Tuesday, April 26, 2011


CUTLINE - TROUBLE? - The new high poverty school in Southeast Raleigh, Walnut Creek Elementary, sits right across from a new housing development. If the school doesn't perform well, could it impact property values in the area? [Cash Michaels photo]

By Cash Michaels

EDITOR - This is part 6 of a multi-part look at Walnut Creek Elementary School, and the other high poverty schools that the conservative-led Wake County School Board will be creating in Southeast Raleigh as it moves forward with its controversial neighborhood schools policy. Studies consistently show black and Hispanic students are relegated to poor instruction, a lack of resources and a second-rate education in high poverty, racially identifiable schools. The property values in neighborhoods with high poverty schools also suffer, as families move away.
            The Carolinian examines the question, “Will all or any of this happen in Wake County?”
            When Corey A. Moore, the new principal of Walnut Creek Elementary School, formally opens the $25 million high poverty school in Southeast Raleigh this August, he’ll be responsible for a lot, the least of which is how to successfully lead a school where over 80 percent of its 700-plus students are on free-and-reduced lunch, and over 50 percent are officially considered “low-performing.”
            “I believe that my experiences and past have prepared me for this opportunity, and I’m standing prepared to lead in a direction that will take this school straight up,” Moore assured supporters in March after he was appointed.
            Indeed, regardless of how stacked a deck Moore’s challenge will be - a challenge created by the Republican-led Wake School Board to establish the first manifestation of their controversial neighborhood schools policy - its even steeper than he realizes.
            As goes the school, so may go the neighborhood that school is in.
            Across the street and down the road from the new high poverty challenge on Sunnybrook Road off of Rock Quarry Road, is the Quarry Pointe subdivision.
            With an average selling price of $144,410 per single-family unit, the clean, attractive, relatively new middle-class housing development where, according to city-data.com, the median income is $46,185; 69 percent of the homeowners are married couples that are both working; and over 25 percent of families there have children, 3 years-old and above, who are enrolled school K-12, the last thing this young community needs is anything that would drive down its collective property values.
            The bad economy is already having a staggering effect on home prices, though the Raleigh-Cary housing market was ranked Number One in Builder Magazine’s “Healthiest Markets for 2011” rankings last month.
            But experts say a bad school could definitely sprout “For Sale” signs in the immediate neighborhood.
            District 4 Wake School Board member Keith Sutton, Walnut Creek Elementary Principal Corey Moore, and others committed to the high poverty school’s success are working hard to prevent that, but at best, they’re running hard to catch up. Rarely does a new school open with the strikes against it that Walnut Creek has. If it can’t immediately show significant improvement in academic achievement, regardless of the student body’s high poverty level, experts say the schools reputation could begin to hurt surrounding housing market values.
            It’s something Quarry Pointe residents may have to watch, and a concern that has already been raised at a recent Wake School Board meeting two weeks ago.
            “In many other cities in the US, real estate agents will discourage you from buying [a home] in certain areas, do to the poor quality of schools in the area,” Stephanie Enders, a parent speaking during the public comment period, told the school board, noting that because of Wake’s previously successful socioeconomic student diversity policy, “...you have the ability to live anywhere in the county, and know that your child is going to get a good, solid public education.”
Wake experience bears Enders out. 
It was the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and local realty association that backed the Wake school system's move to socioeconomic diversity a decade ago in a drive to attract more businesses, and families, to the area from across the country. The resulting academic achievement resulted in Wake in being rated one of the top public school systems by Forbes Magazine, among others, with thousands of families buying homes in the area.
