Nel's New Day

September 6, 2019

DDT: Week 137 – Alabama’s Hurricane, Pentagon’s Pandering

Almost 70 years ago, Herman Wouk wrote The Caine Mutiny, a fictionalized account of a mutiny on a U.S. destroyer-minesweeper during World War II. Worried about the potential loss of the ship during a storm, the executive officer takes command from Captain Queeg at the suggestion of the communications office who talks about Section 184 of the Navy regs. Citing Queeg’s incompetence, cowardice, and mental illness, the officer prevents the loss of the ship in a storm but is then tried by court martial. A highlight of the movie based on the book, featuring Humphrey Bogart as Queeg, is the scene in which Queeg breaks down under questioning about an episode regarding strawberries.

When Queeg shared a large tin of strawberries, a gift from another ship’s captain, with his officers, they were given one scoop while Queeg had two—like the scoops of ice cream that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) doles out. He gets two and everyone else gets one. That night, Queeg wants more strawberries and finds them missing. In a fury, he obsessively wakes his sailors and orders them to search throughout the ship for his strawberries before the out-of-control Queeg concocts the theory, never proved, that crewmen secretly copied keys to the icebox and obsessively forces more searching to locate them.

The Caine Mutiny led to the 25th Amendment  blocking one person such as the vice president to pronounce that a president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Instead the majority of the Cabinet must initiate the process, and two-thirds of the Congress must also agree. For the past 960 days, however, Republican leaders have ignored DDT’s obsessive lying, incompetence, and inability to maintain control of himself.

On the day of his inauguration, DDT insisted that his crowd was bigger than the crowd for any president’s inauguration and insisted on photographs that proved his lie. Since then, he continued with his own out-of-control, incompetent, obsessive behavior with wild claims about his winning the popular vote because of voter fraud, claiming all news he didn’t like to be fake news, and creating far more fantasies to show that he is a god who can control nature. His statement about Hurricane Dorian damaging Alabama, however, hit a high point.   

David Lauter put DDT’s “strawberry” episode with his Alabama proclamation and obsession of proving himself right into three acts. DDT’s behavior entire focus on the hurricane was the non-existent problem in Alabama while Dorian devastated the Bahamas (sounds like Alabama?) and killed possibly hundreds of people, threatened Florida, damaged North Carolina, and heads to the Northeast coast.

Act I – The Gathering Storm

Sunday, September 1: DDT’s first tweet – “In addition to Florida—South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

National Hurricane Center’s forecasts showed that any small chance of Dorian hitting the Gulf Coast disappeared at least a day earlier. Twenty minutes after DDT’s tweets, the National Weather Service’s Birmingham (AL) station tweeted to set the record straight and reassure Alabama residents that they were safe from a fearsome storm: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

Christopher Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), wrote in an email, “The current forecast path of Dorian does not include Alabama.”

DDT repeated his personal warning to Alabama that afternoon in televised remarks from a Federal Emergency Management Agency briefing.  

Act 2 – The TV Hour

Monday, September 2: ABC correspondent Jon Karl noted Trump’s mistake and the weather service’s response: “He also misstated the storm’s possible trajectory [and the weather service] corrected the president.” Karl also commented that DDT canceled his scheduled trip to Poland, supposedly to monitor the hurricane, but played golf at his Virginia country club.

DDT doesn’t admit mistakes, claims he works hard, criticizes President Obama for playing golf, and obsessively watches television while saying that he pays little attention to TV. He called Karl a “lightweight reporter” on Twitter and made his usual slurs against the media: “It was in fact correct that Alabama could have received some ‘hurt.’ Always good to be prepared! But the Fake News is only interested in demeaning and belittling. Didn’t play my whole sentence or statement. Bad people!” 

Act 3 – Closing the Ring

Wednesday, September 4: Cable news reported on the story, and DDT performed in the Oval Office by displaying a NOAA weather map showing the August 29 forecast track, in white but added a black Sharpie line over a sliver of southern Alabama. DDT said, “That was the original chart. It could’ve — was going towards the Gulf.” Altering official government weather forecasts is illegal with the possibility of a prison term and fine as well as dangerous for people who believe him.    

Thursday, September 5: Rear Adm. Peter Brown, a Coast Guard flag officer and White House homeland security and counter-terrorism advisor, issued a 225-word statement carefully explaining that his briefings to DDT “included the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama.”

Coda – Protecting DDT

Friday, September 6: NOAA reversed its earlier message about the forecast not including Alabama and disavowed the September 1 tweet from the National Weather Service that corrected DDT about the danger in Alabama from Dorian: “Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time. From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, the information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.”

DDT, now feeling vindicated through the lies of a federal agency, tweeted: “The Fake News Media was fixated on the fact that I properly said, at the beginnings of Hurricane Dorian, that in addition to Florida & other states, Alabama may also be grazed or hit.”

James Spann, a meteorologist based in Alabama, wrote that the September 1 tweet from the National Weather Service in Birmingham that corrected DDT was “spot on and accurate.”

