Social Media and Issues Survey

 

Since we’re gathering this weekend, we thought we’d use this moment to ask you:

How do you want to engage with us? What issues are most important to you? What do you think about our social media strategies?

This survey takes about 5 minutes to fill out. Please, let us know what you’re thinking!

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Not Only for Young Feminists Conference

Not Only for Young Feminists Conference.

Feminists of all generations are welcome and wanted!
Read on for details and an apology from your web editor for phrasing that was agist and exclusionary.

BIG!, HUGE!, ERA News Coming this Week

UpDate: Take backsies! The Big Huge ERA News is NOT NOT NOT Coming. Postponed. Indefinitely. Watch this space.

BIG!, HUGE!, ERA News Coming this Week.

Hop over the Virginia ERA Network Blog: Pay close attention to your feminist news feeds and sources on Wednesday, around 12:30 pm EDT or so. Maybe tune in to C-Span or MSNBC. You might have to hunt around. It is the ERA after all, and the mainstream press is not hot on that particular trail.

Hey, We’re Throwing a Great Conference and You Should Come!

Richmond NOW and Virginia NOW

are pleased, thrilled, excited, and delighted 

to invite you to our young feminists conference.

April 10-12, 2015

Richmond, Virginia

‪#‎VaYFCon2015‬

on Facebook and Twitter

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(click)

Conference Registration, Saturday Meal Pre-Order, Get Our Newsletters

(*) Guests may also register at the door.
Cash or check only, in that case.

To Reserve a Hotel Room, Visit the Conference Page Here.

Room and Ride Share

Guests may arrange to share rooms and rides to Richmond on our Facebook event page.
Please watch the event page closely for these requests! Please be sure to protect your privacy.
Use the Private Message feature to exchange information.

For a Printable Agenda, Click Here.

Also, a complete description of the conference.

– See more at: http://www.vanow.org/join/2015-conference

Virginia NOW Foremothers Oral History Update

So I am way hard at work learning to use Corel VideoStudio X7 in order to produce the oral history videos. This is taking a little while, since it’s the first time I’ve learned to render video in this way (at all), and want to get it right. The goal is for Paradise Kendra and Simone to create 5-10 installments of each interview, edit them with necessary captions/quotes/links, post them on our YouTube channel (to be announced). Each interview will be presented in its entirety, just cut for watchability, edited for sound quality, and annotated so that viewers can navigate the videos quickly.

Collected so far:  a 4 hour interview with members of the Congressional Union and several other activists (Marianne Fowler, Pat Harley, Mary Ann Beall, Mary Peterson Hartzler, Lee Perkins, Ray Bridge, Georgia Fuller, and Emily McCoy (who now helps run the Turning Point Suffragists Memorial efforts), recorded just after the memorial for Jean Crawford in March 2014); a 3 hour interview with Bobbie Frances (who runs EqualRightsAmendment.org and has been the Chair of the ERA Task-force for NCWO), and a 3 hour interview with Barbara Irvine at the  (where Irvine is a founding board member) — drove up to the picturesque climes of northern New Jersey for those two; and a 2 hour interview with Bonnie Becker who was at the heart of implementing Title IX in Virginia. As soon as the first clips are ready for viewing, we will make lots and lots of noise. Stick with us!

ERA YES

OTHER ARCHIVAL MADNESS!

Paradise is working to build a photo archive of more recent VA NOW history and events, of which there are a considerable number of excellent photos to upload, catalogue, and tag into a database. She is also doing the video conversions, fixing format issues, and and generally working to make these clips “viewable”.  Simone, meanwhile, has been gifted with lots of photographs of memorabilia from the participants, and with lots of digital documents ranging from copies of The Washington Equality Times to a few letters and other papers Jean Crawford’s family chose to share with the archive. There is a lot of work to be done, new skills to be learned, about 30 more people to interview (if they all agree!), and only two people doing it on a volunteer basis.

Those two people are also having a blast with this work, and look forward to bringing Virginia an archive of its feminist history that will be broad and deep, multi-media and historically relevant, and very personal. Hang in there! We’re bringing this huge project along as fast as we can!

