Category archives: Other Issues

Missing Bill Bass

by Robert Morrison

April 24, 2014

What? Too many blacks in Annapolis High School?” That was the sharp comment I received in one of my first meetings with Bill Bass. I was being introduced as the new fellow in our Men’s Bible Study. Asked where my kids were going to school, I answered Annapolis Area Christian School. I was completely unprepared for such a kick in the solar plexus. In a Bible Study? Was this freshman hazing?

No, I was quickly assured. That was Bill’s style. He was then in his early 80s. Brilliant, fearless and blunt, he said what he thought and did not care who liked it. I was so taken aback I never had the chance, or the quickness of mind, to give a proper answer. I might have retorted: “Well, Bill, since my children attended our Lutheran elementary school, where 85% of the students are black, I guess I just got out of the habit of counting by race.” Or, I might have added that one of the few black students in my son’s class at AACS had saved his life.

Bill was a proud Texas liberal. He had been a top Navy and civilian aide to the legendary Vice Admiral Hyman Rickover. “The Admiral,” as Bill always referred to him, was the Father of the Nuclear Navy. And Bill was his right hand man for decades. Strong and brave men would get a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs when they received a pink telephone message: “Call Bill Bass.” And these were submariners.

Over the years in that Bible Study, it became clear that Bill Bass could take it as well as dish it out. He regaled us with many a story of “the Admiral.” When Bill Bass turned fifty, the Admiral took note. No touchy feely session, though. “So, Bass. You’re now fifty years old. I guess this is as good as you’re gonna get.” Another time, the Admiral admonished Bill. “Bass, you don’t have to make all the mistakes yourself. You could learn from other people’s mistakes, you know.” This was clearly before they invented self-esteem.

I recall a Saturday session of our group in 2005. Bill Bass was describing how he served on the great WWII battleship USS Missouri when she was grounded in Chesapeake Bay in 1950. Bill was a junior engineering officer at the time of that most embarrassing incident. Missouri’s Harry Truman was sitting in the White House then. And Harry’s daughter Margaret had christened this mighty warship. To run aground in home waters was a major blunder for the ship’s skipper and her crew. Nonetheless, Bill related every ingenious maneuver required to free the grounded battlewagon. In minute detail, for twenty-seven minutes, he kept us spellbound with an exact rendering of kedging, and of the pumping action that sloshed bilge water back and forth from port to starboard to rock the great ship free.

When he finished, we all applauded his total recall. And then we used his story as a text for not growing weary in doing good. (Our Bible Study gets a bit distracted at times.)

I generally try to keep my work week out of the Bible Study. Because Family Research Council believes that everyone deserves a birth day, that brides should marry grooms, and that this is one Nation under God, some people find us controversial. But there was one Saturday when I was asked to report on my travels on the FRC/Heritage Foundation Values Bus. I spoke of our defense of marriage. I quoted Dr. Patrick Fagan’s famous study of child poverty. Pat and his colleagues at Heritage Foundation, where he worked before coming to FRC, virtually married by computer modeling the parents of the four million American children living in poverty. Pat and his colleagues found that if those parents were married, only 750,000 of those unfortunate kids would still be living in poverty.

I thought that was pretty persuasive evidence of the power of marriage to lift young lives out of poverty. Most of my Bible Study friends agreed. Not Bill Bass. He piped up: If their parents had access to free and legal abortion, none of them would be living in poverty. I confess I was struck dumb. I had not expected such a Herodian viewpoint in our Christian Bible Study.

Bill Bass was as liberal in his theology as in his politics. He was forever saying we cannot take the Gospels literally. After all, they were written by fallible men some fifty or sixty years after the events they purport to chronicle.

Only years later did this rejoinder occur to me: Bill Bass — you related the entire story of the grounding of the USS Missouri fifty-five years after the event. You missed no significant detail. And “Big Mo” never ascended from that sand bar into Heaven!

I admit I was shocked by Bill’s recent death, just short of his ninetieth birthday. He seemed so alive, so strong-willed. When we visited him in the hospital, we asked him how the food was. “Lousy,” he roared! And then he proceeded to tick off every item he’d ordered for breakfast and how they gave him nothing he wanted.

