Thousands Oaks Bar Shooting: Friendly Fire Killed Deputy By A State Trooper

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

 / Updated 
By Doha Madani

A sheriff’s sergeant who died during a firefight during the Borderline Bar and Grill mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, last month was killed by friendly fire, officials said.

Sgt. Ron Helus was hit five times by gunman Ian David Long at the bar but was ultimately killed by a sixth shot from a California Highway Patrol officer’s AR-style rifle, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at a press conference Friday.

Image: Sgt. Ron Helus
Ventura County officer Sgt. Ron Helus.Santa Barbara County Sheriff

“This news is extremely difficult for all of us to process and understand,” Ayub said.

Helus was wearing body armor during the shooting but the rifle shot penetrated the vest and struck his heart, according to the medical examiner.

“I can tell you that most body armor worn by municipal police in this country is not capable of stopping rifle ammunition,” Ayub told reporters. “It’s a matter of comfort as well as fatigue for officers to wear heavy armor, day in and day out.”

The highway patrol officer who fired the fatal shot was a 9-year veteran of the department and has voluntarily taken time off, according to a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

“The mere thought of something like this happening is devastating to all of us and underscores the difficult and dangerous circumstances law enforcement faces, often with only mere seconds to react,” California Highway Patrol Commissioner Warren Stanley said in a statement.

Long, 28, the man who killed 12 people at the bar, was a machine gunner in the Marines from 2008 to 2013. He served as a corporal and was deployed in Afghanistan. Long died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the bar after the attack.

Long’s motive for the shooting is still unknown.

Andrew Blankstein contributed.

Israel: Please Tell Me That The Prime Minister Is Not This Petty And This Stupid

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

‘What a Hanukkah gift’: Bitter PM slams police call to charge him with bribery

Accusing cops of an ongoing witch-hunt, Netanyahu denies deal to help Bezeq boss Elovitch in return for favorable coverage from the businessman’s Walla news site

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud party event in Ramat Gan marking the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, on December 2, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud party event in Ramat Gan marking the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, on December 2, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back hard Sunday evening against Israel Police’s bombshell recommendation earlier in the day that he be indicted for taking bribes in the Bezeq-Walla corruption probe, known as Case 4000.

“The witch-hunt against us continues,” Netanyahu told a crowd of Likud supporters at the party’s official Hanukkah lighting ceremony at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Tel Aviv. The investigation, he claimed, was biased and “skewed from the start… A year ago, before even opening the investigations,” he charged of the police, “they decided what the outcome would be and leaked their conclusions.”

Investigators said earlier Sunday they believed there was enough evidence to bring Netanyahu to trial on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust, and fraudulently accepting benefits. It is the third case in which police have recommended bribery charges against the prime minister. They also recommended that his wife, Sara, stand trial in the case.

But Netanyahu said the allegations were “baseless” and that the truth would eventually emerge. Hanukkah marks “the victory of light over darkness,” he said, and declared, “the light will always win out.”

He also noted that Hanukkah is a festival of miracles, and mused bitterly, “How did they know to time (the publication of) these surreal allegations precisely on the very last day of the police chief? What can I tell you? A real Hanukkah miracle. What a gift they gave us for the festival,” he said, in tones dripping with sarcasm met with cheers from his upbeat supporters.

Sunday was police commissioner Roni Alsheich’s final full day in office.

Investigators said that Netanyahu advanced regulatory decisions benefiting Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Bezeq, the country’s largest telecommunications firm — despite opposition from the Communication Ministry’s career officials — in exchange for positive coverage from Elovitch’s Walla news site. At the time when a merger of Bezeq with the Yes satellite operator was approved in 2015 — a deal at the heart of the case, said to have benefited Elovitch to the tune of hundreds of millions of shekels — the prime minister was also serving as acting communications minister.

Shaul Elovitch arrives at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court for extension of his remand in Case 4000, February 22, 2018. (Flash90)

Netanyahu rejected the specific allegations, saying that there was no benefit to either side in the alleged quid pro quo. “I didn’t give anything to Elovitch and I didn’t get anything from Elovitch,” he said.

“Not only did Elovitch not get anything from me during my tenure as communications minister, he lost a fortune,” the prime minister charged. “As minister of communications, we instituted the wholesale market reform that lowered the prices of the Internet and collapsed Bezeq’s share — a reform that seriously hurt Elovitch. In other words, Bezeq received nothing, but lost,” he said.

He also said that the claim he received positive coverage from Walla was untrue. “What did I get?” he asked the crowd rhetorically. “I’ll tell you: I got terrible coverage at Walla… Walla is a left-wing website that gives and has given me negative coverage for years, especially on the eve of the last elections.”

In their blistering statement, police had said “the prime minister and his associates intervened in a blatant and ongoing manner, and sometimes even daily, in the content published by the Walla News website, and also sought to influence the appointment of senior officials (editors and reporters) via their contacts with Shaul and Iris Elovitch,” the Bezeq owner’s wife.

Netanyahu, however, said there was nothing wrong with being in contact with owners of major media outlets.

“I don’t think it okay in a democracy for the police to investigate ties between politicians and the media,” he said, accusing investigators of singling him out, and noting that dozens of lawmakers receive “flattering coverage” and are not probed by authorities.

“I wasn’t surprised the recommendations were published, or that they were published today,” Netanyahu added, citing the timing of the announcement on Alsheich’s last full day, and accusing the police chief of leading a smear campaign against him.

Israeli Chief of Police Roni Alsheich seen with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a welcoming ceremony held in Alsheich’s honor in Jerusalem, on December 3, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Alsheich ends his term on Monday after three years. Both Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan have clashed with the outgoing commissioner and declined to extend his tenure for the customary additional year.

