Author Archive

International High: A Haven for Immigrant Students

High school is tough enough as it is, but immigrant children who arrive in the U.S often speak little to no English and are thrown into an educational system completely different to them. Many slip between the cracks in schools that can’t give them the support they need. However, one group of schools in New York City takes a different approach. Instead of seeing these kids as outsiders, it has a teaching model based on the very diversity they bring. Golda Arthur visited the International High School at Lafayette in Brooklyn to find out how kinds from a variety of geographic and linguistic backgrounds are getting by.

Photo screen grab via YouTube

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON Starting Conversations

A conversation with the three young men who play Dr. Dre, Eazy E, and Ice Cube in the new biopic Straight Outta Compton. And a very important reminder about a disease we just don’t talk much about anymore.

Photo via Universal Pictures

Midlife Crisis Pink-slipped

When he was 39 years old, Sal Morales got pinked-slipped from his dream job. He loved his job as anchorman at a Spanish-language station in Los Angeles, but when he lost his job he felt like his life turned upside down. He moved back to his hometown of Miami to start over. Eventually, Sal realized journalism wasn’t dead—just different. Sal tells us his personal journey of learning to land on his feet.

Photo via Sal Morales

#1534 – Coming of Age

This week on Latino USA, stories about people maturing and coming into their own. We hear from a crew of skater dudes from El Salvador migrating to California, the directors of a documentary that looks into the Puerto Rican trans community, and the actors from the movie Straight Outta Compton.

When Isabel Allende Went to Interview Pablo Neruda

Many years ago, before she was a globally recognized novelist, Isabel Allende was working as a journalist for a feminist magazine in Chile. One day, poet Pablo Neruda —at that time sick and aging— invited her to his home in Isla Negra. She thought she was invited for an interview, but when it came time to start the interview, she got a lecture from Neruda about how she was a terrible journalist, and that she should try writing literature instead.

Of course, eventually, Isabel Allende did write literature, and was very good at. She’s written 18 novels and won countless literary awards. And who knows: perhaps it was her conversation with Neruda long ago that set her down that path.

Isabel Allende recounts the story to Latino USA.

Photos via Wikimedia Commons

‘Anchor Babies’ Dominating Presidential Politics

The last 24 hours have seen the immigration debate quickly shift from questions of birthright citizenship to the semantic debate of how one should describe those children born in the United States to noncitizens.

With Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush using the term “anchor babies” in a radio interview he gave yesterday (“If there’s abuse, if people are bringing — pregnant women are coming in to have babies simply because they can do it, then there ought to be greater enforcement. That’s [the] legitimate side of this. Better enforcement so that you don’t have these, you know, ‘anchor babies’, as they’re described, coming into the country.”), political opponents and those who believe that “anchor babies” is a derogatory term have been calling out the Florida governor, who last year said that those undocumented parents who come to this country do it as an act of love for their families.

The same day Bush said “anchor babies,” fellow Republican candidate Donald Trump also used the term, when he said, “There’s a very big question to the anchor babies,” and repeated the term several times after that.

This afternoon, Bush told reporters in New Hampshire he didn’t regret using “anchor babies” in his interview. This is what The Hill reported:

“Do you regret using the term ‘anchor babies’ yesterday on the radio?” one reporter asked.

“No, I didn’t — I don’t, I don’t regret it. No, do you have a better term?” Bush retorted.

“I’m asking you…” the reporter began to respond.

“You give me a better term and I’ll use it, I’m serious,” Bush said.

“Is that not bombastic language, ‘anchor baby?’ Is that not bombastic?” another reporter questioned.

“No, it isn’t. Give me another word,” Bush replied.

“Here’s the deal, what I said was it’s commonly referred to that, that’s what I said, I didn’t use it as my own language,” he added.

“What we ought to do is protect the poor kid. You want to get to the policy for a second? I think that people born in this country ought to be American citizens.”

CNN also published a video of Bush’s comments to reporters:

When news of Bush’s exchange started making the rounds, the Twitter profile of Hillary Clinton tweeted this:

In addition, Trump was challenged today by ABC News’ ABC’s Tom Llamas when asked if the candidate thought the term was offensive:

Last year, CNN’s Chris Cuomo used the same term several times on live TV and eventually had to issue an apology.

