2:00PM Water Cooler 10/20/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) geekery; it’s doffing that’s the problem [HuffPo].  It’s almost as if the virus attacks our society’s weakened immune system, not the body’s.

WHO declares Nigeria and Senegal virus-free [BBC].

Cuba deploys hundreds of medical professionals to West Africa [New York Times]. More than our sclerotic institutions can do.

Hong Kong

Hong Konger arrested for “accessing a computer with illegal or dishonest intentions,” meaning urging people to protest [WSJ, “Hong Kong Protests: Man Arrested Over Online Messages”].

An “urban village” at Admiralty [NPR], a “perfect anarchist collective” (!) [Time].

The “Umbrella Revolution” in Lego [NBC]. Not Legco, mind you.


How Ferguson Became Ferguson [Economic Policy Institute].

Protesters and football fans clash after Rams game [International Business Times]. Here’s the video.

Oddly, or not, the Keene, NH PD did not deploy its $286,000 BearCat armored vehicle, despite arson, vandalism, and assaults from a violent, drunken mob, which our famously free press described  as “rowdy students,” as opposed to Ferguson, where protesters were described as “thugs” [Boston Globe]. One can only wonder why. And while we’re at it, where’s the pearl-clutching about “white on white crime”?


Saving the Senate comes down to the black vote [New York Times]. Nice to see Justice pursuing a civil rights charge in Ferguson. Oh, wait….

40,000 unprocessed Georgia voter registrations. mostly black and Hispanic [Al Jazeera]. Sure, it’s reprehensible, but how come this project only started months ago, and why aren’t the Ds sponsoring it as a party-building effort, instead of letting some non-profit do it? To me, it’s kayfabe: The Ds want to point the finger at the Rs, but don’t want to actually do what they blame the Rs for preventing them from doing. 

Shifting demographics haven’t changed the race or gender of elected officials [The New Yorker]. Or the class, one might add, as the writer does not.

Obama hits the campaign trail, first in very friendly counties, then in merely friendly states [WaPO]. But people leave early [Reuters]. Ouch.


Jebbie’s the pick the the litter [WaPo]. Yikes.

Clinton aides said to bury hooker eruption at State [Time]. No traction, because the entire imperial apparatus is implicated.

Clinton tests 2016 themes on the road [WSJ]. Pro quote: Evan Bayh. Anti quote:  Roger Hickey.

Harper’s print version: “Stop Hillary!” She’s got a weak Senate record, she’s a hawk, she’s ambitious, not idealistic, and has no trouble representing the rich [HuffPo]. Unlike… Unlike… Wait, I’m thinking… 

America the Petrostate

Fracking Activist Vera Scroggins fined for being in the same general area as Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation [Guardian].

Stats Watch

Rapture Index: Down one on earthquakes [Rapture Ready].


Well ahead, Cuomo runs out the clock with no “press the flesh” events [New York Daily News]. But he threw his “core supporters” a sop with a court appointment [New York Times].

Meanwhile, Cuomo’s concept is that Clinton and the Ds are “center left” [New York Magazine]. Ds are so weird.

As for 2016, Cuomo hasn’t raised money or campaigned for other Ds. Or visited Iowa [CBS].

And what’s with the white pumpkins? [New York Observer].

Maps and Mapping

Africa may not look like we think it does [Think Africa Press].

Edward Tufte on maps moving in time [Edward Tufte]. With side-by-side method for setting standards of excellence.

The BBC’s ontology for news storylines [BBC]. Ontologies using the same data architectures as maps.

Network analysis of Game of Thrones, and how to predict the next Bin Laden [Defense One, (furzy mouse)]. Network analysis using the same data architectures as maps and ontologies.

News of the Weird

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Petra):


Fall foliage! And I wish I were out playing on that swingset. Or sitting on that bench….

Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. afisher

    “ouch” from Reuters – well okey doke then it is always curious why this type of story is cut off at the knees when other sites make claims and then produce data that says the exact opposite. (Politico) – does it like so many sites require people to be really stupid and read only the headlines?

    Am I happy with DC – nope – do I blame the POTUS for all of it? NOPE.


    As I don’t know if the confab is MD was “by invitation” – there is no way of knowing if the “early exit” was a made for media event….. just sayin.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Obama is the head of the executive branch, the Democratic Party, and Team Blue’s biggest draw. During his reign, he has sought to put both the bureaucracy (the war on whistleblowers) and the Democratic Party (OFA; the 50 state strategy led to historic wins) under his control. NOTHING official happens without going through his office.