Earlier this year, police recommended that Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in two other corruption cases, designated 1000 and 2000. The following month, Netanyahu said that law enforcement officials were being pressured to pursue criminal investigations against him. He has since railed against Alsheich, accusing the police chief of leaking information to the press and of conducting a “witch-hunt” against him and his family.

Alsheich’s departure comes amid a cloud over his successor vis-a-vis the Senior Appointments Advisory Committee, also known as the Goldberg Committee, which announced last week that it could not recommend Maj. Gen. Moshe “Chico” Edri as the next police chief, citing a meeting Edri held during the nomination process with the lawyer of a Tax Authority whistleblower who has accused Edri of harassing him.

Erdan, who nominated Edri, harshly criticized the committee over its decision and vowed to push ahead with the appointment despite the disqualification. Alsheich had also reportedly been against the appointment.

In a further attack on police integrity, Netanyahu said he did not know who next the Israel Police commissioner will be, “but I do know one thing. He’ll have some serious restoration work because, how should I say this, the public’s trust in the police is not at an all-time high.”

In Case 1000, the so-called “gifts scandal,” Netanyahu is suspected of “systematically” demanding benefits worth about NIS 1 million ($282,000) from billionaire benefactors, including Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, in exchange for favors.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister work to weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in all of the cases, insisting the gifts were given by friends and were not bribes, and that he never intended to act on his conversations with Mozes.

Rallying his supporters on Sunday, the prime minister repeated a mantra he has used throughout the investigations: “Nothing will happen, because…,” he began. And the crowd joined in, “…nothing happened.”

In their Sunday statement, police noted that the investigation had not found enough evidence to charge Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu’s son, Yair Netanyahu, who was questioned a number of times during the investigation.

The recommendations in Case 4000 now go to the Attorney General’s Office, where they will first be reviewed by the state prosecutor before going to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

Mandelblit, who will make the final decision whether to indict the prime minister, intends to examine all three cases at the same time, which will be possible only after he receives the state attorney’s recommendations based on the final police reports.

That process makes late 2019 the likely timing for any final word on whether Netanyahu will face trial. The next Knesset elections are currently slated for November 2019, but may very well be held earlier.

Coalition partners have previously said that they would not leave the government unless a full indictment was filed against the prime minister, but recent crises may have shifted allegiances in the coalition after it was reduced last month to a paper-thin majority of just 61-59 in the 120-seat Knesset.

READ MORE:

Police officer shoots and kills good guy with a gun

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THINK PROGRESS’)

 

Police officer shoots and kills good guy with a gun

Jemel Roberson was a 26-year-old armed security guard who apprehended a shooter. He was also black

Jemel Roberson; CREDIT: GoFundMe
JEMEL ROBERSON; CREDIT: GOFUNDME

Around 4:00 a.m. ET on Sunday morning, a disgruntled group of drunken men were asked to leave Manny’s Blue Room Bar in the Chicago suburbs. According to WGN-TV,  one of those men returned with a gun and opened fire.

Amid the chaos, 26-year-old armed security guard Jemel Roberson chased one of the suspects outside of the club and apprehended him at gun point.

Roberson seemingly did everything right. But when Midlothian police officers arrived to the scene, one of them saw the security guard pointing a gun at the suspect, and shot and killed Roberson on the spot.

“Everybody was screaming out, ‘Security!’ He was a security guard,” a witness, Adam Harris, told reporters. “And they still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him.”

Many anti-gun control politicians and advocates, including President Donald Trump, frequently say that armed security guards are the only way to stop mass shootings. Last month, after eight people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Trump suggested that there should be armed guards at churches and synagogues.

This is an offshoot of a frequent National Rifle Association talking point, that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Roberson was both an armed security guard and a good guy with a gun. He risked his life to apprehend a shooter. And police killed him anyway.

Like many NRA-based talking points, this one doesn’t seem to apply to black people.

On social media, loved ones mourned the loss of Roberson. LeAundre Hill, a pastor and family friend, said that he was a great pianist who had just played at HIll’s grandmother’s funeral on Friday.

LeAundre Hill@PastorDreHill

Jemel has played for @PurposedChurch for the last several years and just played for my grandma’s funeral Friday and now he is gone. 😢
Rest In Peace

FOX 32 News

@fox32news

BREAKING: Cook County Coroner confirms that security guard shot dead by Midlothian police at bar in Robbins was Jemel Roberson, 26. https://bit.ly/2PXPDyY 

View image on Twitter

See LeAundre Hill’s other Tweets

Roberson was also reportedly studying to be a police officer.

The officer who killed Roberson has already been placed on paid administrative leave, per protocols. WGN-TV reports that the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the criminal investigation of the original shooting, and the State Police Public Integrity Task Force is investigating Roberson’s death.

Friends and family have already set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for Roberson’s burial.

“Jemel Roberson was a young man who was greatly loved by all who knew him.  He was the light of his mother Beatrice’s life, and was a devoted loving son,” the GoFundMe reads. “Jemel was a gifted basketball player and musician, and his love for God and his family were at the forefront of his life.

“Sadly, Jemel’s life was tragically and unexpectedly cut short this morning as he tried to save others from senseless violence.  Today, many remember him as a hero; one who put others before himself.”

In The Philippines President Duterte And His Police Are The Biggest Criminals?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

A 15-year-old rape victim is the latest collateral damage of Duterte’s drug war

Screenshot from news channel News5Everywhere/Youtube.

Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war has reached a new low this week when a police officer was arrested for raping the 15-year-old daughter of detained drug suspects in the capital Manila.

Photos of officer Eduardo Valencia of the Philippine National Police (PNP) pleading with his superiors for having brought the teenager to a motel in exchange for the release of her parents have gone viral. Medical tests showed signs of rape.

