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“Late Term Abortion”

The Washington Post points out there is no precise medical or legal definition of “late-term,” and “many doctors and scientists avoid that language, calling it imprecise and misleading.”

The Daily Beast also notes that only 1.3 percent of abortions are performed after 21 weeks of gestation, and the idea that a woman can get an abortion moments before giving birth is “not how medical care works.”

The use of “dog whistles” aka “coded” labels has been common for many years but until recently has been out of the mainstream of conversation. The current administration aided by a neer do well Congress has brought these “coded” statements and words to common use. Along with this common usage the administration has trashed agreements put in place to prevent war and improve trade. Tariffs (taxes) put in place to offset the “tax” policy that was supposed to benefit everyday Americans and threats to bad actors who were in a state of containment with the approval of our now alienated allies. The administration has in a few years undermined our economy, foreign affairs and put us on an isolation footing all because of “dog whistles”.


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September 26, 2022Heather Cox Richardson

Sep 27

 A headline in the New York Times today read: “Factory Jobs Are Booming Like It’s the 1970s.” The story explained that more money in the hands of consumers thanks to federal stimulus spending, along with a new skepticism of stretched supply lines, has created a rebound in American manufacturing.

Since the 1970s, authors Jim Tankersley, Alan Rappeport, and Ana Swanson explain, outsourcing and automation have meant that every recession has seen factory jobs disappear and never return as employers used downturns to move operations to countries with lower wage levels. This time, though, American manufacturers have not only regained all the jobs lost during the pandemic, they have also added about 67,000 more. Those numbers would be higher if the labor market weren’t so tight, a condition leading employers to offer higher wages and better benefits.

Biden has made it clear that he is trying to overturn 40 years of “supply side” economics, ushered in by President Ronald Reagan. This system was designed to free up capital at the top of the economy through tax cuts and deregulation in the belief that putting capital in the hands of the wealthy—the “supply side”— would lead them to invest more in the economy, thus making it grow more quickly and providing more jobs. While Republicans came to embrace that ideology wholeheartedly, in fact it never showed signs of increasing economic growth. What it did was to move wealth dramatically upward. It also made the measure of the economy the health of Wall Street rather than Main Street.

Since Abraham Lincoln’s administration, which faced a similar economic stratification and a similar justification for it, another approach to the economy has stood against this ideology. Leaders from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt to Franklin Delano Roosevelt have argued that providing opportunity for people at the lower end of the economy—the “demand side”—would drive production and consumption, spreading prosperity upward. Biden has followed in this tradition. Insisting that he would build the economy “from the bottom up and the middle out,” he, along with the Democrats in Congress, bolstered domestic manufacturing with measures like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act.

Now, statistics show, that investment has paid off. Chad Moutray, the chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, told the New York Times reporters: ​​“We have 67,000 more workers today than we had in February 2020. I didn’t think we would get there, to be honest with you.”

National Economic Council director Brian Deese told the reporters, “One of the most striking things that we are seeing now is the number of companies—U.S. companies and global companies—that are committing to build and expand their manufacturing footprint in the United States, and doing so based on their view that not only did the pandemic highlight the need for more resilience in their supply chains, but that the United States is creating a policy environment that makes long-term investment here in the United States more attractive.”

Meanwhile, the real net worth of the bottom 50% of U.S. households has climbed 60% since Biden took office, now reaching $67,524.

One of the things that will continue to feed this change is the plan to forgive significant student loan debt, especially among low-income Black and Brown Americans. This story is hitting the news today after the Congressional Budget Office responded to a series of questions posed by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), both fervently opposed to the program. The CBO’s responses to those specific questions have been widely published, suggesting the program will cost the U.S. $400 billion. This is sparking cries about its expense, but this particular CBO number calculates the cost over the next 30 years rather than the usual ten, does not address the stimulus effects of the relief, and does not take into account how much anyone would actually have repaid. The estimate is, the CBO states in its letter, “highly uncertain.”

In contrast to Biden’s economic program, on Friday the new government of Prime Minister Liz Truss announced the most radical tax cuts in Britain since 1972, cutting the top income tax rate as well as corporate taxes to spur the economy. This unfunded cut will mean borrowing at rising interest rates. Concerns about inflation, already hammering the British economy, made the value of the pound, which is the English unit of currency, drop to its lowest level since 1985.

These different economic visions are in conflict here in the United States. Former Trump economic advisor Steve Moore reacted to the Truss tax cuts by saying: “This is exactly what we should be doing in the US.” White House economic advisor Jared Bernstein said: “President Biden has been very clear about the negative track record of trickle-down, Reagan-style tax cuts.”

Republicans have managed to keep voters behind their economic program by downplaying it and emphasizing cultural issues, primarily abortion, which reliably turned out anti-abortion voters. Now that the Supreme Court has overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, Republicans have a demographic problem: a majority of voters support reproductive rights and are turning out to vote, and there is no longer a reason for anti-abortion voters to show up.

So Republican leaders are downplaying abortion: reporter Eric Garcia noted today that Republican representative and Senate candidate Ted Budd (R-NC), who is a cosponsor of the House version of Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) national abortion bill, didn’t mention his stance in a recent rally with former president Trump. They are also inventing new cultural crises, most notably an attack on LGBTQIA folks but also a renewed attack on immigrants.

Trump has gone further, jumping aboard the QAnon train, which the FBI considers a domestic terrorism threat, as his own legal troubles are mounting. His lawyers failed to slow down the criminal investigation into his theft of documents, including many marked with the highest levels of classification. New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued Trump, his company, and his children and two associates for fraud. And now the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is beginning to turn up more information.

On Friday the committee subpoenaed Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos to ask about a phone call he had with Trump in July 2022 (not a typo) in which Trump tried to get him to change the 2020 result in Wisconsin. Vos is challenging the subpoena.

