Archive for the ‘President’ Tag

Portraits: Calvin Coolidge   8 comments

Calvin Coolidge (John Calvin Coolidge, Jr, 1872 – 1933)

The 30th President of the United States, 1923 – 1929

AKA: Cautious Cal, Cool Cal, Silent Cal

From: Vermont, Massachusetts

College: Amherst College

Married to: Grace Anna Goodhue

Children: John and Calvin, Jr

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, city councilman, city solicitor, clerk of courts, state representative, mayor, state senator, lieutenant governor, governor, vice president

In His Words:  “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anyone, anywhere, any time.”

“There is no force so democratic as the force of an ideal.”

“The chief business of the American people is business.”

“What we need is not more Federal government, but better local government.”

“I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm.”

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

“If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it.”

Not true: “Silent Cal” gave 529 press conferences, more than any other President before or since. (from Greenberg, David (2006). Calvin Coolidge. The American Presidents Series.)

True: Coolidge’s first Presidential speech to congress, on December 6, 1923, was the first speech by a President broadcast on the radio.  He was the first President to appear in a motion picture with sound, in 1924.

After completing Harding’s term, and then running successfully for re-election, he declined to run again in 1930, saying that 10 years in Washington is more than anyone should be President.

The Official Portrait:

Charles Hopkinson painted the official White House portrait of Calvin Coolidge in 1932.  Many of his paintings were commissioned by U. S. East Coast institutions, especially Harvard University, where he acted as house portraitist. Among his sitters were Oliver Wendell Holmes and E. E. Cummings.

Portraits: William H Harrison   1 comment

William Henry Harrison (1773 – 1841)

The 9th President of the United States, 1841

This portrait of Harrison originally showed him in civilian clothes as the congressional delegate from the Northwest Territory in 1800, but the uniform was added after he became famous in the War of 1812.

AKA: Old Tippecanoe, General Mum

From: Virginia, Ohio

College: Presbyterian Hampden-Sydney College, University of Pennsylvania (withdrew from both)

Married to: Anna Symmes

Children: Ten with his wife, and six with one of his slaves, Dilsia.  He didn’t want “bastard slave children” around the White House, so he gave four of those to his brother, who sold them.

Party: Whig

Previous Jobs: General, US Representative, Senator, minister to Columbia

In His Words:  “But I contend that the strongest of all governments is that which is most free.”

“There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.”

“The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed.”

Final words: “Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.”

Not true: Chief Tecumseh’s Shawnee were defeated by Harrison (at the Tippecanoe River), prompting Tecumseh to curse the American presidency. The oddly specific curse was that every President elected in a year ending in zero would die in office.  Harrison himself was the first such President to die, followed by Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, Roosevelt and Kennedy.  The curse was proven false when Reagan did not die in office (though he was shot).

True: Harrison’s father, Benjamin Harrison, signed the Declaration of Independence.

It was a cold, wet day in March when Harrison was inaugurated. His speech lasted nearly 2 hours. He caught pneumonia and died on his 32nd day in office, the shortest term of any president. Harrison was the first president to die in office. His death would be seen as the first in a long series of what became known as Tecumseh’s Curse: Presidents elected in a year ending in a zero would die in office.

The Official Portrait:

James Lambdin is famous for many of his portraits of U.S. Presidents, including portraits of William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor. The Harrison portrait was painted in 1835, before he was elected President. Lambdin became professor of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania.

Portraits: Dwight Eisenhower   2 comments

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890 – 1969)

The 34th President of the United States, 1953 – 1961

Normal Rockwell’s Dwight Eisenhower

AKA: Ike

From: Born in Texas, raised in Kansas

College: United States Military Academy

Married to: Mamie Geneva Doud

Children: Doud Dwight and John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: Night supervisor at a creamery, US Army, US Chief of Staff of the Army, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Chief of Staff of the Army, University President, NATO Supreme Commander

In His Words:  “Neither a wise man or a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”

“There is one thing about being President — nobody can tell you when to sit down.”

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

“The one quality that can be developed by studious reflection and practice is the leadership of men.”

“Un-American activity cannot be prevented or routed out by employing un-American methods; to preserve freedom we must use the tools that freedom provides.”