      Much of the current situation (even current Democratic campaigning) still goes back to Obama’s decisions.

      As for the GOP, they are in power because the Democratic elite dismantled the party apparatus and pursued right wing policies, not a surge in GOP support. Team Blue actively turned people off, but it goes back to decisions made by Obama of how to run the party. During the 2009 VA Governor’s race, OFA was actively poaching volunteers for phony Healthcare workshops instead of helping with the race. This was when Tim Kaine was the DNC chair. Obama might have had a great deal of support, but he deserves a great deal of contempt.

  2. TimR

    I’ve been reading John Rappoport on Ebola. One would think that not *everything* can be the dread “CT”, but, however, everything is pumped through the media spigot… So, really, you do have to question it all.

    I’m not knowledgeable enough to make as confident a claim as Rappoport does, but he does get my attention with some of his propaganda-analysis concepts (or conceits.) His idea about “the Oneness” for example rings very true to me. This is the idea that the mass mind needs “flat” one-dimensional concepts, no depth nuance or complexity. Hence: ISIS, Bin Laden, Ebola, etc. In my own view, it’s like a complicity between the media propagandists and the mass public.. “We demand simplicity! Give us our bogey-man, tell us who, or what, to hate..” And the ministers of propaganda comply… Using this device to achieve some ulterior end (according to Rappoport, they want to enmesh the global populace in a single health care system, to ensnare even more people in the globalist system, to an even greater degree.)

    And he describes the CDC as one branch of the “Reality Manufacturing Company.” It certainly seems plausible, if you’ve studied somewhat the background of the deep state, as I have to a limited degree.

    1. Jim S

      Which articles do you recommend? I listened to his interview on Red Ice Radio last week on vaccines and they touched on Ebola, so I knew he’d have some things to say about it. I just haven’t followed up.

      1. TimR

        I just read through his latest blog posts every few weeks, he’s posted a number of times on Ebola. You can sort of get a gestalt of where he’s coming from if you dig through.

        Also I think there is a catgory for “Ebola” to view all posts on that topic.

        I heard him give an interesting talk, I think it is in the Guns n Butter podcast archive, from the past few months. It’s a really unique perspective, but I find it rewarding. He talks about how people conform to consensus reality, they “enter the glob,” globulate themselves, etc.

        Guns n Butter has lots of great interviews

  3. TimR

    I want to recommend an incredible video /podcast I heard recently (and I listen to a lot; this ranks very high, best I’ve heard in the past 3 months perhaps.)

    Part of what captures my attention is that, even though (again) we are in the dread land of CT, the interviewee is a senior professor of Asian-American studies at UC Davis. Who claims that what he is saying may get him persecuted, and already is to a degree, but he doesn’t care — just wants to get it out there.

    And on top of that, the ideas are really novel (at least to me, and I’ve been scanning alt media for several years.) And important, if at all true. Basically it’s all about Asian-Americans (and other minority groups) being used by elites as compradors of a sort (if that’s the word), and also that they are being set up for a big fall. He talks about how the WWII internment camps for Japanese in the US, are even more sinister than they have been portrayed, and are part of an ongoing study and process.


    1. Timothy Y. Fong

      I skimmed his new work on Google Books. It’s really too bad he’s gone full Alex Jones, with respect to “China being America’s banker,” and a lack of a coherent narrative with respect to the functioning of finance and the monetary system. Rather than spending his time listening to gold cranks, he would have been better off reading NC every day.

      He does have some interesting insights into the eagerness of a certain section of the Asian American community who are enthusiastic collaborators with neoliberalism, serving as managers and technologists. There are unfortunately many Asian Americans who believe that by doing so, they are “model minorities,” and that this separates them from blacks and Latinos and makes them honorary white people. This is not true, as Asian Americans in tech jobs are still paid less than whites in equivalent positions. http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/10/09/high-tech-pay-gap-hispanics-asians-african-americans/16606121/

      Aside from the fact that supporting white supremacy is morally indefensible, it is also a bad move politically. I would hope that the wannabe model minority folks recognize that if things ever go seriously sideways in the economy, their actions make them easy scapegoats.

  4. diptherio

    Holey buckets! Time magazine discussing anarchism in a positive way?!?

    …protest’s maturation from an uncertain settlement to a bona fide village—a transformation that smacks of pure anarchism. Not anarchy, meaning chaos, but classical political anarchism: a self-organizing community that has no leader.

