Archive for Sarah Stites

Despite Fascination with Russia, Nets Still Hardly Mention Chechen Gay Purge

It’s mid-way through Pride Month, a celebration of LGBT rights, but broadcast networks -- no strangers to condemning Russia -- are largely ignoring major human rights abuses against Chechnya’s gay community. This, while in 2014, NBC made 26 mentions of Russia’s anti-gay legislation.

Novaya Gazeta, a Russian news outlet, published an alarming April 1 report of government-led outing, capture and torture of gay and bisexual men in the predominantly Muslim Russian republic. Traumatized escapees described the nightmares of electrocution, beatings, imprisonment and even death.

Roughly two and a half months since the news broke, network coverage of what some have called an anti-gay genocide has been strangely sparse. While the April 23 segment of NBC’s Nightly News delved into the crisis, the big three networks never mentioned the barbaric acts on-air after that date – even when reports surfaced that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov wanted the gay community extinguished by the beginning of Ramadan (May 26).

Chechen officials, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, were quick to deny the accusations of any foul play, declaring that gay people simply did not exist. One Kadyrov spokesman implied that if they did exist, they’d be taken care of through honor killings.

And these do happen. On May 9, The Independent reported that a 17-year-old gay boy had been thrown to his death by his uncle, who sought to “wash the shame” away.

The network news shows’ near silence is disturbing; however, activists, human rights groups, and many media outlets have volubly condemned the atrocities.

But the outcry has proven somewhat effective. While Putin initially denied that gay men were being detained and tortured, international pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel did spur him to at least verbally commit to an investigation.

Meanwhile, French activist groups have brought the case to the International Criminal Court, calling the anti-gay pogrom a “genocide.”

Alexandre Marcel, the chairman of one of the groups, said, according to The Independent, that the ICC complaint was “the only way to pursue Nazi behavior” at the international level.

Tanya Lokshina, Human Rights Watch Russia Program Director, weighed in with input on the measures she feels should be taken.

“What needs to be done,” she explained in an HRW video, “is for Russia’s key international interlocutors to maintain pressure on the Kremlin, to urge the Kremlin to put a resolute end to that anti-gay purge so that it stops once and for all.”

On June 14, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) that he had not raised the issue with any Russian officials, although it was on the State Department’s “pending” list. Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May are among the world leaders who have held Putin to account.

But beyond verbal pressure, Lokshina also called for more practical means of aid.

“We call on Western governments to do their utmost to give sanctuary to the victims in their respective territories because [gay] people are not safe in Russia,” she urged.

Germany and Lithuania are among the nations that have welcomed them, while other countries are in talks to do so. However, it does not appear that the United States will be accepting any refugees. Although visa records are confidential, and it is therefore uncertain whether any were denied, Russian LGBT activists told BuzzFeed News that they didn’t have much hope after talks with the State Department.

Despite Fascination with Russia, Nets Still Hardly Mention Chechen Gay Purge

It’s mid-way through Pride Month, a celebration of LGBT rights, but broadcast networks -- no strangers to condemning Russia -- are largely ignoring major human rights abuses against Chechnya’s gay community. This, while in 2014, NBC made 26 mentions of Russia’s anti-gay legislation.

Novaya Gazeta, a Russian news outlet, published an alarming April 1 report of government-led outing, capture and torture of gay and bisexual men in the predominantly Muslim Russian republic. Traumatized escapees described the nightmares of electrocution, beatings, imprisonment and even death.

Roughly two and a half months since the news broke, network coverage of what some have called an anti-gay genocide has been strangely sparse. While the April 23 segment of NBC’s Nightly News delved into the crisis, the big three networks never mentioned the barbaric acts on-air after that date – even when reports surfaced that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov wanted the gay community extinguished by the beginning of Ramadan (May 26).

Chechen officials, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, were quick to deny the accusations of any foul play, declaring that gay people simply did not exist. One Kadyrov spokesman implied that if they did exist, they’d be taken care of through honor killings.

And these do happen. On May 9, The Independent reported that a 17-year-old gay boy had been thrown to his death by his uncle, who sought to “wash the shame” away.