What do you think of this debate? Add your comments below or tweet me @julito77.

Mexican Immigrant’s Viral Message to Donald Trump

This week, a video from an Mexican immigrant who is undocumented and works at a restaurant inside a Donald Trump hotel has gone viral: so much so that it even appeared in The New York Times. According to the Times, 24-year-old Ricardo Aca uploaded the following video “on Facebook on Monday, where it attracted more than 300,000 views in 24 hours.”

Aca was specifically addressing Trump’s continued focus on immigration and characterizations of undocumented individuals. As Aca told the Times“I was offended because this is not who we are, this is not who I am, this is not anybody I know who is an immigrant.”

Aca’s video is getting a lot of digital buzz this week. Just check out how many outlets are covering it by going to this link.

What do you think of Aca’s video? Add your comments below, or tweet @LatinoUSA or me @julito77.

 

Two Stories From Latin America You Need to Follow

It has been a very tumultuous past few days in Latin America, and if you haven’t been following the latest news, here is a quick summary of the two most important stories from the region that I recommend you follow:

Protests in Ecuador

After following social media the last few days (see #EcuadorProtesta, #FueraCorreaFuera and #EcuadorALasCalles), it appears that the global press is finally focusing on a series of protests against Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president. Earlier today, The Guardian’s David Hill filed a digital report from Ecuador. At one point, Hill writes:

Ecuador is currently in turmoil. Thousands of people are protesting proposed constitutional amendments, the expansion of the oil frontier, mining projects, changes to water and education policy, labour laws and pensions, a proposed “Free Trade Agreement” (FTA) with the European Union (EU), and increasing repression of freedom of speech, among other things. The government’s response? To send the police and military with batons and tear-gas to beat citizens, make arbitrary arrests, raid homes and even – some people believe – to take advantage of volcanic eruptions by declaring a nationwide “State of Exception”.

The protests have taken different forms. Indigenous people marched for 10 days from the Zamora Chinchipe province in the Amazon to Quito, 1,000s and 1,000s of people gathered in the capital last week, and another march involving approximately 2,000 people was held there on Monday. In addition, a series of demonstrations and road-blocks have sprung up elsewhere in the country.

I haven’t seen many U.S.-based news outlets picking up on the news from Ecuador (although the Associated Press wrote a small story about the warning Correa gave due to the threat of a volcano erupting), so outlets like The Guardian should be ones to follow for now.

Protests in Brazil

While U.S. media hasn’t moved on Ecuador coverage just yet, a few more outlets are paying attention to the current situation in Brazil: where protests are calling for President Dilma Rousseff to step down from office. Rousseff’s current popularity is at 10% and corruption is rampant in the current governing party. The Irish Times wrote a good summary about the root causes of Rousseff’s political problems:

The Petrobras bribery scandal that has dogged Brazil’s politics for some years shows no sign of flagging. Prosecutors are expected shortly to unveil new allegations about the state-controlled oil company, while on the streets of the country’s main cities hundreds of thousands have been rallying, demanding the head of President Dilma Rousseff, re-elected barely 10 months ago. Last weekend saw the third round of mass protests this year and 10 days ago Rousseff’s ruling coalition, led by her Workers Party, was weakened by the desertion of two allied parties .

Rousseff’s problems are compounded by the likelihood that the economy will decline both this year and next. Rising unemployment, a credit rating flirting with junk status, and inflation, all presage the worst economic downturn since at least 1990.The Brazilian real is at a 12-year low against the dollar. Her own poll figures are in single digits – she is the most unpopular president since the return of democracy in 1985.

The Petrobras scandal –kickbacks for massive state contracts– dates back to Rousseff’s time as chair of the company’s board before she won the presidency in 2010, although neither she nor her predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have yet been directly implicated. She also faces legal challenges over whether her campaign received illicit contributions and if her government improperly used money from state banks to cover budget shortfalls. She insists she will not resign, but the demand for impeachment has grown to the point that two in three Brazilians support it, most strongly among the poorest and least educated; her party’s natural support base.

