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RICO Act, Proposed Class Action against the Church - it is filed


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On 11/6/2019 at 6:34 AM, smac97 said:

I'd go on, but I can't really improve upon the Reply itself, so I'd just end up quoting most of it.  I encourage interested parties to read it (and the plaintiff's brief, which is attached to this post).

I agree. This Church's reply brief is clear and legally incisive.  This is what good legal writing looks like. 

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Update: The court has schedule a hearing for February 23, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. on the Church's Motion to Dismiss.

There will likely be no further developments in this action until that hearing.

Thanks,

-Smac

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Court Is No Place to Debate Validity of Religion

A court cannot decide the validity of a religion’s beliefs, a federal judge said Tuesday in dismissing a lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a disenchanted former church member.

Online research showed Laura Gaddy that the historical record differed from the teachings of the church in which she grew up. She sued the church last August on claims that included racketeering and fraud.
The church, which boasts 16 million members worldwide, countered that it is protected by the First Amendment. U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby agreed.

“Consider the statement ‘Jesus Christ was resurrected three days after he died,’” the Obama appointee wrote in his 21-page opinion. “Is that a statement of fact or belief? The answer depends, of course, on who is answering the question.

“To most Christians, the statement is a fact — though not verifiable using defined scientific methods, believers accept the reality of Christ’s resurrection much as they accept that there are 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week,” Shelby wrote. “On the other hand, those outside of Christianity may view the resurrection as abjectly false, an impossible event no more factual than the tales of the Brothers Grimm.”

Similarly, Shelby said the court is unable to parse out which account of Joseph Smith’s divine encounter — if any — is accurate. The church teaches that Joseph Smith met God and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees in 1820, and was told to start the church.

But Gaddy uncovered several other accounts that challenge the so-called “first vision,” from stories that Smith saw angels to his own handwritten account in which Smith said that God came to forgive his sins — not to start a church.

In her 75-page class action lawsuit, Gaddy said, “The material facts upon which Mormonism is based have been manipulated through intentional concealment, misrepresentation, distortion and or obfuscation by the [LDS] to contrive an inducement to faith in Mormonism’s core beliefs.”

Gaddy also raised the question of Egyptian papyri said to have been translated by Smith into the Book of Abraham, depicting the prophet’s early life. When Egyptologists translated what were believed to be the same documents in the 20th century, they were found to “depict ordinary Egyptian funerary rights and do not mention the prophet Abraham.”

The court cannot settle the question of whether the hieroglyphs were more accurately translated by academics or prophets. 

“Each of these alleged misrepresentations directly implicates the Church’s core beliefs,” Shelby wrote.  “Because a statement’s falsity is an essential element of fraud claims, adjudicating these claims would require the court to do exactly what the Supreme Court has forbidden — evaluate the truth or falsity of the Church’s religious beliefs.”

Still, Shelby did not close the book for good: In dismissing the case without prejudice, he gave Gaddy the opportunity to amend her complaint if she chooses.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not respond to a request for comment.

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Not exactly surprised at this outcome.

2 hours ago, JAHS said:

Online research showed Laura Gaddy that the historical record differed from the teachings of the church in which she grew up. 
...
Similarly, Shelby said the court is unable to parse out which account of Joseph Smith’s divine encounter — if any — is accurate. The church teaches that Joseph Smith met God and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees in 1820, and was told to start the church.

But Gaddy uncovered several other accounts that challenge the so-called “first vision,” from stories that Smith saw angels to his own handwritten account in which Smith said that God came to forgive his sins — not to start a church.

The existence of the multiple accounts of the First Vision were, somehow, secret until Gaddy "uncovered" them by . . . reading stuff online.

Thanks,

-Smac

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19 hours ago, smac97 said:

Funny how this case got a fair amount of press when it was filed.  But when it gets tossed out on its ear for being defective from the get-go...

Thanks,

-Smac

Crickets - like it never happened

 

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22 hours ago, smac97 said:

Funny how this case got a fair amount of press when it was filed.  But when it gets tossed out on its ear for being defective from the get-go...

To be fair, very little is getting much press other than Covid-19. I didn't even know that Kenny Rogers had died until two days ago (he died March 20, 2020).

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On 4/1/2020 at 11:22 PM, smac97 said:

Not exactly surprised at this outcome.

The existence of the multiple accounts of the First Vision were, somehow, secret until Gaddy "uncovered" them by . . . reading stuff online.

Thanks,

-Smac

And of course we all had the Google before we were baptized, right?