So it was no accident that those same concerns - namely the Raleigh Chamber and local realtors - were sweating bullets after the Republican-led Wake School Board began changing to neighborhood schools as a policy. The disruption forced the chamber to immediately find a compromise plan to submit - one that emphasized controlled parental choice - in order to placate the business and realty communities.
A final student assignment plan is expected by the end of spring, and realtors hope its one that allows them to comfortably sell the school system as an asset again.
            Warning that the proven byproduct of a neighborhood schools policy, “…are great divides of highly desirable and undesirable areas,” Ms. Enders told the school board,  “For the most part, Wake County doesn’t suffer this condition.”           
            But Charlotte does.
            Mary Lou Knox is a longtime realtor of 27 years in Mecklenburg County, where the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public School System (CMS) has poured so much money into its plethora of failing high poverty schools, that it now has to close ten schools, and for the third year in a row, has to layoff as many as 1500 school employees, which could include 600 teachers.
As a result of almost a decade of the CMS neighborhood schools policy, the housing market has taken a beating.
            Last fall, Great Schools in Wake Coalition, a nonprofit diversity advocacy group, and The Carolinian, traveled to Charlotte to interview educators, parents and school officials about hat problems Wake Public Schools can expect based on the CMS experience. The project was for an online YouTube video titled, “Costs and Consequences: What’s at Stake for Wake.”
            Ms. Knox, the realtor, said that as Wake creates more high poverty schools through its neighborhood schools policy, it can expect to have a dramatic impact on the housing market surrounding those schools.
            “I have watched and seen how the different school assignments have affected our neighborhood and the neighborhoods in Charlotte,” Knox said.
            As in Wake, many who moved to Charlotte-Mecklenburg bought their homes in particular neighborhoods because of the good reputation of school that serviced their area.
            “Now when I speak with people about an area, school is a factor that is detrimental to the area,” Knox says. People in Charlotte can now go online to the CMS website and research which schools are rated low performing and have high F&R student populations.
            “When parents come to me and have given me the criteria [for a new home], they’ve already looked at test scores of elementary schools, and they tell me they want to be in one area, and do not want to be in another,” said Knox. “Sometimes they’re adamant that they want to be at one particular school. So I must look, and make that the particular criteria that I must search for them.”
            They immediately cross those schools, and those neighborhoods where they considered purchasing a home, off their lists.
Even if it means paying more than they originally planned for a home.
            “”They won’t even consider it, now,” Knox said, making it clear that depending on CMS student assignment policies, neighborhoods can decline, or prices for homes in higher income communities, can “accelerate.”
            The result in many cases, Knox says, has been panic buying, and selling in the neighborhoods. Many of the sellers really didn’t want to move, but because of a CMS student assignment decision affecting their area, felt they had no choice, Knox said.
            Depending on how CMS school boundary lines are drawn, two high schools in the same subdivision can be radically affected, said Knox, causing one to be high poverty, and the other upper-income.
            The result - homes near the high poverty school are much harder to sell than near the upper-income.
            Knox indicated that because of this, some realtors won’t put low-performing schools in the MLS (Multiple Listing System) for fear that it will lower the number of home showings they have in that neighborhood.
            The Carolinian tried to get comment from realtors in Wake County on this issue, but none returned calls by press time.




