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U.S. Justice Dept. Sues Ferguson, Missouri, Over Police Reforms
The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil rights lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday to enforce a police and court reform plan after the city said it wanted to amend some aspects of a consent decree it had reached with the federal agency. The Justice Department initiated a civil rights investigation into Ferguson's policing after an unarmed black teenager was killed by a white police officer in 2014. It resulted in a report that was extremely critical of Ferguson's police and court systems. "The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a news conference. CNS News
VOA VIEW: The DOJ is overreaching their authority.

Why Bernie Is Beating Hillary
Bernie Sanders' stellar victory in New Hampshire showed that his campaign has some serious legs. He won 6 of 10 voters and led in virtually every demographic category, except for those over 65 and households earning more than $200,000. Slowly, Sanders has been undercutting Hillary Clinton's electoral strength and putting together a campaign that could go all the way into the summer convention. The Clintons continue to dismiss the idea that Sanders is a serious candidate, painting him as someone who is too left of center and a politician who doesn't make the kind of serious, detailed arguments that most adult voters will demand. To be sure, there is a good deal of logic to the Clinton argument. It is extraordinarily difficult to imagine that a democratic socialist could win a general election in the post-Ronald Reagan era. CNN

In Illinois Homecoming, Obama Calls For Improved Tone In U.S. Politics
President Barack Obama paid a nostalgic visit on Wednesday to the place that launched his political career and made a renewed call for better relations between Republicans and Democrats to create a more positive tone in U.S. politics. Obama won the White House in 2008 partially on a promise to overcome partisan divides in Washington. He has called his failure to do that, seven years after taking office, a regret. On the ninth anniversary of his 2007 announcement in Springfield that he was running for president, Obama addressed Illinois lawmakers at the state Capitol where he once worked as a state senator in what he described as a collegial, friendly atmosphere. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Obama has caused an ugly tone.

Senate Panel Votes To Hold Backpage.Com In Contempt Over Sex Ads
A Senate panel has voted to hold the classified advertising website in civil contempt for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena into how it screens ads for possible sex trafficking. The Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday backed a resolution setting up a legal fight with the company. The full Senate must vote on the resolution. Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri sponsored the resolution after they said the company refused to comply with a subpoena last year. It would allow the committee to go to court to try and force to turn over documents about its screening practices. Reuters

Rep. Clyburn: On Clinton's Firewall And McGovern's Lessons
Rep. Jim Clyburn, the most influential Democratic officeholder in South Carolina, says he'll "huddle" with his family to decide this weekend whether to make an endorsement in the presidential race — a move that could help shape the race in a state Hillary Clinton's campaign views as a crucial firewall. In an interview Wednesday on Capital Download, Clyburn said his wife and daughter had been telling him that the state's Democrats "want to hear from me." One of his younger brothers urged him, "You've got to take a stand." Clinton, reeling from a crushing defeat by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, is counting on overwhelming support from African-American voters to score a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27, the next contest on the Democratic calendar after the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 20. USA Today

FBI Arrests Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy In Portland
Cliven Bundy, the father of the jailed leader of the Oregon refuge occupation and who was the center of a standoff with federal officials in Nevada in 2014, was arrested in Portland, the FBI said. Authorities arrested the 74-year-old Nevada rancher after he arrived at Portland International Airport from Las Vegas Wednesday night. He was booked into the lockup just before 11 p.m., according to Multnomah County Jail records. No charges were listed and his projected release date was listed as unknown. The FBI confirmed Bundy was taken into federal custody but declined to provide a reason or other details, saying further information would be released by the U.S. Attorney's office in Las Vegas, which did not respond to a phone call early Thursday. The Oregonian reported Bundy will face a conspiracy charge of interfering with a federal officer related to the stalemate at his ranch in 2014. Houston Chronicle

Carter Expects NATO Endorsement Of Anti-IS Campaign Plan
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday he expects a gathering of more than two dozen countries contributing to the war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq to endorse a U.S. plan for accelerating the campaign. "That will be new, for there to be a plan that everyone sees, which is a concrete military campaign plan and an opportunity to do what the United States has been doing for some months now, which is accelerating its own contributions," Carter told reporters in advance of convening an anti-IS meeting of some two dozen defense ministers. Speaking at NATO headquarters, Carter said he would lay out details of the campaign plan in an afternoon meeting with allies and non-NATO partners such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq. In doing so, he will ask the others to find ways to increase or broaden their contributions — either militarily or in other ways such as financial contributions. Houston Chronicle