Critics of President Duterte say it is his misogyny, rape jokes, and repeated assurances to defend police and military in the course of his government’s anti-drug and counterinsurgency operations that has normalized a macho culture of sexual abuse.

Reprimanded by the police chief while on live television, Valencia tried to justify his actions with the following line which seem to amount to an admission that rape was, in fact, nothing out of the ordinary in the police force:

Sir, I have a family. Sir, this is not new for our operatives whenever we arrest drug pushers.

Earlier this month, three upper-class cadets of the PNP Academy came under investigation for allegedly forcing two first-year police academy students for sexual assault.

A report by the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) released on October 31st shows there have been 33 documented cases of police abuse against women and children since Duterte took power on June 30, 2016, until October 2018. Of this figure, 16 involve rape while the rest include other forms of physical assault, sexual harassment, blackmailing, and trafficking.

Gabriela WomensParty@GabrielaWomenPL

SOME MONSTERS ARE REAL. They live on people’s taxes, wear uniforms, and prey on vulnerable women and children. The more horrible part is that the President condones their crimes.

Among many other instances, Duterte told troops last year that he will answer their rape cases:

Just work on it. I’ll take care of everything. I will be the one to jail you. If you commit rape three times, I’ll take responsibility for it.

Here are some of the outraged reactions on Twitter:

Ica Fernandez@icafernandez

This is Duterte’s gift to the Philippines: enabling the police to extort, kill, and rape the most vulnerable families. Akala ko ba adik ang nagnanakaw at nagrerape? If there is a hell, I hope you all rot in it.

Rambo Talabong@rambotalabong

LOOK: Mug shot of PO1 Eduardo Valencia, the Manila cop accused of raping the 15-year-old daughter of drug suspects. @rapplerdotcom

View image on Twitter

I thought it was the addicts who steal and rape?

Veronica L. Gregorio@veronixgregorio

The Philippine National Police idolizes President Duterte. From the merciless killings of poor drug suspects to the rape of women and children, these are all blatantly encouraged by the president himself. His words and actions has brought misery to the Filipino nation.

Angelica Reyes@anjkabataan

Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Tambay, Oplan Kapayapaan, Martial Law, Rape Culture, Red October etc.

Ang gobyerno ni Duterte ang pinakanakakagimbal na horror story!

Duterte’s government is the most horrendous horror story!

לוֹחְמָנִי@alders_ledge

Three times in the last two months the gov has said the will put the lives of police officers over the lives of “drug suspects”. That ideology in the Palace is what enabled this pig to rape a 15yo girl bc the parents were “suspects”.https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2018/10/30/philippine-policeman-accused-of-raping-drug-suspects-15yearold-daughter/ 

Juan Bisaya@unlucky911

It’s not solely his fault, but look at it this way: Think of Duterte as a father (we call him “Tatay” even), and he tells his kids it’s OK to rape and jokes about it regularly. When his children rapes, wouldn’t you hold the father accountable for being an enabler?

Einstein Z. Recedes@Enteng_Itneg

Kung ano ang puno sya rin ang bunga! Hindi lang pumatay ang ibig sabihin ng Tokhang kundi RAPE.

Karumaldumal ang mga kriminal sa gobyerno sa pangunguna ni Despicable Duterte, who has emboldened his goons- AFP & PNP to kill the poor & rape women w/ impunity, at may pabuya pa nga.

A tree is known by its fruit. Tokhang does not only mean murder but also rape. The criminals in government have become more brazen under despicable Duterte, who has emboldened his goons — AFP & PNP to kill the poor and rape women with impunity, and with rewards to beat.

inday espina varona@indayevarona

“SOP” Rape as SOP. Blood curdling.
But this is a country ruled by Duterte, a despot who thinks the only debatable issue on rape is who gets first dibs. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/10/28/18/para-malinis-ang-rekord-pulis-nanggahasa-ng-15-anyos-anak-ng-drug-suspect 

China to Re-brand Internment Camps as ’Vocational Education and Training’ Centers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLYGRAPH.NET)

 

China Seeks to Re-brand Internment Camps as ’Vocational Education and Training’ Centers


China-Armed police keep watch in a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
China-Armed police keep watch in a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
Shohrat Zakir

Shohrat Zakir

Chairman of the Government of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region

“Xinjiang has launched a vocational education and training program according to the law. Its purpose is to get rid of the environment and soil that breeds terrorism and religious extremism and stop violent terrorist activities from happening … In daily life, vocational institutions and schools strictly implement the spirit of laws and regulations, including the Constitution and religious affairs regulations, and respect and protect the customs and habits of various ethnic groups and their beliefs in diet and daily life.”

UNCLEAR

Efforts to spin internment camps into vocational schools fall flat without unfettered access.

Beijing has gone on the PR offensive, following condemnation in response to growing evidence that China has detained one million ethnic Muslims and put as many as two million into re-education and indoctrination training camps in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.

This is a lengthy fact check, because the Xinjiang chairman’s claims are voluminous and, ultimately, unverifiable.

“It is safe to say that the Chinese government is starting to feel the international pressure groups generated by the human rights community and foreign governments around the world,” Francisco Bencosme, Asia Pacific Advocacy Manager at Amnesty International USA, told Polygraph.info.

Having previously denied such camps even existed, a high-ranking regional official has now rebranded the facilities as “people oriented” vocational institutes and schools.

Screenshot from a CCTV report on "vocational training facility" in Xinjiang.
Screenshot from a CCTV report on “vocational training facility” in Xinjiang.

Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the Government of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, told state-run Xinhua News Agency that the “three evil forces” of terrorism, extremism, and separatism were the driving forces for launching the “vocational education and training program.” He added that the country has spared no efforts in protecting the basic human rights of citizens from the harm of terrorism and extremism.