Editor's note - On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, in an extraordinary press briefing, President Barack Obama cam before the White House Press Corp and the nation, to formally explain why he, under tremendous pressure from Republicans like industrialist Donald Trump, released a copy of his original birth certificate. His White House counsel flew to Hawaii the day before to personally secure the document.

The following is a transcript of the president's remarks:

 THE PRESIDENT:  As many of you have been briefed, we provided additional information today about the site of my birth. Now, this issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now.  I think it started during the campaign.  And I have to say that over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I've been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going.  We've had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital.

     We've posted the certification that is given by the state of Hawaii on the Internet for everybody to see.  People have provided affidavits that they, in fact, have seen this birth certificate.  And yet this thing just keeps on going. 

     Now, normally I would not comment on something like this, because obviously there’s a lot of stuff swirling in the press on at any given day and I've got other things to do.  But two weeks ago, when the Republican House had put forward a budget that will have huge consequences potentially to the country, and when I gave a speech about my budget and how I felt that we needed to invest in education and infrastructure and making sure that we had a strong safety net for our seniors even as we were closing the deficit, during that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we're going to have to make as a nation.  It was about my birth certificate.  And that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here.

     And so I just want to make a larger point here.  We've got some enormous challenges out there.  There are a lot of folks out there who are still looking for work.  Everybody is still suffering under high gas prices.  We're going to have to make a series of very difficult decisions about how we invest in our future but also get a hold of our deficit and our debt -- how do we do that in a balanced way.

     And this is going to generate huge and serious debates, important debates.  And there are going to be some fierce disagreements -- and that’s good.  That’s how democracy is supposed to work.  And I am confident that the American people and America’s political leaders can come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems.  We always have. 

     But we’re not going to be able to do it if we are distracted.  We’re not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other.  We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts.  We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.

     We live in a serious time right now and we have the potential to deal with the issues that we confront in a way that will make our kids and our grandkids and our great grandkids proud.  And I have every confidence that America in the 21st century is going to be able to come out on top just like we always have.  But we’re going to have to get serious to do it. 

I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest.  But I’m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press.  We do not have time for this kind of silliness.  We’ve got better stuff to do.  I’ve got better stuff to do.  We’ve got big problems to solve.  And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them -- not on this.

Thanks very much, everybody.


By Cash Michaels

            A Republican-sponsored NC Senate bill, SB 657, has been introduced that, if enacted, would severely cripple the state’s One Stop Early Voting/Same-day Voter Registration law that helped President Barack Obama win North Carolina in 2008.
            Indeed, the bill would eliminate same-day registration, an important tool of voter empowerment for communities of color, proponents say.
            The goal, critics say, is to make the 2012 presidential election harder for Obama and the Democrats to win. Coupled with GOP control of redistricting, and the party’s legislative push for voter ID which critics like the NCNAACP charge is an attempt at voter suppression of black and Hispanic voters, attorney Irving Joyner, chair of the NCNAACP’s Legal Redress Committee, says SB 657 must be opposed.
            “The bill is a disguise, in a sense, to go after the minority community vote,” Joyner told The Carolinian last week.  “It is being presented as an effort to stop fraud in the election process.”
            “So it’s a thinly disguised effort to cut back on those progressive successes from a couple of years ago that expanded the opportunities for African-Americans, Hispanics and poor people…to get out here and participate in the political discourse,” Joyner added.
            According to Democracy NC, a Durham-based nonprofit voter advocacy group, SB 657, if passed, would also ban Sunday “Souls to the polls” one stop early voting in the state; eliminate early voter registration for 16-17-year-olds; cut the early voting period from 14 days before the primary and general election day, to just 8 or 9; and limit the available daytime hours of early voting locations.
Sponsored by state senators Jim Davis [R-Cherokee], Warren Daniel [R-Burke] and Ralph Hise [R-Avery], SB657 was introduced April 19. It was referred to the Senate Judiciary I Committee after it passed first reading the next day.
            According to Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy NC, both senators Hise and Davis, “…gained their election in large part because they ranked number 1 and 2 in receiving the most support from the Art Pope-funded outside electioneering groups and Pope family contributions - almost $600,000 between the two of them.”
            Pope, a Republican and former state House member from Wake County, is well-known for having arch-conservative ties to the national Tea Party movement; funding the right-wing Civitas Institute and John Locke Foundation; and contributing to the campaigns of the four Wake School Board members who took over that board in 2009.
            Attorney Joyner says even if SB 657 doesn’t pass or Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, vetoes it, the very fact that Republicans are trying to make it law will have a “chilling effect” on communities of color.
            “It will frighten so many people who will have questions in their minds about the system coming after them anyway. And if this [Republican] legislative effort is successful, it will significantly reduce the pool of people who will be in a position to come to the polls. This will allow the conservative right-wing elements in our society to challenge people at the poling place.”
            “So it’s a war on racial minorities and poor people, that class of people that made up the bulk of the Obama vote and a lot of the progressive Democratic Party candidates,” Joyner continued. “It’s designed to eliminate that body of support.”
            Joyner says SB 657 is part of a national Tea Party effort in states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina where Republicans dominate the state legislatures. A number of states, like Kansas and Florida, are even making it harder to register new voters. At least ten states are entertaining laws demanding birth certificates and other certified documents from presidential candidates in order to get on the state ballot.
            President Obama put the growing fringe questions about his US citizenship to rest Wednesday by producing a copy of his original “certificate of live birth.”
            Joyner says “The time is now” for communities of color to “organize and mobilize” on opposing SB 657. The community must first be educated about the extreme importance and danger the GOP-backed bill poses. Community groups must go door-to-door. State lawmakers pushing the bill must be confronted and held accountable during the next elections.
            Joyner says the Democratic Party must energize its base on this issue as well, and root out those conservative Dems who support the bill.
            “The local level is a prime battleground for these right-wing conservatives to take over,” Joyner says.


