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Posts Tagged ‘government’

Generations of Pork: How Greece’s Political Elite Ruined the Country

The latest tranche of loans from the EU and the IMF has helped buy debt-ridden Greece some time. But the Greeks will find it hard to get back on their feet. Their country has been ruined by three political dynasties, which created a bloated system of cronyism that is hard to change. By SPIEGEL Staff.

[...]

Regardless of whether it happens under Papandreou alone or with both politicians working together, if Greece starts economizing, it risks choking its own economy. "It’s like a cat chasing its own tail," says Greek economics professor Yanis Varoufakis.

Former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff recently warned: "If they just continue with the European Union’s austerity program, they’re going to be in slow growth or recession as far as the eye can see, and at the end of the day they’re still going to default."

And it’s not as if Greece hasn’t already adopted austerity measures. Athens managed to cut its budget deficit from 15.4 percent of its gross domestic product to 10.6 percent last year, thanks to its first austerity package. The government made cutbacks in salaries, retirement funds and social benefits, among other things.

This austerity policy also caused 200,000 people to lose their jobs last year, with unemployment reaching an all-time high of 15 percent by late March.

With pay in the private sector also often falling by 10 to 20 percent, consumption likewise dropped by nearly 10 percent and the recession intensified. It’s a vicious circle. Since taxes need to increase and spending needs to decrease, the situation is likely only to get worse.

Full article here: Generations of Pork: How Greece’s Political Elite Ruined the Country – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International.


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“The People Vs. Goldman Sachs” – Taibbi’s Magnum Opus

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

By Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone Magazine

The People vs. Goldman Sachs

They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.

The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — "a million fraud cases a year" is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin’s small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street’s aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008.

To date, there has been only one successful prosecution of a financial big fish from the mortgage bubble, and that was Lee Farkas, a Florida lender who was just convicted on a smorgasbord of fraud charges and now faces life in prison. But Farkas, sadly, is just an exception proving the rule: Like Bernie Madoff, his comically excessive crime spree (which involved such lunacies as kiting checks to his own bank…
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Enjoying Coffee in the Lodge with Jesse

THE BANKS MUST BE RESTRAINED, AND THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM REFORMED, WITH BALANCE RESTORED TO THE ECONOMY, BEFORE THERE CAN BE ANY SUSTAINED RECOVERY – Jesse 

Enjoying Coffee at the Lodge with Jesse 

By Ilene

coffee at the lodge with JesseI have long been a fan of Jesse’s Café Américain. Jesse is a brilliant writer and a deep thinker who uniquely transcends politics, easily seeing through lies and disinformation. He has a great feel for what really matters, and the courage to speak out about it.  Jesse and I have spoken before about the economy, markets and politics, and being at a crossroads once again, it was a perfect time to catch up. 

****

Ilene: Hi Jesse, since our last interview, I would guess that we’d both agree that nothing has been done to clean up the financial system – the banks and government interconnectedness, conflicts of interest, and out-and-out fraudulent activities.  Are things better or worse, or in line, with what you were expecting over a year ago?

Jesse: I think things are progressing in line with what I had expected, with the Fed and the government trying to prop up an unsustainable status quo by monetizing debt.  I am still a little shocked by the brazen manner in which the financial markets are being conducted and regulated, and the news is reported in the US. It is one thing to hold a theory that says something will happen, but it is quite another to see it actually happening, and so blatantly, almost without a word of protest.

Ilene: How do you view our financial system and the global financial system now, with no progress towards any kind of reform?

Jesse: The US is now being run by an oligarchy, with lip service being paid to the electorate in allowing the people to vote for the candidates that the parties and the powers will put forward.  There will be no recovery for the middle class until they assert themselves. I know I have stated this often in my tag phrase, “The banks must be restrained…” But it is the case.

There are areas of resistance to this trend on what one might call ‘the fringes of Empire,’ those client states which have been ruled by powerful cliques with the support and the protection of the US.  Although certainly not a great analogy, it does remind one of…
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China’s Coming Collapse

The Middle Kingdom’s prosperity is an illusion. And when China finally falls, we’ll all feel the pain.

By Jason Kirby, Canadian Business Online (H/t David Gordon)

As fearmongering election campaign ads go, it’s hard to top the "Chinese Professor," which flickered across the Internet just before Americans went to the polls last fall. In the spot, set in a sleek Beijing lecture hall 20 years in the future, a sharply dressed Chinese instructor explains to his Asian students why previous empires, from Ancient Greece to the U.S.A., turned to dust. The Americans failed because they lost sight of their principles, he says in Mandarin, with subtitles. They overspent, overtaxed and over–borrowed. "Of course, we owned most of their debt," he cackles, as the class joins in. "So now they work for us."

