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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 1, 2014
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Will ask for hand count in several districts; Calls for special investigator in Waukesha County...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2011 2:36pm PT  

Wisconsin's Asst. Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg has filed paperwork for a statewide, state-sponsored "recount" in the controversial April 5th State Supreme Court election. She has also called for a special investigator be named to examine questions about election results in Waukesha County, where the County Clerk's procedures have come under fire both before and since the election.

Speaking to supporters at a press conference moments ago in Madison, Kloppenburg pointed to a number of reported irregularities around the state, including in Waukesha County, as well as Racine and Milwaukee and a number of other areas, which helped lead to her decision to ask for such a count. She also mentioned unusually high undervote rates in a number of districts that the campaign had examined.

"A recount may change the outcome of this election or it may confirm it, but when it is done, a recount will have shed necessary and appropriate light on an election that right now, seems to so many people to be suspect," Kloppenburg said.

In response to a question from reporters, she added, "I've asked for a recount to determine what the right count is, and also to preserve confidence in the electoral process."

Kloppenburg stated that her campaign would be asking for a hand count of ballots in several districts, and will work with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), the state's top election agency, to determine which areas should be hand counted. State recount procedures allow for a machine recount of paper ballots unless a hand examination is ordered by a court.

In response to critics of such a post-election examination of results, including from the campaign of her opponent, Justice David Prosser, Kloppenburg was unflinching in her response, saying they've called it "a drama and a circus. Actually, it's called American Democracy."

During her remarks, she also called for on the G.A.B. "to appoint a special investigator to professionally, thoroughly and completely investigate the actions and words of the Waukesha County Clerk." That County Clerk, Kathy Nickolaus, a GOP activist and former employee of Prosser's while in the Assembly Republican Caucus, has become the focus of a number of anomalies that have emerged in election results since Election Night.

"The recount will reveal if there were discrepancies in the Waukesha vote count, but going forward, an independent investigation needs to determine what the clerk did there and why," she explained, while pointing to a number of still-unanswered questions about post-election vote tallies in Waukesha, including why it is that "conservative bloggers" were told about those adjustments before they were announced publicly.

"I don't know what will happen in the recount, but we're asking for a recount to determine what the proper count should be, and to help, from this point forward, to assure that elections are fair," Kloppenburg said, stressing her belief that the count should move forward for the benefit of all voters in Wisconsin...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Investigation did not examine accuracy of results, only checked to ensure computer-reported tallies correctly included in County Clerk's final report to state...
By Brad Friedman on 4/19/2011 7:49pm PT  

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), the state's top election authority, found "no major discrepancy" during its four-day investigation of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus' handling of the contentious April 5th state Supreme Court race.

The state probe, however, did not examine the accuracy of elections results as reported by the county's electronic tabulation systems.

According to an initial report released by the G.A.B. in time for the tomorrow's 5pm deadline for Asst. Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg to decide if she will request a state-sponsored "recount," officials carried out a "thorough onsite examination of the documentation submitted from all the reporting units within Waukesha County ... to determine whether the official canvass results certified by the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers matched the returns provided by the municipalities."

Though they found a number of seemingly minor "discrepancies [in] the Waukesha County election returns that could not be explained based upon the documentation reviewed," the officials said that while there were "some anomalies identified, the G.A.B. found no major discrepancies between Waukesha County's official canvass report and the documentation provided by the municipalities." The discrepancies included what appeared to be one provisional vote for the incumbent Justice David Prosser, and two write-in votes for Kloppenburg which were not included in the canvass report turned into the state by Clerk Nickolaus.

The agency said their probe determined no corrections to the canvass were necessary "absent any post election proceedings," and added that "A more thorough discussion of these anomalies will be provided in the agency's complete report" promised within the next 60 days. [The G.A.B.'s complete, one-and-a-half page report, is posted at the end of this article.]

The state's investigation did not, however, appear to include examination of computer vote tabulators or paper ballots to determine the accuracy of optical-scan results reported by the electronic systems used in the county. The report suggests that paper work, such as the "Total Votes Cast Report from Voting Equipment" and "Security Documentation of Voting Equipment Memory Devices," was examined along with "Ballot Container Security Seals/Documentation" and a reconciliation of poll lists and other logs.

