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Between the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt, and its successor Occupy uprising in America, President Obama has had different reactions.1 On January 28th, right after police cracked-down on Egyptian protesters to clear Tahrir Square in Cairo, President Obama made strong remarks:2 3

As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury or loss of life. So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.

The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.

...

But we've always been clear that there must be reform: political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people. In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time. ...

Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people.  And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.  What's needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people:  a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.

On Tuesday last week, right after police cracked-down on Occupy Wall Street protesters to clear Zuccotti Park in New York City, President Obama made no remarks on the event.4 But his press secretary did answer a question about the president's reaction:5
[T]he President's position is that obviously every municipality has to make its own decisions about how to handle these issues, and we would hope and want, as these decisions are made, that it balances between a long tradition of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in this country and obviously of demonstrating and protesting, and also the very important need to maintain law and order and health and safety standards, which was obviously a concern in this case.

So for Egypt, a call for the government to address the people's grievances; for America, no such call. For Egypt, a clear statement for the human rights of assembly and free speech; for America, a hope to "balance" those rights. For Egypt, a call for police to keep from violence; for America, as the log of police violence lengthens, silence.6

(From The Paragraph.)

See also on Daily Kos

The President and the Violence Against OWS Protestors

Obama on Freedom -- a recent recap

President Obama - Where are you on #Occupy and Brutalization of Peaceful Protesters?

Sources


1) Occupy Wall Street - About

Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.

2) 'Bloody and bruised: the journalist caught in Egypt unrest' by Jack Shenker, The Guardian, Wednesday 26 January 2011

"The police attacked us to get us out of the square; they didn't care who you were, they just attacked everybody," a lawyer standing next to me, Ahmed Mamdouh, said breathlessly. "They … hit our heads and hurt some people. There are some people bleeding, we don't know where they're taking us. I want to send a message to my wife; I'm not afraid but she will be so scared, this is my first protest and she told me not to come here today."

3) Remarks by the President on the Situation in Egypt 2011-01-28

4) 'Watch: Police make violent arrests during ‘Occupy Wall St.’ eviction' By Andrew Jones, The Raw Story, Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New York City police once again acted aggressively towards Occupy Wall Street protesters, using pepper spray and tear gas as they made rough arrests early Tuesday morning at Zuccotti Park.


Police bull their way through Zuccotti Park.

5) Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes, 2011-11-15

6) 'In day of protests, "Occupy Wall Street" faces police violence' By Alain Sherter, CBS News, 2011-11-17

Such unnecessary force has become a feature of law enforcement operations against the Occupy movement in recent weeks. Scott Olsen, a former U.S. Marine and Iraq war veteran, suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries in October after being hit by a tear gas canister or rubber bullet reportedly fired by Oakland police. At the University of California-Berkeley, campus police also are under investigation for allegedly roughing up students and faculty (as seen in this video) at an Occupy rally earlier this month. And in Seattle this week, an 84-year-old community activist, a priest and a pregnant teenager were pepper-sprayed.

Such tactics have drawn fire not only from Occupy Wall Street and civil libertarians, but also from law enforcement experts. Here is what Norm Stamper, who was the police chief in Seattle during the chaotic anti-World Trade Organization protests in 1999, recently had to say about police violence in the latest uprising:

More than a decade later, the police response to the Occupy movement, most disturbingly visible in Oakland -- where scenes resembled a war zone and where a marine remains in serious condition from a police projectile -- brings into sharp relief the acute and chronic problems of American law enforcement. Seattle might have served as a cautionary tale, but instead, U.S. police forces have become increasingly militarized, and it's showing in cities everywhere: The NYPD "white shirt" coating innocent people with pepper spray, the arrests of two student journalists at Occupy Atlanta, the declaration of public property as off-limits and the arrests of protesters for "trespassing."

One Occupy-affiliated protester in New York, who said he was a former NYPD officer, echoed this theme of an increasingly aggressive, militarized police prone to responding to mostly peaceful protests with inappropriate force. The police are "jacked up" to crack down, he told me.


Policeman douses students with pepper spray before arrests at UC Davis Occupy site.

 * * *

By Quinn Hungeski,TheParagraph.com, Copyright CC BY-ND 2011

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm afraid Obama believes in a double (5+ / 0-)

    standard: no help for the American people who are demanding justice: lots of rhetoric against the foreign tyrants who are beating their citizens.  In other words: domestic tyrants - good: foreign tyrants - bad.

  •  This is a bad comparison. (5+ / 0-)

    Hundreds of protestors were getting killed in Egypt at the hands of the Egyptian dictatorship's security forces.