    What is going on here? I feel like I’m in some kind of alternate reality…

    1. hunkerdown

      If you’re part of the audience TIME wants, that is, the upper-middle-class managers their editors are and that their advertisers want, you should be taking that cue to gasp in horror about the threat of losing your job.

  5. NotTimothyGeithner

    Perhaps, I’m the only one, but I think the Democrats are shocked they aren’t on their way to a historic win. I know many believe their own b.s. and can’t quite grasp pursuing policies favored by oligarchs and actively dumping campaign promises them to power in the first place would play well. The Obot-types seem less shrill and more confused than usual.

    1. wbgonne

      You’re right. My observation is that the Obots can’t believe the rest of the country is so stupid and can’t see how great Obama is and that the Republicans are scarier than ebola. But that group, consisting primarily of African Americans and Democrat ultra-partisans, doesn’t really care about policy much anyway. They are cultists and tribalists, they are reductionists. They are ones so easily duped and manipulated by the plutocrats.

      Obama’s real support, of couse, comes from the plutocrats themselves. Do they think the public’s repudiation of Obama signifies rejection of neolibralism? I doubt it. Obama has been so transfigured by the MSM that most of the country considers him a Progressive. So this is a very neat trick indeed: cast Obama as a Progressive while Obama governs as a Conservative, then when the Conservative governance fails (again), the public will blame Progressives.

    2. lee

      I spend more time than I should at Daily Kos taking on the party faithful and the atmosphere there is pretty grim these days. The ACA happy talkers quieted down and a very fine critique of same received considerable positive response (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/19/1337740/-Inadequate-Obamacare-plans-continue-to-force-patients-to-delay-care-endure-crippling-debt).

      Similarly well received are regular posters’ critiques on foreign policy, particularly as regards the Middle East, the surveillance state as well as corruption and dysfunction of the financial system.

      Postings such as these used to be attacked in what seemed to be an orchestrated way by what I call the dearleaderswarm. But the mosquito cloud appears to have thinned and I imagine their frail little bodies floating down the river of no return.

      The DK staple of lampooning Republicans is of course as much in evidence as ever but seems to have risen to new heights of hysteria. The site has taken on the eerily surreal aspect of a carnival fun house situated in a ghost town. Or maybe it’s just me.

      1. PhilK

        I used to spend way, way too much time logged in at DailyKos, but have now given it up, except for dropping by once or twice a week as a visitor. Going there now is like when you were a kid, going over to the house of some other kid whose Dad was an alcoholic. They tried to carry on as if their Dad was there and everything was normal, but you knew their Dad wasn’t there and everything wasn’t normal, but they had to pretend it was.

      2. Banger

        DailyKos may be on the way out. It acted as one of the chief agents of the Obama deception and the idea that the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party exist. I’ll have to go over there and look around–people there are incapable of dialogue–they banned me under two different user names years ago so I have no love for the little Nazis over there that used to swarm over dissenters. It made me realize that Markos had no interest in the Democratic Party and I’m inclined to take the rumors seriously that he is or was an intel asset as many in the media are and have been for nearly a century.

        1. sleepy

          I always thought that kos should’ve been smarter and cashed out and sold his site after 2008. It was easy to see back then that it would beome a parody of itself masquerading as progressive during the Obama years.

          More and better Dems! lol

      3. cwaltz

        I didn’t mind kos until I came to the determination that his my way or the highway approach to politics meant we’d be stuck in suckitude forever. More and better Democrats as a singular strategy simply doesn’t work. Can it be utilized in addition to leveraging a third party? Not sure. I do. however, know that the Democratic oligarchy has no problem leveraging third parties to promote their own agenda. I don’t hear the kos end of the party calling the Democratic leadership Naderites even as they support Independants over the people their own activists support.

    3. Banger

      The official Democrats believe that the Republicans have painted themselves into a corner by becoming the white male, neo-confederate party that is, as they see it, a dead end demographically. However, they have failed to motivate much enthusiasm other than playing the good cop against the GOP bad cop. Their strategy is not enough in this election cycle since Republicans appear to be more motivated focusing their frustrations with a corrupt and ineffectual government on Obama who seems very easy to be portrayed as “the other” due to his name and skin coloring. I think Democrats don’t understand what a powerful force race still is in this country.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I think Team Blue expected Hispanics to come out for the Democrats because African-Americans still do with little grasp on the actual conditions of the 1920’s and 1950’s which led to the current black vote for the Democrats. There were plenty of racists in the Democratic Party outside of the South during these tectonic shifts. Team Blue is under the impression better music and cooler celebrities will wow voters while they ignore issues of these minority groups.

