5.05.2008

The Bush Recession: Economics, Oil & Corruption

by Laura Snedeker

The widening gulf between the political elites and the people they supposedly serve is never more obvious than in times of economic distress.

Oil companies make record profits and Congressmen drive to work in gleaming Cadillacs as consumers face record prices at the pumps. Wall Street rises from the ashes of the mortgage crisis as Main Street struggles to avoid financial collapse. And the government throws the nation a $150 billion bone and tells Americans to go on a shopping spree.

There was a time that $30 a barrel of oil seemed outrageous, a temporary effect of the Iraq War. Hardly anyone believed that the United States could see oil prices as high as $70, but they climbed to just below $100 by the end of 2007, translating into higher prices at the pumps and in the grocery stores.

The burden of America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy fell squarely on the backs of consumers as oil companies made a killing. Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, posted record profits for 2007, although lower-than-expected profits in the first quarter of 2008 disappointed investors hoping for a new record high. Chevron, America’s second-largest oil company, reported a nine percent increase in profits in the first quarter of 2008 as oil headed toward $120 a barrel.

As oil companies fleece American consumers, government officials continue to use taxpayer dollars for their own enjoyment. The New York Times reported last week that 125 members of the House of Representatives lease expensive, gas-guzzling cars paid for by the federal government – just one of the perks of being a Congressman. In addition to paying for the lease, taxpayers also foot the bill for gas, maintenance, insurance, registration, and excess mileage charges.

That this use of taxpayer money is perfectly legal makes it no less corrupt. Americans have already resigned themselves to higher gas prices and more fuel-efficient vehicles, yet their Congressmen behave more like CEOs than elected representatives. This is not surprising, given the degree to which the political elites are answerable to the financial elites who fund their campaigns and pave the way for successful lobbying careers.

As Wall Street bounced back, economists predicted that the rest of the economy would soon follow. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson declared that “we are closer to the end of this problem than we are to the beginning,” as if an 11 percent rise in the stock market were a divine signal. Yet 45 percent of Americans rate the economy as “poor” and 86 percent think that it is getting worse, according to a recent Gallup Poll.

Instead of fixing a broken system, the government tossed a $150 billion check to Americans and told them to go stimulate an economy in which they have little faith. President George W. Bush assured the nation on Saturday that the rebate would “help American families increase their purchasing power and help offset the high prices that we’re seeing at the gas pump and the grocery store.” But when that $150 billion band-aid is gone, will Americans be better off?

More importantly, even if the U.S. economy can dig itself out of this mess, what happens when the next economic crisis hits?

For more background on this subject, please see:

(Political graphic by The Culture Ghost; you can see more of The Culture Ghost's graphics at the blogs Guys from Area 51 and The Culture Ghost. This graphic is made available through a Creative Commons License.)







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17 comments:

sbvor said...

Comrade Laura,

1) It is increasingly unlikely that we are currently in a recession:
The Recession of 2008 That Wasn’t?

2) If you want cheaper gasoline, the only answer is to increase the supply of crude (supply and demand, 101). We’ve got plenty here at home. But, your sort won’t let us extract it.

Well, ending the Ethanol Insanity would also help. But, since so-called Liberals never learn from their endlessly repeated mistakes, I expect the next “solution” will be an even bigger disaster.

3) Man Made Global Warming is the single biggest hoax ever perpetrated on humanity. And, I have the very latest peer reviewed science to prove it.

4) Iraq? Here are some useful facts. Stay tuned. I will, in due time, document the objective fact that the only liars with respect to Iraq are the media. Their biggest crime was covering up this excerpt from the July, 2004 report from Bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

"The Central Intelligence Agency reasonably and objectively assessed in Iraqi Support for Terrorism that the most problematic area of contact between Iraq and al-Qaida were the reports of training in the use of non-conventional weapons, specifically, chemical and biological weapons"

Chapter XII, Page 346, Conclusion 94

In other words, Saddam trained al Qaeda in the use of biological and chemical WMD.
But, the media also flat out lied about the contents of the 9/11 Report. Each quote (in context) from the previous link can be verified here.

P.S.) I'm sure you won't publish this. Why? Because so-called "Liberalism" can ONLY survive in an absolute intellectual vacuum!

sbvor said...

