Thursday, April 29, 2004

Generation Debt

So you go to college, then maybe grad school, and you graduate with a mountain of debt. Then join the workforce to find yourself overqualified, and you end up underemployed if you are lucky, making less than your father did at your age (in adjusted numbers). Then add the crappy Bush economy and the unemployment numbers, and you got a generation of truly frustrated college graduates.

The Village Voice is one of the very few publications out there that is actually writing about this serious problem. They have been running a series of articles on this topic under the heading "Generation Debt - the New Economics of Being Young." Well worth reading articles, particularly if you are in the same demographic:Unfortunately, I do feel these articles speak to me directly.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Why 'The New York Times' sucks so bad lately...

I gave up on the NY Times a long time ago, back when they allowed every single piece of RNC propaganda, ill-conceived fabrication, and blatant slander against candidate Al Gore written by their Republican moles go unchallenged. It was one of the lowest points in the history of that bastion of American journalism, only to be capped by the scandals that took place in recent years (Jayson Blair and all).

For a "moderate" or "liberal-leaning" newspaper, the NY Times seems to have a huge number of conservative columnists and reporters that regularly hack Republican talking points and vicious attacks on Democratic candidates. Some of the usual suspects include Kit Seelye and Jodi Wilgoren.

You have to wonder if the NYT actually has editors. It's amazing how they allow to print this stuff. Case in point, check the two articles by Jodi Wilgoren in today's edition. Please read the humorous dissection of those vicious pieces of propaganda by Bob Somerby at the inimitable Daily Howler.

If you feel like letting the NYT know of your outrage, please use the following addresses.

Email NY Times' ombudsman Daniel Okrent at public@nytimes.com

Send a letter to the editor: letters@nytimes.com

"Cointelpro" All Over Again?

Apparently the FBI and the CIA are going to start tracking blogs:
Blog-Tracking May Gain Ground Among U.S. Intelligence Officials

People in black trench coats might soon be chasing blogs.

Blogs, short for Web logs, are personal online journals. Individuals post them on Web sites to report or comment on news especially, but also on their personal lives or most any subject.

Some blogs are whimsical and deal with "soft" subjects. Others, though, are cutting edge in delivering information and opinion.

As a result, some analysts say U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials might be starting to track blogs for important bits of information. This interest is a sign of how far Web media such as blogs have come in reshaping the data-collection habits of intelligence professionals and others, even with the knowledge that the accuracy of what's reported in some blogs is questionable. (...)
On one hand, you have to wonder how long did it take them to figure out there's a wealth of information and opinion in the blogosphere that seems to be more sensible and and accurate than their own.

On the other hand, it's not too far fetched to suspect this may be a rehash of the infamous "COINTELPRO" program of Hoover. Given the tendency of Ashcroft to look at Freedom of Speech as "dangerous" and "suspect," you have to wonder if this is blast from the past, an attempt to start tracking and profiling everyone to the left of Pat Buchanan. You know, if we don't spy on our own citizens, and keep taps on bloggers, well... the terrists won!

Given the political climate of the last few years, I get the awful feeling that lefty bloggers will get the short end of the stick on this deal.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Redefining Chutzpah, part 2

Cheney today:
The vice president said Kerry's record "raises serious doubts about his understanding of the broader struggle against terror" and provides "ample grounds to doubt the judgment and the attitude he brings to bear on vital issues of national security." (...)
"It is irresponsible to vote against vital support for the United States military."

- AP News
Cheney 20 years ago:
If Reagan "doesn't really cut defense, he becomes the No. 1 special pleader in town...The severity of the deficit is great enough that the president has to reach out and take a whack at everything to be credible...If you're going to rule out the other two [Social Security cuts and a tax increase], then you've got to hit defense."

- Dick Cheney quoted in the Washington Post, 12/16/84 (provided by David Sirota)
It takes some nerve to accuse Kerry of something Cheney himself voted and supported in the 1980s.


Monday, April 26, 2004

That Liberal Media in Action...