Zakir said the vocational education and training program is in accordance with the constitution, the law on regional ethnic autonomy (which entitles citizens to the right of freedom of religious belief) and the “legislation law,” a set of official rules governing the adoption of Chinese national laws.

Zakir said vocational training had “enhanced” the sense of community of the Chinese nation, helped “trainees” master the country’s common language, increased their knowledge of the rule of law, and helped trainees realize they “are firstly citizens of the nation.”

He also claimed that training had led to “notable changes” in the social environment.

Screenshot from a CCTV report on "vocational training facility" in Xinjiang.
Screenshot from a CCTV report on “vocational training facility” in Xinjiang.

Zakir said the faculties of the “institutions and schools” had done their best to “meet the trainees’ needs in study, life, and entertainment on the basis of free education.”

“Faculties of the institutions and schools also try their best to ensure and meet the trainees’ needs in study, life, and entertainment on the basis of free education. The cafeteria prepares nutritious free diets, and the dormitories are fully equipped with radio, TV, air conditioning, bathroom and shower. Indoor and outdoor sports venues for basketball, volleyball and table tennis have been built, along with reading rooms, computer labs, film screening rooms, as well as performance venues such as small auditoriums and open-air stages,” Zakir said.

“Various activities such as contests on speech, writing, dancing, singing and sports are organized. Many trainees have said that they were previously affected by extremist thought and had never participated in such kinds of art and sports activities, and now they have realized that life can be so colorful.”

Screenshot from a CCTV report on "vocational training facility" in Xinjiang.
Screenshot from a CCTV report on “vocational training facility” in Xinjiang.

Mental health care, access to garment making and ethnic cuisine catering courses, and a paid basic income are all purportedly on offer.

“I didn’t understand the country’s common language, nor did I know about the laws,” Zakir cites one trainee as allegedly saying. “I wouldn’t even have known that I had made mistakes. But the government didn’t give me up. It has actively saved and assisted me, giving me free food, accommodation and education. Now I have made great progress in many aspects. I will cherish this opportunity and become a person useful to the country and society.”

His comments followed a statement by outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who described the reeducation camps in Xinjiang as “straight out of George Orwell.”

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Dake Kang 姜大翼@dakekang

Seeing this video again, it appears there are at least five cameras monitoring this classroom of a so-called “vocational skills training center”, as seen on @CCTV.http://tv.cctv.com/2018/10/16/VIDEVvr9aq34SsDMrB6IRGnh181016.shtml 

“At least a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been imprisoned in so-called ‘re-education camps’ in western China,” Fox News cited her as saying at the Chiefs of Defense Conference Dinner in Washington on Tuesday, October 16. She added that detainees are “tortured … forced to renounce their religion and to pledge allegiance to the Communist Party.”

Haley’s comments echoed similar sentiments expressed by a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Gay McDougall, who said Beijing had “turned the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp.”

Gay and other rights experts expressed alarm over “credible reports” that China had interned one million people in counter-extremism centers and forced another two million into “re-education camps for political and cultural indoctrination.”

Shelley Zhang@shelzhang

The subtext here being, we’re not stomping on their culture! We’re helping them learn their own culture! As if culture is contained only in rugs or bread, and not in the language and spiritual traditions of a people.

View image on Twitter

Shelley Zhang@shelzhang

Look at all this bread! Would cultural genocide really have all this bread?! pic.twitter.com/pQcjKVNuj3

View image on Twitter

Yu Jianhua, China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva, denied that such “reeducation centers” exist and that arbitrary detention is practiced. He said “the argument that a million Uighurs are detained in re-education centers is completely untrue.”​

Then, last week, the South China Morning reported that the regional government in Xinjiang had “legalized” the use of vocational and training centers to combat extremism.

“Governments at the county level and above can set up education and transformation organizations and supervising departments such as vocational training centers, to educate and transform people who have been influenced by extremism,” the newspaper cited a new clause in the “Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Regulation on Anti-Extremism” as saying.

But the legality of what has been described as a “retrospective justification” for the camps has been called into question.

Shelley Zhang@shelzhang

“The Party and the government saved me. They gave me the chance to mend my ways and turn over a new leaf.” Yeah, so far pretty much all of the interviews with students are sounding like forced confessions.

View image on Twitter

Shelley Zhang@shelzhang

Now CCTV talks about how poor and hard life is in Hotan, and how people don’t really understand the laws or written Mandarin, which makes the area susceptible to extremism. This is the set up for the narrative about the CCP lifting people out of poverty. pic.twitter.com/NcPXOvsZgk

View image on Twitter

“I don’t think the authorities ‘legalized’ these camps — the regional authorities have no legal authority to authorize detention systems, only the national legislature has that authority, and the latter has not legalized these facilities. These camps remain illegal under Chinese law,” Maya Wang, a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Polygraph.info.

Government Control of the Press in Xinjiang

Following Beijing’s most recent volte-face, it remains difficult to separate fact from fiction due to the opaque media environment. As Wang noted, all Chinese journalists know to “steer clear” from XinJiang, while foreign journalists “are heavily surveilled if they set foot in the region, making reporting very difficult.”

Visits by Western journalists to Xinjian are rare, making it difficult or impossible to independently verify the government’s rosy picture or the claims of human rights groups and Western governments. Reporters for the Wall Street Journal traveled to the province 10 months ago, finding one detention facility “surrounded by imposing walls topped with razor wire, with watchtowers at two corners… Villagers describe it as a detention center.”

China-FILE PHOTO: A Uighur man looks on as a truck carrying paramilitary policemen travel along a street during an anti-terrorism oath-taking rally in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China May 23, 2014. The Chinese characters on the banner read
China-FILE PHOTO: A Uighur man looks on as a truck carrying paramilitary policemen travel along a street during an anti-terrorism oath-taking rally in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China May 23, 2014. The Chinese characters on the banner read

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked China 176th out of 180 countries in its most recent annual World Press Freedom index.