The network news shows’ near silence is disturbing; however, activists, human rights groups, and many media outlets have volubly condemned the atrocities.

But the outcry has proven somewhat effective. While Putin initially denied that gay men were being detained and tortured, international pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel did spur him to at least verbally commit to an investigation.

Meanwhile, French activist groups have brought the case to the International Criminal Court, calling the anti-gay pogrom a “genocide.”

Alexandre Marcel, the chairman of one of the groups, said, according to The Independent, that the ICC complaint was “the only way to pursue Nazi behavior” at the international level.

Tanya Lokshina, Human Rights Watch Russia Program Director, weighed in with input on the measures she feels should be taken.

“What needs to be done,” she explained in an HRW video, “is for Russia’s key international interlocutors to maintain pressure on the Kremlin, to urge the Kremlin to put a resolute end to that anti-gay purge so that it stops once and for all.”

On June 14, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) that he had not raised the issue with any Russian officials, although it was on the State Department’s “pending” list. Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May are among the world leaders who have held Putin to account.

But beyond verbal pressure, Lokshina also called for more practical means of aid.

“We call on Western governments to do their utmost to give sanctuary to the victims in their respective territories because [gay] people are not safe in Russia,” she urged.

Germany and Lithuania are among the nations that have welcomed them, while other countries are in talks to do so. However, it does not appear that the United States will be accepting any refugees. Although visa records are confidential, and it is therefore uncertain whether any were denied, Russian LGBT activists told BuzzFeed News that they didn’t have much hope after talks with the State Department.

WashPost Highlights Children of Rape: ‘Defying Expectations’ of Life Defined By Tragedy

While many liberal media outlets and activists push an abortion-without-apology perspective, nearly all promote the view that abortion is justified in cases of sexual violence. Thus, it was refreshing when Washington Post reporter Danielle Paquette took a pro-life tone in her report of the stories of young men and women born through the tragedy of rape.

In the 1994 civil war that ravaged Rwanda, roughly 250,000 women were raped and 20,000 children born as a result. Now, as those children have come of age, many are defying the odds and proving that all life – even life conceived through sexual violence – has beauty and potential.

While the Tutsi genocide resulted in horrific trauma, and many of the victims and their children still suffer from poverty, HIV and psychological distress, young Rwandans like Angel are working to pursue their dreams and contribute to the world.

When she was younger, Angel’s mother Jacqueline tried to poison her. She rejected her and refused to call Angel her own. After all, Jacqueline had been happily married with two children when the Civil War began; by its end, she was left with HIV and an unwanted child who reminded her of the trauma she had endured.

A pattern of love and hate continued until the duo were able to begin therapy with Foundation Rwanda, where Jacqueline became a Christian. At that point, Paquette wrote, Jacqueline felt that her child was a gift and not a curse.

Mother and daughter both have HIV, but they have medicine for their bodies and hope in their souls. And they are not the only story of redemption in Rwanda, or the many other countries that have faced the horrors of war crimes.

According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans, including many who would call themselves pro-life, believe it should be legal to terminate a pregnancy caused by rape. But activists argue that abortion only intensifies the pain of sexual violence.

At the 2012 March for Life, MRC Culture interviewed several women conceived through rape, whose stories are often censored by the media.

“Even those in the pro-life movement think it’s OK to abort me,” speaker Mary Rathke said. “Because I hear all the time, ‘I’m pro-life, except in the case of rape.’ I’m really hearing, ‘I’m pro-life, except in the case of Mary Rathke.”

“Just because my father was a rapist doesn’t mean I don’t deserve life,” she stressed.

Travon Clifton, who used to be pro-choice, quickly changed her mind when she discovered the truth of her own past.

“I realized that when I was supporting the exception [for rape or incest], I was consenting to my own death,” she explained.

“If we look at the message that society says, it says we are expendable,” she continued. “It says that there’s really no value in us, as if we were some kind of mistake.”

Rebecca Kiessling, president of the pro-life group “Save the 1” Campaign condemned the media slant in abortion coverage.

“There’s definitely a lot of media bias out there, especially against a child of rape. They don’t ever want to talk about a woman with a story,” she lamented. “We get called horrible names. They never want to put a face to the issue.”