During all the crises of last week, including a Category 5 hurricane, DDT, fixated on his insistence of always being right, posted nine tweets and five maps about Alabama and the big storm to justify his mistake, ordered a White House official to release a 225-word statement defending his error that could endanger lives, and coerced NOAA into lying for him. He also called Fox correspondent John Roberts into his office to again lie about the hurricane hitting Alabama and “to hit back at Shepard Smith.”

On his show, Smith said

“Why would the president of the United States do this? He decries fake news that isn’t and disseminates fake news that is. Think China pays the tariffs. The wall is going up. Historic inauguration crowds. The Russia probe was a witch hunt. You need an ID to buy cereal. Noise from windmills causes cancer. It’s endless!”

DDT increasingly manipulates government agencies to enrich his personal businesses, costing taxpayers millions of dollars, for example refueling stops that an Air National Guard crew made last spring on a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies. The stops at a small airport 20 miles from DDT’s Scottish Turnberry resort and 50 miles outside Glasgow (Scotland) cost much more than charges at a military base in the UK, such as nearby Lakenheath Air Base in England. The military spent $11 million on 629 fuel purchase orders at the airport since October 2017, and the airport paid for a five-person crew to stay at DDT’s golf resort along with free rounds of golf. One crew member said that their per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks.

In the past, the same plane refueled at U.S. air bases in Germany, Spain, Azores, and Italy. Never in Scotland. Since April, the Pentagon has stonewalled the House Oversight Committee’s investigation requesting information about the reason for the location of the stops en route to the Middle East and the transport plane’s return and refused to send any documents to the committee.

The reason for stops at Turnberry may be to keep the golf resort from going under: in 2017 the property lost $4.5 million, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018. The golf resort must keep the airport to be at all viable. The Scottish government bought the debt-ridden airport in 2013 for £1. In June, the Scottish government said it will sell the airport that continues to lose money. U.S. taxpayer money is vital for the airport: the authorization of U.S. payments to Prestwick worth £1.4m in the first three months of 2019 is equivalent to revenue from passenger services in 2017 and 2018.

Over two months ago, a Scottish newspaper reported that the U.S. Defense Department is set to sign a contract to continue refueling until fall 2024 with over 35 transactions a month and another £8m from 12.4 million gallons of aviation fuel, three million more than the existing arrangement. Taxpayer spending at both the airport and at DDT’s property may be conflicts of interest and violations of the Emoluments Clause. Even worse, such actions could be illegal activities on the part of the Pentagon that appears to pander to DDT’s desires and further make the U.S. look like a dictatorship.   

May 26, 2019

Christian ‘Sanctity of Life’ Ends at Birth

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 8:49 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Since 2011, state Republican legislatures passed hundreds of abortion restrictions; 42 states have filed more than 250 bills to restrict abortion this year. At least one-third of them successfully passed 20-week abortion bans, using the unscientific notion that a fetus feels pain by that time. At least six states have passed the unscientific “fetal heartbeat ban,” blocking abortions by five weeks—even before women might realize they are pregnant. In some states such as Ohio, these laws give no exceptions for rape or incest. Texas is considering a bill that defines all abortions as murder, punishable by death.

Most of the laws until this year made abortions extremely difficult by greatly reducing the number of clinics, adding burdensome obligations such as waiting periods and unnecessary medical procedures such as ultrasounds, and forced counseling. The federal government transferred funds to “crisis pregnancy centers” which opposed a woman’s right to have an abortion. This year, however, 25 white men–senators–in Alabama banned abortion in almost all cases with no exceptions for rape or incest with a 99-year prison sentence for doctors to perform the procedures. Incest has a minimum sentence of 366 days, and rape has a maximum sentence of 20 years. This recent torrent of abortion restrictions is the worst since Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion until the fetus reaches viability, usually around 24 weeks of pregnancy. An overview of past and planned bills.

 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), largely responsible for anti-abortion Brett Kavanaugh having a lifetime term on the Supreme Court, is confused about all the draconian anti-abortion laws since Kavanaugh was confirmed. “I’m not sure exactly why we’re seeing this happen,” she said in a television interview. Collins voted to put four anti-Roe v. Wade white men on the Supreme Court, bringing the total of conservative justices to a majority of five. She said that a Supreme Court nominee “who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me”—and then voted for those nominees. Collins and her GOP colleagues put men on the Supreme Court whose goal matches the religious right to remove women’s rights and criminalize abortion even if a woman is carrying a dead fetus, even if a 10-year-old has been raped, even if forced pregnancies make slaves out of women.

Anti-choice “Christians” have decided abortions are always wrong, but Christians have 70 percent of the abortions. One-third of them are evangelical, and over one-third weekly attend church. Over half who do, kept their abortions secret from the church community.

