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Jews, Hollywood, and Gaza: Some Thoughts

By Andrew Joyce — Occidental Observer — September 1, 2014

A few days ago I noticed the appearance of a truly remarkable full-page ad in the Hollywood Reporter. The ad, which I initially saw as a piece of poorly conceived propaganda, was concocted by the Anti-Defamation League, and called upon world leaders and ‘decent people everywhere’ to make sure that ‘Hamas terrorists’ cannot be rearmed so the ‘people of Gaza and Israel can move toward a more peaceful future.’

My immediate impression was that the ad failed on two levels. … continue

Democrats Are Doomed

Unless They Make the Minimum Wage the #1 November Election Issue

By RALPH NADER | CounterPunch | September 1, 2014

If you were the Democrats and you were looking for a good vote-getting midterm election issue, what criteria would you use? How about an issue with 70-80 percent support in polls? How about one that is bipartisan — supported by Republicans like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and Bill O’Reilly? How about one that is national in scope, with plenty of local, grassroots energy? What about one that is simple and easy to understand, unlike Obamacare. What about one that offers tax savings and stimulates our economy understandably and is concrete — a real pocketbook issue. What about one with a big constituency, specifically 30 million hard-pressed workers and their families, needing the necessities of life?

If the Democrats want any chance of succeeding in defeating the cruelest, anti-worker, anti-consumer, corporatist Republican Party in history this November, they have to get into serious high visibility mode about raising the federal minimum wage. No more lip service or half measures! As corporate profits and CEO pay soar ever higher, 30 million hardworking Americans — two-thirds women and two-thirds employed by large corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s — are making less today, adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1968! Raising the stagnant minimum wage, which has been stuck at a paltry $7.25 per hour since 2009 must be the front burner issue for the upcoming November elections. … continue

Broward Deputies Violently Arrest Men for Video Recording Before Destroying Evidence

By Carlos Miller | Photography Is Not A Crime | August 31, 2014

A group of South Florida filmmakers who were violently arrested for video recording from a public observation deck on a beach last year produced an impressive investigative documentary of their ordeal, documenting everything from their arrest to the ensuing coverup by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office where authorities went as far as intimidating a business owner into getting rid of a surveillance video camera that had captured the incident as well as deleting footage from cameras they had confiscated from the men. … continue

Palestine’s ever decreasing circles

Palestine: a journal of everyday occupation | August 30, 2014

After lunch, which is usually at around 4pm, we decided to go to Wadi Fukin to visit family. I’ve written before about the village which sits directly east of the 1949 armistice line, more commonly referred to as the Green Line. Each time we visit, I am always shocked. This time was worse than I expected. The lush, fertile valley is being closed in by colonies, which will result in Wadi Fukin being surrounded.

Beitar Illit is an illegal colony inhabited by particularly aggressive right-wing nationalist Jews. The colony was first established as an outpost in 1984 on land belonging to the neighbouring village of Husan. Today it is home to around 50,000 colonists. I’ve witnessed its expansion over more than a decade, and it never fails to make me so angry when I am confronted with it. The housing units were first built along the ridge of the hill. Then construction crept down the side of the hill at one end, into the valley of Wadi Fukin… continue

Bombs in Gaza Wound Academic Freedom in Urbana-Champaign

Crisis at the University of Illinois

By BEHROOZ GHAMARI TABRIZI | CounterPunch | September 1, 2014

I write as a professor of History and Sociology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I have long taken pride in the University of Illinois as a highly respected public university in the country, as a place in which Noble Prize winners work, path-breaking early computers were built, award-winning research is conducted, and world-class scholars teach and sustain a highly vibrant world of ideas. I used to see the name of my institution in light of these significant grounds. Not anymore.

I write also to appeal to all those who care about and appreciate the significance of academic freedom because they understand how this precious value contributes to the well-being of our society. I hope that by reading this you will feel as outraged and troubled as many of us at the University of Illinois feel. This is not a highbrow predicament of the intellectual elite. This is a crisis of one of the most important foundations of our increasingly deteriorating democracy, that of freedom of expression and the right to have an institutional voice against the corporatization of American universities.

