Sunday, August 24, 2008
Day 22-23: Twin Cities
Friday, August 22, 2008
Day 21: Rochester
We collected testimony of another formerly homeless Vietnam veteran who is currently receiving care at the Mayo Clinic for agent orange exposure. He spoke with us about the plight of homeless veterans and veterans without adequate medical care in Minnesota and around the United States.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Day 20: Austin
In Austin, we met with Dale Chidester..., the Assistant to the President of Local P-9, the union that led the historic Meatpackers’ strike of the Hormel plant in Austin in the mid 1980's. We talked about how 80% of the workers of one of the meatpacking plants are now Latino and the impact of the ICE raids and how corporate America is really making workers adjust to a lower and lower standard of living.
P-9 Interview Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
After the interview we drove by the Hormel plant and then we had an educational watching “The American Dream” and talking about the use of strikes today and the struggle to win concessions.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Day 19: Owatonna
Centro Campesino video: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
In Owatonna, we ended the day passing out fliers in a poor trailer park. The first woman we encountered, a woman who with serious medical problems who lives in the trailer park, gave us her entire change purse to support our efforts.
We ended the day sitting in the emergency room of the Owatonna hospital after a dog bit one of our youngest marchers’- Guillermo’s - hands and we had to fight with the hospital to get him stitches for his hand because Guillermo and his mother were notified on Friday that they are not eligible for Medical Assistance in Minnesota. The down payment in order for him to receive care was $50 (not counting the bill that will come later) and then his medication cost another $50. We understand why people don’t go to the doctor.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Day 17 - 18: St. Cloud/Waconia Photos
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Valley News Live - KVLY 11: March for Our Lives
They don't have health care, they don't have a home, and some don't have enough money for food. Advocates for the poor say these stories need to be shared in order to stir up change. Regional activists are touring Minnesota, in the hopes of gathering personal accounts of financial struggles. They plan to take the stories and gather volunteers for their cause. The tour is called "March for our Lives", and members from the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign are heading it. They are hitting dozens of Minnesota cities this summer. They want to help spread information to those who don't know about poverty. One of the concerns this winter is that people won't have enough money to heat their homes. The group will hold an open listening session Saturday at Romkey Park, Moorhead from 1-3 pm. The group will take what they've learned and present it at both the republican and democratic national conventions.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Day 15: Moorhead
People Escaping Poverty Project (PEPP) Video: Part 1 | Part 2
PEPP members joined us on our march through the city and they took us to Social Connections. This is a program where low-income people in the area shared with us their personal experience of being poor and their struggles for a right to mental health services.
Duke, the executive director of PEPP, took a couple of PPEHRC members out door-knocking to invite people to a picnic we held the next day. We had a potluck with PEPP members that night where we exchanged organizing experiences. The next day two PPERHC members joined Lorenzo, from the UND chapter of SDS, on Peace Talk Radio to discuss the March For Our Lives and the new relationship between PPEHRC and The American Driver. That afternoon, at the picnic, we talked about food access issues with community members and human rights with Del Rae Williams of the Moorhead Human Rights Commission. We ended the evening with political education by watching the film Hotel Rwanda and having a lively debate. Lastly, the hospitality was amazing. We were hosted in the personal homes of generous PEPP members.
Friday, August 15, 2008
KFGO Coverage: POVERTY TOUR HEADED TO MOORHEAD
A MINNESOTA HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP WILL BE IN MOORHEAD TOMORROW TRYING TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS. MARSHA DUGAN IS WITH "THE POOR PEOPLE'S ECONOMIC HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN". SHE SAYS THEY'RE FINDING CONDITIONS AREN'T AS BRIGHT AS STATE LEADERS CLAIM. THE GROUP IS USING THE THREE-WEEK TRIP TO COLLECT STORIES AND TESTIMONY FROM LOW INCOME AND HOMELESS PEOPLE. THE INFORMATION WILL BE PRESENTED AT THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION IN ST. PAUL SEPTEMBER 1ST.
