Mike Kueber's Blog

November 7, 2016

78258 and walking the walk

Filed under: Aphorism,Issues,Philosophy,Politics,Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 5:15 am
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One day after yoga practice at Lifetime Fitness I was talking to a couple of progressives about diversity.  One was Anglo, the other Asian/Mexican.  As progressives, they were very proud of San Antonio’s diversity.  I mentioned to them that San Antonio may be diverse, but it was also one of the most socio-economically segregated cities in America.

Although my statement surprised them, they seemed to accept it, and we moved on.  But when I got home, I decided to confirm my accuracy.  A quick google search took me to the news item that I had based my statement on.  According to a March 2016 editorial in the San Antonio Express-News:

  • Overall, San Antonio is middle of the road for big cities when it comes to prosperity and distress. But where we stand out is in our segregation and inequality. We lead the nation when it comes to the extreme differences between our more prosperous neighborhoods and our most distressed neighborhoods. Put another way, our prosperity is not at all shared among the city’s residents. We are the least equal city in the country.
  • Case in point: ZIP code 78207, our poorest. The index highlights this ZIP code and compares it with 78258, on the North Side, and our most prosperous ZIP code. In 78207, nearly half of the adults don’t have a high school diploma. Nearly 60 percent of adults are not working. Unemployment is up. Income is far below the state’s median level. The poverty rate is stuck at 42 percent.
  • In 78258, only 2 percent of residents don’t have a high school diploma. Two-thirds of adults are working. Incomes are way above the state’s median income level. Employment is zooming. The poverty rate is 4 percent.  “These communities look like two different countries,” said Steve Glickman of the Economic Innovation Group.

I forwarded the editorial to my two friends and then pointed out the ultimate irony – they both lived in 78258.  So, although they advocate for diversity and integration, they live lives of homogeneity and segregation.  Sort of like public-school advocates who send their children to private schools.  Or carbon-fuel opponents who consume prodigious amounts of fuel.  And it’s not just progressives.  There are all sorts of conservatives who don’t walk the walk.

This reminds me of another yoga teaching about changing myself and that will change the world. Or as Gandhi said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world… As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

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April 4, 2015

Diversity in the Final Four

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Law/justice,Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:00 pm
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A couple of days ago, USA Today published an article captioned, “Wisconsin doesn’t hide from ‘white guys’ reputation.”  In the article, the writer attempted to explain why the Wisconsin basketball team has four white starters while the other three Final Four teams have none. The suggested explanations:

  1. The system
  2. The demographics of Wisconsin
  3. The university

Of these, only the first makes any sense. There are a plethora of examples that reveal that the composition of a nationally competitive sports team has minimal connection with the demographics of a state or the university.  But the system at Wisconsin is considered to be a slow-down game with a heavy emphasis on fundamentals, and white basketball players seems to be more successful is that system as opposed to up-tempo playground basketball.

Regardless of the reason Wisconsin has four white starters, I think it is just as interesting that the other three Final Four are non-diverse in the other direction – i.e., all black starters – and I made the following comment on my Facebook account:

  • According to USA Today, the starters on the basketball teams in tonight’s Final Four are among the least diverse in all of major-college basketball. Good thing for these teams that they were selected on the basis of merit instead of political correctness. Contrary to current propaganda, I suspect that diversity creates challenges that these teams have decided to avoid.

As part of the progressive propaganda, Americans are continually bombarded with messages explaining that diversity makes businesses and organizations more effective because of the varying viewpoints and perspectives. While there is something to be said for that position, I’ve always suspected that it was driven by political correctness instead of hard analysis of the countervailing friction that is caused by diversity.

Increasing diversity is inevitable and, therefore, something that we all need to learn to manage, but let’s not lie about it.

 

January 19, 2015

Ivy Taylor and the Oscars under attack

This past weekend, a progressive female Facebook friend posted an article on SA’s black mayor, Ivy Taylor, and blasted her with, “I really can’t stand her. At all.” The article was titled, “Mayor Taylor says political correctness is ‘frustrating.’”

