Shaker Thumbs

  • Jun. 22nd, 2017 at 5:15 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Shaker Thumbs is your opportunity to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to a product or service you have used and that you'd recommend to other Shakers or warn them away from.

Today I'm giving a big thumbs-up to Dick's 20 oz. Misting Water Bottle.

image of my water bottle, looking down on it from above, so the top functions can be seen

So, you may recall my mentioning that I'm anhidrotic, which means I don't produce enough sweat. As you can imagine, this makes it very difficult to engage in any extended physical activities!

When I was a little kid running around as little kids do, I'd frequently get overheated, swoon, and have to be revived with Gatorade, heh. As an adult, I basically just swell up like a big red tomato, get nauseous, and eventually faint, if I push myself too hard. Not good.

I recently purchased the above misting water bottle on an impulse, and oh how I love it! You just push down on the handle and a fine mist of water sprays up out of the little nozzle.

It's not nearly as good as, you know, actually sweating, but it helps immensely. (For people who don't need the help, I imagine it would just be a refreshing added feature.) I was able to do 20 minutes on the treadmill without feeling nearly as woozy as usual. Huzzah!

Anyway! Give us your thumbs-up or thumbs-down in comments!

[Just to be abundantly clear, I am not affiliated in any way with Dick's, nor am I receiving any form of payment from them. It's just a product I've personally found super useful and am happy to recommend.]

Posted by Melissa McEwan

After the text of Senate Republicans' vile "healthcare" legislation was made public, President Barack Obama made the following statement on Facebook:
Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.

I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.

We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain – we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.

Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.

And you made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition – we made that a thing of the past.

We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible.

At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.

That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.

The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.

Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.

I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?

To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.

That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible – if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.

After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.
As always, there is lots of good stuff here. I am very glad indeed that Obama said plainly that the senate bill "is not a health care bill."

Where I differ with President Obama is that I am completely done (you may have noticed I've been completely done, for 13 years or so) pretending that the Republicans operate in good faith. They don't.

Republican Senators are not going to ask themselves any tough questions. And they don't deserve a premise suggesting they might. I respect President Obama immensely, but I take strong issue with any frame that suggests Republicans haven't already thought about what they are doing. They aren't children. They're adults who are acting with deliberate indecency.

I'm all the fuck out of good will. And, even if I weren't, I'm not sure why on earth I would extend any to the Republican Party ever again, when all they do with it is use it against me.

They're waging war on the citizenry they're meant to represent, and we will never win even a single battle if we insist on some absurd pretense that the opposition is simply misguided, rather than resolute.

They didn't cluelessly bumble their way into this moment. They have made decades of preparation to secure our defeat, and they are counting on our meeting their malice with pleas for reconsideration.

This is not a health care bill. Asking them to think about whether it's a good health care bill suggests that it is one. It isn't. It's a plan for killing vulnerable people en masse, under the auspices of care.

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Oh, Hillary Clinton. You keep living your life and serving your country and running for office and giving terrific speeches as though you're not a horrendo nightmare monster, but, if you were really just a human woman whose blood isn't running with the malevolence of an actual devil, wouldn't your approval ratings be higher than they are?

This headline from Gallup perfectly encapsulates how extraordinarily terrible the she-beast really is: "Hillary Clinton Unique with No Post-Election Image Gain."

UNIQUE. No one, but no one, is as bad as she is, friends.
Over the past quarter century, the favorable ratings of losing presidential candidates generally have increased after the election — some in the immediate aftermath and others in the months that followed. With the exception of John Kerry, for whom there are no comparable data, losing presidential candidates since 1992 have experienced a boost of at least four percentage points in favorability when averaging their ratings from the day after the election through the following June.

While some increases have been modest, such as Mitt Romney's and Bob Dole's four-point improvements, others have been much larger, such as George H.W. Bush's 16-point and John McCain's 14-point gains in favorability.

But for Clinton, this has not been the case. Seven months after her failed bid for the presidency, she remains as unpopular now as she was then.
She is the ONLY ONE whose favorability hasn't improved after losing. She is also the only losing opponent whom the winning candidate kept publicly trash-talking long after the election was over; the only one who was (is) called corrupt by the seated president. She's the only one who lost to a president who continues to hold rallies at which he continues to rail about his opponent and suggest she needs to be investigated.

She's the only one who went away for awhile only to be scolded for disappearing into the woods, and the only one who returned to the public sphere only to be admonished to go away. She's the only one whom a former vice-president of her own party and her former primary opponent repeatedly blame for losing the election, even though she won the popular vote despite unprecedented foreign interference, breathtaking unprofessionalism from the intelligence community, shameful media coverage, voter suppression, and a tsunami of misogyny.

She is also the only woman on this list.

A woman who has been chosen as Gallup's most admired woman of the year a record twenty-one times. Which Gallup didn't bother to mention in their story about her "Unique No Post-Election Image Gain."

She wins that popular vote handily. She won the popular vote of the presidential election handily. But for some mysterious reason, her image isn't bouncing back like all those dudes who weren't social-media-shat-upon by the victors to whom they lost, and whose party didn't tell them to FOAD after they lost.

Anyway. It's all enough to give me another idea for a title for Hillary's upcoming memoir:

photoshopped image of a book cover featuring a photo of Hillary Clinton drinking a beer, the title of which is: 'Popular Vote Unpopular Lady: A great misogyny mystery of life' with the word 'misogyny' struck through and on the spine it has HRC's name plys the words 'I ain't a fan of you, either'

Please feel welcome to use it, Hillary. It's the least I can do for a fellow monster. And, hey, if you need a co-writer, call me!

