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According to a press release just out, several coalitions who are "working on a Constitutional Challenge to the electoral votes of Florida, Ohio and potentially other states" will be holding a forum on Wednesday, Jan 5th at the Captitol in D.C.
The forum, sponsored by groups such as The Coalition to ReDefeat Bush, the We Do Not Concede Coalition and others, will be led by outgoing U.S. Congressman Peter Deutsch (D-FL) who finishes his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives on the 3rd.
Featured guests to be questioned by Deutsch include Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org and Clint Curtis who some of you may have read something about recently at The BRAD BLOG.
From the press release...
"I am enormously pleased to be working with Peter Deutsch," said ReDefeatBush founder David Lytel, "because I am sure that he can explain what happened in Florida on election day with great clarity. Peter's intellect, integrity and his standing with his former colleagues make him the ideal person to help us with this," Lytel added.
As well, ReDefeatBush.com is sponsoring "two Rallies for the Republic" next week. One in Boston on Monday at 7:00 PM at Fanueil Hall. The other in San Francisco on Tuesday at the Herbst Theater at 7:00 PM.
Both rallies will feature Linda Byrket's extraordinary 24 minute film shot on Election Day in Columbus, OH. We've seen it, and it's worth the price of an airline ticket to Boston or San Francisco.
In lieu of that, however, you can --- and should --- watch this disturbing film online. Scroll down the right side of the linked page for plenty of viewing options.
We dare you to watch that film, and then explain to us why this Election should not be challenged, and the entire system REFORMED from top to bottom. (UPDATE: The filmmaker, Ms. Byrket, has just contacted me to say that if there's any problem downloading the film at the above link, you can also get at it via jeff04.com --- so please do!)
The groups --- great patriots all, in our humble opinion --- also announced that they will be placing a quarter page ad on Washington Post's Federal Page this Monday.
It's time to rock the vote.
As mentioned on Wednesday, and following in the footsteps of The Seminole Chronicle before them, Tom Feeney's other hometown weekly newspaper has jumped into reporting on the emerging "FeeneyGate" scandal. The previously promised article in their Dec. 30th edition hit the stands yesterday.
While The Oviedo Voice --- the older of the two local newsweeklies --- has a website, we are told they are currently transitioning it and thus it is not being regularly updated. Given the national attention this story is now receiving, however, the editors of the paper have told The BRAD BLOG that they will make an attempt to get their full Feeney article online this coming Monday. We'll update this item to provide a link to it at that time.
For now, we've received a faxed copy of the story, and it represents mostly the "balanced coverage" the paper had promised in their previous week's teaser item.
While chosing to focus, for now, only on the initial Feeney-related allegations in her article (as opposed to the wider-reaching Yang Enterprises, Inc. and Florida Dept. of Transportation related charges), reporter Darla Kinney Scoles writes that her report would "only address those statements made regarding Mr. Feeney."
The result is a mostly even-handed story, though it fails to advance the story-to-date too terribly much.
We are told by the editors, however, that they "intend to continue reporting on this story over the next three to four weeks at least". Encouraging news. And we hope, in the process, that they will be able to investigate more of the specifics in those future pieces now that they've gotten the main meat and potatos of the story out of the way for their readers.
Aside from (note to our former best-friends at crosstown-rival Seminole Chronicle) the appreciated hat tip to The BRAD BLOG for the "over 50 pages" said to have been reviewed by Kinney Scoles in preparing her piece, the most notable point taken from the article is the fact that Feeney himself, who had contacted the paper to offer an interview on the matter, kept his promise, but would not allow the interview to be "on record"!
As reported by Kinney Scoles...
What we were not able to do was to interview Feeney ?on record' as we had hoped.
Once again, Feeney continues his now-growing track record of, if not having anything to hide, sure as hell acting like someone who does!
Why did he chose to duck attempts to get comment weeks ago from Oviedo's Seminole Chronicle? Why did he decide to approach The Voice only after The Chronicle published their report on the matter? Why all the "off record" interviews and comments to reporters? Why the apparently coordinated threats of lawsuits against a small local newsweekly for merely reporting on public news of note to their local readers?