If you missed the ad, put out by the conservative group Citizens Against Government Waste, no matter. The notion that China’s headed for superpower status at the expense of the United States has been repeated so often that many in the West now take it as an undisputable fact. With breathless enthusiasm economists predict China’s red–hot economy will power past America’s to become the world’s largest in just 15 years. Bookstore shelves are filled with titles like China’s Ascent and When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, in which author Martin Jacques argues America is in denial about the fact China is its "usurper and ultimate replacement." Hollywood’s even getting in on the act with a remake of the 1980s Cold War paranoia flick Red Dawn, in which Soviet soldiers overran a Midwest American town. Only this time, the marauders are Chinese. Having conquered American capitalism, the People’s Liberation Army is coming for America’s Capitol, too.

It’s easy to find evidence that ostensibly confirms China’s unstoppable ascent. Try this: Go to Google News and type in "China," along with any laudatory adjective, then add the suffix "–est." Do so, and you’ll learn that China is building the world’s third–tallest skyscraper ("China usurps U.S. in skyscrapers"); it produces the smartest children ("Chinese students outperform U.S. in recent test") and now boasts of the world’s fastest trains ("China’s fastest train leaves rest of world behind"). This super–country narrative has become so pervasive that the majority of Americans take it for granted. At the end of last


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Corporate Hacker Tries to Take Down WikiLeaks

Stephen Colbert reports on technothriller going on between Wikileaks, Anonymous (a "global hacker nerd brigade") and Aaron Barr. H/t Ron. – Ilene

Corporate Hacker Tries to Take Down WikiLeaks

A corporate hacker tries to take down WikiLeaks by faking documents and blackmailing American journalists.


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Stock World Weekly 2-27-11

Here’s the latest edition of Stock World Weekly:  Irresistible Forces Meet Immovable Objects. - Ilene 

Excerpt:

On Saturday, February 27, the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) voted unanimously to institute sanctions on Libya, including travel bans and freezing the assets of Muammar al-Gaddafi and others associated with his regime. Protests have dragged into their twelfth day, and protestors refuse to yield in the face of utterly horrific retaliation by Gaddafi’s loyal forces. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice said, “When atrocities are committed against innocents, the international community must act with one voice – and tonight it has.”  

The Telegraph reported over the weekend that Gaddafi apparently made good on his threats to trigger a civil war, using irregular forces largely composed of hired mercenaries to launch a counterattack against protesters. “Anywhere we go there is danger,” said one woman, a 28-year-old mother of four who asked not to be named. “All we want is food and fresh water for our children but it is impossible to find. Security is the only concern of the authorities.” 

An accurate report of the death toll is impossible to obtain at this time, but on Wednesday, Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini said, “We believe that the estimates of about 1,000 are credible.” The situation in Libya has deteriorated since then. Multiple stories coming in from all over the country have cited dozens to hundreds of casualties in each city. It appears that Libya has slipped into the abyss of complete social breakdown and civil war.

This is just one example of the tide of popular unrest that has been unleashed in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s and other central banks’ inflationary policies. The chart below shows the U.S. Adjusted Monetary Base increasing from $1.75Tn in 2009, to $2.0Tn in 2010, and now nearing $2.3Tn, an increase of $300Bn in just two months! This represents an increase of 35% in less than 18 months. (The U.S. Monetary Base is the total amount of currency that is circulating in the hands of the public or in the commercial bank deposits held in reserves of member banks of the Federal Reserve System.)  

Another revolt of a more peaceful nature took place in Ireland. The long-dominant Fianna Fail party was brutally rejected by Irish voters, taking just 15.1% of the vote and losing…
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Why Did the U.S. Military Buy 500 Fake Internet Personas?

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant

The answer to the question "why does the government need software to create a bunch of fake Internet "people?" is probably quite simple, and while Daily Kos seems to feel it has to do with attacking progressives, I’m afraid the aim of the purchase is far more subversive and far-reaching. Leave it to libtards to take it personally and ignore the fact that there is an ongoing war against Americans, waged by their own government, that has so far claimed our privacy, freedom and now our economic well-being. 

I also remind Daily Kos here that the American progressive is already an extinct creature, replaced by leftist maniacs too drunk on their own perceived invincibility to realize that they’re the ones holding the torches as Rome burns. I have no problem with progressives and could probably play one on TV as I believe in crazy ideas like advancing knowledge and equal rights and am fascinated by the sociology of economics, all matters progressives tend to say they are into. I believe gays should be allowed to marry but churches should be allowed to say they refuse to marry them (that’s the whole separation of church and state we seem to have forgotten about). Just as the true conservative has been replaced with a holier-than-thou army of Christian fundamentalist freaks who obviously haven’t read a Bible lately since the one I read said something about "love your brother" and "judge not lest ye be judged," we are once again losing the battle by fighting amongst ourselves over semantics instead of attacking the true enemy. 