 

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24 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

And of course we all had the Google before we were baptized, right?

 

I think publication in the Ensign qualifies as "teachings of the Church" myself even if she hadn't personally noticed that issue or other mentions (the 1832 account is referenced significantly in the institute manual Church History in the Fulness of Times, which was iirc printed early 90's, I need to check the previous manual which was used in 70's and 80's which usually is more detailed but likely in that as well)..  The article sounds like it was written by someone unfamiliar with the actual background and just wrote it as Gaddy reporting it accurately.

"Gaddy uncovered several other accounts" makes it appear it was her own research and not scholars, including church historians, who published material on this.

Edited by Calm
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1 hour ago, Calm said:

I think publication in the Ensign qualifies as "teachings of the Church" myself even if she hadn't personally noticed that issue or other mentions (the 1832 account is referenced significantly in the institute manual Church History in the Fulness of Times, which was iirc printed early 90's, I need to check the previous manual which was used in 70's and 80's which usually is more detailed but likely in that as well)..  The article sounds like it was written by someone unfamiliar with the actual background and just wrote it as Gaddy reporting it accurately.

"Gaddy uncovered several other accounts" makes it appear it was her own research and not scholars, including church historians, who published material on this.

I was responding to SMAC's pointless remark about the internet. It's a good example of revisionist history. People will predictably point at the church's internet publications as if they represent a clear and transparent handling of church history, as if the church has always been open and forthcoming about its history.

The article could have also been written by someone not entirely understanding the circumstances of the story.

Edited by Meadowchik
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10 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

I was responding to SMAC's pointless remark about the internet. It's a good example of revisionist history.

Except the article presents it as hidden up current times, at least in the article imo.  So the real revisionist history is hers with actual history hidden in some fashion needing to be uncovered and Gaddy being the one to do it by using public materials. 

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21 minutes ago, Calm said:

Except the article presents it as hidden up current times, at least in the article imo.  So the real revisionist history is hers with actual history hidden in some fashion needing to be uncovered and Gaddy being the one to do it by using public materials. 

Humm, do you really think revisionist history is only being done by someone like her? 

Also, do you think that something is not an object of concealment just because a person could find it on the internet (or in church publications) if they know where to look? I believe that you and I have discussed my husband's experience, learning about the church in 1990, being taught by LDS missionaries. He was very concerned about the church and polygamy. For him, it was very important that polygamy did not start with Joseph Smith, and he asked the missionaries the question very specifically, and they emphatically stated that polygamy started with Brigham Young. On an institutional level, the church seems to teach missionaries to avoid getting into very detailed conversations about church history. I do not get the impression that the church arms them with a strong understanding of its history, so I do think the institutional church is responsible for the way the church missionaries misrepresented polygamy in the church.

On a general note, I think this case is interesting because it addresses the experience of many members, of being taught inaccurate or over-simplified versions of church history.

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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

Humm, do you really think revisionist history is only being done by someone like her? 

It is done by everyone to some extent.  Her level is significantly high, imo.

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I knew there were around 9 different accounts of the first vision back in the mid-'90's.  I heard about it from other members of the church.

 

 

15 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

And of course we all had the Google before we were baptized, right?

13 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

People will predictably point at the church's internet publications as if they represent a clear and transparent handling of church history, as if the church has always been open and forthcoming about its history.

How come "kids don't google" is a valid gripe, but "no google before google was invented" is an indication that the church didn't use to be open and forthcoming about its history?

 

 

 

 

Edited by LoudmouthMormon
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1 minute ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

I knew there were around 9 different accounts of the first vision back in the mid-'90's.  I heard about it from other members of the church.

I didn't, but I wouldn't have cared. I already had a strong testimony that Joseph was a genuine prophet of God. If he told his story in different ways to different people, so what? Now if he had said "What vision? Who said anything about a vision?" then that might have mattered. But he didn't.

1 minute ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

How come "kids don't google" is a valid gripe, but "no google before google was invented" is an indication that the church didn't use to be open and forthcoming about its history?

 

Because it doesn't fit the narrative?

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33 minutes ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

I knew there were around 9 different accounts of the first vision back in the mid-'90's.  I heard about it from other members of the church.

 

 

How come "kids don't google" is a valid gripe, but "no google before google was invented" is an indication that the church didn't use to be open and forthcoming about its history?

 

 

They should have invented the internet sooner.