Some women oppose abortions. Kim LaSata, Michigan GOP senator, wants abortion to be “hard” and “painful” to punish a woman. Former GOP chair of Texas’ House Committee on Public Health Jodi Laubenberg said, “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.” But men—who have no possibility of getting pregnant—are leading the charge:

  • Lawrence Lockman, a Maine Republicans, equated rape and abortion when he asked, “If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?”
  • Darryl Glenn, a Colorado conservative, called pregnancy from rape “a gift from God.” People with this position evidently believe that God endorses rape as a “gift.”
  • Richard Mourdock, Indiana Republican, says that God intended pregnancy to occur when a woman is raped.
  • Rick Santorum, former GOP presidential candidate, is anti-choice so that the woman won’t “ruin her life.”
  • Todd Akin, former GOP House member from Missouri, claimed that pregnancy from rape “is really rare” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
  • José Oliva, House Speaker in Florida’s legislature, referred to pregnant women as “host bodies” five times during a television interview. According to the legislator, the “host body” has no rights.
  • Mike Hill, GOP Florida state representative, claims he gets his orders directly from God to remove any or all exceptions for “rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking or if the woman’s life is in danger” from his anti-choice bill. He added that he had the right to controls women’s bodies because “a hundred percent of all pregnancies are caused by a man” and there’s a 50-percent chance that that child is “going to be a man.” [He failed to point out that all women’s pregnancies from rape are caused by men.]
  • John Becker, GOP Ohio state representative, wants to force a women with a ectopic pregnancy “to  reimplant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman’s uterus.”
  • Clyde Chambliss, one of Alabama’s chief GOP senate sponsors of the newest anti-abortion law, justified his bill by saying that women can still get legal abortions before they know they are pregnant. No, he wasn’t joking.

Televangelist Pat Robertson said Alabama went too far with the new law but only because it would lose in the Supreme Court. His words gave Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) the courage to take the same position.

Brian Kemp, who became Georgia’s governor after he controlled the election, may be getting heartburn from the state’s new “heartbeat” bill. Television production companies have started to pull out of the state. Kemp’s bill prosecutes women who get abortions—or perhaps even miscarry. Maybe he’ll be lucky like Mississippi and Kentucky: judges have already overturned their heartbeat bills.

Polls oppose what these states are legislating. Almost a year ago, 64 percent stated they wanted to keep Roe v. Wade, according to the conservative Gallup survey, and two-thirds of people either wanted the Supreme Court to make getting an abortion easier (21 percent) or leave it the same (45 percent) in an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Legislators salivating for a Supreme Court abortion case may be disappointed: it’s such a hot-button issue that even conservatives fear a serious public backlash if they overturned a constitutional right to get an abortion. Yet Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold Texas’ draconian abortion restrictions in 2016.

Nevada is headed in the opposite direction from the red states: lawmakers removed some restrictions on abortions such as requiring doctors to tell pregnant patients about the “emotional implications” of an abortion and removing criminal penalties for inducing abortion without a doctor. The state has the first women-majority legislature. New York legalized abortions after 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or there is a risk to the pregnant patient’s health.

Forced birthers who want pregnant women to be slaves care nothing about the high maternal mortality in the United States, especially with the lack of good prenatal care. Georgia’s maternal mortality rate is the second highest in the nation, Missouri is sixth, and Mississippi is 19th. Other states with draconian anti-abortion laws also rate high in maternal mortality. Infant mortality is equally high in these same states: Mississippi rates the highest in the nation. Fifty-five countries have a lower infant mortality rate than the United States.

As infants die at a higher rate than in other industrialized countries, the birthrate in the U.S. is shrinking because the nation doesn’t support pregnant women. They lack adequate health insurance, suffer exorbitant medical bills, and have no access to paid parental leave, child care, and job protection. Because of artificially low wages, tens of millions of young people endure financial problems with little hope for the future. To increase the birthrate, U.S. laws force pregnancy, often in poverty, often guaranteeing illness and death. In Sweden, that has one of the highest birth rates in Europe, parents receive 480 days of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child with the government-funded subsidy of 80 percent of the parent’s pay for the first 390 days and a reduced sum for the last 90 days. Employers pay a tax on salaries to pay for the leave.

Anti-choice “Christians” cry about the sanctity of life, but they care nothing about the death of five migrant children in custody—the first deaths in a decade—under DDT’s administration. The EPA’s new false guidelines for pollution will kill people as will the GOP disregard for water, food, and employment safety. The anti-choice people care nothing about hungry children who live in poverty, the death penalty, police shooting down unarmed people, the U.S. killing civilians in the Middle East—the lack of “sanctity for life” after birth goes on and on. Alabama has the highest level of poverty in the developed world, including a 2017 outbreak of hookworm—a disease usually found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa. Yet, the only human creatures deserving of protection to anti-choice people are in the womb; once out, people are on their own.

Republicans are afraid of how the new anti-choice laws will affect their re-election possibilities. Asked about the Alabama ban, recently appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) claimed, “That’s a state issue. I’m focused on my work here.” Part of her work is federal law and voting on federal judges who rule on abortion law. Conservatives wonder if Democrats will turn out to vote in the 2020 election as a reaction to anti-abortion laws.

Anti-choice Christians might want to take note that their bible tells them that a person is not a living being until after taking the first breath.

