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Texas Approves Conservative Curriculum 999

Posted by Soulskill
from the great-school-board-or-greatest-school-board dept.
Macharius writes "Today, the Texas Board of Education approved 11-4 a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the role of Christianity in American history and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light. The article goes on to mention that Texas's textbook approvals carry less influence than they used to due to digital localization technology, but is that even measurable given how many millions of these textbooks will still be used across the country?"
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Texas Approves Conservative Curriculum

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  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tr3vin (1220548) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:20PM (#31458374)
    They have books in Texas?
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:25PM (#31458450)
      I just finished grad school in Texas and was dumbfounded on how many arguments I got when I had to teach human evolution. Some of the most basic things that we take for granted as fact were just thrown to the wayside. Fortunately college has a way of forcefully opening your mind, but I really feel for these kids up until that point. No history book is going to be 100% objective, but it is still something that we should strive for.
      • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pitchpipe (708843) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:42PM (#31458706)
        I, as a former conservative Christian (now an atheist), find it strange that they feel that god needs the government's help to promote his message. They're going to help GOD ALMIGHTY to get HIS message out because he's obviously having a hard time doing it himself. Kind of like how they are fucking screaming mad if you suggest taking "In God We Trust" off of the currency, meanwhile we spend just about as much as the rest of the world combined on our military.

        In God We Trust... but not with much.

        • Render unto Cesar. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:50PM (#31458830)

          I would think more Christians would be for removing "In God We Trust" from the money. For one thing, it's obviously a huge lie. Also, it's really ironic if you think about it.

          If they want to put something that reflects Christian values on the money, they should use "Render unto Cesar".

          • by AuMatar (183847) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:41PM (#31459558)

            Modern American Christians? That would never fly- they don't believe in rendering anything unto Ceasar, they think taxes are evil all the while living in states that receive more than a dollar in federal aid for every dollar taken.

            • by demonlapin (527802) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:16PM (#31460470) Homepage Journal
              I've seen this argument quite a lot lately, but one thing bothers me - if it irks you so much, why don't you start voting against taxes and let them go adrift? Be realistic - most of those dollars go to programs, like Medicare, Social Security, and welfare, that are championed by the coasties. I live in a net recipient state, and I vote Republican because I don't want a 50% overall tax rate. I can't imagine any set of government services that is worth half my income year in and year out. (I don't mind outliers - for example, right now I think that extending unemployment benefits is a very important use of tax dollars, and I'm not averse to a sunsetted tax to pay for them.) If you think that a high-tax, high-government-benefit regime is best, move to NY or MA.
              • by glodime (1015179) <eric@glodime.com> on Saturday March 13, 2010 @12:53AM (#31461888) Homepage

                ... I vote Republican because I don't want a 50% overall tax rate.

                a) If you voted for Democrat(s), you would not be supporting a 50% overall tax rate. b) While Democrats tend to vote for more government services i.e. expenditures, often without raising tax revenues to pay for it, Republicans tend to vote for eliminating tax revenues, often without eliminating government services that they finance. Neither situation is in the best interest of the citizens of the USA as they increase future taxes more than otherwise be prudent. That's one reason I consistently vote for people that are not endorsed bay any political party for the Federal or State office I'm casting my vote for. Last presidential election I voted for Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, NJ. I'm willing to vote for a Democrat or Republican that supports the public funding of federal election campaigns as advocated by fixcongressfirst.org. But only for one term.

          • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000 AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:05PM (#31460386)

            I would think more Christians would be for removing "In God We Trust" from the money. For one thing, it's obviously a huge lie. Also, it's really ironic if you think about it.

