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Posted by on Oct 12, 2019 in Blog, Politics | 5 comments

NFL 2019: Week #6 Picks

 

 

Last week I suffered my worst loss in two years.  I went 1-6 for a net minus of $1,195.

So, what exactly does one say or write after posting such disastrous results?

Answer:  You get back to work.  You keep on trying.  You try and learn what might have gone wrong.  Then, you get back in the game.

On to Week #6.

 

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2019 NFL WAGERING RECORD

Wins — Losses — Pushes          17 — 20 — 0

Starting Bankroll:   $ 8,296.

Current Bankroll:   $7,471.  (- $820.)

Last Week’s Results:         1 — 6 — 0  (- $1,195.)

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THIS WEEK’S WAGERS:  This week, I’ve made five wagers.  One wager is sizable, my biggest bet of the season.  The other four wagers are small bets intended to take advantage of something I call a “zig-zag theory.”  This means backing decent teams coming off losses while also betting against teams coming off a win.  Five wagers — laying $1,325. to win $1,200.

LA Rams -3 (-110) vs. San Francisco — Wagering $1,100. to win $1,000.

Rams were thought to be the class of the NFC, but have lost their last two games — an embarrassing blowout loss at home versus Tampa Bay and a 1-point loss at Seattle, when the usually reliable kicker Zuerlein missed the last-second game-winner.  Now, with 10-days to prepared, look for the Rams to make a statement here.  A loss to the 49ers puts the Rams in an insurmountable hole, three games back in the division.  So, the sense of urgency is real.  There’s nothing wrong with the Rams offense, which is scoring 29 PPG.  The problem has been on defense, but those numbers are skewed by the Rams committing multiple turnovers the last two defeats.  The rest should help the Rams here, who are 7-1 ATS under Coach McVay.  Meanwhile, San Francisco is a fat and happy 4-0.  Credit the renewed 49ers for winning every game, but their competition has a combined 5-15 W-L record.  This game is easily the 49ers’ toughest test of the season.  That task won’t be made any easier by suffering a number of injuries, including two OL and their starting FB, one of the best in the league.  San Francisco has also been exceedingly fortunate in the turnover department, forcing 11 takeaways (they had six all of last season).  Given a more experienced team in big games, the home-field advantage, extra rest and prep time, and the added motivation of coming off two losses, we get some rare spread value with the Rams laying only -3.  I think this is a compelling wager all the way up to -5, which was the early send-out number.  Reports are RB Gurley will not play, but the Rams have enough talent to overcome his absence.  Rams have thrown 58 passes per game last two week and racked up lots of yardage.  I expect that will continue against the 49ers.  Another intangible — 49ers kicker Gould has struggled this season, making just 7 of 12 FGs (five misses).

Cleveland +1 (-110) vs. Seattle — Wagering $55. to win $50.

Which Browns team will show up this week, the one that demolished the Ravens on the road at Baltimore or the dreadful bunch that didn’t show up in San Francisco last week?  I suspect that back at home facing a quality opponent, the Browns will put things together in this game and give a solid effort.  Seattle is clearly the better and more consistent team.  But the Seahawks are coming off a huge win at home versus their rival and now must travel and face a desperate team.  The price is right here to take the home dog, getting points.

Jacksonville -2.5 (-110) vs. New Orleans — Wagering $55. to win $50.

Credit the Saints for rattling off three straight wins with QB Bridgewater getting the job done.  But this looks like the possible off week for New Orleans.  RB Kamara is questionable, which now places added pressure on Bridgewater, who has benefited from a solid running game and good defense.  Win over Tampa last week was somewhat misleading as Saints generated only 252 yards of total offense.  Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s defense has cost them their last two games.  I look for a much better effort this week.  Jags offense playing well.  This line looks strange.  But I’m counting on the more desperate team to rise to the occasion at home.

Atlanta – 2.5 (-110) vs. Arizona — Wagering $55. to win $50.

