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McCain Campaign Sells Info-Loaded Blackberry PDAs 165

Posted by timothy
from the quickly-unring-that-bell dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A news station in Washington D.C. has reported that the McCain Campaign has allegedly sold to reporters Blackberry handhelds with campaign-related information such as e-mail messages and phone numbers: 'We traced the Blackberry back to a staffer who worked for "Citizens for McCain" ... The emails contain an insider's look at how grassroots operations work, full of scheduling questions and rallying cries for support ... But most of the numbers were private cell phones for campaign leaders, politicians, lobbyists and journalists. "Somebody made a mistake," one owner told us. "People's numbers and addresses were supposed to be erased."'"
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McCain Campaign Sells Info-Loaded Blackberry PDAs

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  • Nice. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I wish my incompetence could land me a job whereby I have full access to politicians and such and I can just hand out their information freely :D

    • by soloport (312487) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:18PM (#26106563) Homepage
      Fresh set of GOP numbers? What to do...

      Joe: Hello?

      New BB Owner: Is your refrigerator running?

      So many possibilities!
      • by Al Dimond (792444) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @08:45PM (#26107201) Journal

        Ha, more like...

        Me: Is your toilet running?

        Joe: Why, yes!

        Me: Better hire an actual plumber to fix it.

        • by causality (777677) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @10:00PM (#26107707)

          Ha, more like...

          Me: Is your toilet running?

          Joe: Why, yes!

          Me: Better hire an actual plumber to fix it.

          Yes, I know this was a joke. However...

          There are many things you could say about the whole Joe Plumber deal, but there's one subtle message that was not lost on me. If you stick your neck out and actually question the candidates, you will become an overnight celebrity whether you want to or not. Look at the background checks that have been performed against Samuel J. Wurzelbacher and the fact that whether or not he is actually licensed as a plumber (apparently he is not, at least not in Ohio) became a very public issue. Of course none of this has anything to do with his question to Obama about taxes, and so it constitutes an ad-hominem attack. For putting a question to Obama, he was rewarded with reporters trying to dig up dirt on him. Whether they were successful or not has nothing to do with the message, which is "if you're not with the media, then sit down and shut up or we will find skeletons in your closet." That message could not have been more clear.

          I know that he has written a book and therefore could profit from this experience, but whether he has something to show for it does not negate anything I am saying. I realize that much of this was because of McCain trying to use "Joe Plumber" as something of a campaign symbol, which probably made him more of a target, but really, the reason why this is the case or how it got to be that way is trivia. It might be interesting to some of you but it won't address the chilling effect that this may have on others who would otherwise stand up and ask similar questions of other candidates.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2008 @11:02PM (#26108037)

            For putting a dishonest, loaded question to Obama
            fixed that for you.
             
            captcha: divert
            sounds about right

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by sycodon (149926)

              You don't have to be a plumber to own a plumbing business.

              You don't have to be a programmer or a computer engineer to own a computer business.

              Apparently, you don't have to be objective and competent to be a journalist.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by sumdumass (711423)

              Oh yea, that's right. A dishonest loaded question because the off the cuff reply Obama made didn't sound good.

              Poor Obama was the victim here now wasn't he. Of course Obama approaches Joe the Plumber, not the other way around. Obama came into his neighborhood, not the other way around, Yes, Joe the Plumber said he wanted to catch him off guard but it's just as much of Obama's fault as anyone's. Obama should have known that someone would have asked him a question like that, after all, McCain had been saying t

          • by drkich (305460) <dkichline.gmail@com> on Saturday December 13, 2008 @11:04PM (#26108067) Homepage

            I agree with you to a point. I think the moment he started seeking the lime light by going on the talk shows, and showing up at rallies, he invited it upon himself.

          • by Miseph (979059) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @11:29PM (#26108199) Journal

            It also didn't help that as they dug, they started to find connections to McCain and his campaign, almost as if he'd been planted there just to create an issue where McCain could routinely criticize Obama over what amounted to nothing.

