MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Today, an unusual Supreme Court case in which a lawyer’s nightmare comes true.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.
Also today the Monday Moneybeat: Do we now understand the moral imperative to do two things at the same time, protect health and the economy?
Plus, a liftoff to celebrate on the WORLD History Book.
And Editor-in-Chief Marvin Olasky on the call to be peacemakers.
REICHARD: It’s Monday, October 26th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Time for the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Barrett expected to be confirmed to Supreme Court today » The U.S. Senate is expected to vote today to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Over the weekend, one of two Republican holdouts, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, told reporters…
MURKOWSKI: While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her as an individual who has navigated the gauntlet with grace, skill, and humility.
Murkowski agrees with Democrats that the nomination should have waited until after the election, but she said Barrett is fully qualified.
That leaves Sen. Susan Collins of Maine as the only Senate Republican set to oppose Barrett’s confirmation. The blue state Republican is locked in a tight reelection race.
GOP leaders now expect to have 53 “yes” votes—more than enough to send Barrett to the nation’s highest court.
Campaigns in overdrive with election just over a week away » Campaigns are in overdrive this week with just eight days to go until Election Day.
BIDEN: As my high school and college coaches used to say in football, it’s go time! It’s go time now!
Former Vice President Joe Biden heard there stumping in Pennsylvania.
President Trump will campaign in the Keystone State today, a state he narrowly won in 2016.
And Trump, who was behind in most polls at this point four years ago, says he’s not troubled by national polls that show him trailing again.
TRUMP: I think we’re doing just very well. You look at the numbers in Florida, we’re way ahead of where we were four years ago.
Over the past few days, Trump visited several swing states, including Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
Biden’s campaign said he plans to “campaign aggressively” this week, as will the president.
Pence keeps travel schedule despite virus outbreak among staff » Vice President Mike Pence also has a heavy travel schedule this week. But some are questioning whether he should, after several members of his staff tested positive for COVID-19.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN…
MEADOWS: Obviously Marc Short and a couple of the key staff around the vice president have come down with the coronavirus.
Marc Short is the vice president’s chief of staff.
But the White House said Pence tested negative on Sunday. And his spokesman Devin O’Malley said Pence decided to maintain his travel schedule “in consultation with the White House Medical Unit” and “in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.”
Those guidelines say that essential workers exposed to someone with the virus closely monitor for symptoms and wear a mask around other people.
Italy, Spain announce new coronavirus restrictions » Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced new lockdown measures on Sunday as the virus continues to surge in Europe and around the world.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF CONTE SPEAKING IN ITALIAN]
As of today, bars, restaurants, and similar businesses will close at 6 p.m. every day, among other limitations. And Conte said it is forbidden to consume food or drinks on public streets after 6.
Gyms, pools, spas, and entertainment venues will close altogether. Conferences and conventions will only be allowed online.
Italy’s one-day caseload of confirmed infections jumped past 20,000 on Sunday.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF SANCHEZ SPEAKING SPANISH]
Meantime, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a second national state of emergency on Sunday.
With that declaration, the government is putting a new overnight curfew in place.
Sanchez said “The reality is that Europe and Spain are immersed in a second wave of the pandemic.” He added, “The situation we are living in is extreme.”
Sudan and Israel to discuss new agreements » Officials from Sudan and Israel will meet in the coming weeks to discuss a package of cooperation deals.
The announcement came three days after President Trump announced Sudan would start normalizing ties with Israel. The president said on Friday…
TRUMP: Sudan has great potential on trade and other things. I mean, it could be a very, very successful, wonderful country, and I think it will be. It’s been hampered by what’s going on in the world.
The statement said the deals would cover agriculture, trade, aviation, and migration.
A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted Sunday that Israel was “sending $5 million worth of wheat immediately to our new friends” in Sudan.
The normalization deal came with another pledge by President Trump to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: a fight over water rights at the Supreme Court.
