Category Archives: Politics

Saturday is “Neal Adams Day” in Syracuse

Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con is excited to announce that the Honorable Stephanie A. Miner, Mayor of the City of Syracuse, has proclaimed Saturday, June 24, to be “Neal Adams Day”.

Neal Adams, the prolific and trend-setting comic artist, is best known for his groundbreaking comic art on characters like Batman, Green Arrow, Superman and the X-Men. Adams is respected for his innovative work in advertising and his passionate efforts championing creators’ rights. Adams is the Guest of Honor at Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con this weekend, June 24th and 25th.

The proclamation recognizes that “Neal Adams has been inspiring generations with his skills and vision for the past five decades in comics, graphic novels, and advertising, with his artistic trailblazing, integrity and innovation.

Neal Adams will be meeting fans at his exhibition booth on the showroom floor during this two-day event in downtown Syracuse’s Oncenter.

Our own Brett Schenker will moderate the highly anticipated Neal Adams Panel Discussion Sunday in the Oncenter’s “Hall of Justice” from noon to 1:00 pm.

Neal Adams will also be making a pre-show appearance at Larger Than Life Toys & Comics in the Great Northern Mall in Clay, NY. The event is scheduled from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Thursday, June 22nd and there is no admission fee.

Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con, celebrating its fourth year, moves to the Oncenter’s War Memorial building in downtown Syracuse this weekend, June 24th and 25th. This pop-culture convention focuses on comics, toys, games, cosplay and collectibles. Pre-sale tickets are available online.

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Join the Wonder Woman Tweet Chat with #PopPoliticsChat this Wednesday

Wonder Woman is a cultural phenomenon from playgrounds to Hollywood. A character and then movie designed with feminist intent has captivated audiences and become this summer’s biggest hit.

What does Wonder Woman have to say about women’s struggles with patriarchy and which bullets of oppression does she fail to deflect with her magic bracelets?

How are fans already using the movie to organize for women’s empowerment and can the movie be an entry point for better representation moving forward? Can Wonder Woman live up to her potential and can organizers use the box office hit to promote an agenda of social change?

Join us to discuss these questions and more on Twitter for the next #PopPoliticsChat on Wednesday, June 21st at 9 pm ET.

The panelists:

Anita Jackson is MomsRising’s Digital Communications Director. MomsRising.org is an on-the-ground and online grassroots organization of more than a million people who are working to achieve economic security for all moms, women, and families in the US. Anita leads creative communications campaigns that center marginalized voices, support policy-changing grassroots action, and drive organizational growth. Anita’s work on strategic intersectional communication is integrated with every campaign. On Twitter as @Anita_Sarah

Cher Martinetti is a NYC based entertainment & pop culture journalist, humor writer, and host. She’s the founder & managing editor of Syfy Wire’s Fangrrls, a female centric genre vertical on Syfy Wire that launched in 2016. She’s the host of the popular podcast The Churn, the official post-show wrap-up podcast of Syfy’s critically acclaimed space opera The Expanse. In 2017 she cofounded Legion of Women Writers: a professional networking group for women writers that aims to address various issues women writers face in the workplace, such as sexism, sexual harassment, equal pay, and representation in media. On Twitter as @TheCherness

Caitlin Rosberg is a writing, knitting, tea drinking, baking machine with all the requisite robotic enhancements. She is obsessed with her dog and b-list comic book characters named Jim. A regular at Ladies’ Night at Graham Cracker Comics in the Loop, she’s also an editor and counter-of-beans for the Ladies’ Night Anthology, as well as a contributor to the A.V. Club’s Comics Panel. She likes talking and writing about the importance of safe spaces in nerd culture, how to start your own ladies’ night, independent publishing, and diversity in comic books. Ask her about Rhodey. On Twitter as @crosberg.

Suggested Reading/Listening:

Thank Goddess Wonder Woman isn’t Straight: Towards a Better DCEU.  (Comics Beat)  

Graphic Policy Podcast. Wonder Woman: Sex, Race and Walking Away From Explosions Like a Badass.