In the lead-up to Wednesday’s midday public hearing of the committee, Zachary Cohen of CNN reported today that election denier Phil Waldron, a former Army colonel associated with Trump loyalist Michael Flynn, was in contact with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in late December 2020 about gaining access to the voting systems in Arizona and Georgia. Waldron referred to Arizona as “our lead domino we were counting on to start the cascade,” to overturn the election.

Meanwhile, Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, was texting QAnon links to Meadows. And now, after flirting with QAnon since 2020, Trump has embraced it wholeheartedly, first “retruthing” social media posts featuring him as a QAnon hero and warning that “The Storm Is Coming,” then using QAnon music at a rally. Now, he has sent out an email calling for the death penalty for drug dealers—a favorite theme of fascists since the 1930s and a major part of the program of former dictator Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, whom Trump admires—along with the warning that “Under Democrat control, the streets of our great cities are drenched in the blood of innocent victims,” tapping into the QAnon themes of violent retribution for those they see as preying on America’s youth.

“I certainly will do whatever it takes to make sure Donald Trump isn’t anywhere close to the Oval Office,” Representative Liz Cheney said this weekend at The Texas Tribune Festival, which highlights politics and policy. “And if he is the nominee, I won’t be a Republican.” She warned that a Republican majority in the House would empower Trump Republicans like Jim Jordan (OH), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), and Lauren Boebert (CO).

And when asked if Trump should testify before the committee, Cheney answered: “Any interaction that Donald Trump has with the committee will be under oath and subject to penalty of perjury.”—Notes:Jeff Stein @JStein_WaPoFormer Trump economic adviser Steve Moore on Liz Truss tax policy: “I’m very supportive of what they’re doing. This is exactly what we should be doing in the US … I’m surprised the market has not reacted positivity but I think that’s going to reverse course”September 26th 202255 Retweets363 Likes Doney @David_ChartsReal net worth of the bottom 50% households set another record in Q2 ’22, reaching $67,524, up 10% from last quarter and up 60% since Biden started. This is driven by home prices, big wage gains, and full employment.…ImageSeptember 26th 2022455 Retweets1,022 Likes Klain @WHCOSIf you want apples-to-apples, note that this is a THIRTY year score; most often, CBO estimates a program’s cost over its first TEN years. When @POTUS announced this, the WH said it would cost about $24b in the first year. This @USCBO estimate puts the first year cost at $21B. Peter Baker @peterbakernytBiden’s plan to wipe out significant amounts of student loan debt for tens of millions of borrowers could cost about $400 billion, the nonpartisan CBO reports, renewing the debate over his decision. ⁦@katierogers⁩ 26th 2022932 Retweets2,804 Likes Cheney @kyledcheneyNEWS: The Jan. 6 select committee subpoenaed Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos over the weekend and is seeking his testimony by *today* about a July phone call he had with Donald Trump.…ImageImageSeptember 26th 20222,329 Retweets7,326 Likes/photo/1 Klaas @brianklaasThe former president, many of his aides, Republican members of Congress, and the wife of a Supreme Court justice, are all directly promoting QAnon—which the FBI classifies as a domestic terrorism threat. The GOP has become an authoritarian, conspiracist, extremist party. 60 Minutes @60MinutesGinni Thomas, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, texted links tied to QAnon to ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, according to former Jan. 6th staffer Denver Riggleman. Riggleman says her actions “should be an eye opener for everybody” 26th 2022473 Retweets1,172 LikesJeff Sharlet @JeffSharletBig: Trump follows up his full QAnon embrace with email labeled “The Death Penalty,” calling for execution of drug dealers & signaling to Q, I’d argue, many more executions after that. No question he’s borrowing from former Philippines dictator Duterte, whom he admires & envies. September 26th 2022124 Retweets312 Likes/photo/1

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Ben Graffam

Mon, September 26, 2022 at 7:11 AM

Ben Graffam retired from teaching at International Baccalaureate East in Haines City. He is also the author of "Reimagining the Educated Mind," published by Rowman and Littlefield, in 2019.
Ben Graffam retired from teaching at International Baccalaureate East in Haines City. He is also the author of “Reimagining the Educated Mind,” published by Rowman and Littlefield, in 2019.

As a former educator I looked for learning engagements that encouraged students to think for themselves, to navigate divergent paths of understanding with confidence, and to come out on the other side with qualified precepts or corollaries that allowed real-world applications of their learning.

Often that meant dealing with differences between believing and knowing, with opinion and decision-making. Many people confuse these knowledge concepts, thinking their opinions are equivalent to evidence-based knowledge, and that what they believe is just as valid as what justified knowledge demonstrates. My hope was that students would work through these differences before they joined the real world.

We can see the damage that misconstruing these distinctions creates. Suddenly (it seems) we have a large amount of people who believe not only the claims of a stolen election but also that keeping top secret documents is OK even when the law clearly states it is not.

People often believe things that won’t happen or aren’t true, letting their opinions direct their decisions. The trouble is, knowledge and critical thought don’t work that way.

Decisions, when well made, are based on ethical judgments and intellectual rigor. Mental algorithms which involve empirical evidence and rational thought help a person make better, though not always perfect, decisions. Within those algorithms, honesty and integrity recognize the need to eliminate bias, or at least to set it aside.

Opinions, on the other hand, can be, and often are, founded on no facts or ethics at all. Many Americans believe the last election was stolen; many of the same believe Donald Trump had every right to keep top secret documents at home. But no matter how deeply they believe, they will not find evidence to show that either of these claims is defensible. Laws restrict particular documents from non-governmentally secured places, and evidence shows that no fraudulent voting played a role in the outcome of the 2020 election.

