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Florida Lawmaker Opposes AR-15 Ban But Says He Supports Parkland Students By Wearing A Ribbon

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 22:00

Republican Florida state Rep. Matt Caldwell insisted on Wednesday that he supported the students who survived the mass shooting in Parkland even though he opposes banning military-style assault weapons and has called to end gun-free school zones.

CNN host John Berman asked Caldwell in an interview on Wednesday why Republicans voted down a proposed ban on the type of gun used to kill 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Caldwell claimed that the bill was rejected because it was a "ban on all guns," not just AR-15s and other weapons with high-capacity magazines.

"We need to be focused on real solutions," Caldwell opined. "These maniacs that attack our schools, they're essentially lone wolf terrorists. And we have to have strategies to focus on that. You've got a great example here of where the FBI had been reported to, the school had been reported to, the local law enforcement had been reported to. They did not communicate effectively. They did not understand that this guy was a real threat."

According to the Florida Republican, lawmakers need to "focus on that side of the equation" instead of passing gun safety laws.

"We need to respond with tools that are going to make a difference," he remarked. "We know for a fact that these schools get targeted because they're gun-free zones. Ninety-five percent plus attacks happen in gun-free zones."

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Categories: Politics

Former Google Employee Files Lawsuit Alleging the Company Fired Him Over Pro-Diversity Posts

Slashdot - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:30
According to court documents filed today, a former Google engineer is suing the company for discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination. "Tim Chevalier, a software developer and former site-reliability engineer at Google, claims that Google fired him when he responded with internal posts and memes to racist and sexist encounters within the company and the general response to the now-infamous James Damore memo," reports The Verge. From the report: Chevalier said in a statement to The Verge, "It is a cruel irony that Google attempted to justify firing me by claiming that my social networking posts showed bias against my harassers." Chevalier, who is also disabled and transgender, alleges that his internal posts that defended women of color and marginalized people led directly to his termination in November 2017. He had worked at Google for a little under two years. Notably, Chevalier's posts had been quoted in Damore's lawsuit against Google -- in which Damore sued the company for discrimination against conservative white men -- as evidence Google permitted liberals to speak out at the company unpunished. Chevalier's lawsuit alleges that his firing is, in fact, a form of punishment. The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco County Superior Court and Chevalier is seeking damages for lost wages, emotional distress, punitive damages, and injunctive relief against those alleged harmful acts. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Categories: Misc

The Right To Teach And Bear Arms

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:28

Earlier today the President, while meeting with the survivors and surviving family members of school shootings, suggested that the solution was to arm the teachers.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that having more people armed at schools could prevent future mass shootings.

“I think it could very well solve your problem,” he said.

After hearing the devastating stories from parents and young people affected by gun massacres at schools, Trump pointed to the example of Stoneman Douglas football coach Aaron Feis, who was reportedly killed by the alleged gunman last week after Feis threw himself in front of students to protect them from the gunfire.

“If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives I suspect — but if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot and that would have been the end of it,” Trump said.

“Gun-free zone, to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us,” Trump said, wondering aloud about arming “20 percent of your teaching force.”

“You can’t have 100 security guards in Stoneman Douglas, that’s a big school,” he said. “It’s a massive school with a lot of acreage to cover, a lot of floor area, so that would be certainly a situation that is being discussed a lot by a lot of people.”

“You’d have a lot of people that’d be armed, that’d be ready, they are professionals, they may be Marines that left the Marines, left the Army, left the Air Force, and they are very adept at doing that. You’d have a lot of them and they would be spread evenly through the school.”

The President said he believed “that if these cowards knew that the school was well-guarded from the standpoint of having pretty much professionals with great training, I think they wouldn’t go into the school to start off with.”

“I think it could very well solve your problem,” he said.

“So we’ll be doing the background checks, we’ll be doing a lot of different things, but we’ll certainly be looking at ideas like that.”

Given how the President positioned himself during his campaign regarding guns and the 2nd Amendment, that he received the earliest endorsement and largest amount of monetary support from the NRA, and his previous statements about armed self defense, this is not particularly surprising. Especially because it is an article of faith amongst the 2nd Amendment absolutist community that arming teachers in specific, and doing away with gun free zones, such as schools, in general, would significantly decrease violence and crime in the US.

Someone even took this picture from Israel and turned it into a factually inaccurate meme to support this argument.

The “RIP Children of Newtown” on the bottom is a nice touch. You can’t find bespoke smarm like that just anywhere.