As The BRAD BLOG has noted since unofficial results of the election --- which had become a proxy battle between supporters and opponents of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's union-stripping legislation --- the optically-scanned paper ballot results, tallied by oft-failed, easily-manipulated computer tabulators in Waukesha, as well as the rest of the state, have not been verified for accuracy by human beings. Rather, the state's post-election canvass procedures rely only on computer-reported totals as checked against poll books and the number of ballots cast as reported by the computer counters...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 4/19/2011 1:28pm PT  


TWITTER: @GreenNewsReport
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Big victory for clean air in TN; Wildfire outbreak in TX; Tornado outbreak in the Southeast; Youth optimism outbreak in the nation's capitol, in the fight for a clean energy future; PLUS: Linked forever in history: Earth Day and the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the Gulf... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Secret memos show Big Oil plotted for Iraq's oil before fall of Saddam; Toxins found in gas drilling fluids; Opponents of climate bill far outspent environmentalists; GOP attack on environment moves to states; U.S. on track for 1M electric cars by 2015; WaPo attacks GOP climate change deniers; Supreme Court to rule on state's greenhouse gas push; Scalpers flipping Yosemite reservations; Potent new rat poisons killing CA wildlife; Chemicals dumped in PA mine haunt residents; Repelling bugs with essence of grapefruit; Antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in 47% of US meat; German house generates more energy than it uses; Mediterranean fish threatened with extinction ... PLUS: Here’s what Earth was like last time CO2 was this high ....

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Incumbent Republican Justice declares 'decisive' victory over Kloppenburg in state-wide race said to have been won by 0.488%...
By Brad Friedman on 4/18/2011 3:14pm PT  

Via Eric Kleefeld at TPM...

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser held a press conference at the state Capitol on Monday, in which he declared victory in his reelection race --- and at which his campaign advisers said they would object to any recount that might be requested by Prosser's opponent, Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg.

The Prosser campaign went on the offensive at the presser in hopes of keeping a state-wide examination of ballots, meant to ensure the true winner of the 10-year term on the state's high court, from taking place at all.

As Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Patrick Marley reports Prosser campaign attorney Jim Troupis said, "We will take every and any step to prevent this frivolous matter going forward."

In other words, they will do everything they can to block the verification of the unverified vote tally for a 10-year term on the state Supreme Court --- despite state law which allows for such a verification if opted for by one of the candidates in such a close race.

"Reporters asked multiple times what grounds the Prosser campaign would use to object to a recount, given that state law entitles a candidate losing by less than 0.5% to request one at state and local expense," writes Kleefeld. "When a reporter bluntly asked Troupis whether he would say what grounds would be listed in an objection to a recount, compared to what is in state law, Troupis simply responded: 'No.'"

The article also quotes Prosser himself, in all his Orwellian wonder announcing, "This was a decisive election about judicial independence." Then, just minutes later, the long-time partisan Republican who had, during the campaign, signaled his intention to help facilitate the political agenda of Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP state legislature, thanked his voters for their support of "the advancement of conservative values as the way to address and ameliorate our many problems."

Talk about your "judicial independence"!...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Rebecca Mercuri on 4/17/2011 8:44pm PT  

Guest Editorial by Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, Ph.D.

In the aftermath of the controversial 2000 Presidential Election, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was enacted, which, among other initiatives, provided funds for the procurement of new voting systems across the nation.

Many states rushed out to buy electronic voting equipment that afforded no way to perform an independent recount from ballots that the voters themselves had purportedly validated for correctness. Instead, Hawai'i did the right thing by evaluating the pros and cons of the available products, ultimately settling on a largely paper-based system. This enables votes to easily and simply be counted, using the traditional 1+1=2 method, if the computer tallies are questioned or a manual count is carried out.

Unfortunately, this will not continue to be the case if Hawai'i's Governor Neil Abercrombie fails to veto H.B. 638 which has recently been passed by both the state House and Senate.

This dangerous bill came to the floor without ample opportunity for opposition testimony. It allows for the introduction of a technique known as Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), which is confusing to voters and makes hand-counting virtually impossible, thus increasing the state's reliance on proprietary and unexaminable computer software for generating its election results...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2011 11:35am PT  

Couldn't have not said it better ourselves...