These people may have faith in the person who told them the election was stolen, but faith is not the way to go when navigating the difficult path of understanding.

I tried to get my students to see that in some situations, faith and belief are perfect methods, but in other situations, neither faith, nor belief works: more often than not, evidence matters.

Evidence is obtained systematically, by observing and collecting data, which is then analyzed and understood by rational, impartial minds. Someone seeing that the player who just sank the three pointer had her toe on the line knows the shot is only worth two points, no matter which team that someone is rooting for. Evidence makes a clear point.

The same is true for an election and for the laws regarding secret documents. Each time independent counters and observers audited the outcomes of different precincts around the country in the 2020 election the results were always stable. The election was not stolen. Evidence wins over belief in this situation.

As an educator, I knew this was an important concept of understanding, because I also knew that many people in our culture have not learned and do not follow that concept. Too many feel their beliefs were just as valid as the facts when it came to things like elections and securing top secret documents.

Now we see many politicians, elected to uphold the values of process and critical observation, and to understand the differences between belief and knowledge, speak against the systems that were put in place to protect and keep our republic.

That this doesn’t shock us shows how far our political biases have bent out of shape.

Our culture is mocking the process of understanding the world we live in. Rather than acknowledging the evidence of an accurately counted and properly audited election, people cast doubt upon the system of voting that has been a mainstay of our republic and a model of world government, all in the name of belief; rather than allowing the systems of justice that have been developed to prevent undemocratic processes to take hold, we allow name-callers to belittle and derail constitutional mandates, all in the name of belief.

The America many of us believe in comes from the knowledge that the systems we have put in place will work. Let’s hope the wiser heads of our nation, and those systems, prevail.

Ben Graffam retired from teaching at International Baccalaureate East in Haines City. He is also the author of “Reimagining the Educated Mind,” published by Rowman and Littlefield, in 2019.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: 




September 23, 20226:32 PM CDTLast Updated 2 days ago


Sept 23 (Reuters) – Some investors are backing out of Digital World Acquisition Corp’s (DWAC.O) plan to acquire former U.S. President Donald Trump’s social media firm Truth Social, the blank-check firm said on Friday.

Digital World said it had received termination notices from private investment in public equity (PIPE) investors ending nearly $139 million in investments out of the $1 billion commitment it had previously announced.

Investors, who signed the PIPE commitment about one year ago, are free to move their money after the Sept. 20, 2022 deadline if the deal has not completed.

Digital World did not disclose the investors that pulled out. Sources told Reuters Sabby Management, which had committed $100 million to the PIPE, is one of the investors who have terminated.

Sabby Management declined to comment.

More investors could pull out in the next few weeks, sources said, as they can terminate anytime after the deadline. Many are waiting for DWAC to propose more preferred terms to PIPE investors, sources added.

The deal between the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) and Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), which owns Truth Social, has been on ice due to civil and criminal probes into the circumstances around the agreement.

TMTG did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The SPAC had been hoping the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which is reviewing Digital World’s disclosures on the deal, would have given its blessing by now.

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Heather Cox RichardsonSep 25

In Arizona, Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson has restored a law put into effect by Arizona’s Territorial legislature in 1864 and then reworked in 1901 that has been widely interpreted as a ban on all abortions except to save a woman’s life. Oddly, I know quite a bit about the 1864 Arizona Territorial legislature, and its story matters as we think about the attempt to impose its will in modern America.

In fact, the Civil War era law seems not particularly concerned with women handling their own reproductive care—it actually seems to ignore that practice entirely. The laws for this territory, chaotic and still at war in 1864, appear to reflect the need to rein in a lawless population of men.

The criminal code talks about “miscarriage” in the context of other male misbehavior. It focuses at great length on dueling, for example— making illegal not only the act of dueling (punishable by three years in jail) but also having anything to do with a duel. And then, in the section that became the law now resurrected in Arizona, the law takes on the issue of poisoning.

In that context, the context of punishing those who secretly administer poison to kill someone, it says that anyone who uses poison or instruments “with the intention to procure the miscarriage of any woman then being with child” would face two to five years in jail, “Provided, that no physician shall be affected by the last clause of this section, who in the discharge of his professional duties deems it necessary to produce the miscarriage of any woman in order to save her life.”

The next section warns against cutting out tongues or eyes, slitting noses or lips, or “rendering…useless” someone’s arm or leg.

The law that is currently interpreted to outlaw abortion care seemed designed to keep men in the chaos of the Civil War from inflicting damage on others—including pregnant women—rather than to police women’s reproductive care, which women largely handled on their own or through the help of doctors who used drugs and instruments to remove what they called dangerous blockages of women’s natural cycles in the four to five months before fetal movement became obvious.

Written to police the behavior of men, the code tells a larger story about power and control.

The Arizona Territorial legislature in 1864 had 18 men in the lower House of Representatives and 9 men in the upper house, the Council, for a total of 27 men. They met on September 26, 1864, in Prescott. The session ended about six weeks later, on November 10.

The very first thing the legislators did was to authorize the governor to appoint a commissioner to prepare a code of laws for the territory. But William T. Howell, a judge who had arrived in the territory the previous December, had already written one, which the legislature promptly accepted as a blueprint.

Although they did discuss his laws, the members later thanked Judge Howell for “preparing his excellent and able Code of Laws” and, as a mark of their appreciation, provided that the laws would officially be called “The Howell Code.” (They also paid him a handsome $2500, which was equivalent to at least 5 years’ salary for a workingman in that era.) Judge Howell wrote the territory’s criminal code essentially single-handedly.

The second thing the legislature did was to give a member of the House of Representatives a divorce from his wife.

Then they established a county road near Prescott.

Then they gave a local army surgeon a divorce from his wife.