Daily Dose of Cute

  • Jun. 22nd, 2017 at 1:45 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Dudley the Greyhound's toes just sticking out over the back of the couch in the living room, as he's lying on the couch upside-down taking a nap
Where's Dudley?

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

We Resist: Day 154

  • Jun. 22nd, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Trump in Iowa: A Disaster Tale and The Latest on Trump and Russia.


[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Massimo Calabresi at Time: Election Hackers Altered Voter Rolls, Stole Private Data, Officials Say.
The hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers, current and former officials tell TIME.

In one case, investigators found there had been a manipulation of voter data in a county database but the alterations were discovered and rectified, two sources familiar with the matter tell TIME. Investigators have not identified whether the hackers in that case were Russian agents.

...Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign, two sources familiar with the investigations tell TIME.

"If any campaign, Trump or otherwise, used inappropriate data the questions are, How did they get it? From whom? And with what level of knowledge?" the former top Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, Michael Bahar, tells TIME. "That is a crux of the investigation."

...Both intelligence committees are looking at whether and how the intrusions could have furthered Russia's larger strategic goals of undermining U.S. democracy, hurting Hillary Clinton, and helping Donald Trump. During the run up to the vote, Obama Administration cyber-security officials took steps to prepare for widespread voter registration manipulation, fearing Russia might seek to cause chaos at polling places to undermine the credibility of the election. Current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials say Russia could also have tried to use stolen voter data to gain leverage over witting or unwitting accomplices in the Trump camp, by involving them in a broader conspiracy.

The House and Senate Intelligence committees held hearings on June 22 to highlight the ongoing vulnerability of the U.S. election systems. "I'm deeply concerned," said North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, that "we could be here in two or four years talking about a much worse crisis."
In a private conversation about this, Eastsidekate said (which I'm sharing with her permission): "We've spent at least eight months hearing about how it would be impossible for outsiders to alter voting rolls, yet it turns out some folks already knew it was possible, BECAUSE IT HAPPENED." Yup.

* * *

Annie Linskey at the Boston Globe: Trump's Voter-Fraud Panel Wants to Look into Russian Hacking, Too. "Two members of a presidential commission charged with investigating alleged voter fraud want the panel to focus on what could be the biggest fraudulent scheme of all: attempted Russian hacking of numerous state election systems. The call, by the secretaries of state in New Hampshire and Maine, presents a potential change in direction for a special commission that has widely been seen as a political smoke screen to justify the president's unfounded claims about widespread fraud by individual voters in places like New Hampshire and California." LOLOLOL whoooooooops! That certainly backfired. I mean, this is a commission chaired by Mike Pence. They weren't supposed to do anything but vindicate Donald Trump's bullshit claims about voter fraud.

Jonathan Lemire at the AP: Trump's Tease of Possible Comey Tapes Fits Familiar Pattern. "Trump has stretched out a new high-stakes guessing game, this time in the White House, by hinting that he might have recordings of his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump is expected to answer the tapes question this week. If they do exist, they could become a central piece of evidence in the Russia investigation that has transfixed Washington and cast a shadow over the future of Trump's presidency. If they don't, questions will be raised about why the president would stake his reputation and political capital on promoting something that just isn't real." Because he's a garbage-brained dipshit?

UPDATE: Aaaaaaand there are no tapes.

Carrie Levine at the Center for Public Integrity: Trump Appointee Is a Saudi Government Lobbyist. "One of [Donald] Trump's newest appointees is a registered agent of Saudi Arabia earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby on the kingdom's behalf, according to U.S. Department of Justice records reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity. Since January, the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry has paid longtime Republican lobbyist Richard Hohlt about $430,000 in exchange for 'advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.' Trump's decision to appoint a registered foreign agent to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships clashes with the president's vow to clean up Washington and limit the influence of special interests." Haha ya think?

Graham Russell at the Guardian: Trump Says He Doesn't Want a 'Poor Person' Handling Economy.
Donald Trump has said he doesn't want "a poor person" to hold economic roles in his administration as he used an Iowa rally to defend his decision to appoint the wealthy to his cabinet.

The US president told a crowd on Wednesday night: "Somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? No it's true. And Wilbur's [commerce secretary Wilbur Ross] a very rich person in charge of commerce. I said: 'Because that's the kind of thinking we want.'"

The president explained that Ross and his economic adviser Gary Cohn "had to give up a lot to take these jobs," and that Cohn in particular, a former president of Goldman Sachs, "went from massive pay days to peanuts."

Trump added: "And I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just don't want a poor person. Does that make sense?"
NOT REALLY. Because this entire premise is made of straw. There is a vast cavern of space between a "poor person" and a billionaire whose only qualification is being a billionaire. There are plenty of people who are non-billionaires with relevant expertise that would have been better suited for the positions Cohn and Ross are holding.

* * *

[CN: Police brutality; racism; disablism] David Perry at the Guardian: Police Killings: The Price of Being Disabled and Black in America. "No one knows how many of the victims of police violence are disabled. We have some national data, which I pulled into a white paper for the Ruderman Foundation in 2015, but we're far too reliant on anecdotes — only because police departments and state governments have been too resistant to tracking use of force. The anecdotes remain telling, though." A must-read in its entirety.

