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Reposted from BvueDem by Sharon Wraight Editor's Note: Do any of our reference librarians have leads for the data this diarist is seeking? Just a thought. :-) -- Sharon Wraight

Has policing become more or less dangerous over the past few decades, or the past century? Given all the attention to crime, shootings, gang violence, meth-heads, 'home-invasions', weapons proliferation, trigger-happy cops, militarization of police, etc., what is your guess? Is being a police officer more risky now than it was in the bucolic days of our grandparents, or maybe in the booming 1920s? Have LEO deaths been rising in the past 10-20 years, perhaps justifying the "shoot first and shoot to kill" training that is now indoctrinated in our national police academies and police departments?

This is a short and preliminary diary, just to put some data 'out there', spark discussion, and encourage more data-based analysis.

The numerator, Law Enforcement Officers Deaths by year, is from the National Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) Memorial Fund, http://www.nleomf.org/... (As a group sympathetic to police families, their data would if anything err on the side of over-reporting police on-the-job deaths, but I assume it is 100% accurate. Kudos to Kossack jeremybloom for finding and posting this link!)  In short: how many LEOs are killed/year in the US?

The denominator I used for now is the total US population, from the US Census Bureau. How many LEOs are killed per year, per million US residents? (One would expect that as the population grows, the number of LEOs killed would grow in rough proportion, other things being equal.)

Click past the Orange Insignia of Nosy Kossacks to find out the answers, with data for every year from 1900 to 2013...

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Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 08:53 AM PST

You Can't Read That!

by pwoodford

Reposted from Readers and Book Lovers by Ojibwa

You Can't Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news.

book
Hacked traffic sign in Los Angeles (photo credit: unknown)

YCRT! updates from Tucson, Arizona, where 80 textbooks, along with the entire Mexican-American Studies program, were banned from local high schools in 2012:


More YCRT! below the fold ...
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Reposted from Frederick Clarkson by Frederick Clarkson

Two weeks ago, I wrote here about the most important national day most of us have never heard of:  Religious Freedom Day. That post was also a call to action.

What if we seized this day to think dynamically about the religious freedoms we take for granted at our peril; freedom that is in danger of being redefined beyond recognition. What if we decided to seize this day to consider our best values as a nation and advance the cause of equal rights for all?
Kossack elenacarlena has taken up the call and is organizing a day of action on on Religious Freedom Day, Friday January 16th.  In addition to participating here, she and others have already said that they will be writing pieces for their local newspapers and have called for a wider range of activities as well.  

I am honored to be able to report that since I first wrote about this in an op-ed at LGBTQ Nation -- the idea of taking up Religious Freedom Day in defense of our rights has resonated widely and deeply.  A number of national organizations, both religious and non-religious will be adopting the Day for the first time.

What once seemed like a dusty and obscure bit of history to almost everyone -- is suddenly being understood by us all as having profound and pivotal meaning for our present.  Religious freedom has become one of the central issues of our time. And the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson is one of the most important documents in the history of religious freedom.

Religious Freedom Day was designated by Congress in 1991 and first celebrated the following year in honor of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. The bill was written by Thomas Jefferson in 1777 and finally politicked into law by James Madison in 1786. In it are the unambiguous roots of the meaning of the Constitution and the First Amendment regarding these founders' thinking about religion and public life.  The following year in 1787, Madison traveled to Philadelphia to be one of the principal authors of the Constitution. Five years later as a Member of Congress, he was the principal author of the First Amendment.  (I wrote about it in more detail here, and Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State further explicated the background of the Day and also called for action, here).

But religious freedom is being used as the tip of the spear of the Christian Right's attack on women's reproductive freedom; as well as LGBTQ civil rights, especially marriage equality; and separation of church & state. We saw this on stunning display in the Supreme Court case of Hobby vs. Burwell last year, which for the first time recognized the religious rights of a corporation to impose them on its employees.  Similarly, we are seeing the spread of proposed state level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, some of which allow for faith-based discrimination against LGBTQ people. (One is now law in Mississippi.) Some 60 organizations coalesced to address Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, as the Coalition for Liberty and Justice, which continues to contend for religious freedom for all in our time.  