[Hat-tip @NicoleSandler on the Twitters.]

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Computer results of paper ballots remain unverified by humans...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2011 2:27pm PT  

Milwaukee County has finally turned in their official canvass [XLS] of last week's Supreme Court election in Wisconsin, giving the almost entirely unverified results of the largely paper-ballot election to Justice David Prosser over Asst. Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,316 votes, according to the Wisconsin State Journal:

A conservative justice has weathered attempts to link him to Wisconsin's governor and a divisive union rights law and won re-election, according to county vote totals finalized Friday.

Tallies from each of the state's 72 counties show Justice David Prosser defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,316 votes. State election officials said they will wait to declare an official winner until the deadline for Kloppenburg to seek a recount passes. She has until Wednesday to call for one.

If Kloppenburg decides to opt for a "recount" the costs would be paid for by the state, since the canvassed results have her trailing by less than 0.5% statewide. Prosser's margin of victory, according to the currently reported numbers, should they become official, would be just 0.488%.

The official canvassing process in Milwaukee (and, indeed, the bulk of Wisconsin), is little more than a reconciliation of the number of voters who signed into poll books, plus the number of voters who registered at the polls on Election Day, plus any absentee ballots not scanned at the polling place (as in Milwaukee, where absentees are now scanned centrally, instead of at the polling place) plus a few provisional ballots later verified and counted, as matched against the number of votes reportedly cast, according to results tapes printed out by optical-scan computers such as those made by Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Populex.

Actual results reported by those computers are not verified by human beings as being accurate during the canvass process. Only the number of ballots cast is reconciled, not the actual votes for each candidate, in general. That, despite the fact that hand-marked paper ballots exist --- and could be counted for accuracy --- for the vast majority of the votes cast across the state on April 5th...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2011 9:18pm PT  

Guess what? As per our story published a few hours ago on the still-unexplained anomalies found in past Waukesha County, WI elections, it looks like the state's Government Accountability Board (the body which oversees elections in the state) can't understand County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus' explanations for the anomalous 2006 results either, where some 20,000 more votes were tallied than "ballots cast", according to her own reports.

Just in tonight from the Wisconsin State Journal: "State investigating vote irregularities in Waukesha County going back 5 years"

Our report from earlier this evening offers a great deal more detail on the anomalies in question, and includes explanation (of a sort) and comment from Nickolaus who, the Journal reports, "was unavailable for comment Wednesday and Thursday." She did, for whatever reason, manage to offer The BRAD BLOG comment on these concerns both yesterday and today, terse as it was. FWIW.

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Trying to get to the bottom of new anomalies discovered in County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus' bizarre election results...
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2011 3:07pm PT  

Waukesha County, Wisconsin's County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus was already known, for some time, to be among the nation's worst elections official. And that's saying quite a bit. But new information being discovered over the past several days suggests she may be even worse than previously known --- which is also saying quite a bit.

We noted last Friday that the stunning 14,000+ "new" votes she announced as having discovered in the state's Supreme Court election from the city of Brookfield last Thursday actually weren't "new" at all. In fact, they were independently reported late on Election Night by Lisa Sink of the Brookfield Patch, exactly as they were eventually included in Nickolaus' final canvass report [XLS].

If anything, as we indicated in the same article, it is perhaps more troubling that the city of Brookfield's numbers didn't change at all from Election Night, suggesting that the ballots have never been examined by any human beings in order to assure the accuracy of the oft-failed, easily-manipulated optical-scanners used to tabulate the paper ballots in Waukesha (and across most of the state.)

That's just one reason why a complete public hand-count of all paper ballots should be carried out in Waukesha right now, presuming the chain of custody for those ballots can be demonstrated as having been secure since Election Night. Given the razor-thin margin of the still unofficial final results in the race between Justice David Prosser (a partisan Republican and avowed Gov. Scott Walker supporter) and the independent Asst. Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, a similarly public hand-count of all paper ballots across the entire state should be a no-brainer at this point in order to achieve some form of confidence in the results of the, reportedly, incredibly close contest.

The "Protect Our Elections" campaign of VelvetRevolution.us has now publicly called for exactly that --- a public hand-count of all paper ballots across the entire state. [DISCLOSURE: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VR.]

