West Virginia lawmaker resigns after being charged for filming himself at Capitol siege


Derrick Evans was charged with illegal entry, authorities said.

A West Virginia state lawmaker has resigned after he was arrested after filming himself inside the U.S. Capitol during Wednesday’s violent siege.

Republican Derrick Evans, a newly elected member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, was charged with illegal entry, the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office said during a press call with reporters on Friday.

The federal criminal complaint listed two charges: knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds.

Evans was released on a personal recognizance bond after appearing before a federal judge in Huntington, West Virginia, court records show.

He resigned from the West Virginia House of Delegates on Saturday, saying in a statement that he takes “full responsibility for my actions.”

“The past few days have certainly been a difficult time for my family, colleagues and myself, so I feel it’s best at this point to resign my seat in the House and focus on my personal situation and those I love,” Evans said.

Evans livestreamed video on his Facebook page of himself and other protesters inside the Capitol after a pro-Trump mob forced its way in. Members of Congress were in the process of certifying the results of the November presidential election.

In the since-deleted video, Evans can be heard shouting over the crowd, “We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”

Evans allegedly was “joining and encouraging a crowd unlawfully entering the U.S. Capitol,” according to the criminal complaint, which included a breakdown of the approximately five-minute video.

His lawyer, John Bryan, said Evans “did nothing wrong” and characterized his client as an “independent activist and journalist” in a statement released Thursday.

“He was exercising his First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and film a historic and dynamic event,” Bryan said. “He engaged in no violence, no rioting, no destruction of property, and no illegal behavior.”

Bryan maintained that Evans was “wholly detached from the tragic events which occurred that day” and that the lawmaker also thought the crowd was “being allowed by law enforcement into the Capitol.”

Approximately 40 people were arrested and charged in D.C. Superior Court in connection with the riot, authorities said Friday. Offenses included unlawful entry, curfew violations and firearms-related crimes, authorities said.

Additionally, 13 people were charged with federal crimes, including Richard Barnett, who allegedly broke into Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office, authorities said.

Five people who were at the protests died, including a Capitol Police officer.

In the wake of the violent attack on the Capitol, West Virginia House of Delegates Minority Leader Doug Skaff called for Evans to not be seated as a member on Jan. 13.

In a letter to House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, Skaff alleged that Evans “committed several illegal acts, clearly memorialized through his own Facebook broadcast, in an attempt to disrupt this constitutionally mandated process.”

“His actions unequivocally disqualify him from holding public office in this state and make him ineligible to be seated as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates,” Skaff wrote.

West Virginia Sen.-elect Eric Nelson also called for Evans’ resignation.

“Delegate Evans was unfortunately a part of the events this week that threatened what has historically made America a beacon for the rest of the world: the peaceful transfer of power,” Hanshaw said in a statement Saturday. “Earlier today, Delegate Evans made the decision to resign from his position in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Now, we return to the work of rebuilding our nation’s political climate.

“In announcing his resignation, Delegate Evans said he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to those he’s hurt. In this time of overheated, hyperbolic political rage, I think that’s a good first step for us all to take right now,” he added.

ABC News’ Meg Cunningham and Alex Mallin contributed to this report.



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EU lawmaker warns of risks from UK ‘hasty’ approval of Pfizer COVID vaccine


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BRUSSELS — Britain’s emergency approval of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is “problematic” as it was done too hastily, a prominent European Union lawmaker said on Wednesday.

“I consider this decision to be problematic and recommend that EU Member States do not repeat the process in the same way. A few weeks of thorough examination by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is better than a hasty emergency marketing authorisation of a vaccine,” said Peter Liese, an EU lawmaker who is a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party. (Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio, Editing by Catherine Evans)



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Democrat Senate candidate Ossoff embraces far-left lawmaker Sen. Sanders support in Ga. runoff


Georgia Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Jon Ossoff is reflected in the window of a supporter during a drive-thru yard sign pick-up event on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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UPDATED 8:17 AM PT – Monday, November 30, 2020

Georgia Democrat Senate candidate Jon Ossoff is embracing far-left lawmaker Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.). In an interview on Sunday, Ossoff said he welcomes the self proclaimed democratic-socialist’s support in his race against Republican Sen. David Perdue.

The Democrat also praised Sanders over his far-left “advocacy” regarding health care.

“I welcome his (Sanders) support…his advocacy for ensuring that health care is a human right in this country, for putting the interests of working families over corporate interests is welcome, is necessary, is appreciated,” Ossoff stated. “And so is his (Sanders) support.”

The Vermont lawmaker confirmed he supports Ossoff as well as Democrat Raphael Warnock in a tweet over the weekend.