What I think we all need to do, is to drink down a tall glass of the powerful vision and conviction of the Revolutionary Era that is our heritage—the dynamism of people who simultaneously threw off the control of the British Empire and politically powerful churches. We need a 21st century style of owning this history, surfacing those kinds of feelings, and connecting them to the vision of equality and justice in the face of the challenges of our time.

The time is now to seize the day -- Religious Freedom Day!

Please join us!

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Reposted from elenacarlena by Frederick Clarkson

On December 27, 2014, Frederick Clarkson wrote in his diary about Religious Freedom Day, The Christian Right Does Not Want You To Know About This Day - updated:

What if we seized this day to think dynamically about the religious freedoms we take for granted at our peril; freedom that is in danger of being redefined beyond recognition.  What if we decided to seize this day to consider our best values as a nation and advance the cause of equal rights for all?
We would like to do that.  Rather than continuing the tradition of ignoring National Religious Freedom Day on January 16, let's make it an event.  Let's have so many people writing and talking about this that the mainstream media sit up and take notice.  Let's discuss what religious freedom means to each of us.  Let's seize this as a day embraced by people of goodwill from all backgrounds and beliefs.  Let's dominate the newspapers, the Internet, the airwaves, wherever we can make our presence felt; and let the American people know about this day, its origins, and the real meaning of religious freedom.  It's not the freedom to impose your religion on me.

Please follow me below the diversity curlicue for more information.  The Day is one week from today.  Some of us have been thinking about and discussing this since December.  This diary is to invite everyone to join in.  We also invite you to spread the word to any other groups you think might be interested, which hopefully would be nearly all of them.  We will need writers, speakers, recommenders, republishers, tweeters, followers, social media enthusiasts, vloggers, and popcorn poppers.  Please consider participating as much as you can.  The more, the merrier.

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Sat Jan 03, 2015 at 09:29 AM PST

You Can't Read That!

by pwoodford

Reposted from Readers and Book Lovers by Ojibwa

You Can't Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.

New York Underground Library, Ourit Ben-Haim
New York Underground Library (photo by Ourit Ben-Haim)

YCRT! News

Banned in Tucson™ author Patricia Williams takes on the rising tide of academic book bannings, firings, and the growing disregard for scholarship in the USA.

More banned book news below the squiggle ...

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Reposted from The Book Bear by Ojibwa
by Michael Strickland

Constitutional interpretation claims to be faithful to neutral legal principles. However, a definitive original meaning is nonetheless saddled by contemporary politics and views of morality.

“David Waldstreicher’s intriguing book brilliantly shows the founding fathers’ republican constitution to be, in important part, central to their many evasions of slavery’s antirepublican nature.” —William W. Freehling
Black History month and Martin Luther King celebrations will soon be sprouting up, once again, around the country. With race already at the forefront of the dialogue with heated debates about profiling and police brutality, it is a good time to revisit some vital discussions about how our nation took shape.
Famously, the Constitution never mentions slavery. And yet, of its eighty-four clauses, six were directly concerned with slaves and the interests of their owners. Five other clauses had implications for slavery that were considered and debated by the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention and the citizens of the states during ratification.
Some scholars, such as Waldstreicher, place slavery slavery’s place at the heart of the U.S. Constitution.

This “peculiar institution” was not a moral blind spot for America’s otherwise enlightened framers, nor was it the expression of a mere economic interest. Slavery was as important to the making of the Constitution as the Constitution was to the survival of slavery.
 

