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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#13741 User is online   cherdano 

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Posted 2019-September-24, 16:00

What a day in politics. This morning, a guardian headline prompted me to listen in to Lady Hale's announcement of the UK supreme court ruling. I immediately sensed where this was going, each sentence full of gravity, leading step-by-step yet inevitably within a few minutes to the conclusion that Johnson's prorogation of parliament was unlawful. My jaw dropped. No matter how logical the conclusion, this was a huge step for a court that's only existed 10 years.

Tonight, with less suspense, I watched Pelosi announcing a formal impeachment inquiry.
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#13742 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-September-24, 16:40

Not to detract from the ongoing cluster ***** in Washington and London, but from my perspective the really interesting thing that happened in the last few days was the release of the new poll numbers from Iowa and California.

Warren is consolidating a bunch of support, largely drawing from Harris, Buttageig, and Sanders.
Biden and Sanders are both showing pretty obvious ceilings.
Warren is not...
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#13743 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-September-24, 17:20

View Postkenberg, on 2019-September-24, 15:58, said:



Comparisons are tricky, I emphatically agree. I mentioned the butterfly effect earlier when I brought up Watergate, with the idea that even without vast differences in the beginning, the endings can be different. But there can still be useful thoughts from history, and I think that a very useful point here is that, like your Mafia example, everyone can understand what is being said when someone puts a hold on 40mil and then calls to talk about corruption and Joe Biden and how it's really important to get at corruption. Confession time: I have not read all of the Mueller report. And I'm retired. And I have been at least somewhat following politics since 1952, when Pogo Possum was my first choice, Adlai Stevenson my second. It's important to present the case so that I and others see that it is right.


I would much prefer that we never need to impeach a president. It's not an opportunity, it's a tragedy. So if it happens, the ordinary guy has to be able to look at it as necessary. Democrats, some of them, have been far too gleeful. Or self-righteous. So it needs to be seen as right and necessary. Not seen as such by everyone, that never happens with anything. But broadly, I think it can.


My oldest daughter - now a lawyer - used to be the general manager of an Italian restaurant and she earned the nickname "the velvet hammer" from her employees that she had to fire. As she told me and them - I didn't fire them; they fire themselves.

So it is with impeachment.

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#13744 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-September-24, 19:03

From Peter Baker at NYT:

Quote

He knew it was coming. It almost felt inevitable. No other president in American history has been seriously threatened with impeachment since before his inauguration. So when the announcement came on Tuesday that the House would consider charging him with high crimes and misdemeanors, President Trump made clear he was ready for a fight.

He lashed out at the opposition Democrats, denouncing them for “crazy” partisanship. He denounced the allegations against him as “more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage.” And he proclaimed that even if the impeachment battle to come will be bad for the country, it will be “a positive for me” by bolstering his chances to win a second term in next year’s election.

The beginning of the long-anticipated showdown arrived when Mr. Trump was in New York for the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, creating a surreal split-screen spectacle as the president sought to play global statesman while fending off his enemies back in Washington. One moment, he talked of war and peace and trade with premiers and potentates. The next, he engaged in a rear-guard struggle to save his presidency.

Mr. Trump gave a desultory speech and shuffled between meetings with leaders from Britain, India and Iraq while privately consulting with aides about his next move against the House. Shortly before heading into a lunch with the United Nations secretary general, he decided to release a transcript of his July telephone call with the president of Ukraine that is central to the allegations against him. In effect, he was pushing his chips into the middle of the table, gambling that the document would prove ambiguous enough to undercut the Democratic case against him.

By afternoon, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepared to announce the impeachment inquiry, the president retreated to Trump Tower, his longtime home and base of operations, to contemplate his path forward. A telephone call between the president and speaker failed to head off the clash, and now the two are poised for an epic struggle that will test the limits of the Constitution and the balance of power in the American system.