You can imagine my surprise at my friend’s antipathy toward our mayor because I thought progressive females would be highly partial toward a female who was the city’s first black mayor. After reading the article, however, I understood her displeasure. Namely, Mayor Taylor, when serving on the City Council last year, had voted against a gay-rights ordinance, which was one of my friend’s pet issues. (Her kids’ father has become a woman, and she fully supports him.)

In the article, Mayor Taylor defended (inarticulately, according to the article) her opposition to the ordinance and talked of abhorring political correctness. I have often taken a similar position in this blog re: political correctness in a wide assortment of contexts, and I was thinking of collecting them for a single post, but as I was doing some research, I stumbled on a new example in the NY Times today.

The paper’s media critic, David Carr, complained in an article headlined, “Why the Oscars omission of ‘Selma’ matters.” I initially was confused by the headline because I thought Selma had been nominated, but as I read the article I learned that Carr was upset because, although Selma had been nominated, the lead actor and director hadn’t. Carr then proceeded to criticize these omissions, not based on their merits, but rather because:

  • But yes, it still matters. The news continues to be full of all manner of pathology and victimization involving black Americans, and when a moment comes to celebrate both a historical giant and a pure creative achievement, it merits significant and broad recognition.”

According to Carr, it wasn’t enough that a black film – Twelve Years a Slave – won Best Movie last year. Unless the Academy continues to recognize black films, it will appear that it is merely “ticking off boxes.” Under that rationale, America will need to follow up President Obama’s election with another black president just to show it wasn’t merely ticking off a box.

Carr’s comment that most agitated me was as follows:

  • And no club in the United States — over the last several years, the academy has been around 93 percent white, 76 percent male and an average of 63 years old — is in more need of new blood than Hollywood.”

That reminds me of the current efforts of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to force “diversity” into the Silicon Valley. According to them, the tech industry will be vastly improved if it had fewer whites and Asians, and more women, Hispanics, and African-Americans.

But when you consider which industries in America are vibrant world leaders, the first that come to mind are the movie industry and technology. I suggest that those are the last places we want to see increased progressive-government meddling.

September 8, 2014

More racism or more political correctness

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Law/justice,Media,Politics,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 3:06 am
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I know that I just complained in this blog about political correctness, but I can’t resist commenting on the latest outrage. Bruce Levenson has declared that he will sell his controlling interest in the Atlanta Hawks basketball team because of a self-described offensive email that he sent to his team executives a couple of years ago. Leading media outlets have variously described the email as racist, vile, and bigoted, but their reports failed to document precisely what the offensive language was. So I found a copy of the actual text, and concluded that Levenson’s email isn’t nearly as offensive as the political correctness in vilifying him.

Essentially, Levenson argued that the target demographic for Hawk season tickets is age 35-55 white males and that this demographic might prefer to see some white cheerleaders, some music that is not hip hop, and some post-game concerts that are not gospel or hip hop.

So that is racist?

NY Times columnist Bill Rhoden concedes that racism is a “sometimes imprecise” word, but that doesn’t stop him from concluding that Levenson was a racist:

  • Because the email was so open and earnest, it is likely that Levenson did not believe he was being racist, but simply addressing a problem that seemed obvious to him.

I wonder what Rhoden would think of a team owner who was concerned about the dearth of black people in its season-ticket base? Enlightened!

What if the owner suggested that the problem might be ameliorated by adding some black cheerleaders, maybe even some hip hop music?   Inclusive!

What if the owner desired a “critical mass” of black fans so that they didn’t feel uncomfortable or out of place in the arena? Far-sighted and shrewd!

Diversity cuts both ways, and when whites become minorities, as they already are in San Antonio, the politically correct will need to adjust their modus operandi.

