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Ak-Sar-Ben Itself Merits Praise Along With King Dick And Queen Suzanne - 10-14-10

Come Election Day, White And Terry Can’t Duck Party Labels Any Longer - 10-07-10

Today, Second-Guessing Other Sports Commentators But Some Thoughts On Current Political Issues, Too - 09-30-10

Gates Gives Somber Non-Political Appraisals Of Iraq, Afghanistan - 09-23-10

At Last, A Prominent Moderate Muslim Speaks Out Against Muslim Terrorists - 09-16-10

Today, It’s All About College Football With Some “As I See It” Commentary - 09-09-10

Danes’ Sensible Approach To Immigration Won’t, Unfortunately, Fly In The U.S.A. - 09-02-10

Mosque Controversy Isn’t About Legal Rights; It’s About Moral Use Of Those Rights - 08-26-10

Time To Answer The Obvious Question: What Chance For Success In Afghanistan? - 08-19-10

Two-Paragraph News Story Offers Scary Prospect For World’s Future - 08-12-10

Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10

Not Wall Street But Democratic Policy Caused Mortgage Market Crash - 07-29-10

Windfarm Promoters Need More Facts, Less Rhetoric - 07-22-10

Nebraska Democrats’ ‘Find A Candidate’ Problem Began Long Months (Years?) Ago - 07-15-10

When The Subject Is Disasters,Obama Needs A History Lesson - 07-08-10

McChrystal’s Firing Spotlights Afghan War And The Slim Chance Of U.S. Victory There - 07-01-10

Advice For An Egocentric President: “I, I, I” Suggests One-Man Team - 06-24-10

Texas Decision Good For Big 12 But Even Better For The Longhorns - 06-17-10

Europe Is Sobering Up From 'Welfare' Binge; Obama-Led U.S. Moving Toward Similar Crises? - 06-10-10

A New Issue: Does ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ Make Military Service Easier For Gays? - 06-03-10

Do State Officials Really Understand The Challenges Faced By Omaha Schools? - 05-27-10

Democrats Continue Cheap Shot Campaign Against Republican Congressman Lee Terry - 05-20-10

Cartoonist Koterba Says It Clearly: Don’t Put All The Blame On Schools - 05-13-10

Citizenship For Immigrants Is Inevitable But Start By Closing The Border - 05-06-10

Punish Wall Streeters If They Deserve It But Liberal Dems Spawned The Mortgage Mess - 04-29-10

Did Legislature, Speaker Mike Flood Deserve All Those Kind Words? - 04-22-10

Tiger Sulks His Way Through Masters— Is Obama Gambling On The Nuclear Issue? Rogue States And Terrorists Won’t Sign Up - 04-15-10

Did Obama/Pelosi ‘Sausage Factory’ Produce A Debt-Increasing Unpopular Health Plan? - 04-08-10

The Stories Behind Some Disturbing Headlines And Some Advice For Avoiding National Bankruptcy - 04-01-10

Four-Vote House Margin Makes Americans Swallow Trillion-Dollar Pill They Don't Want - 03-25-10

Insurance Pays 96% Of Family’s Cost For Seven Years Of ‘End Of Life’ Treatment - 03-18-10

President Angry Replaces President Cool; ‘ObamaCare’s’ Chances Helped Or Hurt? - 03-11-10

Americans To Get ‘ObamaCare’ Even If They Don’t Want It? - 03-04-10

Despite The Headlines, There’s Progress In Curbing Violence In North Omaha - 02-25-10

Corporate Expenditures Bad For Politics Except When They Benefit Liberal Candidates? - 02-18-10

Wind Energy Industry Faced Disaster; V.A. Hospital Not Personal Obama Choice - 02-11-10

Some Remarkable Legislative Comments And Some Questionable Media Performance - 02-04-10

When The Subject Is Nebraska Wind Energy, ‘Green’ Is The Color Of Money - 01-28-10

The “Teddy Kennedy Seat” Lesson Might Benefit Both Democrats and Republicans - 01-21-10