    If OWS protestors in the U.S. (or anywhere else, for that matter)were getting shot, run over, beaten to death, and tortured, then I'm sure that President Obama would be strongly speaking out for their rights.  In fact, I bet he'd have the justice department cracking down on the abusers and the National Guard out to protect protestors, if that were the case.

    OWS is a great movement.  Silly comparisons like this one don't really help the OWS cause, though.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 03:41:55 AM PST

    •  Killing wasn't mentioned (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hungeski, radmul

      "So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters."

      Either you're wit' us or a Guinness -- Brilliant!

      by Unforgiven on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 06:06:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even putting the killing aside.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hungeski, gramofsam1, Lawrence

        ...the violence by police against protesters in Egypt was on a scale that quite simply doesn't compare to any of the relatively few acts of brutality by police against #Occupy protesters.

        With #Occupy, virtually every act of police brutality is front-page news—and we soon know the names of the victims and usually of the cop who committed the act, who's subjected to some pretty substantial public shaming and often an official inquiry of some kind.

        In Egypt, police brutality was such the norm that the news was just "more violence," with so many security personnel and so many victims involved that we never learned all their names—and it didn't matter anyway, since none of the security personnel would even face an inquiry, much less punishment, for what they'd done.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 07:19:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  ah, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hungeski, esquimaux, radmul

          so violence here is fine, so long as it's less than in Egypt?

          listen, that is not a valid excuse. it just isn't.

          •  Where in my comment... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hungeski, Lawrence

            ...did you see me saying that it was "fine"?

            It isn't.

            But it is (a) not a comparable situation to Egypt, and (b) something the President needs to get involved in.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 08:18:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  (preview is my friend.) (0+ / 0-)

              When I restructured that sentence, I missed a second not; it should read "(b) not something the President needs to get involved in."

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 08:19:26 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  again (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              hungeski

              you are missing some link in your logic.

              a) the violence here isn't as bad as in Egypt

              b) ......

              c) therefore, Obama shouldn't say anything.

              Where's your "b)" argument.

              •  I'm not making the claim in that comment... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                hungeski

                ...that the President shouldn't say anything.

                Rather, I'm refuting the diarist's claim that because President Obama said something about police violence in Egypt, he's inconsistent in not saying something about the acts of police brutality with #occupy.

                The diarist's claim rests on the idea that the situation in Egypt and the US, and the President's institutional position vis a vis those two situations, are analogous.

                I'm refuting that claim by pointing out the many ways in which the situations aren't at all analogous, and thus arguing that the diarist hasn't made the case for President Obama to say something about the situation.

                Now, I make the case below that the President shouldn't say something and that we shouldn't want the President to say something, because it'll distract from the message of the 99%. But that isn't at all the claim of the above comment thread.

                "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 08:29:33 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Rereading my comment above... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...I did say that it wasn't something the President needs to get involved in.

                  My mistake.

                  Please read my comment below for the reasons I think the President shouldn't say anything about it.

                  "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                  by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 08:32:08 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  yes (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    hungeski

                    but you are missing something.

                    a) the violence isn't as bad as in Egypt

                    b) .....

                    c) therefore, he should say anything.

                    now, you are missing "b)".

                    an example could be "unless it's as bad as in Egypt, he should say anything", or something like that. but the problem, as I see it, is that there is nothing you could put for "b)" that holds up to scrutiny or makes much sense.

                    •  I made it clear below... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      hungeski

                      ...why I don't think he should say anything.

                      Furthermore, I think the onus is on those who think that he should say something to make the case for that; it seems to me that the default for this is that in every other case in which a local police officer acts unlawfully, the President doesn't say anything, so why should this situation be any different?

                      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                      by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 09:20:45 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I think this situation is different ... (0+ / 0-)

                        because it is a major movement.

                        The Paragraph: Terse news, history and science.

                        by hungeski on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 09:35:50 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Fair enough. (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          hungeski, Lawrence

                          The movement has been "major" enough to elicit comment from the President, on several occasions.

                          But I don't think the incidents of police brutality have been widespread on anywhere near the level that the President commenting on it would be necessary.

                          Moreover, I don't think the President commenting on the police brutality would (a) change the situation on the ground for the #Occupy protests in terms of the response they faced from law enforcement, or (b) have a positive effect on the movement's stated goal, which is to make our economy and government work for the 99%.

                          I suppose that's where we differ.

                          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                          by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 09:43:57 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  you posted a lot of words earlier (0+ / 0-)

                        but I don't see a coherent argument.

                        that's what I'm trying to get you to commit to - a coherent argument instead of word salad.

                        as for your argument here that the president doesn't normally speak out against police violence, well, he does (see Egypt) and also this is more widespread, highly visible, and systematic, and in response to a specific peaceful movement.

