OP-ED: The Dangers of the “Shadow Docket”

OP-ED: The Dangers of the “Shadow Docket”


The conservative court is using the shadow docket to hide their partisan decisions.


The Dangers of the “Shadow Docket”

There is a fundamental danger to our democracy when the Supreme Court is allowed to hide their actions through the misuse of the “Shadow Docket.” 


The “shadow docket” references cases taken up on an ’emergency basis’, outside the scope of the Supreme Court’s normal procedural order. . . .

By D. S. Mitchell

Partisan And Controversial Decisions

Observers have noted that the current court has disproportionately used the shadow docket to authorize its most right-wing and controversial decisions. Nearly all of the SCOTUS’s Covid-19 decisions have seeped and bubbled up from the shadow docket. Specifically, both of its rulings on the CDC eviction moratorium came through this dark and enigmatic process.

An Unsigned Opinion  

In August of 2021, SCOTUS handed Biden a shocking ruling. The court ordered Biden to re-instate Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program. Where did this ability suddenly manifest itself? The court has no authority over treaties with foreign governments. None. The outrageous ruling came in a single one paragraph unsigned opinion. This opinion (like other Shadow Docket opinions), gave no insight into the judicial history supporting the court’s decision to upend the constitutional separation of powers.  The court is now looking at the Texas abortion law. I’d call it a bit late. The heartbeat law went into effect on 9/1/2021. It is the first time a state has successfully imposed a six-week abortion ban since Roe v. Wade was decided.  The only reason is that the court has been packed with anti-abortionists. SCOTUS refused to take up the case, initially attempting to hide behind the shadow docket.

Vigilante’s Extraordinaire

As a refresher, SCROTUS said, (by initially refusing to hear the case) it was okay if Texas set up a system where vigilantes are allowed, and in fact, encouraged to pursue a woman in court for damages of up to $10,000; and anyone who assists her in obtaining an abortion.  Imagine this, it can be the cabbie that took the woman to the medical appointment, a friend who provided educational materials on termination, or the doctor who provides the abortion. Each of them under Texas law can be hauled into court and sued by someone with no standing in the case, in effect, on behalf of the state.

Dystonic Fiction

Atwood’s ‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’ in real life.

What We Expect

In the innocence of our collective minds, we fantasize the nine justices in their solemn black robes hearing robust debate in open court in front of fascinated and anticipatory spectators. Their esteemed heads taking in the well-considered arguments between opposing attorneys and ideologies, giving deliberate consideration to the legal issues of each individual case. Only after prolonged and august discussion does the court publish their venerable decisions in long verbose opinions. But, that is a faulty image of what is actually happening, folks. This heavily conservative court has slipped into a dangerous shadow zone, a place where justices lack the courage to sign their names to their own rulings, while expecting complete deference and compliance to those rulings. Somehow the two do not mesh in a democratic society.

Here’s How It Works

Here’s how it works in the SCROTUS of 2021. Lawyers are allowed to submit expedited briefs to make their “emergency” arguments, but they are not allowed to argue in person, in full view of the press and the public. These decisions don’t come after months of deliberation amongst the justices, but quickly and through whatever informal conversations the justices may have between themselves. Usually they don’t bother to explain to litigants the law or logic behind their decrees, instead issuing an order often amounting to a mere few sentences.

My Thoughts On The Matter

I believe, it is clearly evident that SCOTUS is operating in bad faith. This group of hacks is so lazy in their decisions that they won’t even take time to create legal reasons for their partisan hackery. Under the guise of “emergency” rulings this flawed and broken court is making policy. Courts do not make policy. That is not their role. Unsurprisingly the policy this court concocts melds nicely with the extremist Republican party’s political agenda. Using the “shadow docket” the court is attempting to camouflage it’s heinous actions.

Hitting The Talk Shows

Recently several of the sitting justices, hearing angry rumblings across the country have taken to the airwaves. Their recent appearances across media platforms make it clear that the justices have noted that the public view of the supreme court is at its lowest level in decades. When you have justices making speeches at colleges and going on TV claiming they “are not partisan hacks” you can damn well be assured they know the public is on to them.