Last week, The BRAD BLOG also detailed some of Nickolaus' horrific record as County Clerk, and just a few of the embarrassments she's caused for her county, including her practice of keeping election results only on a circa 1995 personal computer in her office; using the same user ID and password for all of the employees allowed to access it; and refusing to release city-by-city, much less ward-by-ward election results on Election Night. (The latter is one of the reasons the "missing" 14,000+ votes weren't noticed by anyone in the media or citizenry earlier.) Those were just a few of the troubling concerns highlighted in an independent audit carried out on behalf of the County Board of Executives last year after they'd discovered many serious deficiencies and security concerns in Nickolaus' election procedures.

But now, thanks to some great citizen oversight --- to be sure, not easy to do in Nickolaus' county, as she makes it as absolutely as difficult as possible for citizens to oversee their own elections --- from a blogger at the Daily Kos, we learn still more troubling facts about elections and their administration in the very Republican-leaning Waukesha, including evidence suggesting 20,000 more votes than "ballots cast" were tallied by Nickolaus in the county's 2006 general election, and a remarkable 97.63% voter turnout there in the 2004 Presidential election.

We've been trying to get to the bottom of these anomalies since they were first discovered a few days ago, and we've been going back and forth with Nickolaus to try and clear them up. Here's what we've been able to figure out...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 4/14/2011 1:01pm PT  


TWITTER: @GreenNewsReport
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: California doubles down on clean energy; Obama vows to continue the fight as well in budget speech ... PLUS: Renewables vs. Nukes: More jobs in renewables, so why hasn't the President mentioned that? ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Should kids be exposed to more or less toxic pollution?' Loss of penguins tied to loss of krill; Shooting badgers to be legal under plans for 'big society cull'; BP executives brace for a stormy shareholders' meeting; Times Square air cleaner now that cars are gone; Iowa's topsoil washing away; Australia: Energy giants face new tax bill; Brazil ethanol prices surge 65% in one month; Mother Earth to be given rights equal to humans; Study: Algae Could Replace 17% of U.S. Oil Imports; MN to pass law banning undercover farm videos; Studies begin to reveal effects of Gulf Oil Spill; Coal co. agrees to install pollution controls; Meet the Gulf 'Spillionaires' ... PLUS: Surprise!: Leaked talking points show oil companies don't give a frack about the truth ....

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By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2011 9:54pm PT  

My show on KPFK/Pacifica today follows below. We featured a quick word on Obama's fiscal speech today at George Washington University; quick updates on both the Fukushima nuclear crisis (with the lovely Desi Doyen) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plot to use tools developed for the "War on Terror" against progressives (including me and my family!)

The main segment is detailed coverage of the Wisconsin Supreme Court election debacle, including some fresh news with my guest John Washburn of Fair Elections Wisconsin, himself a Justice David Prosser voter, a self-described "Ron Paul Republican" and someone who has even spoken on behalf of the hapless Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus in the past.

Even Washburn, as you'll hear, is unable to explain the holes in Nickolaus' explanation for the reason she failed to report 14,000+ votes from the city of Brookfield on Election Night, and for a number of newly discovered anomalies from previous elections in her county. (Though, since air time, we've finally been contacted by Nickolaus, and may soon have an explanation for some of those new anomalies as discussed during today's show.)

Download MP3, or listen online below [appx. 28 mins]...

P.S. We're still trying to decide on a name for my weekly, half-hour KPFK show (Wednesday's at 3:30pm PT). "The BradCast" has been suggested by a number of folks, and it's not bad. Whaddaya think? Got any other ideas? Still open, pondering...

P.P.S. Here's the podcast RSS feed for the KPFK show each week, in case you'd like to subscribe (for free) and get notifications or downloads of new archives often sooner than I'm sometimes able to post them here!

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By Ernest A. Canning on 4/13/2011 2:56pm PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

Californians are all too familiar with the disturbing image now playing out in DC.

Radical-right ideologues demand extension of the Bush tax cuts, retention of corporate subsidies, deregulation, a squandering of public funds on privatization schemes and pouring what is left of the National Treasury down the economic black hole that is war and the military-industrial complex. Hypocritically, they not only point to the massive deficits they themselves have erected, but hold a gun to the head of government, threatening to shut it down absent drastic concessions designed to extract a pound of flesh from those who can least afford cuts in government services as they target the last vestiges of the New Deal safety net.

