Freedom Isn’t Free

Apparently not.

[T]hese days, men with guns are not Iraqi reporters’ only threat. Men with gavels are, too.

Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.

Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists are accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who “publicly insults” the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison.

On Sept. 7, the police sealed the offices of Al Arabiya, a Dubai-based satellite news channel, for what the government said was inflammatory reporting. And the Committee to Protect Journalists says that at least three Iraqi journalists have served time in prison for writing articles deemed criminally offensive.

But hey, at least we closed down Saddam’s old torture center Abu Ghraib. Eventually.

66 replies
  1. 1

    Well you have to understand. When the media criticizes the government, they are giving aid and comfort to the terrorists.

    So it’s justified to shut them down. Glenn Reynolds said so.

  2. 2
    salvage says:

    That’s what thousands of America soldiers fought and died for; to protect corrupt Iraqi politicians.

  3. 3
    Keith says:

    I think this is what Bush means by “they hate us for our freedom”.

  4. 4

    […] are we fighting for again? Oh yeah, freedom right? Can you imagine if we had laws in this country criminalizing the criticism of public officials? My guess is that we wouldn’t be a democraticthat’s for sure. (via John Cole)      […]

  5. 5
    Andrew says:

    Michelle Malkin is so excited by the criminalization of reporting that she became unanchored.

  6. 6
    capelza says:

    Andrew, are you serious?

  7. 7
    neil says:

    Out with the old torture centers, in with the new torture centers.

    Andrew is rarely serious.

  8. 8
    Mac Buckets says:

    More ado about nothing from the New York Times (and the Iraqi journo who wrote this piece) — just something for the moonbats who won’t read further than a headline to froth about.

    Ask even the arrested Iraqis if they want to go back to Saddam’s rule. By the way, the female reporter was arrested, then released on bail (the charges must’ve been dropped, because the writer doesn’t print the outcome — we all know he would have, had she been found guilty) and the other two got suspended sentences, which is buried in the last few paragraphs (hey, this Iraqi learned well from the Times!), in the autonomous Kurdish region, where the new government holds little sway.

    It’s hardly a devastating view of oppression of journalists in the new Iraq. It’s hardly the torture chambers or the firing squad they would’ve faced under Saddam for printing much less. Is it “our way?” Is it ideal? Of course not, but it’s a big improvement, as even the Iraqis admit.

    “The road to democracy is not smoothly paved,” Mr. Sadr said during a recent interview in his office, cigarette smoke curling around his face. “It is filled with bombs.”

    Despite the danger, Falah al-Mishaal, the editor of Al Sabah, the government-run newspaper in Baghdad, said he enjoyed his job now because he felt like a real journalist.

    “Now, we are free,” he said in an interview in late July. “We can write whatever we want.”

  9. 9
    BlogReeder says:

    When I first read the title of this post, I thought you had an epiphany. But it turned out to be the same old drivel. Are you saying all our soldiers died for nothing because Iraq has some bad laws on the books? Yes, they should be changed. You might have forgotten that this government was formed recently or that they are in the middle of an active insurgency. Why don’t you post something about the Marsh Arabs?

  10. 10
    Mac Buckets says:

    Why don’t you post something about the Marsh Arabs?

    Come on. Do you really have to ask Tim that question? It ain’t exactly “fair and balanced” around here…

  11. 11
    ThymeZone says:

    Mr. Fleischer:
    ….There was an earlier question about has the President said anything to people in his own party — they’re reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do.

    Time to reflect on Fleischer’s words. The last thing you want in these times when torture is being used to defend our freedom, is for people to be saying inflammatory things.

    If reporters can’t be prudent enough to watch what they say, then they shall have to suffer the consequences.

    —-//

    Also, Andrew is not serious all the time? Who knew?

  12. 12

    Come on. Do you really have to ask Tim that question? It ain’t exactly “fair and balanced” around here…

    Why can’t we hear about all the good things in Iraq?

    When was the last time Tim talked about the wonderful things we are building over there? Like schools and hospitals.

    You guys are sooooo predictable.

  13. 13
    Pb says:

    Despite the danger, Falah al-Mishaal, the editor of Al Sabah, the government-run newspaper in Baghdad, said he enjoyed his job now because he felt like a real journalist.