The Real Danger

The power now wielded by unelected conservative justices is unnerving to me, and should be worrisome to anyone, no matter their place on the political spectrum. Just to point out, any Executive Order signed by this president (or any other president), any law passed by Congress, can be undone in the dark of night, without reason or explanation. Since this administration lacks the spine to proceed with court reform we can expect the six conservative judges to hold veto power over the Democrats entire political agenda.  Not just this year, or next, but for decades to come. It is time in the opinion of this writer to expand the court. The number of justices has been changed five or six times. Such action is not new, but it sure as hell looks like it is necessary.

The Old Testament Is Not A Christian Book

The Old Testament Is Not Christian Book

We must be careful when accepting the dogma of a group that seems to have a confused understanding of the message of Jesus.


The Old Testament Is Not A Christian Book

By I.B. Freely

God Hates You

There seems to be a particular reputation which Christians have gotten over the last few decades. One that has lead several disaffected youth to “go atheist.” Nothing wrong with being atheist if that is what you want, but going against “The Rules” because they are there is just another kind of conformity. Particularly considering that anyone who would claim to be Christian and then judge, let alone hate, anyone for “religious reasons” are doing it wrong.

Thou Shalt Not

Christian Conservatives can quote the Old Testament chapter and verse all they like, a bit ironic considering their general attitude to our Jewish friends, but it won’t make a lot of difference. Not least because, stay with me here, THE OLD TESTAMENT IS NOT A CHRISTIAN BOOK! Forgive me the shouting but few things bend my wand like so-called “Christians” who don’t seem to realize that the Old Testament (otherwise known as the Torah), was mostly the Bible as background for Jesus. It is part of the Christian story but not the main plot. Including that bit in Exodus, 22:18 to be exact, about not suffering a witch to live.

Cool Guy Christ

Jesus was nothing but clear on his opinion when it came to accepting others. Unafraid to sit with outsiders he made friends and disciples of the dregs of society at the time. Lepers, both social and literal, accepted by him. Jesus making friends and even disciples  of prostitutes and tax collectors. He is mostly known for driving money changers from the temple but that was a special case.

Choice Quotes

Some of J-man’s most famous and memorable quotes are on this theme.  “Judge not lest ye be judged” could not be any clearer.  The “treat thy neighbor as they self” also seems pretty cut and dry.  Apparently the judgmental and pious among us are just as open to the same sort of treatment. Otherwise they would be massive hypocrites.  The clearest indication of what Jesus really meant, particularly for those who take the bit about being made in God’s image to mean they are literally God, is the bit about stones.

Sticks & Stones

The clearest indication that the rules had changed between Testaments is “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  Stoning was a popular mode of punishment before the arrival of Christ, used for “infractions against the lord” from adultery to working on the Sabbath and mixing fabrics.  What Jesus was helpfully pointing out is none of us are perfect.  So if you are going to punish someone for their sins, you’d better make darn sure you don’t have any yourself. The general idea being that judgement properly lies with God.  As does vengeance as it turns out.  The full quote on which the phrase vengeance is based is “vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.”  Judgement, punishment and vengeance are not for humans to take.  At least for those who call themselves Christians.

Wise Words

Someone who laid things out in a cogent, and funny, way was Frank Zappa. In reaction to the attempts by the Christian Republicans at the Parent’s Music Resource Center to label records they didn’t like, Zappa opted to apply his own warning sticker to his 1985 album Frank Zappa Meets the Mother of Prevention:

“WARNING GUARANTEE: This album contains material which a truly free society would neither fear nor suppress. In some socially retarded areas, religious fanatics and ultra-conservative political organizations violate your First Amendment Rights by attempting to censor rock & roll albums. We feel that this is Un-Constitutional and Un-American. As an alternative to these government-supported programs (designed to keep you docile and ignorant). Barking Pumpkin is pleased to provide stimulating digital audio entertainment for those of you who have outgrown the ordinary.