They don’t usually. But kudos to The Post for not only putting faces to the issue, but doing it well.

Boko Haram Back in the News: Two Abducted Girls Graduate from American High School

For two Nigerian girls, tragedy spurred a desire to impact the world for good.

Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu—abducted by terrorist group Boko Haram in April 2014—just graduated from Oregon’s Canyonville Christian Academy. From the bright smiles on their faces as they proudly displayed their diplomas, you’d never know the trauma they had overcome to get to that point.

While attending boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria, the girls and more than 250 of their classmates were woken in the night to chants of “Allahu Akbar.” After burning the school, the Boko Haram terrorists marched the students to trucks and forced them to climb in.

Terrified but determined to escape, Bishara and Pogu resolved to jump off the truck under cover of the dust storm the vehicles had produced during the drive. After successfully accomplishing this, the girls ran and ran until a kind man took them in. Still fearing recapture, they managed to connect with a human rights group in Virginia – the Jubilee Campaign – and eventually made it to the States, where they avidly pursued their education.

Doug Wead, president of Canyonville Christian Academy, told People that the girls were “amazingly” and “stubbornly focused.”

“They’re determined to outwit their captors by turning their grisly nightmare into something hugely triumphant.”

In the fall, both girls will attend Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. Pogu wants to be a lawyer to be a voice for the voiceless, and Bishara aspires to be a doctor to save people’s lives.

During her graduation address, Bishara spoke beautiful words of hope and forgiveness.

“I forgive the people who hurt me,” she said. “I have nothing against them. I am praying for the return of my classmates to their parents.”

Is the Media Missing the Real War on Women?

Human interest stories like Bishara and Pogu’s are bound to get media attention, but in the three years since Boko Haram first captured the Chibok girls, coverage of the situation has become increasingly sparse.

While American media focuses on the so-called “war on women” here in the States, real human rights abuses like female genital mutilation, forced marriage, rape and abduction are happening to women across the globe. The media needs to talk more about the latter.

“This is a story that really kind of splashed across international headlines … when it originally happened,” Open Doors USA Advocacy Director Kristin Wright told MRC Culture of the Chibok girls. “And now, what have we heard from this over the last three years? Almost nothing.”

Although Boko Haram released 82 of the girls last month, hundreds of other abducted Nigerian children are still missing. In March 2017, Human Rights Watch Nigeria Senior Researcher Mausi Segun wrote that parents of the children had not heard anything from the government after they sent a list with names of all the missing.

This is an alarming fact, considering the sheer brutality of the captors, who kill or indoctrinate men and utilize sexual slavery as a “tactic of terror” against women, according to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“Extremist groups are using sexual violence as a means of attracting and retaining fighters, and to generate revenue,” Ki-moon said at a June 2016 security council session.

Furthermore, they want the women they rape to become pregnant, in order to pass on their warped beliefs to offspring.

“These people have a certain spiritual conviction that any child they father will grow to inherit their ideology,” Kashim Shettima, the governor of Nigeria’s Borno region explained.

If the progressive media outlets talked at greater length about these monstrosities, what they perceive as the Trump administration's “war on women” wouldn’t seem quite so bad. 

Despite Fascination with Russia, Nets Still Hardly Mention Chechen Gay Purge

It’s mid-way through Pride Month, a celebration of LGBT rights, but broadcast networks -- no strangers to condemning Russia -- are largely ignoring major human rights abuses against Chechnya’s gay community. This, while in 2014, NBC made 26 mentions of Russia’s anti-gay legislation.

LGBT Trump Supporters: Pride Month Shouldn’t Be Partisan

The LGBT community is anything but monolithic—after all, its symbol is the rainbow. But when it comes to political ideology, Republicans often feel left out. While June is technically Pride Month, this year’s celebrations have focused more on resistance. And that, as NPR digital news intern Christianna Silva pointed out, has alienated many Trump supporters and right-leaning LGBT folks.

Nets Practically Ignore 3-Week ISIS Siege in Philippines

Marawi, a predominantly Muslim stronghold on the heavily Catholic island of Mindanao, has been racked by ISIS-inspired terrorism and violence since May 23. Yet, in the three weeks since that date, the big three networks have spent a mere 25 seconds discussing the conflict on-air.