But what if the enemy could replicate itself to infinity and invade our most sacred space of information exchange, the Internet? Worse, what if they already have?

We have known for a long time this happens. It’s why sketchy IP addresses show up in my stats and comments appear on politically-charged websites that seem to paint the OP as a kook or set up a critical mass of straw men to otherwise discredit the point of the article. I’ve seen it in practice and it’s usually more sad than frightening. Real commenters get so caught up in their feelings they let their emotions bleed through the keyboard. Real commenters are idiot Americans who were churned through our sub-par public school system and don’t know…
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Ron Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program; Political Pressure on Fed Mounts

Courtesy of Mish

MarketWatch reports Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program

Outspoken Federal Reserve critic Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, slammed the central bank’s latest $600 billion bond-buying program on Wednesday, saying it and near-zero interest rates haven’t led to job creation in the United States.

“Over $4 trillion in bailout facilities and outright debt monetization, combined with interest rates near zero for over two years, have not and will not contribute to increased employment,” Paul said at a hearing of a House Financial Services subcommittee he heads.

“Debt monetization” is a reference by Paul and other Fed critics to the Fed’s latest bond-buying program — a characterization rejected by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

In essence, Paul is charging that the central bank is enabling profligate spending by the government. The term “debt monetization” is a buzzword for how some poorer countries conducted policies in the post-World War II era.

Political Pressure on Fed Mounts

WSJ’s Sudeep Reddy reports on concerns the Federal Reserve could be facing political pressure from Congress, as Rep. Ron Paul holds the first hearing of a new Fed oversight committee. Separately, Fed Chairman Bernanke updates Congress on the economy.

If the above YouTube does not play here is a link: Rep. Ron Paul Ignites Fed Worry

Mike "Mish" Shedlock


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Mubarak’s Acts of Cowardice; Obama Calls Mubarak for 30-Minutes; Cell Service, Internet Total Shutdown; Anarchy in Cairo; How Long can Mubarak Last?

Courtesy of Mish

The situation in Egypt has gone from bad to worse. Cairo is in a state of near-anarchy and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s cowardly disruptions to the internet and cell phones have made things worse.

Egyptian citizens unable to get news on the internet or cell phones have only one place to get it now, the street.

President Obama called Mubarak in a 30-minute phone call. Obama’s message was "Ultimately, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people."

If that was a hint, Mubarak did not get it. Instead, Cairo is in flames as protesters have turned more defiant.

Mubarak Orders Crackdown, With Revolt Sweeping Egypt

The New York Times reports Mubarak Orders Crackdown, With Revolt Sweeping Egypt

With police stations and the governing party’s headquarters in flames, and much of this crucial Middle Eastern nation in open revolt, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt deployed the nation’s military and imposed a near-total blackout on communications to save his authoritarian government of nearly 30 years.

Friday’s protests were the largest and most diverse yet, including young and old, women with Louis Vuitton bags and men in galabeyas, factory workers and film stars. All came surging out of mosques after midday prayers headed for Tahrir Square, and their clashes with the police left clouds of tear gas wafting through empty streets.

By nightfall, the protesters had burned down the ruling party’s headquarters in Cairo, and looters marched away with computers, briefcases and other equipment emblazoned with the party’s logo. Other groups assaulted the Interior Ministry and the state television headquarters, until after dark when the military occupied both buildings and regained control. At one point, the American Embassy came under attack.

Six Cairo police stations and several police cars were in flames, and stations in Suez and other cities were burning as well. Office equipment and police vehicles burned, and the police seemed to have retreated from Cairo’s main streets. Brigades of riot police officers deployed at mosques, bridges and intersections, and they battered the protesters with tear gas, water, rubber-coated bullets and, by day’s end, live ammunition.

Cairo in Near-Anarchy

The Washington Post reports Cairo in near-anarchy as protesters push to oust president

The Egyptian capital descended into near anarchy Friday night, as the government sent riot police, and then the army, to quell protests by tens of thousands of demonstrators determined to


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Stock World Weekly

Here’s the newest: Stock World Weekly Newsletter. Comments welcome! – Ilene 

Jobs Cartoon

Archives here. 


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Zero Hedge

Forget Orwell And Rand, We've Gone To Full On Plato

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Thad Beversdorf via First Rebuttal blog,

Lately, we hear a lot about Orwell’s “1984″ and Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” but perhaps the best crystal ball to our current state of affairs is Plato’s Republic.  You see both Rand and Orwell were describing a world outside of themselves.  A world they couldn’t understand or accept.  And while those works are brilliant and incredibly prophetic, I expect that to understand a world borne of narcissistic sociopathy one must exami...