Day 14: Detroit Lakes
They also shared with us stories of, such as the elderly women who was found living in an abandoned chicken coupe, or the person living in an oil drum.
Other members of PPEHRC went to the food bank to see what the food bank process was like there. One woman discusses with us how the food would only last her family of five two to three weeks, but people are only allowed to utilize the food shelf six times per year.
We spent the night at the Refuge, a place that offers free meals and spiritual guidance to those in need. We had a wonderful discussion of how neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party are doing the lords work, since neither is shining a light on the issues of the poor nor walking with the poor as Jesus taught. The generosity and love that these Christians shared with us that evening was overwhelming. We were especially moved by their prayer for us and we won’t forget our new friends.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Days 11-12: White Earth
Watch this three part interview: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
We were then brought to the community rediscovery center, in which we were hosted with a gracious meal of soup, fried bread, and other native foods. Then we spent a night enjoying a campfire and hearing stories and songs of Anishinaabeg culture.
The next day we were taken a poverty reality tour by our host, Sandy, around the many poverty stricken villages of the White Earth Reservation. Two PPEHRC youth members provided childcare at the Rediscovery Center by taking them fishing and engaging in other outdoor activities. Meanwhile we met with a man who the Tribal Council was blacklisted from being employed on the reservation, merely due to his political stance and action within the community. We then met with Bill Paulsen, care taker and member of Sahkahtay Indigenous Preservation Society, who gave us a tour of the Giiwedin, the Shakahtay garden project. He also treated us to lunch and a gracious donation and told us about how they bring in adults and children to help with the gardening and teaching self-sustainable farming, including wild rice gathering, berry scattering, etc. It was very uplifting to see someone struggling with incredible obstacles to make such positive change in their community. Later in the evening we were again hosted by our favorite cook, Michael, and were treated to a gathering around the fire including stories, songs, and a drum ceremony.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Crookston Times: Marchers draw attention to the poorest of the poor
Published: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 1:35 PM CDT
E-mail this story | Print this page
Participants in Operation: March for our Lives pause Monday near the post office on South Main. (Natalie J. Ostgaard, photographer)
About 10 people participating in Operation: March for Our Lives who are on a mission to call attention to issues affecting the poorest people in the nation made a stop in Crookston Monday, where they conducted an early afternoon march from the former SuperValu parking lot to the Care and Share Center. Despite rain drenching them along the way, they managed to get their message across with waterproof signs and banners and at a press conference outside the center.
"We're going to communities across the state documenting people's stories about having their human rights to housing, health care, education, food, living wage jobs, and other basic needs denied in this country," said Jenn Cox, who came from Philadelphia to join the initiative. "We're also trying to bring people together to join us at the end of this month and early September in St. Paul."
The march, under the national Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), kicked off Aug. 1 in St. Paul and will end Aug. 22 in Minneapolis-St. Paul after visiting about 20 communities across the state. March participants are sharing experiences, exchanging ideas, collect human rights documentation, and join local actions in the fight for economic human rights, according to information provided by PPEHRC. They're also hosting teach-ins, panels, workshops and performances in an effort to grow mobilize and grow the movement to end poverty in the United States.
"There is a large number of people working real hard to survive but can't because of high gas prices," said Cox. "People are losing their farms, homes, and trucking businesses, not to mention going without food and health care. For the richest country in the world, our people shouldn't have to live like this to get by."
She pointed out several events set to take place in the Twin Cities later this month and early next month, culminating with protests at the Republican National Convention:
-- On Aug. 30, the Minnesota Truth Commission will collect testimony detailing violations of economic human rights from throughout the state.
-- On Sept. 1, the first day of the RNC, PPEHRC will join the "March to Stop the War!" tying the issues of poverty, homelessness and the health care crisis with the spending of trillions of dollars on the Iraq War.
-- Also on Sept. 1, the National Truth Commission on Human Rights Violations in the U.S. will collect testimony detailing violations of economic human rights from across the country.
-- On Sept. 2, the national "March for Our Lives: Money For Health Care And Housing Not For War!" will bring together tens of thousands of people, led by poor families, marching to the site of the RNC.