By tracing slavery from before the revolution, through the Constitution’s framing, and into the public debate that followed, Waldstreicher rigorously shows that slavery was not only actively discussed behind the closed and locked doors of the Constitutional Convention, but that it was also deftly woven into the Constitution itself. For one thing, slavery was central to the American economy, and since the document set the stage for a national economy, the Constitution could not avoid having implications for slavery. Even more, since the government defined sovereignty over individuals, as well as property in them, discussion of sovereignty led directly to debate over slavery’s place in the new republic.

Finding meaning in silences that have long been ignored, Slavery’s Constitution is a vital and sorely needed contribution to the conversation about the origins, impact, and meaning of our nation’s founding document.While the compromise on representation was a critical turning point at the Constitutional Convention, the issue of slavery was just as important. By the 1830s, slaveowners told opponents of slavery that the Constitution protected slavery, representatives from the slave states would never have signed it otherwise, and everyone at the Constitutional Convention knew it. The discussion of the international slave trade at that convention underscores this reality.

Some historians maintain that Southerners at the convention never really contemplated a separate nation. Indeed, the three South Carolina delegates who voice such threats in this extract supported a strong national government. Nevertheless, the belief that their threats were serious had become dogma by the 1850s. Thus the debate began a pattern of threats by slaveowners that eventually resulted in secession.

Poll

Slavery was

57%19 votes
27%9 votes
15%5 votes

| 33 votes | Vote | Results

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Reposted from Frederick Clarkson by Frederick Clarkson

In the heat of our political moment, we sometimes don’t see how our future connects deeply to our past. But the Christian Right does — and they do not like what they see.

The Christian Right has made religious freedom the ideological phalanx of its current campaigns in the culture wars. Religious freedom is now invoked as a way of seeking to derail access to reproductive health services as well as equality for LGBTQ people, most prominently regarding marriage equality.

But history provides little comfort for the theocratic visions of the Christian Right. And that is where our story begins.

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Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 09:38 AM PST

My dying University research library

by infotech

Reposted from infotech by Ojibwa

My University research library is disappearing. It is sad, tragic and totally unnecessary. My University library is slowing be transformed into another student center, replete with places for the student to lounge about and hang out with their friends, but the books and periodicals are disappearing into storage. The internet is blamed, but the culprit is the University administration.

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Reposted from Democrats Ramshield by Democrats Ramshield

(Written by American expat living in the European Union)


(This diary is written by an American expat living in the European Union who is a male business librarian who holds a graduate library degree (MLS) and a Master's degree in business administration in marketing).

As an American librarian I am glad to be living in the European Union where library funding isn't under attack to the extent that it is back home in the United States, because readership, literacy and an open based knowledge system that is publicly funded is still valued, the same way it was in the America I grew up in. Where what you knew was considered as valuable as what you own, and therefore the library was always regarded as a valuable public good.  In the 2014 America however that seems to have changed, library budgets have become low hanging fruit for conservative local and state politicians.Louisiana is the worse case in point where Gov. Bobby Jindal has eliminated state library funding all together. Not only does it beg the question will your state be next but it asks the question what will you do  when they come for your library and your kid's summer reading program? Do you really know how many books it's really going to take to make that special child or grandchild in your life a lifelong reader. Do you think you have anywhere near those numbers of books in your private collection? Do we understand that libraries traditionally in America have always promoted literacy. Do we also understand that America's prison population traditionally has been functionally illiterate, wherein many prison inmates cannot read and write above the 6th to 7th grade reading level. Do we understand what de-funding institutions that support literacy in America does?

