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Posts Tagged ‘crime’

The construction of us in the past and our youth in the future is a combination process.  It involves nature (DNA material) and nurture (environment) with considerable influence from family, church, school and the community.  We pray that everyone has a functioning value system and/or moral compass.  There…we have it….how modern southerners should be built.

I was built back in the day during the end of Jim Crow.  Not being killed by a mob, the police or a mob that included the police was the simple goal.  Oh, our parents were built as tough as nails; I swear my father was made from iron and leather.  We are noticeably softer than they were unapologetically.  They didn’t want their kids to be “fetching water, tin tub bathing, step off the sidewalk for White folks” tough.  We were air conditioned, water in the door Negroes.

The heart-break of my life was not being a member of a Black fraternity.  But, it turns out that I was never built to take the abuse of hell week….hell naw.  Don’t get it twisted, military training like Ranger School in Columbus, SEAL School in San Diego or basic training of Marines on Parris Island is a good character building.  While that training is tough, it is doable.  Some of the pledge process for Black frats is worst is than CIA alleged “enhanced interrogation.”  Oh, I would have been on Fox News in I attemped to join certain groups back when.  My father loved his membership but he was going from a sharecroppers’ life into the middle class.  That fraternity was a big part of his polishing and development.  While I would have enjoyed the brotherly bond and community service, they would have “made” me.

This discussion is needed on a public policy/politics blog because how kids are built directly relates to what they take on in life.  In my community, kids often have a struggle mentality—struggling, it’s what we do.  Parents actually built their kids to be strong for the struggle rather than smart to avoid the struggle.  A sista in college told me that her mother raised her ready to fight well with a man about cheating.  I asked why she wasn’t raised to detect and avoid the cheating type.

Yea, I am unapologetically soft and conduct myself accordingly.  I have a “hood” theory about jail.  Lawd knows I can’t do real time behind bars.  My unfounded theory is that some kids must have grown up in small space and therefore can live in an iron closet without problems.  I love the sun, the light, the night time sky and freedom.  What are you doing that is worth jeopardizing your outside freedom?  Would you give up freedom for a few dollars?  These fools have turned the word jail into an accomplishment word.  “Man, I know how to jail.”

Another hood theory involves people being outside.  It’s funny what some people can’t see.  In some communities, people always seem to be on the porch or outside because there is limited room and privacy inside.  Again, I wasn’t built to be in small spaces and my future house might only be 1100 square feet but you can best believe that it is one big room with only the bathroom separate—windows everywhere.

So, if you aren’t built for the struggle, it’s fine.  But, you need to be very careful what situations and drama enter into your life.  My friends who grew up rough are surprisingly the ones with smooth lives today.  They wanted the rest of their lives and their kids’ lives to be worry free.

Some of those who didn’t grow up in the struggle are struggling now because they are too soft or weak.  The conservative movement doesn’t know that this point is the key to their inroads in my community.  Government assistance might have inadvertently created a segment of the population whose main interest is seeking the infamous “check.”

I don’t like struggling and wasn’t built to have the government or anyone else tell me to care for my family.  One last point: what is up with grown folks who are too cool to work an entry level job but aren’t too cool to ask someone to feed their kids.  That’s some bull.

While I am ranting, let’s talk about DNA from the first paragraph.  Young people should be careful regarding the people with whom they have children.  All of the love and nurturing in the world can’t counterbalance a bad seed.  Some of these girls can’t pick husband material men because they have never been around healthy marriages.  They are built to fail from the beginning like their brothers who don’t know how to be law-abiding, job-holding men.  Uncle Teddy wants to give some loving advice: go to the family reunion on both side of a person’s family and study how they carry themselves long before you consider MARRYING this person and later having children.

Old Uncle Teddy was raised to move the Black family forward and we simply can’t afford to have you holding us back or turning us around.  A friend says “we are one generation from poverty.”  Get it—that’s a cute way of saying we recently came from poverty and we can easily return if we are careful.

