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Guest Post: The Cost of Family Fragmentation in Idaho – $127 Million a Year

April 30th, 2008 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

We often hear that divorce and unwed childbirths are nobody’s business, and especially that the government should just keep its nose out of such matters.

And perhaps those who make such an argument would have a point if family fragmentation imposed no impact on society at large, and if public resources did not have to be allocated to mitigate that impact.

But, as a recent report produced by the Institute for American Values reveals, family fragmentation most definitely is the government’s business, since it costs government at all levels $112 billion a year (over $1 trillion each decade) to deal with the severe consequences of marital breakups and out-of-wedlock births.

(Currently, more than 25% of white babies are born out of wedlock, as are 46 percent of Hispanic babies and an astonishing 69 percent of African-American babies. Divorce rates remain high today compared to rates prior to 1970, and Idaho’s divorce rate is more than 40% higher than the national average.)

These costs arise as lawmakers are forced to spend taxpayer funds to cope with poverty, crime, and educational challenges linked to the breakdown in the nuclear family. Further, government loses revenue because of lower levels of taxes paid by individuals who earn less as adults because they have grown up in poverty.

When parents divorce or fail to marry in the first place, their children suffer from an increased risk of poverty, mental illness, juvenile delinquency (due to loss of family stability and parental supervision), sexual abuse, substance abuse, educational failure and teen pregnancy.

The social costs of divorce and unwed childbearing are enormous, as lawmakers must grapple with higher rates of crime, drug abuse, illness, welfare expenditures, remedial education programs, day-care subsidies, child-support collection costs, and the increased cost of foster care and child protection services.

We must not think Idaho is immune from these pressures. The study indicates that Idaho taxpayers must spend $127 million a year to deal with family fragmentation right here in the Gem State, including an impact of $60 million on the criminal justice system alone.

Foregone revenue, Medicaid, SCHIP and child welfare costs make up the other $57 million.

A single-parent household headed by a female is the greatest single predictor of poverty, while at the same time, marriage has been proven to be the greatest single poverty-reducing mechanism in society.

In fact, almost all of the increase in poverty observed among divorced mothers is traceable directly to the divorce. Less than one percent of women and children live in poverty if their first marriage is intact, while 24 percent of divorced women with children are living in poverty.

This study estimates that if marriage would reduce the poverty rate among female-headed households by a reasonably expected amount, we could reduce the number of Idaho children living in poverty by almost 33 percent, and reduce the overall poverty rate in the state by 30 percent. (Some estimates in the literature suggest reductions of 65-80 percent.)

In other words, the most compassionate thing we can do for Idaho’s women and children is to strengthen the institution of marriage.

Eliminating unilateral “no-fault” divorce in favor of “mutual consent” divorce would be one step in this direction. It would raise the bar for the institution of marriage in Idaho, as it would send the message to Idahoans that we take marriage seriously in this state, and we will expect you to honor the sacred commitment you make in marriage just as we expect you to honor much lesser commitments, such as the commitment you make when you take out a mortgage on your house or lease a car.

“Mutual consent” divorce would also give “innocent” victims of an unwanted divorce some legal protection and bargaining power in the dissolution process, whereas currently they have none. And it would minimize government intrusion into family breakups, since, in a mutual consent divorce, these matters would be worked out between the couple before they ever come into court.

When “no fault” divorce was added to Idaho code (in 1970), marriage became the only social contract in which the state guarantees a legal victory to the individual who wants to break a contract without cause. Certainly we can and must do better.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Press Release: Congressman Bill Sali Asks State Department to Delay Approval of Mexican Consulate

April 30th, 2008 by Halli

From the Office of Rep. Bill Sali

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter sent today, Congressman Bill Sali asked Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to delay opening a Mexican consulate in Boise until the government can assure Idahoans that a consulate will not foster the continued presence of illegal aliens in Idaho. The letter follows a meeting Sali had with senior State Department officials in which the Department’s bureaucrats expressed considerably more concern about whether the consular office would follow local zoning laws than whether it would aid people in breaking federal immigration laws.

“Our government has the moral and constitutional duty to take into consideration how foreign consulates affect our fellow citizens here in our own country,” said Sali. “While I appreciate the important role that the Mexican and other foreign consulates play in facilitating trade and assisting their citizens in distress, just as our foreign consulates do, that is not the issue at stake. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of State seems unconcerned with the controversy surrounding the issuance of certain forms of identification that may be useful to illegal aliens in hiding their illegal status. It makes sense to me to put on the brakes on approving a new consulate until these concerns are fully addressed.