[CN: Police brutality; descriptions of sexual assault] Alan Pyke at ThinkProgress: D.C. Cops Used 'Rape as Punishment' After Inauguration Day Mass Arrests, Lawsuit Says. "The 'guilt by association' round-up and mass arrests, the liberal use of pepper spray, and the kettling itself would all be constitutionally dubious enough on their own, the ACLU's Scott Michelman said Wednesday. But the experiences of the lawsuit's four plaintiffs — independent photojournalist Shay Horse, volunteer legal observer Judah Ariel, and peaceful protesters Elizabeth Legesse and Milo Gonzalez — suggest that MPD sought physical and emotional retribution on the hundreds of people kettled, the ACLU alleges. ...'I felt like they were using molestation and rape as punishment. They used those tactics to inflict pain and misery on people who are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty,' Horse said. 'It felt like they were trying to break me and the others — break us so that even if the charges didn't stick, that night would be our punishment.'" Fucking hell.

[CN: Sexual assault; rape culture] Monica Vendituoli at the Fayetteville Observer: N.C. Law: Woman Can't Back Out of Sex Once Underway. "In 1979, the North Carolina Supreme Court, in State v. Way, ruled that women cannot revoke consent after sexual intercourse begins. Jeff Jackson, a Democratic state senator who represents Mecklenburg County, is working to get the law changed. He said many other women have approached him privately about cases in which they withdrew consent for sex, but the law would not permit the men to be charged. 'Legislators are hearing more and more about women who have been raped and are being denied justice because of this [indecent] loophole,' Jackson said. 'North Carolina is the only state in U.S. where no doesn't mean no.'" Seethe.

Derek Hawkins at the Washington Post: Wisconsin Lawmakers Advance Bill to Suspend or Expel Students Who Disrupt Campus Speakers. "Under a new bill approved Wednesday night by the Wisconsin State Assembly, such student protesters in the UW system could be suspended or even expelled if they repeatedly disrupt campus speakers they disagree with. The Republican-backed legislation, called the Campus Free Speech Act, is part of a national effort by conservative groups to crack down on protests intended to silence controversial speakers on liberal college campuses. Similar measures have been enacted in Colorado and introduced in Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, and California." What execrable trash.

[CN: Nativism] Tina Vasquez at Rewire: NC Woman's Deportation Order a 'Symbol of Everything Wrong with the Immigration System'. "For the past eight years, Minerva Cisneros Garcia has checked in regularly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But on April 23 everything changed for the mother of four children, who is being forced to leave her home of 17 years by bus on June 28." This is just horrendous. I am so goddamned angry that my government behaves like this toward undocumented immigrants whose only transgression is failing to have the right piece of paper.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Senate Republicans have made public the text of their version of Trumpcare, and it is one of the most obscene pieces of legislation on which I've ever laid eyes. The long and the short of it is this: Senate Republicans have proposed absolutely annihilating Medicaid to pay for a massive tax cut for the super wealthy.

Andy Slavitt, who managed Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act for President Obama, provided an analysis of the details in a Twitter thread:
Point 1: The ACA is not repealed. Health care for poor people, kids, the disability community, and seniors is. The ACA income-based tax credits stay—due to Senate rules. They just get bulldozed. More accurately, the people receiving the help do. What's a conservative to do? They hate the tax credits. But they do demolish what an insurance company needs to do. Which they love.

Older people will be charged much more. People over 350% of poverty [line] won't get any support. Insurance will only cover 58% of someone's needs. Millions of families lose coverage. Those with insurance will get a lot less. Maternity, mental health, cancer treatments—not required. Insurers won't cover expensive HIV and cancer meds if they are the only ones. Coverage will devolve. That's the point, not a side effect.

Point 2: The main event in the Senate bill is the destruction of Medicaid. Far, far worse than even the House bill. Eligibility for exchanges would begin at 0% of FPL. This means states could eliminate Medicaid and put people in the exchange with no help.

Medicaid's cuts of 25% in the House increase much more in the Senate. Hundreds of billions more cuts. Medicaid cuts spike further in 2025. The year baby boomers turn 80. And Medicaid pays half of nursing home care in the country. This bill is awful for anyone planning on aging. Age tax, nursing home cuts, robbing Medicare Trust Fund. For seniors, this bill is the opposite of our commitment to Americans as they age or get ill.

The Senate bill hurts kids by putting a capped price tag on their lives too.

Point 3: There is one sacrosanct part of the bill. The giant tax cuts for wealthy, insurers, pharma, and other corporations are intact.
It is quite genuinely not hyperbole to say that this is the absolute opposite of a healthcare bill. It is a death sentence for the most vulnerable citizens of this nation, whose very lives Republicans believe are an acceptable cost to make wealthy people and corporations even wealthier.

This is utterly vile. A six-year-old child traveled to D.C. to literally beg for healthcare, and Senate Republicans wrote a bill that would condemn children to miserable, painful, unnecessary deaths. I cannot find the words to adequately convey the profundity of my grief-suffused rage for the architects of this despicable, abusive bill.

Call your senators today and tell them, if they are Democrats, to fight this bill with everything they've got, and, if they are Republicans, that if they vote in favor of this disgusting legislation, you will fight their reelection with everything you've got.