This guarantee is as real as the threat of the video fundamentalists who use attacks on rock music in their attempt to transform America into a nation of check-mailing nincompoops (in the name of Jesus Christ). If there is a hell, its fires wait for them, not us.”

The Loudest Voices

That’s it. Don’t let religious fundamentalists take away the right of free speech (guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution) in the name of Jesus, when those folks keep proving they are taking their message from the wrong book.



EDITORIAL: Peace On Earth

Christmas and Pagans


I.B. Freely

A Matter of Tradition

There are many traditions around Christmas. One of the more recent traditions being the speech, usually given by the sort of edgy atheist who moves all the Bible’s in a book store to the fiction section. The local TV reporter goes out to listen to the rant that basically goes on about how Christmas is bullshit because it was stolen from the pagans. Which path of paganism is rarely, if ever, specified. This isn’t technically wrong, the modern version of Christmas contains several traditions dating back to early Germanic pagans but it is not as simple as some would have you believe.

Common History

There are many Christians who aren’t going to want to hear it-but the church is not eternal. There were large swaths of history when much of Europe, particularly the north-west area was dominated by, if not entirely pagan. One of the definitions of paganism being those who worship the old gods. Old gods, as opposed to the new gods of monotheism.

Further North

It was the 5th century before Christianity reached the southern portion of the Germanic nations. The population of the far north, what is often referred to as Lapland, held strong to paganism until the 17th century. Many in the far north still practice their pagan traditions.


It isn’t fair to say that Christianity ‘stole’ Christmas from European paganism. The truth of it is more a matter of rebranding the familiar. Many of the traditions and beliefs having been held by the peoples of the area for a thousand generations. The primary difference in terms of Yule (pagan winter solstice) and Christmas is that Christmas is specifically the celebration of the birth of Christ. Christ of course had nothing to do with any European traditions. But it was a convenient holiday that just needed a name change to take it from pagan to Christian.


Truthfully, the Yule celebration was a big deal. When Christians wanted to celebrate the birth of Christ what better way than to choose a time on the calendar that was already marked by celebration. Christmas is based in European pagan traditions that have carried over and survived into the 21st century. Nearly every element of the Christmas celebration draws its origins directly from the European, particularly Germanic pagan tradition.

O Christmas Tree!

The Christmas tree is the most obvious example of the cross-over between Christmas and Yule. Christmas trees, are a pagan symbol of the strength of nature, standing up to the harshest weather without yielding. The ritual cutting of a tree to set up and then decorate, originally with candles against the winter dark, dates back thousands of years in Germanic nations. It was originally a way of paying respects to nature by bringing it into the home. The lights are meant to represent the coming of the new sun.

Another Log On The Fire

An element of the Christmas celebrations that makes no secret of its Yule origins is the Yule Log. This is a particularly long burning log used by the occupants of the Northern European region to keep warm during the long winter nights in the time before heaters. A tradition later picked up by the British and then Christianity in general as a part of Christmas. It is also interesting to note that the popular seasonal song “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” has an explicit reference to ‘make the Yuletide bright’ a reference to this. The main way to do such a thing for centuries was to put a Yule log on the hearth. This is also the basis of the popularity of candles in both Christmas and Yule celebrations.

Deer and The Fat Man

Another easy and obvious one, reindeer are indigenous to northern Finland and are a main resource for the indigenous Sami people. Santa, a Germanic name when pronounced correctly, while commonly believed to have been invented by the Coca-Cola company, actually has his origins in the pagan notion of the Holly King. Being the son of this self-same deity. A connection hinted at by the Ghost of Christmas Present from A Christmas Carol, in nearly every depiction or rendition, with his holly crown and Santa-style fur-lined coat. The hat that has become synonymous with Santa is also of a Norse origin.


Then there is the origins of the mistletoe tradition. Mistletoe was used by Druids for millennium to increase vigor and sexuality. We now hang it in doorways hoping to get caught under it. It is also worth noting that Santa’s sleigh is of a distinctly Germanic design, one much like it, pulled by a reindeer no less, showing up in Frozen which is set in an old Germanic region. The names – Ana, Elsa, Olaf etc. – make that abundantly clear. Yule even has its own tradition of seasonal music, which can have a lot in common with Christmas carols, if you listen closely. Much of the original sound surviving the conversion to Christianity.