            Sorry, but when you become a campaign slogan and start doing interviews because you asked a presidential candidate a question that doesn't actually make sense (saying that you're looking at buying a business and suddenly having an annual salary WAY above average for people in that line of work, and then trying to argue you'd only be doing moderately well is, to say the least, stretching the bounds of believability), you forfeit your right to be just another anonymous face in the crowd. that's just how it works.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              "almost as if he'd been planted there..."

              Didn't Senator Obama wander into Joe W.'s yard during a rally?

              And since politicians are so good at stretching the truth, what's the harm in Joe's widening the question? Sen. Obama will be president for four years, after all. I can certainly understand phrasing the question based on what I'd be hoping to earn after a few successful years in business, not limiting it strictly to what I earn right now.

              • by penix1 (722987) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @08:40AM (#26110141) Homepage

                Umm...No. Joe pushed his way up to the rope line and yelled to get Obama's attention. He then proceeded to use the party lines "communism", "spread the wealth", etc. The rest of your statement is illogical since he didn't own the business, wasn't in line to own the business, wasn't making anywhere close to what he claimed....Shall I go on?

                • by sycodon (149926)

                  Obama is the one who said "spread the wealth around."

                  • by Uberbah (647458)

                    Yes, because having all the wealth to go the top 1% has worked out so well for the economy and the middle class.

                    • by Uberbah (647458)

                      Turning FannieMae and FreddyMac into affirmative action lending institutions is what tanked the economy

                      Liar: [mcclatchydc.com]

                      * More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.

                      * Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.

                      * Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that's being lambasted by conservative critics.

                      Regardless, Obama DID say he wanted to spread the wealth

                    • by sycodon (149926)

                      First, never quote dumbass reporters. They don't know shit.

                      Second, FannieMae and Mac bought bundled mortgages from private institutions. Private institutions were practically threatened with legal action by the Clinton Administration if they didn't lend to just about anyone. FanneMae and Mac said "it's alright, we'll buy them".

                      Third, if you think taking wealth by force from others is fine, then I suggest you retain a criminal attorny because you're gonna need one.

                    • by Miseph (979059)

                      "Regardless, Obama DID say he wanted to spread the wealth around. Which means he TAKES it by force from those who worked for it and gives it to others."

                      That is a complete logical non sequitor. Nice try, though.

                    • by sumdumass (711423)

                      How do you figure. Obama wants to take it from the people who have it by taxation and give it to those who don't have it by taxation.

                      That's completely logical and in line with the spread the wealth.

                • Joe pushed his way up to the rope line and yelled to get Obama's attention.

                  You got a reasonable citation for that? Because from the first day it was widely reported that Obama went to Joe's house as he was canvasing the neighborhood. So, if you expect anyone to believe you, we gotta see some plausible support for your claim.

                  • by sumdumass (711423)

                    He has no clue what he is talking about.

                    The video is on youtube [youtube.com] and there is no rope line, no confrontation or anything. If you watch it, you can see that both were actually comfortable and polite to each other. No one was confrontational to the point the GP claimed. Here is take on the ordeal. [cbsnews.com]

                    I'm not sure why people think they still need to lie to prop up Obama. He won the fucking election.

                    BTW, in case you need a laugh [metacafe.com] Wait till the end.

          • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @11:53PM (#26108317)
            "but there's one subtle message that was not lost on me. If you stick your neck out and actually question the candidates, you will become an overnight celebrity whether you want to or not."

            You know,

            If Joe actually WAS a plumber, as he said he was, he wouldn't have taken so much heat.

            If Joe actually WAS in a position to take over his boss's business, he wouldn't have taken so much heat.

            If Joe's boss's company actually MADE as much profit as he said id did each year, he wouldn't have taken so much heat.

            All in all, he made up a bunch of stuff to pretend to be in the tiny portion of the population that Obama's plan might not be good for.