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Abusing drugs might be at the root of most of southern communities’ problems.  However, we should consider drug abuse in its totality.  Yes, alcohol is a drug and many people drink in their (our) youth to mask the pain and disappointment of not having the life they wanted.  Everyone can’t be Miss. America, driving for NASCAR or score a touchdown in the Sugar Bowl.  You plan and life laughs—get over it.

I think that college kids and young adults smoke weed rather than drink alcohol because in many cases it is easier to get. First Lady Nancy Reagan said just say no to drugs and she was so right. In the 80s, crack dam near destroyed urban America.

As quiet as it is kept, prescription drug abuse or doctor shopping is tearing up another side of town and it is time to talk about it.  Secretary Colin Powell’s and Senator John McCain’s wives both had legal drug addiction problems.  If you have a car accident and are in pain, these drugs will help in the short term.  But, using them after the pain is gone is a mess.  The body has a habit forming need or a chemical dependency.  I don’t know all of the names of the drugs but it’s the stuff of mid-class women—the real desperate housewives.  These drugs are currency in certain circles.  Have you seen that show called Intervention?

Doctor shopping occurs when a person uses several doctors and the emergency room to get more and more of the stuff.  One pill “as directed” isn’t the norm.  People are taking several at one time or mixing them with alcohol for a dangerous cocktail.   An article in my local newspaper features comments on the subject from an emergency room doctor who attended undergrad with me.  The article says emergency room doctor shoppers are more likely to be White.  I don’t want to see anyone hooked on anything.

http://www.albanyherald.com/news/2013/oct/27/emergency-room-drug-seeking-a-growing-problem/

Local officials should work with state and federal governments to determine and address this problem because it is costly to the healthcare and criminal justice systems.  How much crime is drug related?  It actually cost more money to put someone in prison for a year than the average person earns in a year.

Here is the kicker: the SSI disability program treats drug abuse as a disability.  Huh?  Is that the classic definition of a vicious circle because the money from “the check” often funds more abuse.  What they really need is some sweet Jesus.

Getting to the root of the abuse problem will require giving people something positive to do.  While most local elected officials will say that utilities and fire trucks are their duties, they must work to attract more jobs, support the local education system and tell state and federal officials that funding positive activities and treatment programs is spending a dime now rather than spending a dollar later on jails.

Lastly, marijuana seems to have pain management benefits but we should pump the brakes on legalization; the experts on this matter should speak first.  We must remember that there was no real organized crime in America before prohibition.  The trafficking of illegal weed is a big problem but legalization might create a subculture of mellow zombies.

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5:10 a.m. is before the dawn of a new southern day or as we use to say “ ‘fore day in the morning.”  It’s also the dawn of a new day politically and the beginning of a new season.   Change is obligatory.

The local elections this year and the wider elections next year are good times to lay the foundation of what we need in your southern communities.  We need leaders who speak openly and honestly about bringing us together and improving our conditions.  Co-founder of this blog Helen Blocker Adams is such a leader and Augusta, Georgia, should make her their next mayor.

Helen and I have spent countless hours discussing the importance of bridging community divides and that is the reason I chose a southern bridge for the cover art of this blog.  The rock band the Police had a reggae song called “One World Is Enough For All Of Us” that includes the line “we can’t sink while others float because we are all in the same big boat.”  In Augusta, the medical college recently continued it’s land acquisition but fairly created new housing for displace citizens.

We need similar changes in my town and the changes could apply to a thousand American communities.  We are a proud agricultural community; we grown produce.  Only a few percentage of Americans work directly in ag but those hard working people feed everyone else.  While I generally have no stomach for Donald Trump, he is correct in stating that America doesn’t make things anymore and making things will be the return of jobs.

The new mission for my community should surprisingly be based on towns like Mayberry from television.  See, some people like to raise families and grow old in peaceful, friendly places where everyone knows and cares for everyone else.  My town is sandwiched between two larger cities and to me, we are a bedroom community for those who don’t mind a short drive for some peace.

We need leaders who are concerned with every little corner of the community because problems and trouble know no boundaries.  In our local elections, every candidate is personally cool with me and I would be lying if I said that basic municipal services weren’t fine.  They are.

