The Media has a Bad Plan to Drag You Down to The Zipper Zone.

Source: Wikipedia

Fr Stan Fortuna performs The Zipper Zone.

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One Man’s Story: From Drugs to Faith

 

I have a family member who has done time in prison over drug addiction. Her drug of choice was cocaine.

That makes this young man’s story especially poignant to me.

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How Can Public Catholic Help You Stand for Jesus?

Patheos is a great place to blog.

The primary reasons I say that are that (1) I can write anything I want, and (2) I can set the rules for my blog. Every blogger here at Patheos has those freedoms.

What that means is that there are a variety of ways that we deal with the conversations that arise in the com boxes. Deacon Greg Kandra doesn’t allow comments at all. Other bloggers allow any and all comments, no matter what they say. Some, such as Frank Weathers (who is another of my heroes, by the way) allow comments, but only those that advance the Kingdom. Frank also shuts down comments on posts from time to time.

Then there’s me.

I’ve taken an entirely different way with the comments question. I allow all sorts of viewpoints and ideas, but I do not allow insults, hectoring, bad language or bigoted attacks on groups of people. I also do not allow twenty comments all saying the same thing. In those cases, I allow a few and delete the rest. I will not allow people with an anti-Christian agenda to take over this blog and use the discussion to promote that agenda.

Also, unlike some of the other bloggers here at Patheos, I sometimes join in the commenting myself.

I’ve chosen this path because I think it serves the purpose of the blog. I blog at the intersection of private belief and public expression of belief, and I do it entirely from a Christian viewpoint. The whole purpose of Public Catholic is to equip people to take their faith out of the realm of private piety and speak about it, stand up for it and live it in the public sphere. It’s no accident of cutesy phrasing that led me to name this blog Public Catholic. Being Catholic in a public way, and doing it well, is what this blog is about.

I reassess where Public Catholic is going every so often and take a look at the question: Is it actually fulfilling its purpose?

Blogging, especially when I’m so busy in other parts of my life, can get harried and unfocused.

I’m writing this post to let you chime in here and tell me if Public Catholic has helped you in your faith walk. Has reading this blog made you more likely to take a stand for Christ? Has it given you information and understanding that makes you more confident about living your faith in a post Christian society?

Do the combox discussions sharpen your ability to answer attacks on the faith, or do they simply demoralize you?

Are you a better Christian, do you feel closer to Jesus, because of this blog?

I want feedback here. What challenges do you face when you try to take a stand for Jesus on your job, with your family or in your clubs and associations? What ways can this blog inform, inspire and strengthen you in your faith?

Our society is unwinding. We are destroying our community building blocks. Public discourse has become anything but discourse. We the people are leaderless, unless you honestly think that manipulation, propaganda and lies are leadership.

This is all symptomatic of the fact that we are living in a post Christian society. At the same time, it is a society in which the vast majority of people believe in Jesus Christ.

The problem is, Christians are just lying on the mat, ko’d by the various assaults against them and their faith. We’ve gotta get up off that mat people. How can Public Catholic help that happen?

 

 

World Watch List: Number of Christians Who Died for Their Faith Doubled in 2013

While Christians in the West grapple an almost-constant barrage of attacks on their faith from media and extreme secularists, Christians in other parts of the world are actually dying for Christ.

According to a Christian News Agency article, the number of Christians who died for their faith doubled in one year from 2012 to 2013. 

Washington D.C., Jan 9, 2014 / 04:51 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nearly twice the number of Christians were reported as dying for their faith in 2013 than the previous year, according to a new study by an organization monitoring global religious persecution.

The World Watch List, issued by Open Doors USA each year, documents oppression of Christians throughout the world. Based on data from the past year, it ranks the 50 countries that are home to the worst treatment of Christians.

Along with the release of the 2014 report, Open Doors USA also offered information about global Christian persecution on its website, explaining that it had gathered evidence of 2,123 Christians who were killed for their faith in 2013, up from 1,201 such martyrdoms in 2012.