Nets Focus on Comey, Ignore Mosul Civilian Death Spike

According to the BBC, the past two weeks have been bloody ones in the ISIS-controlled city. Although Iraqi forces have been able to recapture Mosul’s eastern section, nearly 1,000 ISIS militants and 100,000 civilians remain in the west. While attempting escape, many of the latter have been shot down and used as human shields by ISIS snipers. Since May 26, 231 civilians were murdered in what the UN called a “significant escalation of such killings.” 204 of those individuals were killed within a span of three days.

House Condemns Genocide; Acts to Bring Aid, Justice to ISIS-Persecuted

Even while the big three broadcast networks have been reticent to use the word “genocide” to describe the Islamic State’s assault against Christians in the Middle East, Congress has moved far beyond talk. At a press conference this morning, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) commended the House for its swift and unanimous passage of H.R. 390, a bill he sponsored to bring practical aid to the persecuted and justice to the persecutors.

FDR’s D-Day Prayer: ‘By Thy Grace, Our Sons Will Triumph’

As one of the most iconic moments in American history, D-day always gets media commemoration. But here’s something that many mainstream outlets won’t highlight: former president and liberal darling Franklin Roosevelt firmly believed that God guided the U.S. in its dark hour in order to preserve “our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.”

Tortured Iraqi Pastor: ‘Genocide’ Is a ‘Polite Word’

For Father Douglas al-Bazi, the terms “genocide” and “persecution” don’t even begin to describe the horrors his people have faced in the Christian community of Northern Iraq. And yet, the media are still reticent to use to g-word. At the World Summit for the Defense of Persecuted Christians earlier last month, al-Bazi talked with MRC Culture about torture, forgiveness, the decimation of his people and the need for action, not words. 

Civil Rights Attorney Condemns Forcing Pregnancy Centers to Advertise Abortion

According to some liberal media outlets and activist groups, crisis pregnancy centers are misleading, coercive and dangerous to women. Now, because of this false narrative, one such center is facing a lawsuit that strikes at the very core of freedom of conscience and speech. 

Despite What Liberal Media Say, Hostility to Religion in America Is ‘Undeniable’

Although the liberal media often downplay attacks against the faithful, a new report released this week presents incontrovertible proof that the U.S. government is increasingly hostile to religion. In “Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America,” First Liberty Institute listed more than 1200 government-initiated attacks on religion in 2016 alone. The report divides these cases into four spheres – the public arena, the schoolhouse, churches and ministries and the military. 

Tale of Two Cities: Nets Cover Manchester 20x More Than Ongoing ISIS Raid in Marawi

The ISIS cancer is slowly metastasizing into Southeast Asia, but you wouldn’t know it from the lack of network coverage. While last week’s terrorism in the Philippines got a total of one mention from ABC’s Good Morning America, the Manchester bombing was mentioned in twenty different network broadcasts. 

Huff Post: Late Night TV Might Be ‘Deepening Divides’

The Trump administration has given late night TV new life. But for all their digs at the president, Stephen Colbert and his ilk aren’t doing much better than POTUS at bringing the country together. 

Former Media Exec: When Portraying Vets, Hollywood ‘Rarely Gets It Right’

While some media critics have stressed the importance of accurately representing minorities and LGBT folks on entertainment TV, there’s a whole other subset of America that isn’t being portrayed with the nuance it deserves: veterans.  

Former Media Exec: When Portraying Vets, Hollywood ‘Rarely Gets It Right’

While some media critics have stressed the importance of accurately representing minorities and LGBT folks on entertainment TV, there’s a whole other subset of America that isn’t being portrayed with the nuance it deserves: veterans.  

Feminists Applaud ‘Dirty Dancing’ Abortion: ‘We Need This Reboot’

Feminist writers have recently pushed for more and better representations of abortion on-screen. Now, they’re cheering on ABC’s remake of Dirty Dancing as just the movie we needed. “Dirty Dancing is, was, and will forever be a movie about abortion,” wrote Harper’s Bazaar contributor Kaitlin Menza. In the classic film set in 1963, protagonist Baby covers for dancer Penny, who is suffering from complications after a pre-Roe v. Wade illegal abortion. That fact is integral to plotline, as it sets the stage for Baby getting swept off her feet by dance instructor Johnny. 