Whenever he uttered some truly outrageous comment, I would remind myself of his service to God and country. For fifty years, we were all kept safe by our nuclear submarine force. Because of Admiral Rickover’s driving genius, and Bill Bass’s indispensable help, the rulers of an Evil Empire always knew they could not strike us with nuclear weapons without being wiped out themselves. They were deterred. Rickover and Bass were our shield and buckler.

In the end, the only thing Bill Bass and I agreed about was Jesus. That is enough. And I do miss Bill.

Mozilla is Watching

by Travis Weber

April 4, 2014

You’d think there was rumor of treason and conspiracy when it was recently “uncovered” that Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich had donated some money to the 2008 Prop 8 campaign run in California in support of natural marriage. You’d think Mr. Eich had just been convicted of a felony when he was then subjected to protests on Twitter as employees demanded he step down for committing this crime … the “crime” of thinking differently. Three Mozilla board members quit in protest. Even dating site OKCupid was so put off by this offense against democracy that it could not resist interjecting itself from outside the situation and spending its corporate capital discouraging users attempting to access its site through Firefox, claiming: “Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.” Aside from the malice of such a response, it embodies Soviet-era government monitoring more than an America founded with civil liberties at its core. Ultimately, Mr. Eich “chose” to resign. All these parties should be ashamed of their role in a democracy valuing civil liberties such as free speech and freedom of expression. Educating Americans on the importance of free speech should not be necessary in 2014, yet it somehow seems to be.

Thankfully, there are still those, who, regardless of political views, recognize the value of free speech, free thought, and free debate in a free society. Thankfully, even folks who disagree with Mr. Eich’s position on this issue recognize the importance of protecting freedom of speech and expression for all, regardless of viewpoint. Andrew Sullivan, a gay writer and same-sex marriage supporter, writes: “The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society.” Business Insider’s Jim Edward says: “At the heart of the move is a fundamental contradiction: Eich’s foes disapproved of Eich’s intolerance for LGBT people. But in the end they could not tolerate Eich’s opinions, which for years he kept private and, by all accounts, did not bring into the workplace. The “tolerant” were not tolerant enough of a man they considered intolerant, even though he had tolerated them for about 15 years, in other words.”

Mozilla seems downright confused about these concepts of free speech rights and equality: in an online posting, the company writes: “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech.” Except when that speech takes a certain view. “Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality.” But you can’t have free speech when you censor certain views. “Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness.” Except, it would seem, when employees hold a certain view. “We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.” Actually, it would appear Mozilla does not. “We have employees with a wide diversity of views.” Yet soon, if its practices of firing those who disagree continue, Mozilla will not. “[O]our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that’s what it means to protect the open Web.” And so, by its own words and actions, Mozilla supports an open web but not an open workplace.

It is sad that employees of such an innovative company, who are doubtless intelligent, are so incapable of grasping such basis concepts of civil liberties and free speech. Ironically, despite the finger pointing at “anti-gay moralizers,” supporters of hounding those of opposing views out of their positions are making a statement about their “moral superiority” in doing so. It’s one thing to critique the merits of someone’s view. It’s another to critique the fact that they have that view, and punish them for having it. The former is American. The latter is Orwellian.

Charles Lane’s Canadian Shocker

by Robert Morrison

August 21, 2013

I confess that Charles Lane, an editorialist with the Washington Post, is one of my favorite liberals. He touched my heart last year when he came to Rick Santorum’s defense. Much of the leftwing blogosphere erupted in hoots and catcalls on learning that Rick Santorum and his wife had brought home the body of their stillborn child so that his brothers and sisters could say goodbye.

They all thought Santorum was a nutcase, a wingnut, for that act of tenderness. No, wrote Charles Lane. And he penned a column about the death of his own beloved son and wrote that he wished he had let his other children say goodbye. I have rarely been so touched. When I think of Lincoln’s beautiful phrase—the better angels of our nature—I think of Charles Lane’s noble defense of Rick Santorum.