Breaking Bread

Rather than focusing on the supposed difference, which are actually pretty slim, I propose that this Team Jesus and those on the side of the old gods, set aside the precise difference, possibly their suspicions, to enjoy this lovely, shared season together. Generally taking a tow-may-tow, tow-maah-toe approach to the exact terminology.



Editorial: The Tyranny Of Trump

EDITORIAL: The Tyranny Of Trump

By Trevor K. McNeil

That Old Tyme Religion

Generally speaking, there is a difference between old gods and what could be considered new gods. The god(s) of monotheism being firmly of the new school. The God of the Judeo-Christian Bible has gone through quite a transformation. He’s gone from a flaming-sword-angel-sending, flood killing-everything-on-earth, city destroying God of the Old Testament, to a Messenger of hope. Apparently, the Father felt he needed a new approach.

Police Violence

Loud, mostly non-violent demonstrations have filled the streets of America, again.  Four police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota have murdered another handcuffed black man.  Nothing new about that either. It seems a common event in this country. A large crowd was hanging out in front of the White House. AG, Bill Barr suddenly appeared, surrounded by a cadre of secret service personnel. He appeared to be surveying the situation. Minutes later, without warning, National Guard troops using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets alongside horse mounted riot police violently cleared peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square and surrounding streets. The brutality was fast, savage and done without warning against passively demonstrating American citizens.

Brutal Passage

We would soon see the violence was done in order to create a path for Trump and his entourage to walk from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church.  Once in front of the Priory House Trump awkwardly held up a Bible, turning it around, and around, in a bizarre manner, finally turning it upside down for a memorial photo. The newly proclaimed “law and order” president stood surrounded by his cabinet members posing for the media event. The self-proclaimed King-god of America now known as “Tyrannical Trump,” had used a militarized police force so he could shame the Bible, debase a church, and humiliate Christianity.  An action of sacrilege that, in the good old days, that would have gotten him a lighting bolt right between the eyes. Thor must have been off that afternoon.

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Trump Turns Religion Political

churches have been closed during coronavirus pandemic

Trump Turns Religion Political

God’s Word

Trevor K. McNeil

Rights, Right?

It takes the sense of a perceived attack to bring the issue of civil rights into focus.  The measures used by states to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives are now being challenged as unconstitutional. Those arguing against lockdown whining about their rights to do things that aren’t actually rights by any known criteria. Trump tacitly supporting all of them, as part of his half-cocked campaign to downplay the pandemic crisis in case it makes him look bad. While in fact, magnifying the fact that he is an incompetent boob who is not qualified to run a school bake sale, let alone a country.

God Save America

Most recently, Trump has hitched his rickety re-election wagon to the push to reopen churches. A notion on par with putting oil drums in front of the target on shooting ranges, in terms of terrible and deadly ideas. How many pastors and parishioners need to die before people get it though their heads that meeting in large groups in an enclosed space with an airborne disease killing tens of thousands is not the best of ideas? The right to religious freedom not at all withstanding.

Narrow Definition  

That isn’t to say that the right to religious freedom isn’t important and should be, or indeed has been, suspended. Trump has said, “we need more prayer, not less,” but I know lots of religious folks who know full well that this is a false dichotomy. One does not need to be in church to pray. And if there is anyone who is praying less because their holy house of choice happens to be closed at the moment, says more about them and their religious conviction. Trump’s statement is yet another example of the depths of his religious ignorance, including and especially the one he claims to practice in a cynical attempt to appeal to his evangelical Christian base. Going so far as to argue that church is an “essential service.” An absurd statement, not least in terms of the separation of church and state.

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Evangelicals Fail At Evangelism

Evangelicals Fail At Evangelism

Jesus died on the cross for man's salvation

On Easter it is important to remember the meaning of the day and the sacrifices made by Jesus and those that have over centuries evangelized his words to a frightened world.