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On 8/5/2019 at 9:28 PM, provoman said:

Laura Gaddy has filed a proposed Class Action Lawsuit against the Church

all docs here https://drive.google.com/open?id=1NuthcL9L-MZhnDRKcwp1E49Sx2472Dud

Kay Burningham, Laura Gaddy's attorney, has now asked the court for permission to file an amended complaint.  Here's a link to the proposed amended complaint.  A few observations:

1. The new complaint specifically states it is "not a claim for promulgating false religious beliefs or doctrine," and is instead about "a deceptive scheme to distort and omit material facts about the LDS Church’s key history, when at all relevant times the truth behind those statements was known to COP’s key leaders who direct Correlation, but kept hidden from its lay members."  The new complaint further asserts that the Church's teachings about its history have been "insincere" because "at no time during the relevant period in this litigation did COP’s employees and agents have a sincere belief in the content of those statements." 

In other words, the complaint centers on claims of fraud.  This is going to be a non-starter, I think.  Fraud requires a "clear and convincing" showing that the purportedly problematic statements were "false."  Factually false.  False in an empirically provably way.  Also, the "false" statements must be "material."  

2. The new complaint alleges that payment of tithing is not a charitable donation, and is instead "as consideration for the right to participate in temple ceremonies which promise intact families that are to last throughout eternity and/or to join the Church." "Consideration" here means something of value given in a contractual setting.  Again, I think this is a non-starter.

3. The factual narrative begins in paragraph 43, and claims that "{a}ccounts from objective witnesses describe {Joseph} Smith as an indolent, arrogant and lazy, though cunning, young man" who "later became a criminal, adulterer, polygamist, counterfeiter and grew into a malignant narcissist who pretended to translate the words of ancient prophets into what is today, the Church’s canonized scripture."  In contrast, the amended complaint characterizes the Church as teaching that Joseph Smith was "innocent, earnest, barely literate and of good moral character, and the man who founded 'the one and only true Church of God.'"

4. Paragraph 45 asserts, as a point of fact, that "{t}here are two classes of Mormons."  One class is the "leaders," who are "supremely selfish, caring only for their personal aggrandizement, disloyal to the government under which they live, treacherous to their friends, revengeful to their foes; insincere, believing nothing which they teach, and tyrannical and grasping in the extreme, taking everything that their lustful eyes may desire, and greedy, grasping hands can clutch, no matter at whose expense it may be taken, or what suffering the appropriation may cause."  The other class is "the people themselves have no part in the treachery, revengefulness, hypocrisy, or cupidity of their leaders, and should be judged from an entirely different standpoint."

5. Paragraphs 47-50 purports to itemize some of the "lies" the Church has told "about the key foundational events of Mormon history," including "that founder Smith claimed to have seen God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ as discreetly embodied personages in 1820," that "{i}n 1827, after several years conversing with an angel, Smith was directed to Hill Cumorah (while continuing to search for treasure with a seer stone) where he found gold plates," and that "Smith bought a papyrus from a traveling salesman ... {that he later translated into} the Book of Abraham."  This does not seem to be an improvement on Gaddy's first complaint, which was also predicated on falsifying foundational truth claims.  Burningham is asking the Court to find that Joseph Smith did not experience the First Vision, that he did not receive visits from Moroni or find and translate from the Plates, and that he did not translate the Book of Abraham.  

6. Paragraphs 68-91 purports to itemize some specific "lies" told by the Church.  It includes recitations about the Hill Cumorah Pageant, the missionary manual's description of the translation of the Book of Mormon, the Primary Manual, the Gospel Art Picture Kit, Pres. Hinckley's 1998 remarks to Larry King, 2001 remarks by Pres. Monson, and more.

7. Paragraphs 100-118 are a narrative about Gaddy herself.

8. The causes of action (the specific legal theories upon which the court can grant relief) start with "Common Law Fraud" about A) Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon, B) Joseph Smith translating the Book of Abraham, C) the location of the Hill Cumorah, D) the First Vision and E) Joseph Smith's polygamy.

In other words, this is a re-tread of the first complaint.  She is asking a federal judge to adjudicate the truth or falsity of these matters.  That won't work.

9. The second cause of action is "Breach of the Duty of Full Disclosure."  I'm not sure this is a cause of action recognized at law.

10. The third cause of action is "Fraud in the Inducement to Enter into an Oral Contract."  It's basically a repeat of the first cause of action above ("Common Law Fraud"), but couched in contractual terms.  I don't think membership in a religious group can be construed in this way.

11. The fourth cause of action is "Fraudulent Concealment," which is a re-tread of the "Common Law Fraud" theory, only characterized material facts being concealed rather than falsely stated.