However, there comes a time when talented leadership should step up to the next challenge…when your services and skills are better required on a different level of government.  For example, New Jersey has two bright rising stars and I personally like their new style of leadership.  Newark Major Cory Booker is running for the U.S. Senate and this guy earned his stripes.  He is a Sanford/Yale guy whose parents were two of the first Blacks at IBM but he lived in the projects as mayor to better understand the lives of his citizens.  The guy doesn’t talk in generalizations; he gets down to details of what is wrong—straight no chaser.  He speaks directly to the people about what they should do to improve their communities.

President_Barack_Obama_Tours_Storm_Damage_in_New_Jersey_7

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is clearly running for president and if Hillary isn’t the next POTUS, it should be him.  The big guy tells it like it is and doesn’t might stepping on a few toes if needed.

In southwest Georgia, the Chamber of Commerce types have done an admirable job of marketing our communities with emphasis being on the good qualities.  However, it’s time to address (deal with) the rest of the community.  Where are the leaders who can comfortably and firmly bring out the best from the rest?  Countless sons and daughters of the rural South dream about retiring to these piney forests but two main concerns are the racial climate and the growing actions of the thug element.

We need to grow our youth with the care we have traditionally used to produce our crops.  We must prepare the soil, plant the seed organically and monitor until ripeness.  But, we must also root out weeds and remove pests.

Issues that local candidates should be addressing included:

1. Police: It’s wonderful when the local police achieve that delicate balance between firmness and compassion.  During the Clinton Presidency, the Congress passed a Crime Bill that promoted Community Policing.  The best officers (we have some good ones) know their patrol areas and greet people.  They use knowledge of and relationships with citizens to serve and protect.  Unfortunately, some officers develop a hard spirit from constantly dealing with thugs; they should remember that the vast majority of the people appreciate and support them.  Cops should smile and walk more.

2. Economic Development: We know that real E.D. begins in the homes, the schools and the churches.  Hey, the Chamber can’t attract industry to a town if those industrial leaders read rough stats about the educational abilities of the workforce.  An unofficial duty of elected officials is encouraging citizens to be fully focused on achievement—get in their faces like Booker and Big Chris up Jersey way.

3. Downtown Revitalization: Madison, Tifton, Moultrie, Americus, Thomasville. Even Hahira.  These Georgia towns have cool downtown areas.  The granola-eating, bicycle-riding, wine-sipping types love to live in and visit towns with preserved character.  I still don’t get antiquing because it reminds me of rough days for us but hey, if it brings dollars to town, roadshow your blank off.  I do love old buildings with character and retrofitting them with lofts brings life back to downtown.  Paris, Napa Valley and Barcelona have a café culture and so can south Georgia but rather than sitting outside on the sidewalk sipping Riesling we might preferred sweet tea or a cool one from a Mason jar–Duck Dynasty style.  This would be a nice way to watch the Bulldogs, Yellow Jackets or Falcons give a game away…again.

4. Crime: We need leaders who will work with state and federal officials to address the growing cost of criminal activity.  Of course, it starts with education, faith and better parenting.  The next crop of leaders needs to be familiar with regular folks—dare I say that they should have street cred.  You must know the streets to fix the streets.

5. Housing: Homeowership anchors a taxpaying family to a community.  Whatever happened to starter homes?  Let’s be honest, item number four (crime) has people moving out of town.  The thug element frightens people…me included.  But, hell no.  The houses in my community were built my farmworkers who moved to town.  These people work so hard (making money for someone else) to purchase their slice of the American dream.  Today, most of those men have gone to glory and their widows live in fear from half-raised boys…raised more by hip hop videos than family and church.   You can’t be a new community leader if approaching those young men isn’t in your nature. At some point, we need to secure federal funding to relocate some ag operations from the town’s center to the outskirts and replace that area with mixed-use housing.  I want to hear “let’s walk to church” again.

6. Resourcefulness: we have a fine crop of local candidates.  If they play their cards right, those who don’t win can’t run for the Georgia General Assembly next year with the support of the person who beat them.  Our statehouses need new blood because the political parties seem out of touch.  They put party over people.  I take my hat off to Governor Christie for working with President Obama when New Jersey got hit my a super storm.  That’s what leaders do to be resourceful.