                        •  What about my argument wasn't coherent? (0+ / 0-)

                          Here are my two major points:
                          (a) Incidents of police brutality related to the #Occupy protests are relatively few, thus not necessitating a response from the President; and
                          (b) The President talking about the incidents would not result in a significant change in the situation, and it would in fact be deleterious to the actual goals of the #Occupy movement by putting more attention on the distraction of the protests themselves rather than on the movement's message.

                          Arguing that the Egypt analogy is faulty, because as I've pointed out to no actual refutation above, the scale and scope of police violence and the President's institutional power vis a vis both situations makes them incomparable, speaks to both of these.

                          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                          by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 10:10:39 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  because (0+ / 0-)

                            a) the fact that other atrocities occur is no reason to ignore this high profile one. that's just not logical.

                            b) the fact that it's even worse in Egypt does not mean that he should ignore this. that's just not logical.

                            c) he should denounce this, even apart from OWS.  The UC Davis kids, for instance, were primarily protesting the violence and Berkeley and tuition increases. it wasn't even primarily about OWS.  It's not logical to suggest that Obama can't talk about police beating up children because OWS also exists.

                          •  You didn't address either of my arguments there. (0+ / 0-)

                            I wasn't arguing that the fact that other atrocities occur was a reason to ignore police brutality here.

                            I was arguing that it doesn't rise to the level of something that requires the President to address it, that it would be counterproductive to the goals of the movement for the President to address it, and that focusing on the rights of protesters rather than the message of the 99% is a major distraction for the #Occupy movement.

                            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                            by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 10:25:09 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  again (0+ / 0-)

                            a) it at least rises to the level of police brutality in other countries, since it is happening here, to Americans.

                            b) counterproductive? if your argument is would be bad because it might get the country talking about something that a) is a huge problem, and b) is already the lead story on the national news, then you are really, really far out there.

                          •  I'm still not quite sure what you're getting at. (0+ / 0-)
                            a) it at least rises to the level of police brutality in other countries, since it is happening here, to Americans.

                            So what makes it different from the other acts of police brutality against Americans that occurred every day prior to the #Occupy movement, for which there wasn't a clamor on this site for the President to address each one specifically?

                            b) counterproductive? if your argument is would be bad because it might get the country talking about something that a) is a huge problem, and b) is already the lead story on the national news, then you are really, really far out there.

                            No, my argument is that it would be bad because police brutality is a massive distraction for #Occupy as it's a question of means rather than ends, and because acts of police brutality against protesters aren't a major concern for most of the 99%.

                            My parents don't lay awake at night worried that they're going to get pepper-sprayed tomorrow, because they're not going to #Occupy protests and thus (probably rightly) think it's not likely to happen to them anytime in the near future. What they do worry about is getting laid off, or not being able to make the mortgage, or having a major health incident that breaks the bank, or having Medicare and Social Security be there for them when they retire in less than a decade.

                            When #Occupy addresses what ordinary folks are worried about, it's strong. When it's all about what the protesters themselves are worried about, but what ordinary folks aren't particularly concerned about even if they intellectually think "yeah, that's bad," it's weak.

                            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                            by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 10:39:09 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

    •  Point taken, but ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux

      I think there's been enough police violence against OWS to merit some comment from the president. It would be easy -- he could take the words from the speech on Egypt.

      The Paragraph: Terse news, history and science.

      by hungeski on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 06:23:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why do you want him to make that the story? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hungeski, gramofsam1

        I think #Occupy has already veered too far into being about the protests themselves (and the police crackdowns against them) rather than about the 99% for whom the protesters are fighting.

        That saddens me, because the 99% message was really resonating... even many conservatives I know who disagree with almost everything else the #Occupiers stand for, couldn't disagree that too much of our politics and our economy is set up for the good of the 1%. For a month or so, income inequality was part of our national conversation.

        So why is that extremely resonant message being dropped in favor of talking about police violence instead?

        I actually was happy that President Obama took the mic-check from those high schoolers, which was about the police violence, and turned it into a message about the 99%.

        Because if President Obama, with his megaphone, talks about the police violence, it's basically game over for the 99% message.

        I'd rather the #Occupy movement—and President Obama, and the Democrats as a whole—talk more about the 99% than about the distraction from that message that is police violence.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 07:28:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  because (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hungeski, esquimaux

          words can matter.

          it wouldn't be much of a story if he just says something about it.

          the lack of saying something is making it a story.

          •  It's only "making it a story"... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hungeski

            ...for a very small proportion of the population.