“Zoning is important, but immigration is a matter of national security. It is up to the State Department to start assuring Idahoans that a Mexican consulate will not be used to provide aid and comfort to people who are here in willful violation of our nation’s laws,” said Sali. “The request for a consulate office in Boise should be delayed until the Department can provide those assurances.”

In his letter to Rice, Sali expressed disappointment that so far State Department officials have expressed little interest in assuring Idahoans that the consular office will not be used to aid illegal immigration. Reports from other states indicate Mexican consulate offices have been used to help illegal aliens receive identification cards. Even though the cards are issued by a foreign government, reports indicate theses cards are accepted as legitimate ID by some public agencies and businesses across the county. Consulates across the country have distributed more than 1.5 million such cards in a span of two years.

“Idahoans deserve verification that Mexican consulate offices do not help illegal aliens receive identification cards which are then used to obtain the same benefits as those who are legally in our great country, including banking,” said the Congressman.

Sali asked Rice to answer the questions previously posed to her offices on assurances that a consulate office will not be used to foster illegal immigration and help illegal aliens “gain illicit ‘legal’ standing in Idaho by taking advantage of the good offices of a consulate in Idaho.”

“The people of Idaho are generous and compassionate, but they do not wish to have the good offices of a foreign consulate exploited by persons in our state illegally,” wrote Sali. “Considering the seriousness of the issues reprinted above, I ask that the Department of State delay any approval of a Mexican consulate in Idaho until we may be assured that a consulate would not foster the continued presence of illegal aliens in Idaho. Additionally, I ask for your personal response to this matter.”

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Posted in Congressman Bill Sali, Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, National Sovereignty | No Comments »

Press Release: Congressman Bill Sali says White Potatoes Should Be Included in WIC Program

April 30th, 2008 by Halli

From the Office of Rep. Bill Sali

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bill Sali says the U.S. Department of Agriculture was wrong to exclude white potatoes from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, and he’s asking key Members of Congress to overturn that decision as they write the new Farm Bill.

Sali, in a letter co-signed by U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, is asking for the Farm Bill Conference Committee to incorporate wording in the 2008 Farm bill that will ensure that all fresh fruits and vegetables, including white potatoes, are included in the WIC program. The letter is addressed to House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson and Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte.

“By excluding only white potatoes from the WIC program, this rule will create confusion on the part of participants, which may drive these individuals to other, less-healthy options. Moreover, it will also create administrative burdens for participating grocers and vendors,” the congressmen write. “The exclusion adds an unnecessary logistical complexity for all who use the WIC program – participants, grocers and vendors.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently published an interim rule that excluded white potatoes from the program. The WIC program is supposed to assist low-income and nutritionally at-risk pregnant and breastfeeding women and their infants and children.

The potato is an inexpensive fresh vegetable that requires no refrigeration and contains high amounts of many nutrients, Sali and Simpson say in their letter.

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Posted in Congressman Bill Sali, Family Matters, Politics in General | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: Alarmism Taints Global Warming Discussion

April 30th, 2008 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

It really should not be surprising that Earth Day would be celebrated on Lenin’s birthday. After all, it would appear at least ostensibly that Lenin’s objectives and those of the radical environmental movement are synonymous. Are they not both founded in principles that include elimination of capitalism, centralized governmental control of the economy, reduction and eventual elimination of individual freedoms, taxation and legislation designed to control human behavior, and replacement of God with a secular deity?

Some of the tenets of the environmental movement make sense. Recycling and conservation of nature are logical activities that we should all be mindful of. Moreover, reducing our dependence upon foreign sources of carbon-based fuels is consistent with our national security interests.
If “going green” were less a matter of politics and religious zeal and were based more fully on science and economics we could all could collaborate more effectively. Instead, it’s founded in a “feel good” ideology that makes people who drive hybrid cars think they are saving the planet, or that by banishing the incandescent light bulb people are staving off the destruction of the planet due to global warming.

Earth Day is a good time to upgrade our knowledge of the global climate, and put a few things into proper perspective, not based on a “feel good” emotion, but based on history, science, and logic.

For example, the earth has been warming since about 1650 when it reached a low point for modern history, and nearly dipped into a modern Ice Age. This episodic variance in global temperatures is well documented and was notable for the concomitant misery it produced, with declining crop yields, and contracted economic activity.

As a matter of fact, the world is now roughly the same temperature that it was in about 1000 A.D. From a historical perspective we’ve risen out of the trough that we’d been in for a few centuries, and now we enjoy the same general climatic temperatures as the Vikings over a millennium ago. Greenland used to be green and had a thriving agronomic economy, and frankly, we have no idea what an ideal average global temperature is.