And perhaps most notably: Why no such legal threats by Feeney against the actual person, Clint Curtis, making the allegations which Feeney's attorneys have described as "outrageous" and "obviously false and defamatory"?
As all responsible news organizations say: We report, you decide.
A few other items of note from the Voice piece...
We appreciate that Kinney Scoles points out the very plausible reason for the lack --- so far --- of corroborating sources who have been willing to come forward (publicly, via affidavit or at least "on the record" anyway) to confirm some of the details of Curtis' claim that Feeney conspired to create "vote-rigging" software.
On that point, she astutely notes:
It would be nice if other members of the media would recognize that seemingly-obvious point before reporting on a surely-relevant aspect of the story, but doing so without bothering to look particularly closely at the matter.
A point which would be made particularly clear if such reporters actually took the time to examine some of the horrifying things that Curtis claims has happened to him over the years as a result of initially blowing the whistle with these allegations.
For Feeney's part, Kinney Scoles quotes Feeney staffer Shannon Conklin as saying "These claims are too ridiculous to answer. It is irresponsible for anyone to publish allegations without close investigation of all claims."
Such broadly dismissive boilerplate comments from both Feeney and his surrogates have, by now, become all too commonplace and accepted by many of the journalists who have been looking into these matters. Particularly in light of the very "close examination of all claims" that has occurred and continues to occur over these last nearly-four weeks by us and many others. Add to that the "close examination" of many of the related claims made previously in the matter against Feeney in a long series of articles by both The Daytona Beach News-Journal and The Orlando Sentinel back during 2001 and 2002 when the bulk of these charges were first brought to light.
Lastly, the article finishes on a by-now fairly obvious, though no-doubt disconcerting note for Feeney who might have hoped to put out the fire set ablaze in the past few weeks by giving an "off record" interview to a hopefully-friendly hometown paper:
And with that we are pleased to add The Oviedo Voice to the growing list of news organizations who seem willing to place the public interest ahead of both fear and political cronyism.
At least for now.
AS IT IS SAID...DEVELOPING...
Funds pledged by the Bush Administration on behalf of the United States for aide to victims of the greatest natural disaster in the history of mankind: $35 million.
Funds being spent by Republican supporters on the inauguration parties for the worst President in the history of the United States: $40 million.
Efforts made to convince sentient human beings that the Bush Administration or its Republican supporters understand the meaning of the phrase "Moral Values" or the word "Compassion": Pointless.
Arguing that the initial Ohio recount was flawed due to a lack of uniform standards throughout Ohio (Florida 2000, Bush v Gore, anybody?) attorneys for the Green and Libertarian Parties filed in Federal Court this afternoon to have Ohio counted again. This time, according to the law...
From the AP article...
We congratulate the Greens and Libertarians again for aggressively standing up for democracy, and expect that all good Americans (even Republicans) will support their call for standards to be followed and the rule of law to be strictly applied.
In not-unrelated news...
Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) has announced in a letter released today that he will officially object to the Ohio Electors when a joint session of Congress convenes on January 6th to either ratify --- or set-aside, as the case may be --- the official results of the Electoral College.
In his letter, Conyers, who has been leading the Minority effort in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to investigate the hundreds of reports of Election Irregularities, Supression of Voters, and possible Recount Malfeasance, states "I and a number of House Members are planning to object to the counting of the Ohio votes, due to numerous unexplained irregularities in the Ohio presidential vote, many of which appear to violate both federal and state law."
William Rivers Pitt of Truthout has more details.
RAW STORY has Conyers' actual letter to all of the U.S. Senators.
In support of Conyers efforts, please use this link to send a letter to several Senators asking them to join in the contest of what has clearly been a desperately flawed election in Ohio, and several other states!
There are a number of other Actions that we will be recommending all good American Citizens take over the next week or two, including attending rallies in Ohio on January 3rd, in DC on January 6th, and even hitting the streets to join a round the clock vigil at John Kerry's house. Information on the rallies can be gathered from The "We Do Not Concede" Coalition whose efforts The BRAD BLOG heartily endorses! Info on the Kerry vigil is right here.
More on those Actions, and others, as we find time to breathe while covering the continuing developments in the Clint Curtis story and other related matters...