            The problem with some American Christians is that they believe in Manifest Destiny [wikipedia.org], where the USA is a Christian Nation and it's mission is to spread the word throughout the world. Others are Dominionists [wikipedia.org], Christian Reconstructionists [wikipedia.org], or other flavors of Christian Talibans. And like the Talibans in Afghanistan and Pakistan if they ever get the chance they've dictate to others they must live "the Christian way". They would even bring back stoning for adulatory and other sins. Here's one that even says The bible permits slavery. [blogspot.com]

            Falcon

      • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dan828 (753380) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:15PM (#31459174)
        I grew up in Texas, in a town that was conservative by Texas standards, and even at that I don't think any sort of "controversy" about evolution was ever brought up in high school. Most of the argument you were subjected to where probably from attitudes acquired in the home or church, not school. That said, it was much later in life, when I was living in California and working on a masters in Cellular and Molecular biology that I first had a discussion with a fundamentalist christian about evolution. The discussion ended rather abruptly after the guy pulled out an argument that was somehow supposed to show that the 2nd law of thermodynamics made evolution impossible. I'd never heard the argument (turns out it's a staple of these evolution deniers), and my response to him was basically "OK, well all that you've managed to show me is that you have absolutely no understanding of the 2nd law of thermodynamics."
        • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by timmarhy (659436) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:23PM (#31459294)
          i think the evolution nah sayers using science is a kind of evolution in itself. they have gotten to the point where science won't let them stand on faith alone. i have no problem with someone saying the believe in something because they choose to - that's what faith is.

          what I and i think most other people object to is when they try call it science and cherry pick some facts and misrepresent the truth in schools to try trick kids into buying into their faith.

        • Re:What? (Score:5, Funny)

          by StDoodle (1041630) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:38PM (#31459508)

          Creationists always try to use the second law,
          to disprove evolution, but their theory has a flaw.
          The second law is quite precise about where it applies,
          only in a closed system must the entropy count rise.
          The earth's not a closed system, it's powered by the sun,
          so fuck the damn creationists, Doomsday get my gun!

          MC Hawking, Entropy

  • Why Texas? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by msauve (701917) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:23PM (#31458418)
    California has half again the population of Texas. Is there no CA state approval for textbooks? Seems that CA and TX should balance each other out, politically.
    • Re:Why Texas? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lobo42 (723131) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:34PM (#31458586) Journal

      From the NY Times:

      "California is the largest textbook market, but besides being bankrupt, it tends to be so specific about what kinds of information its students should learn that few other states follow its lead."

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/magazine/14texbooks-t.html?scp=3&sq=texas%20education&st=cse [nytimes.com]

      • If true... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by msauve (701917)
        Why can't the exact same thing be said to be true for Texas?

        i.e. "Texas is the second largest textbook market, but it tends to be so specific about what kinds of information its students should learn that few other states follow its lead."
    • Re:Why Texas? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nimey (114278) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:56PM (#31458912) Homepage Journal

      It's the conservative anti-intellectual thing, I think. In Texas any uneducated asshole can put in his two cents about educational standards, and he's given equal weight with trained, experienced teachers.

    • Re:Why Texas? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bughunter (10093) <.ten.knilhtrae. .ta. .retnuhgub.> on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:58PM (#31458950) Journal

      Clearly you don't live in California. Only outside CA is the political system perceived as Liberal. Those of us who live within the state have learned that there are a few enclaves of urban liberalism, surrounded by by vast areas of rural conservatism rivaling those of Kansas or Texas.

      And then there are a number of conservative urban areas, too, like San Diego, San Bernardino, Bakersfield and Orange County.

      But the state continues to be portrayed by the rest of the country as a homogeneous liberal wasteland, populated entirely by hippies and surfers.

      In reality, NY State is more liberal than the state of CA.

      • Re:Why Texas? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by value_added (719364) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:13PM (#31459898)

        Clearly you don't live in California. Only outside CA is the political system perceived as Liberal. Those of us who live within the state have learned that there are a few enclaves of urban liberalism, surrounded by by vast areas of rural conservatism rivaling those of Kansas or Texas.

        LOL. Nice to see someone point this out for a change. And for those non-residents reading along at home, most Hollywood execs (from agents to production houses to studio heads) have political philosophies more in line with rural Kansas or Texas than those associated with our liberal enclaves. You heard it right, folks. Most of "Hollywood" is conservative. Shouldn't be a surprise, given the amount of money at stake in a given deal or project. The paeons working in the industry, on the other hand, well, creative types invariably and almost by definition espouse (often quite vocally) philosophies different from the mainstream.

        I'd even go farther. There's parts of Kansas, Texas and other states in the deep South are more hip, liberal and/or progressive than what's here in California. I'm fortunate to live in a bohemian-ish enclave, but it's surrounded by miles of working-class, blue-collar neighbourhoods with American flags flying in their front yards, and Bush/Cheney stickers on their cars and trucks. In the wealthier communities, the Bush/Cheney stickers are on SUVs.

      • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:21PM (#31459972) Homepage Journal

        Clearly you don't live in California. Only outside CA is the political system perceived as Liberal. Those of us who live within the state have learned that there are a few enclaves of urban liberalism, surrounded by by vast areas of rural conservatism rivaling those of Kansas or Texas.

        And then there are a number of conservative urban areas, too, like San Diego, San Bernardino, Bakersfield and Orange County.

        Case in point: look at the county by county results [google.com] for proposition 8 (banning gay marriage). Outside Alpine, Mono, and Santa Barbara counties, and the greater Bay Area (a shoe-in), the entire state voted "yes" to ban gay marriage. Honestly I'm rather surprised by Alpine and Mono, being some of the most inland counties, where inland is traditionally more conservative.

    • Re:Why Texas? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bcboy (4794) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:12PM (#31459130) Homepage

      California isn't half so liberal as you apparently believe it is. While the legislature is dominated by Democrats, there is a very strong Republican political machine in the state that's able to deadlock the legislative process. They've also elected quite a few governors, Nixon, Reagan, Wilson. The state school board is rather conservative. Overall, it looks a lot like Washington does now: the Dems, though in the majority, are ineffective. The Republicans are obstructionist. The policies that are implemented are not strongly liberal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:23PM (#31458424)

    “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”

    Oh boy.

    • by wealthychef (584778) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:49PM (#31458818)
      I'm an atheist, but he's right. The Constitution does not mention separation of Church and state -- it merely forbids the establishment of any religion. Or am I wrong here? What does it mean really to "separate Church and state?" The idea of a secular state is an excellent one, but I wish the Constitution were clearer on some of these points.
  • Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:24PM (#31458428)
    Will they also emphasize the decline and perversion of Christian values in Government? How about the fact that the inclusion of Christian values in government affairs necessarily renders them un-Christian? I'm not sure how "conservatives" ever became associated with Christian values.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure how "conservatives" ever became associated with Christian values.

      I believe it was a fairly well documented strategic move by the Regan administration. Or was it Bush senior? Either way, the Republicans did it to counter act the image of them being all about the rich protecting the rich and grab some extra working class votes.

      Panned out pretty well, much to the annoyance of anyone who believes in conservative economic policies, but not in Jesus.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Panned out pretty well, much to the annoyance of anyone who believes in conservative economic policies, but not in Jesus.

        In addition to the annoyance of those of us who believe in Christian values, but not in conservative economic policies.

    • by copponex (13876) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:05PM (#31459026) Homepage

      In the late 80s, the republican base was slipping. Bush I barely won against Dukakis. Keep in mind, Bush was at the center of political power his whole life, headed the CIA, and had just completed 8 years as Vice President. His campaign had to resort to a racist attack ad about Willie Horton [youtube.com].

      In 1992, Bush lost to Clinton, and many believe it was because he refused to identify himself as a "born again" Christian. Most evangelicals had been uninvolved in politics, until they were discovered by the dying Republican movement. As long as you professed to be evangelical and pro-life, you'd have local preachers pushing their followers to vote for you. Bush II toed the line, and got elected twice for it. The only problem is now the evangelical movements want one of their own in the White House - Sarah Palin - and that's something the ruling business party cannot allow. They brought her in for the VP job, but she couldn't pull the moderate record of McCain. Palin could have been the sideshow, but the business party is greedy, not crazy, and they'll never let her within ten miles of the big red button.

      The evangelicals are an enormous and active voting bloc. They do exactly as their pastor or preacher tells them, and nearly half of them are in church every single sunday. Now they are being used up by two seats of power: Republicans and their own church leaders. The Republicans get a voting bloc that will campaign against their own interests, and the church leaders get access to power and a fanatical flock that now worships money, and gives them a bunch of it.

      Just try to imagine Christ at a Tea Party rally, protesting tax dollars spent on the ill and the needy, and then signing up to join the Army the next day. The evangelicals have no idea which way is north. They don't even have a coherent set of values left. They are just following orders.