There is undoubtedly some incredibly complex formula that explains weather, temperature, and climate. We don’t know what that formula is, but there are plenty of scientists who prostrate themselves at the altar of government grants and special interests who have the hubris to claim they understand the dynamic relationship between the atmospheric elements. Those are the ones who tell us to drive the hybrids and change our light bulbs so we can save the polar bears.

Since we’ve only been expanding man’s “carbon footprint” for the past 150 years or so, it should be obvious that there are other factors at play that warm the planet other than your 100 watt incandescent light bulb. After all, this third rock from the sun has vacillated from cold to hot for much longer than man has even inhabited the place. While atmospheric combinations of gases interact in ways we may never fully comprehend, ultimately the source of heat for the planet is the sun, not my SUV.

If we were omniscient and understood the atmospheric formula, there would likely be a legitimate factor in the equation representing human emission of CO2. But considering that’s what we humans exhale, it’s illogical to assume that it’s a destructive element to the atmosphere. After all, are we not part of nature as well?

It’s this very minute (approximately .000034) contribution to the formula that has so many in a frenzy believing we’ve got to do something drastic right now based on assumptions, computer models, and a series of unproven hypotheses.

It may be disconcerting to the global warming adherents that the average temperature has slowly declined during the past decade despite the continued increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. And now the global temperature is falling precipitously. All four agencies that track global temperatures report that the earth cooled by .7C in 2007. This amounts to the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record and puts us back to where we were in 1930. Maybe Time magazine will have to dust off its “The Coming Ice Age” cover from 1974.

If we would work together on economically sound energy policies focused on energy independence and scrap the alarmism, we would all be on the same page. Common sense and legitimate science need to be the basis of the dialogue, not pseudo-science alarmism.

There’s a religious-zeal gullibility that regrettably infests those who are too willing to believe the Jeremiads of the alarmists, whether it’s DDT, Y2K, or man-made global warming. Perhaps this is one of the byproducts of the secularization of America. For as the inimitable G. K. Chesterton said, “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Can you say “anthropogenic global warming?”

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Politics in General | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: ICL Endorsement Process Underway

April 23rd, 2008 by Halli

From David Ripley, Idaho Chooses Life

The Board of Idaho Chooses Life has been busy researching candidate records and collecting questionnaires from candidates across the state. Based upon legislative records, a number of good people have already won endorsement, and a second round of endorsement decisions is scheduled for this weekend.

With the Primary Election coming fast (May 27th), we will need to be in a position to advise pro-Life voters across Idaho on who they can trust to defend our families and our future.

Board policies have developed over the years in response to this heavy responsibility.

We rely heavily upon proven public records, primarily voting history, when dealing with incumbent legislators. Bill sponsorship, public statements and personal history are also given serious consideration.

For candidates running without the benefit of a legislative voting record, we turn to an extensive survey on key pro-Life questions – sixteen in all. The survey leaves plenty of opportunity for candidates to express their heart when it comes to protecting the sanctity of human life.

We continue to be driven by the firm conviction that no person is qualified to hold public power over the community who does not have a deep regard for the value of each human being.

We ask for your prayers and support as we move forward through this difficult and sometimes controversial process. And may the Lord carry us to victories next month that allow us to move forward with rebuilding a Culture of Life in Idaho.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

Guest Post: Obama’s Take on Iraq

April 22nd, 2008 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Everyone waited with bated breath to observe the grilling on tap for General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker by members of the Senate this past week. All three Presidential candidates were in attendance at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where Petraeus, the commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq and Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq testified.

While the questioning and comments by Senators McCain and Clinton reflected their respective views, as frequently articulated and micro-analyzed as they are, the comments by Senator Obama warrant additional scrutiny. His comments belie an ignorance and a moral ambivalence that should be alarming to any who have followed the developments in the Fertile Crescent.

Senator Obama began his remarks, “We all have the greatest interest in seeing a successful resolution to Iraq. We all do. And that has to be clearly stated in the record.”

That may seem innocuous enough, except when added to the context of everything else he said. Success has been carefully defined by the administration to include creation of a stable, self-sufficient government that can eventually handle its own security. Such a precondition to withdrawal would prevent Iraq from declining into a Taliban-like Afghanistan, which was a veritable cesspool of anti-American, and anti-freedom destruction-prone belligerents and malcontents, dedicated to the eradication of anything newer than the 8th century, or anyone not a devout Muslim.

Senator Obama had to state his desire for success in Iraq, even though everything he says indicates he has no desire to see such success. But he had to have it “on the record” nonetheless, qualifying all his subversive comments that were to follow.