Last month, a deputy editor, a head of a subsidiary newspaper, and two directors of the Xinjiang Daily group were arrested for being “two-faced” – a vague term “adopted by the Chinese authorities to accuse those who allegedly secretly oppose government policies,” RSF said.

Kazakhstan - A police officer checks the identity card of a man as security forces keep watch in a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
Kazakhstan – A police officer checks the identity card of a man as security forces keep watch in a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Also in September, the Uighur editor-in-chief of a state-run literature magazine reportedly committed suicide “out of fear” of being detained in a political “re-education camp,” sources told Radio Free Asia (RFA).

“Not satisfied with having virtually banned the region’s access to foreign media, President Xi Jinping is obviously trying to gag local media that does not print his propaganda,” Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia bureau, said.

In March, China detained the close relatives of five reporters for RFA’s Uighur service in alleged “retaliation for their coverage of the Xinjiang region,” sparking condemnation from human rights and press freedom groups.

In August, Buzzfeed’s China bureau chief, Megha Rajagopalan, was effectively expelled from China after the country’s foreign ministry declined to issue her a new journalist visa – a move she linked to “reporting on and speaking about state surveillance, repression and incarceration of millions of Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.”

Megha Rajagopalan

@meghara

Some news from me— I’m really excited to be moving to a new role @BuzzFeedNews focusing on technology and human rights. I’ll be reporting from the Middle East and beyond. I’m looking forward to continuing to report on tech companies, authoritarianism, surveillance & other issues.

Megha Rajagopalan

@meghara

It is bittersweet to leave Beijing after spending six wonderful and eye-opening years as a journalist there. In May, China’s Foreign Ministry declined to issue me a new journalist visa. They say this is a process thing, we are not totally clear why.

In December 2015, China’s foreign ministry refused to renew the accreditation of Ursula Gauthier, the Beijing-based correspondent for French news magazine L’Obs, claiming she had” flagrantly championed acts of terrorism and acts of cruelly killing innocents.”

Despite a near media blackout, reports do trickle out.

In August, the Wall Street Journal reported eye-witness accounts that “dozens of people had been crammed into one room, forced to share a single toilet, being fed one meal of cabbage per day and told not to talk to anyone else.”

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, told RFA harsh consequences await those who resist reeducation.

“People have been tortured to death, while others have been beaten to death, or prevented from sleeping, or refused food or water,” Raxit said. “Either that or they do whatever would be most humiliating to that person’s psychological profile. Sometimes they humiliate them physically, and have been known to employ electric batons.”

Murat, another Muslim from Xinjiang, told RFA “political education centers are generally like prisons.” He added: “Electric shocks, beatings, and humiliation all take place in there. It’s very cruel.”

Bencosme noted an interview that Amnesty International had conducted with Kairat Samarkan, who outlined his treatment in a “re-education” camp.

Nicole Sprokel@nicolesprokel

Amnesty director @EduardNazarski protesting with Uighurs and Tibetans against arbitrary detention of one million inhabitants of in reeducation camps during visit Li Keqiang to The Netherlands. @amnestynl

“Kairat said when he was detained at one of these camps he was hooded and made to wear shackles on his arms and legs,” Bencosme said. “They attached an iron bar with his arms spread wide and his body fixed in place so that he had to stand straight, unable to bend. They were forced to sing political songs and study the speeches of the Chinese Communist Party and praise the country. Kairat tried to take his own life while he was detained.”

And despite the alleged right to freedom of religious belief, Human Rights Watch claimed that with “unprecedented levels of control over religious practices, the authorities have effectively outlawed Islam in the region.”

Security and Surveillance in Xinjiang

For the 10-million strong Uighur population, the control reportedly extends far beyond camp walls.

A high-tech system of digital and biometric surveillance, checkpoints at virtually every corner, and the policing of individuals’ clothing and hair “are just some of the ways in which residents of Xinjiang experience restrictions on their individual rights even outside these camps,” Jessica Batke, a senior editor with the ChinaFile online magazine and a former research analyst at the U.S. State Department, told theCongressional Executive Commission on China, an independent U.S. government agency, in July.

China-Armed police keep watch in a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
China-Armed police keep watch in a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Ultimately, the fact that there is a relatively small stream of eyewitness accounts aids China in its attempt to deny or obfuscate what is going on inside the camps.

Benscome said the restrictive nature of the camps forces rights groups to rely on interviews of those who have been released, making it difficult for those groups from independently verify many of the accounts of former detainees.

But Chinese authorities’ initial denials, followed by alleged ad hoc legal justifications for what is going on in the detention camps, point towards a concerted effort to shape public perceptions of what is really going in in Xinjiang.

“There is not enough lipstick on a pig that could hide the systematic repression that is going on in [Xinjiang] with up to one million people being arbitrarily detained. The Chinese government cannot continue to hide from the international community the ongoing human rights crisis occurring,” Benscome said.

CHINA -- Uighur security personnel patrol near the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in western China's Xinjiang region, November 4, 2017
CHINA — Uighur security personnel patrol near the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in western China’s Xinjiang region, November 4, 2017

Wang said HRW makes certain to “triangulate” its findings, not relying solely on accounts by eyewitnesses and families, but also examining documentary evidence, such as official documents and official social media posts.

“All of these point to an abusive campaign of mass arbitrary detention and other severe abuses in Xinjiang,” she said. “If the authorities are so confident that their detention camps are, in fact, just idyllic summer camps, then they should allow UN investigators, journalists and human rights organizations unfettered access to the region, including to these facilities, so we can see it for ourselves.”

The lack of verifiable information leads us to the verdict of “unclear.” However all signs point to a much darker conclusion. And with China itself stifling every effort at openness and transparency in Xinjiang’s allegedly life-affirming vocational schools, Polygraph.info finds its latest claims to be dubious at best.