This bill is beyond "mean." It is a precipitous escalation in the class warfare the Republican Party has been waging for decades. It is the work of a party whose breathtaking avarice is matched only by their malignant cruelty. It is anti-life.

I am not surprised by the horror Senate Republicans have crafted in secrecy and haste. I know them far too well for astonishment. But I am incandescently angry. At their greed. At their enmity. At their intolerable delight and pride in harming the very people whose interests they were elected to protect.

What loathsome wrecks of humanity the members of this detestable party have become. The quintessence of malice.

The Latest on Trump and Russia

  • Jun. 22nd, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

A few items of note today, the last two somewhat tangential but nonetheless worth noting:

1. Dana Bash, Evan Perez, and Manu Raju at CNN: [Contenet Note: Video may autoplay at link] Intel Chiefs Tell Investigators Trump Suggested They Refute Collusion with Russians.
Two of the nation's top intelligence officials told Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team and Senate investigators, in separate meetings last week, that [Donald] Trump suggested they say publicly there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians, according to multiple sources.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers described their interactions with the President about the Russia investigation as odd and uncomfortable, but said they did not believe the President gave them orders to interfere, according to multiple sources familiar with their accounts.

Sources say both men went further than they did in June 7 public hearings, when they provided little detail about the interactions.

The sources gave CNN the first glimpse of what the intelligence chiefs said to Mueller's investigators when they did separate interviews last week. Both men told Mueller's team they were surprised the President would suggest that they publicly declare he was not involved in collusion, sources said. Mueller's team, which is in the early stages of its investigation, will ultimately decide whether the interactions are relevant to the inquiry.
If Trump "suggested" that Rogers and Coats "publicly declare he was not involved in collusion" with Russia, I'm not sure how they believe he did not "give them orders to interfere." A public declaration on the very subject being investigated would clearly stand to have an effect on that investigation.

If Mueller's team is scrutinizing whether Trump committed obstruction of justice, I suspect that these interactions will be considered "relevant to the inquiry," irrespective of whether Rogers and Coats themselves believed that they were given orders to interfere.

2. Jordain Carney at the Hill: Judiciary Committee to Continue Russia Probe After Mueller Meeting.
Top members of the Judiciary Committee indicated Wednesday that they will move forward with their own investigation into Russia's election meddling, after meeting with special counsel Robert Mueller.

"We appreciate Special Counsel Mueller's willingness to meet with us, and both parties have committed to keeping an open dialogue as we proceed," Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a joint statement after the meeting.

They added that they had a "very productive discussion" on how their respective investigations "can proceed without impeding the other."
At some point, the dual investigations could get extremely problematic, especially if the Republicans on the committees continue to run interference for Trump. If any or all of the Congressional investigations come to conflicting conclusions with Mueller's investigation, it could seriously undercut the potency of his findings. (Which could be one objective of continuing.)

3. Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Matt Flegenheimer at the New York Times: White House Tries to Get G.O.P. to Water Down Russia Sanctions Bill. "The White House is quietly lobbying House Republicans to weaken a bill overwhelmingly passed by the Senate last week that would slap tough new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election and allow Congress to block any future move by [Donald] Trump to lift any penalties against Moscow." Clearly the perfect way to convince everyone that Trump isn't in Putin's pocket.

4. Spencer Ackerman at the Daily Beast: [CN: Islamophobia; white supremacy] FBI Fired Sebastian Gorka for Anti-Muslim Diatribes.
The inflammatory pundit Sebastian Gorka worked for the FBI while he was a paid consultant to Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, lecturing bureau employees on counterterrorism issues.

Until the FBI terminated Gorka for his over-the-top Islamophobic rhetoric.

...After Trump's election, word circulated of the FBI's investigation of the campaign's ties to Russia, prompting Trump's drumbeat of Twitter-borne attacks on the U.S. intelligence community generally and the FBI in particular. Meanwhile, Gorka, a former Breitbart national-security editor when White House strategist Steve Bannon ran the website, joined the transition and then the White House, where he serves as deputy assistant to the president.

After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, some within the bureau began to wonder if Gorka's hard feelings contributed to a White House atmosphere of distrust for the FBI.

"This might be a way for Gorka to get back at the FBI for firing him," a senior FBI official told The Daily Beast.
It's certainly a valid question whether Gorka's resentments have played a part in Trump's war on the intelligence community. The bigger question I have is how the fuck Sebastian Gorka was ever employed by the FBI in the first place, since he has extensive ties to European Neo-Fascists; did not disclose his affiliation with a Hungarian far-right anti-Semitic group when applying for his visa nor his citizenship; and "publicly supported a violent racist and anti-Semitic paramilitary militia that was later banned as a threat to minorities by multiple court rulings."

5. Andrew Osborn and Robin Emmott at Reuters: Russian Defense Minister's Plane Buzzed by NATO Jet over Baltic.
A NATO F-16 fighter jet buzzed a plane carrying Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as it flew over the Baltic Sea, but was seen off by a Russian Sukhoi-27 military jet, Russia said on Wednesday, an account partly disputed by NATO.

...NATO said it had tracked three Russian aircraft over the Baltic on Wednesday, including two fighter jets which it said did not respond to air traffic control or requests to identify themselves.

"As is standard practice whenever unknown aircraft approach NATO air space, NATO and national air forces took to the sky to monitor these flights," a NATO official said.

...Russian politicians called the episode the latest in a string of "provocations," a day after the Russian defense ministry said an RC-135 U.S. reconnaissance plane had swerved dangerously near a Russian fighter jet over the Baltic and that another RC-135 had been intercepted.