I recently came back from Jakarta where I was participating in a scholarly conference. On several occasions during my short trip my Indonesian colleagues asked me whether I was from the same institution that “fired” that English professor. I was shocked by how fast the embarrassing news of our administration’s misconduct travelled half the world and turned an institution to which many of us proudly belong, into the subject of the most depressing academic news cycles. [...]

There are two precedents being set at Illinois: One by the Administration and the other by the faculty and students. The former will make the universities increasingly vulnerable to the demands of private donors and political ambitions of its administration. The latter intend to uphold hard fought and earned right of free expression, academic freedom, and the institutional autonomy of scholarly inquiry. Let us hope that the latter wins. Universities must be defended! Please do your share! – Full article

Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi is Associate Professor History, Associate Professor of Sociology, Associate Professor of Global Studies, and Conrad Humanities Scholar (2014-2019) at the University of Illinois.

Defending Apartheid: Then in South Africa, Now in Palestine

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep In America | August 30, 2014

9e408-apartheid_townshipThis past May, in a relatively banal column touting the necessity of an impossible “two-state solution” in the context of what he deemed to be U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s “specious comparison” of a potential Israeli future to South African apartheid, former Ha’aretz editor-in-chief David Landau wrote:

This resort to apartheid infuriates the majority of Israelis and Israel-lovers, including those in the peace camp, and one can readily understand why. Apartheid was based on racism; Israeli Jews are not racist. They may occupy, persecute and discriminate Palestinians, but they act out of misguided patriotism and a hundred years of bloody conflict. Not out of racism.

It would be a gross understatement to say that Landau’s formulation was fundamentally flawed.

First and foremost, there is a vast amount of evidence proving that Jewish Israeli society – built wholly upon the 19th century premise (and promise) of ethnic and religious superiority, exclusivity, and privilege enforced through ethnic cleansing, forced expulsion, displacement and dispossession, segregation, colonization and occupation – is somehow becoming even more openly racist. Poll after poll reveals increasingly bigoted trends. … continue

Abbas: Palestinians were asked to annex parts of Sinai

MEMO | September 1, 2014

Speaking in a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah, Abbas said: ‘The plan, which was proposed in 1956, included annexing 1,600 square kilometres from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip in order to receive Palestinian refugees.’
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday revealed that Palestinians refused a plan to annex parts of Sinai to solve the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Speaking in a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah, Abbas said: “The plan, which was proposed in 1956, included annexing 1,600 square kilometres from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip in order to receive Palestinian refugees.”

He continued: “The plan is being proposed again, but we refused it.” He did not mention who had proposed the plan. … Full article

‘There’ll be no military intervention in Ukraine’ – Lavrov

Russia’s foreign minister believes that the peace plan offered by the Ukrainian president is “unrealistic” and calls of the US and the EU to persuade Kiev to stop using heavy artillery and airstrikes against the civilian population in the country’s east. … FULL STORY

Sen. Menendez says Putin has a war against Europe over Ukraine

Press TV – September 1, 2014

US Senator Robert Menendez has strongly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “invasion of Ukraine,” saying he has a war against Europe.

“Putin has a war against Europe being fought on Ukrainian territory. Because everything that he despises about Europe is what he’s concerned about Ukraine moving towards,” he told CNN from Kiev on Sunday.

“There are those in Europe and elsewhere who says, you know, we don’t want to provoke Putin. Well, Putin doesn’t need provocation. In this case weakness is a greater provocation for Putin act than strike,” Menendez added.

The chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee also called on President Barack Obama to take a firm stance against Moscow.

“Thousands of Russian troops are here with tanks, missiles, heavy artillery, and are directly engaged in what is clearly an invasion,” the Democratic senator said.