Some Legislative Issues—Like Gambling—Deserve Quick Death But Water Issues Deserve Careful Attention - 01-14-10

Today: ‘Big Daddy’ Government Wrong Again, And How Justified Is Cornhusker Title Talk? - 01-07-10

Dan Neary Worthy Of The Honor--
Today Some Upbeat Comments But "Obama Care" Debate Demands Attention
- 12-30-09

Even Without That Health Bill Vote, Another Term For Nelson Was Questionable - 12-23-09

Let’s Talk Football And Why Nebraska’s Suh Deserved The Heisman - 12-17-09

Image of Immigrants Would Be Helped By Less Cinco de Mayo, More 4th of July - 12-10-09

Image Of Islam Is Badly Damaged By ‘God-Approved’ Slaughter Of Non-Muslims - 12-03-09

Close Call For NU Research, Reputation; Thanksgiving Reminder: Count Your Blessings - 11-25-09

NU’s Reputation And Research Role Are Both At Stake When Regents Vote - 11-19-09

Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’
Changing To ‘Maybe We Can’t’?
- 11-12-09

Review The History Before Renaming A Street; Memories Of Sarah, Our Sweet Senior Dog - 11-05-09

“Socioeconomic Diversity” More Important Then Academic Achievement In “Learning Community”? - 10-29-09

A Visiting Sports Columnist Agrees: ‘There Is No Place Like Nebraska’ - 10-22-09

Might Obama Wish He Had A Chance To Say ‘No, Thanks’ To Early Nobel Prize? - 10-15-09

Don’t Overlook The Variety Of Aid Which Goes To ‘Poverty Level’ Families - 10-08-09

Smorgasbord Today: From UN’s “Nutcake Day” To Obama Performance Here And Abroad - 10-01-09

Must Defense Continue To Cover For Huskers’ Anemic Red Zone Offense? - 09-24-09

'Energizer Bunny' President Continues To Add Proposals For Reform - 09-17-09

Today, Variety: Football, Golf And Why No President Should Televise Himself Into The Nation’s Classrooms - 09-10-09

Massachusetts Gave Kennedy Significant Second Chances - 09-03-09

Obama’s Problem Not Just With GOP
But With A Great Many Americans
- 08-27-09

Tiger Could Use Sportsmanship Lesson—And Less Coverage From Fawning Media - 08-20-09

Gallup ‘Competitive’ Label, If Accurate Long Term, Is Good News Not Only For Nebraska Democrats - 08-13-09

Democrats Go All-Out Negative:
Trash Private Insurance Industry
- 08-06-09

Journalistic Watchdogs Turned Lapdogs When Obama Called That ‘News Conference’ - 07-30-09

Look Back, Mr. President: Opposition Is Catching Up - 07-23-09

Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09

Dems Start Oust-Terry Effort In The Political Gutter - 07-09-09

Despite Liberal Media's Views, Nation Better Served By Viable GOP - 07-02-09

A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09

Freshman President Learning Some Political Realities? - 06-18-09

Voices Of Reason Raised Too Late To Slow Rush To Wind Power? - 06-11-09

Public Will Be Watching Prosecution Of Three Teen-Age Creatures - 06-04-09

Wealthiest Paying Less, In Taxes?
It’s Simply Not True
- 05-28-09

Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson
- 05-21-09

Special-Interest Liberals
Shouldn’t Badger Obama
- 05-14-09

A Surprising Source: Obama
Cites Positive Results of Iraq War
- 05-07-09

Media Transfer Their Love
From Candidate to President
- 04-30-09

Suttle Campaign Subtly Two-Faced? Or ‘Just Politics’? Voters Will Decide - 04-23-09

If America Is "At War
With Islam," It's Self-Defense
- 04-16-09

Seven Iowans Change Marriage
Tradition For 3 Million Others
- 04-09-09

Will Liberal Democrats Continue
Escaping The Verdict Of History?
- 04-02-09

Multi-Focused President
Upsets Even Liberals
- 03-26-09

Richard Nixon—Appropriate To Recall The Good As Well As The Dark Side - 03-19-09

Not Reducing Mortgage Costs; We’re Simply ‘Modifying’ Them - 03-12-09

Fair Warning From NY Times: Obama’s “Breathtaking Plans” Would “Transform American Society” - 03-05-09