In a total of 40 laws, the legislature incorporated a number of road companies, railway companies, ferry companies, and mining companies. They appropriated money for schools and incorporated the Arizona Historical Society.

These 27 men constructed a body of laws to bring order to the territory and to jump-start development. But their vision for the territory was a very particular one.

The legislature provided that “No black or mulatto, or Indian, Mongolian, or Asiatic, shall be permitted to [testify in court] against any white person,” thus making it impossible for them to protect their property, their families, or themselves from their white neighbors. It declared that “all marriages between a white person and a [Black person], shall…be absolutely void.”

And it defined the age of consent for sexual intercourse to be just ten years old (even if a younger child had “consented”).

So, in 1864, a legislature of 27 white men created a body of laws that discriminated against Black people and people of color and considered girls as young as 10 able to consent to sex, and they adopted a body of criminal laws written by one single man.

And in 2022, one of those laws is back in force in Arizona.


John S. Goff, “William T. Howell and the Howell Code of Arizona,” American Journal of Legal History 11 (July 1967): 221–233.

Acts, Resolutions and Memorials, Adopted by the First Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Arizona (Prescott: Office of the Arizona Miner, 1865). 

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September 23, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson
Sep 24
 Today, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who took over as the chair of the House Republican Conference after the party rejected Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) for her refusal to back the January 6 insurrection, released the House Republicans’ plan for the country.

Covering just a single page, it presents vague aspirations—many of which Biden has already put in place—but focuses on the radical extremes of the MAGA party while trying to make those extremes sound mild.

The so-called “Commitment to America” calls for a strong economy, a safe nation, a free future, and an accountable government. So far, so good.

But the first topic—making the economy strong—is a paraphrase of what the Biden administration has been doing. The Republicans call for fighting inflation and lowering the cost of living, making America energy independent, bringing down gas prices, strengthening the supply chain, and ending the country’s dependence on China.

This is quite literally the platform of the Democrats, but while the Republicans offer no actual proposals to contribute to these goals, Biden has taken concrete steps to address inflation by taking on the shipping monopolies that hiked transportation costs, for example, while Democrats in Congress have passed legislation capping the cost of certain prescription medications. Biden has released reserves to help combat high gas prices, which have now fallen close to their cost last March—a barrel of oil is now under $80—while expanding our nation’s pool of truck drivers and just last week averting a train strike that would have endangered supply chains. The incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act are designed specifically to make America energy independent while addressing climate change, and Biden’s extraordinary efforts to support economic development in the Indo-Pacific region, along with the CHIPS and Science Act, were explicitly designed to reduce U.S. dependence on China.

It feels rather as if the Republicans recognize that Biden’s policies are popular, and are hoping that voters haven’t noticed that he is actually putting them in place.

Then the document gets to the heart of its argument, recycling MAGA talking points in language that makes it very attractive. Who doesn’t want national safety, for example?

But national safety is described here as securing the border and combatting illegal immigration (something already in place), adding 200,000 police officers through recruiting bonuses, cracking down on prosecutors and district attorneys who refuse to prosecute crimes (this is likely directed at those who say they will not prosecute women for obtaining abortions), criminalizing all fentanyl, and supporting our troops and exercising peace through strength (which likely means reversing Biden’s emphasis on multilateral diplomacy to return to using the U.S. military as a global enforcer)— all MAGA demands.

“A Future That’s Built on Freedom” is a similar sleight of hand, meaning something far from the freedom of the recent past. Here it means giving parents control over their childrens’ education (more book banning and laws that prohibit teaching subjects that make students “uncomfortable”), “defend[ing] fairness by ensuring that only women can compete in women’s sports” (there’s the anti-trans statement), achieving “longer, healthier lives for Americans” by what appears to be getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, and what appears to be a defense of the use of ivermectin and other quack cures popular on the right (“lower prices through transparency, choice, and competition,” “invest in lifesaving cures,” and “improve access to telemedicine”). It also demands confronting “Big Tech” to make it fair, which is likely a reference to the right wing’s conviction that social media discriminates against it by banning hate speech.

The section about accountable government calls for preserving constitutional freedoms, which they interpret as an apparent national ban on abortion—a constitutional right until this past June—saying they will “protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers.” They defend “religious freedom,” which the right wing, including the Supreme Court, has interpreted as freedom for Christian schools to receive public tax money and for Christian coaches to pray with students. The document also calls for safeguarding the Second Amendment, which the right wing has increasingly interpreted since the 1970s to mean that the government cannot regulate gun ownership.

This section of the document calls for rigorous oversight of the government “to rein in government abuse of power and corruption,” providing “real transparency,” and requiring the White House “to answer for its incompetence at home and abroad.” It also says Republicans will “save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.”

While the part of this section that calls for stopping government abuse and incompetence seems rich coming from the MAGA Republicans, the statement that they intend to protect Social Security and Medicare strikes me as I felt when hearing Trump tell voters in 2020 that he would protect Obamacare at the very time his lawyers were in court trying to overturn the law. Now, in this moment, leading Republicans have vowed to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, which is an interesting way to “save and strengthen” them.

Similarly, the section promising to “restore the people’s voice” calls for voting restrictions.

In short, the document feels like the doublespeak from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. To defend the indefensible, Orwell wrote in an essay titled “Politics and the English Language,” “political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness…. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who focused on the power of language to alter reality and who helped to write the 1994 Contract with America that enabled the Republicans to take control of the House for the first time since 1954, worked on this document. The Contract with America, which party leaders called a contract as a promise that it would be binding, led the Republicans to shut down the government for 28 days between November 1995 and January 1996 to get their way before they entirely abandoned the “contract.”