“We have been headed here inexorably,” said Michael J. Gerhardt, an impeachment scholar at the University of North Carolina. “The president has pushed and pushed his powers up to and beyond the normal boundaries. He’s been going too far for some time, but even for him this most recent misconduct is beyond what most of us, or most scholars, thought was possible for a president to do.”

Long reluctant, Ms. Pelosi finally moved after reports that Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate unsubstantiated corruption allegations against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading Democratic candidate for president, while holding up $391 million in American aid to Ukraine. Democrats said leaning on a foreign power for dirt on an opponent crossed the line. Mr. Trump said he was only concerned about corruption in Ukraine.

Mr. Trump now joins only Andrew Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton in facing a serious threat of impeachment, the constitutional equivalent of an indictment.

Mr. Nixon resigned when fellow Republicans abandoned him over Watergate, but Mr. Johnson and Mr. Clinton were each acquitted in a Senate trial, the result that seems most likely at the moment given that conviction requires a two-thirds vote, meaning at least 20 Republican senators would have to break with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Nixon and Mr. Clinton both were privately distraught over facing impeachment even as they waged vigorous public battles to defend themselves. Undaunted, Mr. Trump appeared energized by the confrontation, eager for battle. Confident of his position in the Republican-controlled Senate, he seemed almost to assume that the Democrat-controlled House would probably vote to impeach and that he would take his case to the public in next year’s election.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, an ally of the president’s, said Mr. Trump could afford to feel secure. He predicted the same thing would happen to Ms. Pelosi that happened to him in 1998, when he led a party-line impeachment inquiry of Mr. Clinton and paid the price in midterm elections, costing him the speakership.

Just as the public recoiled at the Republican impeachment then, Mr. Gingrich said, it will reject a Democratic impeachment now. Instead, he said, it will give Mr. Trump and the Republicans a chance to focus attention on Mr. Biden.

“This is the fight that traps the Democrats into an increasingly unpopular position — I lived through this in 1998 — while elevating the Biden case, which involves big money,” Mr. Gingrich said. “It is a win-win for Trump.”

His point on the popularity of impeachment was a critical one. Until now, at least, polls have shown that most Americans do not support impeaching Mr. Trump, just as they never embraced impeaching Mr. Clinton. Whether the latest allegations involving Ukraine will change public opinion the way they galvanized previously resistant House Democrats remained unclear.

Mr. Trump, though, has never been as popular as Mr. Clinton. During the 13-month battle that stretched from 1998 into 1999 over whether Mr. Clinton committed high crimes by lying under oath about his relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky, Mr. Clinton’s approval rating was generally in the mid-60s and even surged to 73 percent in the days after he was impeached.

Mr. Trump does not have the same reservoir of good will, never having had the support of a majority of Americans in Gallup polling for even a single day of his presidency. His approval rating currently stands at 43 percent. But he has the support of 91 percent of Republicans, giving him reason to assume the party’s senators will stick with him.

Brenda Wineapple, author of “The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation,” said there were times when a stand on principle was worth it even with a short-term cost. “Some defeats can ultimately be victories — but often only in the long or historical view,” she said. “The Johnson impeachment ultimately failed,” she said, but in the end, she added, the system worked.

At this turning point in his presidency, Mr. Trump began the day in New York toggling between world affairs and political survival. Even before he took the rostrum at the United Nations to deliver a subdued, boilerplate speech, he sought out reporters to push back on the suggestion that he used American aid to leverage Ukrainian cooperation with his investigation demand.

Mr. Trump asserted that he blocked the aid to Ukraine because European countries have not paid their fair share. He pointed to the fact that the money was eventually released as evidence that he did nothing wrong. What he did not mention was that European countries have chipped in $15 billion for Ukraine in the last few years and that he released the American aid only after senators from both parties threatened punitive legislation if he did not.

What he also did not say was that he had changed his explanation for withholding the money from just a day before. On Monday, he linked his decision to block the aid to his concerns about corruption in Ukraine, citing Mr. Biden as an example. By emphasizing instead his overall concern about foreign aid, he was advancing a rationale less tied to his demand for an investigation.