        Yes, they slapped together some corporate giveaways and called it immigration reform, but Hispanic voters who care about immigration issues (unsurprisingly citizens tend to consider immigration a minor issue) want the promises that were explicit in 2006 and 2008 fulfilled and aren’t going to go for Team Blue b.s. Most Hispanic voters care about their personal assessment of their personal economy. Hispanics have a better history in the U.S. than African-Americans. Obama’s tokenism is a sign of relief for millions of African Americans who come from a terrible coming to America story, but Hispanics don’t have the same identity. Some are Mexican, Puerto Rican, Chicano, Dominican, and so forth. Their families came here voluntarily, yes, conditions in the home country may have been grim. Yes, Hispanics are a growing minority, but like German and Italian immigrants, they aren’t a bloc bound together by a common experience (ex. slavery).

  6. diptherio

    Re: Maps and Mapping

    …In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a
    single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety
    of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the
    Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and
    which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so
    fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map
    was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the
    Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are
    Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is
    no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.
    ~Jorge Luis Borges


  7. frosty zoom

    the pepsicrats are throwing this election, hoping to say in 2016, “see, you gave these guys a chance and nothing changed.” and then in 2016 madame clinton will have a hope’n’change majority and nothing will change.

  8. McMike

    re: hooker eruption. I am reminded of the run-up to every RNC convention, whereby someone eventually runs a story about how the strip clubs and pimps in town are preparing to bus in scores and scores of sex workers to meet the surge in demand. This will be good news for the working women of Williston ND, who might be finding slack demand as oil falls.

    re: voter fraud. It is on this issue alone, failure to aggressively deal with GOP disenfranchisement, (particularly when the Dems had a power monopoly), that leads me to believe the Dem party is either deeply corrupt or hopelessly feckless.

    re:fracking fine. Yes, corporate persons can now be protected with restraining orders.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      When it comes to voter disenfranchisement and the argument between corrupt and feckless, this is a country where 25% of people can demonstrate a second grade understanding of the three branches of government. The practical result is the President is a huge deal especially when he is In an elected’s party with few exceptions such as Charlie Rangel’s district.

      Obama is clearly an insecure control freak. Any Democrat who moves off the reservation or speaks without approval will be cut off. Obama went after Rangel, and Democrats such as Grayson and Feingold couldn’t get a dime in 2010. When Obama was more popular, not just as a lesser of two evils, he could rise and crush candidates. Remember MSNBC when it went full Democrat fired Keith Olbermann, not because of ratings or fear of alienating a larger audience, they did it because Keith said whatever he wanted. Olbermann was fired after demanding Democrats start to call gun nuts what they are. If Keith was still on TV, Obama’s know towing to the NRA would have been really obvious versus say Rachel Maddow sharing a story about another despicable nobody in the GOP (spoiler alert: they are all despicable). Olbermann’s particular show demanded action. The replacement shows demand Obots be smug because they are random hill billies in the world they can feel superior to. I have no doubt the same Democratic Party that put a kibosh on members going on Colbert’s Better Know a District segment wanted Olbermann gone. If GE could tolerate Olbermann, Comcast could. Chris Hayes was brought on to recapture Olbermann’s more outspoken views, but it’s sort of a too little too late issue.

      Much of the elected Dems, they all fancy themselves President, won’t risk speaking out of turn for fear of Obama supporting a Democratic opponent or pulling OFA and money. Most Congressmen couldn’t be identified by easily half the people who voted for them, but they all know the name of BO, the dog (a “gift” from Teddy, not a shelter pet).

      Even Hillary and Leon Panetta had to apologize for their swiftly forgotten books when it came to questions to loyalty to Obama because Panetta is a nothing outside of DC and Hillary’s biggest position was picking out design ideas for the White House in the 90’s. The Obots are crazy. They had no shame labeling critics of the abortion that was ACA as racists for demanding good policy.

      Whoa, I just turned on MSNBC (I know), and they were discussing a riot in the town I was born in. The student population exploded in the intervening decades.

  9. DJG

    Two words: Evan Bayh. Exegesis: A living symbol of our decline into mush-brained imperial collapse.
    Two words: Phillip Larkin. Kudos to Lambert, although Larkin is always somewhat impenetrable.
    Two words: Female typographers. A lovely article about women’s achievements through the ages.