In addition, here are a few links that will get you up to speed:

From CNN: What Brazil’s Protests Means by Jeffrey Lesser

From the BBC: Rousseff’s woes worsen as Brazil’s protesters smell blood by 

From Reuters: Despite protests, slog more likely than radical change in Brazil by 

The Olympics are next year in Brazil, and a lot of what is happening now in the country has been bubbling for the last few years. If you really want to find out more about why Brazil is where it is at right now, I will give you one more recommendation—read Juliana Barbassa’s Dancing with the Devil in the City of God. Last month I had the pleasure of hosting a book talk with Juliana about her book, which dives into the extreme contrasts coming out of Rio de Janeiro and the rest of the country. It will give you the framework you need to understand the latest news.

dancing-with-the-devil-in-the-city-of-god-9781476756257_hr

Studio 360: The Peculiar Sadness of a Toothbrush

Last week,  Studio 360 featured Latino USA’s Marlon Bishop, who recently visited Arizona with Maria Hinojosa for our upcoming BORDERWORLD show, premiering August 28. Part of the BORDERWORLD show will feature the Tucson Samaritans, who, according to their site, “are responding directly, practically and passionately to the crisis at the US/ Mexico border.”

To read more about the artists feature in the podcast you just heard, visit the Studio 360 site. And stay tuned for the rest of our BORDERWORLD episode on August 28.

BORDERWORLDTwitter

Feature photo of Deborah McCullough, holding a toothbrush she picked up on U.S.-Mexico border. (CREDIT: Alicia Fernandez). Photo of BORDERWORLD graphic by John Moore/Getty Images.

Latino USA’s Marlon Bishop on HuffPost Live

Earlier today, our very own Marlon Bishop appeared on HuffPost Live to talk about our upcoming August 28 BORDERWORLD episode. In case you missed the segment, we produced a clip and uploaded it to our YouTube channel.

Trump Immigration Plan: What the Media Ignored

In the current quest to cover All Things Donald Trump, I haven’t found any major media outlets exploring or dissecting the ideological similarities between Trump’s highly-publicized immigration plan and the policies promoted for years by controversial groups such as Numbers USA, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). These three organizations (and others) have direct links to John Tanton, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) called “the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement.”

THE CONTEXT

The Tanton Network has been around since 1979. In 1993, Tanton wrote, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” 

Since then, many outlets have covered Tanton and his organizations, including The New York Times (read: “The Anti-Immigration Crusader”). The Times report led Tanton to write a letter to the editor, where he stated this: “The truth is that my role in pushing one of the stickiest issues of our time into public debate was far more modest than your article implies.” FAIR also responded to the Times piece with its own response. Before the Times 2011 article, CIS wrote a rather lengthy piece in 2010, defending its efforts and calling out the SPLC and the National Council of La Raza for “smearing” Tanton-founded organizations.

tanton

Tanton and his organizations have been scrutinized for years, even from conservatives. In 2013 piece for The Hill, the vice president of governmental affairs for National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference called Tanton’s network “a front for some fringe figures that advocate for population control, Eugenics, and abortion on demand.” Cafe con Leche Republicans, a prominent digital organization of Latino Republicans, has written several pieces about Tanton, with one post saying this: “The Tanton lobby’s messaging to conservatives about immigration enforcement resonates well, but most conservatives don’t support cutting legal immigration levels. Conservatives need to be wary about how these faux conservatives are manipulating the conservative movement.”

In 2012, the “self-deportation” strategy of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign —which many observers concluded was the one of the key reasons why Romney garnered only 27% of the U.S. Latino vote— had several Tanton advocates, including CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian, who said this: “Self-deportation is the core of a policy of attrition through enforcement, which has been the strategic framework for all the pro-enforcement measures of the past several years, at both the federal and state levels.”

