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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:18 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 1185
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
We can talk about the (very real, sadly) potential for it coming to us before it shows up, or we can wring our hands afterwards after something is destroyed for no good reason and say "how could this possibly have happened???"

[snip]

There are many, many locos and museum displays that occupy publicly-owned/administrated property--Travel Town at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, Scottsdale Railroad Park, the three state-run railroad museums, Steamtown, Lowell, and others, plus hundreds of "stuffed and mounted" locos continent-wide. What are the "rules" there? Can some fringe lunatic group, delusionally convinced that "all railroads were built with slaves," blockade your operation or smash it with a stolen front-end loader?


Cross that bridge when we come to it, otherwise one is "catastrophizing" (to use a word that translates as the equivalent of "running around like a chicken with your head cut off"). I just haven't seen any evidence of any of what you mention, and to me it seems unlikely. Indeed, quite the opposite: my experience is that it is groups opposed to racism who are most interested in maintaining items related to racism to show what it is/was like and those opposed to recognition of racism most opposed to highlighting or even preserving said items.

Around 1990-1995 Trains Magazine published an article about the Jim Crow era in the South and how the railroads dealt with it, what it meant for how they transported passengers, and the indignities suffered by minority passengers because of it. The article was written by a historian years before and the author had passed away. I remember Trains mentioning that they had wanted to publish it but were afraid of the reaction of their mostly white, older readership. Sure enough, in the next few months there were letters to the editor saying that they didn't like the article and didn't want those "political" articles in Trains, even though it was merely a descriptive retelling of history.

I don't deny that there are nutjobs who want the tracks and equipment gone, but they are more likely to come from the NIMBY crowd than any of the anti-racism protestors.


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:33 pm 
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Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Eric S Strohmeyer wrote:
I do not care if you are a Republican, a Democrat, a black man, a white man, a gay man, a straight man. etc. What I care about is :

Are you telling me the truth about what happened in the past accurately?

Okay, who's truth and when does that truth take place?
Anyone familiar with history and the study of it will tell you that the concept of 'truth' in history, over time, changes and it's often seen through the lenses of the person interpreting it.
One only has to look at the history of how the War Between the States is perceived. Almost immediately after the last vets of the war passed on, the concepts with which it was viewed everywhere changed quite a bit.
Depending on where you were raised or in what time, you got a totally different take from someone in another place and time.
Certain aspects of that (or any other) war got simplified and glossed over.
Now, many people will take only their view as the 'truth' and that even suggesting there's another take gets shot down really fast, as if that other take cannot be allowed to exist, even though it might be backed by hard evidence and data.
A good example is the concept of slavery not being the only cause of the war as well as how Lincoln wrote on how his focus was preserving the union and slavery was a secondary issue for him, compared to keeping the Union whole.
These are facts, but ones you don't learn in every school much these days (and likely never if you went to school in the North).
One only has to view how WW2 is taught by schools in Japan. Compare that to how it's taught in the UK or the US and you're left wondering if that was even the same war being discussed.
My sister-in-law's husband was an exchange student in Australia in high school and his lesson in history class about the 1700s said that the American revolution was over a bunch of spoiled ingrates trying to get out of their responsibility to the lawful rule of the King.
So, is that 'truth'? It is to the Aussies!
The point is, when it comes to history, the 'truth' is different for each person/place/time.
Think of any argument you heard both sides of. What do people usually say?
Quote:
There's side A, and side B, but the actual truth of it is probably somewhere in between.

Once you reject that concept (and many have, for either side), you're locked into a 'my view is the only right one, and no other views can exist' and we're right where we are now.
Really, how can there be 'truth' for history when you have a growing segment of the population that actually believes that hundreds of thousands of NASA folks covered up the entire moon landing program? Or how about the 'flat earth' concept gaining traction after centuries of being known as utter folly?
Any real student of history will know there's never any 'truth' to history other than verifiable hard data (specific things, such as a train ran on that day at this time), because you're talking about the randomness of human behavior (and the fact you'll never find one large group to agree to any one thing), which is something you can't easily categorize.

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Last edited by p51 on Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:42 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
Thanks Lee - put very well. Context and subjectivity (and being written by the winners) can all obscure the big, messy reality which of course constantly evolved as well. I think the best we can do is provide a broad rage of original source material qualified by the context of its contributor so people can start to understand. Even scientifically derived factual knowledge evolves, but in a system designed to constantly test accepted results against new ideas. I don't know if we can do this well while focusing on playing trains on weekends.

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Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:02 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 721
PMC wrote:
You and a few others in this thread want to talk about so-called cancel culture which is a completely different phenomenon and doesn't belong in this thread, and frankly, not on this board at all in my opinion.
I disagree.