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I have had it up to here with half-raised folks and don’t want to hear about rights and bla bla bla. Yes, in our free society, people have a right to have kids when they want and with whom they want. But, someone must say that developing a baby into a productive, responsible person is one of the hardest things in life. Young people who terrorize senior citzens are actually domestic terrorists to me.

In my Sunday morning newspaper, columnist Carlton Fletcher of the Albany Herald details a story about a group of young punks being disrespectful to an older couple. We must have a new type politician/policy maker that design public policy in a way that encourages people having kids when they are really ready.

The passage of time is the ultimate neutralizer in life

 

http://www.albanyherald.com/news/2013/apr/13/passage-time-ultimate-neutralizer-life/

Carlton Fletcher

Time waits for no one, and we’re running out of time.

— Friends of Distinction

My blood started boiling as I surveyed the scene, and I found myself amazed anew at the human race’s capacity for cruelty.

A pack of young men, four strong, walked away from where an older couple stood looking warily after them. The four were laughing uncontrolably, pointing at the couple and falling all over each other in their mirth.

The old couple looked wounded, but not in any physical way. It was more a look of embarrassed resignation, of stunned disbelief. I noticed tears on the woman’s cheeks.

Trying to size up the situation, I asked the couple if they were OK. The man waved off my concern.

“No big deal,” he said. “Just some young hoodlums showing off and letting off steam.”

The woman, though, said nothing. She silently walked away, the tears flowing freely. I watched her slip quietly into their nearby vehicle and asked the man again if they were really all right.

He stood looking at me for a moment before saying anything.

“You know how it is with young kids,” he said with a long sigh. “They’re out roaming around with all that energy and nothing to do, and they have to let it out somewhere. I figure we’ve all done that at some time in our lives.

“But that doesn’t stop their words from hurting.”

The man stopped talking abruptly, as if he’d said too much. I actually looked around to see if the kids were coming back, then let the silence linger for a moment before asking if he wanted to talk about the incident.

“Oh, it’s just kids being stupid kids,” he said. “They made some cracks about us being old and used some language that got my dander up. I said something to them — told them to have some respect — and that got them going.

“They ran at us like they meant to hurt us, then stopped and said some real mean things.”

The man stopped again, and this time a look of hurt enveloped his face. It’s a look that touched my heart.

“They called my wife things like ‘pig’ and ‘sow’ and screamed how ugly she was,” the man said quietly. “They called her some nasty things that I wouldn’t repeat. I wanted to go after them, but I was scared they’d hurt my wife.”

Tears welled in the man’s eyes.

“That woman is the sweetest, kindest woman God ever created,” he said. “She’s been through more than her share over the years, put up with just about every kind of hardship you can think of. She just doesn’t deserve to be treated so mean.”

I offered my condolences and asked the man if he wanted me to contact law enforcement.

“Nah,” he said, “ain’t no need for that. We’re just gonna head on home now. I’ll have to see if I can’t find a way to make my wife feel better.”

I offer what I know are insufficient words to try and bolster the man’s feelings, but he waves me off.

“Son,” he said, “I’m not really concerned about those young punks. It makes me mad that they hurt my wife’s feelings, but she’ll get over it in time. I probably would have fought all four of them in my younger days, but those days are long gone.

“That’s one thing about life: It marches on. I was like those boys in a lot of ways when I was their age, but look at me now. And my wife may not win any beauty contests, these days, but, son, back in her day she turned every man’s eye. Heck, she’s still that beautiful young woman to me.”

He smiled at the memory.

“I figure time will catch up with those boys like it does all of us,” he said. “I won’t be around to see them get theirs, but I can rest easy knowing that, sooner or later, it will happen.

“Time gets us all.”

As the man shuffled off to join his wife in their car, I watched him with mixed feelings of respect and sadness. I was thankful that I’d happened upon him — in spite of the circumstances — but I couldn’t help but think about that look of bewildered hurt on his wife’s face.

As the couple drove away, I found myself dwelling on the man’s parting words: Time gets us all.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

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School choice and family planning are two topics I would love to hear discussed in my community because they are at the foundation of our futures.  However, I want that discussion to take place around a discussion table sixty or seventy years ago. 