December 16, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-seven – Sexual Misconduct Stays in News

The biggest news against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was Roy Moore’s loss in the race for Alabama’s U.S. senator, making the second loss for DDT in the election after Luther Strange lost the primary. Roy Moore won’t concede the election after losing by 1.5 points, claiming that he’ll win with military and provisional votes. He’s asking for donations for an “election integrity fund,” but probably not because Alabama is one of the worst states in the nation for voter suppression. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is dragging his feet in seating Sen. Doug Jones while pushing the tax bill before Strange departs. Seven years ago, McConnell pushed the seating of Scott Brown, a new GOP senator, to vote for the Affordable Care Act.

DDT’s false claims about Russian not meddling in the U.S. presidential election has been declared the lie of the year. The House Judiciary Committee failed to get FBI Director Christopher Wray to denounce the FBI and then grilled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about whether he would fire special investigator Robert Mueller. Rosenstein said he would not without good cause, which he does not have at this time. DDT has never hosted a Cabinet meeting about Russian interference in the U.S. election, and White House staff are not allowed to speak about the subject.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that he would talk diplomacy with North Korea “without precondition” for three days until he reversed his position to say that North Korea must “earn its way” by stopping its nuclear threats.

The week’s mystery is John Kelly’s ejection of former Apprentice star Omarosa Manigault Newman from the White House. The Secret Service denied that they escorted her off the premises, but she isn’t allowed to return before her last day on January 20, 2018. Steve Benen lists the major disappearances since January 20, 2017. Omarosa’s fame came from her statement that everyone “will have to bow down to President Trump. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

Appointments:

The Senate has confirmed three lifetime appointments for the U.S. Circuit Courts and Court of Appeals:

  • Leonard Steven Grasz – Unanimously rated “not qualified by American Bar Association and supports the teaching of creationism and anti-LGBTQ policies;
  • Don Willett – Bases judicial decisions on personal anti-LGBTQ and anti-worker views;
  • James Ho – Wants to “abolish all restrictions on campaign finance,” defends torture, and opposes LGBTQ rights.  sides with teaching of creationism and anti-LGBTQ policies.

FEC Member Matthew Petersen has never tried any case, argued a case in state or federal court, and deposed anyone by himself. During a confirmation hearing, he could not define basic legal terms such as the Daubert standard, motion in limine, motion in limit, the Younger abstention doctrine, and the Pullman abstention doctrine. He claims to understand “the challenge” if he were named the U.S. District Court judgeship for the District of Columbia and thinks that he is qualified.

Michael Dourson backed out of the nomination for U.S. top regulator of toxic chemicals. He ran a consulting company that defended toxic chemicals on behalf of companies like Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and DuPont and advocates weaker chemical safety standards.

After Moore lost the Senate race in Alabama, Sen. Chuck Grassley pulled two of DDT’s judicial nominees from consideration. Jeff Mateer, DDT’s pick for the Eastern District of Texas, and Brett Talley, a choice for Alabama, both made comments supporting discriminatory groups or policies. Talley, whose wife works for White House counsel, had been considered “not qualified” by the American Bar Association and defended judicial discrimination, including against transgender people. Grassley pled ignorance about these problems despite wide media coverage about them.

Moving Forward:

DDT failed to kill “Obamacare” despite eliminating almost all funding for ads and assistance plus considerably shortening the signup time. This year’s enrollment is almost equal to that of last year. DDT has refused to extend the deadline even one day after December 15 although it has been extended to January 31 of the next year in the past.

Thanks to U.S. District Judge Wendy, Beetlestone, DDT’s rules of employers’ “religious or moral” exceptions to contraception which prevent its no-cost coverage are blocked nationwide during trials from lawsuits against them.

DDT thought that he would kill the nuclear deal with Iran, but because Congress failed to take action in 60 days, the agreement stays in force.

Thirteen U.S. scientists received “Make the Planet Great Again” grants from France’s President Emmanuel Macron, offered after DDT said that the U.S. was backing out of the Paris climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Grants were awarded to five other scientists in other parts of the world.

Assaulters of the week:

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) won’t be seeking reelection. He’s joined by Ruben Kihuen (D-NV). That makes seven congressional members going or gone thus far because of sexual misconduct—four Republicans and three Democrats.

Chief Justice Sidney R. Thomas of the 9th Circuit Court has asked that one of his judges, Reagan appointee Alex Kozinski, be investigated by another court for complaints of sexual misconduct by at least 15 women have accused Kozinski of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments. Dahlia Lithwick wrote about her experience 20 years ago with Kozinski when she was clerking for then Chief Justice Judge Procter Hug of the 9th Circuit Court.

Accused of sexual crimes and misconduct including sexual assault of a teenager, Kentucky state GOP Rep. Dan Johnson killed himself. Four of his Republican colleagues have also been accused of sexual misconduct. The House Speaker has already resigned. Johnson’s enabler wife plans to replace Johnson in the legislature.

DDT Tweets:

About a senator’s statements call for investigating sexual misconduct allegations against DDT: “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Charles E. Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!” Katty Kay, anchor for BBC World News America, called DDT’s tweet “clearly sexual” and “demeaning to women.” DDT has not responded to the same request from male Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Fifty-nine women congressional members have formally requested the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate allegations of DDT’s sexual misconduct. From an editorial by the conservative USA Today:

“A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.”

