Mayorkas to Testify at House Committee Hearing on Homeland Security Budget

Alejandro Mayorkas

The U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security will be holding a hearing next Tuesday to examine the Department of Homeland Security’s fiscal 2025 budget request.

It will hear testimony from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who is scheduled to testify for the first time since he was impeached in February. The committee’s chairman, U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., led the charge to impeach Mayorkas on two counts, making him the first sitting cabinet member to be impeached in U.S. history.

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Federal Investigators Want More Money to Go After Pandemic Fraud

Merrick Garland DOJ

The federal officials tasked with tracking down widespread fraud during and after the COVID-19 pandemic want more time and more money to finish the job.

The Justice Department’s COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force, made up of nearly 30 federal agencies, released its 2024 report on Tuesday. The report details the efforts of the task force in response to fraud involving COVID-19 relief programs.

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Florida Governor Signs Five Bills Designed to Protect Children from Predators

Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed five bills on Wednesday designed to protect children from sexual predators.

The new legislation ranges from House Bill 1545, which protects children from grooming activities and other sexual offenses to Senate Bill 1224 which strengthens the role of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office while implementing training requirements for law enforcement to assess a domestic violence situation properly.

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Feds Borrowed $6 Billion Per Day So Far This Fiscal Year

Maya Macguineas

The U.S. federal government has borrowed about $6 billion per day so far this fiscal year with little indication of slowing down.

The U.S. Treasury Department released its figures for the month of March showing it borrowed $236 billion in March alone, bringing the total to $1.1 trillion for this fiscal year, which runs from October to September.

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States File Suit to Block Biden’s Student Debt Forgiveness Plan

President Joe Biden

A coalition of states has filed a legal challenge to President Joe Biden’s latest executive effort to forgive a portion of Americans’ student loan debt.

The lawsuit comes after Biden on Monday announced the plan, which the states in question say is an overreach of executive authority. The White House claims that Biden has so far canceled at least some of the debt for 4 million Americans, totalling $146 billion so far.

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Florida to Penalize Those Who Expose Law Enforcement Officers to Fentanyl

Desantis Fentanyl

Penalties for those who expose law enforcement officers to fentanyl are set to increase in the Sunshine State after new legislation was signed Monday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate bills 718 and 66. The first creates a second-degree felony for any adult individual who recklessly exposes first responders to fentanyl that results in an overdose or serious bodily harm.

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CBP Officials Stop Another Way to Smuggle in Fentanyl: Hamburgers

Fentanyl being smuggled in a hamburger

 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at El Paso area ports of entry seized a large amount of drugs being smuggled into the country in novel ways. One female was caught hiding fentanyl inside her body, another in a hamburger.

In the past two weeks, CBP El Paso POE agents seized more than 62 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 25 pounds of fentanyl, and more than 158 pounds of marijuana.

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Inflation, COVID-Era Spending Policies Result in Teacher Layoffs Nationwide

Teacher instructing students in classroom

School districts across the country are laying off teachers, citing high inflationary costs, budget deficits, and federal COVID-era funding running out after receiving windfalls in federal subsidies for three years.

The federal COVID-era subsidies were funded through ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) grants administered by state education agencies. Financed through the CARES Act and supplemental appropriations, the grant funding expires Sept. 30.

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Feds Report $2.7 Trillion in Improper Payments in Two Decades

The federal government reported hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in improper payments last fiscal year and trillions over the last two decades.

According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, the federal government reported $236 billion in improper payments in fiscal year 2023. The true number, though, is actually much higher, but federal reporting is often lacking.

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SEC Voluntarily Puts on Hold Climate Change Rule

John Rady

Requiring publicly traded companies to make climate-related disclosures has voluntarily been put on hold by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC’s move came before a decision was reached by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. John Rady, counsel for the SEC in the case, notified the court in a letter.

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Red States Report More COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects, Study Finds

Vaccine Shot

People living in states with more Republican voters were more likely to report COVID-19 vaccine side effects than those in states that lean blue.

That’s according to a new study that looked at 620,456 COVID-19 vaccine adverse event reports from adults reported to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. The study was published in JAMA.

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Trump Calls for Sanctions, Censure of Special Counsel Jack Smith

Jack Smith and Donald Trump (composite image)

Former President Donald Trump called for special counsel Jack Smith to be sanctioned or censured for “attacking” the judge in Trump’s classified documents case. 

Trump’s comments on Thursday come after Smith and his team of prosecutors made it clear they think Judge Aileen Cannon’s latest ruling was based on “an unstated and fundamentally flawed legal premise.” Prosecutors objected to Cannon’s order to produce proposed jury instructions under two different legal scenarios. Smith said both legal scenarios were flawed.