In a story yesterday, we alluded to "public documents and email which seemed to directly contradict statements made by Feeney" to the Florida Commission on Ethics which investigated some --- but not all --- of the serious charges Clint Curtis has recently made in a sworn affidavit and public testimony to members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee concerning Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL).
Some of the information we alluded to was based, in part, on an October 12, 2002 Daytona Beach News-Journal piece headlined "E-mails at odds with Feeney denials".
We'd seen the article some time ago, but as it was not publicly available other than via purchase at the The News-Journal Print Archives we hadn't linked to it specifically or discussed it in depth.
A linkable copy of that original 2002 article has now been found via The Wayback Machine (an Internet archive/cache site), which allows us to look in a bit more detail at the contradictory statements made by Feeney at the time to the Florida Commission on Ethics which was investigating charges against the then-House Speaker of the Florida Legislature.
Feeney, now a U.S. Congressman who sits on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and several of his surrogates have recently pointed, on a number of occassions, to the findings of that Commission citing their conclusions of "no probable cause" as his defense for the charges being made by Clint Curtis.
Those findings were alluded to in a threatening letter from Feeney's attorney to The Seminole Chronicle, who wrote a recent article on the matter; in another nearly-identical threatening letter to The Chronicle purported to be from a Yang Enterprise, Inc. (YEI) attorney; and again just today in an off-the-record interview by Feeney, which was used in an article published by The Oviedo Voice. (More on that article here hopefully later today).
As the findings of that commission seem to be the main, if not sole, defense that Feeney is using to answer to Curtis' charges that Feeney was involved in a "vote-rigging" conspiracy in 2000, it would seem that some of the contradicting information discovered in the 2002 News-Journal article (and there were a series of them) has become rather relevant again.
We've already pointed out that 6 of the 8 appointees to the commission were appointed to it by and/or had close ties to either Feeney himself or his one-time running mate Jeb Bush (Feeney was Bush's running mate during his first unsuccessful run for Florida Governor in 1994).
We also pointed out that --- in apparent contradiction to Florida state law --- the two people having filed the charges in the first place with the commission, Clint Curtis and his then-boss at the Florida Dept. of Transportion (FDOT) Mavis Georgalis, were never interviewed at all by the commission.
And as well, we pointed out that the commission wasn't even investigating the alleged "vote-rigging" conspiracy now being discussed amongst Curtis' charges.
But let's take a look at some of the specific troubling information that the News-Journal's Laura Zuckerman uncovered during her investigation into those Emails back in 2002.
Many of both YEI and Feeney's current apparent strategies of denial, dismissal and multiple contradictory statements about the charges seems to have already been in full play even back in 2002, despite strong evidence which contradicted many of their public statements on the matter...
After receiving a faxed letter from Congressman Tom Feeney's (R-FL) attorneys last week threatening legal action, The Seminole Chronicle has now received a second such letter, this time from the attorneys of Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI).
The language in both letters to The Chronicle is remarkably similar, and in some cases, virtually identical suggesting a collusion between the two different parties in an attempt to silence the local weekly in Feeney's hometown from reporting on the growing "vote-rigging" scandal.
The certified letter, with the signature of Michael A. O'Quinn of "Fowler and O'Quinn, P.A.", (though confirmed by The BRAD BLOG to have in fact been signed in his name by his paralegal, Rebecca Saylor, who has told us that "Michael O'Quinn is currently on a boat in the Bahamas" and will not be back to work until January 3rd) asks Feeney's hometown newsweekly, to "place your liability insurance carrier on notice of YEI's intentions in this regard" and requests that they "forward to the undersigned promptly the name of said insurer, the policy number of said liability policy, and the coverage limits thereunder."
The YEI attorney, Michael O'Quinn is a large campaign contributor, along with Dr. and Mrs. Yang, to Feeney, and served as Feeney's law partner for many years until 2002. "Fowler and O'Quinn, P.A." was previously known as "Fowler, Barice, Feeney and O'Quinn, P.A."
This is the second legal threat to The Chronicle since they published their initial story on the sworn affidavit and sworn public testimony by software programmer Clint Curtis.