About women accusing DDT of sexual assault: “women who I don’t know and/or have never met.” Witnesses, videos, and photographs show that he is lying.

The funniest one comes from DDT’s namesake, Donald Jr.: “I would pay good money to see all those people complaining about Obama’s FCC chairman voting to repeal #NetNeutality actually explain it in detail. I’d also bet most hadn’t heard of it before this week. #outrage.” Ajit Pai is DDT’s FCC chairman, appointed in January, and millions of people know about net neutrality because they made public comments to stop its loss. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, joined by attorneys general from at least 18 states, plans a lawsuit to keep net neutrality. At least 83 percent of people oppose the commission’s decision; even three-fourths of Republicans don’t agree with losing net neutrality. The FCC net neutrality repeal cannot go into effect until it is approved by the Office of Management and Budget—which could take months.  The industry’s argument for Pai’s change of “freedom” of the net only allows corporations to control what people watch and overcharge customers.

Moving Backward:

DDT has erased rules that tried to prevent explosive train wrecks.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has authored a huge higher education bill that guarantees colleges and universities can discriminate against LGBTQ students without danger of losing federal funds under the guise of religious freedom. The bill also removes protections for victims of campus sexual assault.

In the trial of six protesters on DDT’s inauguration day, the judge eliminated one of the eight charges and lowered the maximum penalty from 60 years. In its closing argument, DOJ admitted that it had no evidence that the people on trial had committed acts of violence or vandalism or planned the protest march, but they incited others by wearing black. The lawyer also accused two of the defendants who gave medical assistance as being “prepared for war … “to mend them and get them up on their way.” Deliberations are scheduled for late next week.

DDT socialist move will let restaurant owners make servers share their tips with untipped employees such as cooks and dishwashers means that the employers, who are not required to distribute the tips, can pocket $5.8 billion a year. Comments are due by February 5, 2018.

Four Trumps failed to successfully vote absentee in a New York mayoral election on November 7:

  • Melania didn’t sign her envelope.
  • Ivanka didn’t mail her ballot until Election Day—too late for counting.
  • Jared Kushner didn’t return his ballot.
  • DDT put his wrong date of birth on his application for an absentee ballot.

DDT’s continued approval rating of 32 percent is near the tipping point of leadership failure at 30 percent.

May 28, 2017

A Presidential Message

Filed under: Racism — trp2011 @ 3:23 PM
Tags: , , ,

At the same time that Alabama passed a law preventing anyone in the state from removing any Confederate monuments, New Orleans has removed the last of its four. Mayor Mitch Landrieu won’t be running for president, but his speech about these removals reflect how I wish the president of the United States would speak. Below is the first half of the speech, the remainder of it can be read here

The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way – for both good and for ill.

It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans: the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Color, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of Francexii and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese and so many more.

You see: New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.

There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one.

But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission.

There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.

As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other.

So, let’s start with the facts.

The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.

First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.

It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.

These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.

Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy.

He said in his now famous ‘Cornerstone speech’ that the Confederacy’s “cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears, I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us and make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago so we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and more perfect union.

Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all of our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it.

President Obama said, “Consider what this artifact tells us about history … on a stone where day after day for years, men and women … bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.”

A piece of stone – one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored.

As clear as it is for me today … for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans’ most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family’s long proud history of fighting for civil rights … I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought.

So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race. I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes.

Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it?

Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?

We all know the answer to these very simple questions.

When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from this truth.

Landrieu concludes:

So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.

As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history. Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause.

Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to do all which may achieve and cherish: a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Thank you.

And thank you, Mayor Landrieu. 

April 2, 2017

Conservatives Use Religion to Control

The Christians have a biblical reason that poor and starving people, including children, should not receive help. Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Tex.) has repeated the tired excuse from 2 Thessalonians 3-10 to keep people from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise called food stamps, with the statement that “if a man will not work, he shall not eat.” As usual, Arrington insinuates that anyone needing help to get food is a freeloader and unwilling to work.

First, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that “nearly two-thirds of SNAP recipients are children, seniors and people with disabilities.” Almost all of the rest are employed. Among those who receive SNAP benefits, 86 percent work 30 hours or more each week. The remainder includes teenagers aging out of the foster system, homeless, and recently released convicts. Many of those on SNAP “want to work,” but “effectively can’t.” There’s also context for the New Testament quotation. The passage refers to those who stopped working because they believe that the Second Coming is imminent. They just sat around waiting for the apocalypse.

Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens” are actually found among corporations, bankers, and politicians who abuse government welfare. The best example at this time is the way the DDT is making a fortune from people paying him through his businesses.

Other religion news:

After 72 people filed sex abuse claims, a second Montana Catholic diocese is filing for bankruptcy protection. If they are successful, insurance will compensate the more than 400 people involved in the lawsuits. Church officials feel bad about what happened. It is the 15th diocesan bankruptcy in the U.S. concerning sex abuse.