The GOP has started a brutal attack against the war record of John Kerry. It's not a joke: scores of pasty chicken-hawks have launched a no holds barred attack on the heroic record of John Kerry, and they have done it using the lowest of reasons. One day they claim one of his three purple hearts wasn't "truly deserved" because, the chicken-hawks claim, one of his injuries in actions wasn't serious enough. This, coming from a bunch that in its majority sat out the Vietnam war on all sorts of excuses.

To make matters even more surreal, the RNC pulled a Vietnam veteran out of a hat claiming that he served with Kerry in the rice patties. This man, a self-described non-partisan called John O'Neill, went as far as to claim that Kerry "couldn't tie the shoes of some of the people in Coastal Division 11."

Turns out that John O'Neill didn't actually serve with Kerry, but joined the same division two months after Kerry had already returned to the US. You think that was low? There's more: This "non-partisan" John O'Neill fellow happened to be a former assistant of William Rehnquist, collaborated with the Nixon administration, and currently manages in Texas the very conservative website WinterSoldier.com, which is run by the Free Republic Network. Some "non-partisan" this fellow...

Now this is where we get to the title of this post. As soon as the RNC started parading around the vicious and baseless attacks by O'Neill, the "so called liberal media" picked it up immediately. No matter how flimsy, any smears against Democratic leaders get immediate coverage in the mainstream media, and are put into rotation for all the networks. Within hours, O'Neil had an exclusive interview with that ol' Republican tool, little Wolf Blitzer, always happy to do the bidding of his neocon pals (why anyone would still have any respect for Wolfie just baffles me). Soon every network had this O'Neill guy spouting his crap against Kerry all over our airwaves, unchallenged.

Now, compare this with the old rumors that Bush may have missed a considerable chunk of his cozy National Guard gig in the early 1970s. While unsung heroes like Martin Heldt did an excellent job at uncovering hard evidence that pointed at obvious gaps in the service record of Bush, barely anyone in the media picked it up (The Boston Globe). I am talking about 1999 here.

It took our "so called liberal media" FOUR YEARS to actually pay any attention to the mountain of evidence uncovered by Heldt and other concerned citizens. Note that we are not talking rumors from a partisan hack claiming abstract things difficult to prove. We are talking a whole collection of documents and military records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Still, the mainstream media, blindly infatuated with Bush, ignored the story for FOUR FULL YEARS until early 2004.

So here's the score:It must be that "liberal media" with it's "liberal bias"... yeah right.

The Teenager in Chief

Today, the AP brings us another picture of Bush rubbing or slapping the head of a bald man, Benny Hill style:

I bet the subject in question was thrilled by this humiliating display of immaturity. Unfortunately, this is not the first time. As a matter of fact, just about every week or so we see another picture of Bush rubbing the head of a bald man. Call it another example of "the growups are in charge."

Here are some quick examples:
Bush slapping Ari Fleischer's mellon

Is this part of an old frat ritual, or just a display of his concept of "humor"? It seems like every time he sees a bald man, he can't control the irresistible urge to reach with his hand.

To make matters worse, here's a picture of Bush rubbing the bald head of Alphonso Jackson, acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

In the South, as some may know, rubbing the head of a black man has a complete different meaning, a mixture of racist and superstitious crap.

That is so "presidential." Way to go!

PS: Welcome, Eschaton readers! Please feel free to visit my humble blog often.

PS: Although I couldn't find the original picture for this one, at least I can post the cartoon that "Political Strikes" made out of it. Mind you, this was a real picture of Bush reaching for the mellon of a reporter during the 2000 campaign:

Same goes for this one:

Please let me know if anyone can point me to the original pictures for those two cartoons. Thanks for emailing these two cartoons to me.

On edit:

They sent me originals to those pictures above:

On Edit:

And more pictures...

New picture added 10/27/04:

More pictures added 2/15/2005:

Going koo-koo for baldie:

New picture 2/16/2005, courtesy of Rigorous Intuition:

And another bald rubbing incident as narrated by WNDU TV in Indiana, when Bush greeted Mishawaka Mayor Jeff Rea by rubbing his bald head:

And more (3/11/05):


And of course, there's always the turkey:

Thursday, April 22, 2004

"Presidentin' is Hard..."