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Chinese Nationals Illegally Entering U.S. in Record Numbers Since 2021

The number of Chinese nationals illegally entering the U.S. – primarily single, military age men – has skyrocketed under the Biden administration.

Of the more than 140,000 Chinese who’ve illegally entered the country since fiscal 2021, one recently was apprehended at a Marine Corps base at the southwest border.

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‘Operation Rainmaker’ Arrests Result in Dozens Charged in Alleged Cartel-Affiliated Drug-Trafficking Ring

Seized Drugs

Agents arrested 23 people in relation to a cartel-linked drug operation in Texas that dealt in cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and meth. 

The arrests came after a five-year investigation that started in 2019. Prosecutors said the drug ring operated in the Houston and Galveston areas and was under the control of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).

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Poll: Voters Don’t Think Schools Should Hide Gender, Name Changes from Parents

Teacher in Class

Nearly two-thirds of voters think parents should be informed if a student wants to change their name or pronoun at school.

According to The Center Square Voter’s Voice Poll conducted by Noble Predictive Insights, the majority of likely voters say they disagree with allowing schools to affirm a student’s gender change without notifying parents.

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DeSantis Signs Bill to Help Property Owners More Easily Eject Squatters

Florida Squatters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Wednesday that he says will end the problem of squatters taking over homes in the Sunshine State.

DeSantis stated that squatters have taken over homes in states like New York and in some cases, have been murdering the homeowners when they attempt to evict them from their properties.

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Washington Governor Signs ‘Natural Gas Ban Bill’ into Law

Jay Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday afternoon signed into law a controversial bill meant to allow Puget Sound Energy to start planning how to move away from natural gas.

“This bill creates the roadmap and tools for our state’s largest utility to get out of the fossil fuel business and achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” Inslee said of Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1589 during the bill-signing event from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 46 in Kent.

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Three Sue National Park Service for Refusing to Accept Cash for Park Entrance Fees

Wildrose Peat at Death Valley National Park

Three people have filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service for refusing to take cash for park entrance fees alleging its NPS Cashless program violates federal law. 

The complaint, filed in federal court earlier this month, seeks to have a judge declare NPS Cashless unlawful. The suit alleges that three visitors were denied entrance to national parks in Arizona, New York and Georgia. The complaint further alleges that the “National Park Service no longer accepts American money at approximately twenty-nine national parks, national historic sites, national monuments, and national historic parks around the country.”

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Poll: Voters Want Schools to Focus on Basics Instead of Critical Race Theory

Kids getting on school bus

The vast majority of people think schools should focus on traditional subjects like math, reading and science, and a majority also say critical race theory should not be taught, a new poll shows. 

According to The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll conducted by Noble Predictive, most surveyed said they want schools to focus on core subjects instead of hot-button topics like critical race theory.

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Report: Record 10 Million Immigration Cases Completed in Fiscal 2023

Illegal border crosser in handcuffs

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) completed an unprecedented 10 million immigration cases in fiscal 2023, reducing its backlog for the first time in over a decade, according to a newly released end of fiscal year 2023 report.

“We’ve completed a record number of cases, responded to emerging crises around the globe with essential humanitarian relief, and applied innovative solutions to improve customer experience and reduce backlogs,” USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou said of the milestone.

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More than 100 Sheriffs Express Support for Operation Lone Star

Sheriffs with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

More than 100 sheriffs in Texas expressed support for Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security effort, Operation Lone Star. They also are calling for the border crisis to be declared a “United States constitutional crisis and crimes against humanity.”

In a letter to the governor, the sheriffs “respectfully request that our Texas border be immediately secured by any lawful means.”

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DeSantis Signs Ban on Social Media for Children Under Age 14

Ron DeSantis Social Media

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a controversial new bill into law on Monday that will prohibit the use of social media platforms by children.

House Bill 3 requires that social media platforms be regulated to prohibit minors under age 14 from having a social media account if the platform allows users to upload content and view content from other users, uses algorithms and has certain addictive features to keep young children scrolling.

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Voters ID Inflation, Immigration as Top Concerns Ahead of Presidential Election

People in grocery checkout line

Likely voters are focused on inflation and price increases, illegal immigration and the economy as incumbent President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump prepared for a rematch of 2020 in November. 

The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll, conducted in conjunction with Noble Predictive Insights, found that given a range of options to identify their top concerns, likely voters said inflation/price increases (45 percent), illegal immigration (44 percent) and the economy/jobs (24 percent) were the issues that matter most to them. 

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More than 11 Million Have Illegally Entered U.S. Since Fiscal 2021

According to U.S. Customs and Border protection data, 9.4 million foreign nationals illegally entered the U.S. in fiscal years 2021, 2022, 2023 and through the end of February 2024.