"We're encouraging people in the Crookston area to join us and get involved in these activities in some capacity," Cox said. "Maybe you have a story to tell. Maybe you just want to show your support. We'd really welcome a delegation from the Crookston area. We'd be glad to talk with people on how to make it happen and are working on getting transportation there and back."
If interested, contact the PPEHRC by mail at PPEHRC, Sabathani Community Center,
310 East 38th St Room # 126, Minneapolis, MN 55409; by phone at (612) 821-2364; or e-mail at email@example.com. Visit the Website economichumanrights.org for more information and details on upcoming events.
The PPEHRC was formed 10 years ago, the 50th anniversary of the U.S. signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Cox explained. This is the international standard for human rights, and full implementation would mean that poverty would not exist in this country.
"That's not happening, now, is it?" she said.
Each summer, the group conducts marches and other events to call attention to economic rights violations, she said. Cox has been involved with the organization since the beginning and has been to two other protests to the RNC, in 2000 and 2004.
"We're not partisan, though," she stressed. "We're not connected to either party - we think both parties have screwed peoples lives up."
The reason they're focusing on the RNC this year is because that's the party our president belongs to, Cox explained.
"There will also be protests and stuff around the Democratic National Convention," she said. "But conditions over the last eight years, based on Bush's presidency, have caused a lot of hurting."
"Stop spending money on the war and give it to the poor," said Mario Seina of Grand Forks, who's with the UND chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. He's been working with American Driver, a trucker's group protesting across the nation. "A lot of owner-operators are filing bankruptcy and having to delve into their retirement funds. We want to raise awareness and let people know how this affects citizens across the board. Everything that comes into the city comes from trucks."
He added that he hopes the protests at the RNC will attract national media attention and get people talking to work on a solution to the problem.
Marsha Duggan, a college student from Iowa, said she came on board with PPEHRC after a spring break service trip that "really opened my eyes to poverty, homelessness and food issues going on. It really made me frustrated. I don't think its right for mothers and fathers not to be able to put food on the table at night for their kids, not to be able to have a home and put their children to bed, and not have health care."
Deeq Abdi, the leader of the group from Minneapolis, said he became involved with the group because he went through some housing issues and others helped him get on his own feet and more independent.
"I don't want anyone to go through the same situation as I did," he said.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Day 10: Crookston
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Day 9: Red Lake Falls
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Day 8: Red Lake
Later we were given an educational on the history of the Red Lake reservation who was conducted by our friend Jodi Bolio.
Watch this three part video: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Another educational was had later on about the school of the Americas by Deeq Abdi, one of our fellow human rights monitors. We attended the church service and joined the congregation in song and prayer.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Day 6: Cass Lake
Grand Rapids Herald-Review: 'Operation: March For Our Lives' makes a stop in Grand Rapids
By Marie Nitke
Grand Rapids Herald-Review
The group is in the middle of its "Operation: March For Our Lives" tour across the state, sponsored by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign.
The peaceful demonstration march began last week in St. Paul, then traveled north to Duluth and west to Taconite, Hibbing and Grand Rapids. It is scheduled to pass through 18 communities before winding up back in St. Paul on Sept. 2 for the Republican National Convention.
"We march because as poverty, hunger, unemployment and homelessness grow throughout this country, political leaders from both major parties have abandoned us," states the March For Our Lives website. "We cannot afford to be silent. We cannot afford to disappear from the public eye and the political debates as our families suffer... We will make our voices heard."
"Operation: March For Our Lives" is an effort to raise awareness about poverty in Minnesota, and to gain support for more legislative funding for things like healthcare and housing. Participants are attempting to collect stories of economic rights violations through conversations with the public. They plan to present these stories to the Minnesota Truth Commission at the end of August.
The march brought about 10 people to Grand Rapids, who stopped at the Grand Rapids Food Shelf to have lunch and to talk to people in the community who live in poverty. They discussed topics such as paying for healthcare, losing a home to foreclosure, affordable rental housing, unemployment and hunger.