He then stated, “I continue to believe that the original decision to go into Iraq was a massive strategic blunder (and) that the two problems that you’ve pointed out — al Qaeda in Iraq and increased Iranian influence in the region — are a direct result of that original decision.”

Al Qaeda chose to make Iraq a test of their battle-worthiness against the U.S. They lost. That’s why they have been fleeing Anbar and Baghdad. If anybody had a sense in 2003 that some of the Wahabbists and former Saddamites would join us to turn on Al Qaeda and rout them, nobody would have believed them. And then to learn this past two weeks that an Iraqi Shia government has turned on Muqtada al-Sadrand those who were being backed by Iran completely contradicts Obama’s statement.

Then the revelatory line by the Senator. “I also think that the surge has reduced violence, and provided breathing room. But that breathing room has not been taken the way we would all like it to be taken. I think that what’s happened in Basra is an example of Shia vs. Shia jockeying for power that underscores how complicated the political situation is there and how we still have to continue to work vigorously to resolve it. I believe that we are more likely to resolve it, if we are applying increased pressure in a measured way. I think, and this is where we disagree, that applying increased pressure in a measured way includes a timetable for withdrawal.”

This is an ignorant, or at least poorly conceived moral equivalent statement. It’s not Shia vs. Shia. He’s reduced an elected government into just another Iranian backed Shia clique. It’s not. Rather Iraq has a constitutionally elected government that’s taking on an illegitimate Shia group militia, and successfully at that. He employs a moral equivalency argument that anytime there’s violence, all parties are equally culpable. Iraq has a constitutionally elected government that is losing two to three times more security personnel than the U.S. is. They’re making the political progress necessary having met 12 of 18 benchmarks, and all Obama et al can do is criticize and attempt to delegitimize them. They’re fighting terrorists everyday on their own oil, and they’re the only ones doing so, except the Israelis, under the auspices of a legitimate constitutional government. They’re the only ones who seem willing to take on the Shia led and Iranian backed terrorists, and they get no credit for their success, only criticism from the Senator.

That same erroneous moral equivalency argument is frequently used to question why a rogue, terrorist state like Iran that’s intent on destroying its neighbors shouldn’t be allowed a nuclear weapons since the U.S., has them. It reveals a moral ineptness and vacuity.

If benchmarks and political progress were used as a standard to determine democratic legitimacy and efficacy, our Congress would score an “F,” and we should be collectively calling for their withdrawal. Come to think about it, let’s set a withdrawal timetable for our Congress, and set the benchmark for Nov. 2008 for all the Congressmen and Senators to be withdrawn who just “don’t get it.”

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Press Release: Congressman Bill Sali says Rising Gas Prices are Another Reason Congress Deserves No Pay Raise

April 22nd, 2008 by Halli

From the office of Rep. Bill Sali

Pointing out that Congress has failed to act on a series of vital issues, including high gas prices, Congressman Bill Sali (R-Idaho) today called on other members of Congress to join a bipartisan effort to stop automatic congressional pay increases. Sali said Congress must address half a dozen core issues, but rising gas prices reflects the latest in a long line of failings.

“The policies of Speaker Nancy Pelosi have generated $4 a gallon diesel and will soon lead to $4 gasoline. Gas prices are up by more than a dollar in my district. This ‘Pelosi Premium’ is a disaster in the making, and giving members of Congress a pay raise would be a callous and arrogant response,” said Sali.

Last year, Sali warned that Congress was working to pass energy legislation that would virtually guarantee higher energy prices. “Everyone I know thinks $3 for a gallon of gas is already too high. But if this bill became law we would all yearn for the days of $3 gas,” Sali said at the time.

Sali said rising gas prices further illustrate how this Congress has failed to act on vital issues.

“Gas prices are killing the family budget. Illegal immigration continues to put our national security at risk. And yet this Congress won’t even touch either issue. By every measure, this Congress has accomplished nothing. And yet, Congress will get a pay raise automatically. That’s a violation of the trust the people have placed in Congress,” said Sali

Congress has failed to directly take up two other major issues as well: Passage of a new Farm Bill and renewal of the Protect America Act. Congress last week passed a one week extension of the Farm Bill. While an important stop-gap move, farmers deserve certainty about the future, Sali said.

“Farmers are left waiting and waiting for Congress to do the job they’re getting paid to do. It’s just plain mean to treat our farmers like this,” Sali said.

Nearly two months have passed since the Protect America Act expired. The law provides important tools for the federal government to prevent terrorist attacks.