Not true: There’s a viral email that makes the rounds stating that “Operation Wetback,” which ran during Eisenhower’s administration, deported 13,000,000 illegal immigrants.  It’s stated this program also swept up and deported large numbers of legal residents and citizens.  Though the program did exist, it resulted in less than 100,000 deportations, and perhaps an additional 500,000 illegal immigrants leaving the country before they were apprehended.  The program was controversial and there were reports of abuse, but not nearly on the scale alleged by the viral emails.

True: Eisenhower was responsible for the lives of millions during WWII, as he was in charge of war planning, and later implementing those plans, in Europe.  He oversaw the invasion of Italy and the liberation of western Europe from Nazi control.  He was the first General elected President since Ulysses S Grant, and is one of only 5 Presidents that did not hold an elected office before becoming President.

The Official Portrait:

This painting is the official portrait of the President. The artist,  J. Anthony Wills from Houston, Texas painted 5 copies of the portrait. One of them hangs in the White House and one is at his Presidential Library in Abilene, KS. The location of the other three copies is unknown.

 

Portraits: Rutherford B Hayes   5 comments

Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1822 – 1893)

The 19th President of the United States, 1877 – 1881

AKA: Rutherfraud or His Fraudulency

From: Ohio

College: Kenyon College, class of 1842 and Harvard Law, class of 1845

Married to: Lucy Ware Webb (the first wife of a President to graduate from college)

Children: Birchard, Webb, Rutherford, Joseph, George, Fanny, Scott and Manning

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: businessman, lawyer, soldier, congressman, governor

In His Words: “He serves his party best who serves his country best.”

“Fighting battles is like courting girls: those who make the most pretensions and are boldest usually win.”

“In avoiding the appearance of evil, I am not sure but I have sometimes unnecessarily deprived myself and others of innocent enjoyments.”

“Lemonade Lucy” Hayes was the first Presidential wife called “First Lady” in the national press.

Not true: President Obama invoked Hayes in the 2012 Presidential campaign, saying,

“One of my predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone, ‘It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?’ That’s why he’s not on Mount Rushmore because he’s looking backwards.  he’s not looking forwards.”

There is no proof that this ever happened.  Indeed, Hayes installed the first telephone in the White House, given the number of 1, when there were only 190 telephones in all of Washington, DC.

True: Hayes was the first President to travel to the west coast while in office.

Hayes is the only President whose election was decided by a congressional commission.  The 1876 election was rife with fraud by both parties.  Eventually both sides agreed to have a non-partisan congressional commission appointed, with 5 from the House, 5 from the Senate, and 5 from Supreme Court Justices.  Affiliations were to be 7 Republicans, 7 Democrats, and a well-respected independent Supreme Court Justice, David Davis.  The Democrats attempted to influence even this process, with the Illinois legislature electing Davis to the Senate.  Davis then declined the nomination to the congressional commission due to the conflict, further muddling the process.  Eventually, a compromise was worked out, with Hayes agreeing to end Reconstruction, withdrawing the Army from the South, and the Democrats agreeing to support his Presidency.

Hayes was the first President to have a typewriter in the White House.

Banned alcohol from the White House, perhaps in support of his wife who was a staunch supporter of the temperance movement.

The Official Portrait:

Daniel Huntington was one of the most fashionable portraitists of his generation.  He accepted Lucy Hayes’ invitation  to paint her portrait after the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union offered to fund this memorial for her.  After her husband retired from the Presidency, Huntington was selected by the President to paint a companion piece, which was to be his official portrait.  It was completed in 1884, three years after Hayes left office.

Portraits: John Quincy Adams   4 comments

John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1849)

Adams was the first (ex) President to be photographed, in 1843 … though there are claims that Harrison was photographed in 1841, no proof exists.

The 6th President of the United States, 1825 – 1829

When Adams sat for this portrait, he doubted that artist George Caleb Bingham could produce “a strong likeness.” Ralph Waldo Emerson commented that the aging Adams was “like one of those old cardinals, who as quick as he is chosen Pope, throws away his crutches and his crookedness, and is as straight as a boy.”

AKA: Old Man Eloquent or The Abolitionist

From: Massachusetts

College: Harvard College, class of 1787

Married to: Louisa Adams

Children: Charles Francis Adams, Sr, George Washington Adams, John Adams II, Louisa Catherine Adams

Party: Federalist, Democratic-Republican, Whig

Previous Jobs: secretary, lawyer, state senator, senator, diplomat, Secretary of State

In His Words: “Civil liberty can be established on no foundation of human reason which will not at the same time demonstrate the right of religious freedom.”

“The manners of women are the surest criterion by which to determine whether a republican government is practicable in a nation or not.”