"I don't like the term 'human rights violation,' because I don't feel violated," said one food shelf client. "But I do feel like I have no recourse to try and solve my situation. I'm not whining. I just want to be able to do what everyone else is trying to do -- provide for myself."
This woman and others at the food shelf -- who agreed to be interviewed anonymously by the March For Our Lives group -- expressed frustration over the economy, both nationally and locally. Most said that either they or the head of their households worked a full-time job, but still couldn't make ends meet due to low wages.
"If you ask me, the number one problem around here is jobs," said one person. "People want to work and provide for themselves, but aren't able to because there just aren't enough good-paying jobs."
There was also concern over a lack of affordable housing in the area.
"We've been trying to find a rental subsidy," said one woman, "but it's taken nearly a year already to make it happen."
Another woman said she's had trouble finding housing for her family "because most landlords require a damage deposit plus first months' rent, which I can't afford. So then I end up paying $550 a month for a little two bedroom trailer."
"Operation: March For Our Lives" will travel next to Cass Lake on Wednesday, and will arrive in Leech Lake on Thursday. For more information about the group, visit www.economichumanrights.org.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Day 5: Grand Rapids
After breakfast, the marchers marched 4 miles to Second Harvest Food Shelf - who generously hosted the caravan's lunch. At the Food Shelf, many families, who are receiving minimal help from social services and having terrible times making ends meet, shared their stories. The marchers then collected Economic Human Rights Violation Documentation from these families.
Next, the caravan moved on to the ITASCA Resource center. The staff of the center will bring a delegation to the MN Truth Commission and the March for Our Lives. The caravan enjoyed dinner hosted by the ITASCA Resource Center.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Dia 5: Grand Rapids
Dia 5: los marchadores empezaron el dia a las 8:30 a.m. comiendo desayuno alrededor de la gigantesca estatua de Iron Ore Miners Statue,un tributo a los mineros de los Estados Unidos que han jugado una gran parte en la historia de los U.S y de la revolucion industrial. Despues de desayunar , marcharon 4 millas hasta Second Harvest Food Shelf que generosamente nos dejo quedar ahi a comer. Una ves en el Food Shelf, muchas familias que reciben muy poca ayuda de servicios sociales y teniendo tiempos muy malos tratando de sobrevivir compartierons sus historias y documentaron todo lo que les habia ocurrido.
Despues el grupo fue al Centro de Itasca. La gente que trabaja ahi dijo que llevara una delegacion a la MN Truth Commission y a la Marcha Por Nuestras Vidas el 2 de Septiembre. El grupo disfruto de una deliciosa cena ahi.
Day 4: Hibbing
We marched approximately ten miles under a potent sun into Hibbing, recieving many supportive honks along the way. We found out as we entered town that a front page article in the local paper, the Hibbing Daily Tribune, had roused local interest and support for our visit. Along the route, we were startled when a local woman, who had been on public assistance herself in the 80's, pulled over and told us she had looked for us on the highway, but had just found us. She had to leave quickly but found us later, talked to us and gave us money for food. In downtwn Hibbing, we met O Jay, a long time homeless local who allowed us to videotape him telling his story and marched the rest of the way to Bennet Park with us. We also encountered Chris Buckley from Channel 11, who immediately began filming us marching the streets and chanting. After resting briefly at the park, we made our way to the Salvation Army, where we met Chris and Mike Jennings of the Hibbing Daily Tribune, who interviewed Cheri and expressed interest in following up on local sotries of poverty and degradation.
O.J. Sanders from Hibbing tells how his mother has had her utilities shut off on her and will be evicted from her home after being foreclosed on.
We proceeded to eat at the Salvation Army and spoke at length with local folks. O Jay loaned us his laptop and we sat outside accessing the internet to read email and post crucial updates. We also met Cedric, from Cass Lake, who had left the reservation with his family at a young age and now finds himself isolated as one of the few Native Americans living in Hibbing. Many of us spoke with Victor, a volunteer at the Salvation Army, about his long history of participation in social movements such as the Black Panther Party in southern California.
