Category Archive 'Newsweek'

02 Mar 2011

Demotions on the Left

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When the American left needs to vent its rage at its reactionary opposition at the loudest volume and in the shrillest tones, when anything resembling rational debate simply will not do, when it’s time for a real old-fashioned over-the-top hair-pulling, fingernail scratching attack, the progressive camp turns to its fattest and flittiest combatants: Frank Rich and Andrew Sullivan.

Alas! America must really be turning to the right. Despite both men’s admirable records at releasing passion and their unequaled capacity for burying their adversaries in billingsgate, we learned yesterday that both would be moving on from their current well-paying and prestigious positions.


Frank Rich

Jack Schafer notes that going from the New York Times to New York Magazine is not a step up the ladder of success.

Let me see if I’ve got this straight: Frank Rich is leaving a weekly column at the nation’s most important daily newspaper for a monthly column at the second best weekly in the country.

If Rich’s move is about wanting to spend more time with his family, gain greater distance from Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal, free himself to pursue his HBO projects more aggressively, or to work once again with New York Editor Adam Moss, with whom he has a mind-meld, I understand. But unless the deal came with Bloombergian bags of cash, it makes no sense.

I’m not suggesting that Frank Rich will disappear when he departs the Times for New York magazine, but the switch will transform him from the fat man in the biggest room in the oversized mansion of newspaper journalism to just another high-profile scribbler at a magazine. Oh, the New York press release says Rich will be editing a special “section anchored by his essay,” and be commenting on the magazine’s Web site, but it’s a step down. Today, Rich’s column appears in supersized format in the Sunday edition of the New York Times, which has a print circulation of 1.35 million, and more than 34.5 million unique monthly visitors to its Web site, compared to New York magazine’s 405,000 circulation and 8.5 million uniques.


Andrew Sullivan

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin-hater-extraordinaire Andrew Sullivan is also moving. His Daily Dish is departing from from the prestigious Atlantic blog-site to become part of a shaky start-up web-site operation involving Tina Brown’s Daily Beast joining up with Newsweek. Newsweek recently was sold reputedly for $1 (and the assumption of a ton of debt) by 92-year-old Sidney Harman.

19 May 2010

What Happened to Newsweek, CBS, and CNN?

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Ed Driscoll rubs in the fact that the Internet changed the news and information business permanently, causing establishment media outlets like Newsweek, CBS, and CNN, all notorious for partisan reporting, to wonder where their audience went.

Silicon Graffiti 7:55 video

08 May 2010

Bye, Bye, Newsweek

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Newsweek is for sale. Why?


Newsweek, the magazine that Washington Post Co. said this week is for sale, reported a 31 percent decline in first-quarter revenue.

The weekly news magazine’s sales fell to $29.4 million from $42.7 million a year earlier, according to a statement today. Washington Post Chief Executive Officer Donald Graham said May 5 that Newsweek would continue to be unprofitable this year after losses from 2007 through 2009.

Washington Post hired investment bank Allen & Co. to help with a possible sale of the publication, which it’s owned since 1961. Newsweek’s advertising sales plunged 30 percent in 2009 and the magazine cut its guaranteed circulation by 42 percent to 1.5 million as part of a redesign last year.


is issuing a commemorative reprinting of the satirical piece he wrote back in May of 2009 when Newsweek’s new swing left was announced.

Are they gone?

God, I thought those idiots would never leave. Finally, we can be together — just you and me baby. Do you realize how long I’ve waited for this moment, how much I’ve lusted for your beautiful hipster demographics? How long I sat there on the rack at Barnes and Noble, watching in silence while your fingers slowly caressed the pages of The America Prospect and New Republic and Mother Jones, dreaming that one day you’d actually notice me and take me over to the coffee bar? Baby, I wouldn’t even have cared if you spilled hot macchiato on my table of contents, that’s how much I am into you.