 

 

January 27, 2014

Diversity in college football

Filed under: Culture,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 12:34 pm
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The term diversity has become a euphemism for racial balancing.  It is usually applied when minorities are underrepresented, and you will rarely see it discussed when minorities are overrepresented.  A recent example of this concerns college football.

According to the Rivals100 list published by Sports Illustrated, the top 100 football recruits this year consists of 85 African Americans, 14 Anglos, and one California kid (Viane Talamaivao) who is either Pacific Islander or Hispanic.   This contrasts with America’s population of 13% African-Americans, 63% Anglos, and 15% Hispanic, 5% Asian, and 0% Pacific Islander.

Nature vs. nurture?  That’s a subject for another day.

 

November 25, 2013

Diversity in Fort Bend, Texas

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 5:50 pm
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An article in the Texas Tribune reports that Fort Bend, Texas, the home of disgraced former conservative Congressman Tom Delay, has become famous as the most ethnically diverse county in America.    This assertion by a Rice professor is based on his definition of “most diverse” as the county that “comes closer than any other county in the United States to having an equal division among the nation’s four major ethnic communities — Asian, black, Latino and white residents.”

Fort Bend comprises 19% Asians, 24% Hispanics, 21% black, and 36% white, so it is not surprising that no other county is as close to 25% each.  But I have rarely seen “most diverse” defined in such a way.  Typically diversity is defined as the extent to which the composition of a subgroup reflects the composition of a larger group.  San Antonio recently addressed this issue in its SA2020 plan to diversity the composition of government boards.  Although the city didn’t initially define the term in the abstract, it was ultimately forced to establish numerical objectives and those objectives were for the composition of the boards to reflect the composition of the city, not to achieve 25%-25%-25%-25% split.

Based on this more practical definition of diversity – i.e., racial/ethnic balancing – Fort Bend is not ethnically diverse.  Rather, it is hugely over-represented by minorities, many of whom are new to America, and that goes a long way to explain why an observer in the Tribune article noted that the American melting pot no longer functions in Fort Bend, and it has been replaced by a multicultural community.

Let’s hope that is not the new America.

June 28, 2013

SA2020 and diversity

Filed under: Issues,Law/justice,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 8:51 pm
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In my blog entry earlier this week concerning affirmative action and diversity, I had planned to report on recent developments with SA2020 (its Civic Engagement component) in working toward more diversity on City of San Antonio boards and commissions.  But I got distracted, so I will correct that oversight today.

About a month ago, I posted that SA2020 had adopted an objective of increased diversity, but the Civic Engagement people had put off creating an objective until a baseline was determined.   In that posting, I speculated that the objective would be to have boards and commissions that “look like San Antonio” – i.e., racially and ethnically balanced.

Earlier this month, the Civic Engagement people confirmed my suspicion when they published a report that concluded there were not enough Hispanics and women on City of San Antonio boards.  The basis for this conclusion was that Anglos currently held 42.4% of all board positions even though they comprised only 26.6% of the city’s population.  Similarly, women held only 33.1% of all board positions even though they comprised 51.2% of the population.

The Civic Engagement people made no attempt to explain or understand this discrepancy, yet immediately jumped to the conclusion that it should and can be fixed by working toward “a significant change that more closely approximates the diversity of the city’s projected population in 2020.” 

Effecting a change in favor of more minorities and fewer Anglos on San Antonio boards shouldn’t be difficult considering that boards are appointed by our Hispanic mayor and a City Council that has six Hispanics, two Asians, one African-American, and only one Anglo.  But this objective became paradoxical and problematic this week when both liberal and conservative Supreme Court justices reaffirmed this week in an affirmative-action decision that racial balancing is illegal.

Incidentally, when the head of Civic Engagement, Molly Cox, first provided these numbers and goals to me, I told her that as a male Anglo, I would try to help out the city by not volunteering for any of its boards and commissions.

Funny how things work in a democracy.