Plus, Marvin Olasky on seeking peace amid political turmoil.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: It’s Monday morning and this is The World and Everything in It. Today is the 26th of October, 2020. Good morning to you, I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Well, lots of goings-on at the Supreme Court. Last week the justices placed more cases on the docket for this term—the total now at 40. As I’ve said frequently, the court hears 70 to 80 cases per term on average.
One new question the court will consider is a big and timely one. It’s this: When may law-enforcement officers enter a home without a warrant?
Another case will decide some questions around the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
EICHER: On now to oral arguments today. We have two of them.
To set up the first case, think of this: Let’s say you agree to bring a barrel of apple cider to a friend. The friend opens the barrel. He finds it’s three-quarters full. The rest is gone. It’s evaporated.
Nevertheless, could you be said to have delivered a full barrel?
Answer: as with so many complicated legal questions, that depends.
AUDIO: [Pecos River sound]
This first case concerns evaporation. Not evaporation of cider, but of river water—the one you’re hearing.
Texas and New Mexico divvy up the waters of the Pecos River. That’s a tributary of the Rio Grande. The Pecos runs about 900 miles through both states.
REICHARD: The two negotiated a compact as far back as 1948 to manage the river. Basically, New Mexico agreed not to deplete the river before it got to Texas.
Details, though. Since the 1970s, the states have been sparring over some aspect of that compact.
A little background to this specialized area of the law: the Supreme Court appoints an official known as a river master to figure out who owes what amount of water based on a formula. And only the justices can judicially review what the river master decides.
EICHER: The most recent dispute began when Hurricane Odile in 2014 caused widespread flooding in the southwest. The water reservoir in Texas overran and the state needed New Mexico to hold some of the Pecos River water in its reservoir, about 50 miles upstream.
New Mexico agreed. Over time, both states allowed water to flow from the reservoirs. But during that time, New Mexico lost a lot to evaporation.
REICHARD: That’s where we find the dispute.
The river master in this case counted evaporated water as delivered water, crediting New Mexico for making good on its end of the deal. And Texas objects.
Kyle Hawkins is Texas solicitor general:
HAWKINS: I can try to make it easy for Your Honor just by pointing out that the River Master has awarded a delivery credit that the compact doesn’t allow for. And if the Court reaches that conclusion — and to reach that conclusion, the Court only has to look at the compact and the manual — everything else drops away.
His argument: Why should New Mexico receive credit for delivering water Texas never received? The river master exceeded his authority here and besides that, made his decision retroactive. And that’s a no-no under the compact.
New Mexico’s lawyer is Jeff Wechsler. He countered Hawkins point by point.
WECHSLER: There is no dispute that Texas requested that the stormwater be stored for its benefit, and there is no dispute that New Mexico conditioned its consent on the agreement that all of the evaporation would be charged to Texas. Nor is there any purchase to Texas’s argument that the credit to New Mexico was untimely. Both states knew from the time of the flood that a retroactive adjustment to the accounting would be made.
Hawkins, for Texas, endured the toughest questioning.
Listen to Justice Elena Kagan:
KAGAN: And then, you know, if you look at the record that way, it’s you lost, and all of a sudden you think the process isn’t any good because you came out on the short side of the process. But, you know, isn’t this a process that you agreed to and went forward with for years?
HAWKINS: No, Justice Kagan, I think that the record tells a very different story.
Hawkins pointed to a record that says New Mexico changed its stance along the way.
Justice Stephen Breyer tried to simplify.
BREYER: So the question is, is Texas given a debit for the amount that had belonged to Texas, the evaporated water, which you can’t get because it’s in the sky. And the River Master says yes. That seems to make sense. That’s why we appoint River Masters, to figure those things out. You say: Oh, no, nothing in the basic document here, the agreement, the compact, nothing allows that.
Hawkins pointed out that the only way New Mexico can be credited the evaporated water is if some exception applies. And none does.
So that’s that.
