2016 presidential race is beginning in earnest with new candidates entering the crowded field weekly. The Republican Party boasts a host of compelling and well qualified aspirants, many of whom I have known and served with for years. They bring a wealth of experience and policy savvy to a nation sorely in need of a rebound following the many failures of the federal government during the Obama presidency. Yet despite their numbers, none of them is addressing in a meaningful way the greatest threat to our republic: our gigantic and rapidly growing national debt." [editor's note: No sure how they could, considering every one of them wants to start at least one more war, has no interest in ending the domestic ones, won't push to stop crony-corporate welfare, and has no plan to pay for any of it! - SAT] (07/22/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q5edxep

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Events


| News | Commentary |

Standard Model goes pear-shaped in CERN experiment

The Register [UK]

"It's only a small thing, but it could be big news: researchers at CERN have turned up the first evidence of exotic (and short-lived) atoms with pear-shaped nuclei. The reasons the boffins are excited is they believe the eccentric nuclei can help them probe one of physics' official Big Questions: how come there's something instead of nothing?" (05/09/13)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/09/pear_shaped_exotic_nuclei/

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FDA issues warning for over-the-counter diarrhea drug

Fox News

"The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to use an over-the-counter drug called Intestinomicina because the anti-diarrhea treatment contains a drug linked to life-threatening injuries. The El Salvador-manufactured drug comes in pills and liquid forms and is sold as a treatment for infectious diarrhea at international grocery stores and specialty stores in the U.S. Regulators say Intestinomicina contains the drug chloramphenicol, which can interfere with the production of red and white blood cells. People with anemia and other low blood cell counts are at greater risk of injury or death from using the drug." (09/19/12)

http://tinyurl.com/8t3oo49

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Egypt: Push strengthens for blasphemy clause in constitution

Christian Science Monitor

"Last week's protests in reaction to an anti-Islam YouTube clip have led to Egyptian demands that the US prosecute the filmmakers and may give a decisive push to an effort to enshrine in the Egyptian constitution the criminalization of blasphemy, or insulting religious figures. While the US-based filmmakers are protected under the First Amendment in the US, in some parts of the Middle East they could be prosecuted under laws that criminalize disparaging religion. In Egypt, the backlash could bolster a preexisting effort to insert a clause banning religious insults into Egypt’s new constitution." [editor's note: Yes, that's surely why constitutions were created ... NOT! - SAT] (09/16/12)

http://tinyurl.com/9zodrvb

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In unusual “snub,” Obama wont be meeting Netanyahu

Reuters

"In a highly unusual rebuff to a close ally as tensions escalated over how to deal with Iran's nuclear program, the White House said on Tuesday President Barack Obama would not meet Benjamin Netanyahu during the Israeli prime minister's U.S. visit later this month. The apparent snub, coupled with Netanyahu's sharpened demands for a tougher U.S. line against Iran, threatened to plunge U.S.-Israeli relations into crisis and add pressure on Obama in the final stretch of a tight presidential election campaign." [editor's note: I changed their headline to indicate the reality; two world leaders both happen to be speaking at the U.N. ... on different days - SAT] (09/12/12)

http://tinyurl.com/96g2uqw

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Report: In Nigeria, a concrete get-rich scheme

Reuters

"Aliko Dangote has always liked making things to sell. As a child he boiled up sugar to make sweets he sold around town; these days he cooks up limestone in factories that produce millions of tonnes of cement. Dangote's entrepreneurial skills have helped make him Africa's richest person, with cement plants opened or under construction everywhere from Senegal to Ethiopia to South Africa. He dreams of owning the largest cement firm on the planet. By 2015, he hopes, his industrial conglomerate will be worth four times its current estimated $15 billion." (09/11/12)

http://tinyurl.com/8scc49g

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