My Soul Looks Back and Wonders: A Critical Examination of the Wonder Woman Movie  (Son of Baldwin)

The Revolution Won’t Be Saved By Wonder Woman — And That’s Okay  (The Establishment)

Wonder Woman Refuses to Celebrate Violence (Graphic Policy)

On Baseball, Bipartisanship, and Looney Tunes

On Thursday night, Democrats beat Republicans by a score of 11-2 in an annual charity baseball game. And if this were normal political reporting, that would be the only thing that mattered. Scoreboard, scoreboard, scoreboard.

Congressional Leaders at baseball game

Who are these jerks, anyway?

Because it’s simple for the media to report basic facts: polls, standings, vote counts. But think about your life– is there a series of metrics or key performance indicators that can truly reflect your life, your work, your relationships, or the things that really matter? And yet that is how most of us view Congress– through the endless fascination with the scoreboard.

Herein, in my inaugural article (I promise I’ll start talking about movies, comics, and TV soon), I want to talk about baseball, I want to talk about partisanship and the twin-headed dragon that brought us here, and also how, of all things, Looney Tunes offers us a way forward– past just scoreboard, scoreboard, scoreboard.

Because this annual charity baseball game is so much more. Members of Congress describe it as one of the highlights of their year, building important bipartisan relationships. Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA) choked up in a segment on NPR describing his *gasp!* friendship with Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan: “I’ve struck him out on a curve ball a couple of years ago, and every time we see each other, we talk about that. And he just came up and gave me a hug. And it is – it tells you how much we share that’s just something away from this.” (emphasis added)

Decrying “partisanship” is not new– it was well documented in numerous academic articles and journalistic exposes, including Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin in her 2007 book Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship Is Poisoning the House of Representatives, where she noted Democrats and Republicans don’t even go to the same cocktail parties any more. People long for the days when Speaker Tip O’Neill and President Ronald Reagan would get together for drinks.

Bipartisanship seems the cause celebre of every would-be “centrist” “thought leader” inside the DC bubble who claims that both sides are equally as fault and if only everyone was just “nice” to each other, things would be ok. This is not that article.

Because it not only views relatively recent history through rose-colored glasses, but also paints an unrealistic expectation of what we want and what we desire. Responding to his father being namechecked by both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the 2012 debates, Tip O’Neill’s son pointed out the many ways his father fought Reagan and his agenda tooth and nail.

So, what changed? Did we change? Have we gotten meaner? Who started this slide towards more partisanship?

Rather than cast blame immediately (duh, everyone knows it’s the Republicans’ fault!) I’d rather talk about systemic issues that poison the environment for everyone, making a charity baseball game the rarity rather than the norm. Those two systemic issues are money and gerrymandering.

The amount of money flowing into our elections has exploded. The cost of Congressional Elections has nearly doubled since the 1990s, and had its largest jump between the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. What happened then? Citizens United v FEC, of course. And it’s worth noting we don’t even know how much money has been spent by SuperPACs since then, as none of that spending has to be disclosed.

The average member of Congress spends far more time in their work week dialing for dollars and less time actually governing– with the parties demanding they spend 30 hours a week dialing for dollars and being told to raise ridiculous sums like $18,000 dollars per day.

And, of course, who gives money and what motivates donors? Stories of bipartisan cooperation? Or shows of bravado and signalling your opposition to the other side? If your issue is (abortion, taxes, health care), you will not be motivated to help someone who is “selling out” to, cooperating with the other side– you will fund a filibusterer if it prevents your most hated bill from becoming law. This creates and reinforces the in-group/out-group dynamic that turns political parties into merely the teams wearing the other jersey.

And the second issue is gerrymandering. With members of Congress increasingly likely to live in “safe” districts whose only real challenge could come in the primary, you have every incentive to be as far right or far left as possible. Rarely do primary challengers win based on the idea that “we just need to work with the other side more.”

And so these issues, since they are systemic, exist in both parties. But, rather than fall trap to the fallacy that since both sides have the problem they are both equally at fault, let’s be very clear that the overwhelming beneficiaries of more money and more gerrymandering have been Republicans. And very few of them, and none in their leadership, are working on campaign finance reform or redistricting reform. Indeed, many are flatly opposed.

But it doesn’t have to be like this.