God, it’s such a relief to finally give up that stupid facade of objectivity and tell you how I really feel. It’s like I was trapped in some sort of circulation prison with that clueless 55+ slightly upscale middle America demographic. Sure, they brought home the Lipitor and Viagra accounts, but did you know they actually voted for Bush? Seriously, I’m not kidding! For the last 8 years I’ve tried sending them and you signals that I wanted out. God, I think I must have run 100 covers on Barack and Jon Stewart trying to let you know I was available.

All that’s changed, and I can finally be me. With them out of the picture, you and I can have happiness together. I know I’m not as cool as your other progressive news magazines and websites right now, but I can change. I promise! Look, I know how you like your magazines thin and opinionated. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve lost over 20 pages in the last year. And with my lower circulation, I know I can lose another 15 pages before Fall, just in advertising! Guess what? I’ve even picked out a sexy, flimsy little editorial policy that lets you see everything. (Including my boho bourgeois socialism, which I had Swedish-waxed… just for you :D).

Just wait baby, I’ll make you forget all your old magazines. I’ll be cooler and thinner and more sanctimonious and money-losing than all of them. Even Harpers. And no more awkward meetings at the dentist office! I’m done with these suburban strip mall dumps. From now on you’ll want to pull me out of your messenger bag at Intelligencia Coffee, and introduce me to all your cool friends who have crushing student loans and interesting haircuts and jobs at Kinkos. And after that, maybe we can get Thai, and…

Read the whole thing.

12 Jul 2008

Newsweek Mourns “Obama’s Precipitous Decline” — Robert Redford Predicts “End of Democrat Party”

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Newsweek can’t figure out how Obama lost his mojo, and how the gap has narrowed so quickly.

The perceptible tone of disappointment and chagrin peeking through the facade of objective journalism is delightful. How can this possibly be happening?

A month after emerging victorious from the bruising Democratic nominating contest, some of Barack Obama’s glow may be fading. In the latest NEWSWEEK Poll, the Illinois senator leads Republican nominee John McCain by just 3 percentage points, 44 percent to 41 percent. The statistical dead heat is a marked change from last month’s NEWSWEEK Poll, where Obama led McCain by 15 points, 51 percent to 36 percent.

Obama’s overall decline from the last NEWSWEEK Poll, published June 20, is hard to explain. …

At the time of the last poll, pundits also noted that a large lead in the polls doesn’t always guarantee a general-election victory. Many warned that Democrat Michael Dukakis led George H.W. Bush by as much as 16 points in some 1988 polls and then went on to lose that year’s presidential contest.

But perhaps most puzzling is how McCain could have gained traction in the past month. …

Despite Obama’s precipitous decline, the poll suggests underlying strengths for the Dem.


Meanwhile visiting Dublin to receive an honorary degree from Trinity College, aging cinema idol Robert Redford told the Irish Times that in his opinion the downfall of one more ultra-liberal presidential candidate could prove fatal to the democrat party.

I think Obama is not tall on experience . . . but I believe he’s a really good person. He’s smart. And he does represent what the country needs most now, which is change.

“I hope he’ll win. I think he will. If he doesn’t, you can kiss the Democratic Party goodbye. I think we need new voices, new blood. We need to get a whole group out, get a new group in.”

Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results?

18 Nov 2007

Karl Rove Debuts in Newsweek

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Newsweek recently signed up Karl Rove to editorialize from the Right, and none other than Kos (Markos Moulitsas Zúniga) himself to be Rove’s foil acting as spokesman for the Infernal Regions.

Karl Rove’s first column, How To Beat Hillary, is up and running. And, so far, all’s quiet on Kos front.

I’ve seen up close the two Clintons America knows. He’s a big smile, hand locked on your arm and lots of charms. “Hey, come down and speak at my library. I’d like to talk some politics with you.”