“We should be providing the Ukrainians with the type of defensive weapons that will impose a cost upon Putin for further aggression,” he added. … Full article

Australia imposes new round of sanctions against Russia

RT | September 1, 2014

The Australian government on Monday unveiled further sanctions against Russian oil and gas, financial and defense sectors, bringing Canberra in line with the European Union.

Under the new sanctions there will be no new arms exports and no new exports for the oil and gas industry, Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the Australian parliament.

In addition, Russian state-run banks are not allowed new access to Australian capital markets and there will be no new trade and investment in Crimea.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that the bullying of smaller nations by big ones, and the assertion that might is right should have no place in our world,” Abbott said. … Full article

No to NATO demo held ahead of Wales summit

2 million British households to miss energy rebate

Press TV – September 1, 2014

British officials have admitted that nearly two million households are set to miss out on a government energy rebate and millions of more will see delays up to a year before being refunded.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said Sunday that supplier would start giving the rebate from mid-October, after government officials decided to refund consumers money paid to a Warm Home Discount Scheme.

According to the DECC, an estimated 678,000 British households would not be refunded as their accounts were considered “in transit,” meaning costumers who pay by direct debit and who are in the process of switching supplier or moving house.

Another estimated 1.2 million homes using prepayment meters would not be refunded as they would not be able to complete necessary steps to receive vouchers by mail.

The department said electricity suppliers had indicated that there would be “delivery barriers,” which would prevent all eligible customers to receive the rebate. In addition, a further 15 million customers who pay by direct debit would only receive the refund once their supplier reviews their accounts, which could be conducted just once a year.

The move to refund came after the government decided to cover payments to the discount scheme through taxation. Earlier consumers paid an average of 12 pounds annually on their energy bills to the scheme. The discount program was launched in 2011.

This comes as British people are experiencing a large rise in energy prices in recent years. A report published in June revealed that the prices of domestic energy in the UK rose by 45 percent between 2008 and 2014.

Meanwhile, Britain’s biggest six power firms – Centrica, SSE, EDF Energy, Scottish Power, E.ON, RWE npower – had seen their profits rise from £233 million in 2009 to more than £1 billion by 2012, according to energy regulator Ofgem.

Stunning satellite images show summer ice cap is thicker and covers 1.7million square kilometres MORE than 2 years ago

By David Rose | The Mail on Sunday | August 30, 2014

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The speech by former US Vice-President Al Gore was apocalyptic. ‘The North Polar ice cap is falling off a cliff,’ he said. ‘It could be completely gone in summer in as little as seven years. Seven years from now.’

Those comments came in 2007 as Mr Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigning on climate change.

But seven years after his warning, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that, far from vanishing, the Arctic ice cap has expanded for the second year in succession – with a surge, depending on how you measure it, of between 43 and 63 per cent since 2012. … continue

Nebraska Cops Receive no Jail Time for Stealing Memory Card, Despite Big Talk from County Attorney

By Carlos Miller | Photography Is Not A Crime | August 30, 2014

A Nebraska cop who chased a man into his home after he had video recorded cops arresting his brother, confiscating his camera and later admitting to throwing the memory card away, received a year of probation this week after his charge was reduced from a felony to misdemeanors, proving once again that the system will always side with the cops, even in cases like this one where the prosecutor talks a big game.

James Kinsella was part of a mob of cops from the Omaha Police Department who chased a man inside his home without a warrant last year after the man attempted to video record them abusing his brother, a scene that was captured on a camera by a neighbor from an upstairs window in a shocking video that went viral.

But what took place inside the home was even more egregious, according to Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, who called a press conference last year to announce he was charging Kinsella with felony tampering with evidence – a rare move by any prosecutor when it comes to cop deleting footage. … continue

Bolivia Suspends Visa Exemption Agreement with Israel

teleSUR | August 31, 2014

Israelis wanting to visit Bolivia will now have to request a visa, effective from August 30, said an official source from the Migration Office.