There’s one problem with holding Israel out as an example of how to protect American students and schools: school teachers ARE NOT armed in Israeli schools! Except, perhaps, in some of the West Bank* settlements. And the picture in this meme isn’t of an Israeli school or an Israeli school teacher. Rather it is of a group of Israelis students on a field trip in Acre (aka Akko), Israel. And the woman fiddling with her purse strap with the rifle slung over her back is a paid security guard, not a teacher. They are required for all field trips and school outings in Israel.

Here are the details about the picture:

There is a picture going around the Internet that I have seen about a dozen times today that claims that Israeli teachers are packing heat. Well, are they? The answer is “NO.” There may be some exceptions in dangerous areas like the West Bank (where five percent of Israelis live), but in general, Israeli teachers are not walking around like it’s the Wild Wild West, strapped with a six shooter. No, our teachers are not focused on shooting, but educating. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t protect young students.

In the picture, the students are on an outing. While it appears that the teacher is holding a rifle, I have never seen such a thing in ten years of living here. Rest assured however, they are under armed protection. In most cases it is an armed guard or a soldier that will accompany a class, not the teacher. And my guess is that the woman with the gun is a security guard, not a teacher.

Secondly, they are not armed in the classroom. Is that really the image you want to imprint on the minds of six-year-olds? (That would be Hamas) On the other hand. I have never seen a school in Israel that was not fenced in. You must go through a locked gate that is guarded by an armed shomer, a security guard. He or she, on the other hand, is not concerned with educating, but protecting. He or she will ask you why you are there? “What is your child’s name?” “Show me your I.D. card.” And he or she would not let you bring a weapon inside.

These types of massacres don’t seem to happen here for other reasons as well. Despite the stereotype of Israel being a violent nation, it is a million times (slight exaggeration) easier to get a weapon in the US than it is in Israel. Gun Control laws are very strict here.

Israel’s approach to school security is not what the armed intelligentsia thinks it is (emphasis mine).

As we travelled the streets of Tel-Aviv, my mind turned to stories I’d heard of how there are soldiers securing every school and school bus in Israel. I quickly learned after observing a school from the street and making inquiries of our police escort that this was not the case. It is correct that they do indeed have armed security in every school and that an officer is very visible. All the security officers working in the schools are under the guidance of the Israel police, and the standards are high. Unannounced drills are frequent to test operational readiness.

Regarding school buses, there is no such thing in Israel. Any child not walking or being taken to school rides on public transportation. Now, very often there is an armed IDF soldier on the bus, yet this is happenstance and not by design. When there is a heavily attended school field trip, contracted IDF soldiers, police or armed security officers provide the escort for the group.

The Israel schools have assessed the threats and acted accordingly to address them. They have heavy fencing around them to prevent suicide bombers from entering their grounds and buildings, and fences are erected high enough so that anyone trying to lob some explosive device over the top would have a hard time accomplishing the act.

The Israeli “SRO” does not handle law enforcement functions as do many of us within our country. Their function is solely a preventive counter-terror measure to deter, engage if necessary and neutralize a threat.

By all accounts that I received, issues with Israeli school children committing acts that are considered crimes are very rare. Even when this does occur, these events are handled by the school’s headmaster. This is a considerable difference between our style and theirs because as much as we don’t enjoy saying it, American kids can and do commit criminal acts on campus that are sometimes horrendous. This is an unfortunate fact that we face daily as campus police or armed security in our schools. This is life in the United States.

Israel’s example has very little to tell anyone in the US about the 2nd Amendment or how we should understand the enumerated rights within it in a 21st Century context, much less the original late 18th Century one. In order to own a firearm in Israel one must be licensed and there is a strict limit on the amount of ammunition one can own. Quite simply, there is no enumerated right to a firearm, let alone to keep and bear arms in the Israeli Basic Laws (the Israeli constitution). This isn’t a knock on Israel, they just have a different approach so comparisons aren’t going to be particularly helpful.

In fact the Israeli firearm ownership reality is very different from that in the US.

Two types of people have guns in Israel: Soldiers and those with licensesMentally unstable people don’t have guns—and thus, don’t shoot people. And it is not as easy to steal a gun as it is in the US. When you are drafted you go through mental tests to see if there are any red flags. If so, you will be discharged or placed in an area where you would never see a rifle.

Only those with the rank of Captain or Lieutenant Colonel for at least two years can qualify to own a gun after the army. And those who do have guns are taught to guard them carefully. For soldiers who take their weapons home, it must be on their persons at all times or under lock and key.

Losing a weapon will get you a jail sentence, as my wife’s childhood friend, Moti, found out two decades ago. He left his gun in his car because he was just running into a mini-mart. He came back and the gun was gone. He spent six months in jail and God only knows where that gun ended up.