The Pentagon disputed that, saying the U.S. aircraft "did nothing to provoke this behavior" and that the Russian intercept had been unsafe.

In another episode, Sweden said on Wednesday it had called in Russia's ambassador for talks after a Russian fighter jet buzzed a Swedish military jet on an electronic intelligence gathering mission over the Baltic on Monday.

"The Russian plane's actions were out of the terms of the distance between the planes which was at certain times very small," the Swedish military said in a statement.
In case you've forgotten (or never heard), Sweden has been making "preparations for a possible military attack" by Russia since the end of last year.

And the United States President is not taking this threat seriously. Whether he's colluding with Putin or whether he isn't, either way he has no clue the scope of the game Putin is playing.

I'm reminded of the story about German Chancellor Angela Merkel's meeting with Trump in March: "Merkel brought a 1980s map of the former Soviet Union and noted the way its borders stretched for hundreds of miles to the west of Russia's current boundary, according to a source who was briefed on the meeting. The German leader's point was that Putin laments the Soviet Union's demise and, left unchecked, would happily restore its former borders. Merkel left Washington unconvinced that Trump had gotten the message, the source said."

That's really bad news for everyone but Vladimir Putin.

Posted by Victoria Stern

A journal has retracted two 2014 papers after the editors discovered the authors used data from other research groups without permission. The papers, both published in the same issue of Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics and retracted in May, suffered from similar issues—the authors published data that was not theirs. The authors are all based at […]

The post Journal retracts two papers by authors who lifted others’ data appeared first on Retraction Watch.

Trump in Iowa: A Disaster Tale

  • Jun. 22nd, 2017 at 8:30 AM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Last night, Donald Trump had another presidential rally in Iowa, because he is a vainglorious fascist who needs literal applause to survive. And lots of neat stuff happened there, obviously — but, before we get to that, first we need to talk about the open letter to Trump published by the editorial board of the Cedar Rapids Gazette ahead of his arrival. Because it is amazing.
The last time you visited us, you were a candidate for the presidency. Now, you're the commander in chief.

...Mr. President, the campaign is over. You won. Now is not the time to rally. Now is the time to sell your policies, listen to Americans with a stake in those efforts, and govern.

Iowans have questions and concerns about your plans. They can't be heard over the cheers of a rally.
The editors then go on to explain basic policy to Trump, on issues he consistently gets wrong, and repeatedly recommends he meet with the people of Iowa while he's there to learn what the impacts would be of his garbage proposals. The piece ends thus:
That's a lot of ground to cover while you're on the ground in Iowa. But we think it's critical you understand the real world implications of these and many other policies your administration is proposing.

We concede it's not as much fun as hearing the cheers and chants of folks convinced you're making America great again. But it's what presidents do.

Again, welcome to Cedar Rapids, and safe travels. Mr. President.
DAMN. It's one of the best things I've read about Trump in some time, and you should definitely read the entire thing.

So that was the backdrop against which his visit for a Make Clapsounds for Trump Again rally was to take place: Local grown-ups asking the baby king to try to behave like a president while he was in town.

And here's how Trump came to the stage (with grinning white girls taking selfies as one of them throws a "zieg heil" behind him [edit: or maybe she was dabbing, but isn't it fun, ahem, that the U.S. president is so terrible either one seems possible?]):

Thank you, everybody. It is great to be back in the incredible, beautiful, great state of...IOWA! [cheers and applause] Home of the greatest wrestlers in the world, including our friend Dan Gable. Some of the great, great wrestlers of the world. Right? We love those wrestlers. It's always terrific to be able to leave that Washington swamp [cheers] and spend time with the truly hardworking people. We call 'em American patriots. Amazing people.
Everything about that is clearly incredible, but I especially like the part where he says no one works hard in Washington.

Naturally, he isn't talking about himself, because he is working hard all the time to come up with tremendous ideas like the one he shared with the crowd later in his nearly hour-long rambling argle-bargle address.

And we're thinking of something that's unique. We're talking about [pauses and swishes his hand through the air] the Southern border. Lots of sun, lots of heat. We're thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy [applause] and pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money! And that's good. Right? Is that good? [cheers] You're the first group I've told that to! A solar wall. Makes sense. Let's see. We're working it out. We'll see. Solar wall. [swishes hand through air] Panels. Beautiful. I mean, actually, think of it. The higher it goes, the more valuable it is. [chuckles] It's like— [audience laughter] Pretty good imagination, right? [he points at his head] Good? My idea. So we have a good shot. That's one of the places that solar really does work. The tremendous sun and heat. It really does work there. So we'll see what happens with that. That would be great. And I think we could make it look beautiful, too. It would really look beautiful. So that would be nice.

Among the other big league ideas Trump proposed last night was the creation of a law that has existed since 1996: "Trump in a rally on Wednesday evening said immigrants who enter the United States should not be eligible for welfare benefits for five years, though such a law has already existed for 20 years. ...Known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the legislation was passed during the administration of former President Bill Clinton and said that an immigrant is 'not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit' for 5 years, which starts on the date the immigrant enters the country."

Having been through the immigration process with Iain, I can confirm that this law indeed already exists!

Details. Minor details.

The important thing is that Trump is winning. Winning so much. Just driving everyone crazy with all the win, win, winning.