 

By the by, it’s not the Virginia NOW Foremothers because we’re only interviewing VA NOW members, but because VA NOW is funding and developing the project. Our Foremothers so far have been members of NOW, but also of the Congressional Union, of the Democratic Party of Virginia, and several other historical and extant organizations. We hope of offer an archive of history, sure, more importantly a record of who these women and men were, and who they were together.

Carry on, people!

Dr. Simone Roberts
Web Editor/Historian
Virginia NOW

Action: TRAP Review Public Comment Period Now Open

Dear Virginia NOW members and friends,

Thanks to Gov. McAuliffe’s call for REVIEW OF TRAP regulations that threaten to close many of Virginia’s health clinics (especially reproductive health clinics and abortion providers), the PUBLIC IS NOW INVITED TO COMMENT on the topics of choice, reproductive justice, and abortion access.

Virginia NOW urgently requests that you engage this opportunity to GET ON THE RECORD FOR CHOICE.

To add your voice in support of truly comprehensive health care for women and our families, and to emphasize the importance of complete reproductive autonomy for women as unique individual human beings free to follow their their own moral compass:

CLICK HERE to go directly to the PUBLIC COMMENT FORUM.

If you need background, or a guide to the process, or want a few talking points for inspiration for your unique message, follow these links. You can download these documents for your reference, and you can share these links on your social media.

Our Lobbying Director, Vicki Yeroian, has created several easy to follow guides to help you engage in this process effectively. If you have further questions, you may contact Vicki at lobbyingdirector@vanow.orgYou may also contact our Legislative VP, Marj Signer, at legislativevp@vanow.org for more information.

Please share this post widely with your friends. It is absolutely vital that Virginia women be heard LOUD AND CLEAR at this point in the review.

With our appreciation and thanks,

The Virginia NOW Executive Board

Why We Need the ERA – Diana Egozcue’s Testimony (delivered Feb. 7, 2012)

Virginia NOW President, Diana Egozcue, delivered this testimony about the Equal Rights Amendment to the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012.

“Good afternoon,

I am Diana Egozcue, Virginia NOW President, Fredericksburg resident and a constituent of Senator Vogel.  I am here to testify for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The ERA simply states:  “Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”  At this time, the only guaranteed right women have in the Constitution is the right to vote under the 19th Amendment.  There are laws and acts which give us some rights, but these can be repealed or amended at any time.  The ERA acts as a blanket insurance policy or a firewall for all laws passed for women such as the Lily Ledbetter fair pay act and Titles 7 and 9 in the Civil Rights Act.  Title 9 once disappeared for four years due to a Supreme Court decision, and Congress had to pass it again.

I hear the worn out old arguments all the time that it is dead, it will bring same sex bathrooms, the draft for women, and abortion on demand.  We already have unisex bathrooms, women can be drafted at any time if Congress wishes to do it, and it will not bring abortion on demand.  Twenty-two states have ERA amendments or clauses in their Constitutions including Virginia, and it has never brought abortion in these states.  In three cases brought in the states, the judges have thrown out the cases because men can’t have abortions.

As for being dead, the Congressional Research Service in reports to Congress said:  “The ERA is still legally held timely or contemporaneous, viable, fair and just.”  The Virginia Attorney General, in 1995, in a letter answering Delegate Marshall’s query said the ERA is not dead.  The Supreme Court in Coleman vs Miller said regardless of a time limit, Article V of the Constitution said states still have the power to ratify the ERA.  It is up to the states to give an up or down vote, but not to determine its viability.  The time limit was in the proposing clause and not in the body of the amendment.  There have been seven amendments accepted back by Congress after a time limit has passed including habeas corpus.  The Madison Amendment, the 27th Amendment, was accepted back after 203 years.  It counted 9 of the 13 original state votes in its 38 total needed for passage.  This amendment nullified the time limit argument.

Why do we need the ERA?