To sell today’s document to voters, Republicans used a slick video, but Jennifer Bendery of HuffPost noted that the film uses stock videos from Russia and Ukraine in its “Commitment to America.” When Bendery reached out to McCarthy for comment, his spokesperson Mark Bednar responded: “Interesting how you guys aren’t remotely interested in the issues facing the American people in the video.”

But will it work? The document tries to win Trump voters without actually mentioning Trump, who now alienates all but his fervent supporters. But he continues to dominate the Republican Party and to grab the headlines. Tonight, 60 Minutes teased a story that will broadcast on Sunday and is already raising eyebrows. In it, Denver Riggleman, former senior tech advisor for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, said that the White House switchboard connected a call to a rioter’s phone while the Capitol was under siege on January 6, 2021.—Notes: Minutes @60MinutesThe White House switchboard connected a call to a rioter while the Capitol was under siege on January 6, 2021, according to former January 6 committee staffer Denver Riggleman. “I only know one end of that call,” Riggleman said. 23rd 202213,260 Retweets32,088 Likes Klain @WHCOSOil has fallen below $80/barrel today. This makes this @POTUS message from yesterday even more compelling. President Biden @POTUSGas prices fell by $1.30 this summer, that’s good news for families. But energy companies are making record profits and retailer margins are 30% above normal. That’s money that should be in folks’ pockets. Industry must pass savings on to consumers by lowering prices. Now.September 23rd 2022593 Retweets2,240 LikesShareLikeCommentShare


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Heather Cox RichardsonSep 20

On Saturday, the anniversary of the day in 1787 on which the Framers signed the U.S. Constitution, Attorney General Merrick Garland administered the oath of allegiance to 200 immigrants in the Great Hall at Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1954, nearly 12 million immigrants stopped on the island as part of their journey to the United States, and from 1900 to 1924, the Great Hall was filled with as many as 5000 new arrivals a day, sitting on benches under the high ceiling that had been tiled in the spectacular patterns of Spanish-born architect Rafael Guastavino—who came to the U.S. in 1881—where they awaited health inspections and registration. 

“It is my great honor to welcome you as the newest citizens of the United States of America,” Garland said. “Congratulations!… Just now, each of you took an oath of allegiance to the United States. In so doing, you took your place alongside generations who came before you, many through this very building, seeking protection, freedom, and opportunity. This country—your country—wholeheartedly welcomes you.”

As an introduction to the message he wanted to deliver, both to the new citizens and to old ones, Garland spoke of his own history as the grandson and son-in-law of those fleeing religious persecution, who came to the U.S. for the protection of our laws.  

“The protection of law—the Rule of Law—is the foundation of our system of government,” the attorney general said.

“The Rule of Law means that the same laws apply to all of us, regardless of whether we are this country’s newest citizens or whether our [families] have been here for generations.

“The Rule of Law means that the law treats each of us alike: there is not one rule for friends, another for foes; one rule for the powerful, another for the powerless; a rule for the rich, another for the poor; or different rules, depending upon one’s race or ethnicity or country of origin.

“The Rule of Law means that we are all protected in the exercise of our civil rights; in our freedom to worship and think as we please; and in the peaceful expression of our opinions, our beliefs, and our ideas.

“Of course, we still have work to do to make a more perfect union. Although the Rule of Law has always been our guiding light, we have not always been faithful to it. 

“The Rule of Law is not assured. It is fragile. It demands constant effort and vigilance.

“The responsibility to ensure the Rule of Law is and has been the duty of every generation in our country’s history. It is now your duty as well. And it is one that is especially urgent today at a time of intense polarization in America.”

Garland went on to ask the people in the room to share a promise “that each of us will protect each other and our democracy,” that “we will uphold the Rule of Law and seek to make real the promise of equal justice under law,” and that “we will do what is right, even if that means doing what is difficult.”

It is hard to imagine that his words were not intended to convey that he intends to follow the legal trails left behind by the former administration wherever they lead. 

Certainly, the former president, who is under scrutiny for stealing national secrets, scheming to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and inciting mob violence against the U.S. government, appears to be concerned.

Over the weekend, in a rally on Saturday in Ohio, Trump made it clear that he is no longer playing with a violent, extremist base, but rather cultivating it. In the days before the event, he “retruthed” posts from the conspiracy theory QAnon, whose followers believe that he is leading a secret war against pedophiles and cannibals and that he will soon be placed back into power, arrest his Democratic enemies, try them, and execute some of them. That moment of his return is called “the Storm,” and one of his “retruths” assured his audience that “The Storm is Coming.” The rally played the QAnon theme song—or something so like it as to be indistinguishable from it—and featured other QAnon-adjacent politicians. 

Trump seems to know he is down to his last line of supporters, and he is rallying them to be ready to commit violence on his behalf, much as he did in the weeks before January 6, 2021. But the rally appeared to have attracted only a few thousand people, a far cry from the crowds he commanded when he was in office. His power resides now primarily in his ability to deliver or withhold his supporters, whom the party desperately needs. In exchange for delivering his supporters, Greg Sargent of the Washington Post points out, Trump seems to be demanding that a Republican Congress put an end to his legal troubles. 

Those legal troubles are mounting. 

On September 5, 2022, Judge Aileen Cannon granted Trump’s request for a special master to review the materials FBI agents seized in their search of Mar-a-Lago on August 8. Those  materials included more than 100 that bore classified markings, some at the highest levels. Cannon ordered the Department of Justice to stop its criminal investigation of Trump until the special master reviews the material. The DOJ asked Cannon to reconsider, because its ongoing review of the national security damage is tied to the criminal investigation. She refused and, at Trump’s team’s suggestion, appointed Judge Raymond Dearie special master. 

Legal scholars say Cannon’s rulings are deeply problematic, but they looked as if they would buy Trump time until after the midterms, when Republicans might have control of one or both houses of Congress to help him out. While they are appealing the ruling, the DOJ is also responding to it.