This play is counterintuitive.  Cardinals are the NFL’s most exciting “bad” team, clearly headed in the right direction.  But the Arizona defense is problematic and Atlanta should have enough talent to get the win and cover here in an absolutely desperate situation.  Falcons at 1-4 are close to losing their season and it will take a win here to salvage any shot at making the playoffs.  Hard to imagine the Falcons looking worse than their last three games, but this is their first real soft opponent and I expect Atlanta will finally show up and take care of business.  Total at 51.5 is indicative of a high scoring game, so despite no line value, I don’t think the points will matter.

LA Chargers -6.5 (-11o) vs. Pittsburgh — Wagering $55. to win $50.

I’m laying -6.5 with the host Chargers, which doesn’t make much sense at first glance.  One can’t make a case for laying nearly a touchdown with a team that hasn’t played well at home.  However, coming off the upset loss in Carson last week, look for a much better effort here.  Their task is made considerably easier by Pittsburgh starting a third-string QB (Hodges).  Getting the Chargers who absolutely must have a win here, versus team that’s reeling and has no viable QB threat, and laying less than a TD strikes me as a rare bargain.  Chargers have too much talent to let this game slip away.  Should be an easy double-digit win given the lack of talent at skill positions we’ve seen from Steelers this season.

 

THOUGHTS ON OTHER GAMES:

CAR is laying -2.5 at TB with a total at 47.5. in the early game at London.  Tempting to play the Bucs here, inexplicably getting points.  Carolina is 3-0 since QB Newton went down to injury and the Panthers are very quietly back in the playoff hunt after an 0-2 start.  Still, I think the feisty Buccaneers, who have scored 110 points in their last three games, are the play getting points.

CIN +11 plays at BAL.  The Bengals have been woefully painful to watch, at times, and are coming off a dreadful loss at home to ARZ, in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.  Left for dead, I’d probably play the Bengals if forced to pick a side.  Not sure the Ravens should be laying double-digits in a division rivalry game.  But Cincinnati has been way too inconsistent to back with money, and there’s plenty of evidence that this team is among the most poorly coached in the league.

HOU +4.5 at KC with the game total at 55.  Chiefs were uncharacteristically inept on offense in a home loss last week.  It will be interesting to see how they respond.  Houston has gone UNDER in 3/5 while KC showed some defensive strength, last week.  Given these factors and the high total, I lean UNDER here, thinking that possibly KC’s outrageous offensive success the past 20 games will gradually revert to the mean.

MINN -3.5 versus PHILA.  I would normally like the Vikings laying the points against any other opponent  They’re clearly a more dominant team at home.   But PHILA has played very well the past two games and can stop the run.  That will force QB Cousins to throw.  Minnesota has played soft competition at home in the previous two games but gets tougher foe here.  Two 3-2 teams.  Should be close.  The +3.5 is enough to play the Eagles, if you want action on the game.

WASH is laying -4.5 to MIA.  Total is 42.  QB Keenum’s career was thought to be over a few weeks ago, but after the Redskins plugged in two QBs who looked worse, look who’s back under center.  Washington fired Gruden last Monday and new head coaches sometimes inspire a better effort.  But I’m not sure the Redskins merit laying -4.5 on the road, given how bad this team has played the last few weeks.  If forced to play the game, I’d take the Dolphins plus the points.

DAL is laying -7 at the hapless NYJ, who get the soft QB (Darnold) back as the starter.  Total looks a tad too high at 44.5.  I think DAL will shut down the Jets, who are ranked 32nd in most offensive categories.  But the Jets defense has played well, at times.  This is too many points for a game where one team hasn’t been scoring and the other relies heavily on the run.  Play the UNDER if you need a bet here.

It’s DEN -2 or nothing for me in the game against TENN.  Titans are absolute garbage on the road.  Coming off a terrible showing last week, the Titans inspire no confidence.  Credit Denver for two solid games recently, losing a close home game to Jacksonville before upsetting the Chargers in LA last weekend.  I think that momentum carries over here for the high-altitude Broncos playing the gutless Titans led by a QB who historically seems to struggle in games like this one.