Curtis's affidavit and testimony charged that Feeney conspired with YEI to create a "vote-rigging software prototype" in 2000 when Curtis was employeed by the firm and Feeney was their corporate counsel and registered lobbyist even while he was a member of, and then Speaker of the Florida Legislature.
The BRAD BLOG originally broke the news of Curtis' affidavit on December 6th.
Both the Feeney attorney letter from John P. Horan, and the YEI attorney letter from Michael A. O'Quinn refer to the charges by Curtis as having been "fully investigated by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics" and state identically that "The Commission found that 'there was no probable cause' to believe the assertions and dismissed each complaint."
In our response to the original letter from the Feeney attorney, we pointed out that 6 of the 8 members of that "State of Florida Commission on Ethics" were appointed by and/or had close ties to either Tom Feeney or Feeney's former running-mate for Florida governor, Jeb Bush.
As we mentioned, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported in a series of articles on the matter in 2002 that the commission's investigation --- in apparent violation of state law --- never interviewed the original investigator of the claims or the two key witnesses making the claims (Clint Curtis and Mavis Georgalis) before releasing their findings of "no probable cause".
Also in apparent violation of state law, the commission did not bother to examine public documents and email which seemed to directly contradict statements made by Feeney, who was reported to have been interviewed by the commission.
It must also be pointed out that the scope of the "Florida Commission on Ethics" investigation into the charges against Feeney did not even include the "vote-rigging" charges being alleged by Curtis and upon which The Chronicle's story reported.
It was, however, the virtually identical language in both letters that immediately caught our eye, strongly suggesting the direct coordination of this latest legal strategy between Feeney and YEI in a joint and concert effort to suppress reporting of the growing scandal.
Given the years-long tenure of Feeney as YEI's corporate attorney and his personal relationship to his old law partners at his old law firm who still represent YEI, such an attempt to work in concert between the two parties is not difficult to imagine.
That, despite Feeney's recent claims to MSNBC that "his only connection to Yang Enterprises was as an attorney prior to 2002."
As we've previously noted, the 2004 "Tom Feeney for Congress" campaign headquarters are located, even today, inside the YEI Building at 1420 Alafaya Trail, Oviedo, Florida 32765.
"Tom Feeney for Congress" is in Suite 103, according to his official campaign website. YEI's corporate address is in Suite 200, according to their website.
Here is a side-by-side look at the virtually identical language in each of the letters sent over the past week to The Seminole Chronicle by attorneys claiming to represent the two different clients...
Good news to those of you who have been asking us about this, we've finally added an RSS Feed for The BRAD BLOG.
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During our testing and set up, we have been using the RSS reader called PLUCK, a free application that works with Internet Explorer and can be downloaded for free here. There are many such RSS readers out there, however, and most are free. Here's a listing of many downloadable RSS Readers for many different operating systems.
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The Local Weekly Wars down in Oviedo, Florida look to be heating up with the older of the town's two weekly papers, The Oviedo Voice, entering the Tom Feeney (R-FL)/Yang Enterprises, Inc./Clint Curtis "Vote-Rigging" fray last week after The Seminole Chronicle's coverage (discussed here, and again when Feeney's attorneys threatened legal action here) the week before.
The story of Curtis' affidavit stating that U.S. Congressman Feeney, of Oviedo, allegedly conspired to create a "vote-rigging software prototype" in October of 2000 was first reported by The BRAD BLOG in early December.
In a front page splash, The Voice promised readers in their Dec. 23 issue: "Charges against Feeney answered in next issue".
They also take a couple of shots in the bargain at both The BRAD BLOG and/or their cross-town competition at The Chronicle even while making at least one sizeable factual error in the four graf splash.
First the error; They describe a meeting they had in their offices with Christopher Bollyn, a reporter for American Free Press. Bollyn, in their article, is described as being "a contributing writer for 'The Brad Blog'".
While we spoke for the first time in our lives to Bollyn on Wednesday afternoon just last week --- several days after his meeting with The Voice, when he subsequently sent us some photographs taken during his investigation of issues related to this story in Florida (several of which we used with his permission in this blog item) --- we assure you that the royal "we" frequently used by The BRAD BLOG is but a quaint arcane literary affectation.