 

Diversity of Boards – 2012

Anglo (42.4%)

African American (5.2%)

Hispanic (36.2%)

Other (3%)

Sex:

Male – 66.9%

Female – 33.1%.

 

Diversity of San Antonio – 2010   

Anglo (26.6%)

African American (6.9%)

Hispanic (63.2%)

Other (3.5%)

Sex:

Male-­‐ 48.8%

Female-­‐ 51.2%

June 25, 2013

Fisher v. Texas finally decided anticlimactically

The U.S. Supreme Court finally decided its affirmative-action case, Fisher v. University of Texas.  Unfortunately, they punted on the decision by instructing a lower court to reconsider its previous decision.  In this reconsideration, the lower court is supposed to hold the University to a much heavier burden for justifying race-influenced admissions.

Because of this holding, both sides can claim victory.  Liberals like the New York Times and the San Antonio Express-News editorial boards are thrilled (or relieved) that affirmative action has been allowed to live at least another day, while conservatives are encouraged that all future cases with be subjected to most difficult equal-protection analysis – i.e., strict scrutiny.

After reading an article in the SA Express-News (whose reporting is scarily similar to its editorial page), I submitted a comment suggesting that this legal issue is a sham because the liberals are pretending to pursue diversity while in reality they are pursuing racial balancing.  The sham is required because the Bakke decision by the Supreme Court in 1978 said that racial balancing was illegal but diversity was not.

Shortly after making the comment, another Express-News reader, Daniel Miller, suggested that I was mistaken.  He accused me of falsely charging the universities of seeking racial balance when, in fact, they were purely pursuing diversity.  He also accused me of failing to define racial balancing.

With this prompt from Miller, I googled the difference between racial balancing and diversity, and was taken to an interesting website that contained an excellent description of this issue.  The website contains several quotations from legal decisions relating to racial balancing:

  • Accepting racial balancing as a compelling state interest would justify the imposition of racial proportionality throughout American society, contrary to our repeated recognition that “[a]t the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class.” 
  • Allowing racial balancing as a compelling end in itself would “effectively assur[e] that race will always be relevant in American life, and that the ‘ultimate goal’ of ‘eliminating entirely from governmental decision-making such irrelevant factors as a human being’s race’ will never be achieved.”
  • An interest “linked to nothing other than proportional representation of various races … would support indefinite use of racial classifications, employed first to obtain the appropriate mixture of racial views and then to ensure that the [program] continues to reflect that mixture.

After responding to Miller’s comment, I decided to read the Fisher decision again, and while doing that, I noticed the concurring opinion of conservative Justice Thomas and the dissenting opinion from liberal Justice Ginsberg.  Justice Thomas described the stark difference between diversity and racial balancing:

  • Attaining diversity for its own sake is a nonstarter. As even Grutter recognized, the pursuit of diversity as an end is nothing more than impermissible “racial balancing.” (“The Law School’s interest is not simply ‘to assure within its student body some specified percentage of a particular group merely because of its race or ethnic origin.’ That would amount to outright racial balancing, which is patently unconstitutional.”  (“Preferring members of any one group for no reason other than race or ethnic origin is discrimination for its own sake. This the Constitution forbids”). Rather, diversity can only be the means by which the University obtains educational benefits; it cannot be an end pursued for its own sake. Therefore, the educational benefits allegedly produced by diversity must rise to the level of a compelling state interest in order for the program to survive strict scrutiny.

Justice Thomas also provided interesting information relating to the extent of racial discrimination at UT in admitting its class of 2009:

  • In the University’s entering class of 2009, for example, among the students admitted outside the Top Ten Percent plan, blacks scored at the 52d percentile of 2009 SAT takers nationwide, while Asians scored at the 93d percentile. Blacks had a mean GPA of 2.57 and a mean SAT score of 1524; Hispanics had a mean GPA of 2.83 and a mean SAT score of 1794; whites had a mean GPA of 3.04 and a mean SAT score of 1914; and Asians had a mean GPA of 3.07 and a mean SAT score of 1991.