            I think the one not so subtle message is: don't lie your ass off trying to 'nail' someone with a question when you have a ton of cameras pointed at you.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
              If Joe...

              Doesn't matter. Simply for engaging the candidate in a discussion, he was investigated by the media. That they found some weirdnesses does not make it OK.
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Jazon Bladen (938809)

                Not even really weirdness, it was basically technicalities and half-truths that the media harped on for weeks to make them sound like solid facts, (of course, this tactic is not new or innovative for the media.) For starters, he didn't need a license to be a plumber where he lives, but that didn't stop them from saying he wasn't a plumber, and if I were McCain, I'd have had him show up during my campaign stops as often as possible.

                Besides, imagining Obama yelling out "THOSE PESKY PLUMBERS" makes me smile.

                • by Uberbah (647458)

                  For starters, he didn't need a license to be a plumber where he lives,

                  Actually, yes, he does. You might be able to use Excel and apply a band-aid to a cut, but that doesn't make you an accountant or a doctor.

                  • by sumdumass (711423)

                    Actually, the state of Ohio allows tradesmen who aren't licensed to work under an assigned license to a business entity or license holder. Of course the law states that their work is as id directly supervised which means if the aprentice fucks up, the license holder gets it too.

                    In fact, this is pretty much a requirement to work without a license in order to get a license in the state of Ohio. Ohio Revised code 4740.06 [ohio.gov] states

                    (3) Either have been a tradesperson in the type of licensed trade for which the appl

              • by crazyjimmy (927974) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @01:52AM (#26108725)

                Simply for engaging the candidate in a discussion, he was investigated by the media. That they found some weirdnesses does not make it OK.

                I could be wrong, but wasn't it the fact that John McCain brought him up over and over again in the debate, and attempted to use him as a model of the "average American" that caused him to be investigated so heavily? It was less that he asked the candidate a difficult question, and more that McCain's camp was so eager to use him for their own ends. --Jimmy

                • by Machtyn (759119)
                  Heh, that's naive to think that because McCain brought him up over and over that the media investigated Joe W. Personally, I think the MSM are really pretty bored and have too much money.
              • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:27AM (#26108883)

                "Doesn't matter. Simply for engaging the candidate in a discussion, he was investigated by the media."

                Really? Simply for that? Obama was asked questions by THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of people during the last 2 years campaigning. Thousands alone in each of the early states where they campaigned early and hard.

                How many guys from Maine do you know all about from the media because they asked Obama a question? Answer: None

                How many guys from Iowa do you know all about from the media because they asked Obama a question? Answer: None

                This guy was investigated because McCain directly pointed him out no less than 5 separate times on a national debate shown on all the major channels.

                But I'm sure that never occurred to you.

              • No, not "simply for engaging the candidate in a discussion," but rather, simply for becoming the posterboy and centerpiece of the other candidate's entire campaign. They mentioned Joe the Plumber more times during the last debate than they mentioned "America." Damn right the media investigated him, as well they should have. Sucks for him, but he shouldn't have lied his ass off in the first place.

              • by sumdumass (711423)

                He wasn't just investigated by the media, Obama supporters in the Ohio government started using state resources to drum up shit on him.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              If Joe actually WAS a plumber, as he said he was, he wouldn't have taken so much heat.

              He actually WAS a plumber. You do know that, right?

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by LurkerXXX (667952)
                He actually WASN'T a plumber. You do know that right? Being a plumber in Ohio requires a license. He didn't have one (ever).
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Hal_Porter (817932)

                  He actually WASN'T a plumber. You do know that right? Being a plumber in Ohio requires a license. He didn't have one (ever).

                  That just shows how big government is oppressing small businesses.

                  • by Uberbah (647458)

                    I suppose you could see it that way, if you like throwing money away. When you higher a professional - lawyer, accountant, doctor, etc - do you like having some degree of assurance that they are a professional in the industry, or some Joe Shmoe who claims to be one?