In Alabama the veil between church and state may become so transparent as to become nonexistent with a bill allowing a Birmingham megachurch to create their own police force—a God squad, if you will. If the bill passes, the church would be “invested with all of the powers of law enforcement officers in this state.” According to the ACLU, this act would violate the Establishment Clause especially after a 1982 Supreme Court ruled that states could not give churches any official authority to grant and deny liquor licenses. The church already has permission to hire its own security guards but this would give the church control over police officers invested with state powers.  They could possibly enforce religious beliefs of the church for whom they work. The church already puts out a podcast defending Donald Trump and opposing secularism. The bill has isolated just one church without giving the same rights to other religious organizations.

Sarah Posner addresses the way that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—three times married sexual predator—took over the religious right. Roy Moore, a Baptist leader who could represent the “new” religious right, is fighting for the soul of the religious right, to protect it from white supremacists, but DDT won the religious right because of his white “nationalism.” Richard Spencer said, “The GOP is a white person’s populist party.” He claims that these evangelicals see racial differences (aka white superiority) as “a reaffirmation of traditional historical Christianity” as proved by the Christian bible.

Moore may be losing his battle. He could lose his job because of backlash from Trump supporters in his flock who are angry that he criticized the president. Religion reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports:

“Any such move could be explosive for the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, which has been divided over politics, theology and, perhaps most starkly, race. Since he was elected in 2013, Moore, 45, has been praised by younger evangelicals for challenging the political approach of an older generation. He is also very popular among many evangelicals of color, who have welcomed Moore’s promotion of racial justice, including his vigorous opposition to public displays of the Confederate flag. [But] more than 100 of the denomination’s 46,000 churches have threatened to cut off financial support for the SBC’s umbrella fund … [Now], the committee is studying whether the churches are acting out of displeasure with Moore.”

Conservatives use Christians to push through their far-right agenda. For example, in his attempt to push through a transphobic bill, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has called on two Christian organizations, Family Research Council and Vision America. Rick Scarborough, founder of the latter,  has said that HIV/AIDS is God’s “judgement” for the “homosexual disease.” FRC argues that being trans requires counseling because it displays “grief, discomfort, and anger,” and Tony Perkins claims that allowing children near a transgender person is “child abuse.

The future may destroy white Christian evangelicals. Data from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that most people in the U.S. are secular in their political views. As the white evangelicals realize they are losing their dominance, they angrily exacerbate their struggles to maintain power and continue to cause the existing polarization in the nation. Perspective in which evangelicals are in the minority include LGBT rights, including marriage equality. DDT won the evangelical vote because of his claim that he sees them as a privileged category and will give them all the advantages that they want. White conservatives confuse their loss of cultural dominance as literal oppression. His promise to turn back the clock won him millions of votes.

Over two-thirds of people think that employers should be required to provide contraception to employees with health care plans at no cost. Only half of the Republicans are opposed. The younger the population, the more they believe in offering contraception. Churches should not be permitted to endorse political candidates, according to 71 percent of the people. Even a majority of Republicans, even evangelicals, agree with this position.

One advantage of the push from the religious right is that progressive religious activism is emerging. Pope Francis has been pushing it for some time, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico has said that Mexicans who help build DDT’s wall are traitors. That includes any companies investing in the work, including shareholders and owners. In the past progressive religious groups have fought slavery and promoted civil right. Now they are offering help to immigrants, urging GOP politicians to keep the Affordable Care Act, and working to preserve federal spending on humanitarian efforts. In 45 of the 50 states, the number of churches giving sanctuary to asylum seekers doubled from 400 to 800. About 300 members of the progressive policy group Leaders of Faith in Public Life from as far away as Ohio rallied at Capitol Hill to block Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as attorney general because of his racist views. Donations to the Christian activist group Sojourners have increased by 30 percent since DDT’s election.

Launched in 2013, the “Moral Mondays” movement helped defeat GOP Gov. Pat McCrory for re-election. New alliances among churches, synagogues, and mosques are protesting the recent increase in hate crimes, including those against mosques and Jewish community centers. The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, an alliance between Muslim and Jewish women, has rippled the number of its U.S. chapters to 170 since the November election. Over 1,000 people have already signed up for the annual meeting of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism at the end of the month.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It applies to Karma as well as to physics.

December 20, 2015

What Christianity Teaches

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 1:25 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Around 2016 years ago, a non-Christian Middle Eastern couple needed refuge for the night. There was no room at the inn, but the innkeeper offered the travelers, one of whom was pregnant with another Man’s child, the option of bedding down in the barn. It was there that Jesus Christ was born. Or so the story goes.

The Nativity scene is an icon of current Christian celebration during December although the event most likely occurred in spring. Yet at least five states with these scenes in their capitols or governors’ mansions also refuse to accept any Middle-Eastern refugees in their boundaries. According to the story, an angel of the Lord told Joseph and Mary that they must escape to Egypt because Herod was searching for Jesus to kill him. Legislators claim that they are keeping out Syrian attackers after the Paris attacks to keep out Syrian refugees, but all the attackers were citizens of European countries.