“I’m leading in the polls and they have no idea how to stop me,” Mr. Trump said. “The only way they can try is through impeachment.”

In fact, Mr. Trump is trailing Mr. Biden and other Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in most polls, which is why Democrats assert he was so intent on obtaining dirt from Ukraine on the former vice president.

Either way, as stunning as the day’s developments were, the only real surprise was how long it took to get here. Mr. Trump’s critics began discussing impeachment within days of his election because of various ethical issues and Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign. By last year’s midterm election, Mr. Trump repeatedly raised impeachment on the campaign trail, warning that Democrats would come after him if they won the House.

They did win, but the drive to impeachment stalled when the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, produced a report that established no criminal conspiracy between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia while refusing to take a position on whether the president obstructed justice during the investigation.

As it turned out, Ukraine, not Russia, proved to be rocket fuel for the semi-dormant effort. Now, more than two and a half years later, the battle is on.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#13745 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-September-24, 19:56

From Why I Changed My Mind About Impeachment by David Leonhardt at NYT:

Quote

Impeachment is an inherently political process. The framers designed it that way. It is the ultimate way that one branch of the federal government can hold another branch accountable.

Impeachment is not like a criminal trial, in which a jury or judge is supposed to base a verdict only on what happens inside the courtroom. The Constitution’s standard for impeachment — “high crimes and misdemeanors” — is deliberately vague. The decisions about whether the House should impeach and whether the Senate should convict have always involved a mixture of law, politics and public opinion.

For this reason, I have long thought Democrats would be making a mistake by starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump, even though I also believed Trump was manifestly unfit for office.

The Mueller report was too much of a letdown. True, that was in part because of the artful deception by Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, in releasing the report — but only in part. Over all, the report was anticlimactic. It persuaded virtually no one who wasn’t already persuaded of Trump’s unfitness.

If the Democrats had impeached him after the report’s release — after specifically saying that they would make their decision based on the report — they would not have persuaded many swing voters (or virtually any Republicans). I understand that many progressives wanted House Democrats to impeach Trump anyway, as a matter of principle. But I think that view overlooks the history and purpose of impeachment: It is, again, a political process.

If you impeach a president and fail to damage his political standing — if you’re just as likely to shore up his standing, as I think a post-Mueller impeachment would have — you’re doing it wrong. You are going to political war with the Constitution you want rather than the one the country has.

Many House Democrats understood this. They’ve certainly made mistakes since retaking House control this year — namely, failing to hold investigative hearings that might have shifted public opinion. But Democrats were right to reject calls for impeachment. Most House members who represent swing districts were right about this, and so was Nancy Pelosi.

And they are right to be changing their minds now.

Starting an impeachment inquiry is the proper move because of both what’s changed and what hasn’t. What has changed? In his dealings with Ukraine, the president committed a new and clearly understandable constitutional high crime: He put his own interests above the national interest by pressuring a foreign country to damage a political rival. He evidently misused taxpayer money in the process. He has shown he’s willing to do almost anything to win re-election.

What hasn’t changed? Trump is unfit for office. He has repeatedly violated his oath of office, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. He has weakened America’s national security. He has used the presidency for personal enrichment. He has broken the law more than once. He has tried to undermine American democracy.

Trump has handed Democrats a new opportunity to persuade the country that his presidency needs to end, on Jan. 20, 2021, if not sooner. Democrats should seize that opportunity. Even if they can’t persuade Republican senators to remove him from office, they can focus voters’ attention on his egregious misbehavior.

It’s time to start an impeachment inquiry and see where it leads.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#13746 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 07:13

Trump may have really stepped in it, this time. He has left a long set of footprints leading from the scene of the crime.

The WaPo reports:

Quote

President Trump’s attempt to pressure the leader of Ukraine followed a months-long fight inside the administration that sidelined national security officials and empowered political loyalists — including the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani — to exploit the U.S. relationship with Kiev, current and former U.S. officials said.