                • No, he _was_ a plumber. I think you should go look up the definition of plumber in the dictionary, and compare with how he made his living. He wasn't a licensed plumber.

                  Here, I'll help you out: plumber. [reference.com]

                  • by LurkerXXX (667952)
                    I'll help you out. He's not allowed to touch anything on a job site in without a REAL plumber there overlooking the work to make sure he does it right. He's not a plumber. He's a plumber's assistant. The guy handing a scalpel to a surgeon isn't a doctor just because he assists one.
                    • Ahh. You're just wrong is all. I guess there's no point arguing with someone who doesn't think words have meanings. The rest of us understand, however, that if you make your living "plumbing" you're a "plumber".
          • by jandersen (462034)

            If you stick your neck out and actually question the candidates, you will become an overnight celebrity whether you want to or not. Look at the background checks that have been performed against Samuel J. Wurzelbacher and the fact that whether or not he is actually licensed as a plumber

            Hey, this is America, where anybody who steps into the limelight is either an instant saint (rarely) or more commonly scrutinized in the most hostile way possible. Joe the-potentially-a-Plumber has been handled with a velvet glove, all things considered. Just think of all the "scandals" that have been in the media, like "So and so once smoked dope" and "GWB once yelled 'fuck you' after his mum". I think he's been let off easily, so far.

            I agree with you, that this is wrong - but this is the way it is because

  • Not a surprise... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darundal (891860) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @06:57PM (#26106401) Journal
    ...every so often there is a story about some person or organization that sold a device without wiping the data. According to TFA, there was nothing compromising on the device (information showing wrongdoing by members of the campaign, sensitive personal info, etc) so not a major flub. I would consider it a story if something compromising was found on the device, but extra care is usually taken to dispose of that.
    • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:00PM (#26106425)

      The cure is to destroy devices, which are trivially cheap, instead of selling them.

      • Re:Not a surprise... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:09PM (#26106501)

        We use a fancy expensive hard disk shredder to obliterate them... What a waste to see a perfectly working Bold being destroyed but it's the only way to ensure the permanent PIN # is not reused. The issue of potentially receiving embarrassing PINPIN texts is resolved.

        • Re:Not a surprise... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:13PM (#26106527)

          If your BackBerry belongs to an organization there is usually a remote wipe capability and remote disable feature. The last firm I where I worked would regularly wipe and disable lost BlackBerrys.

      • by onefriedrice (1171917) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:16PM (#26106547)
        Yeah, that's really great for the environment.

        </sarcasm>
        • Oh yeah, we all know how important environment issues are for the Republicans.

          (not that Democrats care too much about it either, it's more a matter of magnitude)

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:37PM (#26106701)

        The cure is to destroy devices, which are trivially cheap, instead of selling them.

        Or, since this is a blackberry, use the built-in, server-controlled guaranteed wipe function before selling them.

        Or, use your blackberry server to encrypt the device content with AES, and force the user to have a strong password.

        See how easy things are with blackberries? But you do have to click a few options.

        Idiots.

      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        We have a big shredder that turns hard drives, RAM, and PDA's into fancy, super sharp splinters. They sell the scrap at auction. No idea what someone does with this stuff.

        • by pbhj (607776)

          We have a big shredder that turns hard drives, RAM, and PDA's into fancy, super sharp splinters. They sell the scrap at auction. No idea what someone does with this stuff.

          Jigsaws.

        • by tylerni7 (944579)
          RAM?
          I understand being worried about hard drives storing information, but RAM? That's more than a little bit over the top...
          • by Gilmoure (18428)

            Supposedly, there're ways to pull data from old RAM. And it's not that big a deal to chuck 'em in to the shredder.

            I've picked up used computers from our auctions and they come with no RAM or HD. Still, for the price, are worth it.