A filing tonight shows that Dearie has ordered all inspection and labeling done by October 7, rather than the November 30 date the Trump team expected. It also shows that Dearie has asked Trump to specify which documents he claims to have declassified before claiming them as his property. Trump’s lawyers say they don’t want to tell the judge anything specific about what Trump might or might not have declassified, suggesting they want to reserve that for a possible criminal case.

Former U.S. attorney and legal commenter Joyce White Vance noted that he is “presumably avoiding the need to acknowledge he lied until after the midterm elections.” 

As Trump faces legal trouble, Florida governor Ron DeSantis appears to be trying to gather Trump’s voters to himself with his stunt of sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard off Massachusetts with a camera crew that gave video footage to the Fox News Channel but without telling Massachusetts authorities the migrants were coming. It was performative cruelty designed to show “liberals” rejecting immigrants in their backyards, and the fact that the people of Martha’s Vineyard welcomed them and got them back to the mainland and to shelter did not change that narrative in right-wing media: officials have been swamped with angry phone calls about their “hypocrisy,” and today a small plane towed a banner over the island reading, “Vineyard Hypocrites.” 

But Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo noted all along that DeSantis’s story didn’t add up. He is a Florida governor, but he moved people from Texas, and the story is hardly one that looks like a government operation. It appears that a tall, blonde woman going by “Perla” worked with two men and two other women to find migrants to move, promising them work and housing in Massachusetts and putting them up in a hotel until they got 48 people to go. 

Judd Legum of Popular Information added the piece that the migrants were not undocumented, as DeSantis repeatedly claimed, but in fact are here legally after applying for asylum. Someone gave them brochures promising 8 months’ cash assistance, food, housing, clothing, job training, and so on, benefits available only to a specific and small category of refugees, which they are not. 

If they were misled about either their destination or their opportunities, those lying to them might run up against legal charges. For their part, DeSantis and Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez say it is “categorically false” that they were misled.  

Tonight, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in Texas announced it has opened up a criminal investigation.

There is one man tonight who is not worried about further legal troubles, though. The administration today secured the release of Mark Frerichs, kidnapped in Afghanistan in January 2020 and held for 31 months, by exchanging him for Bashir Noorzai, who was sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking in 2009. 

[Guastavino ceiling at Ellis Island:]


Kyle Cheney @kyledcheneyJUST IN: Special Master Dearie has asked Trump’s team for declarations about any acftions he’s taken to declassify material. Trump’s team says i n a filing tonight that it is resisting that request — because it could be a defense to any criminal cahrges.…


September 19th 20223,377 Retweets11,201 Likes

Joyce Alene @JoyceWhiteVanceMy favorite part is that Trump doesn’t want to have to provide any information about his supposed declassifications under early November-presumably avoiding the need to acknowledge he lied until after the midterm elections. S. Phang @KatiePhangNEW: Trump’s defense team in panic mode: Special Master demanding Trump “disclose specific information regarding declassification to the Court and to the Government…will force [Trump] to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment…”September 20th 20221,314 Retweets5,727 Likes

Judd Legum @JuddLegumUPDATE: The Bexar County Texas Sheriff has launched a criminal investigation into DeSantis’ scheme…

Judd Legum@JuddLegum1. has obtained documentary evidence that migrants from Venezuela were provided with false info to induce them to board flights chartered by @RonDeSantisFL The documents suggest that the flights violated criminal law. 🧵

September 19th 2022277 Retweets1,128 Likes

Popular Information

The smoking gun in Martha’s Vineyard

Popular Information has obtained documentary evidence that migrants from Venezuela were provided with false information to convince them to board flights chartered by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R). The do…

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19 hours ago · 330 likes · 76 comments · Judd Legum

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Heather Cox RichardsonSep 18

In 1761, 55-year-old Benjamin Franklin attended the coronation of King George III and later wrote that he expected the young monarch’s reign would “be happy and truly glorious.” Then, in 1776, he helped to draft and then signed the Declaration of Independence. An 81-year-old man in 1787, he urged his colleagues at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to rally behind the new plan of government they had written. 

“I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them,” he said, “For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.”

The framers of the new constitution hoped it would fix the problems of the first attempt to create a new nation. During the Revolutionary War, the Second Continental Congress had hammered out a plan for a confederation of states, but with fears of government tyranny still uppermost in lawmakers’ minds, they centered power in the states rather than in a national government. 

The result—the Articles of Confederation—was a “firm league of friendship” among the 13 new states, overseen by a congress of men chosen by the state legislatures and in which each state had one vote. The new pact gave the federal government few duties and even fewer ways to meet them. Indicating their inclinations, in the first substantive paragraph the authors of the agreement said: “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.” 

Within a decade, the states were refusing to contribute money to the new government and were starting to contemplate their own trade agreements with other countries. An economic recession in 1786 threatened farmers in western Massachusetts with the loss of their farms when the state government in the eastern part of the state refused relief; in turn, when farmers led by Revolutionary War captain Daniel Shays marched on Boston, propertied men were so terrified their own property would be seized that they raised their own army for protection. 

The new system clearly could not protect property of either the poor or the rich and thus faced the threat of landless mobs. The nation seemed on the verge of tearing itself apart, and the new Americans were all too aware that both England and Spain were standing by, waiting to make the most of the opportunities such chaos would create.

And so, in 1786, leaders called for a reworking of the new government centered not on the states, but on the people of the nation represented by a national government. The document began, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union….” 