Latest baffling statement from Bush:
Bush: U.S. hard to defend against terror
It's tough to protect the United States against terrorism, President Bush said Wednesday, adding that he understands why two-thirds of Americans in an Associated Press poll think terrorists are likely to strike the nation again before the November election.

"This is a hard country to defend," Bush told executives of more than 1,500 Associated Press-member newspapers at the cooperative's annual meeting.(...)

What is Bush whining about? He really, really wanted this job back in 2000, didn't he?

What the hell does he mean by "this is a hard country to defend"? Would he feel more comfortable handling a smaller country? Tonga, perhaps?

Time to get someone else who can actually do his job. Please use the link on the left column to donate to the John Kerry campaign.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Woodward Opens Can of Worms

I watched tonight's "Sixty Minutes," in which Mike Wallace interviewed Bob Woodward about his damning revelations of the Bush administration and their decision-making behind the Iraqi invasion. While I'm still trying to pick my jaw from the floor, allow me to briefly list some of the main points made in that interview:Not only we may be living under the worst president ever, but his administration may be working overtime to beat all records in corruption, shady dealings, and negligence. Rather than seeing Watergate and Iran-Contra as cautionary tales, Cheney and company act like they just want to top those scandals. They are their "inspiration."

You can read the whole thing at CBS News.

The Numbers Game

In these days when journalists seem to go out of their way to print pro-Bush propaganda, and carefully do nothing that may upset the White House, we have noticed they are playing a "number's game" that favors the neocon cabal. The worst thing is that they are playing this game with the casualties in Iraq.

Until recently, reports of the ongoing situation in Iraq accounted casualties as a whole. The official numbers of US casualties in Iraq are the following as of today:

Total fatalities: 699

Total wounded: 3022 (1256 reported in the last month alone)

You can see the total figures in this website:
Well, in recent days they are reporting both fatalities and wounded differently, and I suspect this is done to make the awful numbers seem lower. Today, Andrew Marshall from Reuters reports that the casualties in Iraq are just 503, but he is deceivingly counting only those fallen in combat:
U.S. Combat Death Toll in Iraq Rises to Over 500

By Andrew Marshall

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Fierce fighting in Iraq over the weekend killed 10 U.S. soldiers, including five Marines in a day of bloody clashes against scores of heavily armed guerrillas near the Syrian border, the U.S. military said Sunday

The deaths brought to 503 the number of American soldiers killed in action in Iraq since the start of the U.S.-led war in March last year to oust Saddam Hussein (...)

See how it works? According to Reuters, US casualties are just rising over 500, when in reality the total number of US fatalities in Iraq is about to rise over 700.

What bothers me, even more than the obvious intent to make the total numbers look smaller, is the fact that they seem to make a distinction here between deaths in combat, versus non-combat. By this kind of misleading reporting, one may be getting the false impression that "non-combat" deaths are somehow "less important" or "less heroic" than the other category. I find that wrong, transparently misleading, and ultimately offensive to the families of those who lost loved ones in this mess of a war.

I believe it's very important to report the total number accurately. Making these distinctions between casualties is simply wrong, especially when it seems there's an intent to make the numbers look smaller. I'm very afraid that, as casualties keep mounting, they'll find another category to filter down the numbers.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Rumsfeld's Amateur Hour: Nuclear Facilities in Iraq Unguarded

Riddle me this: one of the main reasons (or excuses) Bush used to invade Iraq was the fear that Saddam would allow weapons of mass destruction, or materials for it, into the hands of terrorists. Nevertheless, in a long series of massive messes and irresponsible screw-ups by the lackadaisical planning by Rumsfeld, today we learn this (via Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo):
Probe Shows Iraq Nuke Facilities Unguarded

Some Iraqi nuclear facilities appear to be unguarded, and radioactive materials are being taken out of the country, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency reported after reviewing satellite images and equipment that has turned up in European scrapyards.(...)