Violence from the conservative propaganda against Islam has expanded to children.  A seventh grader in Ohio tried to resolve his argument with a sixth-grade student on the school bus by calling him a “towel head” and threatening to bring his father’s gun the next day to shoot and kill the Muslim boy. He also called the sixth-grader the “son of ISIS” and blamed him for the 9/11 attacks. The boy denied his threats, but the heated exchange had been taped.

Wheaton College has suspended tenured political science associate professor Larycia Hawkins because she said that Christians and Muslims worship the same god. Hawkins tried to protest the increasing Islamophobia by wearing a hijab, but declaring solidarity with the religion was too much for officials at the evangelical Christian school. They wrote:

“While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation, and the life of prayer.”

Hawkins pointed out that millions of Christians throughout history have the standard belief in a common god. Miroslav Volf, a theology professor at Yale Divinity School and author of the book Allah: A Christian Response, wrote that unnecessary divisiveness over the question creates “justification for cultural and military wars.” In 2013, Brian C. Houston, the evangelical Christian leader of one of the world’s largest Christian churches, explained that Christianity and Islam have a shared deity.

The United States has had three mass shootings by Muslims out of over 350 shootings of at least four people each during 2015. Yet one of these three tragedies caused conservatives to blame the Muslims for all the gun violence in the country. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, supports Donald Trump in keeping all Muslims from coming into the United States.

Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University, goes father in asking all students, staff, and faculty to carry concealed guns on campus to “teach them a lesson.” By them, we’re pretty sure that he means Muslims. Falwell said that he started carrying a .25 caliber handgun in his back pocket after the mass shooting at San Bernardino (CA). Evidently, the shooting by a white Christian at the Charleston (SC) church didn’t cause Falwell any concern. Virginia has a minimum age of 21 for concealed carry, and Falwell said later that he meant only older students should be armed.

Carson-Newman University, a private Southern Baptist college in Tennessee, is the latest school to use federal permission to ban LGBT students, unwed mothers, students who had an abortion, and pregnant women. The university president said he doesn’t know why it sought the exemption to Title IX which prohibits sex discrimination in education that also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. An attorney who filed the same application for a dozen other Christian schools told the president that it was a good idea. In the past 18 months, 56 schools have requested religious exemptions from Title IX. Of these 33 related to gender identity and 23 to sexual orientation have been awarded. A list of schools is available here. Eight senators, including Bernie Sanders and Oregon’s Ron Wyden, have asked for a website to publish the names of schools that discriminate so that students applying to college will be able to make informed decisions.

Of its 45 “speciality” licence plates in Alabama, only God plates are free, according to Gov. Robert Bentley, who announced that the God Bless America license plate will have no additional fee. People who want plates for autism, trees, education, breast cancer, wild turkey, etc. will still have to pay the usual $50 fee.

According to research from the University of Chicago, children from religious families are more selfish than those from less-religious families. In the the study’s dictator game,” 1,170 children are told that not everyone can participate in the game to get stickers and they must choose to keep or donate the stickers: “altruism was calculated as the number of stickers shared out of 10.” In another part of the study, children watched videos of people hurting others and then were asked to judge how mean the bullies are and what punishment they deserved. Non-religious children are less likely to hand out punishment and more inclined to be generous. Religious levels of the children were based on interviews with their parents about religious identity, practices, and morality of the children.

Tennessee GOP lawmakers want to ensure that non-Christians are made to feel excluded from any holiday parties. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and some legislators called for the “immediate resignation”  of University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and cuts in UT’s funding for diversity programs after he issued a memo recommending goals to make parties “build upon workplace relationships and team morale” as well as “an opportunity to reinvigorate individuals for the new year’s goals and priorities.” He also said that parties should be voluntary, not mandatory. While Tennessee suffers from ranking 37th in unemployment, 46th in school funding, and 17th in teen pregnancy, GOP politicians concentrate on their fantasy of anti-Christian discrimination. Ramsay has also urged Tennessee Christians to buy guns because “secularism” and “Jihadists” have joined together to target Christians.

While the GOP U.S. House postponed a vote on keeping the federal government open and deciding whether the U.S. should be at war with ISIS, it passed H.R. 564, sponsored by 36 male representatives. The entire name is “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas”:

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and

Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;

(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and

(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.

Less than two weeks before it celebrates the birth of Jesus, a Christian-run Kentucky homeless shelter, Emergency Christian Ministries, told all homeless women and children to leave because a “sex problem.” Billy Woodward, Emergency Christian Ministries Director, said the ban is based on teachings in the Bible because the homeless women were using the shelter as a dating or hookup service. Kentucky has the fifth-highest percentage of people in poverty, following Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Michael Long, social studies teacher at Delta Middle School in the central western part of Colorado, organized a bible giveaway in the doorway of the school library while his class met there. A child who took a photograph instead of a bible was shamed by her classmates for not agreeing with Christian beliefs. Principal Jennifer Lohrberg, supported by the district superintendent, declared that favoring one religion was according to district rules and approved by its lawyers. Other religious proselytizing at the same school during the last year included mandated attendance at a Christian religious and the use of free doughnuts as reward for attending morning prayers led by a DMS teacher.