    “Now, we are free,” he said in an interview in late July. “We can write whatever we want.”

    I bet the Iraqi Information Minister said the same thing. Leave it to Republicans to treat the Iraqi organ of the state as gospel. Meanwhile…

    “These cases show that Iraqi officials are quick to use the same kinds of onerous legal tools as their neighbors to punish outspoken media,” said Joel Campagna, the Middle East program director for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

    Last month, more than 70 news organizations signed a nine-point pledge supporting the national reconciliation plan of Prime Minister Maliki, promising not to use inflammatory statements or images of people killed in attacks, and vowing to “disseminate news in a way that harmonizes with Iraq’s interests.” Days later, the police barred journalists from photographing corpses at the scenes of bombings and mortar attacks. Since then, policemen have smashed several photographers’ cameras and digital memory cards.

    At Al Arabiya, the Baghdad station shuttered by the Iraqi authorities earlier this month, the studio door handle is sealed in red wax and bound in police tape. (The door is adorned with a photo of Atwar Bahjat, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Samarra in February while reporting on the bombing of a Shiite shrine.)

    Some news executives express support for Al Arabiya’s closing.

    “It is the right of the Iraqi government, as it combats terrorism, to silence any voice that tries to harm the national unity,” said Mr. Sadr, of the Iraqi Media Network.

    Freedom is slavery.

  14. 14
    EL says:

    Yes, why aren’t we hearing about all the journalists who weren’t arrested?

    (channeling Doug J)

  15. 15
    salvage says:

    Are you saying all our soldiers died for nothing because Iraq has some bad laws on the books?

    Are you deliberately this obtuse or is it natural?

  16. 16
    Zifnab says:

    Ask even the arrested Iraqis if they want to go back to Saddam’s rule. By the way, the female reporter was arrested, then released on bail (the charges must’ve been dropped, because the writer doesn’t print the outcome—we all know he would have, had she been found guilty) and the other two got suspended sentences, which is buried in the last few paragraphs (hey, this Iraqi learned well from the Times!), in the autonomous Kurdish region, where the new government holds little sway.

    Wait? So, if an anti-Speech law is passed, but ill-enforced it’s ok? And the Iraqis who were arrested, the woman who was released on bail, that was fine so long as she wasn’t actually convicted? If you were a reporter, published a story critical of your local government, had a policeman come to your door to arrest you, was arraigned before a judge, and had to front bail money to get out, you’d be cool with that? So long as you didn’t actually go to jail? And the writer doesn’t pursue the story because “we all know he would have, if she’s been found guilty”, rather than, say, maybe she hasn’t had her day in court yet?

    One more question about the Military Commission by Waterboard Act they passed yesterday.

    Despite the danger, Falah al-Mishaal, the editor of Al Sabah, the government-run newspaper in Baghdad, said he enjoyed his job now because he felt like a real journalist.

    “Now, we are free,” he said in an interview in late July. “We can write whatever we want.”

    Why is it that the Iraqis can live in down the street from car bombings and feel the need to embrace the Bill of Rights, but when Bush raises the terror alert level up a notch and tells us “Al Qauda wants to kill you and your family” the nation collectively shits itself and gives him whatever he wants? Why do Iraqis have bigger balls than we do?

  17. 17
    ThymeZone says:

    Why do Iraqis have bigger balls than we do?

    It’s all about living in the desert ;^)

    Not everyone is up to it.

  18. 18
    capelza says:

    Zinfab…your post and this topic reminds me of the Newsweek cover…all it’s International editions had the Taliban cover..what did the U.S. get? Annie Leibowitz.

    Is because it’s too controversial for us, or too scary? Or are we just that shallow? See Trent Lott’s comments about most of us not caring about Iraq that much…and don’t they all look the same.

    Wingnut boys, what happened to the Marsh Arabs was a freaking tragedy…so, now that we, the cavalry, have arrived to rescue the Iraqi people from tyranny…tryanny, little and large is again part of their lives, the tyranny of laws like this, the social tryanny that is new to the women of Iraq (their lives are diminished) and the tyranny of daily violence, torture and death…

  19. 19
    Mac Buckets says:

    Wait? So, if an anti-Speech law is passed, but ill-enforced it’s ok? And the Iraqis who were arrested, the woman who was released on bail, that was fine so long as she wasn’t actually convicted?