And we are making such incredible progress. We are making progress like nobody can believe. These people [points at media] are being driven craaaaazy. Crazy. [applause] I mean, they have phony witch hunts going against me; they have everything going. And you know what? All we do is win, win, win. We won last night. They can't believe it. They say, "What is going on? WHAT IS GOING ON?!" [applause] We won last night. And even the worst of 'em said, "That was a big win for Trump. I couldn't believe it, actually." [points at media] Thank you very much, folks. I appreciate it. [audience laughter]
I'm not sure to what win he's referring. It must have been so big that my puny ears couldn't handle hearing about it.

So, in sum: Trump believes he is nonstop winning. He's got loads of great ideas, including laws that have existed for two decades. And he continues to be an embarrassing wreck who is only happy when he is standing on a stage basking in the sound of applause from people who don't know anything.

Everything is fine in America.

*jumps into Christmas tree*

Posted by Victoria Stern

A mathematics journal has withdrawn a paper after discovering that the results were not new. The paper, published online in March in Communications in Algebra, explored the properties of group rings, a discipline of algebra. According to editor-in-chief of the journal, Jason Bell, author Francis E. A. Johnson, a professor of mathematics at the University […]

The post No new math: Journal pulls math paper with “already known” results appeared first on Retraction Watch.

Posted by Phil Yu

"Can I see a doctor please that's white, that doesn't have brown teeth, that speaks English?"

This one comes from our neighbors to the north... A woman at a Toronto-area clinic was caught on video demanding for a "white doctor" who "doesn't have brown teeth" and "speaks English" to treat her son.

Video shows woman demand a 'white doctor' treat son at Mississauga, Ont., clinic

The video was filmed on Sunday at the Rapid Access to Medical Specialists walk-in clinic in Mississauga, Ontario, where the woman was awaiting treatment for her son, who was apparently experiencing chest pains.

Except she made clear that she wanted a very specific kind of care.

"So you're telling me that my kid has chest pains, he's going to have to sit here until 4 o'clock?" she asks a clinic employee. "Can I see a doctor please that's white, that doesn't have brown teeth, that speaks English?"

Read more »

Question of the Day

  • Jun. 21st, 2017 at 6:00 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Suggested by Shaker eyeballsmccat: "If you had to pick another line of work and expertise for 5 years, and after those 5 years you wouldn't ever do it again, what would that be? (Mine is being a Shakespearean actor!)"

Veterinarian. I think 5 years is all my heart could take.

The Wednesday Blogaround

  • Jun. 21st, 2017 at 5:15 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

This blogaround brought to you by the distant sound of a ringing telephone.

Recommended Reading:

Tauriq Moosa: [Content Note: White supremacy] Trump's Use of 'Law and Order' to Further White Supremacy Is Scarily Familiar

Fannie Wolfe: [CN: Homophobia] #Winning

Angela Chen: Are You Forgetful? That Might Just Be Your Brain Erasing Useless Memories

My Ngoc To: [CN: War; displacement; racism; misogyny] The Hidden Lives of Nail Artists

Vivian Kane: [CN: Moving GIF at link] DC Has No Idea What We Love About Wonder Woman; Introduces New Comic Arc About Diana's Brother

Rae Paoletta: We Just Got a Rare Look at Our New Overlord — the Flapjack Octopus

Sameer Rao: Mattel Introduces Ken Dolls with Various Races, Body Types

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

Shaker Gourmet

  • Jun. 21st, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Whatcha been cooking up in your kitchen lately, Shakers?

Share your favorite recipes, solicit good recipes, share recipes you've recently tried, want to try, are trying to perfect, whatever! Whether they're your own creation, or something you found elsewhere, share away.

Also welcome: Recipes you've seen recently that you'd love to try, but haven't yet!

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Every day, there are federal employees — career bureaucrats who have dedicated long or short parts of their lives to jobs in which they serve the government and its people — who are resisting the Trump administration from their desks (so to speak, and sometimes literally). We don't hear about many of these acts of resistance against the dismantling of the federal government and its services, but sometimes we do, and, when we do, it's pretty fucking great.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to rescind Obama-era guidance supporting the rights of transgender students is set to get a symbolic rebuke from Sessions' own employees next week.

On the morning of June 28, the Justice Department is scheduled to hold its annual LGBT Pride Month Program in the Great Hall of the department's main building on Pennsylvania Avenue, in between the Capitol and the White House.

A notice about the program, obtained by BuzzFeed News, went out to employees on Tuesday. At the event, which was attended by former attorney general Loretta Lynch in 2016, the relevant work of the department is highlighted, a keynote speech is given, and awards are presented.

This year, DOJ Pride — the department's group for LGBT employees and their allies — plans to present Gavin Grimm with its Gerald B. Roemer Community Service Award at the event, BuzzFeed News has learned.
Gavin Grimm, as you may recall, is the Virginia teenager who has spent the last several years of his life locked in a lawsuit against his school system after he was denied access to the boys' restroom because he is transgender.

Grimm's case had gone all the way to the Supreme Court, where it "would have been heard earlier this year — had it not been for Sessions' decision to rescind the pro-transgender guidance. The justices had taken up the case in the fall, but sent it back to the appeals court for further consideration after Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded guidance issued by the Obama administration — delaying Grimm's challenge past his high school graduation date, June 10."

So, Sessions' maneuvering (in part) served to deny justice to Grimm.