If I could grab +5.5, I’d probably play the visiting Lions on MNF at GB.  But line has dropped to +4.  Lions had two weeks to prepare and have been in all four games this season.  GB’s success is owed largely to their defense, but they’ve allowed 58 points the last two games.  I think Detroit keeps this close, but no wager for me since I’d like just a few more points.

 

CONTEST WINNER ONLY/NO POINTSPREAD [$200 entry fee]

Season Record To-Date:  45-34-1

Week #6 Picks:

New England over NY Giants

Tampa Bay over Carolina

Cleveland over Seattle

Kansas City over Houston

Miami over Washington

Minnesota over Philadelphia

Jacksonville over New Orleans

Baltimore over Cincinnati

LA Rams over San Francisco

Arizona over Atlanta

Denver over Tennessee

Dallas over NY Jets

LA Chargers over Pittsburgh

Green Bay over Detroit

 

BD /SM INVESTMENT GROUP [37 persons]

211. — David Heldar
100. — Steve Watanabe
1,000. — Peter Lucier
302. — Bruce Kramer
200. — Finbarr O’Mahony
100. — Howler
500. — Linda Keenan
100. — John Pickels
100. — Patrick Kirwan
300. — Sean McGuiness
252. — Jim Anderson
200. — Chad Holloway
500. — Eric Schneller
351. — Randy Collack
100. — David Lawless Lawful
1,000. — Paul Harris
51. — Dan Goldman
51. — Sharon Goldman
102. — Ken QB
102. — Chuck Weinstock
102. — Peter Taki Caldes
51. — Kenny Shei
51. — Jeff Dietch
128. — Kevin Un
22. — Becca
102. — Corey Imsdahl
102. — Don Bingo Reick
1,000. — Jeff Siegel (payment pending)
100. — Stephen Cohen (payment pending)
51.  — John Reed
51. — George Wattman
51. — Mickdog Patterson
100. — Larry Lubliner
100. — Guy Grizz Berentsen
100. — Edmund Hack
500. — Bob Feduniak
63. — John Reed

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Posted by on Sep 26, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 1 comment

What’s at Stake in the Latest Trump Scandal? Answer: Maybe the Future of American Democracy.

 

 

Provided you’re paying attention, we’re witnessing the nation’s ultimate test. We are about to find out in the coming weeks and months ahead — does our system work? Does democracy function? Will the constitution save us?

In the past, we’ve survived terrorist attacks, armed invasions, and even a civil war. But we’ve never been subject to a rebellious insurrection from within our own government at the very highest level, where the most powerful person in the country, cheered blindly by millions of loyalists, willingly and deliberately subverts 230 years of democratic tradition and openly trashes so many fundamental tenets of law, civility, and diplomacy.

In 1974, President Nixon came close to posing a similar threat like the one we face now. But Nixon, well trained in the law, highly-experienced in federal politics, and a proud veteran of World War II, had the common decency to save the nation from a grueling legal battle he could not win and resigned. The system *worked.*

I’m reminded of the tense scene from 1976’s “All the President’s Men” when Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee schools two young reporters working the Watergate scandal on what’s at stake in uncovering the crimes of a president.

“Have you seen the results of the latest Gallup Poll?” Bradlee asks Woodward on Berstein on his front lawn. “Half the country’s never heard of Watergate. Nobody gives a shit.”

Bradlee takes a long pause, then dismisses popular opinion and public indifference.

“….nothing’s riding on this — except the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country,” Bradlee says.

Although the scandals, the personalities, and the specifics are different today, Bradlee’s call to arms in defense of truth is a rallying cry every bit as important now as then. It reveals why Democrats MUST continue to investigate, and if warranted, pursue articles of impeachment. They MUST do this not because there are guarantees of success, but rather because the costs of doing nothing are much higher.

If we let this pass, it means our system will have collapsed. It means descending into a murky abyss where law and order no longer matters. It means lies can and will obfuscate the truth. It means an abrupt end to any co-equal branches of government and dissolution of the rightful powers and responsibilities they are granted by the constitution.