12. The fifth cause of action is "Violation of the Utah Charitable Solicitations Act," which I don't think creates a private cause of action (it looks like it is designed to allow the government to regulate some kinds of charitable solicitations).  

13. This sixth cause of action is for "Civil RICO."

14. The seventh cause of action is for "Intentional (Reckless) Infliction of Emotional Distress."

Oi.  Not much of an improvement.

Thanks,

-Smac

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30 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Kay Burningham, Laura Gaddy's attorney, has now asked the court for permission to file an amended complaint.  Here's a link to the proposed amended complaint.  A few observations:

1. The new complaint specifically states it is "not a claim for promulgating false religious beliefs or doctrine," and is instead about "a deceptive scheme to distort and omit material facts about the LDS Church’s key history, when at all relevant times the truth behind those statements was known to COP’s key leaders who direct Correlation, but kept hidden from its lay members."  The new complaint further asserts that the Church's teachings about its history have been "insincere" because "at no time during the relevant period in this litigation did COP’s employees and agents have a sincere belief in the content of those statements." 

In other words, the complaint centers on claims of fraud.  This is going to be a non-starter, I think.  Fraud requires a "clear and convincing" showing that the purportedly problematic statements were "false."  Factually false.  False in an empirically provably way.  Also, the "false" statements must be "material."  

2. The new complaint alleges that payment of tithing is not a charitable donation, and is instead "as consideration for the right to participate in temple ceremonies which promise intact families that are to last throughout eternity and/or to join the Church." "Consideration" here means something of value given in a contractual setting.  Again, I think this is a non-starter.

3. The factual narrative begins in paragraph 43, and claims that "{a}ccounts from objective witnesses describe {Joseph} Smith as an indolent, arrogant and lazy, though cunning, young man" who "later became a criminal, adulterer, polygamist, counterfeiter and grew into a malignant narcissist who pretended to translate the words of ancient prophets into what is today, the Church’s canonized scripture."  In contrast, the amended complaint characterizes the Church as teaching that Joseph Smith was "innocent, earnest, barely literate and of good moral character, and the man who founded 'the one and only true Church of God.'"

4. Paragraph 45 asserts, as a point of fact, that "{t}here are two classes of Mormons."  One class is the "leaders," who are "supremely selfish, caring only for their personal aggrandizement, disloyal to the government under which they live, treacherous to their friends, revengeful to their foes; insincere, believing nothing which they teach, and tyrannical and grasping in the extreme, taking everything that their lustful eyes may desire, and greedy, grasping hands can clutch, no matter at whose expense it may be taken, or what suffering the appropriation may cause."  The other class is "the people themselves have no part in the treachery, revengefulness, hypocrisy, or cupidity of their leaders, and should be judged from an entirely different standpoint."

5. Paragraphs 47-50 purports to itemize some of the "lies" the Church has told "about the key foundational events of Mormon history," including "that founder Smith claimed to have seen God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ as discreetly embodied personages in 1820," that "{i}n 1827, after several years conversing with an angel, Smith was directed to Hill Cumorah (while continuing to search for treasure with a seer stone) where he found gold plates," and that "Smith bought a papyrus from a traveling salesman ... {that he later translated into} the Book of Abraham."  This does not seem to be an improvement on Gaddy's first complaint, which was also predicated on falsifying foundational truth claims.  Burningham is asking the Court to find that Joseph Smith did not experience the First Vision, that he did not receive visits from Moroni or find and translate from the Plates, and that he did not translate the Book of Abraham.  

6. Paragraphs 68-91 purports to itemize some specific "lies" told by the Church.  It includes recitations about the Hill Cumorah Pageant, the missionary manual's description of the translation of the Book of Mormon, the Primary Manual, the Gospel Art Picture Kit, Pres. Hinckley's 1998 remarks to Larry King, 2001 remarks by Pres. Monson, and more.

7. Paragraphs 100-118 are a narrative about Gaddy herself.

8. The causes of action (the specific legal theories upon which the court can grant relief) start with "Common Law Fraud" about A) Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon, B) Joseph Smith translating the Book of Abraham, C) the location of the Hill Cumorah, D) the First Vision and E) Joseph Smith's polygamy.

In other words, this is a re-tread of the first complaint.  She is asking a federal judge to adjudicate the truth or falsity of these matters.  That won't work.

9. The second cause of action is "Breach of the Duty of Full Disclosure."  I'm not sure this is a cause of action recognized at law.