And her? She tends to be, well, hard and brittle. I inherited her West Wing office. Shortly after the 2001 Inauguration, I made a little talk saying I appreciated having the office because it had the only full-length vanity mirror in the West Wing, which gave me a chance to improve my rumpled appearance. The senator from New York confronted me shortly after and pointedly said she hadn’t put the mirror there. I hadn’t said she did, just that the mirror was there. So a few weeks later, in another talk, I repeated the story about the mirror. And shortly thereafter, the junior senator saw me and, again, without a hint of humor or light in her voice, icily said she’d heard I’d repeated the story of the mirror and she … did … not … put … that mirror in the office.

It is a small but telling story: she is tough, persistent and forgets nothing. Those are some of the reasons she is so formidable as a contender, and why Republicans who think she would be easy to beat are wrong.

28 Oct 2007

“Deliverance” as War Metaphor

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The late James Dickey’s son, Christopher Dickey, took the occasion of the release of a new DVD-edition of the 1972 movie based upon his father’s novel Deliverance, to treat the film as a metaphor for the War in Iraq.

In the fiction of “Deliverance,” Ed (the Jon Voight character)’s sanity and bravery eventually save the day when he climbs out of the gorge. What I wonder is whether in the real-world crisis of Iraq there is enough sanity and bravery in Washington to deliver us from the evil that’s been created in Iraq. Unfortunately it doesn’t look that way. Whether we listen to the Republicans or the Democrats, the woman candidate for president or the men, all the major contenders remain reluctant to challenge the ersatz standards of strength set by the Bush administration. Sure, they snipe at each other, but none want to appear weak on national security. So we’re left with “Law, what law? Plan, what plan?” And we continue to float down the river as if without a paddle, unable and unwilling to climb out, with much more violence and in all probability worse humiliations yet to come.

And Mark Steyn rebuts.

In a column headlined “War and Deliverance,” their Middle East editor, Christopher Dickey, makes the picture the defining metaphor for “the Mesopotamian quagmire.” The Atlanta suburbanites in the picture include Burt Reynolds as the obsessive wannabe back-to-nature survivalist and Jon Voight as “the perfectly ordinary man, the just-getting-by guy,” but the one who, in the end, delivers his pals from the hell of their weekend in the country.

Unlike most of us, whose knowledge of the film relies on hazy memories from the 1970s and late-night TV screenings, Dickey knows the story in depth: His dad wrote the novel and the screenplay. And, as he sees it, the Burt Reynolds character with his “untested ersatz fortitude” is “Dick Cheney’s closet fantasy of himself,” and the Jon Voight character is “the rest of us, just scared and trying to get by.” As for the river whose rapids they set out to negotiate, “that’s the war in Iraq.”

Christopher Dickey paints with a broad brush: “On a grand scale they [the administration] could reinterpret the Constitution until it became meaningless.” (Monitoring jihadist phone logs being the reinterpretation into meaninglessness, unlike, say, partial-birth abortion, which is merely an ancient constitutional right the founders had cannily anticipated a need for.) So one’s first reaction to this is a faint flicker of surprise that Dickey doesn’t see Cheney as the mountain man and the Constitution as his rape victim. One’s second reaction is that the metaphor is dishonest. When it comes to “closet fantasies” about toppling Saddam, it’s not Dick Cheney versus “the rest of us.” Throughout the 1990s and all the way up to the Iraq war resolution, there were a lot of folks auditioning for the Burt Reynolds role: Bill Clinton, Al Gore and almost every other prominent Democrat indulged in just as much “ersatz fortitude” about Iraq and its WMD as Dick Cheney ever did. …

The real flaw in Christopher Dickey’s “Deliverance” metaphor: If Cheney is Burt Reynolds, and the rest of America is Jon Voight, and the river is Iraq, who are the hillbillies? Well, presumably (for he doesn’t spell it out) they’re the dark forces you make yourself vulnerable to when you blunder into somewhere you shouldn’t be. When the quartet returns to Atlanta a man short, they may understand how thin the veneer of civilization is, but they don’t have to worry that their suburban cul-de-sacs will be overrun and reduced to the same state of nature as the backwoods.