“America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

Not true:  Adams’ service to the United States became an issue in the 2012 Presidential race, 183 years after he died.  Michelle Bachmann famously declared that our founding fathers “worked tirelessly to end slavery.”  When  journalists called Bachmann on being inaccurate, she cited John Quincy Adams as one founding father that was an example of what she meant.  In spite of his unprecedented international experience at a very tender age, it does seem to stretch credibility to call him a founding father, as he was only 9 years old in 1776.  It is true that he railed against slavery while serving in the House of Representatives, but he was not a steady advocate for abolition until after he was President.

True: He served in the diplomatic service at the age of 13 as the secretary to the US envoy to Russia.  He later was one of the secretaries to Jefferson and Franklin, helping them draft the documents confirming US independence from Great Britian.  He was barely 16.

In the 1824 Presidential election, he did not win the popular vote, nor a majority of the electoral college.  Because no candidate won a majority, he was eventually selected as President by the House of Representatives.  Adams had been a brilliant diplomat, but proved to be an idealistic and inflexible President.  He followed his father’s unfortunate example as the 2nd President to only serve one term.

He’s the only President to serve in the House of Representatives after he left the White House.

The Official Portrait:

George Peter Alexander Healy was one of the most prolific portrait artists of his day.  He painted 18 Presidents, from John Quincy Adams to Ulysses S Grant.  Some of his other famous paintings were of Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Pope Pius IX and John James Audobon.

Portraits: Theodore Roosevelt   5 comments

Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)

The 26th President of the United States, 1901 – 1909

AKA: Teddy

From: New York

College: Harvard class of 1880, Columbia Law School

Married to: Alice Hathaway Lee, Edith Kermit Carrow

Both his mother and his first wife died on the same day; his diary entry said “The light has gone out of my life.”

Children: Alice (with Alice), and with Edith: Theodore Jr., Kermit, Ethel Carrow, Archibald Bulloch and Quentin

Party: Republican, Bull Moose

Previous Jobs: Cattle rancher, deputy sheriff, historian, naturalist, explorer, author of 35 books, police commissioner, assistant Secretary of the Navy, governor of New York, war hero, and lawyer.

In His Words:  “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘present’ or ‘not guilty.'”

Portrait by Adrian Lamb

Not true: The Iron Ore, a newspaper in Marquette County, Upper Peninsula, Michigan, accused Teddy of public drunkenness.  The editorial stated, “Roosevelt lies, and curses in a most disgusting way, he gets drunk too, and that not infrequently, and all of his intimates know about it.”  Roosevelt was running for President at the time as the standard bearer for the Bull Moose Party, and he sued for libel in what became one of the most celebrated trials of 1912.  The newspaper editor admitted guilt, and Teddy settled for six cents … the “price of a good newspaper,” he said.  The Iron Ore cost three cents.

True: As the first conservationist president, he spearheaded the creation of the United States Forest Service, and established five new national parks. He was responsible for the start of the Wildlife Refuge system. During his administration, 42 million acres were set aside as national forests, wildlife refuges, and areas of special interest (such as the Grand Canyon).

He coined the phrase “good to the last drop” after being asked about the quality of Maxwell House coffee.

The Official Portrait:

Edith Roosevelt portrait, by Theobald Charlton, 1902

John Singer Sargent’s painting would be the official portrait of the President, but it wasn’t the first. In 1902 Theobald Chartran was  commissioned to paint portraits of the President and his wife. Although she enjoyed her’s, Teddy simply hated his. At first they tried to hide the blasted thing in an upper corridor in the darkest place on the wall. The family called it the “Mewing Cat.” Teddy disliked it so much that he eventually destroyed it.

What Teddy wanted was a man’s portrait by a artist that could capture the adventurer that he was.

The two men walked around the house searching for the right setting, but nothing was working. As they climbed the stairs, Teddy barked that Sargent must not know what he wanted. Sargent, who was also frustrated, snapped back that he didn’t think the President appreciated what was needed to pose for a portrait. Roosevelt, the stairway landing, planted his hand on the balustrade post, turned onto the ascending artist and said,  “Don’t I!”

And that was the pose Sargent wanted.

Sargent’s portrait of Teddy Roosevelt was exactly what Teddy Roosevelt wanted and he would adore the portrait for the rest of his life. It had exactly captured, in the President’s eyes, the essence of his energy as well as his presidency.