    What part of “Is it our way? Is it ideal? No.” is throwing you off?

    But it sure is misleading for the Times to publish a lede saying journalists are being arrested, and then bury or not even mention that the charges were dropped or the person found innocent, that the sentences were suspended, or that they were in the Kurdish region. Again, to the moonbats who don’t read past the headline…

    Why is it that the Iraqis can live in down the street from car bombings and feel the need to embrace the Bill of Rights, but when Bush raises the terror alert level up a notch and tells us “Al Qauda wants to kill you and your family” the nation collectively shits itself and gives him whatever he wants? Why do Iraqis have bigger balls than we do?

    First of all, only lefties shit themselves when a terror alert is raised, and that’s only so they can whine about it. Second, Iraqis have bigger balls than you because they know what real oppression is. They lived through it under Saddam, and now they want something better.

  20. 20
    Andrew says:

    BlogReeder and Mac have a good point:
    What’s the big deal about some stupid laws about journalism?

    I mean compared to being pulled out of your car and getting 45 power drill holes in your body because you’re a particular kind of Muslim.

  21. 21
    ThymeZone says:

    now that we, the cavalry, have arrived to rescue the Iraqi people from tyranny

    Americans didn’t send their kids to Iraq to rescue the Iraqi people. They did it to avert a WMD threat that turned out to be nonexistant, and to avenge a 911 connection that never existed either.

    Whenever the bonesmokers try to play the “world better off without Saddam” joker in the deck, throw down the truth. The truth is that the world is not better off, Iraq is not better off, and Americans are not better off. And even if they were, it wouldn’t justify the bullshit runup to this war.

  22. 22
    ThymeZone says:

    only lefties shit themselves when a terror alert is raised

    It’s been elevated for five years. WTF are you talking about?

  23. 23
    capelza says:

    Completely agreed TZ…the whole fucking Iraq mess was desired, advised, “planned”, recommended by these yahoos for years. It was on their mind before they even rustled up Goober to front for them…it was on their mind from the moment Goober took office and even after someone CLEARLY NOT Saddam perpetrated tht 9/11, they moved on Iraq as soon as possible, after the soon to be neglected detour to Afghanistan.

    It’s all horseshit…

  24. 24
    ThymeZone says:

    They lived through it under Saddam, and now they want something better.

    Too bad we’re not able to give it to them.

  25. 25
    Mac Buckets says:

    It’s been elevated for five years. WTF are you talking about?

    Ask Zif — he brought it up.

    The truth is that the world is not better off, Iraq is not better off, and Americans are not better off.

    Because Ppg hates Bush, he gets to speak The Truth for people he’s never met! What a deal! I wouldn’t trust that troll to do my 5-year-old’s math homework (granted, it’s from a gifted-and-talented program, so it’s no gimme), but he has the answer to world security issues. He’s arrogant-tastic!

  26. 26
    Punchy says:

    What part of “Is it our way? Is it ideal? No.” is throwing you off?

    Let’s see…torture, check. Detainment without charges, check. Corruption in gov’t, check. Highly polarized citizens, check.

    Sounds like they’re really damn close to our gov’t system after all.

  27. 27
    ThymeZone says:

    Because Ppg hates Bush, he gets to speak The Truth for people he’s never met!

    The truth is that the world is not better off, Iraq is not better off, and Americans are not better off.

  28. 28
    Zifnab says:

    But it sure is misleading for the Times to publish a lede saying journalists are being arrested, and then bury or not even mention that the charges were dropped or the person found innocent, that the sentences were suspended, or that they were in the Kurdish region. Again, to the moonbats who don’t read past the headline…

    The Times never buried anything. Where did you hear that the charges were dropped and where did you read that the person was found innocent?

    One, Bilal Hussein, who photographed insurgents in Anbar Province for The Associated Press, has been in American custody without charges since April.

    In May, a court in Sulaimaniya, in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, sentenced two journalists, Twana Osman and Asos Hardi, to six-month suspended jail terms for an article claiming that a Kurdish official had two telephone company employees fired after they cut his phone service for failing to pay his bill.