I love it when Leftists prove me wrong (especially when they serve my purpose in doing so).

Never the less, kudos for publishing the opposition view!

Many have not.

Rick Rockwell said...

These comments would be funny if the person who wrote them wasn’t so serious.

First, this blog has always believed in free expression. The only comments we have spiked have come from spam advertisers. We are always open for a free and fair debate, and the truth is so are most liberals. The truth is real liberals often give conservatives so much room for balance, that they squeeze out their own defense against such ludicrous notions as the links in this comment that suggest that there are connections between liberalism and Nazism. The truth: liberalism and liberal ideas helped defeat Nazism. Just who was the president during that period? By the way, the conservatives during that era were isolationists who wanted this country to put its head in the sand when faced with a real world threat.

And Saddam Hussein, despite the conservative spin machine was not that type of threat. A dictator, yes, but not one threatening the entire world. Please stop repeating the lies of the Bush Administration. Note: your links to CIA information are discredited on two levels. First, it is widely known now that the Bush administration and its allies running the CIA manipulated intelligence data to make the case for war. Please note the various protests of CIA intelligence analysts over these distortions. Also, if there was indeed an al-Qaeda training program in Iraq using chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, why haven’t we seen those used against us? Instead the enemy uses what it has: cell phones and old munitions (artillery shells and the like). The CIA over-estimated Iraq’s weapons programs, and that should be quite evident by now.

Also, by the way, the supply of petroleum seems to have nothing to do with price these days. It also has little to do with whether we want to pump it domestically or buy it internationally. OPEC and Big Oil are behind the artificial price hikes. Please tell me if your Econ 101 understands that Big Oil’s big profits have anything to do with how they are ripping off consumers? But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t conserve and move to alternative fuels, even Bush slowly came around to those points, although not in any serious way.

Oh, and I will also note not one post on this blog supports ethanol, which many now realize (despite the Iowa farm lobby which gets this injected into both Republican and Democratic politics every four years) hurts the food supply and is not much better than oil on the pollution scale.

Also, please stop repeating the lies about global warming. If you want proof look at the ice cap and ocean evidence.

Finally, given the lies of this administration and its cronies, when the head of the Federal Reserve tells us we have 50 percent chance of being in a recession, then we are likely in a recession. Recall please that the Bush administration wanted to deny the country was in a recession after it took office and then wanted to blame the Clinton administration for that recession, when the truth was the consumer society was reacting with low confidence to the change in power, among other problems. This is the second Bush recession, just more proof of his incompetence. Even conservative commentators like Kevin Phillips believe the economy is a disaster zone.

Finally, catch-all comments like this are meant to obscure the corruption underpinning all these problems, which Laura rightly points out is bipartisan corruption. The second comment here just shows what conservative propaganda you are slinging. We stand by our commentary openly unlike others who repeat lies while hiding behind anonymous blogs.

sbvor said...

Rick,

I notice you substantiated nothing. You simply regurgitated the same tired old unsubstantiated and indefensible Leftist propaganda I've heard time and time again.

Your defense of Man Made Global Warming was the most laughable of all. Try actually reading my post (fully substantiated with directly cited peer reviewed science as published in peer reviewed science journals). Try reviewing the videos on that topic which featuring dissenting IPCC scientists (all of whom were carefully selected by government bureaucrats for IPCC participation).

The only bigger lie than Man Made Global Warming is the lie that there is any sort of consensus among scientists. In fact, there are far more scientists who are skeptical of this nonsense. But, they rarely get any airtime from so-called “Journalists” (aka propagandists).

According to NASA, there have been:

around 100 [glacial/interglacial cycles] in the last 2.5 million years

The only thing unusual about the current interglacial warming cycle is that we are not yet as warm as any of the previous four perfectly normal, perfectly natural interglacial warming periods.

The CIA (quite independently) assessed that Saddam trained al-Qaeda in the use of chemical and biological WMD (see my first comment). There was no assertion that Saddam had (as yet) provided al-Qaeda with any materials whereby they might make use of their training. The 2004 report from the Bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reaffirmed the objectivity of that independent CIA assessment. The Democrats who participated in that reaffirmation are listed here:

Front Matter, Page 1

"Classical Liberalism" is a fine tradition and one which I embrace. In publishing my views, you uphold at least one facet of that fine tradition. Regrettably, FDR was much closer to a Socialist than a Classical Liberal. And, the nation was fortunate to survive his economic folly.