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Poll: 60 Percent of Independents Disapprove of Biden’s Job as President

Joe Biden

The Center Square Voter’s Voice poll released Wednesday asked voters, “When it comes to President Joe Biden, do you approve or disapprove of how he’s handling his job?”

The survey found that most voters disapprove of the job Biden is doing, with 55% saying so and only 45% saying they approve of the president’s work.

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Over 256,000 Illegal Border Crossers in February, Highest for the Month in History

Illegal border crossers apprehended

The number of illegal border crossers has increased significantly since Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas implemented a range of policies he said were designed to reduce “irregular migration” and create a “legal pathway” for foreign nationals to come to the U.S.

February of this year broke a record of 256,094 total illegal border crossings nationwide, the highest for the month in U.S. history.

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Thousands of Pounds of Meth Smuggled Across Border in Vegetable Shipments

Meth confiscated by law enforcement

Mexican cartels for decades have devised creative ways to smuggle narcotics and other contraband across the southern U.S., including using produce, law enforcement officials say. This month, in one week, thousands of pounds of meth were seized hidden in shipments of peppers, tomatillos and carrots.

At the Otay Mesa, California, cargo facility this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized large quantities of methamphetamine (meth) hidden under packages of the vegetables.

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Existing Home Sales Jump 9.5 Percent in February

House for Sale

Existing home sales increased 9.5% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million, marking the largest monthly increase since February 2023, but overall sales declined 3.3% from the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing home sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – jumped 9.5% from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million in February. Year-over-year, sales slid 3.3% (down from 4.53 million in February 2023).

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Progressives, Conservatives Not Happy with EPA’s New Rule on Vehicle Emissions

President Biden driving and electric vehicle

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday it is finalizing more protective emissions standards that it called the “strongest ever” for light-duty and medium-duty vehicles that it claims will reduce air pollution and be phased in from 2027 through 2032.

In a news release, the EPA claimed the standards would result in a reduction of 7 billion tons of carbon emissions and have a net benefit of $100 billion in terms of public health benefits as well as reduced fuel costs and maintenance and repair costs for drivers.

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Poll: 60 Percent of Independents Disapprove of Biden’s Job as President

A majority of Americans disapprove of the job President Joe Biden is doing, according to a new poll.

The Center Square Voter’s Voice poll released Wednesday asked voters, “When it comes to President Joe Biden, do you approve or disapprove of how he’s handling his job?”

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Poll: Third Party Candidates Boost Trump’s Lead over Biden

Donald Trump, RFK, Cornel West

Former President Donald Trump is narrowly beating President Joe Biden in a head-to-head faceoff going into November, a new national poll shows.

The Center Square’s Voter’s Voice poll conducted with Noble Predictive Insights was released Wednesday, showing Trump beating Biden 46 percent-45 percent with likely voters. The rest are unsure.

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CBO Reports Grim Long-Term Outlook for Federal Government

Couple paying bills

The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday released a bleak outlook for the federal government with new projections that show debt levels will reach their highest levels ever in five years.

“Debt held by the public, boosted by the large deficits, reaches its highest level ever in 2029 (measured as a percentage of GDP) and then continues to grow, reaching 166 percent of GDP in 2054 and remaining on track to increase thereafter,” according to the CBO report. “That mounting debt would slow economic growth, push up interest payments to foreign holders of U.S. debt, and pose significant risks to the fiscal and economic outlook; it could also cause lawmakers to feel more constrained in their policy choices.”

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Proposal would Halt Taxpayer Money to Medical Schools Promoting Racial Bias

Reps Greg Murphy, Brad Wenstrup, and Burgess Owens (composite image)

Educating from the podium and advocating for the inclusion of all, congressmen led by North Carolina’s Dr. Greg Murphy and Ohio’s Dr. Brad Wenstrup on Tuesday introduced legislation that would halt taxpayer money from going to medical schools promoting racial bias.

Multiple speakers, both Black and white and at least one saying she’s neither Republican nor Democrat, drove home the message directly and indirectly that health care is about the patients and their outcomes. Collectively, they explained how the best care comes from the best in education, that all can access it, and the promotion of “critical race theory-based woke philosophy based on DEI” will put Americans’ lives at risk.

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Florida Lottery Transferred $2.45 Billion to K-12 Education in 2023

Teacher in Class

The Florida Lottery has become a crucial part of funding for education in the Sunshine State, and according to a recent report from the Florida Auditor General, it continues to grow each year.

In late January, the AG released the financial audit of the Florida Lottery, whose mission is to maximize financial revenue for the benefit of education “in a manner consistent with the dignity of the State of Florida and the welfare of its citizens.”

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Layoffs Continue Nationwide as Economic Concerns Rise

Fired by email

As the economy worsens, multiple industries continue to shed jobs.