This board rightly engages in cancel culture whenever someone mentions Nothing Like It In the World by Stephen Ambrose.


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 3:20 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2570
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Sandy and one other have claimed that BLM has been carpet-bagged by extreme left-wing radical groups. That claim is deceptive: it avoids mentioning how BLM has likewise been carpet-bagged by extreme right-wing radical groups for their own purposes. Sometimes amusingly, but no doubt BLM has been framed to seem bad even to non-racists.


Chuck Richards wrote:
Had it been a BLM banner, nobody would ever have
questioned anything about it. The not for profit status
being in potential jeopardy would never have even gotten
mentioned.


Because it's perfectly legal for nonprofits to say "Black lives matter".

What's illegal is endorsing a political candidate. It's illegal for very good reason: to implement tax law, which disallows charitable deductions for political campaigns.

IRS auditors can't hear dog-whistles (especially since any audit will land well after election day)... so they will evaluate a nonprofit's invocation of BLM as exactly what it says on the tin: an acknowledgement that a marginalized culture is, in fact marginalized. Tax law specifically allows charities to serve disadvantaged groups, and to discriminate in their favor when their aim is to equalize inherent disadvanage.

That said, political activities other than endorsing a candidate need to be incidental at most to your general operations; it can't be one of your three largest activities which you report on your Form 990.

I personally wouldn't say BLM, because of the dog-whistle effects (i.e. you'd piss off 47% of your customer base).

But I certainly might invoke the theme: like roll out a "Black Experience" exhibit or something like that... Pullman porters, Jim Crow, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:07 pm 
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robertmacdowell wrote:
Chuck Richards wrote:
Had it been a BLM banner, nobody would ever have questioned anything about it. The not for profit status being in potential jeopardy would never have even gotten mentioned.


Because it's perfectly legal for nonprofits to say "Black lives matter".

What's illegal is endorsing a political candidate. It's illegal for very good reason: to implement tax law, which disallows charitable deductions for political campaigns.

Yes, but you actually think it's the legal concept here that upset anyone?
Had this flag been for, say, a beloved local mayoral candidate or someone who is running on a platform to give more money to schools, would this thread even exist right now, even though those would be equally legally wrong?
No, it would not, and you know it wouldn't.

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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 1:56 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
robertmacdowell wrote:

What's illegal is endorsing a political candidate. It's illegal for very good reason: to implement tax law, which disallows charitable deductions for political campaigns.

IRS auditors can't hear dog-whistles (especially since any audit will land well after election day)... so they will evaluate a nonprofit's invocation of BLM as exactly what it says on the tin: an acknowledgement that a marginalized culture is, in fact marginalized. Tax law specifically allows charities to serve disadvantaged groups, and to discriminate in their favor when their aim is to equalize inherent disadvanage.

That said, political activities other than endorsing a candidate need to be incidental at most to your general operations; it can't be one of your three largest activities which you report on your Form 990.

I personally wouldn't say BLM, because of the dog-whistle effects (i.e. you'd piss off 47% of your customer base).

But I certainly might invoke the theme: like roll out a "Black Experience" exhibit or something like that... Pullman porters, Jim Crow, etc.


One thing that we in railway preservation do need to do is acknowledge that the railroads had a significant impact on the plight of African Americans. We cannot hide that anymore and must address that fact. It may require some of us to reexamine some of the companies that we are enthusiasts of. How your visiting public will respond to your interpretation depends on your organization and your people.

I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the 1970s and 1980s. I rode the Southern excursions and the big black and gray diesels made an indelible impression on me. I had the rare opportunity to work for the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum as a paid trainman for ten years and always heard the good things that the Southern had done. As I read more scholarly material regarding Jim Crow and the railroads, I had to acknowledge that the Southern (hidden under the spit and polish of Virginia Green and Gold) engaged in some terrible acts against colored people. The Southern was widely regarded by many colored people to be the worst southern railroad as far as how colored passengers were treated. The railroad commission in North Carolina received numerous complaints from colored passengers who feared for their lives if they rode the Southern. The Southern had a habit of mixing wooden partitioned coaches (segregated cars) on passenger trains with all steel coaches, whereas more progressive railroads like the Seaboard and Atlantic Coast Line had abandoned the practice. Those roads relegated wooden cars to trains that had entirely wooden consists.

Jim Crow was entirely related to the politics of the day and we cannot deny that. The same goes for the employment practices that the railroads engaged in. Many black railroaders were pushed out of their jobs through intimidation, methods of which included cold blooded murder or threats of violence. These were well documented on certain southern roads. Many southern railroads benefited from the convict-lease system, and prior to the Civil War many roads leased slaves with some owning slaves of their own.