According to ElBaradei's letter, satellite imagery shows "extensive removal of equipment and in some instances, removal of entire buildings,'' in Iraq.

In addition, "large quantities of scrap, some of it contaminated, have been transfered out of Iraq from sites" previously monitored by the IAEA.(...)

So the neocon cabal invades a country to prevent certain weapons and materials to reach the hands of terrorists; yet, they manage to even miss planning to guard those materials, which end up being taken out of the country by strangers, potentially by terrorists.

I need some Pepto-Bismol.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Last Night's Charade

I did watch the presidential press conference last night, and I have to say it was a big waste of time, as I expected it to be. Here are my thoughts:In brief, nothing new, same old platitudes, same evasions, a poor performance, and his solution to solve the messes that we are facing now: more of the same.

Of course, you wouldn't know that if you only relied on the commentary by Chris Matthews and his guests on MSNBC. I mean, you have to wonder if Matthews had seen the same conference as the rest of us. His praise of Bush "steady resolve," and "honest demeanor" reached truly comedic levels when he asked his guests the following in drooling admiration:
"Do you think that Bush has finally proven tonight that he is a great communicator?"
OK, Chris Matthews. The gig is up! Tell us: what planet are you from, and what is your secret mission in earth?

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

The Censorship Continues

Apparently, our holy warriors at the FCC have canceled the Victoria's Secret TV show for indecency.

I don't doubt for a second that the show may be offensive to some people, and exploits women as objects of sexual consumption... but I think it's pretty hypocritical to cancel this show for "indecency", while leaving shows more offensive than this on the air. It seems to me they are only concerned with "indecency" when it involves the female body. Otherwise, anything goes.

So let me get this straight: a show with a lingerie pageant is deemed indecent and has to be canceled, but reality shows where people (sometimes entire families) eat cockroaches for money are just perfectly OK. Shows were contestants marry strangers for a bet, or girls lie to their entire families regarding their own weddings for money are just clean, good-hearted entertainment.

It says a lot about the society in which we are living.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Spanish Royal gets the "Ashcroft Special"

This is both embarrassing and hilarious:
Spain's Prince Felipe subject to search at Miami International Airport

MIAMI -- A routine security check at Miami International Airport turned into a diplomatic flap when the unhappy subjects of the search turned out to be the future king of Spain and his fiancée.

Crown Prince Felipe, Spanish television anchorwoman Letizia Ortiz and four bodyguards were connecting onto a commercial airliner in Miami after arriving from the Bahamas in a chartered jet, The Miami Herald reported for Saturday's editions.

But before boarding their Iberia Airlines flight to Madrid Thursday, the couple and their entourage had to pass through a security check. (...)
Also, the Miami Herald reports that this incident has sparked a small diplomatic conflict between the US and Spain:
Members of the prince's entourage called the required inspection of their private belongings an ''insult'' and ''humiliating'' -- sparking a diplomatic flap that has the United States and Spain on the brink of a protocol war.

Crowning it off, Iberia Airlines, the prince's carrier of choice, is suggesting it might pull out of the airport, according to two sources close to the international incident. (...)
Remember, Spain was one of the main US allies in the wonderful Iraqi adventure. Our pals!

I wonder if this is some sort of retaliation for the decision of the new Spanish government to pull out of Iraq. I wouldn't put anything past this bunch; they have demonstrated how petty and vindictive they can be.

I wonder if Saudi royals get the same treatment... Yeah, right.

On edit: while I think that everyone should be subjected to the same rules for airline travel, somehow I suspect this wouldn't have happened in different circumstances, like the royal in question being from Saudi Arabia. If there are rules that you and I have to abide by when boarding a plane, it's only fair they should apply to everybody, and it should also apply to the royalty of other countries if they are using a commercial plane. I don't think owning lots of oil fields should exempt anyone.