According to a study conducted in late April (2013) by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can't read. That's 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can't read.
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According to the Department of Justice, "The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure." The stats back up this claim: 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70 percent of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level, according to BeginToRead.com.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

What is the public library? Who does it benefit and who owns it?
The answer is the public library is a repository of everyone that has ever thought and everyone who has ever written. It is part of our collective memory of who we are and how we got here. If we know more than those who went before us, then it's only because we're standing on the shoulders of those who went before us. The library is an institution, which as a public good revolves around access instead of ownership, it's value comes not from what you own but rather from what you know. It is therefore a completely socialized good, which must be seen therefore as a public good, wherein every person be it a homeless citizen or the mayor, they all have access to the same egalitarian level and scope of services. It is not just America's last best truly socialized good which is publicly owned that they're trying to take away from you. It is your very intellectual freedom that is at stake and that they through economic censorship want to remove from you. Whereupon it should be noted that the American Library Association has a wonderful freedom to read statement, which is believed comes directly from your first amendment right of free speech, which has been defended in wars, where brave American men and women have given their lives, so that we can exercise free speech and intellectual freedom. Will you now simply stand by and let that freedom be taken from you by censors, in what may become the first generation to lose intellectual freedom in America. Therefore it is strongly defended by librarians for not to do so, would be to give way to censorship. As librarians, we are trained to fight censorship in all of its guises because we understand very clearly that working families cannot begin to have access, for example to all of the books needed to turn that special child in your life into a life long reader. We know how important this is for working families, because a child who is not a lifelong reader, simply put is lost and will have very poor chances in the American knowledge based society. In a clear case where drug use, teen pregnancy and juvenile crime statistics are all closely tied with poor literacy rates. Whereas high literacy rates are closely associated with academic success, which breeds monetary success in professional life, as well as social networking. Reading is literally a life changer for any child, that is even associated with better health and a longer lifespan.  

Here is how censorship works. It's quite insidious, because the censor will come along to tell you that they have your best interests at heart and are not trying to hurt you but protect you from bad authors on the internet, on blog sites, in books, magazines, journals and other types of serial publications. In history there were book burnings. Not just in Nazi Germany, but right in the good old USA by people associated historically with what has been called the far Christian right. Books deemed to be too radical. Authors believed to be too dangerous to exercise their intellectual freedom. They too must be censored! Of course there are electronic de facto book burnings and blog burnings, but more often than not the GOP and it's supporter trolls are imposing a form of economic censorship through the de-funding of libraries. This in America has become a national epidemic.

The New York Public Library Saved His Life by Beth Hays  

Munoz, a junior-high dropout and recovering addict, had never set foot in a Library until two years ago.

Now, Tompkins Square Library is his favorite spot in the city — the place that gave him the strength to turn his life around. “The Library has saved my life. Without it, I would still be out there on the street,” says Munoz, who has been learning to read and write at free adult-literacy center at Tompkins Square Library. “The Library has given me hope and confidence,” added Munoz, who is now inspired to go on to earn his high school diploma. “The Library is the most important place for me in the whole city.”

http://www.nypl.org/...

Miami Herald - Public libraries save lives
Public libraries saved my life and made me who I am. The first one was a shabby little branch of the Miami Public Library, on Northwest Seventh Street, not too far from the Orange Bowl site. It was 1963, and those who lived in that neighborhood were poor. That library no longer exists, but I remember every detail of its interior, especially its shelves and treasure trove of books. It was a few blocks from the group home for juvenile delinquents where I'd been dumped by social workers, and it offered me refuge from constant abuse by my house parents and from the pressure to join a gang.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/...

Are you aware that teen pregnancy  rises with illiteracy wherein a recent study has shown that teen girls with low reading skills are twice as likely to get pregnant during their teen years. So ask yourself when we allow organizations like the library who support literacy for young people to be defunded, what is the real cost of that to American society?

Illiteracy is a common driver historically in poverty, that is say people who are functionally illiterate are at a real disadvantage colloquially put in the modern American esoteric knowledge economy, as are their children. We should also note that in America this means there has always been a racial component in poverty, so that people of color have been especially hard hit. So it is that people traditionally with low literacy rates have populated America's prison systems in the American slave wage economy, where their work in prisons will be paid for as little as 10 cents an hour in the modern American for profit prison industrial complex. This has its roots in chattel slavery dating back to the earliest times in colonial America.