President Obama’s Victory Speech   1 comment

U.S. President Barack Obama waves to supporters after his victory speech at McCormick Place on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Obama’s victory speech last night was great.  The man is a wonderful orator, and his ability to communicate on the world’s largest stages is one of his greatest strengths (which he needs to use more, I would think).  Read the complete text of his remarks here. 

After the obligatory thanks to his supporters (and a very nice nod to the Romney family), he really hit his stride in the middle of the speech.  Here are some key passages that resonated with me:

“And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America….”

Posted November 7, 2012 by henrymowry in POTUS

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My President   9 comments

Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, got her group into a lot of trouble in 2003 when she loudly, publicly and internationally declared that she was ashamed that President George W Bush was from Texas.

She was not happy with the policies of President Bush, so she proclaimed her dissatisfaction from the bully pulpit of her London concert stage.  The result:  she insulted a great percentage of Americans, including a whole bunch of the Country radio community.  Those Country radio listeners expressed their unhappiness quickly and loudly … and within hours, you did not hear very much Dixie Chicks music on Country radio stations.

There was a public debate on Ms. Maines’ right to free speech, which she lustily engaged in for many months.  Free speech was never in question; I support her right to express her opinion 100%.  I also support the right of the listeners of Country radio to say that they don’t want to listen to her music.  Free speech won, but the way we view our President was tarnished.

In 2006, Maines also retracted her earlier apology to President Bush, stating, “I apologized for disrespecting the office of the President, but I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t feel he is owed any respect whatsoever.”  This appears to be Maines’ final position:  that President George W Bush was not owed any respect whatsoever.

Other entertainers jumped on the bandwagon, by the way … Julia Roberts and Carlos Santana are both quoted as saying that “W” was “not my President.”  That began a whole slew of back & forth partisanship about who was, or wasn’t, or wouldn’t be, “my president.”  That inflammatory rhetoric continues to this day (buy a t-shirt!  buy a bumper sticker!).  And as celebrities and politicians feed the media escalating and bombastic rhetoric, we are left with an emotionally exhausted society that believes the end of the world will come if their candidate does not win.

When you wholly invest yourself into the political process, you run the risk of losing track of your values when your candidate does — or does not — prevail.  If your candidate wins, you may feel you can dictate “how it’s going to be” to everyone else.  If your candidate loses, you may feel disenfranchised from your government.  You may feel you have no hope.  Such is not the case:  the strength of our country is based on the balance between the three branches of government, and we believe that balance will save our republic, come what may.  And we have been proven right through civil war, world war, assassination, economic turmoil and social upheaval.

Let me tell you about my President.

In his farewell address to the American people given in January 1953, President Truman gave his philosophy on being in charge of our government, “The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”  This sign was on his desk throughout his Presidential term, and is now in his Presidential Library in Independence, MO.

He is, first and foremost, the defender of the Constitution.  He swears to protect the Constitution when he takes the oath of office. He will do whatever it takes for the United States of America to survive.  To thrive.

He is the Commander-in-Chief, and directs our armed forces.  Hopefully, he will use them sparingly.  But he will use them to protect American interests here and abroad.

He is the head of one entire branch of our government:  the executive branch.  He is the face of America to the world.

These days, it seems that he must be a referee, as he attempts to balance the odious extremities of both parties and work with the Congress to craft the laws that govern our nation.  Today’s rhetoric is not the most spiteful in our country’s history (Lincoln was denounced as a “military dictator … grasping at the power of a despot,” for example. ), but today’s political statements are certainly the most insulting and divisive in the memory of most Americans.

I regret that today’s citizens believe they must speak in an extreme fashion in order to be heard.

I regret that today’s presidential candidates feel they must spin their opponent’s statements and implications into a twisted version of “truth” that has little to do with the original statement’s intent.  And many journalists are eager to feed the monster and escalate the statements even more with screaming headlines proclaiming the other guy a liar, an idiot … well, you’ve seen the headlines.  They look the same to me, whether you’re reading the Huffington Post or the New York Times, Newsmax or the Drudge Report.

I know that I’ll disagree with our next President on many issues.  That’s not really news:  I disagree with everyone, including myself, sometimes.  Disagreement is not the same thing as discourtesy.  Or defamation.  Or destruction.

I don’t know who’s going to win the election on Tuesday.  But, I can tell you this:  he will be my president.