    With reports like that, who’s to say that her case isn’t locked in judical limbo? In which case, she’s lucky compared to others.

    Last month, Mohammad Abbas Mohammad, a newspaper editor, was shot to death in western Baghdad, and Ismail Amin Ali, a blunt-spoken columnist, was killed on the street across town on the same day.

    Oh, and you left a bit off that quote of yours further up,

    “Now, we are free,” he said in an interview in late July. “We can write whatever we want.”

    Three weeks after the interview, a man drove a minibus filled with explosives into Al Sabah’s rear parking lot and blew it up, killing two people and wounding 20 others.

  29. 29
    Zifnab says:

    It’s been elevated for five years. WTF are you talking about?

    It goes from Yellow (piss yourself) to Orange (piss yourself, but GO HORNS!) to Red (start pissing blood) as the election cycle progresses. So it does move.

  30. 30
    Punchy says:

    I mean compared to being pulled out of your car and getting 45 power drill holes in your body because you’re a particular kind of Muslim.

    How unfair. How biased. How come we never hear about the Iraqis who only get 15 drill holes? Huh?

  31. 31
    Mac Buckets says:

    Too bad we’re not able to give it to them.

    Please have every candidate you support run on “We can’t do better than Saddam!” Please. Do it. Come on. Every one of them deserves your help. After all, you have The Truth on your side, right?

  32. 32
    Zifnab says:

    We can’t do better than Saddam!

    That’s a Republican Slogan isn’t it?

  33. 33
    capelza says:

    Mac…it isn’t “our” candidates that have created this clusterfuck…why should “we” have to do that, when it’s your GOP in power that has made the decisions (or not) that have created it.

    What I find amazing is that you all seem to be unable to collate all the information. You refuse to acknowledge one fuck, forget about it, and then move on to refusing the next fuck up.

  34. 34
    capelza says:

    That should have read:

    You refuse to acknowledge one fuck up, forget about it, and then move on to refusing to accept the next fuck up.

  35. 35
    RSA says:

    Ask even the arrested Iraqis if they want to go back to Saddam’s rule.

    Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations. I think even if we asked dead Iraqis, none would say they wanted to go back to Saddam’s rule.

  36. 36
    Mac Buckets says:

    why should “we” have to do that

    Because you’re the only ones who think it! Duuuuuuuuuh. Just ask Ppg!

  37. 37
    Mac Buckets says:

    Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations.

    Yes, I know, Iraq should be Disneyland MidEast by now. I’ve heard it all before…

  38. 38
    Tsulagi says:

    Finally some happy news out of Iraq. Reporters being jailed for not reporting happy news. With laws to back it up. Good stuff. Don’t know why the reporters would be bitching about that, they could have wound up in one of the neighborhood Islamic courts. Count your blessings.

  39. 39
    ThymeZone says:

    Please have every candidate you support run on “We can’t do better than Saddam!”

    How generous of you to offer advice to Dems.

    Thanks anyway, Mac. We’ll call you if we can’t get ahold of Ann Coulter or maybe Jerry Falwell.

  40. 40
    Zifnab says:

    Yes, I know, Iraq should be Disneyland MidEast by now. I’ve heard it all before…

    When I go to Disneyland, they great me with candy and flowers.

  41. 41
    ThymeZone says:

    Iraq should be Disneyland MidEast by now

    Jesus, what an ass.

  42. 42
    capelza says:

    Mac Buckets Says:

    Because you’re the only ones who think it! Duuuuuuuuuh. Just ask Ppg!

    Uh, which “you” are you referring to Mac…the majority of the country that thinks Iraq is Fubar?

  43. 43
    RSA says:

    When I go to Disneyland, they greet me with candy and flowers.

    Some people go to Disneyland for six days, others six weeks. I doubt anyone stays six months.

  44. 44
    Punchy says:

    Orange (piss yourself, but GO HORNS!)