The Constitution established a representative democracy, a republic, in which three branches of government would balance each other to prevent the rise of a tyrant. Congress would write all “necessary and proper” laws, levy taxes, borrow money, pay the nation’s debts, establish a postal service, establish courts, declare war, support an army and navy, organize and call forth “the militia to execute the Laws of the Union” and “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” 

The president would execute the laws, but if Congress overstepped, the president could veto proposed legislation. In turn, Congress could override a presidential veto. Congress could declare war, but the president was the commander in chief of the army and had the power to make treaties with foreign powers. It was all quite an elegant system of paths and tripwires, really.

A judicial branch would settle disputes between inhabitants of the different states and guarantee every defendant a right to a jury trial.

In this system, the new national government was uppermost. The Constitution provided that “[t]he Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States,” and promised that “the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion….”

Finally, it declared: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

“I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such,” Franklin said after a weary four months spent hashing it out, “because I think a general Government necessary for us,” and, he said, it “astonishes me…to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our…States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another’s throats.” “On the whole,” he said to his colleagues, “I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility—and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.”

On September 17, 1787, they did.


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Heather Cox RichardsonSep 17

The big story in the news over the past couple of days is that Florida governor Ron DeSantis chartered two planes to fly about 50 migrants, most of whom were from Venezuela, to Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts.

The story is still developing. Although DeSantis is the governor of Florida, the migrants appear to have come from Texas, and it currently appears that they were lured onto the planes—paid for with taxpayer money—with the false promise of work and housing in New York City or Boston. In addition, there are allegations from a lawyer working with the migrants that officials from the Department of Homeland Security falsified information about the migrants to set them up for automatic deportation. As I write this, it is not clear what their actual status is: have they applied for asylum and been processed, or are they undocumented immigrants?

As Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo says, none of it adds up.

None of it, that is, except the politics. DeSantis apparently dispatched the migrants with a videographer to take images of them arriving, entirely unexpectedly, on the upscale island, presumably in an attempt to present the image that Democratic areas can’t handle immigrants (in fact, more than 12% of the island’s 17,000 full-time residents were born in foreign countries, and 22% of the residents are non-white). But the residents of the island greeted the migrants; found beds, food, and medical care; and worked with authorities to move them back to the mainland where there are support services and housing. In the meantime, there are questions about the legality of DeSantis chartering planes to move migrants from state to state.

There are two big stories behind DeSantis’s move.

First is that the Republicans are on the ropes over the Supreme Court’s June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision and the capture of the party by its MAGA wing. That slide into radical extremism means the party is contracting, but it is not clear at all that base voters will show up in the midterms without former president Trump on the ballot.

Rallying voters with threats of “aliens” swamping traditional society is a common tactic of right-wing politicians; it was the central argument that brought Hungary’s Viktor Orbán into his current authoritarian position. Republican governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona have been bussing migrants to Washington—about 10,000 of them—saying they would bring the immigrant issue to the doorsteps of Democrats. Now DeSantis is in on the trick.

Immigrants are nothing new to northern cities, of course. The U.S. is in a period of high immigration. Currently, 15% of the inhabitants of Washington, D.C., are foreign born, only slightly less than the 16.8% of the population of Texas that is foreign born. About 29% of the inhabitants of Boston come from outside U.S. borders, as do 36% of the inhabitants of New York City.

In the lead-up to the midterms, Republicans have tried to distract from their unpopular stands on abortion, contraception, marriage equality, and so on, by hammering on the idea that the Democrats have created “open borders”; that criminal immigrants are bringing in huge amounts of drugs, especially fentanyl; and that Biden is secretly flying undocumented immigrants into Republican states in the middle of the night. Beginning in July, they began to insist that the country is being “invaded.”

In fact, the border is not “open.” Fences, surveillance technology, and about 20,000 Border Patrol agents make the border more secure than it has ever been. That means apprehensions of undocumented migrants are up, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recording more than 3 million encounters at the border since January 2021. Those high numbers reflect people stopped from coming in and are artificially inflated because many who are stopped try again. CBP estimates that about 27% of those stopped at the border are repeat apprehensions.

Although much fentanyl is being stopped, some is indeed coming in, but through official ports of entry in large trucks or cars, not on individual migrants, who statistically are far less likely than native-born Americans to commit crimes. And the federal government is not secretly flying anyone anywhere (although, ironically, DeSantis is); U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sometimes moves migrants between detention centers, and CBP transfers unaccompanied children to the Department of Health and Human Services. These flights have been going on for years.

The second story is the history of American immigration, which is far more complicated and interesting than the current news stories suggest.

Mexican immigration is nothing new; our western agribusinesses were built on migrant labor of Mexicans, Japanese, and poor whites, among others, in the late 19th century. From the time the current border was set in 1848 until the 1930s, people moved back and forth across it without restrictions. But in 1965, Congress passed the Hart-Celler Act, putting a cap on Latin American immigration for the first time. The cap was low: just 20,000, although 50,000 workers were coming annually.

After 1965, workers continued to come as they always had, and to be employed, as always. But now their presence was illegal. In 1986, Congress tried to fix the problem by offering amnesty to 2.3 million Mexicans who were living in the U.S. and by cracking down on employers who hired undocumented workers. But rather than ending the problem of undocumented workers, the new law exacerbated it by beginning the process of militarizing the border. Until then, migrants into the United States had been offset by an equal number leaving at the end of the season. Once the border became heavily guarded, Mexican migrants refused to take the chance of leaving.

Then, in the 1990s, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) flooded Mexico with U.S. corn and drove Mexican farmers to find work in the American Southeast. This immigration boom had passed by 2007, when the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the United States began to decline as more Mexicans left the U.S. than came.

In 2013 a large majority of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, backed a bill to fix the disconnect caused by the 1965 law. In 2013, with a bipartisan vote of 68–32, the Senate passed a bill giving a 13-year pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, who would have to meet security requirements. It required employers to verify that they were hiring legal workers. It created a visa system for unskilled workers, and it got rid of preference for family migration in favor of skill-based migration. And it strengthened border security. It would have passed the House, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) refused to bring it up for a vote, aware that the issue of immigration would rally Republican voters.