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Posted in Congressman Bill Sali, Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Politics in General | No Comments »

Guest Post: Yale Student Stages “Abortion-as-Art” Hoax

April 18th, 2008 by Halli

From David Ripley, Idaho Chooses Life

What strange times we live in. The Yale Daily News reported that a student at that once prestigious campus produced video recordings of self-induced abortions as part of her senior art project. The young woman claimed that she had repeatedly impregnated herself using donated sperm over the past year – so she could film numerous self-abortions in her bathtub using various herbal abortifacients.

Once she presented her video to the Senior Art Project Forum – revulsion spread across the campus, resulting in a newspaper story by the student paper. In an interview, Ms. Shvarts claimed that her “performance art” was designed to encourage debate about the relationship between art and the human body.

Campus officials decided to investigate and, when confronted, Aliza Shvarts claimed that it was all just an elaborate hoax.

Probably so. Yet the thinking and moral numbness behind this dark episode is obviously disturbing. How could an otherwise intelligent young woman show such disregard for the human destruction and suffering involved in abortion?

The truth is, such sociopathic behavior must be expected in a culture which denies the humanity of preborn children for the sake of convenience. Planned Parenthood’s propaganda campaign – in which human beings are just “blobs of tissue” – has taken hold.

Can the masters of the culture be so certain that they can keep the beast contained?

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Posted in Education, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

Press Release: Sali Stresses Importance of Comprehensive Fire Management

April 17th, 2008 by Halli

From the office of Congressman Bill Sali

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bill Sali, today sitting as Ranking Member at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing, made the case for a two-pronged approach to suppressing large wildfires as fire season nears.

The hearing discussed committee Chairman Nick Rahall’s (D-WV) bill, H.R. 5541, which dedicates funding for suppressing large wildfires.

“We cannot address funding for suppressing these large fires without addressing the cause as well – the increasing and unchecked fuel loads in our national forests that surround and threaten our homes and communities,” said Sali. “More must be done than simply adjusting funding like we are doing today. We are not addressing the real problem. We will continue to have larger and larger fires until we reduce fuel-loading.”

Witnesses at last week’s hearing on the topic concurred with Sali. Governor Jane Napolitano (D-AZ) highlighted the close relationship between pre-fire management and the costs of fire-fighting itself. In addition, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) commented that larger fires have resulted from the increasing tree density and fuel loads.

“As we fast approach fire season, communities in Idaho do not want to relive last year’s events of nearly two million acres going up in smoke. Idahoans face needless risk of their homes being burned, watersheds destroyed and even lives lost unless we do what we can to protect them and pre-empt devastating fires,” noted Sali.

Sali offered his bill, Saving American Lives and Investing in Protecting Land and Nature Act, H.R. 4245, as an amendment. The amendment would speed up projects to reduce hazardous fuels and reduce risks from wildfire, insect damage and disease. Such projects help protect communities and private lands adjoining federal forest lands by reducing the risks on those lands. The bill would allow a shortened environmental review process – a categorical exclusion – as allowed under the National Environmental Policy Act. The bill would keep in place the environmental safeguards stipulated in the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, would provide old growth and endangered species protections and comply with forest management plans and environmental laws.

Although Sali’s proposal was not included in the final version of H.R. 5541 that passed the Committee, Sali said he would continue to make the case for his proposal as wildfire funding legislation moves through the House. “You don’t win an argument you don’t make, and I intend to keep pressing for passage of my legislation,” said the Congressman.

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Posted in Congressman Bill Sali, Family Matters, Politics in General | No Comments »

Guest Post: Technological Developments Bring Cloning Closer to Reality

April 15th, 2008 by Halli

From David Ripley, Idaho Chooses Life

The Independent newspaper (London) ran a disturbing story yesterday about the scientific “progress” being made in cloning techniques.

A new procedure has been developed by Dr. Robert Lanza of the American-based Advanced Cell Technology which makes the successful cloning of humans easier and more likely. The technique re-programs skin cells into a pre-embryonic state; this was the process used in the dramatic breakthrough announced last year in which embryonic stem cells were manufactured without the destruction of a human embryo.

One scientist is quoted by the Independent as arguing that this development means we almost certainly have the scientific methodology to produce a human child.

Dr. Lanza himself expresses ethical concerns:

“It raises the same issues as reproductive cloning … whereby anyone, young or old, fertile or infertile, straight or gay can pass on their genes to a child by using just a few skin cells.”

Recent experiments on mice have produced offspring 100% genetically identical to the donor.

Dr. Lanza went on to observe that those mouse experiments demonstrate how easily the technology could be applied to produce or chimera babies. Such cloning techniques are not illegal in many places because the law has not kept pace with scientific developments.

We may need to bring this whole matter to the attention of the Idaho Legislature in the near future, as well as members of Idaho’s congressional delegation.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | 1 Comment »

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