    That’s a BRILLIANT idea. Make the color code university-specific. If they want people to pay attention to the color, then marry each color to a school! Here’s my suggestions:

    Code:
    Blue–“We’re at Michigan right now. Things seem wicked safe. Except when they travel to OSU”

    Green–“We’re at level Tulane (mascot–Green wave, in N.O.). No bombs foreseen, no more flooding expected”

    Yellow–“Running at Hawkeye at the moment. By the way, yellow is playing red Sat. nite. May have to change terror alert depending on who wins”

    Orange–“Level UT. Of course, it’s the light-colored, gayish orange. Screw Vince”.

    Red–“We’re at level Ohio Suc…er, I mean State. Since we’re all at freak-out, piss-pants, double-secret probation level, it’s only appropriate that OSU describes this best”

    Suddenly, college football idiots like myself everywhere are flooding the DHS website. The terror “threat” is discussed daily. Bush accomplishes “constant fear mode” successfully. Why am I the only one who thinks this shit up?

  45. 45
    Mac Buckets says:

    the majority of the country that thinks Iraq is Fubar?

    Hey, if you think the majority thinks “Iraq can’t do better than Saddam,” then you should make those ads today. Get them running before it’s too late! What candidates want those ads? I’ll make the ad buys for you! Hurry!

  46. 46

    I mean compared to being pulled out of your car and getting 45 power drill holes in your body because you’re a particular kind of Muslim.

    But how come we never hear the good news about getting 45 power drill holes in your body because you’re a particular kind of Muslim?

  47. 47

    Hey, if you think the majority thinks “Iraq can’t do better than Saddam,” then you should make those ads today. Get them running before it’s too late! What candidates want those ads? I’ll make the ad buys for you! Hurry!

    Look.

    Either we appoint GW Bush Governor of Iraq, or we let the Iraqi people choose their own government.

    Either way, what’s this gotta do with me?

  48. 48
    Mac Buckets says:

    How generous of you to offer advice to Dems.

    It was your brilliant slogan that’s the inspiration. I just thought I’d offer my services to get the Nutty Troll message out there in as many Congressional races as is humanly possible!

    I’m just wondering why you’re backpedalling now.

  49. 49
    capelza says:

    God, you are dense…we SHOULD be doing better than Saddam you nitwit..

  50. 50
    ThymeZone says:

    Why am I the only one who thinks this shit up?

    It’s the CO Q-10 you are taking, I think.

    Once I got up to 90mg a day, I just started kicking ass.

  51. 51
    Andrew says:

    But how come we never hear the good news about getting 45 power drill holes in your body because you’re a particular kind of Muslim?

    I blame the liberal MSM.

    If they didn’t have a deal with the terrorists to keep Fox News reporters out of the country, we’d see Chris Wallace interviewing Clinton from Sadr City.

  52. 52
    Punchy says:

    But how come we never hear the good news about getting 45 power drill holes in your body because you’re a particular kind of Muslim?

    Sounds like cheap air conditioning for the sternum and clavicle. As every good doctor knows, when your pores aren’t doing the job, help ’em out with a couple dozen new, much larger ones.

    God knows they need these new holes, being its 115F over there. As I’ve said before, drill bit salesmen in Baghdad are making scratch hand over fist…

  53. 53
    ThymeZone says:

    I’m just wondering why you’re backpedalling now.

    I’m not. You are going against the traffic.

    Turn around, join the human race.

    Or, not. Whatever.

  54. 54
    RSA says:

    God, you are dense…we SHOULD be doing better than Saddam you nitwit.

    But the opposite point of view is completely understandable, if you realize that it’s held by someone who thinks that America can’t do better than George W. Bush.

  55. 55

    That’s a BRILLIANT idea. Make the color code university-specific.

    Maybe if we had Corporate Sponsors?

    Blue – Come alive with the Pepsi Generation

    Green – Nothing runs like a Deere.

    Yellow – Think Yellow Book

    Orange – Save up to 50% on your phone bill! Try Vonage!

    Blue – Your Business On Demand. IBM!

    Red – Red Hat, the Open Source Leader

  56. 56
    Mac Buckets says:

    God, you are dense…we SHOULD be doing better than Saddam you nitwit.

    What do you mean, “should?” Are you another who thinks Iraq was better off with Saddam? Great — more contributions to Ppg’s ad campaign!