HAWKINS: New Mexico has the equities all wrong. New Mexico is asking this Court to give it something for nothing. It wants credit for water that it never delivered to Texas, that neither state could have used, and that would have caused an environmental catastrophe in New Mexico had it been released by the federal government. Under these circumstances, it would be extraordinarily inequitable to deprive the farmers and businesses of west Texas of a year’s worth of irrigation water.
Texas had a tough time. Comparatively, New Mexico had it easy. I don’t expect an ideological split among the justices. Based on the lopsided questioning, I think New Mexico is going to win here. If not, the state will take a huge hit to its budget and farmers may be forced to reduce groundwater pumping that keeps crops alive.
If you’ve ever been frustrated by a big city parking ticket—and its system of fines and fees—draw near.
This one involves the city of Chicago. Its practice is to impound cars whose owners fail to pay fines and fees. To get your car back, you have to pay up. And it can cost thousands of dollars. For one woman, the city demanded nearly $12,000 for her 54 separate violations.
She earned a net monthly income of $2,000, and had a child to raise. Tough to fork over $12,000. So she worked out a payment plan with the city. She asked for her car back so she could get to work, but the city refused, saying the car secured her debt.
She filed for bankruptcy and then tried to get her car back. So did three other people similarly situated for this lawsuit.
Filing for bankruptcy stops most collection actions against the debtor, until the court can sort things out.
The legal question is whether the bankruptcy code favors the debtors or the creditors when it comes to impounded cars.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh got to the purpose of bankruptcy in this exchange with the city’s lawyer, Craig Goldblatt. He included a little side swipe at Chicago.
KAVANAUGH: If the goal of bankruptcy is a fresh start, according to this brief, Chicago’s system is thwarting that, making the Northern District of Illinois a leader in the country in non-business Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings because of what Chicago’s doing. I just wanted to give you a chance to respond to that.
GOLDBLATT: Sure. So — so two points if I may, Justice Kavanaugh.
Goldblatt said the important thing is that the city impounded the cars before these people filed for bankruptcy. So it’s too late now to get them back.
But Justice Neil Gorsuch managed to get in his own swipe at Chicago before getting the the merits:
GORSUCH: Good morning counsel. I know your client’s practice of holding onto cars is well established and highly controversial. But looking to the bankruptcy code…
The trouble is the meaning of a phrase in the bankruptcy code. It prohibits after bankruptcy proceedings start “any act … to exercise control over property of the (debtor’s) estate.”
Key word: act. Chicago argues it’s not an “act” to continue doing what it’s already doing: that is, preserving the status quo. Creditors have no obligation to return property already in its possession, until a bankruptcy judge tells it to.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wondered about the limits of that “status quo.”
SOTOMAYOR: Counsel, would permitting a car to sit out in weather, in bad weather, or to be broken into or bumped into while in the City’s possession — does that change the status quo?
GOLDBLATT: So, Justice Sotomayor, I don’t believe those actions or — or violations of duties or what have you violate the automatic stay.
She didn’t seem persuaded. Chicago’s lawyer argued that preserving things as they are is the “metaphysical philosophy” of bankruptcy.
Chief Justice John Roberts picked up on that.
ROBERTS: Once the debtors ask you to give back the car, that resolves this metaphysical debate, right? You make the action at that point to decide either to return it or not, correct?
GOLDBLATT: Your honor, our fundamental position is the work of the automatic stay, as long as we’re preserving the status quo, is not violating.
Lawyer for the debtors is a retired bankruptcy judge, Eugene Wedoff. He pointed to other language in the bankruptcy code that could mean what the city is doing here is illegal.
But several justices brought up the idea that Congress should be the body to fix this problem. Justice Gorsuch:
GORSUCH: Isn’t the simplest thing in the world and the most natural, though, if Congress wanted to get at retaining possession, just to say obtain or — obtain or retain possession, something like that?