While I was there, we restored coach 906-a partitioned car operated by the Central of Georgia Railway which still had the partition in place. It was restored with the partition and signs, shocking some of our volunteers. They envisioned scathing remarks about the car and its history and protests. Those never came about, even given that a good deal of our traffic was school groups. Instead, the car became a teaching tool. After one trip, I actually had a black high school teacher thank us for preserving the car and providing an interpretation that allowed the students to make a physical connection with the history they were learning. On trips that the car ran on, I always made a point to discuss the car with the passengers riding in it, presenting the car and its history for what it was and acknowledging the historic wrongs of the railroad industry.

While we should certainly avoid present day political endorsements of candidates or messages, we must recognize the political relations between public policies of the past and railroad history.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 4:01 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2020 5:36 pm
Posts: 18
Alan Walker wrote:
While we should certainly avoid present day political endorsements of candidates or messages, we must recognize the political relations between public policies of the past and railroad history.


This was a very well stated post as a whole, but I particularly like this last paragraph. Presenting and discussing the abhorrent Jim Crow practices of the past is an important part of bringing our society into a better future, and can be done with enough detachment from modern politics and anything perceived as an endorsement easily enough that any IRS auditor would have no qualms in closing an investigation into the matter.

What if I were to be running a museum and wanted to do a display about presidential campaign trains? If either Donald Trump or Joe Biden - but only one, not both - were to come out tomorrow and announce their own campaign train tour, I feel it would be remiss to exclude that train from the display. Now, with only one modern candidate running a train, would talking about that train be an endorsement? Not if you are selective in your text, and again, it is seemingly easy enough to exclude any language that would even imply as much.

Now let's rewind my hypothetical situation just a little bit and say that we are making a presidential campaign train display, but just as in reality, neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden have shown any inkling of a campaign train. Would you feel uncomfortable talking about the trains used by any particular previous candidate? Are you worried about your guest's backlash because you mentioned that Richard Nixon used a campaign train? If so, I would highly suggest that you reconsider the sensitivities of your guests; the vast majority of them are not that dumb. The adults can recognize objective presentation of facts, and children would be accompanied by adults who are there to help with the interpretation and explanation.

There is a clear and distinct line you need to cross in order to raise the ire of the bureaucrats at 1111 Constitution Ave, NW. It's not even so much as a line in the sand as it is a gully that you need to need to willingly jump over to reach the bad side of things.


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 4:17 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
If you interpret the use of presidential or political campaign trains, it would be remiss not to mention one in present day use, but that can be done without including any value judgement on the worthiness of any candidate.

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Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 5:37 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum did operate campaign trains for Georgia state representative Mike Snow. Snow was a Democrat who supported the museum and was instrumental in putting legislation together that saved the Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway and other Georgia short lines that were then threatened with abandonment. Museum management supported Mr. Snow, but the railroad did maintain the necessary degree of separation from the political campaign. I remember that the railroad operated at least two campaign trains, but that the campaign paid for the trains-a key point. The first train was two coaches and actually required one of our regular Georgia trains to meet it on the old Central at a siding-the first meet of that type in years.

The second train was a full excursion consist. We left Grand Junction with a TVRM engineer, flagman and conductor (me). At 23rd Street, the TVRM engineer and flagman were replaced with a C and C engineer and flagman-I worked through to Chickamauga and La Fayette where the train tied up for the night after the campaign event. I returned to Chattanooga by company truck and the consist handed back later that week. The reason I had to work through was twofold. They did not have any experienced passenger trainmen and they did not know the car onboard systems. Working the train was a hoot-deadheading all the way to La Fayette and only had passengers while we went to Chickamauga and returned to La Fayette.

If the campaign train is paid for by the campaign, your railroad should have necessary degree of separation as long as your staff do not make any political statements that could be considered an endorsement. Our crews understood that our job was just to run the train-let the campaign do their own stuff. If someone had asked why we ran a campaign train for Mr. Snow and not the other candidate (which we did not), our reply would have been that 1) Mr. Snow's campaign asked us and paid us to do it and 2) had the other campaign asked, we'd have done the same for them.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 5:53 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
robertmacdowell wrote:
Because it's perfectly legal for nonprofits to say "Black lives matter".


As I've noted before, the term has been appropriated by a political-support movement that has, thus far according to several news reports, taken in over a billion dollars in donations and used them to re-donate exclusively to Democratic campaigns.

Literally the only difference between this and the otherwise innocuous term "Make America great again", politically, is that a single candidate has appropriated that term, not what amounts to a political action committee.