McCain Says No to Kerry

McCain on talk of run with Kerry: 'No, no and no'
I am quite relieved to hear about this. I found the whole idea preposterous. While McCain seems to be more independent and forward thinking than your garden-variety Republican, his voting record is quite tilted to the right. While many thought the idea of Kerry running with McCain as his VP nominee would be a way of "uniting" the nation in these hard times, it made me feel as though the Democratic Party would give an impression that we couldn't govern without some sort of "help" from the right. No way. The Democratic Party has demonstrated, time and time again, to be more capable of running the country than the current bunch in the White House. Many times over!

I didn't even think the symbolism of it made any sense. It was a bad idea.

We need a straight Democratic ticket, with capable and credible leaders. We don't need to resort to any Republican figurehead to seem believable, or to feel that we need to make symbolic gestures of "bipartisanship." The record of the Democratic Party (jobs, peace, prosperity) should speak for itself.
Every time the Republicans have used "bipartisanship" since the 2000 elections has been merely to ram their ultra-conservative agenda. Democrats have plenty of capable leaders on their ranks; there's no need to borrow alleged "mild" Republicans to give an impression of bipartisanship.

Bald-Faced Lies

The news networks are reporting some unbelievable statements made by Bush in a press briefing today at Crawford. These statements are just mind-boggling and blatantly false in the face of the recent evidence uncovered:
Bush Says Aug. 6, 2001, Memo Did Not Foretell 9/11
Bush said the document, which he had requested to learn more about the al Qaeda threat within the United States, provided no intelligence warning of a specific attack.

"I am satisfied that I never saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America -- at a time and a place, an attack," Bush told reporters.

The White House made public the page-and-a-half document on Saturday night. It told Bush a month before Sept. 11, 2001, that al Qaeda members were in the United States and the FBI (news - web sites) had detected suspicious activity "consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks."(...)

That's right! Apparently, unless the document provided the social security numbers of the hijackers, the flight numbers they were taking, and a couple of drawings of the potential attacks, Bush wouldn't put down his Nintendo.

Atrios points to a fantastic dissection by blogger David Sirota of this outrageous bag of lies. Sirota does a terrific job, parsing line by line and contrasting the pearls of wisdom spouted today by Dubya, with the actual information provided by the Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001.

I really hope our press finally decides to make the Bush administration accountable. It's way overdue.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Historical Document? More like a warning! Or three!

In one of the most controversial moments in yesterday's testimony by Condoleezza Rice, she claimed the August 6, 2001 memo briefed to her and the president by intelligence entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States" wasn't a "warning" but rather a "historical document."

I don't know if Condi perjured herself by that statement, but look what the associated press posted just 12 minutes ago:
AP: Al-Qaida Threat Included in Bush Memo

By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President Bush's August 2001 briefing on terrorism threats, described largely as a historical document, included information from three months earlier that al-Qaida was trying to send operatives into the United States for an explosives attack, according to several people who have seen the memo.

The so-called presidential daily briefing, or PDB, delivered to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001 — a month before the Sept. 11 attacks — said there were various reports that Osama bin Laden had wanted to strike inside the United States as early as 1997 and continuing into the spring of 2001, the sources told The Associated Press.

The same month as that briefing of Bush, U.S. intelligence officials received two uncorroborated reports suggesting terrorists might use airplanes, including one that suggested al-Qaida operatives were considering flying a plane into a U.S. embassy, current and former government officials said.

The magnitude of this is tremendous! Basically they are saying that the Bush admin. was warned (given THREE specific warnings by intelligence in August 2001), dismissed the warning, and then they went on their merry vacations. Remember, the day after they were briefed on this threat by al Qaeda, Bush and Cheney took their month-long vacations. Outrageous!

Pass it on! Spread this article far and wide!

On edit:
PBS News just had a news break at 9:30 pm announcing this very report from AP.

Very busy week...

Sorry guys, but I'm having a very busy week, and I've been unable to add any new articles. Iw ill be posting later tonight my views on the testimony of Condoleezza Rice.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Manufactured Deception

This is truly unreal:
Bush attacks environment 'scare stories'

George W. Bush's campaign workers have hit on an age-old political tactic to deal with the tricky subject of global warming - deny, and deny aggressively.