WEDOFF: That certainly would have been another way to do it…
This is one of those cases that leave you frustrated. Creditors are entitled to protection for what’s owed them. Debtors in trouble need their cars to get to work. I’m sure the court will deal with the temptation to play Solomon here because the bankruptcy code isn’t solving problems in its current design. But as you heard Justice Gorsuch hinting, I have a sense the court’s going to say: Congress, you made this mess. You clean it up.
And that’s this week’s Legal Docket!
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: The Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER: Well, we’re connecting with financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen today by phone in California.
DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: I’m ready…
EICHER: Alright, despite the early hour, good morning.
BAHNSEN: Good morning. Good to be with you.
EICHER: We talk about jobs quite a bit. We do that because it’s so crucial to understanding where we are with the economy.
But I want to know whether the week we just had, with the two jobs metrics we look at consistently—new unemployment claims and continuing unemployment claims—things look a lot better.
Do you think we’ve turned a corner?
BAHNSEN: Yeah, I do. I mean, there’s no question that in both metrics it was the best week we’ve had since March COVID.
And I think that the big drop in the weekly claims, that now reflects an accurate California number, are very important. And by the way, they also show us that things were probably better than we thought the last several weeks while we were using, effectively, a fake California number.
But the continuing claims dropping that much and continuing at the pace they’re dropping, it’s more and more isolating the reality of the present unemployment situation. Which is, yes, some permanent unemployment has ticked higher and is a really structural tragedy of everything, and yet the isolation of where the ongoing unemployment lies becomes very evident and we really have isolated that to primarily hourly type workers that continue to be punished in certain states and localities by policy.
EICHER: I want to isolate the COVID conversation from the presidential debate last week: I cut this together, because in just a few words it captures the difference, really, in attitude between the two candidates. Very quick here.
TRUMP/BIDEN: I say we’re learning to live with it. We have no choice. We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement. We have to recover. We can’t close up our nation, or you’re not going to have a nation. … Learning to live with it? C’mon! We’re dying with it.
Now, let’s jump into our time machine, back around the end of June, from this program.
BAHNSEN: I believe that we’re in a transition period right now where the economy is going to have to lead the way for the media in accepting the reality of COVID cases as a long-term reality. I guess in a crass way what I’m saying is, is the economy on the verge of being prepared to live with coronavirus? I very much think that’s what’s going to happen. I really believe that then you get to the question of what’s going to be just the economic comfort level with coexistence.
EICHER: Yeah, congratulations. I think that comment has aged well, David. June 30th—more than three months ago.
But I set this out here for no other reason than that we seem finally to be at that core question. In your view: Have we arrived at the place where we can manage a real problem, a health devastation, without creating another real problem, an economic devastation?
BAHNSEN: Nick, I know we’re at that point. I know it.
Whether or not every governor or mayor in the country acts accordingly, obviously, is outside our control, but there’s no question—by the way, it was—I think it lasted somewhere around 8 or 9 minutes in the debate the other night—but everything the POTUS said about COVID in that period was spot on.
But that comment I made back in June and that you heard echoes in the president’s comment is exactly right, and it’s not because anybody—certainly not myself—is downplaying the virus or our desire to protect the vulnerable. But we know so, so, so much more. And we knew a lot more in June, when I made that comment, than we did in March and April, and we know more now than we did in June.
And there is this notion that one has to pick: either everyone’s going to die or we have to save the economy is ridiculous. Coexistence is not even a choice. It’s a mandate. We have to deal with these two realities at once and we can do it now with more information than we had and we’re also not prioritizing things morally.
They are both moral mandates.
Joe Biden, by the way, has made some economic comments throughout this that have been spot on. It is true that wealthy people and comfortable people are still comfortable and they’re still wealthy. And it’s the lower income people who are getting hurt most. The problem is some then go on, including himself, to advocate the policies that are exacerbating that divide.