Today’s so-called “Liberals” have perverted the fine tradition of Classical Liberalism into virtually the polar opposite of Classical Liberalism. One might say that today’s so-called “Liberals” have “hi-jacked” a fine tradition (analogy intended).

Read it and weep (for our nation).

Rick Rockwell said...

No question. I just dashed that response off from the top of my head, mostly because the answers are so obvious. And I did not substantiate like I was writing an article. (Although what I wrote was sound.) However, if you want a link festival, here we go, and I will not follow your example by substantiating by linking mostly to my own material.

First, let’s deal with the NASA climate data. How can anyone believe what is coming out of some parts of NASA when we know there has been a campaign to pressure researchers there (much as there was a campaign at the CIA concerning pre-war intelligence on Iraq… do you see a pattern here? Talk about fascism!) to withhold or repress data. (We see that campaign at the EPA too.) As some have noted, there’s a conservative war on science. The science doesn’t fit the ideology.

You are correct, there is a scientific debate about global warming, but as noted by various sources, the weight of the evidence
is on the side that believes in global warming. Some say there are hundreds of times as much scientific evidence on the side that believes in global warming, not to mention much of the research that denies global warming is supported by those with a stake in the status quo. Deniers of this, such as yourself, are keeping us from doing what is necessary to fight the problem. And it is notable that petroleum politics has just sucked this country into a variety of poor positions globally. Detach us from dependence on oil and the equation changes. (Oh, and didn’t Bush even say this, although he really didn’t mean it. Otherwise he might have put some investment behind it other than the token initiatives he discussed.)

And as for FDR… you have located a group of folks here who hold him in high regard: certainly one of the five best presidents in history. This nation not only survived FDR it thrived because of him. This frames your argument so nicely: someone who got us out of the Depression, away from the Republican/Hoover policies that ran this country into the ground, and someone who put us on a course to win WWII, and thus setting up the prosperity of the 40s and 50s when the U.S. became the dominant world power… that someone is now in the revisionist political history a threat. Please. If you can’t get the history right… how can you analyze the present or the possibilities for the future?

(Other links of interest:

1) ice cap melting concerns along with links to video and graphics;

2) Bush distortions on al Qaeda in Iraq;

3) record oil profits;

4) Ben Bernanke to Congress on the recession.)

sbvor said...

Rick,

1) Busting your first overt lie at the end of your first paragraph:

In my previous comment, I cited 2 of my own posts and 6 other sources. But, when I do cite my own posts, I do so in order to avoid retyping what I have already substantiated through credible sources.

2) James Hansen silenced? What a JOKE! That was a (very successful) media stunt by the loudest and most frequently interviewed media darling in the entire Man Made Global Warming Cult of Hysteria.

And, oddly enough, Hansen still has his entire Goddard web site dedicated to spewing his propaganda.

If you want to discover which views are really silenced, listen to what multiple Climate Scientists (including IPCC scientists) have to say in the video at the bottom of this post (presenting yet another “Inconvenient Truth”).

3) Regarding your citation from so-called “journalists”:

A) These so-called “journalists” did not name even one of the “senior intelligence officials” who allegedly made these allegations (that’s two layers of unsubstantiated allegations). Did even one of these alleged multiple sources even exist? Newsweek famously claimed multiple sources when they had only one. Worse still, that one source either flat out made it up or was badly misrepresented by Newsweek.

B) Are you not familiar with past examples of so-called “journalists” inventing sources that did not exist?

“So indiscriminate is the practice of not naming names that Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley and Steven Glass invented sources, and their editors didn't even notice”

C) Are you not aware of the controversy among so-called “journalists” over single sources and anonymous sources?

D) If I were so generous as to assume at least two unnamed sources actually existed and actually made these unsubstantiated allegations, self-described Liberal Bernie Goldberg tells me the likelihood is that these so-called “journalists” would have sought out the only two “senior intelligence officials” in the entire organization who would offer such unsubstantiated allegations (out of purely partisan political motivations).