By removing Big Money and Gerrymandering from the system, we can remove at least some of the systemic issues that keep Republicans and Democrats from working together. But I mentioned Looney Tunes, and that’s where I’m going to end.

Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf are two slightly less-well-known characters from the Chuck Jones classic era, and folks will notice the similarities between Ralph and Wile Coyote. But the key conceit of these cartoons is that Sam and Ralph live together, are friends, and then punch the clock and are immediately working at cross-purposes– usually to inflict violence upon the other.

It is definitely naive to think our politics can be this way. But it’s a nice dream. I’m not saying it’s possible, I’m saying it is worth striving for and far superior to our present situation.

I don’t want our politics to be some mealy-mouthed wishy-washy bland amalgam of discourse, any moreso than I would want to go to a baseball game to see weak hitting, poor pitching, and incompetent fielding. Give me the best– a real challenge of wills with everyone bringing their best. I want grand debates about real issues, and the best ideas clashing against the best issues. I want Republicans and Democrats at each others’ rhetorical throats reminiscent of other great debates among great thinkers in our past.

But I don’t want them to hate each other. I don’t want us to hate each other. And this week– hell, these last six months  several years– we’ve seen what happens when we allow infantile debate and personal vitriol to replace grand ideas.

We should be Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf– and when the workday is over, we punch the clock and go have a drink together. We should be the Yankees and the Red Sox during a tight pennant race. We should try to overcome those things that divide us so a single yearly baseball game isn’t the only highlight members of Congress look forward to where they forge real relationships among political rivals.

Play ball.

MAD Magazine, Get MAD About Trump!

Are you MAD About Trump? There is no president in American history more deserving of being mercilessly mocked, relentlessly ridiculed and savagely satirized than Donald Trump. Luckily, MAD Magazine is here to do the job! #MADaboutTrump 

An all-out comedic assault on the most idiotic idiot ever to reach the White House (George W. Bush and visitors included)! In these 128 pages, is a full-out assail to the chief, spoofing every aspect of Donald Trump’s career.

eaturing a foreword by CNN correspondent Jake Tapper, this book offers MAD’s best reprinted material with the sharpest satiric shots at “The Donald,” comically chronicling his rise from obnoxious businessman to really obnoxious reality show host to uber obnoxious “Commander-in-Tweet.” It’s going to be very, very, very good. Very good.

Please note: MAD will not offer refunds on this book in the likely event of President Trump’s impeachment. Sad!

MAD About Trump: A Brilliant Look at Our Brainless President will be available in bookstores everywhere on Tuesday, June 20th.

Live Long and Run for Congress? Star Trek Actor Running for Congress.

Actor J.G. Hertzler, who played Klingon General Martok on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is running for Congress against Rep. Tom Reed in New York’s 23rd District which extends along New York’s border with Pennsylvania from the shores of Lake Erie in Chautauqua County to the suburbs of Binghamton in Tioga County. Hertzler filed last week with the Federal Elections Commission to run as a

In the announcement, he said he “disagree(s) with everything Reed supports, including his unrelenting support of Trumpster.”

Hertzler filed last week with the Federal Elections Commission to run as a Demcorat for the seat.

But, there’s a twist!

Hertzler will be making appearances some times as himself and some times as Mark Twain. Hertzler sees this as a “valentine” to Samuel Clemens who used the pen name of Twain. Hertzler sees Twain as a brilliant humorist for all ages.

Hertzler is currently an elected town board member in Ulysses, NY.

(via The Hill)

Wonder Woman Refuses to Celebrate Violence

by Jill Raney

I love superhero movies. Like, my love for superhero movies borders on obsessive. (I saw Ant-Man on opening night. I already know what I’m doing for Valentine’s Day next year, and it’s seeing Black Panther. I will never, ever forgive Joss Whedon for Age of Ultron.) And I fracking love Wonder Woman, which may come as a surprise to some who know me for my work against Israel‘s occupation of the Palestinians.

First, Wonder Woman is an actual good superhero movie. It has an actual plot, several characters grow and change in meaningful ways, and the fight scenes are meaningful parts of all that plot and character development. Superhero movies are starting to ruin themselves, and it’s so satisfying to see a superhero movie use its tropes to tell a genuinely great story.