Even so, Charles Lane is a liberal and he does have the capacity to shock me. He was on the panel of Bret Baier’s Special Report on FOX News. Responding to the news that Sen. Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, but that his mother was an American citizen, Lane agreed with Charles Krauthammer that Cruz was eligible to run for President of the U.S. But then he added this stunning statement: What difference would it make if a president did have dual citizenship?

Granted, we are talking about Canada, here. Not Saudi Arabia or China. Canada is our loyal friend. When all domestic flights were grounded on that terrible September 11th, the Canadians welcomed thousands of stranded American air passengers into their homes. Moviegoers probably now know the story of the brave Canadian ambassador to Iran who, in 1979, helped a half dozen Americans escape that deranged country.

But, still. Canada is a foreign country with a rich and varied history. It is not our history. In truth, much of Canadian history was made in opposition to the United States. Start with the 25,000 Tories who fled America in the Revolution and went to Canada to maintain their allegiance to the Crown. We are observing the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Canadians are celebrating their many land victories over the invading Yankees.

On a recent vacation to Niagara-on-the-Lake, my wife and I visited the home of Laura Secord. She is Canada’s heroine of that war. Hearing American soldiers in her front yard discussing plans to attack Fort George, this brave mother of six left her injured husband’s bedside and walked thirty-seven miles through a dark, snake-infested swamp to warn the British defenders of Canada. She is rightly regarded as their “Paul Revere.” Still, when my wife and I were invited to join the museum’s support group, Friends of Laura Secord, we demurred. “I have to say, we honor her courage, but we were on the American side of that fight.

Canada’s very unity, the Confederation of her provinces in 1867, was sparked by fears that the victorious Union in the American Civil War would take vengeance on British North America (as Canada was then known) for the role Britain played in helping the Southern rebels during the war.

Charles Lane doesn’t think it would matter that a U.S. President had dual citizenship. But Canada is still a monarchy. The Canadian Head-of-State is still the Queen. And it was not until 1982 that Canada was officially permitted to write her own laws without getting a sign-off from the British Parliament in Westminster.

Yes, Mr. Lane, it matters. We can love our neighbors in Canada. And I do. But we are Americans. We are the Great Republic. Or, at least we used to be.

FRC’s Leo Johnson: Showing the Love

by Robert Morrison

August 15, 2013

One year ago today, Floyd Corkins entered our Washington offices, lying about seeking a role as an FRC intern. Leo Johnson, our building supervisor, was at the security desk and asked to see some identification. Corkins bent down to ruffle through his backpack. Leo, sensing trouble, stepped out from behind the desk. Corkins pulled out a pistol and Leo, unarmed, advanced toward his would-be killer. Corkins shot Leo in the forearm, but seriously wounded, Leo grappled with him, and took Corkins’s gun away. Soon, Randy Burt and Charles Foster, bothFRC staffers, rushed to Leo’s aid. Corkins was subdued and held until Metropolitan Police arrived.

Why didn’t Leo take Corkins’s pistol and shoot him? Once he had disarmed his would-be killer, Leo could have shot the man in the head. There would be no jury on earth that would have convicted him. Chances are, Leo would not even have been charged.

It would be hard to imagine a more justifiable homicide. And if we were a hate group, as Corkins believed we were, a disarmed assassin could expect nothing less than to be cut down himself. Corkins had been incited to attack Family Research Council because of a “hate map” put out by the SPLC. They libeled us, saying we are no different than the Klan, than neo-Nazis, or the Aryan Brotherhood. Even after the attack, SPLC persists in so labeling FRC.

On that quiet August morning, Leo showed the best that is in us. Recovering from his serious wound—a process that has been long and painful for him and his family—Leo said he heard a still small voice tell him to spare Corkins’s life. Leo was raised in a Christian family. He has been a believer all his life. So this incredible act of mercy may have been second nature to this gentle giant.

Leo that day showed love. He even loved his enemy. “It’s not you, man, it’s this place. It’s your politics,” Corkins said as he was taken down. Leo has been my friend for many years and I still don’t know his politics. (He’s an Eagles fan, which is bad enough!)