Hibbing Press Conference
Just following the press conference outside of the Salvation Army, we were joined by Liz Ortiz, a long time member of PPEHRC and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, from Philadelphia. From there we proceeded to Chisholm Baptist Church, where we unloaded our things and had a meeting to plan the strategy for the coming days. The pastor of Chisholm Baptist graciously lent us his office computer as well as his personal laptop. After the meeting and brief work at the computer, we took a chance to rest our legs, take showers, play pool and watch movies.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Hibbing Daily Tribune: March for economic rights due in Hibbing
Will wind up at Republican conventionMike Jennings
HIBBING — A march that is intended to draw attention to the needs of Minnesota’s poor is due to arrivetoday in Hibbing.
Sponsored by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, the march began Friday in St. Paul and continued Saturday in Duluth and Sunday in Taconite. It is scheduled to pass through about 20 communities across the state this month and end Sept. 2 at the front door of the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, where the Republican National Convention will be in progress.
Cooper said Sunday that 10-15 people were participating in the march so far. “It’s kind of fluid, and it’s going to be growing,” he said.
Those who have been “denied health care and housing are welcome to come out and share their stories and march with us,” Cooper said. He said that during the march the group will collect documentation from people who have been denied services that meet basic needs.
On Tuesday, the march is due to continue in Grand Rapids.
Mike Jennings can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read this story and comment on it online go to www.hibbingmn.com.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Day 3: Taconite
The pastor opened her congregation to the marchers and she is a prime example of what religious leaders ought do be doing - working to meet the needs of others not just in working in their own interests. Pastor Dorothy's comments were moving in that she stated that she "feels an inability to live lavishly while others are suffering." This is the source of her congregations commitment to aiding those in the areas around Taconite.
We would like to extend our prayers and gratitude to Lawron Presbyterian Church and its congregation for their support and loving kindness. We wanted to share the beautiful prayer from this morning's service:
You love us but we have not loved you.
You called but we have not listened.
We walk away from neighbors in need,
Wrapped in our own concerns.
We accept evil, prejudice, warfare and greed.
God of grace,
Help us to admit our sins,
So that we may repent and receive forgiveness.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Northland News Center: Plight Of The Poor
By KBJR News 1
Concerns over high gas prices, the slumping housing market and rising food prices have many people concerned.
However, it's easy to forget those who are less fortunate.
Trevor Roy spoke with a group dedicated to remind people of the plight the poor of this country face everyday.
Nearly twenty people marched on Duluth Saturday to educate and promote economic human rights reform.
The group calling themselves the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign is taking a bus tour around Minnesota.
They are gathering stories of violations regarding the human rights to health care, housing, food, and education to present to state and national leaders.
3:50"All of this will culminate in a Minnesota truth commission, where people will travel from Duluth to the Twin Cities to talk to commissioners about what's happened in their lives and than we have our big anti–poverty march September 2"
Cheri Honkala, whom was at one time homeless, says it was the good will of other people that inspired her to get involved.
"7:30 I'm a formerly homeless mother and that's why I do this, people decided to help me and step forward in a difficult situation and we need people to get involved."
Ann Patterson says she started protesting at an early age, but after having her children she realized that this issue is something that she can latch on to.
8:18 "From the age of probably four I was on protests and marches with her and taking over houses, abandon houses for homeless people, but as I got older I had five children and I'm on a very very low income and so it's becoming more of a necessity to me than a passion".
Honkala sees the war in Iraq as being at odds with the war against poverty.
"5:06 While there is a lot of focus on the war that's going on in Iraq nobody is talking about the need for something like operation March of Our Lives, where we give visibility to what's happening to families and the consequences of spending billions of dollars on the war.'
The group is planning on marching on the Republican National Convention which runs later this month.
In Duluth, Trevor Roy, the NorthlandsNewscenter.
Day 2: Duluth
UNITE! HERE Local 99 of Duluth hosted breakfast (thank you!). Local President, Todd Erickson, explained the struggle of Duluth workers as their economy and industries have shifted from union mining jobs with excellent pay and benefits to low wage service industry jobs with or without benefits. Local 99 will join PPEHRC at the March for Our Lives and will bring a delegation from Duluth.