In July President Evo Morales annouced “the firm decision to revoke the visa agreement with Israel of August 17, 1972, signed during the Bolivian dictatorship and that allowed Israeli citizens to enter Bolivia freely without even an entry visa.”

Between 10,000 and 12,000 Israeli tourists visit Bolivia each year, according to the Migration Office. … Full article

Five point action plan for political advocacy in the UK on Palestine around reconstruction

Palestine: a journal of everyday occupation | August 31, 2014

Below are five points that campaigning organisations and individuals should be using in all discussions and correspondence with their political representatives. This is UK-specific as DFID wants to play the leading role in co-ordinating the reconstruction of Gaza. The five point action plan relies on international law and the UK’s responsibility as a signatory of the IV Geneva Convention. … continue

Hamas calls for disarming Israelis instead of Palestinians

Al-Alam | August 31, 2014

Hamas calls for disarming Israelis instead of PalestiniansThe Gaza resistance movement Hamas has announced that any attempts to disarm Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza are “worthless,” urging other nations to ban the Israeli regime.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement that the demilitarization of Palestinian armed factions was “inconsistent with international law and our people will not allow it.”

“It is not required to disarm the Palestinian people, but rather to disarm the (Israeli) occupation and to ban the American administration from providing it with the weapons that are used to kill children and women,” Abu Zuhri said. … Full article

Israel keeping Gaza siege despite deal: Official

MEMO | August 31, 2014

Israel has not begun to implement a lift on a years-long siege on the Gaza Strip, a senior Palestinian border official said Sunday, despite a recent cease-fire agreement that entailed opening all border crossings between Israel and the embattled enclave.

“Commercial activity at Kerem Shalom crossing remains the same as it was since the cease-fire was announced,” Mounir al-Ghalban, director of the Palestinian side of the crossing, disclosed.

He referred to Tuesday’s indefinite truce deal between Palestinian factions and Israel that ended a 51-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.

The deal, which came through indirect talks between the two parties in Cairo, calls for opening all border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel – effectively ending the latter’s seven-year blockade of the coastal territory.

However, al-Ghalban asserted that Israel is still applying the same level of restrictions on the entry of commodities through Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with the Gaza Strip.

“As was the case before and during the war, Israel still allows only 200-400 trucks loaded with aid supplies as well as limited quantities of fuel and cooking gas through the crossing daily,” he said. “An improvement would be felt if [Israel] starts permitting more than 400 trucks daily.” … Full article

Israel confiscates 1,000 acres of Palestinian land south of Bethlehem

Ma’an – 31/08/2014

BETHLEHEM – Israeli authorities on Sunday announced the confiscation of around 4,000 dunums (1,000 acres) of private Palestinian land south of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank.

Palestinian owners of the land were given 45 days to submit formal objections to the announcement in Israeli courts, otherwise all confiscated lands would automatically become Israeli government property.

Mayor of the nearby Palestinian town of Surif Muhammad Ghuneimat told Ma’an that Israeli forces posted signs in private olive tree orchards in the area warning that they have been confiscated by the Israeli government.

Ghuneimat added that the confiscated fields belonged to Palestinians from the towns of Surif, Husan, al-Jabaa and Bethlehem. … Full article

UK’s MI6 aided torture of Nepal rebels: Report

Press TV – August 31, 2014

British secret service MI6 has been accused of aiding Nepal’s authorities in the torture of Maoist rebels during the South Asian country’s civil war.

The accusations were made by author Thomas Bell in his new book Kathmandu citing sources in the Nepalese security establishment on Britain’s involvement in the country’s decade long civil war.

Bell said British authorities funded a four-year intelligence operation in Nepal in 2002 that financed safe houses and provided training in surveillance and counter-insurgency tactics to Nepal’s army and spy agency, the National Investigation Department (NID).

The British agency “also sent a small number of British officers to Nepal, around four or five — some tied to the embassy, others operating separately,” said Bell.