Even though a Republican National Committee 2013 memo tried to move away from an immigration rhetoric strategy that did not resonate with U.S. Latino voters, it looks like Trump’s latest immigration plan is straight from the playbook of the Tanton Network. The Washington Post reported on Trump’s plan without mentioning Tanton-linked organizations, saying the campaign’s immigration plan was a series of ideas that “once languished at the edge of Republican politics, confined to think tanks and no-hope bills on Capitol Hill.”

TRUMP AND TANTON?
A brief review of Trump’s immigration talking points platform when compared to that of Numbers USA would reveal very similar talking points and ideological positions (by the way, Numbers USA gave Trump an A- in its latest grade for Worker-Protection Immigration report card):

First, here are Trump’s major guiding principles:

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

Numbers USA shares similar ideas:

“The ethics of closed-immigration are based primarily on the belief that a country’s ethical priority is to its own citizens. To the extent it has ethical obligations to other people, a country should help those people where they reside, not by bringing them into the country and posing harm to its own citizens.”

As you dig deeper into the two platforms, additional ideological similarities between Trump and the Tanton Network emerge. Here are just a few verbatim examples:

Trump:
End birthright citizenship.
“This remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration. By a 2:1 margin, voters say it’s the wrong policy, including Harry Reid who said “no sane country” would give automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.”

Numbers USA:
“Birthright Citizenship is the practice of granting automatic citizenship to children born in the United States. Under current federal law, nearly all children born in the U.S. receive automatic citizenship, regardless of whether their parents are lawfully in the country. This practice has created a magnet for foreign nationals who want their children to have U.S. citizenship and spawned creation of a cottage industry devoted to helping pregnant “tourists” illicitly enter this country for the purpose of giving birth.”

Numbers USA is also touting The Birthright Citizenship Bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve King, the same Rep. King who in 2014 said the following about children who entered the United States with their undocumented parents: “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds—and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

As for Reid’s comment the Trump campaign is promoting? In 1993, when the Latino population of Nevada was around 10%. Reid pushed a bill to clarify birthright citzenship. The current Latino population in Nevada is more than 25% now, and Reid has since changed his 1993 position. In fact, in his 2010 U.S. Senate election, Reid won over 90% of the U.S. Latino vote in Nevada.

Trump’s quote also linked to a 2011 Rasmussen Reports poll. Yet it didn’t link to a recent Gallup poll, which stated this: “The U.S. public demonstrates no clear preference on what U.S. immigration levels should be. On this contentious issue, 40% say levels should remain where they are, but only slightly fewer (34%) advocate a decrease in the stream of immigrants. One-quarter of the country prefers an increase in immigration levels, the sole response of the three to see a general increase in support over the past 15 years.”

Besides the birthright citizenship similarities, both Trump and Number USA are quick to also pit Black against Brown. Here are some examples:

Trump
Put American workers first.
“Decades of disastrous trade deals and immigration policies have destroyed our middle class. Today, nearly 40% of black teenagers are unemployed. Nearly 30% of Hispanic teenagers are unemployed. For black Americans without high school diplomas, the bottom has fallen out: more than 70% were employed in 1960, compared to less than 40% in 2000. Across the economy, the percentage of adults in the labor force has collapsed to a level not experienced in generations.”

Later in the platform, the campaign says the following:

“We need to control the admission of new low-earning workers in order to: help wages grow, get teenagers back to work, aid minorities’ rise into the middle class, help schools and communities falling behind, and to ensure our immigrant members of the national family become part of the American dream.”

Finally, there is the national security threat:

“Additionally, we need to stop giving legal immigrant visas to people bent on causing us harm. From the 9/11 hijackers, to the Boston Bombers, and many others, our immigration system is being used to attack us.”

What does Numbers USA have to say?

Numbers USA
“Amnesty for illegal workers is not just a slap in the face to black Americans. It’s an economic disaster. I see illegal immigration and the adverse impact that it has on the political empowerment of African Americans, and the impact it has on the job market.” T. WILLARD FAIR, PRESIDENT OF THE URBAN LEAGUE OF GREATER MIAMI, FLA.

Then there is the connection between jobs and the middle class:

“New foreign workers compete with the laid-off and underemployed highly skilled Americans in most professions and occupations, but most foreign workers compete directly in the construction, service and manufacturing industries where unemployment is the highest and where Americans have the least margin of financial security.”