Nets Shrug at Pence’s Notre Dame Remarks, Hype Obama’s 2009 Speech

Invite a politician to speak for commencement, and there’s bound to be protests. But the networks find some collegiate controversies more newsworthy than others.

Liberal Media Shrug at Progressive Yale Dean Who Scorned ‘White Trash’

When a seemingly inclusive Yale educator revealed her true colors online, the Washington Post ran the story. But most left-leaning media outlets were notably silent. After all, liberals who condemn “white trash” are pretty embarrassing to the progressive movement. 

These Mother’s Day Ads Celebrate a Trait All Moms Share

Moms wear so many hats, but there’s a quality they all share: strength. In their Mother’s Day ads, two brands heartwarmingly highlighted this trait. 

The Rock: Running for President a ‘Real Possibility’

After telling Vanity Fair last November that he wouldn’t “rule out” a presidential run, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is getting a bit more serious about the idea. In an extended interview with GQ writer Caity Weaver, America’s highest-paid actor said that running was a “real possibility.” Ultimately, he sees it as a great opportunity to help people. He’s a proud American too, so passionate about the troops that he hosted a large holiday event last Christmas to honor them. 

Celebs React to Comey Firing: ‘Take Down’ that ‘Slimy Unethical Orange Blob’

When describing the relationship between celebrities and former FBI Director James Comey, the answer is: it’s complicated. On Tuesday evening, President Trump shocked the nation by firing the Bureau leader after a recommendation from the Attorney General and Deputy AG. Yet, many celebrities pointed out the suspicious timing of the termination, noting that Trump is currently under FBI investigation. 

Ominous: ISIS Cautions Muslims to Stay Away From Christian Meetings

As devastating as Egypt’s Palm Sunday bombings were, the country’s Coptic Christian community is bracing for further violence to come. On Friday morning, Newsweek reported that an ISIS leader had ominously cautioned Muslims to stay away from Egyptian Christian meetings. 

Celebs Warn GOP ‘Will Pay’ for AHCA: ‘F**k These Smirking, Entitled Frauds’

Although the Trump administration's new healthcare bill has yet to pass the Senate, Hollywood stars have already vowed revenge on the GOP. 

ACLU: Colleges ‘Fundamentally Failing’ Students, ‘Need to Defend Speech We Hate’

On many college campuses, free speech comes with the caveat: say what you want, as long as it doesn’t offend the liberal majority. And if it does, you can expect virulent protests in return, such as the riot that led to the injury of a professor at Middlebury College when social scientist Richard Murray was slated to speak. 

Nets Quiet: Sources Say Chechen Gov Seeks to Eliminate Gay Community by May 26

Although the networks have given ample airtime to “marriage equality,” “anti-gay” religious freedom bills and transgender bathroom policies, they’re hardly covering the truly grave oppression of the LGBT community in Chechnya. In this predominantly Muslim Russian province, gay and bisexual men are living on borrowed time. According to one report, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has vowed to eliminate them by the end of May. It has been one month since Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta first published a report on the government’s violence toward the Chechen LGBT community. Yet, stunningly, the evening network shows have given the human rights violations little coverage, devoting only one NBC Nightly News segment to the oppression. 

Media, Activists, Hollywood Remember Ellen’s Coming Out: ‘We All Need To Be Ellens’

Twenty years ago today, Ellen DeGeneres revealed her sexual identity on network TV. In 1997, the media climate was not nearly as welcoming to LGBT people as it is now; however, as proven by the countless articles published commemorating her bravery, times have clearly changed. Today, LGBT content is not only accepted, but celebrated. 

Dr. Oz Cites Chelsea Handler Tweet Attacking New Trump Pregnancy: ‘Harsh Words, Even If Stoned’

Eric Trump doesn’t seemed bothered by Chelsea Handler’s rude comment about his unborn son. Honestly, he thinks it’s “just sad.” On April 25, the Trump and his wife Lara joined Dr. Oz to talk about the impending birth of their first child, living in the spotlight and their passion for stopping puppy mills. 