E) Predictable, as you are, I will launch a preemptive strike and note that, although I post anonymously, I never expect any reader at any time to take my word for anything. I always substantiate my assertions with solid sources. On the rare occasions when I cite so-called “journalists”, I do so in order to mock their astonishing incompetence, overt hysteria pimping and bias.

4) I may waste some more of my time responding to your pitiful sources. But, recalling what I just presented in #3 (just the tip of a very large iceberg), I will conclude for this evening by noting that you attempted to substantiate virtually all of your points by citing material from so-called “journalists”. Knowing this so-called “profession” as I do, I’ve learned to eliminate this most perverse of “middle men” and, wherever possible, go straight to their own sources. Of course, when they invent their sources, that presents a real challenge.

After reading this book, I have never looked at the so-called “profession” of “journalism” the same way. Literally every every time I have ever fact checked anything I even remotely doubted among what I’ve read, seen or heard from so-called “journalists”, it has turned out to be, at best, a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

So, keep on citing so-called “journalists” if you like. But, I’ll just laugh at you as I cut your arguments to ribbons.

And:

That’s the way it is.

Rick Rockwell said...

I suppose you have your sources and I have mine.

Your sources are The American Spectator and The National Review. And Bernie Goldberg’s book: well, nice read, but it has been deconstructed multiple times to show Goldberg’s own bias and distortion. And those other publications, we all know how unbiased they are too. (You also linked to your own site at least eight times. And by the way, aren't all of those sources also from journalists, or have you created a new category for Goldberg and the people at those publications?)

Of course, I am familiar with the various cases of journalistic malpractice, just as I am familiar with propaganda. And your material takes the form of the latter.

Look, argue the climate issue all you want, but it doesn’t negate the weight of evidence from the IPCC and hundreds of studies that show global warming is an issue that needs to be addressed. As noted, if the current president is finally saying that, maybe the rest of you conservatives should take heed.

Also, the distortions on the Iraq War are well documented, not just throughout this blog but in multiple spots throughout the web and elsewhere. And you may deny there was a problem with bending the facts in pre-war intelligence, but Congress continues to look at this problem and various members of Congress have noted (including members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) that they were misled by the Bush administration through its distortions of the intelligence. (Try this link from the Congressional Record. Nice dodge though in discussing the reportage on this topic and then using examples from another topic entirely, the Koran mess, which is less clear cut than you make it out to be.)

And yes, there are bad journalists, just like there are bad lawyers, bad doctors, and probably some bad trash haulers too. (We have even discussed various instances of poor journalism here. But this blog is not an exercise in objective journalism, but rather a blog that includes analysis, commentary, and opinion, which are subsets.) But that doesn’t mean all journalists are bad. And so yes, I do advise that folks read carefully and read from multiple sources before they form an opinion. If you have the time to research every story at its source, then good for you. But most folks who are not journalists must depend on the information movers in society to aggregate it for them. And even journalists only work on a story or two or three every day with the primary source material.

Like a typical conservative, you have moved the argument to attempt to attack the messenger, because on all of the topics you have tried to address here, we can see through to the truth and it isn’t in what you are saying or your links. We also stand by the view that if you aren’t brave enough to stand up for your opinions publicly then your views have little credibility.

sbvor said...

Rick,

The National Review? Yes, I have proudly cited this story (because it is accurate and honest). And, here’s how I got there.

1) I read the reports on the findings of The 9/11 Commission from the so-called “Mainstream Media”. Obviously, I was dubious.

2) I read The 9/11 Report and discovered the one phrase your so-called “journalists” harped on (no “collaborative relationship”) was found nowhere in the entire report. I discovered that if we had an honest, competent and objective press, all the headlines would have read “Iraqi officials offered Bin Laden a safe haven [aka State Sponsorship] in Iraq”.

3) I stumbled upon the National Review story. I fact checked the story. It checked out. Every quote was verified. Every context was correct. It summarized everything I had hit upon and more.

You see, I view all information presented to me with skepticism. I fact check everything that is of significant concern, including The National Review.

4) The problem with the “profession” of “journalism” is not isolated cases of bad apples. The reporting on the report from The 9/11 Commission was typical of the wide spread, pervasive, systemic deception (knowingly or not) practiced by the so-called “profession” of so-called “journalism” all day, every day.