A Look At Academy Awards Nastiness, But First A Plug For My Book, “Life With Marian” - 02-26-09

Let’s Not Move Slot Machine Cancer From Iowa Casinos To Nebraska Race Tracks - 02-19-09

Whiteclay Is Wrong Target;
Aim At Alcoholism Problem
- 02-12-09

For The Best “Stimulus” Formula:
Put Economic Recovery First;
“Remaking USA” Can Wait
- 02-05-09

Journalistic Hounds Are Still
In Full Pursuit Of Bush
- 01-29-09

‘First Black President’ Celebration
Shouldn’t Further Distract Us
From Job We And Obama Face
- 01-22-09

‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real
- 01-15-09

Advice For Husker Fans:
Rejoice—But Be Realistic
- 01-08-09

Kennedy Dynasty History
Includes Shameful Chapters
- 12-31-08

Today Some Merry Christmas Thoughts But A Few Political Barbs, Too - 12-24-08

This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty
- 12-18-08

Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So
- 12-11-08

Obama Steers A Moderate Course
But Congressional Democrats Veer Left
- 12-04-08

Too Many "Non-Blessings"
This Thanksgiving Week
- 11-26-08

Let’s Hear More About
The Principal ‘Crisis’ Victims
- 11-20-08

Color-Blind Issues Voting
Showed No Turn To The Left
- 11-13-08

Election Made History
But Big Questions Remain
- 11-06-08

Today, A Choice of Topics:
Politics Or Football—Or Both
- 10-30-08

Splitting Electoral Votes Good Idea? Then Why Do 48 States Reject It? - 10-23-08

Dems Take 11th Hour Low Road
In 2nd Congressional District Race
- 10-16-08

Another Government “Welfare Program,” Bargain Mortgages, Caused The Crisis - 10-09-08

Words Can Lose Their Meaning
When A Government Program Is Involved
- 10-02-08

—Have We Learned This Lesson?— Crisis Results When Individuals, Encouraged By Financial Institutions, Try To Live Beyond Their Means - 9-25-08

Bonds To Build Four-Lane Highways?
Where Would The Money Come From?
- 9-18-08

Today, a Large Load of Political
Commentary After a Brief Plug For
My Book, ‘Life With Marian’
- 9-17-08

Major News Media Look Bad
In Non-Coverage of
Edwards’ Sex Affair Story
- 9-11-08

Disadvantaged Students Can Be
Helped Without Discriminatory ‘Affirmative Action’
- 9-04-08

My Favorite Olympic Champion?
It Wasn’t Michael Phelps
- 8-28-08

Will Chinese Get Away With
'Out Air Is Clean' Scam?
- 8-21-08

Windmills, Solar Won't Do It;
Time To Get Real On Energy
- 8-07-08

I Doubt That God or Jesus
Have Heavenly Money on Either Team
- 8-07-08

‘Pop Star’ Obama Lacks Experience,
McCain Lacks Clear Campaign Strategy
- 7-31-08

Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit?
- 7-24-08

Would Odor of Politics
Taint Fire Chief Choice?
- 7-17-08

Will Hospitality, Qwest Center
Lure Swim Trials Back to Omaha?
- 7-09-08

Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage
- 7-02-08

Omaha's CWS Reputation
Gets New "Rave Reviews"
- 6-25-08

S.D. Vote Could Lead
To National Abortion Battle
- 6-18-08

Don’t Let Niobrara Go The Way
Of The Republican And The Platte
- 6-11-08

Voters Didn’t Impose Term Limits
To Rid Legislature of Chambers
- 6-04-08

“It’s Our Turn” Pitch Might
Not End With Hillary Defeat
- 5-28-08

Prime Nebraska Political
Battleground This Year:
2nd Congressional District
- 5-21-08