Operation: March for Our Lives then marched 3 miles through downtown Duluth community members to the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial for a press conference
After that, the caravan joined a local soup kitchen for lunch and collected documentation from homeless folks assembled for lunch.
From there, the caravan traveled to CHUM, a local family single adult/family shelter. Hosted by Tony, a CHUM staff member, he recounted the story of losing his home and her 9-year old children in house fire. He told of having to rebuild her life over the years and the importance of treating people with humanity and dignity. He spends every day of his life "giving praise to people to building them up and not breaking them down." Marchers talked to lots of people and invited them all to join us
The marchers ended their day at Loaves and Fishes for a community dinner. Here we met a man named Marty who was displaced by Hurricane Katrina and then again two weeks later by Hurricane Rita. FEMA provided him a trailer that was contaminated with formaldehyde. He brought attention to the fact the trailer was uninhabitable; FEMA then moved him to a second trailer which was contaminated with asbestos. This left permanent scars on his legs. He is now in Minnesota and unable to leave due to medical crisis which have left him incapacitated. His medical condition prevents him from working. He is saddled with massive medical bills leaving him without a way to pay bills, rent, and other expenses.
The marchers spent the night here.
Operation March for Our Lives Underway!
PPEHRC held a news conference to start off Operation: March for Our Lives in front of the Vision of Peace Statue at the St. Paul City Hall with representatives of UNITE! HERE, the American Indian Movement, The Minnesota Tenants Union, St Stephen's, the Maria Iñamagua Campaign For Justice, The Main Street Project and the Minnesota National Lawyers Guild.
PPEHRC Members have 22 days of marching and caravaning across the state collecting documentation of economic human rights violations. Staying with those most affected by poverty and the worsening economy, PPEHRC will spend much of the upcoming weeks in in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, visiting with farmers who have lost their farms, and visiting some of the poorest Indian Reservations.
If you have you are a Minnesotan and have been affected by poverty, share your story with us using our economic human rights violation form. These stories from people by poverty in Minnesota will be documented and brought to Minneapolis for the Minnesota Truth Commission, a hearing by human rights experts, clergy and government officials.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Operation March for Our Lives: Minnesota Statewide Caravan
On August 1st at 3:30 PM at St. Paul City Hall (15 W. Kellogg Blvd.), the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign will launch "Operation March For Our Lives." Operation March for Our Lives will be a statewide caravan through Minnesota to collect economic human rights violations documentation. The portrait of poverty that this documentation paints will be presented at the Minnesota Truth Commission at 2PM on August 30th at Sabathani Community Center on August 30th at 2:00pm.
We are recruiting and training Human Rights Monitors to collect economic human rights documentation. Human Rights Monitors will be hosted by local communities and will march and sleep along the roadside. We're encouraging Minnesotans to watch our website and to visit us along our caravan and to bring us your stories of trying to pay for healthcare, losing your home to foreclosure, high unemployment on your reservation or how you didn't have enough food to feed your children this month.
Operation March For our Lives will also serve as a vehicle to place representatives of Minnesota's various branches of government & opinion shapers on notice about their obligations under human rights treaties.
If your interested in helping to host the marchers or if you would like to join us on the march, please email us at Louieppehrc@yahoo.com or call our office today at 612-821-2364.
Here is the tentative route for the Minnasota Statewide:
- Aug. 1-2: St Paul to Duluth
- Aug. 3: Taconite
- Aug. 4: Hibbing
- Aug. 5: Grand Rapids
- Aug 6: Cass Lake
- Aug 7: Leech Lake
- Aug 8: Bemidji
- Aug 9: Red Lake
- Aug 10: Red Lake Falls
- Aug 11: Crookston
- Aug 12-13: White Earth
- Aug 14: Detroit Lakes
- Aug 15-16: Moorhead
- Aug 17: St. Cloud
- Aug 18: Waconia
- Aug 19: Owatonna
- Aug 20: Austin
- Aug 21: Rochester
- Aug 22: Minneapolis/St. Paul
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