Evangelicals Fail At Evangelism 

By Anna Hessel

Health And Wealth “Gospel”

Evangelical pastors have failed in evangelism

The evangelical pastors have failed in evangelism, and appear to be promoting health and wealth. Forget humility and poverty.

Evangelical pastors, who’s goal should be to teach faith and humility, are doing just the opposite. In the name of God, they take Biblical content out of context to breed a “health and wealth” gospel.  This is in direct opposition to those who serve God faithfully in poverty with humble hearts. Far right-wing “evangelicals”, such as Joel Osteen, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson, tout the idea voiced by Osteen’s sister Lisa Osteen Comes, “planning a financial vision and working with God guarantee a profitable return.”  Ms Comes quotes Proverbs 21:5, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity”. This truth is followed by verse 6, neglected by Comes, which says, “A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.” (NIV) She goes on to say, “it starts with the decision to change”

More To It

I need to stop here. As a follower of Christ, I ask you, can one change the onset of a debilitating illness, which more often than not, brings upon undue financial hardship?  The collapse of a corporation that leads to unemployment cannot be blamed on the employee. Can anyone, other than God, stop a natural disaster, or a pandemic?

Lavish Lifestyles

Joel Osteen declined to offer housing to those left homeless in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Hurricane Harvey left many people homeless but there was no help from Joel Osteen.

The Bible clearly teaches us to give to the poor – Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done” (NIV); Joel Osteen, who drives a Ferrari 458 and makes no apologies for his lavish lifestyle, yet claimed in an interview with Oprah that, “money should never be the focus of your life”, calling it “shallow”.  Osteen faced criticism in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey for not opening his Lakewood Church, in Houston as shelter for those left homeless. Church officials claimed the building had flooding issues. Yet pictures showed the parking lot to be dry as a bone.

Woe To You

I am sometimes inspired by comments from Osteen, but I cannot condone his behavior.  As Jesus said, in Luke 6:24, “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort”, and “Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25, NIV).

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OPINION: “The Least Among You”

OPINION: “The Least Among You”

The Bible and rosary

By Trevor K. McNeil


There have long been instances of disagreement when it comes to the interpretation of religious texts. This has happened more with the Bible than most texts, not least because of the multiple translations. One of the oddest interpretations of the story of Jesus so far, aside from  polygamous Mormons and the Snake-handlers who intentionally handle poisonous snakes as an act of devotion, are the Fundamentalist Christian Evangelicals. The fundamentalist groups emerged in the American South in the early 1900’s, and have tried to sway every federal election since. To the point that no one who didn’t at least claim to be Christian has ever had a chance at becoming president.

God in Office

Going back many years there have been American Presidents of a distinctly Christian persuasion. Most were Republicans oddly enough, who have claimed that God chose them to be president. These are also the presidents who have gotten the most Christian support. The most recent leader to make this claim being George W. Bush. While not quite making such claims, a rare instance of humbleness, Donald Trump has a shockingly high level of support from Evangelical Christians. This despite many Republican policies that are in direct conflict with Christian principles. Many so-called Christian Republicans oppose abortion rights on the grounds of “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. Oddly, they support the Death Penalty. The “right to life” apparently ending after one turns 18.

A New Low

Despite often getting a lot of things wrong the Evangelical Right out did themselves with their support for President Trump. It is not an exaggeration to say that Trump is the most sinful president in American history. From a purely religious perspective Trump has almost no redeeming qualities. Trump has never been seen going to church. He avowed no particular religion until starting to get support from the Christian right. The president has been married more than once, a big no-no if one actually takes the Bible literally, and is a serial adulterer.

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An Alternative To Going Satanic

Alternative To Satanism

By David L. Shadrick


Hello, my name is Reverend David Shadrick, although I prefer Dave.  Some of you may recognize me as the SEO Manager here at www.calamitypolitics.com.  This is my second article responding to a publication done by another author.  The article in question for today’s response is the recent article on LaVeyan Satanism and I’d like to offer an alternative to going Satanic.