The sequence, which began early this year, involved the abrupt removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the circumvention of senior officials on the National Security Council, and the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars of aid administered by the Defense and State departments — all as key officials from these agencies struggled to piece together Giuliani’s activities from news reports.

Several officials described tense meetings on Ukraine among national security officials at the White House leading up to the president’s phone call on July 25, sessions that led some participants to fear that Trump and those close to him appeared prepared to use U.S. leverage with the new leader of Ukraine for Trump’s political gain.

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
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#13747 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 08:05

Quote

“We can’t believe his statements, nor should we,” said Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and spokesman for the National Security Council under former President Barack Obama. “That’s why many of us who otherwise don’t like the precedent of releasing a presidential transcript are encouraging it in this case. Because there’s no other option than documentary evidence. His constant deception is pushing us towards new and dangerous territory.”


Gee, I wonder why that is?

Quote

Trump’s subsequent descriptions of what happened during and around that phone call have varied with the date and time of day he has been asked.


Oh.

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#13748 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 08:23

The incredible irony here is that the criminal enterprise that occupies the White House should be impeached for a non-criminal action.
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#13749 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 08:42

Transcripts are out...

Wow...
Alderaan delenda est
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#13750 User is online   cherdano 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 09:25

View Posthrothgar, on 2019-September-25, 08:42, said:

Transcripts are out...

Wow...

When you play hide-and-seek with a toddler, and they cover their eyes, you pretend not to see them. That's what will happen here - the Trump administration will cover their eyes with a "see no explicit quid-pro-quo discussed!" shout, and most of Republicans in congress will pretend not to see the corruption standing in front of them.
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#13751 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 09:47

Zelensky: “I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense...” (That’s the military aid.)
Trump’s next line: “I would like you to do us a favor though...”
Alderaan delenda est
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#13752 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 09:50

Why the f#ck is Bill Barr involved in foreign policy and how in hell is Guiliani acting as the State Department?

This is Mob 101.
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#13753 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 09:55

So, about that straight shooter AG Barr,

Looks like both the Inspector General and the Director of National Intelligence referred the whistleblower report for criminal investigation, but were over ruled by Barr...
Alderaan delenda est
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#13754 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 09:59

Ronny Chieng expressed cynicism about the impeachment perfectly on last night's The Daily Show.

http://www.cc.com/ep...son-24-ep-24158

It's the second segment, starting at the 16:00 mark.

"I wouldn't be surprised if this ends with Ukraine going to jail and Trump being President for life."

They said that Clinton was Teflon when none of his scandals cost him anything. What's even more slippery than Teflon, because that's what Trump seems to be made of.

#13755 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 10:14

The continued media quest for some proof of a quid pro quo trade of weapons for Biden investigation is a red herring. Likewise, the continued reporting that there is no crime is a red herring. Neither matters.

So far, the known facts are impeachable offenses. The entire purpose of the impeachment powers in the constitution was to have a way to remove a president or judge who abused the powers of the office he holds or who failed to uphold his oath of office.

Edit: I'm watching and listening to Adam Schiff talk about the Mafia-like shakedown of this presidential call and he sounds like some WC poster with whom I'm vaguely familiar. B-)

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#13756 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 10:26

Reporting indicates that Barr is already ducking for cover: "No one told me about Guiliani. I didn't know about this call. Yada, yada, yadi."
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#13757 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 13:03

A remarkable letter Adam Schiff sent Tuesday to AG William Barr:

Quote

These consequences raise the specter that the department has participated in a dangerous cover-up to protect the President.

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#13758 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 13:22

View PostWinstonm, on 2019-September-25, 10:26, said:

Reporting indicates that Barr is already ducking for cover: "No one told me about Guiliani. I didn't know about this call. Yada, yada, yadi."


Can't help but believe that Barr should be forced to recuse from any involvement
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#13759 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 13:47

View Posthrothgar, on 2019-September-25, 09:55, said:

So, about that straight shooter AG Barr,

Looks like both the Inspector General and the Director of National Intelligence referred the whistleblower report for criminal investigation, but were over ruled by Barr...