That’s the flaw in the thesis: Robert D. Kaplan, a shrewd observer of global affairs, has referred to the jihadist redoubts and other lawless fringes of the map as “Indian territory.” It’s a cute joke but a misleading one. The difference between the old Indian territory and the new is this: No one had to worry about the Sioux riding down Fifth Avenue, just as Burt Reynolds never had to worry about the mountain man breaking into his rec room. But Iran has put bounties on London novelists, assassinated dissidents in Paris, blown up community centers in Buenos Aires, seeded proxy terror groups in Lebanon and Palestine, radicalized Muslim populations throughout Central Asia – and it’s now going nuclear. The leaders of North Korea, Sudan and Syria are not stump-toothed Appalachian losers: Their emissaries wear suits and dine in Manhattan restaurants every night.

Life is not a movie, especially when your enemies don’t watch the same movies, and don’t buy into the same tired narratives.

28 Aug 2007

Counterterrorism Center Head: Successful Al Qaeda Attack on US Inevitable

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Newsweek interviews National Counterterrorism Center chief Vice Admiral (ret.) John Scott Redd, who says that Al Qaeda has an active plot to hit the West.

Earlier this summer, there was talk that people were picking up chatter that reminded them of the summer before 9/11. The Germans basically said this is like pre-9/11. They said, “We are very worried.” What do you make of this?
We have very strong indicators that Al Qaeda is planning to attack the West and is likely to [try to] attack, and we are pretty sure about that. We know some of the precursors from—

Attack Europe?
Well, they would like to come West, and they would like to come as far West as they can. What we don’t know is…if it’s going to be Mark Hosenball, and he’s coming in on Flight 727 out of Karachi, he’s stopping in Frankfurt, and he’s coming on through with his European Union passport, and he’s coming into New York, and he’s going to do something. I mean, we don’t have that kind of tactical detail. What we do have, though, is a couple of threads that indicate, you know, some very tactical stuff, and that’s what—you know, that’s what you’re seeing bits and pieces of, and I really can’t go much more into it.

But this did not affect our threat level. We didn’t change our code.
We’re pretty high-threat right now. Until you know something that is going to make a difference, you know, you don’t necessarily change the threat level. What that does is really stir a lot of people up and get them ticked off, but it probably doesn’t accomplish very much.

And you don’t as of today see any particular reduction in that threat?
It’s still there. It’s very serious, you know, and we’re watching it. We’re learning more all the time, but it’s still a very serious threat.

Last thing: Are we winning or losing the war on terrorism?
This is a long war. People say, “What is this like?” I say it’s like the cold war in only two respects. Number one, there is a strong ideological content to it. Number two, it is going to be a long war. I’ll be dead before this one is over. We will probably lose a battle or two along the way. We have to prepare for that. Statistically, you can’t bat 1.000 forever, but we haven’t been hit for six years, [which is] no accident.

I will tell you this: We are better prepared today for the war on terror than at any time in our history. We have done an incredible amount of things since 9/11, across the board. Intelligence is better. They are sharing it better. We are taking the terrorists down. We are working with the allies very carefully. We are doing the strategic operational planning, going after every element in the terrorist life cycle. So we have come a long way. But these guys are smart. They are determined. They are patient. So over time we are going to lose a battle or two. We are going to get hit again, you know, but you’ve got to have the stick-to-itiveness or persistence to outlast it.

27 Aug 2007

Hunting Bin Laden

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Newsweek‘s hunt for Bin Laden article has some interesting accounts attributing his success at escaping justice to excesses of official caution (Hey! the press might criticize them) and bureaucratic paralysis.

As recalled by Gary Berntsen, the CIA officer in charge of the covert team working with the Northern Alliance, code-named Jawbreaker, the military refused his pleas for 800 Army Rangers to cut off bin Laden’s escape. Maj. Gen. Dell Dailey, the Special Ops commander sent out by Central Command, told Berntsen he was doing an “excellent job,” but that putting in ground troops might offend America’s Afghan allies. “I don’t give a damn about offending our allies!” Berntsen yelled, according to his 2005 book, “Jawbreaker.” “I only care about eliminating Al Qaeda and delivering bin Laden’s head in a box!” (Dailey, now the State Department’s counterterror chief, told NEWSWEEK that he did not want to discuss the incident, except to say that Berntsen’s story is “unsubstantiated.”)