I don’t need to know Leo’s politics. I know his heart. He showed his great heart that fateful day. So did Randy. So did Charles. And Leo the Lionheart also acted out the words of Jesus: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Corkins did not plan to stop with killing Leo. Leo was what stood between Floyd Corkins and mass murder. This would-be assassin had fifteen Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack. He planned to shoot as many of us at Family Research Council as he could and then drop a Chick-fil-A on each of our faces. Leo’s greater love is the reason this spectacular crime was averted.

I had occasion to talk about Leo and the August 15th attack last Sunday. After Chapel inAnnapolis, one of our new Navy Chaplains asked me where I work. I told him I have worked for many years at Family Research Council.

I could tell he was curious. I dispensed with the Inside-the-Beltway formulation of “a public policy research and educational organization recognized under Sec. 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.”

Instead, I said: “FRC believes that every one deserves a birth day. We believe that brides should marry grooms. And we believe that America is one nation under God. And for these beliefs, people are shooting at us.”

Put that way, Americans of every faith and every political persuasion may pause and think: Has it really come to this in our home of freedom?

It was the great Irish statesman Edmund Burke who saw the link between family and the nation. “We begin our affections in our family,” he wrote, “no cold relation was ever a warm patriot.” We see every day in random shootings, in brutal crimes, in the betrayals of a Bradley Manning or a John Walker Lindh, that American Taliban, the civil consequences of family breakdown.

FRC’s Leo Johnson showed his love in the most heroic way. We are urging mothers and fathers to marry, to cherish and nurture their children, for their own sake and for the sake of this land we love.

Security footage: Hero thwarts terrorist shooter at Family Research Council

by FRC Media Office

April 25, 2013

In an age when it seems heroes are hard to come by, it’s stirring to see a genuine hero in action. Last August, FRC building manager Leo Johnson was temporarily manning the front desk at our Washington headquarters when a now-confessed terrorist intent on killing everyone in the building entered with a handgun and 100 rounds of ammunition.  As he drew his gun, Leo courageously charged the attacker into oncoming gunfire.  Even after sustaining a direct hit to his forearm, he subdued the attacker and wrestled the gun away from him.

Leo Johnson’s heroism saved countless lives that day. Now you can see the never-before released security footage that shows just how quickly tragedy was averted.  Please share this video with friends, and help pay tribute to a true hero.

Surprise, Surprise - Egypt’s Morsi Made Virulently Anti-Semitic Remarks

by Chris Gacek

January 16, 2013

Well, the New York Times published an article Tuesday documenting virulently anti-Semitic remarks made by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi in 2010.  Here is the first paragraph of the story:

CAIRO— Nearly three years ago, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood delivered a speech urging Egyptians to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” for Jews and Zionists. In a television interview months later, the same leader described Zionists as “these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Now, aren’t you glad President Obama has hitched America’s wagon to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood?  Wonderful.  Let’s shovel a few more billion dollars to Egypt and throw in some jet fighters and Abrams tanks.  The Chinese will lend us the money at a great interest rate.

Yet, we should be reassured by Seth Mandel’s posting on the Commentary magazine blog.  He takes note of a column from Bloomberg with the headline, “Obama: ‘Israel Doesn’t Know What Its Best Interests Are.’” Apparently, Mr. Obama said this “privately and repeatedly.”  That must make it true.  (It also indicates that the President’s aides have a different understanding of “privately” than he does.)

Frankly, I think Israel probably had Mr. Morsi pegged as its enemy and as an enemy of the West (i.e., the United States) a long time ago.  Mr. Obama probably hasn’t figured it out yet.  I think I will bet that Israel has a better understanding of its national interests than does Mr. Obama.

Because You are There

by Robert Morrison

January 10, 2013

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins shared a powerful story at Chapel this morning. A team of climbers successfully ascended Mount Everest. Coming down, however, climber Lincoln Hall suffered a collapse. His teammates, thinking him dead, left him there and continued downward to their base camp. But Lincoln awoke after a day. Hallucinating, he came to the edge of the precipice.