The Manchurian President's government paid personal attorney is as crooked and untrustworthy as any of the other mafioso appointed to the executive branch since 2017.

William Barr’s been accused of a presidential cover-up before

Quote

Weeks before former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s criminal trial over his role in the 1980’s Iran-Contra scandal, then-Attorney General William Barr dropped a bomb on the prosecution.

“People in the Iran-Contra affair have been treated very unfairly,” Barr told USA Today in December 1992, blasting the charges as illegitimate. “People in this Iran-Contra matter have been prosecuted for the kind of conduct that would not have been considered criminal or prosecutable by the Justice Department.”

Quote

Barr’s broadside alarmed the lead prosecutor handling the case against Weinberger, James J. Brosnahan, who warned the judge that Barr may have just unduly biased his jury pool. Later that month, when the White House pardoned six top Iran-Contra defendants on Christmas Eve 1992 at Barr’s urging, Brosnahan believed he’d just witnessed the completion of a successful cover-up.

Three decades on, Brosnahan fears Barr has returned to his old job to run the same scheme again.

“If you want a presidential cover-up, Barr is your guy,” Brosnahan, now 85, told VICE News. “And I think we’ve already seen that.”

You don't have to teach old dogs new tricks when they remember the old tricks. As we have seen from Barr's deliberate lies and misrepresentations in his written fantasy summary of Mueller's report, his unrelated to the facts TV appearance before Mueller appeared before Congress, or his repeated obstruction of justice in delaying House oversight, if you want a crooked lawyer, Barr's your man.

Barr’s Playbook: He Misled Congress When Omitting Parts of Justice Dep’t Memo in 1989

Even before he was AG the first time,

Quote

On Friday the thirteenth October 1989, by happenstance the same day as the “Black Friday” market crash, news leaked of a legal memo authored by William Barr. He was then serving as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). It is highly uncommon for any OLC memo to make headlines. This one did because it was issued in “unusual secrecy” and concluded that the FBI could forcibly abduct people in other countries without the consent of the foreign state. The headline also noted the implication of the legal opinion at that moment in time. It appeared to pave the way for abducting Panama’s leader, Gen. Manuel Noriega.

Members of Congress asked to see the full legal opinion. Barr refused, but said he would provide an account that “summarizes the principal conclusions.” Sound familiar? In March 2019, when Attorney General Barr was handed Robert Mueller’s final report, he wrote that he would “summarize the principal conclusions” of the special counsel’s report for the public.

When Barr withheld the full OLC opinion in 1989 and said to trust his summary of the principal conclusions, Yale law school professor Harold Koh wrote that Barr’s position was “particularly egregious.” Congress also had no appetite for Barr’s stance, and eventually issued a subpoena to successfully wrench the full OLC opinion out of the Department.

What’s different from that struggle and the current struggle over the Mueller report is that we know how the one in 1989 eventually turned out.

When the OLC opinion was finally made public long after Barr left office, it was clear that Barr’s summary had failed to fully disclose the opinion’s principal conclusions. It is better to think of Barr’s summary as a redacted version of the full OLC opinion. That’s because the “summary” took the form of 13 pages of written testimony. The document was replete with quotations from court cases, legal citations, and the language of the OLC opinion itself. Despite its highly detailed analysis, this 13-page version omitted some of the most consequential and incendiary conclusions from the actual opinion. And there was evidently no justifiable reason for having withheld those parts from Congress or the public.

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#13760 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2019-September-25, 14:51

View Postandrei, on 2019-September-20, 07:41, said:

Not for John though.
He has not doubts.
He knows everything.

Tell us John: what/when/with whom was discussed?

andrei - Maybe a quarter or half of everything bad Putin's Puppet did in the Ukraine blackmail scandal is now out in the public. Everybody is waiting for your informed comments about the latest developments.
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  1. cherdano