Liberal Justice Ginsberg admitted that all of this talk about diversity was merely camouflage:

  • Petitioner urges that Texas’ Top Ten Percent Law and race-blind holistic review of each application achieve significant diversity, so the University must be content with those alternatives. I have said before and reiterate here that only an ostrich could regard the supposedly neutral alternatives as race unconscious.  As Justice Souter observed, the vaunted alternatives suffer from “the disadvantage of deliberate obfuscation.”  Texas’ percentage plan was adopted with racially segregated neighborhoods and schools front and center stage….  It is race consciousness, not blindness to race, that drives such plans.  (Footnote – The notion that Texas’ Top Ten Percent Law is race neutral calls to mind Professor Thomas Reed Powell’s famous statement: “If you think that you can think about a thing inextricably attached to something else without thinking of the thing which it is attached to, then you have a legal mind.” Only that kind of legal mind could conclude that an admissions plan specifically designed to produce racial diversity is not race conscious.)  As for holistic review, if universities cannot explicitly include race as a factor, many may “resort to camouflage” to “maintain their minority enrollment.”

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry about two dramatically different meanings of “diversity”:

  1. In the academic world, the concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.  It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.
  2. In the real world, however, people know that the term diversity was created to replace the politically-incorrect term affirmative action, which was created to replace the even more politically-incorrect terms of quotas and reverse discrimination.  In the real world, a person who refers to diversity is not talking about recognizing individuals as unique, but rather is talking about expanded  minority (and possibly gender) involvement.

In the post, I also criticized a local Hispanic leader, Lionel Sosa, who recently attempted to further obfuscate reverse discrimination by lobbying in favor of something he calls “inclusion.”  In a column in the Express-News, Sosa argued that Republicans must:

  • Add “inclusion” to our core principles. This means top-to-bottom inclusion utilizing all channels; party leaders, campaigns, candidates, think tanks, office holders, bloggers, strategists, talk show hosts, the media, the party faithful, political consultants, pollsters, faith community, etc.
  • Ban the word “outreach.” Outreach is tokenism. Inclusion means having talented Latinos present at every level.

Sosa’s “inclusion” seems very similar to quotas and racial balancing.  Coincidentally, an article on affirmative-action in the NY Times around that time included advocates using the term “inclusion,” while noting, “There is diversity fatigue. We could fall backwards very quickly.”   To its credit, the article described a widely-acknowledged side-effect of affirmative action:

  • A black associate at one Houston firm, who requested anonymity so as not to jeopardize his chances of making partner, used a familiar legal term to describe his unease at work, saying he sometimes felt there was a ‘rebuttable presumption’ that he was there to fill a quota and was not as qualified as white colleagues.

Obviously, this moral/political issue will be with us for many years to come.

May 23, 2013

What is diversity in San Antonio?

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Law/justice,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 1:04 pm
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Diversity is a term that is much bandied about today, with dramatically different meanings depending on whether you live in the academic world or the real world.  In the academic world, it is defined as follows:

  • The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.  It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.” 

In the real world, however, people know that the term diversity was created to replace the politically-incorrect term affirmative action, which was created to replace the even more politically-incorrect terms of quotas and reverse discrimination.  In the real world, a person who refers to diversity is not talking about recognizing individuals as unique, but rather is talking about expanded  minority (and possibly gender) involvement. 

I recently encountered the term diversity when I was studying SA2020, which is Mayor Castro’s 11-part vision for creating a better San Antonio.  The part in SA2020 that I was interested in – Civic Engagement – established two goals: (1) increase voter participation by 2% every two years from its baseline of 34% in 2010, and (2) increase the activity level and diversity level of city boards.  Unfortunately, the SA2020 goal for diversity is TBD – to be determined. 