Posted November 1, 2012 by henrymowry in POTUS

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I am an Eagle Scout   8 comments

August 1, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the first Eagle Scout Board of Review.  I am proud to be an Eagle Scout.

There are great resources to explain the Eagle award and what it represents.  One President of the United States earned the award … as did the first man on the moon, a current Supreme Court Justice and many, many more noteworthy individuals.  I celebrate their accomplishment, and ask you to consider a few facts about Eagle Scouts:

  • They are significantly more likely to have worked to solve problems in their community than non-Scouts.
  • Eagle Scouts are 55 percent more likely than non-Scouts to have held a leadership position at their workplace.
  • They are more likely to be active readers.
  • Eagles are 72% more likely to attend live entertainment events than non-Scouts.
  • Eagle Scouts are 100% more likely than non-Scouts to have a designated family meeting place in the event of an emergency.
  • Eagle Scouts are 45% more likely than non-Scouts to agree they always treat people of other religions with respect.
  • Eagle Scouts are 34% more likely than non-Scouts to have donated money to a non-religious institution or charity in the community within the last month.

Teaching my children to live a life in service to God, family, community and country was of paramount importance to this parent.  Scouting focuses on those core values in an environment of personal achievement, comradery and FUN.

About 2% of all Scouts attain the rank of Eagle. That has trended up recently, with about 5% of all Scouts earning the award in 2008.

Of course, Scouting is about outdoor activities … and Scouts are known to be strong environmentalists.  They know how to tie knots, go camping and build a fire.  Don’t think for a moment that becoming an Eagle is about those things.  Learning outdoor skills is just one of the methods used by Scouting to build knowledge and leadership in young men.  However, those skills are not the key result of the program.

My sons are both Eagle Scouts, and it’s had an important impact on their lives.  For one example, both Michael and Christopher got their first jobs as a result of their Scouting experience.

Christopher actually learned of a job opportunity with LA County while leading a Scout outing.  He got the job, and he’s been promoted by the County several times since; he’s currently a Recreation Supervisor and in charge of 12 natural areas in northern LA County.

The cloth badge is sewn on the shirt; the medal can be worn in its place on more formal occasions. Once a boy turns 18, he no longer wears the badge or medal on his uniform.

Michael didn’t know Scouting was important to his job with Rocketdyne until one day at lunch.  Some co-workers were talking about what they would do if they were washed overboard at sea (Note: rocket scientists often have odd conversations).  One of his peers calmly related that he would inflate his clothing – a technique learned by all Eagles as they complete the Swimming merit badge. All of Michael’s peers were amazed to learn that everyone at the table knew the technique … and, further, all were Eagle Scouts.  Apparently a degree in engineering from a prestigious university was only one thing recruiters were looking for!

To become an Eagle Scout, each young man must complete over 300 separate requirements.  They must earn 21 different merit badges, and complete the requirements to the satisfaction of an adult expert in that field.  They must demonstrate leadership by planning, inspiring others, and working with them to complete a service project of benefit to their community, church or school.  On six different occasions, they must stand before a board of review made up of community leaders, and demonstrate the Scouting spirit and leadership skills required to wear the different rank badges they must earn on the trail to the Eagle badge.

Eagle Scouts will know how to camp – and they’ll know what to do in a nuclear emergency, too.  They’ll have written a letter to their congressman.  They’ll know how to take care of money.  They’ll know first aid for a broken arm and a cut finger.  They’ll know the best knot to tie down a friend’s suitcase on a roof rack, too.

Once a young man has earned the award, they are an Eagle Scout for life.  I earned my Eagle in 1972 while in Troop 58, Maitland, MO.  I earned merit badges in Salesmanship and Journalism, which proved to be directly relevant to my success in my chosen career.  My Eagle Scout service project was developed in conjunction with the Graham Community Betterment Association in Graham, MO.  I actually assigned the street numbers to all of the buildings in Graham, and communicated their new street addresses to each resident and business owner in Graham (population 213!).

I know two keys to my success were my Scoutmasters, Eddie Hillman and Franklin Hardy.  Most important, however, were my Mother and Father.  Dad drove me to Scout meetings every Tuesday night.  Mom helped make sure I got the requirements done — I distinctly remember some gentle, uh, encouragement, to get my Eagle Scout service project done.  They got me there, and I am an Eagle Scout.

Here I am at the Pony Express Council Eagle Dinner in 1972. I’m wearing the Explorer uniform of the Camp Geiger Staff, which I proudly served on in 1972 and 1973.

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