An American team came upon him as they climbed up the mountain. Team Leader Dan Mazur and his fellow climbers took Lincoln back down with them. They missed the summit. They sacrificed their goals and some of their wealth. But they saved a life. Because they were there.

The Hebrew commentaries on Scripture, the Talmud, tell us that “he who saves a single life, it is as if he saved the world entire.” Tony’s message this morning gave us great encouragement after a year of defeat and disappointment. Can we say the cause of unborn life, the cause of marriage (the best protection for new life) have prospered? No. Can we say the flame of religious freedom burns brighter this January than it did last year? No.

But we do not despair. We do not lose hope.

I had a memorable experience working in the U.S. Education Department. Like our boss, President Reagan, I didn’t believe there should even be a federal education department. We worked hard to promote the first federal voucher bill for low income families. It failed. We tried to stop the erasure of all evidence of America’s godly heritage from basal readers. We even commissioned a study by respected NYU psychologist Paul Vitz that showed publishers were censoring all references to God from schoolchildren’s texts. We failed. We tried to “zero out” entire portions of the federal education department, to close down this agency we regarded as unconstitutional and wasteful. We failed.

In one area, however, we saw success. Sec. Bill Bennett testified before a congressional committee calling for reduced federal education spending. The chairman, a liberal, criticized Sec. Bennett for not demanding more money. Then, he launched into an appeal for Bennett to back federally subsidized child care.

He said: “Why even the Soviet Union has a national system of subsidized child care, Mr. Secretary.”

Bennett was ready: “Mr. Chairman: The reason the Soviets have that system can be found in the Ph.D. dissertation written by Raisa Gorbachev. She urged the party leadership to do this because the children on the farms were all being raised by their grandparents, who taught them superstitions.”

To the atheist wife of the Communist Party’s General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev, those Russian grandparents’ superstitions were the Christian religion.

On our watch, there was no more push for federal day care. And no demand for national subsidized day care to pull little children out of homes, out of church-based pre-schools, out of those settings their loving parents choose for them.

In another area, home schooling, the Bennett years at USED were a success. He brought into the department Michael Farris, the home school leader. It was the first time this had ever happened.

I had known Michael in Washington State in the Reagan campaign. Now, Michael was presenting the case for home schooling to some very skeptical educrats. In the course of his commanding presentation, he said: “My 7-year old son can read the entire front page of the Washington Post, but my wife and I could still be prosecuted in 40 states for child abuse and neglect.”

Michael Farris provided a powerful defense of home schooling. Later out in the hall, I teased him: “Michael, do you really let your 7-year old boy read the Washington Post?”

Home schooling enjoyed some of its greatest gains in the 1980s, when President Reagan held office. And under Sec. Bennett, the federal education department did not join in the attempts to crush this burgeoning movement.

We wish we could have gotten parental choice in education for millions of low-income parents struggling to break free, but we did make a difference for millions of home schoolers. Because we were there.

Inaccurate Rumors Resurface Two Years Later

by JP Duffy

November 28, 2012

In 2010, false internet rumors were circulating claiming that Family Research Council lobbied “against” a congressional resolution condemning a bill proposed in Uganda. The Uganda bill – a bill FRC opposed - would have provided for the death penalty for something called “aggravated homosexuality.” The rumor was quickly refuted in the media at the time. Now, more than two years later, the debunked rumor is resurfacing in the blogosphere after FRC’s President Tony Perkins tweeted about Uganda’s President leading the nation in a prayer of repentance. The Human Rights Campaign quickly mischaracterized the tweet as “support” for the bill.

President Museveni’s prayer was given at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ugandan independence from Britain. President Museveni did list “sexual immorality”— as only one of 29 separate sins for which the nation should repent. Neither the event nor the prayer had anything to do with, or made any reference to, the proposed bill on homosexuality in the Ugandan parliament.