By Cash Michaels

            REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM - To say I have no respect for Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of the legendary preacher Rev. Billy Graham, is now certainly an understatement.
            While the man is certainly free and entitled to his own opinion, for him to get on television (ABC-TV’s “This Week” program Sunday) and endorse mad man Donald Trump’s racist foolishness about President Obama’s birth certificate, is astounding.
            After all, when you publicly back a fool, what does that make you?
            The wolves are coming out from all over folks, and they will do anything, or say anything, to stop the re-election of the president. You want to know what evil looks and sounds like?
            Keep watching!
TIME TO PAY ATTENTION - I know that this has been said before, and in fact, it has certainly been true before. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true now.
            We are in serious times.
            In fact, I dare say that we are in very serious times, and it is going to take all right thinking people to get us all out of the political and social mess we’re all in.
            Just look at how crazy the Republican-led Congress is acting, willing to end Medicare and Medicaid, giving billions in tax credits to the mega-rich oil industry, and giving even more tax cuts to the wealthy.
            Did I say that in order to pull all of this off, the GOP is ready, willing and able to slash education and other key federal social safety net programs that help the poor and the elderly?
            And that’s why it’s so important that, if you haven’t been doing so already, you and yours of voting age MUST pay attention to all of the foolishness going on in the county, state and nation. The clock is literally, LITERALLY being turned back in front of all of us as truly Draconian laws are being introduced by the GOP as if this were 1920.
            Civil and voting rights legislation are at risk. Important programs are being gutted at the drop of a hat. Advocates of the people are being ignored.
            Both 2011 and 2012 are crucial election years, both locally and nationally.
            Let’s be honest, we all got fat and lazy after the thrilling 2008 presidential elections. But that was two long years ago, and it’s time to wake up now and pay attention to the world coming down around you.
            That’s what this black newspaper is here for, to open your eyes and your mind, in hopes that you’ll act positively on that information.
            It’s our only hope for our children. 
CORNEL AND REV. AL - By now you know about the big brohaha Rev. Al Sharpton and Dr. Cornel West of Princeton University had on MSNBC a few weeks ago about Pres. Obama and the job he’s done thus far for Black America.
West says Obama hasn’t done much.
Sharpton counters that Obama can’t do it all.
The fact of the matter is recent polls show black support for Pres. Obama softening at least five percentage points to 85 percent, and it could erode even more. One of the reasons has been the president’s inability to address the disproportionately high black unemployment rate, which hovers around 15 percent.
Because of the special circumstances surrounding black unemployment, many black leaders believe the Obama Administration needs to address it separately. But thus far, the president has taken an “all boats rise together” approach, and that has frustrated folks like Prof. West.
It was last fall when West, in an exclusive interview with my radio program, “Make it Happen” on Power 750 WAUG-AM/POWER 750.com told me how his problems with Obama really began after he campaigned for the president during the 2008 campaign, and then found himself and his mother stiffed for inauguration seats. When West publicly criticized Obama’s lack of effort at helping the poor, the next time the two were at the same event, the president got in his face and balled him out.
West told me that he “still loves my brother,” but feels he’s gone astray, especially now that half of his chief advisers are from Wall Street.
On Rev. Sharpton’s side of the ledger, he agrees that Pres. Obama should be held accountable to his most loyal base, the African-American community. But Rev. also believes that the president can’t do it all by himself, and that he’s getting woefully weak help from folks like the Congressional Black Caucus and others.