  • by Avin22 (1438931) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:27PM (#31458478)
    FTFA: "They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians," she said. "They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world." "Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past." ---- 1984 by George Orwell
  • by ChaosCon (1503841) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:29PM (#31458512)
    Reminds me of the old (ooooooooooooooooolllllllllllddddddd) textbook my calculus teacher has that managed to sneak through Texas book approval. It had four graphs printed right next to each other, the first of which was a step function, the second a parabola, the third was 2 sqrt functions forming a right-facing parabola, and the last was a right facing absolute function. This was the first time the graphs had been printed in color, too, so the *ahem* naughty word really popped.
  • by bigjarom (950328) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:30PM (#31458524) Journal
    It doesn't matter which side wins in this debate in Texas. Either way young Texas children will still grow up with no idea how many provinces there are in Canada, what language they speak in Egypt, or who the president of France is.
  • Hah! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:32PM (#31458556)

    Take that, O reality with your liberal bias!

  • by Concern (819622) * on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:35PM (#31458600) Journal

    Frankly I'm surprised the politicization of classroom materials hasn't been more flagrant and widespread. I'm also wondering why there isn't more of a flip-flop between liberal and conservative influence on school curriculums as voting blocks swing between conservatives and liberals?

    The ping pong of history books that was dramatized in 1984 was also a reality as power shifted and people and principles went in and out of favor in Chinese and Russian totalitarian states. I imagine now we will see it here.

    Did we think we were going to make China more democratic? We are the tail and they are the dog. We are becoming more like them every day. The high castes of the conservative party long for it. They see the setup of China's ruling class - the iron grip on history - the apparently successful stifling of dissent - and salivate.

    If Thomas Jefferson can be "deemphasized" in American History and the separation of church and state can be erased from the history books, there is no longer any break on this. Freedom of ("liberal") speech is not far behind. Make no mistake, this is a bellweather for how much further our society can fall. It also suggests the way America could balkanize, as different regions of the country no longer share a common history.

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:39PM (#31458656) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics.

    Come on, NYT! Why on God's conservative, 10,000-year old earth would legislators consult so-called experts? F*cking New Yorkers have no common sense.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:48PM (#31458788) Journal

    OK, now that my knee is done jerking and I've at least skimmed TFA, there are some interesting tidbits.

    Dr. McLeroy pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent approach. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

    This might not be such a bad thing if it leads students to learn more. For example, in going over materials regarding the Panthers, they might learn that group exercised 2nd ammendment rights. It was the fear of Blacks with guns that led to some of the first (the first?) gun control measures in California. The law was, IIRC, signed into law by... Ronald Reagan!

    I'd love to be there when a student raises his hand in class to ask the teacher why a Republican would sign gun control legislation, or presents this fact in an oral report about the Panthers.

    Oh, and I wasn't taught this in school. I knew nothing of it until I moved to the Bay Area and learned more about the Panthers simply because I heard they got started in this area. That caused me to become curious and read up on their history. School certainly didn't teach it.

    Hearing the adults argue about all this will probably teach the kids in ways that neither side anticipated.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:57PM (#31458926)
    We could really eliminate any bias if we would have schools which would teach from the source materials. Want to learn about communism? Read The Communist Manifesto along with statistics about communist nations. Want to learn about capitalism? Read The Wealth of Nations and read statistics. Want to learn about evolution? Read the Origin of Species along with contemporary news.

    The point is, when we give editors power over the source, we end up with bias one way or the other. Rather than having people -tell- us about things, why not read them ourselves?
  • Woah! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by quickpick (1021471) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:33PM (#31459444)
    Hey guys, relax! If this isn't the kind of change you were hoping for go make changes yourself! It's still a free country! Just some questions to ask yourself:
    Why are you wanting people to kill themselves?
    Why do you dislike these people so much?
    Do you dislike them because they are promoting Christian values?
    If you do, do you dislike that they believe that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son so that who ever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life?
    Do you dislike them because they try to live like Christ but recognize that when they fail, which they inevitably do, they go back to God and ask for forgiveness?
    Do you dislike them because they believe in a God that you don't believe exists?
    Or do you dislike them because simply because you do not like others who don't believe in what you believe?
    • Re:Woah! (Score:5, Informative)

      by jjohnson (62583) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:14PM (#31459916) Homepage

      I dislike them because:

      For all their vaunted Christian morals and breastbeating on the importance of marriage, they have a higher divorce rate than the national average [associatedcontent.com], and even 50% higher than the atheists and agnostics they despise.