In California, a small minority of fiscally irresponsible, radical right-wing ideologues has employed the "give-us-what-we-demand-or-we-shut-down-the-government" tactic for over a decade, with devastating results.

The state's new (again) Governor Jerry Brown (D) would have done well to have read Paul Krugman's The Great Unraveling before he re-entered office last January.

Krugman aptly described the radical right that, in 2000, seized the reigns of the federal government as a "revolutionary power" which does not accept the legitimacy of our democratic system and which cannot be expected to negotiate in good faith.

Three months into fruitless negotiations, Brown recently came to realize that even though the state faces a catastrophic $26 billion deficit, CA Republicans would never allow the state's voters to decide whether to extend the temporary taxes on income, sales and vehicles to help cover the short fall.

After negotiations broke down last month, Brown said: "Each and every Republican legislator I've spoken to believes that voters should not have this right to vote unless I agree to an ever-changing list of collateral demands....Republicans demand that out-of-state corporations that keep jobs out of California be given a billion-dollar tax break that will come from our schoolchildren, public safety and our universities. This I am not willing to do."

While the Governor has openly considered by-passing the Republicans in order to permit direct democracy in which Californians themselves would vote on a temporary tax extension, that approach, even if successful, falls well short of the fundamental problem --- that the current 2/3 vote required to pass revenue legislation in the state's legislature permits an irresponsible minority of right wing ideologues to hold the state hostage as it carries out its democracy-destroying and economically unsustainable, privatization agenda...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen
By Desi Doyen on 4/12/2011 1:25pm PT  


TWITTER: @GreenNewsReport
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: One month after Japan's quake & tsunami at Fukushima, the nuclear threat level is revised --- for the worse; Deep cuts for science & the environment revealed in the federal budget "compromise"; Freeway pollution causes brain damage; PLUS: Wildfires in Texas, "Dust Bowl" in Oklahoma, as drought deepens in the Southwest ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Shale natural gas worse than coal?; CA passes nation's strongest Renewable Energy Standard; US falls to 3rd in clean energy; Smartgrid boost for Pacific NW; Solar panels are 'contagious'; Community 'solar gardens' for CO; Penguins decline as Antarctic warms; Google invests $168 mil in solar plant; Coast Guard 'unprepared' for BP spill; Ranking your seafood retailers; Changing public opinion on climate change; TX may repeal natural gas tax breaks; How the Koch Bros. fund the climate change denial industry; GOP House "off the rails" on climate change; Renewables produce as much US energy as nuclear: EIA; The oil economy stains most remote civilization on earth; Natural gas worse than coal? ... PLUS: The 12 industries responsible for 75% of N. American pollution ....

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By Ernest A. Canning on 4/12/2011 9:05am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and the GOP state legislature received another setback to their controversial anti-immigrant legislation on Monday. In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld an earlier U.S. District Court finding that puts the breaks, for now, on a number of provisions in the bill.

In their ruling in United States vs. Arizona, the court found a number of the most controversial provisions of the state's SB 1070 were likely preempted by the federal Immigration and Nationalization Act (INA). The decision leaves in place a preliminary injunction by the lower court barring enforcement of key provisions of the Arizona law.

The case does not, however, address the issue of whether SB 1070 gives rise to unlawful racial profiling.

The doctrine of preemption derives from the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. If Congress intends federal law to "occupy the field" or if state law conflicts with a federal statute, it is said to be "preempted" by federal law, which means that the federal law, as the supreme law of the land, supersedes state law...

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As originally aired on the 4/8/11 'Mike Malloy Show'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2011 9:05am PT  

As several folks have requested, here is my "Special Comment" on "Democracy's Gold Standard" in the wake of Wisconsin's Supreme Election Debacle from my final night of the week guest hosting the Mike Malloy Show last Friday night. It's presented here in quick and dirty video form in hopes that it'll get a few more eyes and ears than just the audio would by itself...

Please see this article for more on "Democracy's Gold Standard." And here is Nancy Tobi's book: Hands-On Elections: An Informational Handbook for Running Real Elections, Using Real Paper Ballots, Counted by Real People.

A text transcript of the "Special Comment" follows below...

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