This undetermined goal for San Antonio creates an interesting question.  San Antonio, according to the 2010 census, is 63% Hispanic, 27% Anglo, 7% African-American, and 3% Asian/Pacific.  So, in a city that is almost 75% minority – what is diversity?  Should an ideally diverse board or commission have percentages the same as SA’s population or should it have 25% for each of the four major groupings?  Or is there some other sort of objective? 

On one hand, most proponents of diversity, with their mindset mired in a world of quotas, probably crave percentages that mirror the population.  One of their favorite expressions is that every collection of representations needs to “look like” those they represent.  For these people, an ideal San Antonio commission or board would have six Hispanics, three Anglos, and one African-Asian American.

On the other hand, one of my campaign opponents, Ron Nirenberg, delighted in telling candidate forums that District 8 was the most diverse in town, with 43% Hispanic, 42% Anglo, 8% African-American, and 5% Asian/Pacific.  Because our district is significantly under-represented in Hispanics compared to the rest of SA, he seems to be taking the position that the ideal diversity would be 25% of each.    

Implicit, perhaps, in all of these formulations, is the consensus that there are too many Anglos in positions of power, but that is certainly false with respect to the City Council.  There are currently eleven politicians on the Council, with eight Hispanics, two Anglos, one African-American, and 1 Asian.  Thus, every ethnic group is over-represented except for the Anglos, and depending on the results of the District 8 runoff, there will be one more Hispanic or Asian, and certainly one less Anglo. 

The City Council’s minority-dominated composition explains why SA2020’s quest for diversity is limited to boards and commissions and fails to mention the most powerful political body in town, the City Council.  Although these facts reveal a blatant inconsistency, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”        

Incidentally, the minority-dominated City Council recently initiated a program to give scoring preferences to minorities bidding on city contracts.  According to the Council’s rationale, too many contracts were going to Anglos and not enough to minorities.  And if the scoring preferences didn’t sufficiently “move the needle,” the next step was going to be quotas.

What world are these people living in?  They are living in a world where quotas and affirmative action were honorable objectives smeared by hegemonic Anglos.         

After several phone calls and emails to the SA2020 bureaucracy about their TBD goals on diversity, I was informed by an email from the Chief of Engagement:

  • In response to the above question, I just wanted to let you know that we were, in fact, able to baseline the information. We will be releasing a complete data report on June 4 and are currently finalizing all indicators.”

I can’t wait.

May 9, 2013

More good news on socio-economic mobility

The United States Supreme Court will be soon handing down a decision that is likely to significantly limit the use of race-based affirmative action in college admissions.  As with most Supreme Court decisions nowadays, the decision will follow a public-policy trend (gun rights) instead of blazing a trail (e.g., legalizing abortion or requiring the schooling of illegal immigrants).  In fact, the voters several large states – FL, MI, WA, and CA – declined to wait for the Supreme Court and have already forbidden race-based affirmative action. 

Not surprisingly, the “progressive” City of San Antonio seems to be still living in the past because its City Council recently rescinded its policy requiring that contracts be issued in a race-neutral manner and instead established a process for preferences to be awarded to racial minorities.  Such minority preferences are hard to rationalize, but easy to understand, when you consider that minorities comprise nine of the eleven spots on the San Antonio City Council.

As I’ve previously blogged, some colleges are beginning to look for something to replace their apparently doomed affirmative-action programs, and an article in the New York Times yesterday described a promising two-pronged approach being used in California: 

  1. Giving applicants a leg up for overcoming disadvantages like poverty, language barriers, low-performing schools and troubled neighborhoods.
  2. Disadvantaged students in poor neighborhoods are benefiting from the state university systems’ growing efforts to cultivate applicants starting in middle school.

The article concludes with the following summary:

  • It is not enough, university administrators say, to change the way they select students; they must also change the students themselves, and begin to do so long before the time arrives to fill out applications.”

These concepts applying affirmative action make perfect sense, but the trick will be the execution.  Good luck.

 

 

 

 

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