And I think morally right now I’ve never seen such a disconnect in our country of people who are saying they support the little guy and supporting policies that explicitly hurt the little guy. And explicitly do not hurt everybody else. That’s the world we’re in right now and I truly believe our economy and the business environment is and has been ready for the task at hand.
EICHER: Very quickly before we go, a little preview maybe of 3rd quarter gross domestic product, which we should see this week. The market-data firm IHS Markit saying its index had hit the highest level in 20 months. Where a 50-score on the index is the dividing line between activity increasing or below it activity is decreasing and the number was 55.5—more than a point higher than the previous month.
How much do you read into this economic activity index?
BAHNSEN: Not a lot other than just how it can be supportive to other data as well, but left on its own it doesn’t tell you a complete story—and yet as we talked so many times in other economic categories as well, we are aware that we’re having a great pickup in activity. The problem is we’re having that great pickup from very low levels in some categories. And so there’s some parts of the economy that we now see beyond the relative category pre-COVID numbers are being recovered in certain parts of the economy, certain are not. Manufacturing is one in which we’ve gotten back about two-thirds of the lost output. And I believe that we need more time to see more and more production come online.
I’ve become much more convinced, by the way, a lot of time spent studying the pent-up demand over the last two weeks, and I feel very confident where we’re headed.
EICHER: David Bahnsen, financial analyst and adviser. Good to see you in the dark there in California. Thanks for joining us so early.
BAHNSEN: Thanks for having me. Take care.
NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, October 26th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re so glad you are! Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD History Book.
Today, a legendary city, a celebrated liftoff, and the end of a tragic policy. Here is senior correspondent Katie Gaultney.
MUSIC: [TRADITIONAL CHINESE MUSIC]
KATIE GAULTNEY, CORRESPONDENT: “Made in China.” It’s a phrase we’ve all heard, but of course it extends beyond Chinese imports. One of China’s most impressive creations is its biggest tourist attraction: the Forbidden City. For 500 years, this largest palace in the world was the seat of the Chinese royal family.
Tomorrow marks 600 years since the Ming Dynasty designated Beijing its capital upon the completion of the Forbidden City.
China Central Television explains the name.
CCTV: Until the 20th century, access to the inner precincts was prohibited to all males except the emperor and eunuchs. Trespassers in this palace met one fate: death.
The impressive complex contains nearly 10,000 rooms. Each building is constructed without a single nail or drop of glue. Instead, brackets and pegs hold the timbers together. The vast complex of palaces and administrative buildings covers 178 acres.
AUDIO: [FORBIDDEN CITY]
In an average year, 14 million visitors pass through the Meridian Gate to enter the Forbidden City. Last year, the palace complex was the world’s most visited museum.
From the most populous country on earth to the final frontier…
MUSIC: [SPACE SOUNDS]
This Saturday marks 20 years since the launch of the spacecraft that carried the first resident crew to the International Space Station.
CLIP: 3… 2… 1… We have ignition, we have ignition and liftoff, liftoff of the Soyuz rocket, beginning the first expedition to the International Space Station, and setting the stage for permanent human presence in space.
The first crew to occupy the space station, Expedition 1, launched on October 31, 2000, in a Soyuz TM-31. Two days later, it docked with the International Space Station. NASA astronaut and first ISS commander Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev made up that first crew.
A year ago, from aboard the orbiting station, Commander Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency recalled the early days of the ISS dream.
GERST: There was a time when some seemingly crazy optimists dreamt about this ISS project. Other people, calling themselves “realists,” said this was not possible. But more and more people understood the meaning of such a project and stood on the optimists’ side.
Since then, an unbroken string of expeditions has seen the outpost host as many as 13 people for up to two weeks. Most long-duration crew sizes range from two to six people. The first ISS Commander, Bill Shepherd, reflected 10 years ago on the purpose of the space station era, and what the future may hold.
SHEPHERD: Space Station is really about having humans see themselves with a place in the solar system, not on the earth, and the question is really, “How far can that go?” It’s up to us to figure out in the future what’s the answer.