If I placed a handmade "make America great again" sign, with no mention of Trump, is there any chance it would be seen as anything other than a Trump campaign sign?

Hell to the no.

And I, for one, detest double standards, especially the exploitation of the excuse that "only a racist would refute that phrase" when it has been loaded with tons of political baggage of its own.

It's not the fault of our hypothetical RR museum that about half the people seeing that term on a sign will have a negative reaction to it--not because of racism, but because of political exploitation.


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 6:31 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:18 am
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Location: San Francisco
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
As I've noted before, the term has been appropriated by a political-support movement that has, thus far according to several news reports, taken in over a billion dollars in donations and used them to re-donate exclusively to Democratic campaigns.


Citation Requested.

"...according to several news reports..." is doing a lot of work in this statement.

Was this another scoop from PJ Media?

Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Yet another angle has been raised:

https://pjmedia.com/trending/anarchists ... -fracking/

Quote:
The anarchist group "It's Going Down" last April bragged online about sabotaging railroad tracks in the Pacific Northwest to block fracking equipment from getting to its destination. The group has since deleted the post, possibly in reaction to today's Amtrak disaster.


ADM4, maybe you are not aware of this, but you very often add political content to threads on this board.

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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:31 pm 

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Let the children argue as if they were in grade school and PLEASE go back and re-read what Alan Walker wrote.

It is so extremely important. Every word of it. Read it and read it again and comment on that. THAT is how we move forward in preservation.


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:49 pm 

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Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Randolph R. Ruiz wrote:
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
As I've noted before, the term has been appropriated by a political-support movement that has, thus far according to several news reports, taken in over a billion dollars in donations and used them to re-donate exclusively to Democratic campaigns.


Citation Requested.


Okay, the answers are good and bad for your skepticism.

In tracking down the articles making these claims, I discovered that the "billion dollar" figure inaccurately included massive donations being pledged by celebrities and corporations to OTHER groups IN THE NAME OF "BLM":

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consum ... g-n1225371

Note that even NBC's headline is inaccurately depicting these donations as "corporate donations for #BLM".

A couple "debunking" websites have made posts about how "Donations to Black Lives Matter Group Don’t Go to DNC":
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/06/donat ... go-to-dnc/

However, a common criticism of every such "debunking/fact-checker" site is that they exercise bias by only answering a very specific, narrowly worded question or quote. The gist of this analysis is whether or not "Social media posts falsely claim donations made on the Black Lives Matter website go “directly” to the Democratic Party, because the group uses ActBlue Charities — an online fundraising platform." They say "Donations go to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. The funds first pass through a nonprofit that sponsors the group."
In this analysis, if Democratic campaigns or lobbying efforts for their goals still end up with the funds by any means through any number of "money-laundering" political action committees or 501(c)4s, it's still considered a "falsehood" by PolitiFact--but only because the money didn't come directly from BLM.

Study "fact-checker" websites for long enough, and you'll find that they engage in the same deception as politicians: they answer the questions they wish had been asked of them, not the question or broader issue they were actually asked. Which often means they are telling the truth, but can still be misleading.

I can come up with articles that allege to outline the financial structure and objectives of the corporation with the BLM name, but as most of these articles stem from right-leaning sources like The National Review, I'm fairly confident that those demanding citations will swiftly reject them solely for that reason, no matter what (selected) truths might be contained in the articles. And such investigative analysis is still anathema to the "mainstream media" for now. This might be as close as you get for now:

https://abc6onyourside.com/news/nation- ... money-goes

Note:
I answered this solely to the well-reasoned demand for a citation.

The complexity of this question, which fails to have any absolute, honest answer in an true analysis, shows once again why it's far easier and smarter to just stay away from ALL politically-charged rhetoric in a public museum setting, no matter HOW seemingly innocuous and "common sense" the statement in question may be.




Has the banner been cut off the B&M steamer in Lowell yet?


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 Post subject: Re: Don't Hijack Preservation with Politics
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:47 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
In regards to the matter of African Americans and their experiences with American railroads, I would humbly recommend the following three books as recommended reading for anyone who considers them to be a railroad historian:

“Railroads in the African American Experience” by Theodore Kornweibel, Jr., Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN-13: 978-0-8018-9162-5 or ISBN-10: 0-8018-9162-0.

“Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality” by Eric Arnesen, Harvard University Press, ISBN-0-674-00319-5.

“Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class” by Larry Tye, Henry Holt and Company, ISBN 0-8050-7075-3.

All three books are excellent, but personally I find Mr. Kornweibel’s book to be the best as the author uses many historical photographs to add visual emphasis to the written words.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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