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Phil's Favorites

"Eagle Cam": Aerial View of London via Video Camera Attached to an Eagle

Courtesy of Mish.

An eagle got an impressive birds-eye-view of London this week, flying over the city's most iconic landmarks using a Sony HDR-AZ1VR Action Cam attached to its back.



Link if video does not play: Action Cam Footage Shows Eagle Flying Over City of London

The BBC reports Eagle With Camera Flies Over London
An eagle with a camera attached has flown across London and offered a new perspective on some of the capital's best-known landmarks.

The footage was recorded over a week by an Imperial Eagle called Darchan.

The animal has been brought to London from the French Alps by The Freedom Project to mark the 50th anniversary of the International Union for Conservation of ...



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Market Shadows

Official Moves in the Market Shadows' Virtual Portfolio

By Ilene 

I officially bought 250 shares of EZCH at $18.76 and sold 300 shares of IGT at $17.09 in Market Shadows' Virtual Portfolio yesterday (Fri. 11-21).

Click here for Thursday's post where I was thinking about buying EZCH. After further reading, I decided to add it to the virtual portfolio and to sell IGT and several other stocks, which we'll be saying goodbye to next week.

Notes

1. th...



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Chart School

The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Note from dshort: With yesterday's release of the Consumer Price Index for October, I've updated Real Retail Sales for October.

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

There is, however, a general belief that there are four big indicators that the committee weighs heavily in their cycle identification process. They are:

  • Industrial Production
  • Real Personal Income (excluding Transfer Payments)
  • Nonfarm Employment
  • Real Retail Sales
  • ...

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    All About Trends

    Mid-Day Update

    Reminder: David is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

    Click here for the full report.




    To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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    OpTrader

    Swing trading portfolio - week of November 17th, 2014

    Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

     

    This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

    We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

    Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

    To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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    Sabrient

    Sector Detector: Investors make up new rules for their new market paradigm

    Reminder: Sabrient is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

    Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

    By Scott Martindale

    Investors in U.S. equities seem to have embraced a new market paradigm in which upside spikes come more swiftly than the downside selloffs. Remember when it used to be the other way around? When fear was stronger than greed? The market is consolidating its gains off the early-October V-bottom reversal, and no one seems to be in any hurry to unload shares this time around, with the holidays rapidly approaching and all. After all, there are bright blue skies directly overhead giving hope and respite from the early freeze blanketing the country.

    In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer...



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    Stock World Weekly

    Stock World Weekly

    Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

    The newest Stock World Weekly is ready. Click here for the this weekend's reading and sign in with your PSW user name and password. 

    Picture credit: AnnaER at Pixabay. 

    ...

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    Digital Currencies

    Ukraine Central Bank Bans Bitcoin "To Protect Citizens" From Financing Terrorism

    If you would have supposed that Ukraine had enough problems to make banning bitcoins a backburner issue, you'd have been wrong. The rationale, "to protect consumers' rights" makes little to no sense... The other one, "to keep money in the country" makes more sense. 

    Ukraine Central Bank Bans Bitcoin "To Protect Citizens" From Financing Terrorism

    Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

    The Hryvnia has collapsed to new record lows near 15/USD this morning. The Central Bank and bankers "agreed to keep UAH at 15-16/USD" but are &qu...



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    Option Review

    Yamana Gold call options sink

    Yamana Gold call options sink

    By Andrew Wilkinson at Interactive Brokers

    A four-year low for the spot price of gold has had a devastating impact on Yamana Gold (Ticker: AUY), with shares in the name down at the lowest price in six years. Some option traders were especially keen to sell premium and appear to see few signs of a lasting rebound within the next five months. The price of gold suffered again Wednesday as the dollar strengthened and stock prices advanced. The post price of gold fell to $1145 adding further pain to share prices of gold miners. Shares in Yamana Gold tumbled to $3.62 and the lowest price since 2008 as call option sellers used the April expiration contract to write premium at the $5.00 strike. That strike is now 38% above the price of the stock. Premium writers took in around 16-cents per contract o...



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    Pharmboy

    Biotechs & Bubbles

    Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

    Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely.  From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.

    First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices.  Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment.  Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer.  For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...



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    Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

    "Hello PSW Members –

    This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible.  Feel free to contact me directly at jennifersurovy@yahoo.com with any questions.

    Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts.  After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.)  Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.

    http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-get-shadowfax-out-from-the-darkness-of-medical-bills-/126743

    Thank you for you time!




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