Berntsen went to Crumpton, his boss at the CIA, who described to NEWSWEEK his frantic efforts to appeal to higher authority. Crumpton called CENTCOM’s commander, Gen. Tommy Franks. It would take “weeks” to mobilize a force, Franks responded, and the harsh, snowy terrain was too difficult and the odds of getting bin Laden not worth the risk. Frustrated, Crumpton went to the White House and rolled out maps of the Pakistani-Afghan border on a small conference table. President Bush wanted to know if the Pakistanis could sweep up Al Qaeda on the other side. “No, sir,” Crumpton responded. (Vice President Dick Cheney did not say a word, Crumpton recalled.) The meeting was inconclusive. Franks, who declined to comment, has written in his memoirs that he decided, along with Rumsfeld, that to send troops into the mountains would risk repeating the mistake of the Soviets, who were trapped and routed by jihadist guerrilla fighters in the 1980…

Whenever (Special Forces Operations Sergeant Adam Rice) and his men moved within five kilometers of the safe house, he says, they had to file a request form known as a 5-W, spelling out the who, what, when, where and why of the mission. Permission from headquarters took hours, and if shooting might be involved, it was often denied. To go beyond five kilometers required a CONOP (for “concept of operations”) that was much more elaborate and required approval from two layers in the field, and finally the Joint Special Operations Task Force at Baghram air base near Kabul. To get into a fire fight, the permission of a three-star general was necessary. “That process could take days,” Rice recalled to NEWSWEEK. He often typed forms while sitting on a 55-gallon drum his men had cut in half to make a toilet seat. “We’d be typing in 130-degree heat while we’re crapping away with bacillary dysentery and sometimes the brass at Kandahar or Baghram would kick back and tell you the spelling was incorrect, that you weren’t using the tab to delimit the form correctly.”

But Rice made his request anyway. Days passed with no word. The window closed; the target—whether Mullah Omar or not—moved on. Rice blames risk aversion in career officers, whose promotions require spotless (“zero defect”) records—no mistakes, no bad luck, no “flaps.” The cautious mind-set changed for a time after 9/11, but quickly settled back in. High-tech communication serves to clog, rather than speed the process. With worldwide satellite communications, high-level commanders back at the base or in Washington can second-guess even minor decisions.

Read the whole thing.

16 Aug 2007

Newsweek: Wrong Then, Wrong Now

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Jeff Jacoby, at the Boston Globe, identifies a bit of history embarrassing to Newsweek.

Introducing Newsweek’s Aug. 13 cover story on global warming “denial,” editor Jon Meacham brings up an embarrassing blast from his magazine’s past: an April 1975 story about global cooling, and the coming ice age that scientists then were predicting. Meacham concedes that “those who doubt that greenhouse gases are causing significant climate change have long pointed to the 1975 Newsweek piece as an example of how wrong journalists and researchers can be.” But rather than acknowledge that the skeptics may have a point, Meacham dismisses it.

“On global cooling,” he writes, “there was never anything even remotely approaching the current scientific consensus that the world is growing warmer because of the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Really? Newsweek took rather a different line in 1975. Then, the magazine reported that scientists were “almost unanimous” in believing that the looming Big Chill would mean a decline in food production, with some warning that “the resulting famines could be catastrophic.” Moreover, it said, “the evidence in support of these predictions” — everything from shrinking growing seasons to increased North American snow cover — had “begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it.”

Yet Meacham, quoting none of this, simply brushes aside the 1975 report as “alarmist” and “discredited.” Today, he assures his readers, Newsweek’s climate-change anxieties rest “on the safest of scientific ground.”

14 Aug 2007

A Different Perspective in Newsweek

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Last week’s Newsweek featured a true believer attack on Climate Change skeptics accusing anyone indisposed to believe in a crisis situation resulting from human agency of being part of a “denial machine” funded as part of a sinister corporate conspiracy against the public good.