According to Bell, the British officers trained Nepalese authorities on how to place bugs, penetrate rebel networks and groom informers. … continue

Russian ‘Soldiers Mothers Committees’ — a US Covert Op?

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity | August 30, 2014

A major component in the latest western government and media claims of a Russian invasion of Ukraine is protests of the various Russian “Soldiers’ Mothers Committes” over the supposed disappearance of their soldier sons in Ukraine. Absent compelling visual evidence of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, these NGOs are said to provide the evidence that, as NATO claims, 1,000 young Russians have been forced to go fight in Ukraine.

The US mainstream media has reported extensively over the past several days that these “Soldiers’ Mothers Committes” are a smoking gun indicating the Russian government’s military intervention in Ukraine. [...]

But are these committees really just innocent NGOs that seek to defend young Russian soldiers being sent off to fight in foreign lands? Or are they well-financed and trained arms of US propaganda used to bolster Washington’s line that Russia has invaded Ukraine? … Read full article

Where do Ukraine’s rebels get arms from? Old Soviet bases, says Russia’s top brass

RT | August 30, 2014

Russia is not waging war in Ukraine’s east, and is not supplying rebels with military equipment, according to Russian deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov. The anti-Kiev forces get their arms at old Soviet storages – same as government troops do.

“Surely, Russia doesn’t wage any war. Vladimir Putin’s policy is aimed at not allowing the situation to develop according to the worst-case scenario. There are, unfortunately, forces that try to push two peoples against each other to start a real war between Russia and Ukraine,” Antonov said, speaking with journalists in Slovakia.

Addressing the claims that Russia supplies weapons to the eastern Ukrainian self-defense forces, he explained where the militia may get their weaponry from. … continue

Israel arrests nearly 600 West Bank Palestinians in August

Ma’an - 30/08/2014

RAMALLAH (AFP) — Israeli forces detained 597 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in August, raising the number of Palestinians in Israeli prisons to more than 7,000, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said.

The majority of the arrests took place in East Jerusalem and Hebron, which is situated in the south of the West Bank, the NGO, based in Ramallah, said in a statement. … Full article

Aerial view of Al-Shejaiya’s destruction

U.S. Senators Urge Ecuador to Restore Relations with Israel

teleSUR | August 27, 2014

Ecuador will continue supporting Palestine despite U.S. pressure to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.

The successful campaign “Ecuador with Palestine” organized by civil society and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resulted in 20 tons of medical supplies and other crucial donations that will be delivered to Gaza next week.

The end of the campaign on August 25 coincided with a letter sent by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez, Mark Kirk and James Risch, urging the governments of Ecuador, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru and Chile to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.

The letter read, “Your actions send a troubling message to the United States about your government’s commitment to long-lasting peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

In early August President Rafael Correa canceled a trip to Israel scheduled for the second half of this year. This decision was made in the midst of the “Operation Protective Edge,” which saw a ceasefire begin Tuesday after leaving more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.

The government of Ecuador recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv and has opened an embassy in Ramallah.

Reacting to the letter sent by the senators, Foreign Minister Ricard Patiño said, “These men should give advice in their own house, they are not going to give the Ecuadorian government advice, worse is this type of advice of a political nature.”

“We are going to keep developing other agreements to enter in strong bilateral relations,” said Palestinian Ambassador in Ecuador Hani Remawi, “We have a lot to give Ecuador, and Ecuador also has more, much, much more to offer Palestine.” … Full article

Maldivians raise nearly $2 million for Gaza relief

Al-Akhbar | August 30, 2014

Media outlets in the Maldives have raised nearly $2 million to help Palestinians in Gaza recover from Israel’s 50-day terror campaign against the besieged strip, a fundraising organizer said Saturday.

“About 10 media institutions, including online and print, came together to raise this money,” spokesman Ahmed Zahir said by telephone from Male, the capital of the archipelago.

Maldives, a high-end holiday destination in the Indian Ocean, has expressed solidarity with Gaza, whose economy is expected to take years to recover from Israeli shelling and airstrikes.