Hunting is not popular in Israel, so it would be rare to see someone with five or six hunting rifles and therefore, neither would their son, who spends ten hours a day playing mortal combat, have access to them.

Assault rifles are banned in Israel, except in areas where there is a security risk such as the West Bank.

Glynn County School District Chief of Police Rod Ellis provides support for this recounting of the facts about Israel and firearms.

There are a lot of ideas in the United States of what Israel is like. For example, I’d always heard that Israel is an armed society, and virtually everyone routinely carries a weapon. I learned quickly from one of our guides that although the private ownership of firearms in Israel is not forbidden, those not employed in public safety, security or in the military must show a legitimate need to possess a firearm and must have a permit. Examples include being a civilian, yet being a target of a specific credible threat, such as a retired member of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) or police officer, or a person serving as a reservist. With 20% of Israel’s budget going to defense and security, and 80% of the nation’s defense force being reservists, one can comfortably calculate that a significant portion of the public owns a firearm but don’t routinely carry one.

As I wrote way back in 2015, there is almost nothing any other society can teach the US about the 2nd Amendment, what it means, or how we should do about it. Not 1930s and 1940s Germany, not Israel in 2018. And not any other state and society in between. While Mexico and Guatemala also include a right to keep and bear arms in their constitutions, both of these states interpret and apply this enumerated right very differently than in the US. As a result the US is really the only state with an enumerated right pertaining to keeping and bearing arms in the national foundational law that also officially interprets that right broadly. In this the US is quite unique, exceptional if you will, in that it is the exception, and as such it is very, very difficult to draw effective comparisons from how any other state and society approaches these issues. There are, however, plenty of contrasts that could be made.

Finally, the President’s instructions to the DOJ to develop a regulation that bans bump stocks is most likely dead on arrival. The reason for this is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) has repeatedly stated that they do not believe they have the authority under existing laws pertaining to firearms to impose such a restriction.

The head of the federal agency tasked with regulating firearms said Wednesday it does not have direct authority to regulate or ban bump stocks ― devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to function like machine guns ― but is looking into whether can reclassify them as firearms to regulate them under existing law.

The review is likely to take months, however, and it’s unclear whether the agency can impose restrictions on firearm accessories without aid from Congress.

“If that wasn’t a possibility, in the end, we wouldn’t initiate the process,” ATF Acting Director Thomas Brandon told lawmakers at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.

But Brandon conceded it was equally possible for the agency to complete its monthslong review, which includes a 30-day public comment period, and come to the conclusion that it cannot regulate the devices without an update in federal law. The admission prompted one Republican senator to suggest a legislative solution instead.

Stay frosty!

Open thread!

* Tour groups that go to the West Bank are required to have an armed security guard with them, as well as a properly trained and certified medic. Often they are the same person.

Upadated at 8:35 PM EST:

There is a President Trump tweet for everything!

Categories: Politics

Staff to Trump: Say “I Hear You” Occasionally

Kevin Drum - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:26

Behold the president of the United States, at an Oval Office meeting with students and parents from Parkland, Florida. His staff had to remind him that every once in a while he should pretend to be paying attention to the grieving families he was meeting with.

Associated Press
Categories: Politics

Apple files for updated Apple TV trademark potentially hinting at more advanced gaming capabilities

9to5Mac - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:24

Apple has apparently updated its Apple TV trademark with new conditions related to gaming. Patently Apple reports today that the company filed an updated trademark last Friday to cover gaming use cases, a move that the site calls “a significant update that has to be taken seriously.”

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Categories: Misc

Donald Trump Thanks Fox & Friends For Deceitfully Presenting Him As Anti-Russian Activist During 2016 Election

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:00
Donald Trump Thanks Fox & Friends For Deceitfully Presenting Him As Anti-Russian Activist During 2016 Election

The only thing worse than the passel of lies spewed by Fox & Friends as they blamed President Barack Obama and glorified Donald Trump over Russia’s meddling in our 2016 election was Trump’s unscrupulous appreciation.

The Curvy Couch opened their show by falsely suggesting that Trump’s claims about the 2016 election being rigged indicated he was worried about Russian meddling - and that Obama’s refutation indicated he was negligent.

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Categories: Politics

Fuck you

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 20:54

Claudia Tenney (R-NY) is a worthless piece of shit:

“It’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats, but the media doesn’t talk about that either.”

The Parkland shooter was photographed taped doing target practice in a MAGA cap, by the way.