Here is the statement we issued two years ago in response to the false rumor:

FRC did not lobby against or oppose passage of the congressional resolution. FRC’s efforts, at the request of Congressional offices, were limited to seeking changes in the language of proposed drafts of the resolution, in order to make it more factually accurate regarding the content of the Uganda bill, and to remove sweeping and inaccurate assertions that homosexual conduct is internationally recognized as a fundamental human right.

FRC does not support the Uganda bill, and does not support the death penalty for homosexuality - nor any other penalty which would have the effect of inhibiting compassionate pastoral, psychological, and medical care and treatment for those who experience same-sex attractions or who engage in homosexual conduct.”

Bloggers may try to resurrect false rumors but we will continue to applaud President Museveni’s prayer of repentance. Museveni took the very powerful step of dedicating Uganda to God when he said, “We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own.”

Saving the Crew of the HMS Bounty

by Robert Morrison

October 30, 2012

Yew people gonna feel proud whenevah yew hear that tune, said Boatswain Mate Chief Clarence Ward Hollowell in his deep Southern drawl on the day we graduated from Coast Guard boot camp in Cape May, New Jersey, more than four decades ago. He was referring to the Semper Paratus March, the official of our doughty little service.

We’re always ready for the call,

We place our trust in Thee.

Through surf and storm and howling gale,

High shall our purpose be,

Semper Paratus” is our guide,

Our fame, our glory, too.

To fight to save or fight and die!

Aye! Coast Guard, we are for you.

The words of that song have never rung truer. This week, Hurricane Sandy made landfall just a few miles north of Cape May. And the Coast Guard proved always ready once again to plow through the storm to save lives.

The Washington Post covered the amazing story of the rescue of the crew of the HMS Bounty. They had been forced to abandon ship. Millions of movie goers around the world would have seen this magnificent replica of an 18th century British man-of-war. This tall ship was featured in the films Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) and more recently, in the Johnny Depp hit, Pirates of the Caribbean.

This beautiful tall ship was lost in the storm and her crew in danger of their lives.

One woman crew member were tragically lost, and the captain is feared lost, but the rest of the 16-member Bounty crew were saved because of the courage and skill of the Coast Guard. Helo pilot Steve Bonn carefully put his aircraft near the lifeboat as he lowered 27-year old rescue swimmer, Dan Todd down the hoist with the basket. Todds almost casual line as he tumbled into the boat was classic: Need a lift?

A lift is what those survivors certainly got. And a story like this lifts all our spirits. Thank you, Washington Post, for a great job of reporting on this one. Its worth watching the video to see Petty Officer Todd being lowered into those churning seas. He risked his life to save others, living proof of the Coast Guards unofficial motto: You gotta go out…

I participated in a few Coast Guard rescues, myself, but nothing on this momentous scale. This harrowing adventure one reminds me of my friend, Pat Rivas. Lt. Rivas was the first evangelical Christian Id ever met. He saw I was struggling to make it through the OCS physical test, so he came alongside and coached and encouraged me all the way to the best condition of my life. He never mentioned his faith in Jesus, but it there was something truly extraordinary in the selfless way he helped me, and others, in our class. Only after Pat and his crewmen lost their lives in 1981 trying to save the captain of a small fishing boat in a terrific storm in the Gulf of Alaska did I learn of his deep faith.

Some years ago, the Coast Guard announced it had saved one million human lives since its founding in 1790. They have lived up to Thomas Jeffersons ideal: The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. Now, the Coast Guard can add another fourteen lives to that great number. Thanks, Coast Guard, for being always ready for the call (and for placing your trust in THEE).

Here, from one of my retired Coastie friends, are some interesting online resources:

http://www.military.com/military-fitness/coast-guard-special-training/rescue-swimmer-fitness-standards

http://www.dvidshub.net/image/746747/rescue-swimmer-training-facility

http://uscg.mil/hq/cg7/cg711/ast.asp

http://www.uscg.mil/servicelines/archive/20120302-RescueSwimmer.asp

http://www.witn.com/home/headlines/Coast-Guard-Rescue-Underway-Now-16-People-In-Lifeboats-Off-NC-Coast-176228331.html

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