As for terrorism threats, Numbers USA quoted a CIS post threats to national security:

“A retired government employee with extensive national security experience, points to Anwar al-Awlaki —a terrorist with links to jihadists including Umar Farouk Abdulmutullab, who attempted to bomb a jetliner with a bomb hidden in his underwear as the plane prepared to land near Detroit, and Nidal Malik Hasan, who massacred 13 people in 2009 at Fort Hood, Tex.— as an example of how Birthright Citizenship has the potential to benefit enemies of the United States.

THE CONCLUSION
It is too early to tell whether Trump’s immigration position and how it is similar to the views of the Tanton Network will play out in a national election. However, there are recent indications that the type of rhetoric and talking points being discussed this week in the mainstream media will alienate U.S. Latino voters even more. For example, this past April, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda —a group of the country’s top Latino advocacy groups and one of the key players in pressuring NBC to drop ties with Trump— called any attempts at changing birthright citizenship “disastrous:”

“Birthright citizenship proposals seek to undermine well-established precedent by altering the legal interpretation and application of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. These proposals would deny citizenship to an entire class of infants born in the United States based on the immigration status of their parents.

“Such legislation would result in an underclass of Latinos that would be subject to disparate and adverse treatment based solely on their ethnicity, the national origin and race of their parents, and signal a return to a pre-Civil War constitutional era.”

Still, Trump is the GOP front-runner. In fact, his lead over other candidates continues to grow with Republican voters.

Is the Trump campaign strategy just looking beyond the U.S. Latino vote and admitting that it has no chance of winning it or even attempting to win it?

Does this become a question of numbers and who actually votes in national elections?

For all the talk about U.S. Latino voting power, it is important to point this out from Pew: “Overall, 48% of Hispanic eligible voters turned out to vote in 2012, down from 49.9% in 2008. By comparison, the 2012 voter turnout rate among blacks was 66.6% and among whites was 64.1%, both significantly higher than the turnout rate among Hispanics.”

Trump’s immigration strategy is saying that more immigrants have led to fewer opportunities for African Americans. Will that type of strategy (Black vs. Brown) play out? Has Trump also tapped into those who would tell Gallup that they believe in the same levels of immigration or decreased numbers—a position the Tanton Network has been pushing for decades?

Nonetheless, it is also important to note these factoids from the very same Pew study:

“The voter turnout rate of naturalized Hispanic immigrants who arrived in the 1990s increased from 41.2% in 2008 to 47.2% in 2012.”

“Much of the growth in the number of Latino eligible voters was driven by Latino youth. Among the 3.8 million Latinos who became eligible to vote between 2008 and 2012, 3.7 million were U.S.-born young Hispanics who entered adulthood. Annually, about 800,000 U.S.-born young Hispanics come of age, making them newly eligible to vote.”

Will these numbers translate to larger voting power in 2016? Can Trump or any other GOP candidate play to the John Tantons and Steven Kings of the world and become the next President of the United States? That is the gamble candidates like Trump are taking. However, if more and more Trump piñatas become the norm for U.S. Latinos, a GOP White House will be extremely difficult to achieve.

Latino USA’s Music Playlist for ‘Off Beat’

Did you know that for our latest “Off Beat” podcast we featured clips from more than 30 songs? I have tried to gather as many as I could in our newest Spotify playlist, and before I share all the results, I need to first share this important image:

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Ok, now that we got that out of the way, here is the Spotify playlist:

Here are the songs featured in the show that were not on Spotify.

First off, Los Crudos.

This is Detestados with “Disparar a matar.”

Algodón Egipcio did a Youth Lagoon cover of “Afternoon.”

And finally, we close with some Kali Uchis songs not on Spotify.

When Music Debates Get All Crudo

The best thing about Mondays here at Latino USA? Since we are a weekend show, we love coming back to the office to check out what people are saying about the newest podcast. This Monday is not that different, especially since our latest show, “Off Beat,” covered a topic that will always elicit many reactions: music. Not surprisingly, two segments have already gone viral. The first one, “Hardpop: Dancing Through the Drug War,” discusses a topic few know about: how an electronic dance club in Ciudad Juárez became one of the top clubs in the world.