The mass incarceration rates clearly show that in America per 100,000 incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world, wherein it becomes clear that nearly

"63% of all inmates are functionally illiterate according to the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute of Literacy" (2013).
http://www.statisticbrain.com/...
We've all heard the heartwarming tales of how the Ferguson public library after being underfunded for years as a public good recently received $350,000 in donations from the public. So it's clear that even if the city of Ferguson municipal government doesn't see the Ferguson public library which had only one paid staff member as a public good, this is an analysis that the public in America does not share.

The very purpose of censorship historically has always been by a few organized malcontents to impose their will on others. Most particularly on young people and children so as to grow bigotry, racism, homophobia, sexism and every contorted description of hatred. If people cannot be allowed to see both sides of the coin on every issue, what will happen is these people will develop a strange myopic view point that is almost entirely one sided, given their information access restrictions as determined by their economic class. If an author is too expensive to read, then this author will be unread. Therefore it becomes easy for authors to become the victims of censorship, because their works will simply be unavailable in a type of strangulation of intellectual freedom. As an outgrowth of this the very freedom of speech becomes at risk, where dangerous ideas and subversive authors disappear from view. The poverty of intellectual freedom which is left behind has a multiplier effect, when science is replaced by religiosity in the classroom in a position where there is no library to turn to, then these students become a captured audience for creationism supplanting science, along with revisionist history and an intolerant morality, wherein people who don't think like us, people who don't speak the way we speak, people who don't look the way we look and people who don't pray the way we pray and people who don't love the way we love are singled out in witch hunts and targeted for different treatment. This has been the whole history of the world and as it is said if we do not want to repeat history, we must learn from it. But how can we learn when open learning institutions are being de-funded in a type of open book burning by de-funding libraries, one library at a time and one state at a time. If you don't believe in the danger of this domino effect, please look at the development in recent years in states like Louisiana.

Libraries brace for funding loss
Libraries like the Missouri River Regional Library could lose tens of thousands in state funding if recent cuts are sustained.

Karen Hayden, the director of the Little Dixie Regional Library, told KRCG 13 Wednesday she canceled standing orders for some new audio books and CDs after the funding was withheld earlier this summer. She said her library system could lose about $50,000 if the cuts are maintained.
http://www.connectmidmissouri.com/...

Now some people think mistakenly that because we have the Internet we no longer need libraries, because we have more information than we can ever use. This is precisely why we need libraries, because we have more information than we can ever use. You see in librarianship there is something called pertinence, where you want information that is pertinent and retrieval where information that is found may be considered to be retrieved, so you want your information retrieval to be low and you want your pertinence of that information to be high. What the Internet offers is high retrieval with low pertinence, which is just the opposite of what you want. Anyone who has ever tried to find anything in Google will know that because the information matrices as they are constructed in Google are lacking. By contrast the National Library of Medicine classification scheme was developed over a period of 50 years for example so its data matrices and information nodes are far better organized. To get access to that you need to go to a library. Even if you think you have great information you should go to the library, because chances are you will find out you think you have great information because you don't know what you are missing. So libraries in the age of the Internet are more relevant than ever, because libraries organize information far better than anyone has historically through in depth cataloging rules through AACR2 for example.  
But it doesn't have to be that way as members of the public we can change that. All we have to do is to care, care enough to get involved, care enough to defend the free speech that is put out by the library. Care enough to defend progressive authors who add value to peoples' lives, who open up the minds of young readers and who are intent in supporting intellectual freedom through the right to read for one and all, both today, tomorrow and forever.

Let's please remember that libraries do change lives through literacy, innovation, and community engagement. To that end, let me please leave you with a link from the President of the American Librarian Assoication Barbara K. Stripling. She tells us that individuals and communities have a right to libraries.