Carson Staying In Race, Sees South Carolina Victory
Ben Carson said Wednesday he will be staying in the Republican race, despite a poor showing in New Hampshire, and is hoping to win big in South Carolina. "I'm not getting any pressure from our millions of supporters (to leave the race). I'm getting a lot of pressure to make sure I stay in the race," Carson told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead." "You know, they're reminding me that I'm here because I responded to their imploring me to get involved. And I respect that and I'm not just going to walk away from the millions of people who are supporting me." Carson came in second-to-last place Tuesday night, beating only former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. His decision to stick in the race comes even as two candidates who beat him there, Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie, announced Wednesday they were ending their bids. CNN

White House Says Opposes House Bill On Restaurant Calories
The White House said on Wednesday it opposes a bill from the U.S. House of Representatives that it said would undercut regulations aimed at requiring fast food and chain restaurants to disclose the calories in food they sell. But the White House stopped short of issuing a formal veto threat for the bill, which it said "would undercut the objective of providing clear, consistent calorie information to consumers." Tackling the American obesity epidemic has been a signature issue for the White House and first lady Michelle Obama. The menu regulations, finalized by the Food and Drug Administration in 2014, require calories to be listed on menus and menu boards of certain chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, and on certain vending machines. Reuters

The Sanders Coalition: Not What We Thought It Was
Bernie Sanders' coalition may be quite different — and much bigger — than has been assumed. That is one of the takeaways from his New Hampshire primary rout, in which Sanders scored impressively with voters who had been crucial to Hillary Clinton's 2008 victory in the state. Sanders bested Clinton across virtually all regional and demographic boundaries in the Granite State, crushing her overall by 22 points. But he fared best with economically downscale voters and won over a number of blue-collar cities and towns that had been Clinton redoubts in her 2008 campaign. In so doing, Sanders essentially flipped the '08 script, in which Clinton's main challenger, Barack Obama, relied disproportionately on higher-income voters and those with college degrees. MSNBC

Church Talks Help Make Cuba 'Perfect Place For Negotiations'
The heads of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches will hold a historic meeting Friday in the threadbare international airport of an officially secular, communist-run tropical island. Odd as the location seems, Pope Francis' and Patriarch Kirill's attempt to reconcile their churches after centuries of estrangement will set the tone for a year of peacemaking in Cuba, a nation trying to shed its historic role as international socialist provocateur. In addition to the meeting of the church leaders, Cuban President Raul Castro is expected to welcome President Barack Obama to Havana as early as this spring to celebrate the detente the two men declared at the end of 2014, ending a half-century of hostility. And four years of talks in Cuba between Colombia's government and its main rebel group appear set to produce an accord ending the Western Hemisphere's longest-running conflict, perhaps as early as mid-year. Tampa Tribune

Cruz, Santorum Participating In SC Discussion On Race
At least two of the remaining Republican presidential hopefuls are coming to South Carolina to discuss race issues. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are participating in the Carolina Values Summit on Thursday at Winthrop University. The event is presented by The Reconciled Church, which describes itself as a multiracial, nondenominational, apolitical group of church leaders working to heal the country's racial divide. Organizers say they invited all Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was among those announced as attending, although he departed the race last week and endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Tampa Tribune

N. Korea Orders Military Takeover Of Complex
North Korea on Thursday said an industrial complex it jointly runs with South Korea is now a military zone, according to media reports. It comes after South Korea on Wednesday said it would stop operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, just over the North’s border, in response to the recent rocket launch and nuclear weapons test by Pyongyang. North Korea called the move "a declaration of war," and said it would expel South Korean workers from the site and seize the assets of firms there, the BBC reported. Pyongyang also said it would cut two communication hotlines with the South, according to the broadcaster. USA Today


Despite His Exit, Christie Dramatically Altered The Republican Race
Chris Christie couldn't get it done this time. He dropped out of the presidential race the day after the New Hampshire Republican primary. But Christie might have done more to alter the outcome of the Republican field than any other candidate so far. Realizing that Marco Rubio was an obstacle to his success after the Florida senator's strong finish in the Iowa caucuses, Christie was the first one to glob onto a stinging criticism that actually gained traction and injured the first-term senator's campaign. MSNBC

Donald Trump: I Would Get China To Make Kim Jong-Un ‘Disappear’
Businessman and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would get China to make North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “disappear.” “I would get China to make that guy disappear in one form or another very quickly,” Mr. Trump said on “CBS This Morning.” Asked how to make him disappear and if that meant assassinating him, Mr. Trump said: “Well, I’ve heard of worse things, frankly. I mean, this guy’s a bad dude.” “And don’t underestimate him,” he said. “Any young guy can take over from his father, with all those generals and everybody else that probably want the position — this is not somebody to be underestimated.” Washington Times