And the Justice Department will soon give Grimm the Gerald B. Roemer Community Service Award at its LGBT Pride Month Program.

Which isn't justice. But it's a very strong message to the head of the Justice Department, about what his employees think about his priorities.

Congratulations (in advance) to Gavin Grimm. Well deserved, young man. ♥

[H/T to Eastsidekate.]

Daily Dose of Cute

  • Jun. 21st, 2017 at 1:45 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat rubbing against a chair as she strolls through the dining room, giving me a Very Serious Look
"This chair is mine now by the power of rubbing — and you're next."

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

We Resist: Day 153

  • Jun. 21st, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Jeff Sessions Lawyers Up.


Joe Williams at Roll Call: GOP Might Buck Senate Rules to Pass Health Care Overhaul. "GOP leaders are sending signals that, if necessary, they plan to invoke a seldom-used rule included in the Congressional Budget Act that would allow Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi to skirt a decision from the chamber's parliamentarian, a key gatekeeper for the budget maneuver known as reconciliation that Republicans are using to advance their health insurance measure. Such a decision would have ripple effects far beyond the tenure of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a careful practitioner of the chamber's procedural rules, and open the door for future leaders to more easily advance legislation under a 51-vote threshold." Reprehensible.

Charles P. Pierce at Esquire: The 'Moderate' Republican Senator Is a Dangerous Myth.
A bill is being crafted in secret that is going to disrupt the lives of millions of Americans and the intention of the Senate majority is that it will be presented possibly as early as tomorrow, that it will be subject to minimal (if any) real debate, and then it will be voted upon through a procedure that requires only 50 votes-and-a-Pence to pass. It will suck untold gallons of pondwater.

...At some point, the Congressional Budget Office will release its score for the bill, measuring precisely how many gallons of pondwater the bill sucks. Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill, McConnell and his leadership team will paint pretty flowers on the uglier parts of the bill and, one by one, enough of the "moderates" will pronounce themselves satisfied that their deep concerns have been satisfied most deeply, and that they no longer are as deeply troubled as they once were. A couple of them—Collins, say, or Lisa Murkowski—even will be allowed to vote against the bill, provided the winning margin of 50-plus-Pence is in the bag.

The tell in all this is how many of the "moderate" Republicans are complaining about the "process" now, rather than pointing out how many gallons of pondwater the bill will suck. True, this bill should not pass because of the blatantly undemocratic way it has been conceived and constructed. But it also should not pass because it very likely will immiserate countless vulnerable Americans due to the gallons of pondwater that it will suck. If your basic concern about it is the former, then you're already lost.
Spot on. As always.

* * *

Today, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee as part of their Russia investigation, and he opened with a bang: "In 2016, the Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election, plain and simple. Now, the key question for the president and Congress is: What are we going to do to protect the American people and their democracy from this kind of thing in the future?"

Good question. Johnson further noted that the Russian interference in the election "was unprecedented" in "scale and scope." But, despite the issue being on his "front burner all throughout the pre-election period in August, September, October, and early November," the Obama administration made the choice not to publicly disclose the issue, because Trump's rhetoric about election rigging complicated the issue.

Without judgment on Obama's decision, because I'm sure it was not an easy one, it unfortunately seems as though the attempt to avoid appearing like they were helping Hillary Clinton win could have ended up ensuring that she lost.

Meanwhile, at the Senate:

Fuck. As I have said before and will presumably be obliged to keep saying, the terrifying thing to me is that the investigation into election meddling should be just the start of investigations into Russia's plan to disrupt, well, everything they can. Frankly, I am hovering somewhere between profoundly concerned and scared shitless that even the Democrats aren't framing this investigation as a launchpad into broader scrutiny of Russia's objective to sow chaos via propaganda, turning assets, hacking of infrastructure systems, etc.

There are endless vulnerabilities inherent in a highly digitized world. So many things are potentially "only a matter of time" if we don't have serious discussions about them now.

* * *

Peter Beaumont at the Guardian: Kushner Arrives in Israel Tasked with Progressing Trump's 'Ultimate Deal'. "Donald Trump's son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, has arrived in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories for a whistlestop visit aimed at restarting the long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Kushner's carefully managed visit — conducted far from media scrutiny and lasting less than a day — comes amid scant indication of any imminent breakthrough between the two sides in a peace process that has been moribund since 2014. The US president has tasked Kushner with the ambitious goal of laying the groundwork for what he calls the 'ultimate deal,' but deep divisions remain, clouding chances of a significant breakthrough in one of the longest Middle East crises."

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Meanwhile, an AP report filed by Josef Federman includes this detail: "Kushner did not speak to reporters ahead of his talks Wednesday, and Israeli security agents blocked AP cameramen from filming the arrival of his convoy. In one case, a cameraman was ordered to leave a sidewalk outside the government compound that houses Netanyahu's office, and in other case, a cameraman was ordered to delete his memory card of all images of the prime minister's office."

And then there's this:


Shawn Boburg at the Washington Post: Trump Seeks Sharp Cuts to Housing Aid, Except for Program That Brings Him Millions. "Trump's budget calls for sharply reducing funding for programs that shelter the poor and combat homelessness — with a notable exception: It leaves intact a type of federal housing subsidy that is paid directly to private landlords. One of those landlords is Trump himself, who earns millions of dollars each year as a part-owner of Starrett City, the nation's largest subsidized housing complex. Trump's 4 percent stake in the Brooklyn complex earned him at least $5 million between January of last year and April 15, according to his recent financial disclosure." He is absolutely bloody shameless.