Individuals and communities have a right to libraries: As a child, I dreamed of changing the world. And then I encountered Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” I realized that dreams become reality only when we take action. So I embarked on a lifelong path to “being” the change through librarianship.
http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/...
Here's a link to another diary I wrote that deserves your attention. Thank you for your support.
http://www.dailykos.com/...
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Sat Dec 13, 2014 at 09:25 AM PST

You Can’t Read That!

by pwoodford

Reposted from Readers and Book Lovers by Ojibwa

You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.

Untitled

That's a photo of my grandson Quentin in the Greenspun Middle School library in Henderson, Nevada. While my wife and I were visiting our kids and grandkids during Thanksgiving week, his school hosted a grandparents' day. When we walked by the library I asked if we could go in, and Quentin said sure. I wanted to check the shelves for banned books, and here Quentin is holding up a copy of one of the most frequently challenged and banned books on school reading lists and library shelves. Yay, Greenspun Middle School!

We had a nice chat with the school librarian, Andy S___, who is well aware of which books in his collection have been repeatedly challenged or banned, and who sends kids home with permission slips for parents to sign if, in his judgement, parents might object to their child checking out particular books. It's case by case, not a blanket policy, and that seems sensible to me. Quentin could have checked out To Kill a Mockingbird without a signed permission slip, for example. We tried to talk him into it, but right now his interests lie elsewhere (you may have heard of a computer game called Minecraft). By the way, we're giving him a banned YA book for Christmas ... I won't say which one in case he reads this post, but it's a good one.

YCRT! News Roundup below the orange thingie ...

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Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 06:06 PM PST

Book Review: No Land's Man

by Jill Richardson

Reposted from Jill Richardson by Ojibwa

In the midst of all of the controversy over race coming from various police shootings of unarmed black men (and various grand juries' failures to indict any of them), I decided to read Aasif Mandvi's book No Land's Man. What the heck does the memoir of a funny Daily Show correspondent have to do with racism? Sadly, a lot.

Mandvi, born to an Indian and Muslim family, grew up in the UK as a young boy and moved with his family to Florida as a teen. He encountered no end of racism on both sides of the Atlantic. It's sadly one of the overarching themes of the book, along with his feeling that he belongs nowhere - not in India, nor in England, nor the US.

Mandvi sees himself as an actor, not a comedian. Still, he is funny. The book is funny. I grew tired of his repeated use of beginning a chapter in the middle of a story, sharing a shocking scene, and then backtracking to say how he got there and what happened next.

What I like about the book is that you get to see the world from an Indian Muslim's point of view. Obviously, Mandvi and his family are a lot like anyone and any family. They are human. They are nice, normal people. And yet they are repeatedly judged by their skin color, their faith, and their accents.

Until he was hired by the Daily Show, Mandvi was rarely asked to play roles for "every man" characters that all Americans could relate to. Instead, he was asked to play a snake charmer, a terrorist, and any number of other ethnic characters. He still uses his ethnicity and religion in his role on the Daily Show as the Senior Muslim Correspondent, but at least now he is empowered to highlight hypocrisy in the U.S. via satire.

We need more books like this - or rather, we need to read more books like this - in order to understand the fundamental humanity that we all share, regardless of skin color. The recent protests and the backlash against it by some whites show that people with different skin colors experience different realities in America today. We need to all get on the same page in order to have a productive conversation. It may be impossible to walk a mile in another man's shoes, but at least you can read his memoir.

Discuss
Reposted from Readers and Book Lovers by Ojibwa

What I read last month. Some from or about the 15th-16th Century; others from all over the bookshelf...in this edition:

Essays (Vol. III), by Michel de Montaigne
Jerusalem Delivered, by Torquato Tasso
The Stripping of the Altars, by Eamonn Duffy
The Reformation, by Will Durant

The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas, by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
An Imaginary Life, by David Malouf
The Hours, by Michael Cunningham
Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded, by John Scalzi
----and the usual assortment of murder mysteries in historical settings.

Enjoy!

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