“This is a very minimal count based on what has been reported in the media and we can confirm,” said Frans Veerman, head of research for the organization, according to Reuters. He explained that the actual numbers could be much higher.

The Open Doors USA report estimated that around 100 million Christians were persecuted for their faith in 2013. (To read the rest, go here.)

Little Sisters of the Poor and Hiring a Hit Man to Kill Your Neighbor

Supporters of the HHS Mandate often refer to an “opt-out” as a reason why the Mandate does not put the government in the position of forcing Christians to violate their religious beliefs.

One commenter in the Washington Post even went to so far as to label the Little Sisters of the Poor and their ministry as “religiously affiliated” rather than “religious,” meaning, of course, they aren’t a “legitimate” religious enterprise. This is the sort of specious argument you can expect from people who are trying to thread the needle of the HHS Mandate without admitting that they are attacking the First Amendment. The same author called the arguments in the lawsuit filed by the Little Sisters of the Poor “hooey.”

I guess you could go with the obvious deep-thinking in that statement. But it might be more informative to consider what the arguments in the lawsuit actually are. The simplest analogy I can use to try to explain those arguments would be to say that even if all you do is hire a hit man to kill your neighbor, you are still guilty of your neighbor’s murder. By the same token, even if all you do is require someone else to commit a grave sin in your stead, you have still taken part in committing that grave sin.

Requiring a Catholic to hire a hit man to kill their neighbor is forcing them to violate their religious belief that murder is a sin. By the same token, requiring the Little Sisters of the Poor to hire an insurance company to provide contraceptives and abortion coverage to their employees is requiring them to provide those things themselves.

For those who aren’t acquainted with the concept, it’s called morality.

If you want to read the exact language in the Little Sisters of the Poor’s reply brief, you’ll find it here. Go to page 8 and read for a couple of pages to get the Little Sisters of the Poor’s position.

The real issue here is not the same old meaningless arguments that we keep hearing from HHS Mandate supporters. It’s why religious people are being forced to answer them by making obvious points over and over. Is this really the best they’ve got?

This isn’t rocket science. Only people who are deliberately refusing to see the truth can deny that the Little Sister of the Poor and their ministry to frail elderly people are a good deal more than just a “religiously affiliated” organization. If there’s any “hooey” going on here, it’s the attempt to claim (for political purposes) that the religious commitment of these nuns is not for real.

By the same token, I, at least, am weary of explaining that forcing someone to hire someone else to do something for them is not an exemption from that activity. I think the people who keep repeating this nonsense are just saying it because they have taken a position and this is the best argument they can come up with to defend it.

Instead of going around in circles by repeating the same completely bogus argument or resorting to crude religious bigotry, perhaps they should own their HHS Mandate for what it is and be done with it. The HHS Mandate is a blatant attempt to restrict the historic religious freedom given to all Americans by the First Amendment by limiting it to only organized and federally recognized churches. It is aimed directly and obviously at the largest single denomination in America, which is the Catholic Church.

It is an egregious attack not only on the Catholic Church, or even only on people of faith, but on the bedrock freedoms on which this country was founded and which has made it the great nation that it is today.

The HHS Mandate is an obvious and deliberate government attempt to destroy the moral and prophetic voice of the Catholic Church by forcing it to violate its own teachings. The HHS Mandate is designed to force the Church to kiss Ceasar’s ring.

Since the Mandate was first promulgated, the administration’s running dogs in the press have put forth these identical arguments over and over ad nauseam. Any time the administration gets its nose bloodied in court, all you have to do is count 3, 2, 1 and here they come with the same old stuff they’ve been peddling since the beginning.

Does anybody believe that these people all wake up in the morning with the same set of thoughts in their minds? I admit they do come across as the Stepford Columnists, but I think it’s far more likely that they’re working from the same script and that script was generated, either directly or indirectly, by the administration.

Here is a summary of the impact of the HHS Mandate.

Check out The Anchoress for more discussion on this topic.

Defending the Little Sisters of the Poor: Deacon Greg is Beautiful When He’s Angry

Have I told you that Deacon Greg Kandra is my hero?