  1. As I said before, the only guaranteed right we have in the Constitution is the right to vote.  Some say the 14th Amendment covers women, but if you study the history of the debate, it was never intended to cover women.  The Supreme Court in 1972 said in a decision that the 14th did cover women, but this has often been ineffective to support women’s constitutional authority.  Justice Scalia said in a law review last year that it does not cover women or give equal rights because there is no ERA.  Only the ERA will give the courts strict scrutiny to decide a case, and that’s why they could not find for Lily Ledbetter.  This is an umbrella insurance policy for women or a firewall.
  2.  Forty-seven percent of women support their families.  With the ERA, we will be guaranteed equal pay for the same work.  We now make 77 cents in Virginia for every dollar a man makes in the same job with the same experience.  What this means is that in old age, women receive less Social Security if they never married or (in the case of their ex-husband’s Social Security) if they have been divorced less than a certain number of years.
  3. If we make pay equal, we will increase the tax bases locally, in state coffers, and federally.  Women will have more to spend to grow the economy; more women will not need welfare, Medicaid and food stamps; and there will be a positive impact on infrastructure and other projects.  None of this includes the intangibles such as self-esteem, role models for children and other women, and better housing, which affects children and their learning environments.

Article I, Section 11 of the Virginia Constitution states in the last three lines:  “…that the right to be free from any government discrimination upon the basis of religious conviction, race, color, sex, or national origin shall not be abridged….”  I have to ask the question, if this was written in the 1950’s before the passage out of Congress of the ERA in 1972, why hasn’t Virginia extended the rights guaranteed in the Virginia Constitution to the women of the United States?

We have women fighting and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq.  They are fighting for a Constitution that affords them only the right to vote.  Last week, an all-female fighter squadron flew the first all-female mission from the US Carl Vinson.  The military knows the value of women.  Think of your mothers, wives, daughters, and granddaughters.  What if your daughter or granddaughter marries a man who leaves her with children to support?  Guarantee them the right to make an equal wage to support their families.

Opponents of the ERA say, we have bogus arguments, but give no reasons why they oppose the amendment.  Their specious arguments from the past are worn out.  We have same sex bathrooms, women can be drafted at any time, they serve in combat, and nowhere has abortion on demand been passed into law in the twenty-two states that have ERA amendments or clauses.  Time has marched on and attitudes have changed, but women are still waiting to be granted full citizenship under the US Constitution.  This is about the sex you are, not the sex you do.  A recent survey showed that over 86 percent of Americans agreed we need the ERA.  This is a civil rights issue.  This is a fairness issue. After waiting forty years, I would like to be a full citizen with guaranteed rights in the Constitution.  Thirty-five states have passed this, why not Virginia?

This is a matter of RESPECT.  Respect us enough to give us our rights and make us full citizens, not a 1/4, not a 1/2, but full citizens with the rights men enjoy.  I’ve heard male legislators say that they are protecting us.  No you’re not, not without the power of the law to guarantee our rights.  Again, respect us: that is all we are asking.”

###

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012

***

Go Diana!  She has since spoken on the floor many times on the importance of the ERA’s ratification.

Virginia NOW Wants You to Help Rein in the NSA

Simone Roberts and Paradise Kendra

Why should a women’s organization work on surveillance issues?

We believe that women and women’s organizations have several priority interests in Spy-pusrestricting NSA surveillance of US citizens. If the following concerns seem out-sized to you, please read the sources in the Background section below.

 1.       Intelligence gathered through the NSA’s methods could potentially be used by the FBI and local law enforcement to interfere with or prevent rallies, protests, and acts of civil disobedience organized by VA NOW and similar groups.  (First Amendment)

 2.       Women’s medical privacy, in deeply red states like Kansas for instance, could potentially be violated by anti-choice state administrations to learn the identities of women who have had/planned to have abortions. (Fourteenth Amendment)

3.      Stalking. NSA analysts have already been found to be staking past, present, and desired romantic partners. While the NSA has responded to most of these cases appropriately (click), the room for abuse is a real concern. You have to get caught to get punished.