When The Poor Serve No Need We Will Be Exterminated

When The Poor Serve No Need We Will Be Exterminated

 

Earlier I posted an article that came from the Government of China, the article was in several of their news outlets, the article stated that by the year 2027 in China’s Financial district alone that AI will cause the loss of 2.3 million jobs. Remember that their current President for life Mr. Xi Jinping is a devout follower of Chairman Mao. When Chairman Mao was in charge in China their country’s population was about one billion people and his policies were to let about half of the Nation starve to death. One of the main reason he gave was the Central Government’s inability to not only be able to control them but also their inability to feed them. The population of the United States and of Russia combined today is about 470 million people, Mao was speaking of letting 500 million of his own people starve to death. There are many reasons that China went to their ‘one child’ policies for several decades, these were two of their top reasons.

 

There are those in China and elsewhere in the world who will argue that these things could not happen today because we are now much more civilized and to this I have to say, O really. The United States is without a doubt a ‘surveillance State’ today, if you think otherwise you are being quite naive. There are good things about living in constant surveillance though, I have no doubt that the FBI, CIA, and the NSA have stopped quite a few attacks upon the American people because of their secretive work. Yet how much freedom do the people give up for the sake of being safer? The more a government knows, the more easily they can then totally control the lives of the people. When it comes to governing a Nation the main building block of their power is their ability to control the people. Lose control on the streets, they lose their grip on their power.

 

Now let’s get back to financials within a government. Unless you are oblivious to reality you should know that the tail that wags the dog, is money. Back in the mid 1970’s I worked in a Chrysler Assembly Plant in norther Illinois for just a couple of weeks (I couldn’t stand the thought of working on an assembly line putting cushions in-car seats for at least 37 years) so I quit. What I did notice was how many people worked on the different ‘lines’. As the cars went down the assembly line you had many people doing manual labor like spot welding and putting windshields into the car frames. Go there now, see how many jobs are still there and how many are being done by automation, the job loss is staggering. Even think of stores like Wal-Mart who are getting rid of their cashiers in favor of automation and self-checkouts. Now think about self driving cars, trucks and even trains. Even companies like Uber are killing the Taxi industry. What do all of these things have in common folks? Companies are trying to get rid of human employees and the reason is simple, more profits for the top end persons in these companies.

 

If you are old enough (I am 62) do you remember when we used to hear how technologies were going to allow worker to only have to work 4 days a week because with technologies we could get 5 days work done in 4 days? Some people were foolish enough to think that their employer was going to pay you for 5 days work even though you only worked 4 days. Reality was that the employees still worked 5 days a week but the companies demanded 6 or 7 days of finished product in the 5 days, for no more pay. Then of course the companies could ‘let go’ some of their workforce because they didn’t need them anymore. The employment issue has just grown from there as more and more computers and machines have taken over jobs that humans used to do.

 

I have spoken of the world Stock Markets before, how I believe that they are nothing but a Ponzi scheme and a curse to the working class, the working poor who labor in these corporations who are on these ‘Markets.’ Some will argue that throughout the years that they have been buying and selling stocks and bonds that they have been able to amass a ‘nice little retirement fund’, yet in reality all of a persons profits that they have amassed over the past thirty years can easily be wiped out in one or two hours on this same ‘Market scheme.’ Little people like us working class folks at best get the crumbs that fall off of the ‘Boss Mans’ plate. We are no more than dogs licking their floor and their shoes. What takes you or I 30 years to amass the ‘connected’ make in one 5 minute transaction.

 

When there are lets say 4 billion working age poor people (ages 10-75) but there are only 2 billion actual jobs that need a humans hands to do, what will happen to the other 2 billion people, and all of their families, all of the children? The Republicans in the U.S Congress often refer to things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Aid For Dependent Children, unemployment checks, VA Disability checks and even the VA itself as “entitlements” as “Welfare”, things that must be “defunded”, “stopped.” Why is this? The answer is simple, it takes away from the money that flows to the top end of the financial class. The Republicans say that they are the “Christian right” yet their actions are as anti-Christian as you can get in American politics. Do not get me wrong, I am no fan of the Democratic Party either with their platform of murdering babies (pro-abortion). Both ‘Parties’ are pure evil, they will both do everything that they can to make sure that the American people never get to have a viable 3rd or 4th political party and the reason is simple, that would take away from their power and they aren’t about to let that happen.

 

When there is not enough jobs for the poor people to do, not even slave labor jobs, who is going to house and feed these people if they can’t get an income? Is the top 1% going to just ‘give’ these people money from their bank accounts? When there is 7 billion people on the planet but only enough food or clean drinking water for 6 billion, who is going to get that food and clean water, the poorest of the poor people? Really? If you really think so, how naive you are my friend! In this new world that is on our doorstep, indeed kicking down our doors right now, you are either the lead dog, or you are daily looking up the lead dogs ass, drinking their piss for water and licking up their shit for food. In this regard, for the poor, this new world that we are all hurtling into, thousands, then millions, then billions of people will be fighting for a position behind these lead dogs just so they can stay alive. Those who refuse will not be fed and housed, we will be exterminated!

 

Officials Warn South Kashmir Cops Not To Visit Their Homes For Their Safety

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Don’t go back home, officials tell south Kashmir cops after wave of attacks targeting policemen

Since January, 37 policemen have been killed by militants, many when they were off-duty.

INDIA Updated: Sep 23, 2018 07:07 IST

Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir,Cops in Jammu and Kashmir,J-K cops killed in
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Swayam Prakash Pani pays respect to colleagues who were killed by militants, during a wreath laying ceremony at a base camp at Shopian, near Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on September 21, 2018. (Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

The Jammu & Kashmir administration is telling policemen and Special Police Officers in South Kashmir, which is seeing a wave of attacks against both, to not visit their families or homes.