In other words, we, Brad Friedman, work alone and currently have no "contributing writers" on our staff --- of one --- other than ourselves...
Speaking of "unacceptable" interference, Electoral Commission spokesman Farid Ayar said: "Who wins, wins. That is the way it is. That is the way it will be in the election."
U.S. diplomats in Baghdad, at pains to keep their role in the election discreet, declined comment on a New York Times report from Washington which said Sunnis might be granted extra seats if the community's vote was judged to have been too low.
U.S. officials have expressed concern that if the ballot on Jan. 30 fails to reflect Iraq's sectarian and ethnic mix due to violence and boycotts in Sunni areas, then the assembly will lack legitimacy. But any attempt to fix the proportion of seats going to the main groups in advance could have the same effect.
Mr. Ayar will not be running for Secretary of State in Ohio anytime soon.
Any further questions?
(Thanks BRAD BLOG commenter MikeyCan for the heads up!)
Sent in by our friend Corey K, and with apologies to the good people of the Sunshine State. Would that this were the only such email/comment we've received along these lines of late since beginning our reporting on the Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney "Vote-Rigging" scandal. Unfortunately, it's just one of many similar...
Sometime in the early to mid 1980s, I'm at DisneyWorld in Orlando with my family. We're about to get on the jungle ride.
My dad is chatting with the boat's "tour guide" as we're boarding, and in the course of the brief conversation my dad says something along the lines of, "Why not? It's a free country."
And the jungle boat tour guide chuckles and says, "Ah... you must be from out of state!"
It's amazing how irresponsible some members of the so-called "Mainstream Media" can be. Even while they sniff at us lowly "bloggers" and "Internet-only news sites" for what many of them see as a lack of journalistic integrity, failing to provide proper context for stories and reporting information without properly vetting or confirming it first.
It's hard to argue with those criticisms towards many Internet blogs and news sites. But it's equally hard to stomach it when we've seen so many similar failings from the Mainstream Media themselves. And when they screw the pooch --- from their much larger media platforms --- the consequences can be much more disastrous.
Case in point, the now infamous failings of the New York Times' Judith Miller in her reporting running up to --- and arguably helping America towards --- the war in Iraq based on highly suspect or out and out misinformation. I don't wish to pile on there, but it's a case where the Mainstream Media failed to properly vet anonymous sources, give the appropriate context, and the results were, to say the least, somewhat disastrous for this country. That is just one such example, and an easy one to point to for context.
And then we have MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who, as we pointed out several days ago, ran a disastrously irresponsible piece on his MSNBC run "Bloggermann" site. So disastrous, in fact, that even a Countdown producer we spoke with about it refused to stand by the report above and beyond saying "This was Keith Olbermann's writing. He didn't work with me or anyone else on this."
As we reported, the most reprehensible failing in Olbermann's original quick hit piece on Clint Curtis (scroll down to item #4 at this link) was that he allowed an unnamed anonymous source, (described as "the attorney for the firm for whom Mr. Curtis worked") to suggest that Clint Curtis "has previously threatened the firm and its top officers, in writing, and that they were sufficiently concerned to file a police report as a result."
We pointed out in our reply to what amounted to little more than a smear piece by Olbermann that at the very least, since this anonymous attorney claimed there was a threat "in writing", that Olbermann should have reviewed that purported "writing" before passing on the information from an anonymous source. (By the way, that would have been at least the third response on these matters from either Yang Enterprises Inc. [YEI] or their Attorneys, but the first time they've bothered to mention a written threat and/or police report in re: Clint Curtis...make of that what you will).
Neither did Olbermann bother to even check with the Oveido Police Department --- where YEI is located --- to confirm if in fact such a report had been filed.
It probably now goes without saying, that Olbermann didn't bother to get comment from Curtis at all on any of the matters he reported on, though one would think that a responsible journalist would have at least attempted to do so before posting such scurrilous allegations.
Well today, Olbermann decided to comment again on his blog, to what he described as "a handful of e-mails" complaining about his coverage last week on this story. That comment is linked here (scroll down to the bulleted text).