  10. Brindle

    re: Cuomo

    The white pumpkins match Cuomo’s sweater (as well as daughters”) . Must have done some testing on pumpkin color and likely Dem voters.

  11. ewmayer

    Yves has been making the argument that much of the MSM is guilty of irresponsibly fanning unnecessary panic about the dangers of an Ebola pandemic. To be sure, there is likely no small amount of gratuitous “if it bleeds, it leads” oneupmanship at work there.

    But — given the now-apparent woeful inadequacy of preparedness at both the leading-hospital and national-public-health level, it seems a bit of national panic is the only thing that will suffice to effect the needed changes.

    So: would you rather we have our “pandemic panic wake-up call” now, when it seems that actually following existing pathogen-handling protocols – which very few major medical centers appear to actually have trained their staffs to do until now – looks like it will suffice to contain things, or later, when the inevitable “real deal” pandemic, the one with the “right mix” of ease of transmissibility and lethality folks like Laurie Garret have been warning us about for decades, finally hits?

    And I still wonder about things like: By this time next year, what percentage of medical staff at major “designated hospitals” (the ones alleged to be equipped to handle a patient like Duncan) will have had not only textbook training in isolation protocols, but actual practice putting on the needed gear and actually working something approaching a full shift while wearing it? Will such hands-on practice involve actual testing for efficacy, e.g. using harmless marker chemicals to test if a 100% seal was achieved and maintained? Will such training become a regular mandatory drill thing (say, at least once a year for all staff who might come into contact with a “hot patient”), or will it – as I suspect will happen – be a one-shot thing, and lapse afterward, as the inevitable complacency of human nature and profit-maximization of for-profit healthcare set in?

    1. cnchal

      By this time next year, what percentage of medical staff at major “designated hospitals” (the ones alleged to be equipped to handle a patient like Duncan) will have had not only textbook training in isolation protocols, but actual practice putting on the needed gear and actually working something approaching a full shift while wearing it?


  12. tbdewey`

    The fourth paragraph in that EPI piece on Ferguson read exactly like the early 20th century history of Los Angeles, CA. To the letter.

  13. proximity1

    file under “older and even more pessimistic”

    Just curious about whether others here have at some time(s) over the past year or two contemplated the idea that much of what we are witness to in contemporary events in politics, society and economics can be related to a more general thing described as modern industrial society’s reaching and surpassing its criticial load-limit–simply by knock-on effect of crises which, in isolation, could not spell widespread catastrophe.

    1. John Zelnicker

      In a word: Yes. And one of the major markers, as I see it, is the continuing hollowing out of the middle class and how far this has gone. The US is a consumer driven economy, 70% of GDP is consumer spending (if that percentage is still valid), but without a large and vibrant middle class, I don’t see how that can continue. The working and non-working poor don’t have enough money and those with higher incomes (top 20%) have a lower propensity to consume.

      I’m also older, but I’ve always been quite optimistic. It’s getting more and more difficult.

  14. proximity1

    “This is a story about power and truth. “To be more precise…about the abuse of power and about the secrets and lies that protect it.”
    … …
    “The story of the phone-hacking scandal happens to have unfolded in the United Kingdom, but it could have happened anywhere in the world. … The structures of power and the weakness of democracy are more or less the same everywhere.”

    — Nick Davies, writing in the Author’s Note to his Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch, Random House, 2014.

    [ Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hack_Attack:_How_the_Truth_Caught_Up_with_Rupert_Murdoch ]

    Though now a few months since it was first ‘hot off the presses,’ I’ve recently begun reading this fascinating look behind the scenes of wealth and power as they are used in contemporary Britain. I was prompted to take it up after viewing Al Jazeera’s program “Listening Post”, [“The Murdoch empire: phone hacking exposed”] during which the program’s host, Richard Gizbert, interviews the book’s author, (U.K.) Guardian investigative reporter, Nick Davies. [ http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/listeningpost/ ]

    You’ll find in the archives of NC of July, 2011, a number of posts concerning the events of the U.K.’s notorious phone-hacking scandal mentioning Davies’ work on the story. The book is his in-depth treatment of the affair. I know that there are many demands on the reading time of those who frequent this site. Recently (7 October) , for example, Yves mentioned the importance of Eileen Appelbaum’s and Rosemary Batt’s Private Equity at Work. So there’s plenty of worthy reading out there competing for our time. I hope readers here will add Davies’ book to their priority-reading list. It will enhance and complement much else that they read both in the posts at NC and in the other books and articles recommended here.

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