The other segment, about hardcore’s iconic Los Crudos band, also went viral, mostly because the Facebook page of Maximum Rocknroll shared the segment:

It was very cool of Maximum Rocknroll to feature the piece and even cooler to see their post get over 1,500 Facebook likes and 215 shares in just 18 hours. The Maximum Rocknroll community knows their music, so to see a Latino USA segment on their Facebook page kind of made our day.

Until we starting reading some of the comments, which were objecting to the story’s original web headline—”Los Crudos, Hardcore’s First Latino Band:”

“Great article; but to say that Los Crudos is the first hardcore latino band; is a complete understatement, specially since the genre was basically founded for the most part by hispanic Americans (Agnostic Front anyone?) and a lot of the values you see in hardcore came from the most part from traditional latino family culture. Needless to say I do have to say that Los Crudos is one of the most important and influential hardcore bands from the 90’s. Latino or not, there’s always at least one person that recognizes my Los Crudos patch at any show I go to; mind you that I attend shows from several genres (from country/bluegrass to death and black metal shows to chiptune and raves) i always get at least one person saying “holy ****! I love that band!” but yeah ..not the first ones for sure, even though theres a huge chance that the first punk rock band was actually formed in South America and not in England like it was first let to believe. (google Los Saicos from Peru)”

Good point about Los Saicos, and although many might not think of them as a “hardcore” band, they are considered to be the punk pioneers of Latin America (and to some, the entire world). This song, “Demolición,” is from 1964. That is 51 years ago.

But are Los Saicos “Latino?” At least in my worldview (not the definitive authority, by the way), I have always used “Latin American” to describe Saicos and I get that identities are getting blurrier these days, but yes, bands like Los Saicos were doing amazing things way before Los Crudos broke through.

As for Agnostic Front, lead signer Roger Miret is of Cuban descent, but not every original member in the band was Latino. So calling Los Crudos the first all-Latino hardcore band is not that far off, although yes, the headline should have been more clearer.

“Obviously they’re not the first, but what they and huasipungo did was start the explicitly latinx-identified hardcore scene in the US. Although I think huasipungo predates them by a bit. Esneider Huasipungo? I don’t think any of the bands made a point to publicly make statements identifying as latino bands before them to make it sort of a sub-scene, like straight edge or queer punk. Los Crudos and huasipungo set the ball in motion to create a the Latinx-punk scene in the US that exists today. But yeah, calling them the first was a bad choice of words.”

The Huasipungo comment presented a more valid reason for us to change the original web headline and say, “Los Crudos: Hardcore’s Latino Pioneers.” As one blogger wrote about Huasipungo:

“Huasipungo is a political, Latino hardcore band that started in NYC in 1991. During the ’90s i think they were kinda overshadowed by the more popular Los Crudos (also Latino and extremely political), but to me they were every bit as good. I prefer Huasipungo actually, and think more people should be exposed to them.”

Other comments from Maximum Rocknroll weighed in on the debate. It got kind of intense (so many amazing bands were named), but it was all in good fun. Anyway, we heard you and we changed the headline in the original Crudos piece.

Thanks to all of you who listened to the segment, and if you ever need to connect with us about any part of the show, just tweet @LatinoUSA or me @julito77.

#1533 – Off Beat

This week on Latino USA, stories about music that goes against the grain – or you could say, is a little offbeat. We visit the Juarez music venue that helped club kids get through the drug war, and learn the history behind the first great Latino hardcore punk band. Plus – an interview with Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis, and a chat about the meaning behind Latino cover songs.

 

Latino USA Talks About Their Favorite Cover Songs

Nowadays, it’s a common rite of passage for bands to make at least one cover. It’s a way for musicians to reference others–and also, to just please fans of music overall with a slight wink. But when Latino bands cover a famous song, there’s a lot more at play. We speak to mariachi metal cover band Metalachi and artist Jarina de Marco about her cover of the raunchy 90s hit El Venao.

 


 

 

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