The stakes are even higher now than during Watergate because Nixon had no army of sycophants nor foreign confederates nor a slanted media eager and willing to knowingly pollute the minds of millions with his lies.  Indeed, Trump has all off these terrible tools at his disposal and he is using them like a sledgehammer.  He and his army of liars will make square pegs fit into round holes and call his version of the truth — a perfect fit.

If Trump gets away with such a vast panoply of high crimes, be certain that far worse crimes will follow.

Let us see if our system works and the truth shall set us free, once again.

 

 

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Posted by on Jul 10, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 0 comments

“Chasing the Moon” is a Blast [Review]

 

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Now approaching the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 space mission, get ready for a bombardment of well-intended but predictable homages and historical remembrances to humanity’s greatest technical achievement.  However, one documentary towers above the rest.  The latest episodes “American Experience” on PBS take a familiar story you may think you already know and add some unexpectedly compelling twists and turns — making this the best documentary of the year.  In short, watching “Chasing the Moon” is a blast.

 

Chasing the Moon is a three-part television series running this week on PBS stations all over the country.  It’s the latest offering from American Experience, the typically outstanding weekly documentary which has run for 31 straight years (and counting), yet it somehow still manages to stay fresh with every new episode.

This latest series divided chronologically into three parts at two-hours each (six hours, total) might be the most compelling of what’s been an extensive historical canon, which is really saying something given that American Experience has aired 337 episodes, to date.  Rarely have we collectively watched such an authentic, unabridged, behind-the-scenes story told with such a perfect balance of accuracy and entertainment.

So, what else makes this show so good?

Try this — brutal honesty.  Most, if not all previous documentaries on America’s space program treat the subject with jingoistic reverence.  The astronauts are heroes.  The United States beat the Soviet Union in the race to the moon.  Each successive space program — Saturn, Gemini, and Apollo — represented a concoctive triumph of American ingenuity.

Each one of these points is undeniably true.  Yes, the astronauts were heroes.  Yes, the USA did beat the Soviet Union in the space race.  And yes, Apollo 11 was indeed justification for worldwide celebration — the glorious equivalent which had not seen before, nor since.

Chasing the Moon, made by Robert Stone, extends far beyond what’s been a standard fluffy newsreel-driven, school-classroom interpretation of American history, both in terms of which stories are told and how they are portrayed.  It’s far better than a Tom Hanks’ movie.  It’s even better than the wonderful CNN-produced movie on the space program released earlier this year, which I saw and enjoyed.  This series takes that concept, then digs much deeper.

If you think you already know about the space program and the remarkable story of Apollo 11, consider just a few eye-opening, jaw-dropping facts purveyed from the first episode titled, “A Place Beyond the Sky,” which covers the early period of the American space program, roughly years 1957 through 1963:

FACT #1 — Americans landed on the moon (first) because we got the smarter Nazis.  We were lucky.  After World War II and the downfall of Nazi Germany, the East and West divided former-Nazi scientists who had been the first to develop advanced rocket technology.  Ugly pasts were scrubbed.  Old associations were buried.  History was forgotten.  This story isn’t exactly new, of course.  But it’s told in this documentary with refreshing candor that lends to credibility for other controversial aspects of the film.

FACT #2 –— America’s space program had absolutely nothing to do with the pursuit of scientific progress, at least in terms of attracting popular support.  The NASA space program was all about one thing only — winning the Cold War.  Early on, America was losing that crucial battle.  1. The Sputnik satellite in 1957, followed in short order by 2. Laika the Dog’s orbit (the first living creature in space), and 3. Yuri Gagarin’s manned-space mission, 4. the first woman in space, 5. the first multiple manned mission,  and 5. first spacewalk outside the capsule — ALL these Red Scare triumphs scared the hell out of most Americans, who thought the United States was falling behind the Soviets.  This fear (recall the phantom  “missile gap”) probably swung the outcome of the 1960 presidential election, resulting in John F. Kennedy’s election.  The average American wasn’t/isn’t interested in science.  He/she wants to be better than the other guy.