Seems I have.

But let me repeat myself. Deacon Greg Kandra, journalist, Deacon and Catholic Patheosi extraordinaire, is my hero. I wish I could write headlines like the Deacon writes them. I wish I had a nose for news like the Deacon’s got. I wish … well you get the idea.

When Deacon Greg Kandra gets enough, you know that anybody else would be froth. The Deacon got enough when he read an over-the-top Catholic/Christian bashing opinion piece in US News and World Report.

The topic of the opinion piece? Why, it’s the Little Sisters of Charity and their “outrageous” appeal to the courts that they be allowed to follow the teachings of their Catholic faith. You know, that First Amendment stuff about the government not interfering with the free exercise of faith.

In case you don’t know about that part of the First Amendment, here is the whole thing for your consideration, emphasis mine:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Isn’t that beautiful? I mean, aren’t those words in that magnificent document beautiful?

Think for a moment about the self-proclaimed Constitution worshippers who want to shear the first clause from the second and use it as a club to beat religious people into silence. Can you imagine any of the Constitutional-rights-for-me-but-not-for-thee crowd actually writing a law like the First Amendment?

US News and World Report, by publishing a Catholic-bashing hate piece posing as an opinion piece, has jumped on the bandwagon of hating on Christians and publicly hazing them. The subject of this particular piece was those pesky nuns with their bigoted religiosity and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It was all about Catholics and Catholicism and how we are out of line for not letting the government tell us to stop practicing our faith.

Despite the fact that the faith in this particular frying pan was Catholic, the same treatment extends to every traditional Christian. Make no mistake about it my brothers and sisters in Christ, it was about all of us.

Deacon Greg took it on in his typically measured, fair and well-founded manner. Frank Weathers followed with a hilarious segue into Chuck Norris (an Oklahoma boy, I might remind you,) while The Anchoress gives a brilliant survey of the power politics and faux feminism involved, while Tod Worner compared the Little Sisters with St Thomas More and Joanne McPortland took a turn at bat, providing us with absolutely delicious Joanne irony. The Catholic Patheosi have got this handled.

I don’t have much to add that I haven’t already said a hundred times. We are not the aggressors here. The government is trying to force religious people, in this case, a group of nuns to violate the teachings of their faith. The fact that this commenter thinks that allowing nuns to forego violating their faith undermines the rights of all women doesn’t even begin to make it so.

When someone stoops to this kind of bigoted name-calling to defend their position, it is usually either because they are too stupid to defend their position intelligently or because the position itself is indefensible. I would guess that in the case of this commenter, the reasons she is resorting to this tactic are that her position is indefensible by reasoned argument, and also that bigotry against Christians, particularly Catholics, is so widespread in certain circles that she thinks an appeal to it will win unmerited support for her ideas.

The bottom line for those of us out here in the audience is this: If you are a Christian, you need to stand up for Jesus.

Don’t be a jerk about it. By that I mean keep your language clean, don’t name-call or attack any person. Do not try to use satan’s weapons to fight satan.

Just stand up strong for Jesus Christ and the right of Christians to be Christian without being attacked, reviled, slandered or bullied in our society. Make your case as the son or daughter of the living God.

Bigotry is bigotry, even when it’s aimed at the followers of Christ.

From US News and World Report:

Et tu, Justice Sonia Sotomayor? Really, we can’t trust you on women’s health and human rights? The lady from the Bronx just dropped the ball on American women and girls as surely as she did the sparkling ball at midnight on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Or maybe she’s just a good Catholic girl.

The Supreme Court is now best understood as the Extreme Court. One big reason why is that six out of nine Justices are Catholic. Let’s be forthright about that. (The other three are Jewish.) Sotomayor, appointed by President Obama, is a Catholic who put her religion ahead of her jurisprudence. What a surprise, but that is no small thing.

In a stay order applying to an appeal by a Colorado nunnery, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Justice Sotomayor undermined the new Affordable Care Act’s sensible policy on contraception. She blocked the most simple of rules – lenient rules – that required the Little Sisters to affirm their religious beliefs against making contraception available to its members. They objected to filling out a one-page form. What could be easier than nuns claiming they don’t believe in contraception?