We also have interests in this problem as citizens:

  • current NSA practices NSA continue the erosion of individual/civil liberties begun with the PATRIOT Act

  • dangers of human fallibility in the misinterpretation or abuse of collected data

  • possible observation of or interference with legitimate community and political grassroots organizations in the US

Mostly what we’re worried about is:  Mistakes. It’s a lot of data  (nearly all of it) and you might not even know that you’re four degrees of separation from someone who’s one or two degrees of separation from a person of interest, suspect, or criminal —  but that’s close enough for a mistake to happen because the computers watching us are searching for patterns of connection and relation in addition to red-flag words and phrases.

And, lastly, this is just bad for a republic. Total surveillance and democracy cannot exist together. Both James Madison and Thomas Payne could agree on that.

What’s the difference  between the NSA tracking me and an internet company or advertiser?

Simply put, Google can’t hold you in indefinite detention as a material witness. Reebok can’t accidently arrest you as an unlawful combatant.

That may sound hyperbolic or stark, but think back to all the perfectly innocent citizens who found themselves on the No Fly List by mistake, or worse who were actually detained, and then could not get the mistake corrected. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, security agencies overdo it.

When the NSA makes a mistake — maybe by misunderstanding a conversation you had last year on the phone and don’t remember — the consequences can at the least destroy your reputation. “I’m worried about Jason. He’s so unhappy with the situation, and I think he’s reaching for comforts that are dangerous.” “Well, converting to Islam is not a sign that you’re unhappy or unreasonable.”

The fact is that metadata describes you, your whole life, and your state of mind in shocking detail (click).

          Here’s what we’re asking you to do.

1. Promote campaigns by these two organizations through your social media. These two organizations, in addition to the ACLU, are working to end NSA data dragnets and to bring intelligence efforts back into reasonable and constitutional boundaries:

Demand Progress is a petition campaign site largely interested in internet/activism issues (copyright, surveillance, harassment of whistleblowers, grassroots work).  Here is a sample petition for their anti-NSA campaign (click).

Fight for the Future is a similar organization, duplicating many of the campaigns of Demand Progress, but puts visitors in direct contact with their federal representatives.

2. Do the same thing for the ACLU’s efforts. Their petition is here (click). Details of their suit against the NSA are in this WaPo article.  Their work on this issues is outstanding.

3. Write a letter. Seriously. Petitions are nice and all, but petitions and form emails don’t get nearly the attention that personally written letters and phone calls do. It’s the effort factor. Each phone call and letter is often extrapolated by politicians and their staff to represent many hundreds or a thousand people who agree with you.

You might write your federal representatives to say that you want them to vote for one or both of these bills:

Rep. Rush Holt (D NJ): HR 2818 Surveillance State Repeal Act: Would repeal the PATRIOT Act and prevent the NSA from installing “backdoors” to most internet encryption, thus allowing private citizens to actually protect the data they want to protect, like their bank transactions (click).

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D VT): S 1599 USA Freedom Act: There is no summary of this bill at present, but basically it would end generalized eavesdropping on cell phone communications and the internet dragnet. It would force more careful FISA review.

Contact for VA House Reps                Contact for VA Senators

You might write to your state representatives to ask them to draft legislation for the state that restricts surveillance along the lines of the federal bills, or modeled on legislation being considered in Wisconsin and California, and to a lesser degree in Texas.

Contact for VA State Legislators

In your letter you could ask for the following, in your own words:

  • Demand a clear and limited definition of “national security,” a term that presently means just about anything at all.

  • Limit both foreign and domestic surveillance to legitimate terrorist tracking and triangulation, not surveillance of entire populations or governments.

  • Limit use of encryption backdoors.

  • Limit legal use so that no data collected by NSA can be used in non-terror related criminal or civil cases against US citizens, or as leverage in other actions.

  • Impose immediate loss of security clearance and prosecution of any government official who uses collected data against other citizens for personal, financial, or political gain or influence.

  • Forbid any use of NSA tracking methods to restrict political organizing, action or civil disobedience.

  • Protect whistleblowers from  intimidation and over-prosecution.

  • Include an exoneration clause that assures well-publicized public apologies to citizens if the program targets them and investigations/detentions/arrests follow a mistaken identification of a “potential terrorist.”