And, ignoring the following was even worse:

"The Central Intelligence Agency reasonably and objectively assessed in Iraqi Support for Terrorism that the most problematic area of contact between Iraq and al-Qaida were the reports of training in the use of non-conventional weapons, specifically, chemical and biological weapons"

Chapter XII, Page 346, Conclusion 94

Saddam trained al Qaeda in the use of biological and chemical WMD and so-called “journalists” failed to inform the world. Utterly inexcusable!

Rick Rockwell said...

Well, now that the Bush administration is on its last legs, I guess we know who won this argument and who was right. We also know which comments were filled with revisionist history meant as propaganda to hide the president’s actions and the actions of his administration.

Check this link for how the president admits al Qaeda was not a presence in Iraq, but it doesn’t matter to him because it became a strategy (even though he, Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted to deny the presence of an insurgency at first) to supposedly draw out al Qaeda to where our military could get them. (Never mind that the real leaders of al Qaeda were ensconced in Waziristan, not Iraq.)

As for whether there was a real recession or not… I suppose reading the paper every day… or just living through our current times should be enough to debunk the Republican propaganda machine that tried to make us believe everything was fine (even John McCain made this fatal error on the campaign trail until he decided the recession and economic crisis were real).

There are so many lies in the comments from sbvor, above, that are all the more obvious now seven months later. But yet the Republican propaganda machine persists in the same tone as sbvor by attempting to say FDR lengthened the Great Depression. All the economic data points to the fact that FDR led the long recovery. (Please go here to read how the Republicans selectively report this history and distort the truth.)

When will Republicans learn that if they want traction with voters they should stop telling the Big Lie?

For more on the horrible legacy of the administration of George W. Bush, before the revisionists start to twist it into something commendable, please go here.

SBVOR said...

Rick,

Name ONE lie! Just ONE! And, PROVE IT!

You, on the Lunatic Left, are ALWAYS claiming lies and NEVER PROVING THEM (because YOU are the real liars).

The FACTS on Iraq remain and NONE of your lies can change these FACTS.

It is a quantitative FACT that FDR worsened and extended The Great Depression. You and MediaMatters are both lost in the Lunatic Left Keynesian fog!

If you want to know what pushed us into recession, look no further than the Keynesian Bailout from that quantifiably idiotic (at BEST) duo of Paulson and Bernanke. Shame on Bush for taking their counsel.

Examine this chart of the market making odds of a recession in 2008. The recession became inevitable on the VERY DAY Paulson begged for a bailout (9/23/08). It has been all downhill from there, by every metric.

And, yes, Obama will make the same mistakes as FDR. And, Obama will worsen and extend the current conditions.

But, you comrades must be sooo very pleased to see Obama coronate a real, honest to goodness card carrying Socialist (so to speak). I guess your Socialist utopia is just around the corner (or, just off the Florida shores).

SBVOR said...

Rick, et al,

If any of you care to learn the cause of the oil/gasoline price spikes of 2008, click here and examine the hard data.

Note, in that prior link, the quantitative PROOF that ANWR alone could have entirely prevented those price spikes.

We have 7 times as much oil as Saudi Arabia and one technology for exploiting Oil Shale has been in commercial operation since 1924. The Department of the Interior has already dictated what the rules are for protecting the environment.

Given all that, WHY do your Democrats find it necessary to make it ILLEGAL to even TRY to meet the highest standards for environmental protection which the world has EVER seen?

Are your Dems just plain evil? Do they ENJOY watching poor people suffer? Or, do they merely profit from perpetuating that suffering?

Anonymous said...

Wow... a real debate about history... and the conservatives are still using the same lies they used 70 years ago. Please remember Hoover started the Depression. FDR ended it.

Lots of media outlets have let us in on why conservatives are refighting this debate about the New Deal... because their twisted view of history allows them to score points against Obama now. Don't be sucker punched by these people!

Remember, Hoover and the free market Republicans were the ones really behind the Depression. They were the authors of the real economic folly... just like the foundations of the current economic problems can be traced to the free market thinking and deregulatory schemes of Reagan and his followers.