This comes as Perdue, who has more than once blasted Ossoff as a socialist, put out a new ad highlighting his confidence in the nation’s economic recovery.

Perdue’s race for a second term in the Senate is critical to determining whether the GOP will maintain a majority in the upper chamber.

RELATED: GOP officials urging Republicans to vote in Ga. runoffs





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HK lawmaker says democracy fight needs rethink


HONG KONG (AP) — When Wu Chi-wai, chairman of Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy party, decided to serve an extended term in the city’s legislature, he did not expect to resign two months later.

After nearly three decades in politics, the 58-year-old Wu is stepping down Monday. All 15 lawmakers in the pro-democracy camp have tendered their resignations to protest a Beijing resolution in early November that led to the disqualifications of four of their colleagues.

The resignations came at a fraught time for Hong Kong, as Beijing tightens control over the semi-autonomous city. Activists say that China is clamping down on freedoms that distinguish Hong Kong from the mainland.

Since the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests, pro-democracy activists have demanded greater democracy and accused China of going back on its promise to allow the people to vote freely for their leader.

Last year, protesters clashed with police in months of anti-government rallies. Partly in response, China tightened its grip on Hong Kong in June, imposing a national security law that targets dissent.

For Wu, quitting was a last resort. He said that staying on would not have changed things, as the pro-Beijing government was determined to push through policies that the pro-democracy camp would not have been able to stop. Pro-democracy supporters will need to rethink how to continue their fight now that so much has changed, he said.

“I kept my promise, I fought to the end,” he told The Associated Press in an interview, adding he hopes those who voted for him would not think that they had done so in vain.

Wu, known for his feisty personality, often delivered impassioned speeches in defense of democracy. He was arrested earlier this year for participating in an unauthorized vigil in remembrance of the bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing, and later again in November for contempt and interfering with other lawmakers during a clash in the legislative chamber in May.

Democracy supporters must keep their determination to achieve their goals, even if it takes decades, he said. He conceded that he doesn’t yet know the path ahead, but sounded a hopeful note.

“I’m getting into a whole new ball game,” he said. “It opens a new imaginative area to imagine the future, because in the past, I was stuck in a … boundary that made me tired.”

For Wu, the fight for democracy has been a long and difficult one, akin to a political career that saw both election wins and defeats.

He was an economics student in the U.S. when he decided in 1991 to return to Hong Kong — then a British colony — ahead of its return to China in 1997 to observe the changes from a transfer of sovereignty. He cut his teeth in politics as a legislative assistant, working for then-lawmaker Conrad Lam, who was part of pro-democracy party United Democrats of Hong Kong.

In the ensuing years, Wu served on municipal and district councils before being elected to the citywide legislature in 2012. Since 2016, Wu has headed the Democratic Party -– Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy political party.

The mass resignations came shortly after the beginning of an unprecedented one-year extension of the four-year legislative term. That followed a postponement of legislative elections, with authorities citing public safety issues due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the pro-democracy legislators criticized the move as unconstitutional but initially decided to remain in the legislature. Then came the decision to disqualify four of them, which Wu described as sudden, although not unexpected.

“(With) the latest decision, the central government simply tells everybody in the world that … ‘in Hong Kong, we are in total control, everything is under control,’” he said. “So, we need to reconsider the way to fight in the future.”

Wu said the pro-democracy camp could run in future elections, in part to sustain the determination for democracy, but he pointed out that they may not be able to serve their whole terms, citing the recent disqualifications of his four colleagues.

“History repeats in a cycle,” said Wu, pointing to the fight for democracy in the Soviet Union decades ago and the protests in Tiananmen Square.

“The key now is how to keep our determination in the coming time, because it is easy for people to give up when they fail,” he said. “We may need to wait for 20 years, and some people may find that discouraging. But … if we believe in the value of democracy and freedom, we need people to fight for it.”



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Russia arrests another ex-governor. Mikhail Men: an unremarkable lawmaker, but a prominent bureaucrat and a lasting administrator




Acting with special permission from the Federation Council, state investigators arrested Mikhail Men on Wednesday, November 18, on charges of embezzling 700 million rubles ($9.2 million) from the Ivanovo region, where he served as governor from 2005 to 2013. The ex-head of Russia’s Construction Industry, Housing, and Utilities Sector Ministry, the son of a famous priest, and currently an auditor for Russia’s Accounts Chamber, Men isn’t expected to spend long in jail, an anonymous source told the news agency Interfax. Instead, detectives reportedly plan to ask a judge to release him on his own recognizance. Meduza reviews Mr. Men’s eventful biography.