Newsweek’s own business columnist Robert J, Samuelson thinks last week’s article was not an example his own publication’s reporting at its best.

We in the news business often enlist in moral crusades. Global warming is among the latest. Unfortunately, self-righteous indignation can undermine good journalism. Last week’s Newsweek cover story on global warming is a sobering reminder. It’s an object lesson of how viewing the world as “good guys vs. bad guys” can lead to a vast oversimplification of a messy story.

It’s always refreshing to see criticism by actual journalists of bad, brain-damaged liberal journalism. Such criticism, of course, almost invariably comes from the business reporting side. All the responsible adults in that profession seem to work in one particular area.

Hat tip to Scott Drum.

06 Aug 2007

Where’s My $10,000?

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Newsweek’s Sharon Begley explains that everyone who does not accept Anthropogenic Global Warming is part of a sinister conspiracy.

One of her staffers told Barbara Boxer that Exxon Mobil was funding an unnamed conservative think tank which has been going around paying people $10,000 to argue against Global Warming. There is a name for the mercenaries and hirelings doing all this arguing. They are “Global Warming Deniers.”

I deny Anthropogenic Global Warming all the time myself, and nobody has given me any $10,000. I’ll have to be sure to call Exxon Mobil later today sometime, and ask where exactly I can find that think tank in order to pick up my check.

Recently, I was arguing about Global Warming with an undergraduate at my old university, who was impressed by the consensus supporting it. I tried explaining to him that the behavior of members of the Global Warming consensus makes the truth status of that theory perfectly clear.

One obvious clue is the arm-twisting going on, all the intimidation games, the “get on board, everybody else says so, or else!” approach.

When a scholar knows he has the truth, and he observes a colleague clinging to error, you will observe a complacent smile on the former’s lips, combined with a single eyebrow raised in ironic pity at the latter’s predicament. The scholar who knows he’s right also knows the facts will sooner or later vindicate him and will inevitably humiliate his pitiable rival. He is a happy and contented man.

On the other hand, when you find men of learning becoming emotional and losing their tempers, when you find them characterizing people who don’t agree with them as evil, when supporters of a theory start behaving like thugs, it’s perfectly clear that the argument’s gravamen has moved outside the realm of science and learning into the debatable border regions of religion and politics, and you can also easily perceive who it is that is operating in bad faith.

18 Dec 2006

Iraq Economy Growing, Despite Insurgency


As the American community of fashion calls Iraq “a disaster,” and pleads for American withdrawal, Newsweek reports that the Iraqi economy is actually very healthy, almost booming.

Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it’s doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006. The World Bank has it lower: at 4 percent this year. But, given all the attention paid to deteriorating security, the startling fact is that Iraq is growing at all.

How? Iraq is a crippled nation growing on the financial equivalent of steroids, with money pouring in from abroad. National oil revenues and foreign grants look set to total $41 billion this year, according to the IMF. With security improving in one key spot—the southern oilfields—that figure could go up…

there’s a vibrancy at the grass roots that is invisible in most international coverage of Iraq. Partly it’s the trickle-down effect. However it’s spent, whether on security or something else, money circulates. Nor are ordinary Iraqis themselves short on cash. After so many years of living under sanctions, with little to consume, many built up considerable nest eggs—which they are now spending. That’s boosted economic activity, particularly in retail. Imported goods have grown increasingly affordable, thanks to the elimination of tariffs and trade barriers. Salaries have gone up more than 100 percent since the fall of Saddam, and income-tax cuts (from 45 percent to just 15 percent) have put more cash in Iraqi pockets. “The U.S. wanted to create the conditions in which small-scale private enterprise could blossom,” says Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight. “In a sense, they’ve succeeded.”

And what does Newsweek think is needed for economic growth to continue? Continued US presence.

The withdrawal of a certain great power could drastically reduce the foreign money flow, and knock the crippled economy flat.

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