But more than that, it’s a superhero movie that doesn’t glorify violence. It’s an explicitly feminist superhero movie that doesn’t argue that women joining in on militarism is feminist — because feminism instead requires honoring every person’s humanity. Wonder Woman manages to make a coherent, compelling argument that violence doesn’t fix anything. Wonder Woman shows us that killing someone might stop that person from killing others, but killing someone doesn’t have the power to end suffering. Only loving each other, strategically, even when it’s hard, can do that.

This message is especially meaningful because Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot served in the Israel Defense Forces and makes a point to speak positively of her military experience, ignoring that her military service was a contribution to Israel’s decades-long military occupation of the Palestinians. As she told The Daily Beast, “I want people to have a good impression of Israel”.  (Loving problematic things is hard, and I respect the hell out of people who are skipping Wonder Woman because of Gal Gadot’s politics.)

I’m glad the talents behind Wonder Woman decided to alter the canon to tell a story of World War I, again for two reasons.  First, it makes it a better movie, because there’s already a great superhero movie about a hyper-competent brunette soldier and her boyfriend Steve who dies in an airplane in World War II. (Seriously, Wonder Woman manages to feel so fresh despite sharing many plot points with Captain America: The First Avenger. See: the hero gaining military training by subterfuge, a disfigured science-y supervillain who wears a mask, the romantic leads’ witty banter about sex and military tactics, the hero undertaking an unauthorized rescue mission and stopping the enemy’s chemical warfare alongside their international and racially diverse hand-picked special forces unit, a battlefield goodbye to doomed romance, a solemn celebration of the end of the war, etc. At least Diana and her Steve got laid, sorry Peggy and other Steve.)

But more than that, it gives the movie room to breathe that it might not have were its Israeli actress fighting Nazis on screen.

Extremely valid Jewish trauma from the Holocaust was the most reasonable of causes for many Jews to move to Palestine after World War II. Extremely valid Jewish trauma from the Holocaust, generations later, is much of what Jewish institutions throw in our faces unreasonably when a Jew speaks out against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians. (Coincidentally, that’s what I was doing the same day as I saw Wonder Woman — and shortly before I crashed the Celebrate Israel Parade to hold a “No Celebration with Occupation” banner with IfNotNow, I saw a parade spectator wearing a “Magneto Was Right” t-shirt, which is a whole other essay about Jewish Holocaust trauma and troubling relationships to violence.)

Gal Gadot, with her decidedly non-English name, is visibly Jewish in a way her comic book actress contemporaries Natalie Portman (Thor’s genius girlfriend Jane Foster) and Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff, who deserves her own Black Widow trilogy) are not. Surely many of us might feel some satisfaction to watch a famously Jewish actress punch Nazis in the face. But I suspect that, were Wonder Woman set in World War II, we would not have seen Diana be so forgiving to German soldiers once the immediate threat had passed. And that would have made Wonder Woman a lesser movie.

Diana seeks to kill Ares, believing that destroying him will end humanity’s inhumanity. She kills General Ludendorff, mistaking him for Ares, and finally kills Ares himself, but she spares Doctor Maru, whose supervillainous mustard gas had killed the villagers Diana had saved just days before. She spares the German soldiers who survived her battle with Ares. Diana knows that more killing will not end inhumanity, only love can do that.

The Israeli government and mainstream Jewish institutions refuse to allow our community to forgive, to spare those perceived as enemies, and that institutional refusal to honor Palestinians’ humanity in particular makes its way past our gas masks of critical thinking and into our minds and souls. As I saw Diana lift that tank over Doctor Maru, weigh the moral choice before her, and decide that this death would cost more than it would save, I couldn’t help thinking of Gal Gadot’s Instagram post in support of the Israeli troops who were attacking Palestinians during the 2014 Gaza war.

Did Doctor Maru deserve to die for her crimes against humanity?  It’s not about what she deserved, it’s about what you believe.

What’s so delightful about superhero stories is their ability to help us imagine what we might do if regular social norms or the laws of physics didn’t apply to us. They invite us to imagine who we might be if what holds us back weren’t there, and they invite us to consider whether the things holding us back are truly strong enough to stop us.