      After they fail and ask God for forgiveness, they go right back to the hookers with whom they got caught (c.f., Jimmy Swaggart).

      They embezzle millions from their mega-churches, which makes me think they're in it for the money more than the God (c.f., Jim Baker).

      They extort millions from their followers by claiming God will kill them if the sheep don't pay up (c.f., Oral Roberts).

      They spend their Christian lives doing everything they can to make homosexuals suffer, only to get busted offering to pay guys at truck stops to receive blowjobs from them (c.f., Bob Allen), or tapping their foot in an airport restroom (c.f., Larry Craig), or using their ministry's travel budget to fund methamphetamine and gay sex party weekends (c.f., Ted Haggard).

      In other words, I dislike them because they're hypocrites who claim they're better than everyone else when in fact, they're usually worse, but they're very happy to try to force their morals on me through laws and textbooks.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:42PM (#31459566) Journal

    TFA says: In economics, the revisions add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, two champions of free-market economic theory, among the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes.

    First of all, good going on Milton Friedman who was important in ending the draft in the US, co-author of one of the best economic histories of the Great Depression, and has been very influential around the world. Also good for adding F.A. Hayek, the most influential members of the Austrian School of economics.

    But in truth, I was never taught anything about Adam Smith or John Maynard Keynes in public school (in one of the best public school systems in the country). Did anyone on Slashdot learn about these guys in public school?

    What you really need to know about Hayek and Keynes is in this rap video [youtube.com].

    Karl Marx was mentioned, but in a more political way regarding the growth of Communism.

  • by BitHive (578094) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:43PM (#31459576) Homepage

    emphasis added

    The Texas Freedom Network continues to live blog the Texas State Board of Education hearings where the collection of ignorant dolts on that board debate and amend the social studies standards. And it's getting downright surreal. They actually removed Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment from the history standards. Seriously.

    9:27 - The board is taking up remaining amendments on the high school world history course.

    9:30 - Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with "the writings of") and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson's ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don't buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar's problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.

    9:40 - We're just picking ourselves up off the floor. The board's far-right faction has spent months now proclaiming the importance of emphasizing America's exceptionalism in social studies classrooms. But today they voted to remove one of the greatest of America's Founders, Thomas Jefferson, from a standard about the influence of great political philosophers on political revolutions from 1750 to today.

    9:45 - Here's the amendment Dunbar changed: "explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present." Here's Dunbar's replacement standard, which passed: "explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone." Not only does Dunbar's amendment completely change the thrust of the standard. It also appalling drops one of the most influential political philosophers in American history -- Thomas Jefferson.

    9:51 - Dunbar's amendment striking Jefferson passed with the votes of the board's far-right members and board member Geraldine "Tincy" Miller of Dallas.

    The standard was about the Enlightenment and political revolutions that led to modern liberal democracy. So they removed the Enlightenment references and Thomas Jefferson, who played a key role in the two most prominent revolutions in the history of the Western world, and replaced them with Thomas Aquinas, who lived 500 years before the Enlightenment, and John Calvin, who lived 200 years before the Enlightenment and was a major figure in an entirely different period of history, the Reformation, which preceded the Enlightenment.

    Yes, you should, in fact, be mouthing the words "what the fuck" right about now.

    And the stupidity continues:

    11:21 - Board member Barbara Cargill wants to insert a discussion of the right to bear arms in a standard that focuses on First Amendment rights and the expression of various points of view. This is absurd. If they want students to study the right to bear arms, at least try to find an appropriate place in the standards for it. This is yet another example of politicians destroying the coherence of a curriculum document for no reason other than promoting ideological pet causes. Republican board member Bob Craig of Lubbock is suggesting a better place for such a standard. But the amendment passes anyway. The board's far-right faction is simply impervious to logic.

    11:30 - Board member Pat Hardy notes that elsewhere the standards already require students to study each of the freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. No one seems to care.

    11:33 - Bob Craig tries, once again, to talk some sense into these

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