Another school in the state, Colorado Mesa University, forced nurses graduating from the school’s program to either accept or reject a bible as they stepped down from the dais at their pinning ceremony, CMU’s graduation for nurses.  Following a discussion of the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers organization, CMU president Tim Foster said that the “tradition” will be dropped.

stormtroopersThose who saw the seventh Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, need to know that it’s based on the Bible. At least that’s what Northern Exposure actress Janine Turner claimed about Darth Vader’s black costume. “This goes back to biblical times,” she asserted, because “the Bible talks darkness and light.” She didn’t explain why the hordes of evil but poorly trained Stormtroopers are dressed in white.

And that’s the Christian teaching for the week.

August 27, 2012

Cut Defense; Leave NOAA, FEMA, Safety Net Alone

The GOP convention was intended to be the big story for this week until Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) brought abortion and rape into the dialog and dug up the GOP’s position. The biggest story, however, is Tropical Storm Isaac which probably will become a hurricane before landfall somewhere in the Gulf Coast states.

Gov. Bobby Jindal cancelled his speech at the GOP convention to get back to Louisiana because of the threat to New Orleans, and Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott dropped out of the convention to protect his state. Nobody knows Isaac’s actual destination when it’s predicted to his land early Wednesday morning. Governors of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have started evacuations in their states and joined Scott in declaring emergencies.

The irony of the Isaac story is that Republicans have received early warning after trying to drastically cut funds for disaster preparedness and response. Their continuing resolution 2011 budget shrank funding for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) Operations, Research, and Facilities by $454.3 million. The National Weather Service, part of NOAA, lost $126 million; FEMA dropped $24.3 million with FEMA state and local programs losing $783.3 million. Fortunately, this budget didn’t stick.

As part of last August’s Budget Control Act, Republicans agreed to make it easier to fund disaster relief but then reneged on this agreement. This isn’t new. Back in his 2009 response to the State of the Union, Jindal ridiculed the stimulus for having “$140 million for something called volcano monitoring.” Jindal is governor of a state that has hurricanes, not volcanoes. Not everyone else in the United States is in the same situation.

NOAA warned Congress that Republican cuts would stop them from warning people about hurricanes five to ten days out because of its aging satellites. Without the funding, the United States could go up to 18 months or even longer without any satellites.  If that were to happen, the Republicans might not know a hurricane is imminent for their 2016 convention.

Even when NOAA doesn’t want extra money for a project, Congress refused to allow them to make their activities more efficient. Last fall, when NOAA wanted to reorganize its existing climate capabilities and services into a “single point of entry” for users, Congress said no. NOAA cannot be permitted to “more efficiently and effectively respond to the rapidly increasing demand for easily accessible and timely scientific data and information about climate that helps people make informed decisions in their lives, businesses, and communities.”

The idea was that efficient, up-to-date information is important because of the likelihood of more droughts, floods, and storms; Republicans can’t admit that climate is changing. Since Congress turned down NOAA’s proposal, the organization has announced the last year and last half year are the hottest on record. The second half of this past June saw at least 170 all-time high temperatures either broken or tied. As of July 3, 56 percent of the contiguous U.S. experienced drought conditions, the largest percentage in the 12-year record of the U.S. Drought Monitor. During the June 2011-June 2012 period, each of the 13 consecutive months ranked among the warmest third of their historical distribution for the first time in the 1895-present record. The odds of this occurring randomly is 1 in 1,594,323.

When disastrous tornadoes hit Missouri, Republicans threatened to hold up any assistance until there were cuts in other places. The same for Virginia’s earthquake and the east coast’s Hurricane Irene.  A year ago House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) demanded that “that no more money be allocated for disaster relief unless it is offset by spending cuts elsewhere”—until he asked for FEMA money for his own district a month later.

If Republicans don’t get the FEMA aid that they request, they are angry. When FEMA refused a request for federal aid for wildfire victims in Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin called a government agency’s rejection letter “bureaucratic” and “cruel.”

If anything is “bureaucratic” and “cruel,” it’s the Republicans’ refusal to allow states’ residents to get the health care from the federal government that costs the states nothing. Texas is a prime example: the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has now upheld Texas’s decision to deny women any health care through Planned Parenthood or other clinic that simply makes referrals for abortions.  The court decision will deny health care to at least 50,000 women.

Texas has also refused to accept the federal money that would provide Medicaid for people with salaries between one-fourth of the poverty level and one and one-fourth of the poverty level. Because of Gov. Rick Perry’s arrogance and indifference, families making between $5,000 and $25,000 will not qualify for Medicaid or any other remedy from the Affordable Care Act. That’s bureaucratic and cruel.

If Republicans want FEMA help for people who need assistance, they need to allocate funds for it. They also need to revise their position in denying all people any safety net except the wealthy—who don’t need it. And they need to stop using their personal morality to control women.

Where can the government get the money to help people? Defense expenditures went from $583.38 billion in 2003 when we were in two wars to $711.42 billion in 2011 when we were no longer in war. About a half century ago, Dwight Eisenhower said, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.” We are now living in Eisenhower’s nightmare.

If Republicans want small government, they should start with the defense budget. Support the programs that actually help people, such as the safety net and NOAA.

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