The advisory comes in the wake of the killings of three SPO’s on Friday, and unconfirmed resignations of several others following a warning on Wednesday by Hizbul Mujahedeen commander, Riyaz Naikoo. The killings were in part responsible for India reconsidering its decision to agree to the meeting of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York later this month.

SPO’s, whose main role is in gathering intelligence, and local policemen are soft targets because they do not live in fortified camps like the ones housing members of the army and the Central Reserve Police Force.

On Friday , selection grade constable Nisar Ahmad, SPO Kuldeep Singh and follower, Firdous Kuchay were abducted by militants from Batagund and Kaparan villages early in the morning and killed within hours. Two other policemen in the same villages escaped because they weren’t home when the militants came visiting.

In the past too, there have been occasional advisories asking officers of the J&K police who reside in sensitive areas of south Kashmir to avoid visiting their homes.

“Keeping in view the sensitivity of threats and latest abduction and killings of three policemen, all SPO’s and policemen who are from south Kashmir are being told through telephone not to visit their homes,’’ said a police officer familiar with the advisory. “This is being done to save the lives of our men as militants have killed many of our men at their homes when they were not on duty. In the past, many have ignored similar warnings.’’

Since January, 37 policemen have been killed by militants, many when they were off-duty. Last month, on Eid ul Azha, three policemen including an officer, all of whom were on leave and celebrating Eid with their families were killed by militants.

The militants have been targeting SPO’s and local policemen whom they hold responsible for the killing of militants, especially in south Kashmir where so-called cordon and search operations are launched on specific information. Officials said that 28 militants were killed in Shopian district alone this year.

The four districts of south Kashmir have more than 3,000 SPO’s. Across the state, there are more than 30,000 SPO’s.

J&K Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said soon after the killing of three policemen on Friday that action would be taken against all the militants involved in the killings, and also dismissed the resignations of special police officers as rumors.

So far, over two dozen SPO’s have resigned in different parts of south Kashmir.

On August 30, militants abducted 11 police personnel and their family members after the police detained the father of Riyaz Naikoo. However, they were released after the police released Naikoo Sr.

First Published: Sep 23, 2018 07:05 IST

Is China’s Government Really As Anti Religion As The American Government Says It Is?

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

China to ban religious profiteering

CHINA is amending a religious affairs regulation to ban personal profiteering from religions.

Religious groups, institutes of education and sites are all non-profit, and no individuals or organizations should divide up, occupy or embezzle their property and revenue, according to a draft amendment to the 2004 regulation, released Wednesday by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council for soliciting public opinion until Oct. 7.

No organizations and individuals are entitled to ownership nor rights of use of religious venues if they donate money to build the venues, and they may not gain “economic benefits” from the venues, the draft amendment reads.

The amendment was made to “ensure citizen’s religious freedom, safeguard religious and social harmony and regulate religious affairs.”

In tourist resorts featuring religious activities, buildings should be subject to the style and environment of the religious activity venues. Authorities should coordinate the interests of the venues and resorts, protecting normal religious activities and the rights of religious staff and believers.

Religious groups are allowed to accept donations from overseas individuals and organizations, based on relevant regulations and without any conditions attached, it said, but donations exceeding 100,000 yuan (about 15,000 U.S. dollars) must be reported to local authorities for approval.

Any unapproved acceptance of donations from home or overseas will be punished.

Those who, without authorization, organize believers to pay homage, receive training or attend meetings and other activities overseas will be fined from 20,000 to 200,000 yuan, and may be held criminally responsible.

The draft also reiterates that it is illegal to preach, hold religious activities, or establish religious organs or sites in schools.

Ex-Texas Police Officer Sentenced To 15 Years For Murder Of Unarmed 15 Yr Old

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC NEWS)

 

Ex-Texas police officer sentenced to 15 years for murder of unarmed black teen Jordan Edwards

PHOTO: Fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver, testifies to the jury with defense attorney Jim Lane during the sixth day of his trial at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Aug. 23, 2018. Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool
Fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver, who is charged with the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, testifies to the jury with defense attorney Jim Lane during the sixth day of his trial at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Aug. 23, 2018.more +

A former Texas police officer on Wednesday was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the 2017 shooting death of an unarmed black teenager — and the victim’s family said the punishment was too light.

Ex-Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver, who is white, also was fined $10,000, a day after a jury convicted him of murdering 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.

Speaking with reporters at a press conference late Wednesday, the teen’s stepmother, Charmaine Edwards, said she had hoped for a sentence of “25 to 30 [years] or more.”

“We’re thankful for the verdict that we received, although we wanted more years,” she said. “This is a start for us, and we can get some kind of closure. So we’re thankful. He actually can see life again after 15 years. And that’s not enough because Jordan can’t see life again.”

PHOTO: Jordan Edwards, 15, appears in this screen grab from a WFAA video.WFAA
Jordan Edwards, 15, appears in this screen grab from a WFAA video.

She said Jordan was a bright kid and a football player at Mesquite High School in Balch Springs, about 15 miles southeast of Dallas.

A Dallas County jury deliberated for nearly five hours before recommending the sentence on Wednesday evening, ending a long and emotional trial over the honor student’s death.

Oliver, who joined the force in 2011, will be eligible for parole after seven-and-a-half years in prison.

Daryl Washington, an attorney representing the Edwards family, celebrated the conviction and said he hoped it would bring on a sense of closure.

“The Dallas DA’s office did something that has not been done around this country,” Washington said at the press conference. “They had the courage to take on the bad police officer, and, because of that, that in itself is a victory.

“We believe that little boys and little girls are going to be able to go to teenage parties and feel like if they’re in danger they can go to police officers and not run away from police officers.”