Chris Pratt: Hollywood Doesn’t Represent Blue-Collar Voices

According to American sweetheart Chris Pratt, Hollywood isn’t doing a good job representing Middle America. In an interview with Men’s Fitness writer Jim Schmaltz, the beloved actor expressed some thoughts on political division and media representation. And he’s a good one to talk—because people will listen. According to Schmaltz, although the list of things Americans can agree upon is getting shorter by the day, almost everyone loves Pratt. 

Huff (Puff?) Post Highlights Denver’s New International Church of Cannabis

In a Denver church that opened today, the term “high priest” takes on a whole new meaning. After all, according to a Huffington Post article, marijuana is the congregation’s “holy sacrament.” April 20 is weed day, and the liberal media have made an over-the-top effort to highlight the drug. But amidst articles on cannabis cocktails and weed-growing “nuns,” the Huffington Post’s piece on Denver’s new International Church of Cannabis might just be the most disturbing.  

After Yachting With Obama, Springsteen Releases Anti-Trump Protest Song

Bruce Springsteen has had a busy week. After vacationing with Oprah, the Obamas and other celebrity guests aboard billionaire David Geffen’s yacht, the man of the people released a protest song calling Donald Trump a “conman.” 

Nat Geo Is Producing a Birth Control Doc

National Geographic is delving into hot-button social issues for a second time this year with its announcement of a new drama “The Birth of the Pill.” According to an exclusive statement released to The Hollywood Reporter, the documentary will follow a group of four activists who “took on the scientific establishment, the church and cultural norms in their fight to make safe and effective contraception available to millions of women.”

Joy Behar: ‘Trouble-Making’ Parents Object to Transgender Bathroom Usage

The Evancho siblings have earned lots of news coverage this year. Sixteen-year-old Jackie was criticized by the LGBT community for singing the national anthem at Donald Trump’s inauguration, largely because her older sibling Juliet is transgender. 

CBS Censors Vice Mayor’s Anti-White Tweets in Confederate Story

Charlottesville, Virginia, residents are battling over whether Confederate statues should be removed from city grounds. But one official advocating for their elimination has a rather sordid social media history that CBS tried to hide. 

CNN Highlights Woman ‘Engaged’ to Robot: ‘Love Is Love’

To the liberals who cleave to the mantra “love is love,” all that matters in a relationship is consent. So whether it’s BDSM, a threesome or marriage to a robot, anything goes. On April 14, CNN Money promoted the latter by highlighting the world of “robosexuals” – people romantically or sexually attracted to bots – which incidentally can’t consent. 

Colbert Reflects on Trump’s Election: Like Forcing Audience to Watch Execution

Although election night was the beginning of an upward surge in popularity for Late Show host Stephen Colbert, he found the prospect of announcing a Trump victory comparable to forcing his audience to watch an execution. 

Dove Ad Features Transgender Mom: ‘No One Right Way’

Just like entertainment media, advertisements have the power to both shape and reflect the culture. While capitalizing on social trends, brand experts are pushing to mainstream controversial themes – and Dove soap is the latest to participate with a transgender star. Earlier this month, Dove released an ad with a transgender “mother” as part of its new #RealMoms campaign celebrating motherhood.  

Katy Perry Is Pumped That Hillary Wore Her Heels: ‘OMG I LOVE HER SO MUCH’

Hillary Clinton and pop star Katy Perry, both born on October 26, have a special bond. So special, in fact, that Perry even dressed up like Clinton for Halloween (face mask and all). But now, Clinton is trying life in Perry’s shoes. 

These Ten Stars Are Promoting Armenian Genocide Film ‘The Promise’

After surviving a targeted effort by Turkish lobbies to derail its success, the Armenian Genocide film The Promise will open in American theaters next week. And Hollywood celebs are getting the word out. 

Stars Pledge to #KeepThePromise

After surviving a targeted effort by Turkish lobbies to derail its success, the Armenian Genocide film The Promise will open in American theaters next week. And Hollywood celebs are getting the word out. 

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