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Mississippi lawmaker apologizes after calling for state to leave US over Biden win


The prospect of a Joe Biden presidency was a deal breaker, one Republican state lawmaker in Mississippi appeared to say last week.

In a since-deleted Twitter message, state Rep. Price Wallace wrote last Saturday that the Magnolia State should “succeed” from the union after the Democrat’s win over President Trump, according to reports.

Wallace likely meant to write the state should “secede” from the U.S. when he was responding to a series of Twitter posts by his colleague, Republican state Rep. Robert Foster.

“We need to succeed from the union and form our own country,” Wallace wrote, according to an image of his tweet that was captured before the message was deleted.

Since then, Wallace has apparently had a change of heart. He posted an apology on Twitter on Wednesday.

MISSISSIPPI VOTERS REPLACE CONFEDERATE-THEMED FLAG WITH NEW DESIGN

“I truly love the USA and Mississippi and would never support any idea of seceding from the union,” Wallace wrote. “I am extremely sorry for my comment it was inappropriate and in no way represents the will of my constituents or myself. I humbly ask for forgiveness for my poor lack of judgment.”

Last week, in addition to voting for president, Mississippi voters also supported a plan to replace the state’s Confederate-themed flag with one showing the state flower, the magnolia, and the motto, “In God We Trust.”

Foster, meanwhile, did not advocate secession – just that “all legal votes” be counted before the election is officially declared over.

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“After all legal votes are counted and confirmed by their state legislatures Republicans will accept the results even if it’s not in our favor,” Foster wrote in one message Saturday. “The same way we did with Obama twice. Sadly, Democrats won’t accept the rule of law if it doesn’t end in their favor.”

Another Foster post said: “Remember in 2000 when the Democrats thought they won the presidency for a full 37 days before the #SCOTUS made their ruling? I do.”

Foster has continued in recent days to support President Trump’s questioning of the election results – and urged the president to continue fighting.

“This political fight will determine our country’s direction and our children’s freedom,” Foster wrote Wednesday. “This fight is that important. Do not concede Mr. President, we have your back!”

President Trump won Mississippi, collecting 59.7% of the vote to Biden’s 38.8%, with 99% of districts reporting, according to the Fox News Decision Desk.



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A federal lawmaker participating in Russia’s coronavirus-vaccine trial has contracted COVID-19




Russian lawmaker Valery Gartung, the deputy head of the “Just Russia” faction in the State Duma, announced on Facebook on October 21 that he has tested positive for COVID-19, though he has no symptoms of the illness. Gartung is one of 40,000 people participating in the Stage III trials of “Sputnik V,” Russia’s first registered vaccine against the coronavirus. “Now I’ve tested positive, which means I definitely got the placebo,” he told the news outlet RBC.



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Republican Lawmaker Blasts Harry & Meghan For Vote Vid


Harry and Meghan never explicitly mentioned Trump when they said people should “reject hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity” — but one GOP member of Congress says the implication is clear.

Posted on October 9, 2020, at 4:07 p.m. ET


Simon Dawson / Getty Images

A Republican member of Congress has written a letter of protest to the British ambassador to the US, alleging that when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex recorded a video last month calling on American voters to “reject hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity,” they were, in effect, campaigning against President Donald Trump.

“These actions represent a serious breach of the British Royal Family’s policy of political neutrality and an inappropriate interference by one of our closest allies,” Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri’s 8th Congressional District wrote in the letter Friday.

Smith called on Dame Karen Pierce, the UK ambassador in Washington, DC, to request the British government ensure the pair “no longer attempt to interfere” in the US election “or be stripped of all titles, styles, and privileges which they currently retain.”

Prince Harry and Megan Markle are using foreign titles to campaign against President Trump and interfere with our election. Today, I asked the British Government to put a stop to it.

See my full letter below⬇️

Last month, as part of a special between ABC and Time magazine timed to coincide with National Voter Registration Day, Meghan and Harry called on Americans to head to the polls.

“Every four years we are told the same thing, that this is the most important election of our lifetime, but this one is,” said Meghan, who like her son, Archie, is an American citizen as well as a member of the British royal family.

“As we approach this November, it’s vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity,” added Harry.

“It’s time to not only reflect, but act.” This #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, join #Time100 alumni Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in taking action for the future.

Harry and Meghan stepped back from the royal family earlier this year, reaching a deal with the Queen where they would no longer accept money from UK taxpayers or use their “royal highness” titles in exchange for fewer duties and more privacy. They now live in California.