FACT #3 — We forget just how dangerous early space flights were for the astronauts who boarded those rockets.  At least a dozen test-rockets blew up on the launching pad.  Each disaster is shown here on film, in astonishing clarity.  It took someone truly special, with “the right stuff,” to strap himself into a tin can with enough high-octane fuel and explosives underneath the seat to blow up ten city blocks, trusting one’s fate entirely to engineers.  Moreover, let’s also remember the astronauts were civil servants.  They didn’t earn much money.  They were expected to look and act like celebrities, on the salary of a mid-grade military officer, with a growing family.  The financial burdens of being an astronaut are explored here for the first time on film.

FACT #4 — President John F. Kennedy gets most of the credit for the success of the space program and mission to the moon (six years after his death).  But it was President Lyndon B. Johnson who twisted arms of reluctant senators and drove the budgets through Congress.  LBJ got things done.  Kennedy gave great speeches and pontificated his dream of sending a man to the moon.  It was Johnson who actually made it happen, politically speaking.  Unfortunately, our perceptions do not reflect reality.

FACT #5 — The three primary focal points of NASA’s space program were/are in Florida, Alabama, and Texas.  This was not a random occurrence.  The high-tech space sites were not chosen for any geographic advantages.  Each location was nothing more than a political payoff to swing key senators and congressman to vote for the most expensive high-tech program in history.  Furthermore, most of the country (about 60 percent) was AGAINST funding the space program, at least in the early years.  The documentary reveals how the opposition turned into supporters.

FACT #6 — Initially, ten astronauts were picked for the space program.  Make that — ten WHITE, MALE astronauts were chosen for the space program.  Certainly, this lineup was a reflection of the time.  However, in the second phase of the program, Robert F. Kennedy (then, Attorney General) pushed for the inclusion of at least one Black astronaut.  Later, a Black Air Force fighter pilot was chosen — Ed Dwight (not to be confused with counterpart Ed White).  He successfully completed all the grueling astronaut training and passed the tests, along with his colleagues.  However, Dwight was eventually relegated to a remote assignment and never made it into space, largely due to the despicable treatment received from so-called American hero Chuck Yeager, who comes across horribly in this documentary.  The Kennedy Administration, which actually did so little on civil rights, failed to push for Dwight’s inclusion in the program.  Three years later, during the Johnson Administration, Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. became the first to break NASA’s color barrier.

FACT #7 — Here’s a historical fact you’ve likely never heard before.  JFK was uncertain as to whether he could fulfill his 1962 pronouncement at Rice University about putting a man on the moon.  He secretly agreed to a collaborative deal with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev that the two countries would work together on the space mission.  However, JFK was shot and killed before the joint international venture was initiated.  Then a short time later, Khrushchev was ousted from power.  Hence, the demise of these two men derailed what might have been the most unlikely of cooperative efforts.

FACT #8 — Cape Canaveral, Florida (later re-named Cape Kennedy) exploded by 300 percent in population, due entirely to the space program.  New homes had to be built for workers.  That meant a boom, but also higher prices and even some resentment from older natives.  The documentary focuses on how those communities changed with the influx of astronauts, government workers, and tourists.

FACT #9 — Astronauts are unwaveringly portrayed in a positive light, as loyal and faithful men devoted to country and family.  While this is somewhat true, it’s not the whole picture.  Let’s also remember the astronauts were good-looking, age 30-something, strong virile men who were national heroes, who were used to living their lives on the edge.  They were more popular than movie stars.  And, they loved to take chances.  They liked being in the limelight.  High-risk behavior was in their DNA.  It’s why they were chosen.  The documentary touches on NASA having to do some “clean up” on the astronaut’s behavior.  Hey, let’s not kid ourselves.  They were remarkable men, but they were also human.  Bars.  Women.  Work hard.  Play harder.  Bravo to this program for revealing who these men really were, instead of the icons we often associate with their acts of bravery.