Some history that can't be disputed: at the end of the Hoover era unemployment was at 24 percent and headed higher. In 1932, before FDR's election, GNP declined more than 13 percent. Yes, declined.

Within two years of being in office... FDR had reversed the trend... unemployment was reduced to about 22 percent and GNP began to rise again to 7.7 percent. By 1936, unemployment was under 20 percent and the GNP continued to grow. (Remember... the conservative Republicans dug such a huge economic hole it took years to fix it.)

Various new conservative books and studies on FDR have been debunked recently but the conservative lie machine keeps repeating the same material over and over...and some people begin to think the lies are true. That's one of Karl Rove's well-used tactics. Maybe the conservative liars here worked for him.

SBVOR said...

Anonymous,

Would you be more inclined to believe the quantitative facts if a former Clinton advisor laid it out for you?

Click here, read it and weep for a once great nation about to be driven to certain ruin.


Click here for another comprehensive analysis of the same unavoidable quantitative facts.

Click here and examine the lamentations, on this topic, of “The Last Honest [registered Democrat] Journalist”.

In aggregate, today’s American “journalists” are the single most dangerously destructive class of people EVER to roam this planet. Through their unabashed and WIDELY ADMITTED “Media Malpractice”, they have set in motion the events which, over the next 2-4 years will utterly destroy the greatest and most benevolent nation the world has ever seen (and, is ever likely to see). Weep for our future! For, we have none.

So-called American “Liberalism”, like all other forms of totalitarianism, can ONLY survive in an ABSOLUTE INTELLECTUAL VACUUM (such as one finds today on virtually all American universities)!

Anonymous said...

Hey sb... it is now obvious you have no real information... just spin. That last comment was a dodge. You did not refute the facts on Hoover and the Republicans causing the Depression. You did not refute the facts on FDR's record on unemployment and GNP... the facts on how FDR ended the Depression.

You also never account or explain why it is you tried to make us believe there was no current recession. (Some "recession of 2008 that wasn't" eh?) Try telling that to folks now who are losing jobs and closing businesses. Your credibility is zero.

Pack up your nonsense and try to convince some fools who don't know history... this country has endured all it can from folks like you for the past eight years. No one believes your gibberish.

SBVOR said...

Anonymous,

Click here for my latest observations on the recession.

While you’re there, examine the various charts and remember that your Dems took control of Congress in January of 2007.

One of these days, I will create a post presenting those charts with clear shading showing when Republicans were in charge and when Democrats were in charge.

Click here to learn the (fully substantiated) real cause of the current economic woes. Some of the most damning evidence is found here and here (from the New York Times and, just a few months after the NYT warning, the boastful words of the Clinton administration).

Anonymous said...

That's a laughable response that repeats your tactic of constantly stating the same opinion until everyone is bored and leaves the conversation. As shown at various times above... you can't refute history or the facts. You wrote about a recession that supposedly wasn't... but yet we were already in it when you wrote that misleading piece. The National Bureau of Economic Research says the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007. That is the group that officially determines economic recessions. Who are you to question them? You have no credentials. Why would anyone take what you say seriously or follow the links to your absurd columns? Why would anyone believe someone who has been so obviously discredited?

SBVOR said...

Anonymous,

1) Those that rely less upon quantitative analysis and more upon the logical fallacy of appeal to authority are often led astray.

2) It was no accident that I included a question mark at the end of the title of my recession post. We did eventually fall into recession (with lots of “help” from our beloved Federal Government and their idiotic knee jerk reaction to media hysteria).

3) The job losses really accelerated when it became clear that we would soon have the most extremely leftist Federal government since the disastrous days of LBJ. Click here and know that this was very predictable.

4) Prior to this latest declaration from the NBER dating committee, I was suspicious of a group which included only academic economists - most from the farthest of far left universities (such as Berkeley).

Prior to this latest declaration from the NBER dating committee, I had no reason to believe that this dating committee allowed their politics to interfere with their professional duties. The 2001 recession declaration was unusual. But, it seemed mostly reasonable.

Subsequent to this latest declaration from the NBER dating committee, I now consider the NBER dating committee to have no more credibility than the purely political IPCC.

As you can see from this comment within my post, I am far from alone in questioning the accuracy of this particular declaration.

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