            • They come with no RAM because it's already been stripped for recycling internally. Getting old data from RAM? That's like reading somebody's writing from examing the pencil: not likely.
              • by Gilmoure (18428)

                Nope; these are old machines (Mac G5's in my case), and the RAM doesn't work in the current Intel Macs. Now, if someone's smart enough to pull the RAM for another old machine in their area, before turning in a machine for recycle, then yeah, but most folks don't.

                The lab i work for is under DOE and so we follow their rules. No data devices, including RAM, leave the premises. Just waiting for someone up the chain to start including video cards. One of my used G5's had a sweet Nvidia 6800 card in it.

      • by toddestan (632714)

        Flash memory chips aren't very big and can survive a lot of punishment. Unless you plan on melting it slag, you're probably better off wiping them than shredding them or smashing them.

  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) * on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:03PM (#26106447)
    I said "thanks but no thanks" to those naked pictures of Sarah Palin that I found on my Blackberry.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:05PM (#26106459)

    Now I can learn all the secrets of a highly successful political campaign!

    Oh wait...

    • Don't military educations include the study of famous historical campaigns ... not just to discover the secrets of why one side won, but also to analyze why the other side lost?

      "A fool learns from his own mistakes, a wise man learns from the mistakes of others."

      But giving your enemy access to your strategy and tactics in a lost campaign is just plain dumb-ass, for your future conflicts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Now I can learn all the secrets of a highly successful political campaign!

      That's easy.
       
      1) Tell people how great things are going to be if you're elected.
       
      2) Keep telling people how great things are going to be if you're elected.
       
      3) Tell them how great things are going to be some more.
       
      4) ???
       
      5) Profit!

      • Re:Excellent... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @08:40PM (#26107165) Journal

        4) ???

        5) Profit!

        Step 4: Get out of office, write a book, go on the lecture circuit and join the Board of Directors for a few companies.

        Being President isn't a big money maker.
        Being a former President is the path to riches.

        • ... Sell PDAs with juicy emails on them for bonus bux.

          "Somebody made a mistake," one owner told us. "People's numbers and addresses were supposed to be erased."'"

          Just the numbers and addresses - not the emails!

          As a reporter, which are you more interested in, anyway - phone numbers and addresses, or campaign emails? As a user, which would you prefer were erased - your name and address, or your emails?

          If they can't even get that right, it's a good thing they lost.

  • by retech (1228598)
    Yes this is another fine example of why septuagenarians should not be allowed anywhere near tech.
    • by Lally Singh (3427) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:24PM (#26106619) Journal

      I'm a huge obama supporter, but let's be fair to the guy. He's so out of the tech loop he's not personally responsible for this stuff. His tech people are responsible. Of course, they were all let go Nov 5, so I'm not surprised these last duties were neglected.

    • by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @08:26PM (#26107055) Journal

      Yes this is another fine example of why septuagenarians should not be allowed anywhere near tech.

      First of all, why would someone who is 70+ not be able to handle technology? I will always remember great uncle who was writing geodesic software on the ZX Spectrum, at the time when most people have not even heard about home computers. Oh, and he was 70+ then.

      The second thing that puzzles me is, why would McCain's alleged computer illiteracy be a factor in this incident? So if he is not familiar with computer technology, then his staff will sell blackberries without deleting sensitive information? I think you're making a huge leap in your logic, there.

    • Is it now?
      OR...is your post an example of someone who doesn't read Slashdot articles?

      I report. You decide.

  • It's a deliberate publicity stunt [youtube.com]. Stuff like this might seem bizarrely incompetent or a deliberate attempt to sabotage themselves, but you've got to remember this will play really well with the grassroots.
    • Huh? The US voter wants incompetent leadership?

      I dunno, we usually choose politicians that we expect to be at least halfway smart and able to run a country, not someone our dog could replace, and be cheaper too.

  • by unix_geek_512 (810627) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:12PM (#26106523)

    This happens all the time and most of the time we never hear about it.