Roy Oliver, Miles BrissetteThe Associated Press
Roy Oliver, Miles Brissette
Michael Snipes, Faith Johnson, Odell Edwards, Charmaine EdwardsThe Associated Press
Michael Snipes, Faith Johnson, Odell Edwards, Charmaine Edwards

He said he’d also hoped for a harsher punishment, but that convictions in such cases are rare and should be celebrated.

Fewer than 90 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter for such shootings since 2005, according to research by The Associated Press. Less than half were convicted or pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

“We know that there are parents all over this country who would love to see the person who took the life of their kid spend the next 15 years in prison,” Washington said. “This is the beginning, and we hope soon that it will be the end to all the violence that we have.”

Oliver allegedly opened fire on a car full of teenagers on the night of April 29, 2017, killing Jordan, who was sitting in the front passenger seat. The officer was fired three days later.

Oliver and his partner were responding to reports of underage drinking at a house party in Balch Springs when they saw the teens pulling off, according to testimony at the trial.

PHOTO: Fifteen-year-old Jordan Edwards was shot and killed April 29, 2017 by former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver in Texas.WFAA
Fifteen-year-old Jordan Edwards was shot and killed April 29, 2017 by former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver in Texas.

Oliver testified that he opened fired because he thought his partner was in danger of being run over and that, before the shooting, he was inside the house and that he believed he heard gunfire outside.

“I had to make a decision,” Oliver told jurors. “This car is about to hit my partner. I had no other option.”

Body-cam and dash-cam footage showed the car was moving away from the officers when Oliver opened fire, disputing his initial claim that it was backing up toward Gross.

The officer’s attorney said he plans to file an appeal, citing multiple errors within the trial.

“This evening we gave notice of appeal. We want to appeal the jury’s verdict at both the guilt, innocence and punishment phase of the trial,” attorney Bob Gill said Wednesday. “We believe that there are some errors made during the trial that are significant errors and need to be explored on appeal.”

ABC News’ Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.

‘They Wanted To Kill Us All’: Nicaragua Reels After Bloody Church Siege

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

‘They Wanted To Kill Us All’: Nicaragua Reels After Bloody Church Siege

A student who had taken refuge at the Church of the Divine Mercy amid a barrage of armed attacks is embraced by a relative on Saturday after he was transported to the Managua Metropolitan Cathedral.

Cristobal Venegas/AP

Nicaragua saw another weekend of deadly violence, as forces in support of President Daniel Ortega besieged student protesters in a church and attempted to assert control over several areas outside the capital.

Students have been at the center of anti-government demonstrations since they began April 18. What started as a “protest against now-rescinded changes in public pensions” became “a full-fledged call to end the authoritarian rule,” reporter Maria Martin tells NPR. The government has responded with brutal force.

Overnight Friday, protests at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in the capital took a dramatic turn, ultimately leaving at least two people dead and several others injured.

For two months, students at the university in Managua have set up barricades during protests that have drawn the wrath of pro-government forces. On Friday, about 200 students on the sprawling campus were pinned down by police and paramilitaries into a nearby Catholic church that they had been using as a field hospital.

The Washington Post’s Joshua Partlow, reporting on the protests, was trapped in the Church of the Divine Mercy along with the students. He described what he saw:

“Not long after 6 p.m., with several high-pitched cracks, the mood took a dark turn. The faraway shooting was suddenly nearby. The paramilitaries had appeared, cutting off the only exit from Divine Mercy and firing at the remaining barricade just outside the church.

“It became clear that everyone inside — dozens of students, at least two priests and two doctors, neighbors, volunteers and journalists, including me — would not be going anywhere.

“Most of the students accepted this realization with stoicism and remarkable calm. Many had been taking sporadic fire on and off for the past two months, and they seemed accustomed to it. They carried the wounded into the Rev. Raul Zamora’s rectory and put them on chairs or on the blood-spattered tile floor. Outside, at the barricade, other students shouted and fired their mortars against the unseen ­assailants.

“Over the next hours, the fighting ebbed and flowed. A flurry of gunfire would force everyone indoors, then people would drift into the courtyard. At times, they chanted ‘Viva, Nicaragua,’ shot their mortars in the air and vowed to never leave their posts. Around sunset, dozens of them knelt in a circle, held each other and prayed.”

The siege stretched on for some 15 hours, ending when members of the clergy negotiated for the students to be allowed to leave. They were transported to the Managua Metropolitan Cathedral, according to the Post.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes said two students were killed during the confrontation, according to The Associated Press.

Mourners attend the wake of Nicaraguan university student Gerald Vasquez who was killed over the weekend when police forced students out of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in Managua.

Cristobal Venegas/AP

“It was a really hard night. They discharged their entire heavy arsenal against stones and mortars,” a sobbing young man who was afraid to given his name told the AP. “They wanted to kill us all.”

Sunday saw more violence, just outside Managua, Reuters reported. The Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights said at least 10 people were killed when security forces and paramilitary groups loyal to Ortega attacked people in the city of Masaya and communities of Monimbo.

In Masaya, pro-government forces were trying to take down barricades and reassert control over the area in what the government was calling “Operation Clean-up,” according to the BBC. The government says the “blockades are harming businesses and disrupting the lives of Nicaraguans,” the broadcaster reports.

The weekend violence is part of a brutal crackdown that human rights groups say has resulted in the deaths of nearly 300 people.

Human rights groups have criticized the Nicaraguan government for its tactics. For example, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has accused the government of “excessive and arbitrary use of police force,” as well as using paramilitary groups called “shock groups” to put down protests. It has called for the groups to be dismantled.

The BBC described “hooded and masked men opening fire on protesters” during recent protests, and says that “the government says the protesters are trying to stage a coup d’etat against Mr Ortega.”

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