It’s kind of a lot to take in, but give it a day or so. Think about how you really feel about Homeland Security and the NSA collecting the record of every electronic thing you do: phone call, email, on-line purchase, Netflix rental, bank transaction, charitable donation, Facebook post, listserv discussion, browsing through Pinterest, your conversations with your Muslim and Middle Eastern friends.

You may want to write a letter broad enough to cover everything, or focused on some key concerns that matter more to you. But write. And, if you want to, send a copy of your letter to info@vanow.org  (subject line: My NSA Letter). We’ll collect and post them on our Facebook page to encourage more action.

BACKGROUND

How dedicated is our security state to gathering every byte of information about all citizens, seemingly everywhere in the world (France, Germany, and Brazil got the most media attention)?

The NSA describes its data collection center as 1.5 million square feet, and will consume 65 megawatts of electricity costing $1 million per month. It’s in Nevada, and the water needed to keep all those servers cool will be about 1.7 million gallons (6500 tons) of water per day — in Nevada (click) and (click). It is meant to store everything, possibly forever. The word “Exabyte” was coined for a memory capacity equal to 100,000 times the total holdings of the Library of Congress. How  much is that?  It’s this much:

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 155.3 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 35 million books and other print materials, 3.4 million recordings, 13.6 million photographs, 5.4 million maps, 6.5 million pieces of sheet music and 68 million manuscripts. (click)

Multiplied by 100,000. The facility  is also having some significant technical problems with electrical overloads and failures (and the gods only know what effect that could have on the data accuracy) (click).  The room for error here  goes beyond  mistakes in human interpretation or logarithm design, but includes the random electrical  arc scrambling some data. And given the stakes here, those are unacceptable errors.

Rumors that the report published by the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies will “roll back” the security state’s powers are hopeful, but false. The recommendations are far more conservative than most civil liberties organizations would like, as summarized in this op-ed by Michael Morell, one of the report’s authors (click).

Who’s resisting besides Edward Snowden and Anonymous?

VA NOW would be joining a trend. Several large tech companies (AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter,  and LinkedIn) are insisting on five points of reform for current surveillance laws (click). Though these companies are direct competitors, they have come together to demand these reforms so that the internet, essential to the success of all, becomes a trustworthy space once again.

Lawmakers in some states and in the federal government are trying many avenues to restrict surveillance powers to something that will catch bad actors and let the rest of us enjoy our rights and liberties. Terrorists are criminals, they behave like any kind of criminal, and standard forensic procedures can catch them.

Some leading intellectuals and writers are letting their voices be heard. Five hundred writers, from many nations, have signed a public letter demanding a “digital bill of rights” be established in the UN. (click)

Your letter would not place you on the fringe, but right in the stream of national and Spy-pusinternational efforts to reign in the NSA. Have you seen the logo for the new spy satellite going into orbit? (click)  No, we did not make that up. You thought we made that up, didn’t you? Nope.

From Wired Magazine: “The legislation has support from Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate, and from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and National Rifle Association. But the USA FREEDOM Act’s passage into law remains uncertain.

“It is time for serious and meaningful reforms so we can restore confidence in our intelligence community,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont and one of the bill’s chief sponsors. Today’s proposal is a radical revamp of the Patriot Act, legislation passed in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. In 2006, lawmakers amended the act to allow the bulk collection program under the disguise of Section 215 of the Patriot Act — which allows the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to authorize broad warrants for most any type of “tangible” records, including those held by banks, doctors and phone companies”. (click)

From NYT: “We pay them to spy,” Mr. Holt said. “But if in the process they degrade the security of the encryption we all use, it’s a net national disservice.”

Mr. Holt, whose Surveillance State Repeal Act would eliminate much of the escalation in the government’s spying powers undertaken after the 2001 terrorist attacks, was responding to news reports about N.S.A. documents showing that the agency has spent billions of dollars over the last decade in an effort to defeat or bypass encryption. The reports, by The New York Times, ProPublica and The Guardian, were posted online on Thursday.” (click)

From Reason Magazine: “The USA FREEDOM Act, which aims to rein in the National Security Agency (NSA), has a growing coalition of bipartisan support that includes Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.).