Should You Share Your Bed With Your Pet?
It's one of the great debates among pet owners: should you let your dog or cat sleep on the bed? Some germophobes would never consider it, while others love snuggling up with their pet at the end of the day. One concern, however, has been whether sharing a bed with your pet may disturb your sleep. Many sleep specialists advise against it. But a recent study from the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona could help lay those fears to rest. The researchers surveyed 150 sleep center patients and found that more than half of pet owners allowed their pets to sleep in the bedroom. One out of five described their pets as disruptive, but many others -- 41 percent -- said their pets were unobtrusive or even beneficial to sleep. CBS

Thousands Of Thumbtacks Found In California Dog Park
Wednesday dog owners have picked up between 3,000 and 5,000 tacks from the Ohlone Dog Park and a nearby creek in Hercules over the past three weeks and handed them over to police. Dog owners say they clear one area of tacks only to come back the next day and find more tacks strewn in the same place. Anthony Hayes brings his dog to the park and says people have even found thumb tacks in the water bowls. Hercules Police have posted notices alerting people to be cautious and asking anyone who may have information to call them. Philadlelphia Inquirer

Bloomberg ‘Itching’ To Run For President
Bloomberg for prez --- who needs another bad choice? Mike Bloomberg has commissioned a second national poll to test his viability as an independent presidential candidate, following the decisive victories of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, sources said on Wednesday. “Mike is itching to do it,” said one confidant of the of the former three-term New York mayor. Sources close to the media mogul said the wins by Sanders and Trump leave an opening for a centrist. Aides particularly took note of Hillary Clinton’s weak performance in New Hampshire, where she got humped by 21 points and lost to Sanders among virtually every voting group, including women. A New York Democratic operative said Bloomberg has a political infrastructure in place and “sleeper cells ready,” if he runs. NY Post

Why $1.7B Isn’t Enough To Fix The Homeless Crisis
The city’s spending on homeless services has skyrocketed by 46 percent over just two years — and there’s no sign New York taxpayers are getting their money’s worth, Comptroller Scott Stringer charged Wednesday. The three biggest agencies that deal with the homeless are pumping $1.7 billion into solving the crisis — up from $1.2 billion in fiscal 2014. “If you spend $1.7 billion, New Yorkers expect us to be doing a lot better than we are,” Stringer said in an analysis of the city’s preliminary fiscal-year 2017 budget. NY Post

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VW Recalls 680,000 Cars In U.S. Over Airbag Problems
Volkswagen said on Wednesday it was recalling 680,000 cars of its namesake brand in the United States because Takata-made airbags in them could be defective. The recall affects models built between 2006 and 2014, a spokesman said, declining to comment on how much the recall could cost. Daimler said late on Tuesday it would recall 840,000 U.S. vehicles with Takata airbag inflators that could be defective, resulting in a charge of 340 million euros ($382.53 million) for the carmaker. Fox News

"Always Hungry?" Book Challenges Thinking On Calories, Weight Loss
A new book challenges the long-standing belief that when it comes to weight loss, calories are what count. In Dr. David Ludwig's book "Always Hungry?" (Grand Central Life & Style, 2016), he argues that the type of foods you eat -- not just the number of calories in those foods -- ultimately affects the number of calories you burn. "Our mantra is 'Forget calories. Focus on the quality of what you eat, and let your body do the rest,'" said Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital. [The Great Calorie Debate] Indeed, the shift toward quality and away from quantity is gaining ground among some experts who have studied how diet affects weight. CBS

Bernie Sanders Believes Bill Clinton Has Hit Below The Belt
Sen. Bernie Sanders believes Bill Clinton’s attacks on him have been inaccurate, he told ABC News today. And when asked whether Clinton has hit below the belt, Sanders said, "I think so." “Look, I know he’s going to be out there defending his wife; trust me, my wife will be out there defending me,” Sanders said. Sanders also pointed out that he has defended Hillary Clinton “against some unfair attacks” in the past, “but I felt that President Clinton said things that were just not accurate and I hope we get" beyond that, he said. But the Vermont independent said he will not change his tactics on stage as Thursday’s Democratic debate approaches. ABC

Several States Seek To Block 2nd Trimester Abortion Method
Abortion opponents in Mississippi, West Virginia and several other states are filing bills to ban an abortion procedure commonly used in the second trimester that opponents describe as dismembering a fetus. Courts have already blocked similar laws that Kansas and Oklahoma enacted in 2015. The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents abortion providers in legal fights, says banning the dilation and evacuation method of abortion - commonly called "D&E" - is unconstitutional because it interferes with private medical decisions. Philadelphia Inquirer