Diana, Princess of Themyscira, is a goddess, trained in combat by the Amazons to protect all life, raised in a peaceful (and queer, fight me) paradise, with no understanding of or patience for the misogynist, racist social mores of 1910s Europe. The rules don’t apply to her. I can’t fly, and neither can Gal Gadot, and sadly, neither of us has a Lasso of Truth. I’m an American Jew and I don’t know what it’s like to choose between jail time and mandatory service in an occupying army — but Gal Gadot does, and she made her choice. I do know I can expect some nonsense on Twitter for this piece, and I can expect continued hostility from Jewish institutions for my work to oppose the occupation.

The laws of physics and the expectations of our communities apply to us mere mortals. Those expectations that our communities place on us can feel as heavy as gravity, but they are not gravity, and we can choose to flex our ordinary, non-super muscles and push back.

Do Israelis and Palestinians deserve freedom and dignity? It’s not about what our people deserve, it’s about what our people believe.

It feels like too much to hope, but maybe some of the little Israelis who go see Wonder Woman because of Gal Gadot will internalize the movie’s message. Maybe they’ll grow up to refuse to occupy in part because of the example set by Diana, Princess of Themyscira.


Jill Raney is an anti-oppression advocate, entrepreneur, and enthusiastic genre nerd. They live in Washington, DC, where they are a member of IfNotNow, the Jewish movement to end our community’s support for the occupation.

Making “Crime Comics” Legal in Canada Again

Did you know comic books depicting crime are illegal in Canada? Section 163, 1b of the Criminal Code of Canada currently makes it a crime to “possess, print, publish, or sell a crime comic.”

But, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould has proposed in legislative Bill C-51 numerous criminal justice reforms, one of which is to no longer make crime comics illegal. Also repealed is a ban on challenging someone to a duel and fraudulently pretending to practice witchcraft. It’s fitting that this criminal code will be repealed under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who himself is a comic fan and has appeared in comics and whose father has also appeared, most notably in John Byrne’s Alpha Flight run.

What defines a “crime comic?” That’d be any magazine or periodical that depicts the commission of a crime or the events connected with the commission of a crime, before or after. So, pretty much all comics.

The law originated in the 1940s spinning out of the moral panic of the time that comics were corrupting the youth. In the United States we got the Comics Code Authority instead with no real legal implications.

At the time, comics were very popular with kids and in 1948 two boys playing as highway bandits shot and killed a man in British Columbia. It was found out that the two loved comics and from there the movement to legislate the comic book industry took off in Canada. The effort was championed by Davie Fulton, the Member of Parliament for Kamloops, B.C. The eventual legislation banning the sale of crime comics was eventually named “Fulton’s Bill.”

There have been charges levied under the law too. The last time was in 1987 against a Calgary-based comic retailer. Those charges were eventually changed to the “distribution of sexually explicit material.”

Almost 70 years later, the law is finally coming off the books and comic shops and readers can breathe a little easier knowing they aren’t breaking the law.

Sh*t My President Says’ Shannon Wheeler Will Live-Draw Trump’s Livetweets

Shannon Wheeler knows Donald Trump pretty well — or at least his Twitter account. Wheeler read the president’s complete archive of over 30,000 posts and illustrated over 120 of the best tweets for his new book Sh*t My President Says: The Illustrated Tweets of Donald J. Trump. Now, in reaction to rumors that Trump (despite all advice to the contrary) plans to “livetweet” the Senate testimony tomorrow of former FBI Director James Comey, Wheeler has announced that he will live-draw Trump’s livetweets, bringing vital new insight to these important contributions to American presidential history.

To follow along at home, follow @MuchCoffee on Twitter or the hashtag #shitmypresidentsays.

In Sh*t My President Says (in stores August 2017), Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Shannon Wheeler tackles the 140-character president. For the first time, Donald Trump’s most revealing tweets are collected, curated, and transformed into razor-sharp cartoons, offering a subversive and illuminating glimpse into the mind of the most divisive political figure of our time. Whether you love him or hate him, this take on Trump will help you come to grips with the man and his ideas thanks to Wheeler’s signature mix of slapstick and sophistication.