In their voting video, the pair never mentioned Trump explicitly. A spokesperson for the duke and duchess said at the time the video was released they were merely calling for “decency and respect” and were not endorsing any candidate.

This point was referenced by several people on Friday, noting that Smith appeared to be linking the leader of his party to “hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity.”

According to this GOP member of Congress, Harry’s call for voters to “reject hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity” is campaigning against Trump. https://t.co/7FxpkcrqsU

Characterizing a call to “reject hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity” as an attack on Republicans is an incredible way of telling on yourself https://t.co/i2b5ynpXCr

Others noted that in addition to Smith spelling Markle’s name wrong, the lawmaker had ignored she is an American citizen and entitled to vote.

Meghan Markle is a U.S. citizen. She is not the slave of the “Whites Only” British Royal Family to do as they command. You can’t intimidate her or others into not voting or expressing her free speech. https://t.co/RYTzRPBeqU

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat representing the 8th District of Illinois, also weighed in.

According to this letter, urging people to exercise their right to vote and to “reject hate speech, misinformation, and online negativity” is campaigning against the President?
I guess this is one way to try to get a cameo on “The Crown.” https://t.co/fag3mWce2y

Still, senior royal aides told the Times newspaper in the UK last month that the comments had violated the agreement the pair made in splitting from the senior royals. They suggested the Queen and others would have to further distance themselves from the remarks.

When President Trump was asked about the comments at a White House press conference and was falsely told the pair had explicitly endorsed Joe Biden, he said he was “not a fan” of Meghan’s.

“I wish a lot of luck to Harry — because he’s gonna need it,” said Trump.

Reporter asks Trump about Harry & Meghan urging people to vote (falsely saying they explicitly endorsed Biden).

Trump: I’m not a fan of hers. And I would say this … I wish a lot of luck to Harry — because he’s gonna need it.

Before she became a royal and was still an actor on Suits, Meghan had spoken out against Trump, calling him “divisive.”

The Los Angeles–born actor dubbed him “misogynistic … and so vocal about it,” and said she was considering remaining in Canada, where she filmed Suits, if he won.

Last year, Trump was asked by the Sun newspaper about her old comments ahead of his state visit to the UK.

“I didn’t know that,” Trump said. “What can I say? I didn’t know that she was nasty.” (He later denied making the comments.)

President Trump, of course, has himself interfered in British elections. Ahead of the UK election in December, he called on Brits to reject Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“Corbyn would be so bad for your country. He’d be so bad, he’d take you in such a bad way. He’d take you into such bad places,” Trump said in October 2019.

In 2016, as he was running for president and British voters were contemplating Brexit, Trump said they would be “better off” without the European Union.

Representatives for the duke and duchess, Smith, and the British Embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.





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Tech CEOs face lawmaker questions about their market dominance


Although the four technology giants face different issues, all are accused by critics of exploiting their market dominance in ways that reduce competition and harm consumers. 

They “feel free to crush anyone on their platform that’s offering very good competition against them. This has happened again and again,” Eleanor Fox, a law professor at New York University who specializes in antitrust and competition policy, told CBS News this week, summarizing the case against Big Tech. “They get huge amounts of data from the businesses on the platform, they take more data than they need to conduct business, and they use that to find out what is the new best thing and then they appropriate that thing. They use it to suppress innovative competition of the businesses using the platform.”

Amazon’s Bezos — the world’s richest person and head of an ecommerce empire as well as ventures in cloud computing, personal “smart” tech, groceries and beyond — initially declined to testify before the House panel unless he could appear with the other CEOs. He’ll likely face questioning over a Wall Street Journal report that found Amazon employees used sensitive, confidential data collected from sellers on its online marketplace to develop competing products. At a previous hearing, an Amazon executive denied such accusations.

Lawmakers from both political parties have suggested Amazon’s earlier statements could be misleading and might even constitute perjury. But Bezos has said, “We don’t use individual seller data to directly compete with them.” Amazon has pushed back against the Journal’s allegations, but has started an internal investigation.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg is more experienced on Capitol Hill. He endured over five hours of grilling last fall by another House committee to discuss hate speech, privacy, misinformation and Facebook’s widely criticized plan for a new digital currency. He also met privately with key lawmakers and with President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticized big tech companies and asserted without evidence that they are biased against him.

Following George Floyd’s death and protests against racial injustice, Facebook’s handling of hate speech has recently drawn more fire than issues of competition and privacy, especially after the company’s refusal to take action on inflammatory posts by Mr. Trump that spread misinformation about voting by mail and, critics said, encouraged violence against protesters. Zuckerberg has said the company aims to allow as much free expression as possible unless it raises the imminent risk of specific harms or damage.