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

Sotomayor’s blow brings us to confront an uncomfortable reality. More than WASPS, Methodists, Jews, Quakers or Baptists, Catholics often try to impose their beliefs on you, me, public discourse and institutions. Especially if “you” are female. This is not true of all Catholics – just look at House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. But right now, the climate is so cold when it comes to defending our settled legal ground that Sotomayor’s stay is tantamount to selling out the sisterhood. And sisterhood is not as powerful as it used to be, ladies.

Catholics in high places of power have the most trouble, I’ve noticed, practicing the separation of church and state. The pugnacious Catholic Justice, Antonin Scalia, is the most aggressive offender on the Court, but not the only one. Of course, we can’t know for sure what Sotomayor was thinking, but it seems she has joined the ranks of the five Republican Catholic men on the John Roberts Court in showing a clear religious bias when it comes to women’s rights and liberties. We can no longer be silent about this. Thomas Jefferson, the principal champion of the separation between state and church, was thinking particularly of pernicious Rome in his writings. He deeply distrusted the narrowness of Vatican hegemony.

The seemingly innocent Little Sisters likely were likely not acting alone in their trouble-making. Their big brothers, the meddlesome American Roman Catholic Archbishops are bound to be involved. They seek and wield tremendous power and influence in the political sphere. Big city mayors know their penchant for control all too well. Their principal target for years on end has been squelching women and girls – even when they should have focused on their own men and boys.

What is it with MSNBC and Sarah Palin?

Why do the folks at MSNBC keep jabbing themselves in the eye with the Sarah Palin stick?

Are they mental?

Or, are they just so utterly and completely drunk with group-think expressed as hatred that they are verging on the non-functional?

In just the past few weeks, one of their commenters, Martin Bashir, has had to resign because of public outcry over an attack on Governor Palin. This particular rant was a deeply offensive mix of pornography, misogyny and just plain revolting vileness. Here’s the link, if you have the stomach for it.

If that was the only Governor Palin attack piece, it would be enough to discredit this news network as a legitimate journalistic body. Resignation or not, they put this on the air.

But Mr Bashir’s vicious speech was only the cherry on top of what amounts to an on-going Sarah Palin hate troupe passing for a news organization.

The latest salvo (that I know about) first came to my attention by way of a post from fellow Patheosi, Bristol Palin. The attack comes from a reporter named Joy Reid. This particular anti-Palin blast moves the news organization from the vicious and pornographic to the laughable and absurd.

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Ms Reid’s comments about the Governor appear to be primarily a side-step into a rather snotty attack on her faith. I don’t agree with many of Governor Palin’s political ideas. But I do agree with her about her faith.

Governor Palin is a Christian. I am also a Christian. If you want to know what I believe, look at the Apostle’s Creed.

While I have never seen a specific outline of the particulars of Governor Palin’s personal understanding of Christianity, I tend to think it aligns with the Apostles Creed that I believe. So, the Governor and I have our faith in common. We are also both women. More than that, we are women who have held elective office.

That gives me a lot in common with Governor Sarah Palin. I don’t, as I said, agree with all her political positions. But if you attack her as a woman, or if you attack her as a Christian, I am going to stand with her.

I think these constant attacks on her — which are totally unprofessional from a journalistic standpoint — are driven by a couple of things. First, she’s a woman who got close to the center of power in our country. Every time that happens, whether the woman in question is conservative Governor Palin or liberal Senator Clinton, the MSNBC misogyny team cranks up their attacks.

Does anyone besides me remember the 2008 presidential campaign? President Obama — President Abortion — used misogyny to get himself elected. One of his number-one spokesmen for the misogynist attacks against Senator Clinton in the nomination fight and then Governor Palin in the presidential election was MSNBC, in particular Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. For instance, guess who made the legs crossing comment Katie Couric refers to in the video below?

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I think that the continued attacks on Governor Palin are partly due to the overt misogyny of that news organization.