            The vast majority really isn't paying enough attention to think it's significant that the President's not speaking about the few acts of police brutality at #occupy protests.

            And again, why do you want the attention to be on police brutality, rather than on the things most of the 99% are worried about?

            Why jettison an extremely resonant message, that most people relate to on some level, in favor of something that's really only a major concern for relatively few people?

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 08:24:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  it's (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              hungeski

              making it a story for THIS portion of the population.

              and the public sees how people are being treated for just speaking up, and it's powerful.

              •  I've seen very little discussion of this... (0+ / 0-)

                ...from anyone who I didn't already know to be a supporter of #Occupy.

                And I've seen no mention of the President's not saying anything about it from anyone who isn't already a strong supporter of the movement.

                "The public," as a whole, is much more concerned about getting laid off, or not being able to make their mortgage payments, or not being able to afford health care, than they are about police brutality against #Occupy protesters.

                "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 09:23:29 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  i know, i know (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  hungeski

                  the 30% or so that are progressives don't deserve to hear from the president, right?

                  we've seen our concerns ignored over and over and over by this president. but I still don't think that's a legitimate reason for him to continue doing it.

                  •  Do you have any evidence... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...that the President speaking about this situation is a priority for the entirety of the 30% of the country's people who identify as progressive?

                    Because as one of those 30% of Americans who are progressive, I'd honestly prefer he not speak about that situation.

                    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                    by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 10:11:56 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  wait (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      radmul

                      that's a requirement for the president to do the right thing now?

                      was it a "priority" for a huge percentage of the population to have Obama speak about Egypt?

                      and it does not have to be a priority for it to be good for him to address a concern.  if you don't think that at least 30% of the nation is concerned about police violence, I don't know what to tell you. we are living in two different worlds then.

                      •  You're making the argument... (0+ / 0-)

                        ...that a substantial portion of the public is concerned enough about these specific incidents of police brutality that they see the President's not speaking about them as contributing to their being a focus of the movement.

                        And no, I don't think that the police brutality towards the #Occupy protesters is a significant concern for most of the country—and certainly not on the level of the things they're actually protesting, like layoffs, foreclosures, and other signs that the system is set up for the 1% to screw the 99%.

                        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                        by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 10:32:21 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  ok (0+ / 0-)

                          then we fundamentally disagree.

                          judging by the reactions to the UC Davis attack, I think that far, far more than 30% of the population thinks that police brutality is wrong and also an issue.

                          far more than cared about the egyptian police, which obama did speak about.

                          and far more than what a policeman said to a professor - which obama held a "beer summit" about.

                          but whatever. my grandmother is about to arrive for the holiday, so I need to log off. seems like it wouldn't serve any purpose to continue this discussion anyways, since we just seem to be coming at it with completely different world views.

        •  I don't want him to make that the story, but ... (0+ / 0-)

          I think that some words from him might tamp down further violence against the movement.

          A couple of interesting takes on what Obama could say: One from an Obama supporter; another that is the speech on Egypt with references to Egypt removed.

          The Paragraph: Terse news, history and science.

          by hungeski on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 08:57:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think they would. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hungeski
            I think that some words from him might tamp down further violence against the movement.

            What makes you think that the President saying something would have any more effect than what's currently happening—where officers who engage in acts of brutality are named, shamed, and investigated, and where there's massive public outcry against the officials who give the orders?

            And if the President talks about it, that does make police brutality the story, and keeps the focus on the protesters rather than the 99%.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 09:25:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Big Obama fan, but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungeski

    if he really supported Egyptian protestors--he could do more than issue statements. Egypt receives more US money than any country other than Israel. He has quite a ton of leverage should he choose to use it. Moreover, many of the items (i.e. tear gas) the Egyptians are being suppressed with came from us.

    You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

    by FrankCornish on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 04:00:29 AM PST

    •  The diarist highlights the January protests... (5+ / 0-)

      ...where President Obama's statements against the police violence did have a lot of effect, in signaling to the world and to the Mubarak regime that the US wasn't necessarily going to have Mubarak's back if push came to shove. That was a significant moment in the series of events that led to Mubarak's stepping down.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Thu Nov 24, 2011 at 07:30:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just wondering (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungeski, gramofsam1

    I know the Kossacks keep up to date on events. Did Lech Wolesza of Solidarnosc ever come to NY to support the movement? I heard rumors that he would.

  •  Why are some people obsessed with this? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungeski, Escamillo

    President Obama is not in charge of local law enforcement, and contrary to what jilted-personality-cult fixation on him seems to believe, it is not his job to weigh in every time injustice occurs in America.  He is doing his job - and doing right by the 99% - pursuing his jobs bill.  Why not focus on that?

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