FACT #10 — All these incredible events and achievements in outer space took place during a period of revolutionary change, racial upheaval, and intense division within America.  Incredibly, some of the astronauts even confessed they had intense feelings of guilt for being involved the space program while many of their military colleagues in the were fighting in battle, and some were even shot down in Vietnam.  This emotional reaction to being an astronaut and a national hero wasn’t something I’d heard, nor considered before.

FACT #11 — What does a TV network do if the rocket explodes in mid-flight?  Remember, the earliest space missions were highly risky.  No one knew how the public might react to seeing a man die on national television, in an explosion on a rocket.  Television networks and the White House didn’t know if the launch should even be covered live.  What if the space capsule exploded?  Remember, this was 1962.  The viewing public wasn’t used to seeing dangerous, cutting edge, live events broadcast on television.  This is one of many reasons we often see crowds of people crowding around television sets.  It all seems surreal now.  But this was a difficult possibility to ponder, back then.

FACT #12 — Even a bigger problem for CBS, NBC, and ABC — what does a national network show for hours at a time during the coverage?  Relay technology didn’t exist back then.  There were no cameras of the space capsule after a few minutes of taking off.  One executive was interviewed who said, “60 million people were basically watching nothing but live radio broadcast.  There was absolutely nothing to show the public.  We winged it.”

Indeed, America’s space program was “winging it.”  Astronauts.  Engineers.  Politicians.  Television networks.  Everyone was winging it.  No one really had much of a clue what they were doing.  No one had ever done anything like that before.  Everyone looked to the heavens.  Everyone took a shot in the dark.  Thanks to some genius, long hours, trial and error, and even a little luck — it all worked.

This is the remarkable message and story of Chasing the Moon.  It’s an astonishing collection of unearthed footage and facts.  It’s real history.  It’s incredible entertainment.  It’s must-see television.

Lest you think this review has been a spoiler — these highlights are my recollections just from Part 1.  There’s so much more to learn and enjoy in Parts 2 and 3.  Trust me.  Seek out this remarkable program and watch.  Please — aim high.  Chase the moon.  This is what great filmmaking and storytelling are all about.

Here’s a short preview:

 

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Posted by on May 19, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Attention U.S. Secret Service: There is a Madman Loose in the White House

 

These tweets by Donald J. Trump speak for themselves:

Hypocrisy Exhibit A:

 

Hypocrisy Exhibit B:

 

Hypocrisy Exhibit C:

 

Hypocrisy Exhibit D:

 

Side Note:  Just curious about Twitter and its terms and conditions:  Isn’t there some rule about threatening to kill people on Twitter?  What about when someone threatens to kill 81 million people?

 

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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 5 comments

So, You’re Still a Republican?

 

 

SO, YOU’RE STILL A REPUBLICAN?

Fine.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on MORALITY.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on your so-called “CHRISTIAN VALUES.”

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on TAKING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ACTIONS.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about GOVERNMENT SPENDING or FEDERAL DEFICITS.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on PAYING YOUR OWN BILLS.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on ADHERING TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on following THE RULE OF LAW.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about CIVILITY.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about CRONYISM, NEPOTISM, or CORRUPTION.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on PROTECTING THE COUNTRY FROM FOREIGN INTERFERENCE.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again on anything to do with RUSSIA.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about CARING FOR THE POOR AND THE ELDERLY.

— — Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about RESPECTING FAMILIES OF THE WAR DEAD.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about CARING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT or PROTECTING ANIMALS.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about HONESTY.

— Then, don’t you ever lecture me again about TELLING THE TRUTH.

From your deafening silence, your constant deflection, your incessant what-about-ism, and your self-imposed bubble of blind ignorance, you have made a clear choice, an appalling demonstration of precisely where you stand on all the important issues of the day, and it’s not flattering.

The bottom line is — you will NEVER lecture me again on anything.

 

— Nolan Dalla

 

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