But most of the immigrants coming over the southern border now are not Mexican migrants.

Beginning around 2014, people began to flee “warlike levels of violence” in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, coming to the U.S. for asylum. This is legal, although most come illegally, taking their chances with smugglers who collect fees to protect migrants on the Mexican side of the border and to get them into the U.S.

The Obama administration tried to deter migrants by expanding the detention of families, and it made significant investments in Central America in an attempt to stabilize the region by expanding economic development and promoting security. The Trump administration emphasized deterrence. It cut off support to Central American countries, worked with authoritarians to try to stop regional gangs, drastically limited the number of refugees the U.S. would admit, and—infamously—deliberately separated children from their parents to deter would-be asylum seekers.

The number of migrants to the U.S. dropped throughout Trump’s years in office. The Trump administration gutted immigration staff and facilities and then cut off immigration during the pandemic under Title 42, a public health order.

The Biden administration coincided with the easing of the pandemic and catastrophic storms in Central America, leading migration to jump, but the administration continued to turn migrants back under Title 42 and resumed working with Central American countries to stem the violence that is sparking people to flee. (In nine months, the Trump administration expelled more than 400,000 people under Title 42; in Biden’s first 18 months, his administration expelled 1.7 million people.)

The Biden administration sought to end Title 42 last May, but a lawsuit by Republican states led a federal judge in Louisiana to keep the policy in place. People arriving at the U.S. border have the right to apply for asylum even under Title 42.

There are a lot of moving pieces in the immigration debate: migrants need safety, the U.S. needs workers, our immigrant-processing systems are understaffed, and our laws are outdated. They need real solutions, not political stunts.


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Confederates, socialists, Capitol attackers: A 14th Amendment history lesson


The Washington Post

Gillian Brockell – 32m ago

A New Mexico judge ruled this week that a county commissioner was disqualified from holding office because he participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In ordering Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin removed from office, the judge cited a section of the 14th Amendment disqualifying any elected official “who, having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States,” has then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” The advocacy group that filed the lawsuit is also considering attempting to use it to disqualify former president Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential contest, according to the New York Times.

The disqualification clause, as it is sometimes called, was written in the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, in the brief period when Radical Republicans — some of the most progressive lawmakers in American history — held a majority and were determined to stop high-ranking Confederate traitors from returning to public office.

The amendment doesn’t specify who’s supposed to be enforcing it, so the responsibility has fallen to different bodies. Griffin was disqualified in court, but historically, Congress itself has sometimes taken votes to prevent elected members from being seated.

Two of those instances highlight the inconsistency of the clause’s application: the last time it was used successfully, nearly a century ago against antiwar lawmaker Victor Berger (who was not, by any standard definition, an insurrectionist), and when it was applied against former Confederate Zebulon Vance — who, like Berger, was allowed to waltz back into office once the political winds had shifted in his favor.

Sen. Zebulon Vance circa 1875.© Mathew Brady/Library of Congress

Vance grew up in a well-connected family that struggled financially but still enslaved more than a dozen people. After law school, he rose in the political ranks, first in the state senate and eventually as the youngest member of the 36th Congress, representing Asheville and the surrounding areas.

(Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who currently represents Asheville and was also the youngest member of his Congress, faced a lawsuit trying to disqualify him from Congress under the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit was dismissed as moot after Cawthorn lost his primary in May.)

As the march toward the Civil War escalated, Vance initially opposed secession but eventually served in the Confederate Army. He also served as the Confederate governor of North Carolina.

After the war, in 1870, he was appointed senator from North Carolina, but the Senate refused to seat him, citing the 14th Amendment. After spending two years in Washington trying to get an amnesty, he gave up.

Capitol statue collection gets first Black American, replacing Confederate

But only a few years later, Washington was handing out amnesty like candy, defeating the whole purpose of the clause. Vance got his in 1875 and was elected to the Senate three years later. Not only did he serve until his death in 1894; in a sense, he is still there today: A statue of Vance stands in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, a 1916 gift from North Carolina that Congress cannot legally remove unless the state decides to replace it.

Berger had a very different story, though he ended up in the same pickle as Vance. Born into a Jewish family in the Austrian empire, he immigrated to the United States as a young man in 1878. He became a successful publisher in Milwaukee of both English- and German-language newspapers.

Berger was a leading voice of the “Sewer Socialists,” who believed socialist objectives could be achieved through elections and good governance, no violent revolution necessary. Today, we would call this a “roads and bridges” platform; back then, it was working sewers and clean, city-owned water.

Socialists were winning U.S. elections long before Bernie Sanders and AOC

Berger served one term in Congress — the first-ever Socialist Party member — from 1911 to 1913, the high point being when he introduced the first bill for an old-age pension. (Nowadays we call that Social Security.) He didn’t win reelection, but he stayed active in Wisconsin politics and in publishing.

Then World War I began, and with it came the First Red Scare. Berger was against the war and said so in his editorials, and in 1918 that was enough for him to be charged with “disloyal acts” under the Espionage Act. He was running for Congress again while under indictment, and soon after he won the election that November, he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

The socialist who ran for president from prison — and won nearly a million votes

While out on appeal, Berger showed up in Washington to be sworn in. The House refused to seat him by a vote of 309-1, saying his words had “given aid or comfort” to enemies of the nation, and he was thus barred under the 14th Amendment.

In December 1919, he ran in the special election to replace himself, and incredibly, he won. The House refused him a second time. In 1921, Berger’s conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court, and he returned unfettered to Congress in 1922, where he served three terms, pushing legislation to crack down on lynching and to end Prohibition.


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