Christie, Fiorina Suspend 2016 Campaigns
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie suspended his Republican presidential bid Wednesday afternoon, joining former HP executive Carly Fiorina in exiting the 2016 race after a disappointing finish in the New Hampshire primary. Sources say Christie met with staff in person Wednesday in Morristown, N.J., and also held a conference call to announce his decision to his campaign team. The announcement was widely expected, after the two-term governor returned home after his loss Tuesday night to weigh his options. Christie had finished sixth in the primary contest, while Fiorina finished seventh. Fox News

Study Finds Zika Virus \In Fetal Brain, A Clue In Outbreak
New details about the possible effects of the Zika virus on the fetal brain emerged Wednesday as U.S. health officials say mosquito eradication here and abroad is key to protect pregnant women until they can develop a vaccine. European researchers uncovered an extremely abnormal brain — not only a fraction of the proper size but lacking the usual crinkly neural folds — in a fetus whose mother suffered Zika symptoms at the end of the first trimester while she was living in Brazil. Zika is rapidly spreading through Latin America, and as it did, Brazil reported a surge in babies born with unusually small heads, a defect called microcephaly that can signal underlying brain damage. ABC

Munger Says Donald Trump Isn't Morally Qualified For Presidency
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Vice Chairman Charles Munger criticized leading candidates from both major U.S. political parties. At a meeting with investors of his Daily Journal Corp. in Los Angeles Wednesday, Munger, 92, was asked whether a person who couldn’t make money in the gaming industry would be a good fit for the top office in the U.S. “Well, he did make money for quite a while,” Munger said of Republican Donald Trump. “My attitude is that anybody who makes money running a casino is not morally qualified.” Munger has long railed against gambling. He’s also criticized some parts of finance as being akin to a casino. At last year’s Daily Journal meeting, he faulted politicians who rely on revenue from gaming or lotteries to balance their budgets. Bloomberg

Catholic Bishops Not Obligated To Report Clerical Sex Abuse, Vatican Says
A Vatican training manual tells newly appointed bishops they have no obligation to report allegations of clerical sexual abuse to authorities, according to multiple reports. The instructions were part of a Vatican training manual outlining how senior clergy should respond to allegations of abuse. “It's a legalistic take on a critical issue, one which has brought only trouble for the church and its leaders,” wrote Associate Editor John Allen. The Catholic news site was the first to report on the documents and criticized the church for failing to focus further on abuse prevention. Instead, the church said the duty to report lies with the families of abuse victims. Clergy members are only obligated to investigate the allegations internally but encouraged the bishops to know the local legal requirements, The Independent reported. Atlanta Journal

NRA Urged To Remove Nugent From Board Over ‘Anti-Semitic’ Outburst
Gun owners are pressuring the National Rifle Association to boot longtime board member Ted Nugent from the organization’s leadership ranks after the rock star’s social media outburst that depicted prominent American Jews as the men and women “really behind gun control.” Nugent, an outspoken Second Amendment advocate, posted a photo on Facebook this week calling Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., “Jew York City Mayor Mikey Bloomberg,” former senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, among many others, “punks” who would “deny us the basic human right to self defense and to keep and bear arms while many of them have paid hired armed security.” The Israeli flag appears over or next to each of the 12 faces in the photo, which is the same one that has been shared many times in white supremacist circles, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Charlotte Observer

Jeb Bush Says He Cheered Against Panthers ‘Because Peyton Manning Wrote Me A Check’
Presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he supported the Denver Broncos over the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl because he got a campaign contribution from Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Bush, the former governor of Florida, explained his pick Wednesday during a campaign stop in Mount Pleasant, S.C. “I know that y’all probably maybe had some leanings toward Carolina,” Bush told the crowd. “I was for Denver, not because of the Broncos, but because Peyton Manning wrote me a check.” Bush continued by saying that he thinks Manning serves as “the adult in the room” in the NFL – a role Bush says he’s playing in the Republican primary contest. Charlotte Observer

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Student Debt Makes College More Expensive For Women
Student debt haunts women for years longer than it stays with men, research suggests. A report from the American Association of University Women shows that women take longer to pay off their education loans, which imposes a heavier burden on their finances years after they graduate. Black and Hispanic women in particular earn much less than other groups over time, and end up struggling the most to get rid of the debt that financed their college educations. In the past two decades, young women have vaulted past men in American higher education, by some metrics. They have become more likely to enroll in college than men, earned higher grades, and finished school more frequently than male peers. Still, highly educated women continue to earn less over time, and that stubborn pay gap becomes an even heavier burden for people who leave school with thousands of dollars in unpaid loans, the AAUW report, released on Monday, shows. Bloomberg