Since I'm busy working on actual reporting of the rapidly moving events in this whole troubling story, I'll allow the bulk of his comments, sorry as they may be, to stand on their own. (See the red "Special Coverage" sidebar at right, for the key articles published by The BRAD BLOG on the Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises Inc. matter so far.)
But two items are very noteworthy, and I'd be remiss if I did not point them out. With vigor...
Congressman Tom Feeney's (R-FL) attorneys have sent a letter threatening the editors of Florida's Seminole Chronicle intimating possible legal action in light of the news report filed by Editor Alex Babcock last week concerning allegations made in a sworn affidavit [PDF] and in sworn public testimony before members of the U.S. House Judiciary committee by software programmer Clint Curtis.
The story of Curtis' allegations and affidavit was originally reported by The BRAD BLOG several weeks ago. Curtis has alleged, among other things, that Feeney conspired, in an October 2000 meeting, to have a "vote-rigging software prototype" built by Yang Enterprises, Inc. --- a company for which Feeney at the time served as corporate counsel and registered lobbyist even while he concurrently served as Legislator, and eventually Speaker of the Florida House. Feeney was the running mate to Jeb Bush during his first failed bid for Governor of Florida, and is now a U.S. Congressman from Florida's newly created 24th Congressional District. He also now sits on the U.S. House's Judiciary Committee.
The letter from John P. Horan of "Foley and Lardner, attorneys at law", was faxed to Babcock at the Seminole Chronicle office earlier this week. It alleges the newspaper's report "constitute[d] a serious departure from accepted journalism standards and a breach of the Chronicle's fair reporting privilege."
Horan goes on to accuse Babcock of reporting "in a sensational, reckless and unfair manner," and claims that "This conduct exceeds all known bounds of bias and constitutes a reckless disregard for the truth."
According to the letter, Horan's charges on behalf of Feeney, stem from his claim that "These assertions were fully investigated by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics which found that 'there was no probable cause' to believe the assertions and dismissed each complaint."
However, BRAD BLOG research into those ethics charges filed against Feeney, and their supposed "investigation", has revealed that the commission referred to, and the investigation itself, appear to have had serious flaws and conflicts of interest involved. Many of which were reported at the time of the commission's findings by a number of Florida newspapers.
For a start, six of the eight members of the "Commission on Ethics" which Horan's letter refers to, were appointed to the commission by and/or have direct ties to either Tom Feeney or his old running-mate and then Governor, Jeb Bush!
On October 17, 2002, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported on the "Commission on Ethics" findings that Horan uses as the only basis for criticism of the Seminole Chronicle's article.
The News-Journal reported on those findings by revealing that neither the investigator looking into the ethics complaint nor the two key witnesses in the case were ever even interviewed by the commission! Despite a state law that requires them to do so!
As well, public documents in the case --- including Email which directly contradicted statements made by Feeney to the commission during the "investigation" --- were similarly never investigated, also in apparent violation of state law, according to the paper.
From just one of several articles on this from the Daytona Beach News-Journal...
Precisely seven weeks after Election Day 2004, and exactly one week after the Electoral College met to cast their votes, The New York Times has filed what, by my count, is their second serious article on Voting Irregularities in the 51 days since our last terribly flawed election.
Their first landmark effort was an article just last week by Tom Zeller, Jr. on which we also commented with our recognizably snarky, but always-lovable, demeanor.
Today's outting --- also inked by new BRAD BLOG best friend, Zeller (and others) --- finally puts the paper of record on record as admitting there were "Voting Problems in Ohio". They even go so far as to admit, "Certainly there were problems on Election Day."
Luke-warm, and a good nominee for the BRAD BLOG "Understatement of the Year Award", but for now, in the generous spirit of Christmas, we'll take it!
After a few quotes from an Ohioan who's vote failed to count this year because the provisional ballot he was given when his name didn't appear at the precinct to which he'd recently moved, was rejected because it wasn't dropped into the bucket at the precinct where he used to live, the Times piece mentions what they should have mentioned --- in spades --- on the morning of November 3rd:
Dead-on sentiment. Wish they had joined the party earlier. But again, it's Christmas, so in the spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior (well, not mine, I'm Jewish...but, hey, it's Christmas!) we'll turn the other cheek.
Back to The Times...
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