The 'Browning' of America:
How Far Will It Go?
- 5-14-08

Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08

"Does Homebuyer Bailout
Reward the Irresponsible?"
- 4-30-08

"Was McCain, Not Clinton,
The Real Winner in Pennsylvania?"
- 4-25-08

"Cleaner Skies Advice For Gore:
Pressure On China, More Nuke
Power If Jane Fonda Will Allow It"
- 4-16-08

"Why The Big Fuss Over
Tiny Gasoline Cost Increase?"
- 4-09-08

"Quietly, Nebraska Yields
All-Public-Power Status"
-  4-02-08

"Obama’s ‘Historic’ Speech Left
Big Questions Unanswered "
-  3-25-08

"Overweight Moore Produces
“Sicko,” Finds An Ally In Creighton Doctor"
-  3-19-08

"Bush Sings, Praises Press
At Annual Gridiron Dinner"
-  3-12-08

"Obama Would Be Least
Formidable Opponent For McCain"
-  3-7-08

"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" -  2-27-08

"Could Citizen ‘Packing Iron’
Have Stopped Von Maur Killings?"
-  2-20-08

"Obama’s Style Without Substance
Exciting, But Is It Presidential?"
-  2-13-08

"Barack Obama and John McCain:
A Major Contrast in Egos? "
-  2-07-08

"‘First Black President’
Emphasis Wouldn’t Help Obama"
-  1-30-08

"Kimball Lauritzen: Think of Her
As Joyous on Some New Dawn"
-  1-23-08

"What 'Tough' Election Contest
Was Ben Nelson Talking About?"
- 1-16-08

"Overhyped New Hampshire
Offsets Overhyped Iowa"
- 1-10-08

"Coach Bo Now Well Welcomed;
Time to Start Thinking of NU Wins"
- 1-2-08

"Words of Jews Most Moving
To Me This Christmas Season"
- 12-25-07

- 12-19-07

"Killer Is Getting Just What He Wanted;
Let's Add Anger and
Action to Our Sorrow"
- 12-12-07

"Bo Brings Emotional Fire to NU Job;
Scary News: Huckabee Gain in Iowa"
- 12-05-07

"Callahan Outclasses Loudmouth Critics;
Tom Osborne Treated Him Fairly"
- 11-28-07

"A Thought for Thanksgiving Day:
Tell Them You Love Them"
- 11-21-07

"Callahan Critics: Is Loss to CU
The Only Way to Satisfy Them?"
- 11-16-07

"Crybaby Fans, Sports Commentators
Distracting Players From Their Job?"
- 11-09-07

"Did Bob Kerrey’s Decision Avoid
the Likelihood of Defeat?"
- 11-02-07

"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls"
- 10-26-07

"Is This The Way to Run UNL´s
Athletic Program?"
- 10-19-07

"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL"
- 10-12-07

"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07

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As I See It
Harold W. Andersen is a retired Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Omaha World-Herald Company. Full biography.

A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)

And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.

First, a reminder:

Attractive, hardbound copies of “Life With Marian”—a book which a good many readers have said they would be interested in owning—are still available for purchase (for $22.50) at The Bookworm in Countryside Village.  If more convenient, you can now also send a check payable to Harold W. Andersen for $26.66 (includes tax and postage) and mail to me at P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE, 68127.  A copy will be sent by return mail.

Seven Iowans Change Marriage
Tradition For 3 Million Others

April 9, 2009

Thanks to seven of their powerful fellow citizens who are social reformers, some three million Iowans face the prospect of figuratively playing hosts (the vast majority of them reluctant hosts, according to the best available evidence) to an influx of “gay” same-sex couples.  Couples who insist on making abnormality co-equal with normal husband/wife relationships which have for centuries been the foundation of the institution of marriage.

My reference to seven powerful Iowans is, of course, to the seven justices of the Iowa Supreme Court.  They voted unanimously that a 1998 Iowa law forbidding same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

And my presumption that the decision of the seven lawyers is contrary to the will of the great majority of Iowans is based on the following fact (which you would have discovered if you had read down to the 14th paragraph on an inside page on the second day of news coverage):

In 1998 a law defining marriage as being between one man and one woman was enacted by the Iowa Legislature with 87.7% approval of the legislators voting on the issue.  The vote for the bill in the Iowa House was 89-9.  The bill passed the Senate by 40-9.