Lets send Claudia Tenney packing in November. Donate here to the eventual Democratic nominee in her district (NY-22):

Goal Thermometer

Categories: Politics

Kids these days

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 20:51


The kids will be alright.

———————————————————————

My first presidential vote was for Al Gore.

My first presidential donation was for Howard Dean.

My first presidential win was for Obama.

I’ve been pretty happy with my choices and my votes.  And the losses have been clusterfucks.

I don’t think that I am too unusual for the people of my generation and the generation that is younger than me.

 

Everyone my age and younger has seen Republican presidents lead us into dumb wars, insult, bully and harass our friends and family members  of color and/or non-hetero-cis gender identity and loot our futures while exacerbating large, long term climate problems.  We’ve seen that.  We’ve also seen the opposite.

Kids who are entering high school will have their political memories formed by the contrast of Trump and Obama.  Just think about that for a while.

The kids are all right; it is our job as old and not so old fogies to give them the time and space to grow.

Categories: Politics

Scientists Discover a New Way To Use DNA As a Storage Device

Slashdot - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 20:50
Mark Wilson shares a report from BetaNews: Researchers from the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in Ireland have developed a way to use bacteria to archive up to up to one zettabyte in one gram of DNA. The technique uses double-strained DNA molecules called plasmids to encode data which is stored in the Novablue strain of the E Coli bacteria. The Novablue bacteria has a fixed location, making it viable for storage, and the data can be transferred by releasing a mobile HB101 strain of E Coli which uses a process called conjugation to extract the data. The antibiotics tetracycline and streptomycin are used to control this process. The method is currently not only expensive, but also slow. Data retrieval takes up to three days at the moment, but researchers believe it should be possible to dramatically speed up this process. Equipment already exists that can be used to write to DNA in seconds. Stability and security are also an issue right now, but it is very early days for the technique, and these current downsides are not viewed as being significant enough to write it off. Potential uses for this method of data storage that have been suggested include the recording of medical records in human DNA, and increasing the traceability of the food chain.

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Categories: Misc

AGR Manet is DOWN, 1519258986

AGR Manet - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 20:33
Categories: Misc

Game Industry Pushes Back Against Efforts To Restore Gameplay Servers

Slashdot - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 20:10
Kyle Orland reports via Ars Technica: A group of video game preservationists wants the legal right to replicate "abandoned" servers in order to re-enable defunct online multiplayer gameplay for study. The game industry says those efforts would hurt their business, allow the theft of their copyrighted content, and essentially let researchers "blur the line between preservation and play." Both sides are arguing their case to the U.S. Copyright Office right now, submitting lengthy comments on the subject as part of the Copyright Register's triennial review of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Analyzing the arguments on both sides shows how passionate both industry and academia are about the issue, and how mistrust and misunderstanding seem to have infected the debate.

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Categories: Misc

Lonesome, Ornery, and Mean

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:34

When I feed Steve, he eats on an elevated platform in the bathroom off the kitchen with the door closed, since if he does not, Thurston will come in, interrupt him, and eat his food. This morning, he started his shit at like 5:30 am, and I completely forgot about him so he was locked in the bathroom until about 11 am this morning. This is how I found him:

I’m down in Morgantown for the night since I have my ultrasound procedure tomorrow morning, and even though I could have it done closer to me, but I would rather do it in network blah blah blah this is not going to become a David Anderson post because I don’t know wtf I am talking about. At any rate, I am not allowed to eat, drink, or so much as chew gum before the procedure, so I decided to stay at Tammy and Brian’s so I don’t have to drive while miserable and uncaffeinated in the morning.

We’re making a bid dinner (chicken cutlets with a jaeger sauce, cauliflower and mushroom risotto, and while it doesn’t really go with it, I was craving it, so a heart of palm salad with avocado, feta, tomaotes, etc.

I hope we remember to take pictures this time.

Categories: Politics

Don’t Worry, Social Media Will Get Better

Kevin Drum - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:33

This is from Chris Hayes last night:

It’s funny. Generally speaking, I’m not a cheerful, optimistic guy. And yet, I feel much more sanguine about social media than most of the folks I read on—well, on social media.

There are several reasons for this. For one thing, I’m not convinced that social media has changed people or that it “says something” about contemporary society. I think there have always been lots of assholes out there, and all social media does is congregate them in a single place. Second, the media wildly overcovers Twitter and Facebook because reporters (and famous people in general) tend to be on Twitter and Facebook themselves. Reddit is far more of a cesspool than Twitter will ever be, but you only rarely hear of it. Why? Because most reporters never read it. Third, as I’ve mentioned before, we humans are bad at arithmetic. The emotional impact of a thousand trolls haranguing you is way out of proportion to how much you should care about 0.0001 percent of the population hating on you.