MUSIC: [GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM]
Back again to planet Earth, and where we started: China.
AUDIO: [BABY CRYING]
Today marks five years since the country announced the repeal of its problematic “one-child policy,” making way for a new “two-child policy.” Chinese officials enacted the law in 1979, but just a couple of years later, the government decided to allow rural parents a second child if the first was a daughter.
Urban families could only have one child. That led to a tremendous increase in abortions or abandonment, and the phenomenon known as “China’s lost daughters.” Actress Lisa Ling explained on the National Geographic Channel in 2006:
LING: Over one quarter of all the babies adopted from abroad into this country come from China, and most are girls.
Chinese families preferred baby boys…
LING: …and as a result, girls are often abandoned, aborted, or hidden.
At the announcement of the policy’s end in October 2015, a Chinese woman spoke to the BBC about the impossible position her government put her in.
BBC: “I did fall pregnant for a second time,” Jeng Xinpeng tells me, “but I had an abortion. Did you have a choice?” “I couldn’t keep it,” she replies. “You either go willingly or the government comes for you.”
During the 36 years of the one-child policy, China’s fertility restrictions likely stopped over 400 million births, due to families preventing pregnancy or choosing to end their unborn babies’ lives. The country now has up to 36 million more males than would be expected naturally, as a result.
MUSIC: [ED SHEERAN-SMALL BUMP]
That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Katie Gaultney.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Monday, October 26th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky now on our call to be peacemakers in a world filled with strife.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: Polarization. These days we hear that word a lot. But Christians should do everything we can to fight it. My favorite novel shows why. Its title is The Cypresses Believe in God. It’s by a Spanish author, Jose Gironella. The action takes place in Spain between 1931 and 1936, as the country heads toward a civil war in which close to 1 million people died. Sadly, the novel is out of print, and the cheapest copy I’ve seen costs $64. So, as a public service, here are a few quotations in several categories.
First, the emphasis on attack ads. Page 189: “The propaganda of the Rightist parties was disagreeable: All they did was attack the opposition…. They were in no way concerned with the real problems of the lower classes.” Page 578: “Both left and right filled the city with signs. ‘Down with this one, Down with that one.” Page 625: “Major tactics in the campaign: the buildup of the leader… the systematic insulting of the opposition… If they lose, they’ll destroy the ballot boxes.”
Strike two, the emphasis on winning at all costs, and thinking it’s now or never. Page 422, after conservatives win an election: “The gulf between victors and vanquished was ten times deeper. Defeat united the vanquished in a common cause.” Triumph went to the heads of the conservatives. Page 660: Partisans on both sides said, “This election will decide Spain’s next hundred years.” Page 668: The Left now “had a majority in Parliament. The people had expressed their will. It was time to settle accounts.”
Strike three, the tendency of partisans on both sides to live in a bubble, with limited information. Page 572: “Every citizen read a single newspaper, which chiseled him into a given posture as though he were stone. Each newspaper’s advertising space was bought by certain individuals, and the readers knew that those who advertised in other papers were their enemies.”
Fourth, the existence of real problems but false solutions. Page 517: Unemployment grew like a cancer. Page 569: The Communist leader says such problems will end if we have equality: “equal hatred for the landowners, the military, and the clergy.” Page 684: “Looting of all shops, churches.” And here’s the real reason on page 782: “That society has cut itself off from God.”
The author, Jose Gironella, thought that was true about both sides, the right and the left. Both had the tendency to think their leader more important than God. Both saw political opponents as enemies rather than potential friends.
That novel is set in Spain. Most of us are in the United States. But the teaching of Matthew 5:9 applies to Spain in the 1930s and us today: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
I’m Marvin Olasky.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Get-out-the-vote campaigners are almost as active as the candidates themselves. But will they succeed?
And, WORLD’s Mindy Belz joins us to talk about a disinformation campaign targeting one of China’s most vocal critics here in this country.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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