In none of the extensive news coverage which came to my attention, either print or broadcast, was there any evidence or any suggestion that there had been any significant change in the feelings of Iowans generally on the subject of same-sex marriage between 1998 and the present.

National Impact By Seven Reformers?

The failure to produce any significant evidence that the people of Iowa generally now favor “gay” or “lesbian” marriages seems to me to make a little silly—would “farfetched” be a kinder word?—any contention that the decision by the seven judges on the Iowa Supreme Court may signal or lead to a slowing or even a reversal of the national tide of public opinion which is opposed to recognizing same-sex unions as marriages.

Under the headline “Iowa Decency,” The New York Times called the Iowa Supreme Court ruling “a refreshing message of fairness and common sense from the nation’s heartland” which “brought the nation a step closer to realizing its promise of equality and justice.” 

A professor of constitutional Law at Drake University in Des Moines commented:  “As a heartland state, Iowa will be perceived as being pretty mainstream but still in support of gay marriage.”

A probably inevitable but still unfortunate reaction to the Iowa decision is reflected in quite accurate headlines on the third day of coverage of the story.  The main headline referred to a “gay mecca” across the river from Omaha and a subhead said:  “With couples rushing to the altar, Iowa may ring up big tourism dollars.”

Sadly, Too Many Examples
Of Journalistic Malpractice

I would say that in everything from the Iowa Supreme Court decision and its immediate aftermath to the latest figures on U.S. unemployment to the reports on President Obama’s European performance, the last 10 days or so have not shown journalism—print or broadcast—at its best.  Consider:

Journalists couldn’t seem to make up their minds as to how to refer to the couples whom the seven Iowa judges found to be deprived of their constitutional rights. 

Some accounts spoke of “gays,” referring to homosexual males, and “lesbians,” referring to women in their relationship with other women. 

Sometimes a reference was simply to “gays” when the subject was both homosexuals and lesbians. 

Rarely was the objective, precisely accurate description “same-sex couples” used. 

(I consider it non-objective journalism to use “gay” to refer to homosexual men or to homosexuals and lesbians as same-sex partners of either sex.  “Gay” is a word that simply sounds more attractive than homosexual, and the news media have sheepishly gone along with the debasing of “gay,” which once was a word that could be used in a variety of ways.)

Why Was Law Unconstitutional?

In the early news accounts, there were occasional references to the Iowa Supreme Court overturning the 1998 law because the court found it unconstitutional.  These early references offered no explanation of whether the law was held to violate the Iowa State Constitution or the Federal Constitution or what provision it violated.  A third-day story included a sentence saying that the seven justices had ruled that the law violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. 

Both television and print media quoted Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning as saying that the Iowa decision did not mean that same-sex marriages in Iowa must be legally recognized in Nebraska.  To its credit, at least one Omaha television station carried a film clip of Bruning explaining why this is so. 

The Federal Constitution includes this language:  “Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.”

Bruning explained that Congress had passed a defense-of-marriage act designed to nullify the “full faith and credit” language in cases where the issue is a same-sex marriage in another state.

Among the same-sex couples depicted as rejoicing over the Iowa court decision, one couple (I don’t remember the gender) was shown with what was described as a two-year-old son and another couple (again I don’t remember the gender) were described as having three children.  In neither case was there an explanation of how same-sex couples could have a child described as their son or another same-sex couple having three children.

Journalists—and certainly the same-sex couples involved—should understand that the issue of children being raised in the unnatural atmosphere of a home maintained by same-sex partners is perhaps the hottest button of all in the whole controversy over same-sex “marriages.”

* * *

Media Regularly Perform Badly
When Playing The Numbers Game

I spoke above of news media performance in the reporting of unemployment statistics.

I should concede that this has gone on for a very long time, but it becomes increasingly inexcusable in economic times like these, when changes in the unemployment index get major news play. 