I figure we’ll all adapt to this stuff eventually. The media will get bored with social media and the rest of us will figure out that tidal waves of assholes aren’t really all that meaningful.

But there’s one other thing that keeps me hopeful. I think of social media in its current incarnation as similar to war: a war between trolls and the rest of us. The trolls are on offense, and right now they have the upper hand. But military technology usually follows cycles like this. Offensive capabilities improve, and defenses only catch up later. Likewise, we’re only now starting to get serious about defending ourselves against trolls. But we’ll figure it out, and social media will be safe again. Then we’ll go through the same cycle again with something else.

I think we’re at the nadir of social media right now. A decade ago it was new enough that usage was low and trolls weren’t a big problem. A decade in the future we’ll figure out how to bottle up the trolls. Right now, though, we’re kind of screwed. But it won’t last.

Categories: Politics

Apple In Talks To Buy Cobalt Directly From Miners

Slashdot - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple Inc. is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter, seeking to ensure it will have enough of the key battery ingredient amid industry fears of a shortage driven by the electric vehicle boom. The iPhone maker is one of the world's largest end users of cobalt for the batteries in its gadgets, but until now it has left the business of buying the metal to the companies that make its batteries. The talks show that the tech giant is keen to ensure that cobalt supplies for its iPhone and iPad batteries are sufficient, with the rapid growth in battery demand for electric vehicles threatening to create a shortage of the raw material. About a quarter of global cobalt production is used in smartphones. Apple is seeking contracts to secure several thousand metric tons of cobalt a year for five years or longer. Its first discussions on cobalt deals with miners were more than a year ago, and it may end up deciding not to go ahead with any deal, another person said.

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Categories: Misc

Snapchat officially responds to anti-redesign petition with over 1M signatures

9to5Mac - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:17

Snapchat today officially responded to a Change.org petition that has accumulated nearly 1.5 million signatures and asks the company revert to the old design of the application. Snapchat’s response to the petition acknowledges upcoming changes that it hopes will make the design more user-friendly, while also defending some of the controversial changes…

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Categories: Misc

The best rugged cases for iPhone X

iDownloadBlog - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:07

best rugged cases for iPhone

Although Apple has taken some major steps to make the iPhone X durable, it’s still a $1,000 smartphone that’s mostly all screen. With this in mind, you may want to consider protecting the device with a case.

Now, there are a ton of different cases out there that cater to different needs, but for this particular roundup we are going to be looking at thicker, tougher cases, meant to protect your device from harsh conditions.

Here are the best rugged cases for iPhone X.

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Categories: Misc

100-Page Report Warns of the Many Dangers of AI

Slashdot - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 18:50
dmoberhaus writes: Last year, 26 top AI researchers from around the globe convened in Oxford to discuss the biggest threats posed by artificial intelligence. The result of this two day conference was published today as a 100-page report. The report details three main areas where AI poses a threat: political, physical systems, and cybersecurity. It discusses the specifics of these threats, which range from political strife caused by fake AI-generated videos to catastrophic failure of smart homes and autonomous vehicles, as well as intentional threats, such as autonomous weapons. Although the researchers offer only general guidance for how to deal with these threats, they do offer a path forward for policy makers.

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Categories: Misc

20180213

Baker-Watts - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 18:33
Categories: Misc

AGR Manet is DOWN, 1519251786

AGR Manet - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 18:33
Categories: Misc

Matt Schlapp Defends Le Pen Speech At CPAC: 'Voice That Resembles A Lot Of Conservative Voices Here'

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 18:13

Matt Schlapp, one of our favorite Trump apologists and American Conservative Union president is out on the media circuit today defending the speakers selected for CPAC.

After lying to Dana Perino about Dinesh D'Souza: "He was never gonna be part of the program," in spite of the fact that he was indeed listed on the speakers list until yesterday when he decided to trash the young victims of the Parkland mass shooting, they moved to a discussion of radical French nativist and politician Marion LePen, who will also be speaking at CPAC.

Schlapp defended Le Pen, explaining that just because her grandfather had abhorrent positions doesn't mean she does. Except she does, as he goes on to explain after touting her as a "new voice in France." (She is actually an echo of a very old voice)

"She's a voice that resembles a lot of conservative voices here," Schlapp explained.

"She's for traditional marriage. She's pro-life. She doesn't believe that the welfare state solves problems," he continued. "And yes, she wants to make sure when people come immigrate into France, that they want to be French and they want to love the country."

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Categories: Politics