I think the second motivator in MSNBC’s obsession with Governor Palin is that she is a traditional Christian. Notice the way Ms Reid turns this attack on the governor’s family Christmas reminiscences into an attack on her faith. Notice also the last line challenging what Ms Reid seems to assume is the Governor’s belief that there is “one meaning to Christmas.”

That’s pretty ignorant. It is, after all, Christ – mas, as in Christ Mass. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. That’s the meaning and reason for Christmas.

There is no law in this country and never has been forcing anyone to believe that. I have never seen a Christian try to deny those who don’t believe it their enjoyment in the tinsel, great food and presents of Christmas.

But those who don’t believe it seem hell bent (I meant that literally) on forcing Christians to stop talking about the birth of Christ. They even go so far as to make fools of themselves attacking Christians the way Ms Reid does in this video.

This is not the only time Ms Reid has exhibited an anti-Christian bias. In the video below she discusses the “homo-erotic appearance” of Jesus’ relationship with the 12 Apostles with — get this — a professor at Georgetown University. Georgetown University claims to be a Catholic school, run by Jesuits. Notice that the reason for this drubbing is that “bigoted” Christians support traditional marriage as it has been practiced for the past 2,000 years.

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Even a casual watch of these videos should raise the question as to what is going on at MSNBC.

More specifically, what is it with MSNBC and Governor Sarah Palin in particular and Christians in general?

Are they mental? Or are they just so full of hate that they don’t care about how shoddy and cheap they make themselves and their news organization look?

 

Billy Graham’s Last Sermon

Billy Graham has written what he says is his last sermon. I think it’s worth pondering as we look ahead to the New Year in front of us.

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2013 Favs: Is Anti-Christian Bias in Academia Creating a Christian-Bashing Culture?

Academicalightbox

This video is longer than the videos I usually put up. But if you’re a Christian, you need to see it.

Dr George Yancey presents research he’s done on anti-Christian bias in academia. He is the author of Too Many Christians, Too Few Lions.

I’ve gotten emails from faculty at various universities down through the years that express the same sentiments he found among academicians in his research. Despite that, I was still a little shocked at the raw and obvious hatred in the things he uncovered.

It’s also interesting that the bias against Christians and the acceptance of hate speech directed at Christians is so accepted that he had to juxtapose it with an illustration of putting the same kind of language in sentences that were about Jews to make his point. Presumably, if he had just left the statements stand as attacks on Christians, his audience would either have thought they were funny or otherwise failed to see the problem with them.

What his research uncovered is a bias in academia, presumably mostly in higher ed, against hiring evangelical or fundamentalist Christians in the first place, and a culture where members of this intellectual elite feel free to express hate speech against Christians in writing. He also documented biased research that is designed to show that Christians are less intelligent than others, atheists in particular. He demonstrates that the research biased in how it is constructed.

One point he fails to mention is that to try to make assumptions about the intelligence of a group of people based on something like religious preference is illogical in the first place. The existence of the research itself points to a bias of some sort. The method used in this “research” to try to determine intelligence would be faulty, even if the questions themselves were not constructed to get a biased result. There’s no way that these kinds of questions can determine intelligence.

The comments on this presentation had one that was certainly familiar to me. I’ve seen this kind of claptrap a lot. Here it is:

There should be an anti-christian bias in academia

as well as an anti Go bias

or an anti stupid bias

an anti make-believe bias

etc.

In other words, yes I discriminate and I should. Academicians not only teach our young people, but they teach the future teachers of our young people. Bias of this sort in academia is a serious problem. It is an institutional means of disseminating discrimination, prejudice and hatred throughout our whole society. I believe it is one of the major reasons for the sudden increase in religious bigotry and Christian bashing in America today.

Here’s the video.

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2013 Favs: Massachusetts Schools Put Transgendereds in Restrooms, on Sports Teams of Their Choice

Massachusetts public schools have issued guidelines to require their public schools — get ready for this — from kindergarten to 12th grade to permit “transgendered” children to use the restroom of whatever gender the child decides they are.