    You would not believe how many times government computers containing critical information have been sold without having their drives wiped or have been lost or stolen.

    The private sector is no better.

    The vast majority of organizations do not encrypt their data or their communications. In fact data which is supposed to be encrypted such as credit card information or social security numbers is often mishandled internally ( i.e. emailed half-way around the world unencrypted or stored in the clear ).

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @09:54PM (#26107663)

      This happens all the time and most of the time we never hear about it.

      You would not believe how many times government computers containing critical information have been sold without having their drives wiped or have been lost or stolen.

      Which is precisely why no one should trust the government to keep personal information about them private - the kind of personal information that law enforcement and others have been clamoring to collect from the populace at large ever since 9/11 (actually they've been clamoring to collect that kind of stuff forever, the levels were just ratcheted up to unbearable since 9/11).

      After all, if the people in government can't be bothered to adequately protect their own personal information, what hope is there that they will protect any information they have about you?

      • by Uberbah (647458)

        Of course the same goes for corporations and storing personal information - or was this just an excuse to rant about government entities?

  • by moteyalpha (1228680) * on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:38PM (#26106709) Homepage Journal
    The problem is they really don't understand or don't care. I got a computer from a government agency and it had not been wiped. They contacted me a week later and told me I had to return it so it could be erased and reformatted. I let them do that, but, I still don't understand what could make somebody think that erasing information that has been out of their control serves any purpose whatsoever. These are people who -could- think that chain of custody is flexible.
    I just noticed the message at the bottom of my web page and it say that the Earth was destroyed by a solar flare. This post is pointless then I guess.
  • And nothing of value was lost
  • Only an idiot sells a computer/phone/pda without making some effort to erase their personal information from it. Even if they're not sure how, they know they should find someone to tell them. Even my retired non-techie parents know that if they get rid of their desktop computer they need to worry about information that could be use for identity theft or accessing bank accounts. Someone working for the government (or trying to be) should be acutely aware of the importance. I don't mean this to be partisa
  • He was, ultimately, in charge. The contract for the people who administered those phones should have clearly stated they were to be cleaned. The buck has to stop with the person whose name is on the check. He didn't have to use any tech to be in charge.
    • You make it pretty clear you hate John McCain and possibly all Republicans in general, but this is borderline obsessive.

      "He was, ultimately, in charge... The buck has to stop with the person whose name is on the check."

      Really? So if Jiffy Lube or whoever does your oil change on a contractual basis screws up your oil change, it's your fault? You, after all, are in charge of your own car. That's great logic there. If you ever need back surgery, and the surgeon you choose leaves you paralyzed, I suppose yo

      • by retech (1228598)
        Good gross generalisation. I don't hate him, nor do I hate the Republican party. You're the one being an asshole making an assumption such as that.

        If he was prepared to run a country you'd expect him to be able to run a campaign.

        Please try to put words in someone else's mouth.
  • You know... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Saturday December 13, 2008 @09:16PM (#26107403) Homepage
    If only the Blackberry were designed with a little more security in mind then this wouldn't happen.

    Maybe if it were possible to set a password on the thing, making the entire handheld unusable without entering it, and if it could wipe its memory after ten failed password attempts. That would be nice.

    And perhaps there should be some kind of "Enterprise Server" that could manage the things remotely, with the ability to set security policies and disable them entirely when they were no longer needed. That would be nice too.

    But, sadly, those options don't seem to be there. Otherwise, why wouldn't they have been used?

  • The emails contain an insider's look at how grassroots operations work, full of scheduling questions and rallying cries for support

    No, it showed how an astroturfing operation works.

    The difference:
    grassroots - A small community organization gets together and starts making signs without any direction from the campaign, just folks doing what they want to do.

    astroturf - A campaign sets up what they call a "community organization", except that all that the organization does is what the campaign tells them to do. They make signs designed to look like they're made by normal people but are really designed by pros.

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