10. The third cause of action is "Fraud in the Inducement to Enter into an Oral Contract."  It's basically a repeat of the first cause of action above ("Common Law Fraud"), but couched in contractual terms.  I don't think membership in a religious group can be construed in this way.

11. The fourth cause of action is "Fraudulent Concealment," which is a re-tread of the "Common Law Fraud" theory, only characterized material facts being concealed rather than falsely stated.

12. The fifth cause of action is "Violation of the Utah Charitable Solicitations Act," which I don't think creates a private cause of action (it looks like it is designed to allow the government to regulate some kinds of charitable solicitations).  

13. This sixth cause of action is for "Civil RICO."

14. The seventh cause of action is for "Intentional (Reckless) Infliction of Emotional Distress."

Oi.  Not much of an improvement.

Thanks,

-Smac

She's sort of right about one thing, before the temple endowment session begins the members are asked if they would like to leave before proceeding, but how were we to decide if we even wanted to leave before knowing what we were promising to do in the first place? 

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6 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

She's sort of right about one thing, before the temple endowment session begins the members are asked if they would like to leave before proceeding, but how were we to decide if we even wanted to leave before knowing what we were promising to do in the first place? 

Well, the option to not return is always there.  And attendance is completely voluntary in the first instance.  It's a religious exercise that falls squarely within the parameters of the First Amendment.

Thanks,

-Smac

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Posted (edited)

It looks to me she is trying to use the process to promote her own beliefs rather than try and convince the courts. You and others are publicizing her claims for her in a way that writing a blog would never do. 
 

Not saying you shouldn’t as I would be doing something similar. My curiosity outweighs my distaste for her tactics. 

Edited by Calm
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5 hours ago, Tacenda said:

She's sort of right about one thing, before the temple endowment session begins the members are asked if they would like to leave before proceeding, but how were we to decide if we even wanted to leave before knowing what we were promising to do in the first place? 

You don't need to.  You are told everything you are asked to covenant before you "promise" to keep those covenants.  They may say that you can leave at the beginning when they ask, but there is nothing that is forcing you to stay or even forcing you to promise without knowing what you are promising to later on.

Even if you are too uncomfortable to leave you can always not answer or answer "no" very quietly or in your mind to any of the covenants.   Granted there is very little time to think about it, but I would be willing to bet, if I were a betting person, that Heavenly father would understand someone even saying, "I'm not sure right now. Help me understand this Heavenly Father."

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Rain said:

Even if you are too uncomfortable to leave you can always not answer or answer "no" very quietly or in your mind to any of the covenants.   Granted there is very little time to think about it, but I would be willing to bet, if I were a betting person, that Heavenly father would understand someone even saying, "I'm not sure right now. Help me understand this Heavenly Father."

Probably knows better if we feel this way than ourselves.  Imo, he will judge us by what we feel in total and not just what feeling is dominant in that moment.  Thus if we have doubts, but excitement or curiosity or nervousness or love pushes them away for the time being, he knows they are there and will allow resolving of them before 'finalizing' anything.  Confirmation by the Holy Spirit of Promise (or whatever is operating for these covenants) of our covenants isn't automatic. Imo, it is likely more a process than a one time event.

Joseph Smith said it will take a long time for us to understand the fullness of the endowment/principles of exaltation.  How can we commit to something fully that we don't understand?  I see it as similar to committing to  marriage when one doesn't have a spouse...commitment is potential.

Edited by Calm
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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Tacenda said:

But how were we to decide if we even wanted to leave before knowing what we were promising to do in the first place? 

Each person preparing to receive her/his endowment is given a copy of Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple. This requirement is included at the beginning of the manual used to teach temple preparation lessons.

To give just one possible example, it includes the following passage:

Quote

Those who go to the temple have the privilege of taking upon themselves specific covenants and obligations relative to their exaltation and that of others. Elder James E. Talmage wrote:

The ordinances of the endowment embody certain obligations on the part of the individual, such as covenant and promise to observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King,—the Lord Jesus Christ. With the taking of each covenant and the assuming of each obligation a promised blessing is pronounced, contingent upon the faithful observance of the conditions. (The House of the Lord, page 100.)

We covenant with the Lord to devote our time, talents, and means to His kingdom.

We are a covenant people. We covenant to give of our resources in time and money and talent—all we are and all we possess—to the interest of the kingdom of God upon the earth.

In my personal experience, having studied from this booklet, I knew quite clearly what I was going to be promising to do.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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