Assassin Of Robert Kennedy Denied Parole
For the 15th time, officials have denied parole for Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, after hearing from another person who was shot that night and called for the release of Sirhan. The decision came Wednesday after Sirhan answered questions from the parole panel for about three hours in a small, windowless conference room. Sirhan stuck to his previous account that he did not remember the shooting in 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Las Vegas Sun

Kentucky Could Have 2 Marriage Licenses
Kentucky lawmakers have proposed two marriage license forms, one designed for gay couples and another for straight couples. One form would note the "bride" and "groom" while another form would note "first party" and "second party." Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Stephen West of Paris said couples, both homosexual and heterosexual, could use either form. The forms would not include the name of the county clerk who issued the license and it would require couples to note their gender. The proposal has been met with bipartisan support, coming five months after Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed for refusing to issue licenses for same-sex marriages after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage. Las Vegas Sun

IRS Finds Software Virus Creating PINs For E-File System
The Internal Revenue Service announced it stopped an attack on its PIN creation system that taxpayers use to file returns online. IRS analysts detected a virus bot software program that used 101,000 valid Social Security numbers to create 464,000 unauthorized personal identification numbers. PINs are created by individual taxpayers when they file their returns through the e-file system. The agency said the attack occurred in January. Officials do not believe that any personal information was stolen and said it was not related to a shutdown of the e-file system earlier this month, which was deemed a "hardware failure." An IRS data breach last year exposed personal information for more than 100,000 taxpayers. UPI

Al Sharpton, Bill Maher, Ta-Nehisi Coates Show Support For Sanders
Fresh off his big win in New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders met with Rev. Al Sharpton in New York City on Wednesday morning. Sharpton greeted Sanders outside of Sylvia's, a famous soul food restaurant in Harlem, with a hug, and the two went inside to talk over coffee. Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP, joined them. Jealous endorsed Sanders last week.Sanders heads next to South Carolina, which holds its Democratic primary contest on Feb. 23. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to lean on her considerable support among black and Latino voters in the coming weeks. Sanders' meeting with Sharpton is a nod that Sanders is gearing up for a hard battle. UPI

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Elbit Unveils Upgraded Drone Designed To Send Visual Intelligence To Ground Forces
Elbit Systems announced on Wednesday the arrival of an upgraded tactical drone, which belongs to the same family of UA Vs that currently serve IDF ground units on a daily basis. Neither Elbit nor the Defense Ministry would comment on whether Israel plans to acquire the latest platform, but Elbit said the new system has “already been selected by an undisclosed customer.” The Skylark 3 is designed to supply ground commanders with visual intelligence, and assist in the surveillance and reconnaissance of areas near the units in operation. Jerusalem Post

Turkey's Erdogan Denounces US Support For Syrian Kurds
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at the US over its support for Syria's main Kurdish group. The failure to recognise the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a terrorist group was creating a "sea of blood", he said. Turkey says the PYD, on which the US relies to battle so-called Islamic State in Syria, is an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Mr Erdogan's comments come as Turkey faces pressure to allow in 30,000 Syrian refugees stranded on its border. The refugees have fled an offensive by Syrian government forces and Iranian-backed militias, supported by Russian air strikes, on rebel-held areas around the divided northern city of Aleppo. BBC

Israel Court Extends Ex-PM Ehud Olmert's Jail Term By A Month
An Israeli court has extended former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's 18-month jail sentence for bribery by a month. The court rejected a plea bargain that would have seen Olmert serve six months for obstruction of justice concurrently with the bribery sentence. Instead, he will serve five months concurrently and one consecutively. Olmert, prime minister from 2006 to 2009, will become the first former head of government in Israel to go to prison when his sentence begins on Monday. The 70 year old was handed a six-year sentence in 2014 after being found guilty of accepting, while he was mayor of Jerusalem, a 500,000-shekel ($129,000; £89,000) bribe from developers of one real estate project and a 60,000-shekel bribe in connection with another project. BBC

Twitter Share Price Nosedives On News It Is Losing Users
Twitter lost users in the last three months, the company said on Wednesday, and the news sent share prices into a nosedive. Co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to lead the company last year and has shaken management to its core, laid off staff and instituted numerous changes to the service. So far his plans do not appear to be taking flight. Growth in Twitter’s monthly active users has slowed, then stagnated, and now seems to have stopped entirely. The service’s user base is up 9% year-over-year, but against the past quarter it’s perfectly flat at 320 million. Guardian

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