The full title—“Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online-Monitoring Act”—is a mouthful. But it aims to do exactly what it says. If passed, the bill could end bulk meta-data collection, require the attorney general to make certain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court decisions public, and allow Internet and telephone companies to disclose some information about FISA court orders they receive. Additionally, it would create a position within the FISA court of a “special advocate” to act “zealous and effective…in defense of civil liberties.” (click)

Freedom and justice for all,
Dr. Simone Roberts
Web Editor / Historian
Virginia NOW

Aside

Women & Politics – VA NOW Advocacy Workshop

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Why did single women vote overwhelmingly for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in the November election? Because single women have the most to lose from an anti-women candidate. Getting out the pro-women vote and passing women-friendly legislation were the topics of Virginia NOW‘s annual advocacy workshop on Dec. 7.

Our presenters were NoVA NOW President Connie Cordovilla and Richmond NOW President Vicki Yeroian. Connie lead us in role playing exercises to fine tune our “asks” of legislators on issues such as the ERA, equal pay,  and ending unnecessary clinic regulations. Vicki presented a grassroots structure for advocacy at the committee level of the General Assembly to further our feminist legislative agenda.  Activists from throughout Virginia attended. For more information on VA NOW legislative priorities and plans, contact legislativevp@vanow.org


The Pro-Choice Women’s Vote Wins It!

The November 5th race for governor was unexpectedly close – Virginia NOW-endorsed Terry McAuliffe beat Tea Party favorite Ken Cuccinelli by just 3 points. The pro-choice women’s vote was critical to McAuliffe’s victory. He won the votes of 67% of unmarried women while Cuccinelli received just 25% of those votes – that’s an astonishing 42-point gender gap. McAuliffe also beat Cuccinelli by 25 points among unmarried men. (Another interesting fact for politicians:  about one-third of voters were unmarried and single women comprised 18% of voters.)

Final-Postcard_largeimage

Virginia NOW is proud that our postcard campaign contributed to the McAuliffe victory. We wanted to help get women to the polls and we exceeded even our expectations. 25,000 postcards were mailed to Democratic women ages 25-40 across the state – women who, because of work and family obligations, may not have voted this year. We knew they HAD to vote in order for pro-women candidates to win.

Our message was simple: “Vote…Because Women’s Votes Will Decide the Future.” We urged them to vote for candidates “who trust women and will safeguard our rights” – McAuliffe, Ralph Northam for Lt. governor and Mark Herring for Attorney General. The response was phenomenal! Postcard parties were held across the state (see photos below). After hearing hundreds of negative ads, women appreciated our positive message. All three candidates won.

Overall, exit polls showed McAuliffe won women by 9 points, the same margin President Obama won by in the presidential election last year. Women overwhelmingly rejected Cuccinelli for his extreme positions battling abortion, threatening contraception, refusing to support funding against domestic violence, and trying to make divorce harder to get. He tried for most of the campaign to mislead voters by downplaying his extreme social agenda, but ultimately, he couldn’t hide from his long record of attacking women’s rights.

Cuccinelli beat McAuliffe among voters who said the economy was the most important issue and among those who named health care as the biggest priority. But, among those who said abortion was their most important voting issue — roughly one in five voters — McAuliffe crushed Cuccinelli by close to a two-to-one margin, according to The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza. Cillizza wrote November 6:

Half of Virginia voters said that Cuccinelli’s position on issues was “too conservative,” while fewer than four in 10 said he was “about right” on the issues. What those numbers tell us is that McAuliffe’s efforts — primarily through a blitz of campaign ads in northern Virginia — to paint Cuccinelli as a warrior for the social conservative movement worked. Even though “economy”  and “health care” voters sided with Cuccinelli, it wasn’t by anywhere close to a large enough margin to offset his losses among voters who prized social issues.

This election shows clearly that abortion access and birth control options are critical to women and cannot be dismissed or downplayed as “social issues”  that are negotiable. Politicians who ignore women’s interests will lose their vote.

Marjorie Signer, Co-Chair, Virginia NOW PAC

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