Sh*t My President Says will be a 120-page hardcover book, 5” x 6.5”, published by Top Shelf Productions, an imprint of IDW Publishing. It features a foreword by Esquire cartoon editor Bob Mankoff. The book goes on sale August 2017 and can be pre-ordered now with ISBN 978-1-60309-410-8 wherever books are sold.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler Has Something to Say About MRAs and Wonder Woman

Men’s Rights Activists and general crybabies have been up in arms and vocal that some theaters have decided to show this weekend’s Wonder Woman in special women only screenings (in addition to the normal screenings that anyone can go to). They’ve been vocal, threatening, and generally shitheals.

One theater chain doing this is the Alamo Drafthouse which is selling out the women only screening and having to add more. They’ve gotten a lot of the vitriol and been at the center of all of this. And kudos to their social media manager(s) who has taken no lip and given a lot in return.

Apparently one Austinite decided to take his anger to the Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler. Adler had none of it and posted the original letter and his response all of which you can read below.

The original email to the Mayor:

I hope every man will boycott Austin and do what he can to diminish Austin and to cause damage to the city’s image. The theater that pandered to the sexism typical of women will, I hope, regret it’s decision. The notion of a woman hero is a fine example of women’s eagerness to accept the appearance of achievement without actual achievement. Women learn from an early age to value make-up, that it’s OK to pretend that you are greater than you actually are. Women pretend they do not know that only men serve in combat because they are content to have an easier ride. Women gladly accept gold medals at the Olympics for coming in 10th and competing only against the second class of athletes. Name something invented by a woman! Achievements by the second rate gender pale in comparison to virtually everything great in human history was accomplished by men, not women. If Austin does not host a men only counter event, I will never visit Austin and will welcome it’s deteriorati on. And I will not forget that Austin is best known for Charles Whitman. Does Austin stand for gender equality or for kissing up to women? Don’t bother to respond. I already know the answer. I do not hate women. I hate their rampant hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of the “women’s movement.” Women do not want gender equality; they want more for women. Don’t bother to respond because I am sure your cowardice will generate nothing worth reading.

Richard A. Ameduri

At which point, the Mayor dropped the mic with this response:

Dear Mr. Ameduri,

I am writing to alert you that your email account has been hacked by an unfortunate and unusually hostile individual. Please remedy your account’s security right away, lest this person’s uninformed and sexist rantings give you a bad name. After all, we men have to look out for each other!

Can you imagine if someone thought that you didn’t know women could serve in our combat units now without exclusion? What if someone thought you didn’t know that women invented medical syringes, life rafts, fire escapes, central and solar heating, a war-time communications system for radio-controlling torpedoes that laid the technological foundations for everything from Wi-Fi to GPS, and beer? And I hesitate to imagine how embarrassed you’d be if someone thought you were upset that a private business was realizing a business opportunity by reserving one screening this weekend for women to see a superhero movie.

You and I are serious men of substance with little time for the delicate sensitivities displayed by the pitiful creature who maligned your good name and sterling character by writing that abysmal email.  I trust the news that your email account has been hacked does not cause you undue alarm and wish you well in securing your account. And in the future, should your travels take you to Austin, please know that everyone is welcome here, even people like those who wrote that email whose views are an embarrassment to modernity, decency, and common sense.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Adler

Game. Set. Match. Mr. Amerduri.

South Carolina Democrat Archie Parnell Channels House of Cards to Win Frank Underwood’s Seat

While we don’t normally cover the popular Netflix show House of Cards, we do cover politics so it feels right to cover Democrat Archie Parnell who is attempting to win in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, the same seat the fictional Frank Underwood held on the show.

The online comical ad features the show’s theme music, reproductions of Kevin Spacey‘s dramatic soliloquies and memorable lines.

 

Michael Kelly, the actor who plays Doug Stamper on the series, tweeted Parnell’s ad showing approval. In the show, Stamper is Underwood’s White House chief of staff and former director of strategy.

Parnell is a former congressional staffer and business official with Goldman Sachs and Exxon Mobil.

 

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