A recent story given top play in The New York Times had this headline:  “Unemployment Rate, at 8.5 Percent, Tests Government Response to Downturn.” 

Unanswered was a fundamental question:  8.5% of what?  Is “what” a Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate of the number of people seeking employment, or of the number of people who have had jobs but have lost them?

And isn’t it more likely that 8.5% is an estimate or an approximation rather than a precise percentage of whatever “what” is?

Who’s Counting The Job Losses?

The Times headline said also:  “660,000 more jobs lost.”  Does the Federal Government know that exactly 660,000 jobs were lost or is it an estimate which should be so identified?

The questions are not to suggest that there hasn’t been a significant increase in unemployment.

The unexplained “unemployment rate” figures are only one example of the careless habit of the news media in reporting government estimates—the poverty rate, population increases, the number of Americans without health insurance—the list goes on and on and the estimates are frequently reported simply as fact and without any explanation as to how the estimates were arrived at.

Another example of continuing journalistic malpractice:  Reporting poll results—a sampling of a miniscule percentage of the voting age public or some significant group within that public—as if the entire group had been polled. 

CNN, for example, recently told its viewers:  “A recent CNN poll showed that 46 to 47% of Americans approve” of Obama’s  handling of the problems of the automotive industry.

Public Opinion Polls Are Only Samplings

The truth is, of course, that a small sampling of Americans found that 46 to 47% approved of Obama’s handling of the problems with the automotive industry. 

There was no report of how the relative handful of Americans was chosen to be polled, what question or questions was asked and—increasingly important, since a good many people are tired of being polled—how many of those who were called by pollsters refused to be interviewed.

Again too typical of journalistic performance, a story emphasizing that unemployment rate increased to 8.5% in March waited until the fifth paragraph (this is earlier than some similar journalistic performances) to mention “a few hopeful signs that the recession…could be easing.” 

Among the hopeful signs was an increase in orders placed with U.S. factories, better-than-expected reports on construction spending and increasing home sales and a report that consumer spending rose in February for the second month in a row.

Typically, this bit of balancing news was on an inside page when the bad news was featured on the front page and in the headline.

* * *

NATO Allies Hardly Give
Obama “Sweeping” Support

Turning to news media coverage of President Obama’s European initiatives:  You wonder whether The New York Times and the Washington Post are writing about the same story when you encounter headlines like this:

In The Times:  “Europeans Offer Few New Troops For Afghanistan.”  Then this subhead:  “Most Duty Temporary.”

This headline appeared over a Washington Post story:  “Afghan war plans get wide support from NATO allies.”  The story said the NATO allies approved Obama’s very modest request:  no combat troops but temporary forces to help protect elections and train Afghanistan’s army.

But, the Washington Post said, these promises “were a sweeping demonstration of support for the Obama administration’s leadership.”

One might suggest that this is like asking for very little and receiving very little, so a friendly newspaper credits you with “sweeping” support.

Americans must, of course, wish their president well in his determination to crush Al-Queda elements in Afghanistan and adjoining areas of Pakistan which provide a refuge for terrorists.  Nominally, NATO is committed to this war, but NATO allies are not interested in fighting a ground war in Afghanistan.

Obama, at least, starts with greater support for “his” war than his predecessor, George W. Bush, received during “his” war in Iraq—although even some Bush critics conceded that the American “surge” strategy of sending in more troops—as Obama is doing in Afghanistan—helped steer Iraq toward peace and democratic government.

* * *

I’m At Least Thinking Healthy

One of the experts at the University of Nebraska Medical Center helping steer me towards a heart-healthy regimen of exercise and diet suggested that it would be good for my blood if I consumed more food with vitamin K—green food like asparagus, spinach and broccoli. 

On a subsequent visit to test the viscosity of my blood, I was asked whether I had been eating any of those vitamin K-rich vegetables.

“No,” I replied with a bit of embarrassment but total honesty.  Then I added:  “But I’ve been thinking about eating them.”

My advisor said that this was at least a step in the right direction.

# # #

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