  57. 57

    God, you are dense…we SHOULD be doing better than Saddam you nitwit..

    Look. Mac Buckets can’t really help it. It’s who he is as a person.

    It’s best just to ignore him, because reason or logic doesn’t work with him, and calling him names just feeds into his victimhood.

  58. 58

    What do you mean, “should?” Are you another who thinks Iraq was better off with Saddam? Great—more contributions to Ppg’s ad campaign!

    You gotta give him credit. Even if he isn’t particularly insightful, original or creative.

    He is consistent.

  59. 59
    Zifnab says:

    But how come we never hear the good news about getting 45 power drill holes in your body because you’re a particular kind of Muslim?

    They’re actually speed holes. They make you run faster.

  60. 60
    Zifnab says:

    Mac’s totally on a kick right now. Expect for him to be shouting for at least the next two to three hours.

    I’m waiting for the Iraqi interview that goes, “Is Iraq better without Saddam? Well, I can’t really say given the circumstances. But if you really held me feet to the fire, I’d have to say the US occupation is preferable. Then I’d say pretty much anything else you wanted me to.”

  61. 61
    Tsulagi says:

    Oh you lefty dhimmis hand wringing over the little things about the president’s vision. We’re well along the Roadmap to Freedom and Democracy in Iraq. Here’s one little snapshot in time on jihadwatch.org which is probably just a little to the right of apostates like Malkin…

    BASRA, Iraq — Sheikh Assad al-Basri says there’s no need to worry that he and his Islamist militiamen might recreate a repressive Iranian-style theocracy in Iraq.

    That’s because the Islamic Republic of Iran is far too liberal, according to Basri, the leading local representative of rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
    …….
    Fear is palpable on the streets. One day three months ago, a female student from Basra University’s college of sciences was ordered to cover her hair. She refused to comply. Three days later she was found dead on the road to her house, said her classmates and professors.

    It’s all good. Sure, there may have been a few curves and bumps in the road since that report in April 05, but the 172nd Stryker Brigade now in a Baghdad oil spot reports an even number of posters for Sadr and Death to America. Balanced. Can’t wait to hear the new positive poll numbers coming from there.

  62. 62
    ThymeZone says:

    Proper reporting will settle all of this. When you’re deadish, it matters a lot whether you were killed by a despot, or by an out of control insurgency and sectarian war with no end in sight.

    Really, it matters.

    Nine out of ten dead people agree.

    Johnson would not provide the figures used to calculate the percentages and said the military would not give detailed information about trends because that could provide “our enemy information they need to adjust their tactics and procedures to be more effective against us.”

    Really, if more dead people would refrain from falling over when dead, it would make the rosy scenario reporting a lot easier.

  63. 63
    Sojourner says:

    Sounds to me like a Republican wet dream. What’s the problem?

  64. 64
    Zifnab says:

    You might not have always liked Republicans, but you could count on them to manage the bank. They might be lousy tippers, act snooty, talk through their noses, wear spats and splash mud on you as they race their Pierce-Arrows through the village, but you knew they could do the math. To see them produce a ninny and then follow him loyally into the swamp for five years is disconcerting, like seeing the Rolling Stones take up lite jazz.

    http://prairiehome.publicradio.....6/13.shtml

    I really do long for the days when Democrats were the idealists and Republicans were the realists. When the party of the left was the party of lofty hopes and dreams no one could honestly expect to achieve and the party of the right was the party of down to earth nuts and bolts that still left a man feeling wanting. Now we’ve got the party of fear and the party of being afraid. On one hand, the Republicans who tell us what they must protect us from. On the other hand, the Democrats who seem reluctant to protect us from the other party. We are in a civil war and neither side feels like it is worth fighting for. So we reluctantly choose the lesser of two evil – depending on our points of view – and merely pray that these dark days will pass quickly.

  65. 65
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    Actually, John, Abu Ghraib is back up and more energetic than ever, according to (I believe) the Washington Post — it’s just that it’s under new management, namely that of the new pro-Shiite governing tyranny. According to the article, the neighborhood is complaining about the screams coming out of the place.

  66. 66
    Krista says:

    Sounds to me like a Republican wet dream. What’s the problem?

    For starters, the mental image created by that simile…

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