Keep in mind that one of the things that plays a factor in all of this is Dr. West has accused Rev. Sharpton of being used by the Obama Administration to counter criticism, a charge that set the Rev. off on MSNBC.
Now to add intrigue to the interesting - Donna Brazile, popular CNN/ABC News contributor, and currently the interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, met with Dr. West at Princeton University last week, supposedly in an effort to calm the waters.
Brazile, as a loyal high-profile Democrat, is a staunch supporter and defender of the president. So it’s quite natural that she would want to seek peace between two of the African-American community’s most prominent leaders.
But while Brazile is not surprisingly on Sharpton’s side that the president can’t do it all by himself, she is also on Dr. West’s side that all that Obama is doing doesn’t exactly follow through with the “change” that he promised when he ran for office.
“Look, I haven’t always been pleased with the president of the United States,” the renowned Democratic Party strategist and interim DNC chair told “Make it Happen” last week on Power 750 WAUG-AM. “I’ve had times when I’ve had to differ with the president. Whether it’s been the housing policies or the firing of [former USDA official] Shirley Sherrod, or just recently, giving the Republicans the opportunity [during the recent 2011 budget negotiations] to write their own narrowly-based social agenda on the [Washington] D.C. budget where I live, I’m not always in the cheerleading section of the stadium.”
What’s funny about Brazile’s statement to us is that apparently she hasn’t said the same to anyone else in the press. Two days after she taped that “Make it Happen” interview, Brazile held a conference call with other black reporters, and as best as we can tell from repots of that session, said nothing like that. Clearly as interim Democratic Party chair, Brazile can’t go running around expressing that Obama has teed her off every now and then.
So this argument will continue, I imagine. I have no problem with it because as mush as we love and support the president, he, like any other president, must be held accountable by those who gave their votes to him.
I think it makes Obama a better president. It would be a crime if he took us for granted. But at the same time, it would also be a crime if we think that he, alone, can solve all of our problems.
SPIKE AND TYLER - By now you’ve also been following the war of words between popular black filmmakers Tyler Perry and Spike Lee. Lee, whose legendary work includes “Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X” and “Jungle Fever” has criticized Tyler Perry’s famous character “Madea” and some of his TBS black situation comedies like “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne” as “coonery” and black stereotypical entertainment that black people today no longer care for.
Perry, who unlike Lee, owns his own studio, counters that Lee and other critics of his films like “For Colored Girls…,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” and the recently released, “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” should “go straight to hell.” He says his characters, especially Madea, are modeled after family members or people he knows or have seen. They exist, and he sees know reason to hide that fact from his audiences.
By the way, apparently there is a hungry audience for Perry’s films and TV shows. His films have grossed well over $500 million, which is quite good given how low-cost they are. And his TV series on TBS are well watched, and are already in syndication.
            So choose your side. This argument is partly generational. So could easily criticize some of Spike Lee’s work when he was a young filmmaker. Indeed, some did, and he didn’t like it either, as I recall.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.Power750.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.”
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, by Cash Michaels, honored this year as well by NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian your life. Bye, bye.