Leaving Traditional Faiths

Currently, there has been a move from religion to spirituality.  There is a feeling that organized religion doesn’t offer an alternative to going Satanic.  With shootings, sexual abuse, and the feeling that much of what the ministers preach is out of line with the teachings of Jesus many people feel that church isn’t the place to practice their faith.

Spirituality vs. Religion

To better explain why Spirituality is an alternative to going Satanic, here is a joke that sums up why people feel more spiritual than religious.  With spirituality, God is all good, everywhere, all the time.  With religion, God puts all of His children in a room full of books and tells them “I’m going out for a while.  Read these books and when I get back tell me which one is correct.”  When God comes back He takes all the children who picked the right book out for ice cream, the rest He sets on fire.

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LaVeyan Satanism: The Devil’s Advocates


Hey friends,

Calamity Politics writer T.K. McNeil shares a bit of his tiger poking personality in this great piece about  LaVeyan Satanism. Just the kind of thing we like to do here at www.calamitypolitics.com. Read on. –D. S. Mitchell

Satanism: The Devil’s Advocates

Trevor K. McNeil

Shades of Grey

Things are rarely as they seem. Even the notion of “seeing is believing” can be problematic, due to the very personal way humans process information. The perception we have of LaVeyan Satanism for one.

Mistaken Identification

All we have to do is look at mistaken “eye-witness” identifications. Many eye-witness accounts are later proven incorrect, based on DNA evidence. Not to mention the wide variances in meaning for very straight-forward words.  I’m just asking that you keep an open mind while I explain LaVeyan Satanism’s core beliefs.

Did You Say Satan?

One such word, guaranteed to evoke a specific response is Satanism. For good reason things are not as clear at they might seem. There is a gulf of difference between what is called “theological” Satanism and the more philosophical interpretation known as LaVeyan Satanism.

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The Truth About The Wiccan Religion



By Trevor K. McNeil


What comes to mind when you hear, or read, the word “Wicca”? Wiccans are often the subject of fascination, conjecture and fear. Those belonging to the Wiccan religion are some of the most maligned and misunderstood groups of people on the planet. Wicca has become short-hand for “otherness” if not outright evil. Neo-paganism or pagan witchcraft is a contemporary religious movement that attempts to recenter the spirit of humanity on nature and the shared duality of divinity.

Hundreds of Thousands Executed

The Witch hunts in Europe between the 16th and 18th century led to the murder of an estimated 100,000 people, mostly women. Natural events including the devastating Black Plague contributed to near hysteria. Many Christian followers believed the Black Death was an organized effort by Satan and his witches against the Christian Church. From the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693 to the Cult Scares of the late 1980s and early 1990s, those who have strayed from the established theological line of Christianity (or Islam)(or Judaism) have faced intense hatred and abuse.  The dominant religious doctrine of the community requires that the dominant religious force must squash those who profess another belief system. It has nothing to do with finding out who these “others” are and what it is they believe. The backlash seems particularly violent when a religion promotes women and encourages their power.


Gerald Gardner and then Alex Sanders and his wife Maxine introduced a new paganism in the mid-twentieth century. Despite its relative modernity, the roots of Wicca go back to the time of Celts and Druids. This “new paganism”  believes humanity’s religious life should “center on ritual nature veneration, natural cycles and magical and spiritual learning”. A distinct difference between Wicca and the other world religions is the concept that divinity is both male and female. In fact, when questioned many Wiccans noted their attraction to the non-patriarchal world view of the Wicca religion. In Wicca the two genders complement and strengthen one another. Feminism has always been an integral feature of the religion. The Wicca religion has an innate gender equality view.


Simply put, people who practice the Wiccan religion are nature worshippers. Not in the literal sense of praying to trees, but in that they see every part of nature, including humans, as being part of an interconnected, sacred whole. As with most other pagan faiths, Wicca has many deities associated with it. There is a pantheon of gods and goddesses, some emphasis on goddesses, from which Wiccans pick and choose according to their personal preference. Unlike other faiths, these deities are entirely optional, not only in terms of which one you can choose to associate with, but whether you choose to believe in them at all.

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