In some schools, this would allow boys as old as 14 in public school bathrooms with girls as young as 5.

Now I ask you, what could possibly go wrong?

These guidelines also put school personnel in the position of raising the question with small children what gender they believe themselves to be. School personnel will be asking small children whether they are a a boy or a girl, with the concomitant implication that the teacher doesn’t know. I think that action alone, coming as it does from an authority figured and directed as it will be to very young children, has the potential to harm young children.

The new guidelines require schools to allow boys to play on girl’s athletic teams (and vice versa) if they decide that they feel like being a girl that season. I predict that once schools get over the shock, they will see that even a mediocre male athlete would be an all-star on a girl’s sports team and that all he has to do to play on that team is say he’s a girl for the duration of the season. However, instead of giving one girl’s team a winning edge over the others, this is bound to spread and soon reach the point that real girls (the ones with double x chromosomes) can no longer compete on their own teams.

The upshot of all this will almost certainly be increased sexual confusion on the part of young children and another round of the war on girls. It will make it even more difficult for parents to raise their children to be productive adults who are capable of marrying, having children of their own and raising them in stable homes.

It seems that providing a healthy environment in which we can raise children so that they can become productive and stable adults is the exact opposite of what the decision makers in our society are about. Based on their consistent actions I can only come to the conclusion that destroying our children is more in line with their goals.

As usual, all this began with a well-meaning but bad law which educators with an agenda have taken to its illogical conclusion.

I am very glad that I homeschooled my children. If it is at all possible for you to do the same, I would strongly advise you to consider it.

You can read the Massachusetts’s Public Schools Guidelines for Nondiscrimination on Gender Identity here.  The LifeSite News article describing this latest bit of educational “reform” says in part:

BOSTON, February 19, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester has issued orders to the state’s K-12 public schools requiring them to permit “transgender” boys and girls to use the opposite sex’s locker rooms, bathrooms, and changing facilities as long as they claim to identify with that gender.

Many elementary schools in smaller Massachusetts towns include children from kindergarten through eighth grade, making it possible for boys as old as 14 to share toilet facilities with girls as young as five.

Under Chester’s leadership, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released an 11-page document on Friday outlining this and other new guidelines giving “transgender” students special status and privileges in Massachusetts schools. Some family advocates are calling the document, which was prepared with assistance from homosexual and transgender advocacy groups, “the most thorough, invasive, and radical transgender initiative ever seen on a statewide level.”

The policy does not require a doctor’s note or even parental permission for a child to switch sexes in the eyes of Massachusetts schools. Only the student’s word is needed: If a boy says he’s a girl, as far as the schools are concerned, he’s a girl.

“The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student,” the statement says. “A school should accept a student’s assertion of his or her gender identity when there is … ‘evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity.’” That evidence, according to the document, can be as simple as a statement given by a friend.

That means, according to the newly issued school policies, that boys who say they identify as girls must be addressed by the feminine pronoun and be listed as girls on official transcripts.

They must also be allowed access to girls’ facilities and be allowed to play on girls’ athletic and club teams. The same is true for girls who say they are boys.

The document was issued to clarify the schools’ obligations in light of “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” a law that went into effect last July. That bill amended Massachusetts law “to establish that no person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of gender identity.”

However, Brian Camenker, spokesman for government watchdog group MassResistance, told LifeSiteNews the DESE’s new directives go far beyond what the law requires.

Camenker pointed out that the only requirement the Gender Identity bill imposed on schools was to add “gender identity” to their non-discrimination policies, alongside other protected groups such as religious or ethnic minorities. Under the DESE’s policy, however, self-identified transgendered students will have more rights than other students, including the right to access bathroom and changing facilities of the opposite sex and play on the opposite sex’s sports teams.

Not only that, but students who object may be subject to punishment under the state’s new “anti-bullying” law, which, like the new school policy, was written with the help of homosexual and transgender activist groups.

Under that law, any outwardly negative reaction against transgenderism can now be considered bullying, and subject to discipline and punishment, according to Camenker. (Read more here.)


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