By Cash Michaels

            Federal authorities will be back in Raleigh next week not only to interview members of the Wake County Public School System as part of its ongoing racial bias probe, but to hear civil rights complaints from parents, students and members of the public about how the Republican-led Wake School Board has moved towards implementing its controversial neighborhood schools policy.
            A policy that many maintain will racially resegregate the 143,000-pupil Wake Public School System, and create more high poverty schools leaders will be ill-equipped to manage.
            Formally called, “a community meeting,” the hearing, to be held at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin Street in Raleigh, on Wednesday, May 4 from 7 to 9 p.m., is being conducted by the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
            OCR is investigating allegations by the NCNAACP that the Republican majority of the Wake School Board has operated in a manner that has violated the civil rights of African-American students in the system. The school board, in its response several weeks ago, denies the NCNAACP’s allegations, contending instead that it was the school system’s previous socioeconomic diversity policy that inhibited black students from a worthy education.
            The board’s Republican majority even alleged in their response that the school bus rides over 5 miles for poor African-American students in the system hurt their academic achievement. That allegation, however, was not backed up by any other independent research, and was highly criticized by groups like Great Schools in Wake Coalition.
            Indeed, the school board’s attorney, Ann Majestic, the author of the system’s OCR response, had to admit that some of her statistical analysis was in error and had to be corrected, to the chagrin of school system leaders.
            OCR’s May 4th community hearing for parents, students and other concerned members of the public will be asked to talk about their experience as it relates to the change in the Wake School System’s student assignment policy and the system’s discipline policies and procedures.
            The NCNAACP’s federal complaint alleges racial bias in those policies as well.
            This is the second time in as many years that the OCR has held a community hearing related to an NCNAACP federal complaint to the US Education Dept. In 2010, the OCR listened to the complaints and concerns of parents and students in Wayne County following NCNAACP allegations that Goldsboro city schools were virtually 99 percent black, and Wayne County public schools were virtually all-white.
            For more information about the May 4 OCR community hearing at Martin Street Baptist Church, call 919 - 833-9756.


            [CHARLOTTE] Teachers and other employees of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public School System (CMS) began getting emailed notices from Supt. Peter Gorman this week that layoff letters will be sent soon, the third consecutive year the beleaguered system has had to let go part of its workforce due to budget cuts. An estimated 1500 jobs could be slashed, which would include at least 600 teachers, depending on how much the county and state allot to schools. Gorman said he’ll know for sure by June 30.

            [RALEIGH] A Republican-led House Finance Committee has voted 17-14 to increase fees for various government services like the courts in order to raise revenue to help close the $3 billion budget gap. School systems would charge $75.00 for driver ed classes; current free ferry rides would begin charging tolls; and court costs for various types of filings and traffic court would also increase. Lawmakers say tens of millions of dollars in fee revenues can be raised not from taxpayers, but from only those using government services.

            [BOLIVIA] A Brunswick County Sheriff’s Dept. detective was fired, then arrested and charged with having indecent liberties with a minor. Sergeant Henry Thomas Cole, 45, was being held in jail in lieu of $25,000 bond. He was arrested Sunday by the State Bureau of Investigation after Sheriff John Ingram had earlier requested an investigation. Cole had been with the department since March 2003. The SBI investigation is ongoing.


            Parents who would like to get important information from WCPSS administrators about preparing students for end-of-grade/end-of-course testing are invited to the EOG/EOC Test Prep,” this Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. to 12 noon at Grace AME Church, 1401 Boyer Street, Raleigh. Sponsored by the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children, for more information call the CCCAAC at 919-231-9057. To register go to www.cccaac.com.

            Saying that it was time for new leadership with fresh ideas, five-term Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker announced Tuesday that he will not run for an historic sixth term this fall. Meeker was first elected in 2001 after serving several terms as a city councilman. Meeker said he will return to private life fulltime. During his ten-year tenure, downtown Raleigh has experienced extraordinary growth, particularly with the reopening of Fayetteville Street. Meeker ties the late Mayor Avery C. Upchurch with five terms in office.

            The chairman of a prominent New York private equity firm announced a $3.6 million gift to Triangle universities to create a network of established entrepreneurs that would develop successful businesses.  Stephen Schwarzman, chairman/CEO of The Blackstone Group, said that the faculties at NC Central University, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State and Duke University will all work with 30 startup teams of promising businesspeople each year for five years. The hope is that each company born will create $40 million in revenue and become profitable in ten years.

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