The Observer has obtained a remarkable email sent to the press secretaries of all Republican congressmen advising them what to say when questioned on the environment in the run-up to November's election. The advice: tell them everything is rosy.

It tells them how global warming has not been proved, air quality is 'getting better', the world's forests are 'spreading, not deadening', oil reserves are 'increasing, not decreasing', and the 'world's water is cleaner and reaching more people'.

The email - sent on 4 February - warns that Democrats will 'hit us hard' on the environment. 'In an effort to help your members fight back, as well as be aggressive on the issue, we have prepared the following set of talking points on where the environment really stands today,' it states. (...)
Surreal. This s the equivalent to the captain of the Titanic saying "Iceberg? What iceberg? There are not such things as icebergs!"

Contrast this with the terrifying study by the Pentagon predicting a relatively near ecological catastrophe, and urging the White House to act upon it:
Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'(...)
The stuff of nightmares...

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Slate.com does Rove's Bidding... Again

One of my biggest complains about Slate.com is how it pretends to be a "liberal-leaning" magazine, and it seemed to be that way a few years ago. In teh last few years many have noticed they seem to follow the Republican talking points quite faithfully.

Why is it that Slate always does this? They tease you with some true liberal writing (like their defense of Richard Clarke), but then they club you over the head with articles that seem dictated by Karl Rove.

The following exercise will get your blood boiling:

Go to Slate.com.

You'll see a taunting article on the right side called: "The Democrats' Favorite Loser."

Click on the article and see who is it they are talking about. After you calm down, read the article.

Reach for some Peptobismol while you are at it, cause you'll need it.

Then, if you think you can handle it, read the incredibly demeaning article by Saletan about the Democratic candidates and Bush critics, entitled
"All the President's Suckers." Only recommended if you have not eaten anything yet...

To top it all off, they also have an article attacking Air America, and another one by Lee Smith entitled "Stop Scapegoating the Saudis" (it does what the title says: goes out of its way to defend the Saudis, and trashes the book "House of Bush, House of Saud").

With friends like "Slate.com," liberals need no enemies, trust me.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Campaign Advise From The Economist

Check out this week's cover of the British magazine The Economist
(thanks to The Daily Kos):


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Approval Ratings for Bush

Check out this detailed chart.

Most pollsters put his approval ratings way below 50%.

On edit:

Another report about the decreasing approval of Bush:

Poll: Bush Credibility Takes Hit

It Didn't Take Long...

Finally, after years of a right-wing dominated radio spectrum, Air America started broadcasting yesterday. You can actually listen to Air America live by clicking on the graphic we have posted on the left column.

So, Air America has been in the air for barely 24 hours, and the usual suspects are already attacking it.

CNN this morning had a bunch of non-entities making fun of the enterprise (see transcript here). Here's what one of CNN's empty heads had to say about Air America:
CARRIER: I mean good radio is always, you know, having two sides. You can't have a good guy and a good guy. You've got to have a good guy and a bad guy. But this was almost too extreme.
Funny! Where have you been during the last 15 years of Rush Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, Gordon Liddy, or Jay Severin? "Extreme" or "one-sided" could not even begin to describe these people!

Also, "media critic" Howard Kurtz lists in today's Washington Post some nasty commentaries by right-wing mouthpieces against Air America:
Conservative pundits have been dismissive. O'Reilly said on his Fox News show that "this whole liberal network scheme is just plain stupid. . . . These pinheads backing the venture will lose millions of dollars because the propaganda network is simply tedious and tedious doesn't sell."

Conservative radio host Jay Severin mocked the venture in the Boston Globe: "Yes, we know you believe with utmost sincerity that we are monstrous Neanderthals, but do you really believe your left-wing/pacifist/United Nations/French worldview will win a big middle-class audience? In America?"
Also notice how "fair and balanced" media critic Howie Kurtz can not finish his article without making snide remarks about Franken's "partisanship" and humor.

It sounds to me like someone is worried...


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