A.G. Sadler Sr., third seated from left

A photo of my father and his fraternity brothers meeting at the local Black college hangs in my mother’s den.  The organization wore Black and Gold and he was old enough to actually know founders personally but it could have been a meeting of any Black fraternity or sorority of that time because they were all committed to moving the race forward.  You can see the steely determination in their eyes: we as a people would have the opportunity to learn, earn and prosper in this great nation and the sky would be the limit once those doors of opportunity opened. 

If we had a time machine or a portal to the past (like a smart phone app), we could tell these gentlemen that we were from 2012 and that a Black man was in the White House…a Black man without a mop.  Since most of the men in that picture were college professors or public school educators, I want to know their opinions on school choice.

Today, we recognize that public school K-12 education needs a top to bottom overhaul.  I personally think that the teachers enter the profession ready to teach and that the facilities are generally acceptable in my area.  For a myriad of reasons, some of the kids just aren’t ready, willing and able to learn.  I think the foundation of education is discipline or obedience learned at home and church. 

Those guys in that photo didn’t question their parents in their generation and neither did we in my generation.  Today, I hear kids ask their parents “What?” and “Why?” with a tone that would have never happened in my day.  One of the men in that photo was likely the dentist that my father would have taken me to see after he knocked my teeth out for saying “What.”

We should discuss parents having a tax credit or voucher to put their children in the best quality educational situation.  When schools in the South were integrated, White private schools popped up in every county.  But, I can remember the dedication of the educators from the all-Black schools.  A period of “separate but equal” would have been fine with many Blacks because they wanted fairly funded schools more than forcing us to attend school with people who thought of us wrongly. 

When we debated school choice as congressional staffers in the 1990s, I would always argue that private schools would cherry-pick the best students and those remaining in the public schools would be students from families that couldn’t afford to get out.  If the best 20% opted for private schools, the worst 20% should have a voucher to attend a special school after getting kick out of regular school. 

Public policy can’t solve the education problem because the ultimate problem is that some people are having children before they are prepared to raise and nurture them.  To me, people shouldn’t get married until they are around 24 years old and they should then wait 24 months before having kids (a waiting period to ensure that the marriage is viable.)  Before 24 years of age, people could be finishing their education and training, moving up in the workplace and having fun socially.  Children should come into the mix when folks are ready to be parents like those Alphas in that old photo.  Instead, we have kids having kids and early grade teachers are half educators and half parents. 

Current conservatives trip me out with talk of abortion and welfare.  The guys around that table never envisioned people having the government deeply involved in their lives. They were concerned more with anti-lynch and opportunity.  The conservative men in that photo would have a lot to say about the long-term effect of LBJ’s policy that would come in a decade or two. 

A recent study indicates free birth control dramatically reduces abortion and teen pregnancy.  Since the far Right conservatives are rightfully concerned with governmental spending, they should know that abortions and public assistance goes down if fewer pregnancies occur in the first place.  The guys in that picture could discuss the wrongness of abortion and premarital sex as well as the wrongness of hungry children and struggling families.  Reasonable people know that you can’t always push your faith’s beliefs into the public policy of a diverse nation. 

http://news.yahoo.com/study-free-birth-control-leads-fewer-abortions-210623724.html;_ylt=A2KJ3CabFnBQvlUAOf7QtDMD

The achievement-oriented Blacks of my fathers’ generation would be disappointed to learn that music is crime and sin-based and hip hop shapes the mindset of our youth more than parents and church.  If those guys in that picture were transported into current times, they would figure out a way to get the best education for their families.  Unfortunately, those pioneers in education would be compelled to seek schools for their families that kept their kids away from certain elements without regard to race.  Oh, I would teach government and tennis at an all-male school that brought academic heat all day every day–a place where gentlemen were built.

Teaching the guys in that photo was easy because they were enthusiastic about learning; it was learn or be an unofficial slave during Jim Crow.  If they had a window on today at that table, they would be flabbergasted with the way our youth are carrying themselves and disappointed with the squandering of opportunities.