Pichai faced his own congressional interrogation in 2018 over online privacy and data protection, the danger of digital monopolies, alleged bias against conservative viewpoints and censorship by China. The Goolgle chief acknowledged some points, but avoided the yes or no answers that lawmakers demanded. EU regulators already have concluded that Alphabet-owned Google manipulated its search engine to gain an unfair advantage over other online shopping sites in the ecommerce market and fined Google a record $2.7 billion. Google has disputed the findings and is appealing.



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French Magazine Sparks Outrage Over Depiction of Black Lawmaker as Slave


PARIS — A conservative French magazine is under fire after it published a fictional narrative and illustration depicting a French lawmaker as an enslaved African who was put up for auction in the 18th century.

The legislator, Danièle Obono, an anti-racism activist who is Black and was born in the former French colony of Gabon, called it “an insult to my history, to my family and ancestral histories, to the history of slavery,” and described it as a “political and racist attack.”

The seven-page fictional narrative, published this week in the magazine Valeurs Actuelles, had a series of images, including one of Ms. Obono with chains around her neck. By Saturday, French politicians from across the political divide had criticized the magazine for its highly offensive portrayal of Ms. Obono.

“This revolting publication calls for unambiguous condemnation,” Prime Minister Jean Castex wrote on Twitter. President Emmanuel Macron sent Ms. Obono a message of support.

On the far right, Wallerand de Saint-Just, a top official in Marine Le Pen’s National Rally Party, wrote on Twitter that what the magazine had done was unjustified. “The political fight does not justify this type of humiliating and hurtful representation of an elected representative of the republic,” he wrote.

Yves de Kerdrel, the magazine’s managing editor until 2018, said the story was “explosive,” and contributed to the “normalization of racism.” The current editors of the magazine, a weekly aimed at right-wing and far-right readers, denied that the story was racist, but issued an apology.

“I regret that people might have thought that we were racist,” Tugdual Denis, the deputy editor of the magazine, told the French channel BFMTV on Saturday. “We are nonconformist, we are politically incorrect. That is the DNA of this paper.”

The story was part of a series of short summer narratives depicting contemporary political figures in earlier historical periods and written by an anonymous author using the pseudonym Harpalus.

In it, Ms. Obono returns to the 18th century and finds herself in a small village in present-day Chad. At first, she is delighted to “reconnect with her roots.” But she soon becomes disillusioned by the village’s “patriarchal order,” and falls into the inter-African slave trade.

The story then recounts how Ms. Obono is taken to markets where enslaved Africans are sold, but found no buyers: “Danièle did not find a buyer, without knowing whether she should rejoice or lament, and not without feeling, absurdly, a small blow to her pride.”

The story ends when Ms. Obono is bought by a French cleric, freed and taken to a monastery in France to recover from the experience.

In a phone interview, Ms. Obono said she refused to read the whole story and called it, “a degrading and demeaning representation of myself and 18th-century Africa.” The magazine’s editors said their goal was to remind readers that slavery in Africa had not only been perpetrated by Europeans, but also by Africans.

Ms. Obono, 40, is a seasoned left-wing activist who has long been involved in anti-racist organizations. Critics have accused her of exaggerating the scars left by colonization as well as France’s participation in the slave trade, a subject that remains sensitive in the country.

In a statement, the magazine’s editors said they had chosen to illustrate Ms. Obono in the narrative because she had contributed to the “ideological enterprise of the falsification of history.”

Ms. Obono said that the magazine’s story was part of a “revisionist strategy well known among the far-right, which aims to minimize responsibility for the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its political, economic and social consequences.”

Valeurs Actuelles, a small, general newsmagazine established in 1966, has often been accused of offensive coverage.

In recent years, it has portrayed George Soros, the American business magnate, as “the billionaire plotting against France,” part of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. It has also described Assa Traoré, a Black anti-racist activist, as willing to “bring France to its knees.”

Last year, Mr. Macron raised eyebrows when he gave an exclusive interview to the magazine and described the publication as a “very good paper.”

France has struggled to face its colonial legacy and has often been accused of failing to successfully integrate immigrants from its former colonies. Critics say the country’s commitment to universalism — a belief that no group should be given preference — has muted the discussion and shielded France from facing its colonial past.

But some have said a slow reckoning has started to take place, with tens of thousands of people gathering to protest against racism and police violence in France in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by police officers in Minnesota earlier this year.

Ms. Obono said Valeurs Actuelles’s decision to publish the illustration was a “signal that a line has been crossed,” and that people in France were beginning to confront the country’s “systemic, structural racism.”





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