U.S.-based companies laid off 82,307 employees in January, a 136 percent increase from the previous month, according to a report by the business and coaching firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. The Wall Street Journal reported companies are still cutting white-collar jobs in an attempt “to do more with less.”

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Biden Border Policy Critics Lament ‘Migrant Crime Wave’

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark E. Green blasted President Joe Biden for the wave of illegal immigrants entering the U.S., saying a “migrant crime wave” is sweeping the country.

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School Districts Under the Spotlight for How they Handle their Social Media Accounts

Social media app icons

School districts around the country are facing issues with how they handle their social media accounts, and the debate has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Denver Public Schools recently reviewed its social media policy that doesn’t allow employees to restrict comments on social media or limit who can see them.

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Analysts: Policymakers Must Confront Weaponized Migration to Address Border Crisis

Illegal migrants at a border fence

Unless Congress and policymakers understand how weaponized migration is being used against the U.S., they won’t be able to solve the problem, foreign policy analysts warn.

More than 11 million foreign nationals, including gotaways, illegally entering the U.S. from all over the world is not an accident, military and foreign policy experts have warned. It’s called migrant warfare, The Center Square first reported. The European Commission, United Nations, NATO, and foreign policy institutes have identified hybrid warfare being used in Europe, including migrant warfare, to shape national and international policies.

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Taxpayers Supply $1 Billion Annually, and AmeriCorps Is Seven Years Without Clean Audit

Americorps People

Taxpayers provide it $1 billion annually, and for seven years running, AmeriCorps has failed to get a clean audit. A North Carolina congresswoman says that’s enough.

Identifying fraud risks, assessing inherent fraud risks, setting risk tolerance and consideration of existing controls were all cited in a scathing report of the Corporation for National and Community Service – aka AmeriCorps – from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

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Study: Most Partial Automation Driving Systems Need Work

Nissan Car

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says automakers should incorporate new rating programs into their partial driving automation systems to reduce traffic deaths.

The new IIHS ratings aim to encourage safeguards that can help reduce intentional misuse and prolonged attention lapses.

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Inflation Woes: Home Buyers Need 80 Percent More Income to Buy than Four Years Ago

Home Buyers

The housing market is not immune from inflationary woes as buyer’s purchasing power has significantly diminished in four years. Home buyers in 2024 need 80% more income to purchase a home than they did in 2020, according to a new report by Zillow.

“The income needed to comfortably afford a home is up 80% since 2020, while median income has risen 23% in that time,” the report states. That equates to $47,000 more than four years ago.

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Florida’s DeSantis Signs Three Bills Designed to Combat Illegal Immigration

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed three bills into law on Friday to bolster Florida’s efforts to prevent illegal immigration.

“We’re here today, one, to build off a record of success with respect to combating illegal immigration…if you go back six or seven years in the state of Florida, we were not leading against illegal immigration at all, in fact, we were one of the weaker states,” DeSantis said.

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Feds Seize Massive Amounts of Cocaine in Marine Operations

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (CBP-AMO) agents and U.S. Coast Guard crews are seizing large quantities of cocaine attempting to be smuggled to the U.S. by boat.

In five recent operations, they seized nearly $290 million worth of cocaine totaling over 15,700 pounds. or nearly 8 tons – enough lethal doses to potentially kill more than 82 million people.

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Inflation Spiked in February More than Expected

Grocery Shopping

Producer prices spiked last month, another sign of rising inflation in the U.S., according to new federal data.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday released its monthly Producer Price Index, a leading marker of inflation, which showed an increase of 0.6% in February, more than expected.

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Border Crisis: Water Scarcity Forces Texas’ Last Sugar Mill to Close

The border crisis has taken on many forms in Texas, from crime to fentanyl poisonings to farmers and ranchers losing their livelihoods.

Another casualty of the border crisis is the U.S. State Department’s failure to hold accountable Mexican government authorities to a 1944 Treaty of Utilization of Waters, resulting in Texas’ last sugar mill shut down, the industry contends. The Rio Grande Valley is bracing for an expected initial $100 million in economic losses as a result.

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‘Unusually High’ Inflation: Consumer Costs Rose Again in February

aceless person with cash and calculator app on smartphone

Consumer prices jumped again in February, in part driven by a significant rise in gasoline prices, according to newly released federal inflation data.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index Tuesday, a leading marker of inflation, which showed prices rose 0.4 percent in February and 3.2 percent over the past year.

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FBI Director: Smuggling Organizations Connected to ISIS Coming Through U.S. Border

FBI Director Christopher Wray

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday confirmed that a smuggling organization working with the terrorist organization ISIS is funneling criminals through the U.S. border. He also said the FBI is currently investigating its operations that ‘we’re very concerned about.’

In a U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing held on Monday on worldwide threats to the United States, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, asked Wray about threats coming through the U.S. border.

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