I enjoyed hearing this speech by Kappa founder Edward G. Irvin.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7P7rpu-0Tf4]

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We spend too much money putting people in prison.  Of course, criminals must be punished but it would be better if the crimes never happened in the first place.  I am 47 years old and I have never made 47K per year but the national average cost of an inmate is $47,000 and as much as $60,000 in New York. 

The statistics from a CBS Sunday Morning news story are alarming: 1 in 3 Black men between the ages of 18 and 34 are in the system (jail, prison, probate or parole); 50% of released inmates return in three years. 

The old “lock them up and throw away the key” mentality sounds great for political candidates and officeholders but we are spending $63 Billion per year on incarceration.  Guys who ended behind bars, many for non-violent drug related offenses, often discover that education and faith are wonderful; I wish they learned that in junior high school or earlier.

I don’t have the answers: however, I have always felt that prison seems like the bondage of slavery but slaves didn’t have a choice, could still live with mates and could go outside (the good Lord knows that I would go crazy if I couldn’t go outside when I wanted.)  The possible answers include mentor programs for youth, men being real fathers and reducing drug usage.  With constant cries for reducing governmental spending, addressing the prison situation is a must.

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George Zimmerman meant well but we must be careful in our zeal to protect our communities.  Trayvon Martin was a better young man than most but sorting good kids from the bad ones has become difficult because most of them –Black, White and Brown- seems to admire the thug/hard element. 

I didn’t add “Yellow” to the list above because (as I stereotype) Asians youth in America still respect their elders and attempt to be obedient.  Oh, it is a matter of time before certain parts of American culture ruin them also. 

We have two or three generations of young people who don’t give a flip about how they carry themselves.  They will say or do anything in front of anyone and dare you to look at them sideways.  Zimmerman, with the warmth of his firearm, wanted to be that heroic figure in the neighborhood who stood for what was right; he wanted to be the man not afraid to stop the crime drama.  But, he stepped mistakenly to a decent guy. 

On some level, I feel like the guy on the block who senior citizens seek regarding community matters but I am much smarter than Zimmerman.  You must establish a vibe with the young folks and I have found that the holiday season is the best time.  During Christmas and the Fourth of July, my 40 something classmates come home to visit their parents and, of course, yell (like we do) at a brother from down the street.  It usually surprises the current young people to know that their uncles were once young and that some oldheads gave us words of wisdom—now it’s our turn. 

The seed gets planted when my old friends put their massive hands on their nephews’ shoulders and say, “listen to my homeboy and help him keep the block straight for moms.”  That nephew and his crew are the ones with the booming car music at 3 a.m.  We always want to diplomatically address these matters rather than seeing another person heading to expensive penal system.

We have so much unemployment in rural Georgia but a factory closing doesn’t mean you don’t have a job to do.  Most of my friends have worked continuously since high school.  I have seen guys laboring to keep their kids in Polo and Tommy gear but the kids grow up with a feeling of entitlement.  A year out of work might just be the year when dude saves his son from the streets or the year when moms’ house get the renovations it needed. 

On the job front, we are starting to see reports on employers who will only hire whose currently working.  Really?  In my community, we must do everything we can to weather these rough times.  The good news is that Black folks have perseverance encode on our DNA.  If we get rid of Polo, Tommy and other aspects of conspicuous consumption, we could live with less money.  Secondly, we must stop trying to keep up with the Jones because the Joneses are in debt up to their eyeballs. 

There is nothing wrong with a guy being a stay at home dad for a minute; I have been a stay at home son for more than a minute and yes the salary drama is stressing me out.  We are now the old guys who voluntarily read the Bible and I like Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength and the beauty of old men is the grey head.”  I find Psalm 71:18 to be equally cool “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and they power to every one that is to come.”  While unemployed, you still have work that needs to be done.

Proverbs 22:6 states “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Well, my daddy had a strong commitment to our community and my neighborhood was created in the 1970s by men who were overworked and underpaid on someone else’s farms.  If those dead men paid for these houses with years of hard labor, we can’t let a few half-raised youth destroy the area to the degree that widows are in constant fear.  And the crazy thing is that homies who come home from prison are the main ones telling the youth that the wild path isn’t the right one.

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