Britain Eakin at Courthouse News Service: FBI Hammered in Court for Pre-Election Records on Trump. "Bashing the FBI for equivocating on whether it has pre-election records on [Donald] Trump, a government-transparency group brought a federal complaint to spur action. Ryan Shapiro filed the June 18 lawsuit in Washington with his group, Property of the People Inc., and with investigative reporter Jason Leopold. ...Calling the FBI's silence improper, Shapiro and Leopold argue that Trump's privacy interest is minimal, both as the president and his prior status as a celebrity real estate mogul. ...Shapiro and Leopold also call the public interest in such records enormous, saying it 'clearly outweighs any embarrassment [Trump] might suffer from his name being associated with FBI investigation.'"

Kelly Macias at Daily Kos: Cowardly Republicans Ban the Rev. William Barber from North Carolina Legislative Building. "The Rev. William Barber is an institution in North Carolina. A longtime civil rights activist and current president of the state chapter of the NAACP with an incredible body of work, he has worked hard over the last decade to intentionally build a progressive, interracial coalition of individuals and organizations determined to make North Carolina a more just and equitable state. He became well-known throughout the country for his leadership of the 'Moral Mondays' movement...Perhaps this is why Republicans desperately seek to silence him. After being arrested again on May 30 during a health care sit-in at the North Carolina Legislative Building, he was officially banned from the site, along with 31 other people."

[CN: Racism] Michael Harriot at the Root: Video of a White Woman Demanding a White Doctor Shocked Everyone...Except Black Doctors. "While the internet may be clutching its pearls, according to numerous studies and anecdotal examples, nonwhite doctors and nurses see this all the time. The Root spoke with 12 black medical professionals who all say they have encountered similar situations, some routinely. One of the medical world's open secrets is that patients routinely refuse treatment from nonwhite physicians and nurses." Such fucking garbage. (When I moved and thus had to find a new doctor, I explicitly searched for a fat woman of color. And guess what? SHE'S AMAZING.)

KFOR News: Valedictorian's Graduation Speech Cut Off by School Administrators.
One Pennsylvania valedictorian's graduation speech is grabbing national attention after he was stopped from finishing his monologue. ...Peter Butera started out his speech by thanking his family and several teachers who made a difference in his life.

"Throughout my time at Wyoming Area, I have pursued every leadership opportunity available to me. In addition to being a member of Student Council since I was a freshman, my classmates have elected me Class President the past 4 years, which has been the greatest honor and I would like to thank you all for that one final time, it really means a lot. I would sadly discover however, that the title of Class President could more accurately be Class Party Planner, and Student Council's main obligation is to paint signs every week. I'm not sure when actual student government at our school became extinct, but it must be brought back. Despite some of the outstanding people in this school, a lack of real student government and the authoritative nature that a few administrators, teachers, and a few board members have prevents students from truly developing as leaders. Hopefully in the future, this will change," Butera said, as his microphone was cut off.

Butera says it is actually ironic that school administrators chose to cut him off during that portion of the speech.
LOLOLOL! It sure was! Kids today, amirite? Get ON my lawn!

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

I'm Sorry, Democrats in GA6

  • Jun. 21st, 2017 at 11:15 AM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

So, Democrat Jon Ossoff lost a surprisingly competitive special election in Georgia to fill the seat vacated by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.

My condolences to the Democrats in Georgia's sixth district, who are certainly feeling far worse than any of us looking in today. Amongst all the hot takes in the wake of Ossoff's loss, I've seen precious little acknowledgement that the biggest losers are the people who will now be represented by Karen Handel. This loss will personally and directly impact them in a way it never will the Democrats/leftists outside that district who cultivated a vested interest in the race to use it as a referendum on their ideas for the future of the Democratic Party.

I am sad that Ossoff didn't win, because the Democrats (or most of them, anyway) in his district very much wanted him to win. I don't have any hotter take than that.

I will only note that, as per usual, lots of Democrats seem to be taking precisely the wrong lesson from Ossoff's near miss. I've got a special heap of contempt for Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, the guy who challenged Nancy Pelosi for her House leadership position (and lost), who opened his yap to unleash this mess:
Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who has been a vocal critic of his party's overarching political strategy, said Democrats needed to recognize that they were "toxic" in huge parts of the country.

"Our brand is worse than Trump," said Mr. Ryan, who urged Democrats to make forging a clear economic agenda an urgent priority. "We can't just run against Trump."

Mr. Ryan, who tried to unseat Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, as House minority leader after the November elections, said she remained a political drag on other Democrats. Ms. Handel and Republican outside groups tied Mr. Ossoff to Ms. Pelosi in campaign events and television ads, casting him as a puppet for what they described as her liberal agenda and "San Francisco values."

"They're still running against her and still winning races, and it's still a problem," Mr. Ryan said.
Dude. They're running using misogyny against a woman in leadership and using homophobia, for which "San Francisco values" is an ancient dogwhistle. That isn't evidence that the Democratic brand is "toxic," and it sure as shit isn't evidence that it's "worse than Trump." It's evidence that the Republicans did what they do best in a district they've held for decades: They played to bigotry.

And the reason that Ossoff got as close as he did is because that strategy isn't as broadly appealing as it used to be.

The solution, then, is not to replicate it, for Maude's sake.


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