Male has imposed a ban on Israeli-made goods and last month revoked three cooperation agreements on health, tourism and education. … Full article

So, I Asked the Russian Ambassador What He Thinks of NATO

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | August 26, 2014

The Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, spoke at the University of Virginia on Tuesday evening, in an event organized by the Center for Politics, which no doubt has video of the proceedings. Kislyak was once ambassador to Belgium and to NATO.

Kislyak spoke to a packed auditorium and took, I think, well over an hour of questions. He spoke frankly, and the questions he was asked by students, professors, and other participants were polite and for the most part far more intelligent than he would have been asked on, for example, Meet the Press.

He told the audience that Russia had known there were no WMDs in Iraq, and had known that attacking Iraq would bring “great difficulties” to that country. “And look what is happening today,” he said. He made the same comment about Libya. He spoke of the U.S. and Russia working together to successfully remove chemical weapons from the Syrian government. But he warned against attacking Syria now. … continue

US sanctions contravene Iran nuclear deal: FM spokeswoman

Press TV – August 30, 2014

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the US administration’s new round of sanctions against Iranian individuals and firms, saying they contravene an interim accord reached last year between Iran and six powers.

“The move is in complete contrast with the current process of resolution of [Iran’s] nuclear issue,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Saturday.

On Friday, the US imposed sanctions on over 25 Iranian individuals and companies, including shipping firms, oil companies, airlines and six banks.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects any one-sided and unacceptable interpretations of the Geneva [nuclear] deal by the US and strongly believes that the imposed sanctions are against the US commitments in the deal,” Afkham said. … continue

Laptop of Death, 2.0

emptywheel | August 29, 2014

The Greater US War to Remake the Middle East has been going on so long, it is already re-running its story lines.

Back in 2004, when Dick Cheney was trying to drum up a hot war against Iran, the CIA got dealt a laptop that provided a casus belli all wrapped up in a bow: all aspects of Iran’s nuke program, all conveniently collected on one laptop, somehow falling into intelligence hands. It later showed signs of being a forgery.

Now, as the warmakers are trying to gin up a hot war against ISIS (in seeming co-belligerence with Iran!), that’s whose laptop we find, courtesy of Foreign Policy : a Tunisian named Muhammed whose last name and picture Foreign Policy declined to provide. On the laptop, FP found a 19-page document that explains how to “weaponize” bubonic plague by throwing it on grenades close to air conditioning units.

“Use small grenades with the virus, and throw them in closed areas like metros, soccer stadiums, or entertainment centers,” the 19-page document on biological weapons advises. “Best to do it next to the air-conditioning. It also can be used during suicide operations.”

Because a college science student only needs 19 pages to accomplish the technical feat of weaponizing the plague.

Remarkably, a lot of people are taking this as a serious discovery, even though FP describes obtaining the laptop this way… continue

Declared missing: Russian diplomats detained in Kiev under dubious pretext

RT | August 30, 2014

A group of Russian embassy employees, detained in Kiev under a completely false pretext, have been declared missing by the embassy, after the Russian Foreign Ministry’s call for their immediate release was ignored by Ukrainian authorities.

Two Russian diplomats – 3rd Secretary of the Embassy Andrey Golovanov and attaché Mikhail Shorin – were detained by Kiev police earlier this week, despite carrying diplomatic passports. While the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry admitted their detention, the Interior Ministry later denied the incident. … continue

NATO planning rapid-deployment force of 10,000 troops to counter Russia – report

RT | August 30, 2014

NATO is reportedly working towards the creation of an expeditionary force composed of 10,000 troops from seven different member states as a result of escalating tensions with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

According to the Financial Times,the force’s creation will be spearheaded by Britain and involve contributions from Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, and the Netherlands. Canada is also interested in joining the group, but it’s not known what its final decision will be.

Although no formal announcement has been made, British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to declare its formation at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales on September 4th. … continue

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