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Police Director Sues AOL For Critical Blogger's Name 282

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-us-everything dept.
Pippin writes "Memphis Police Director, Larry Godwin, is suing AOL for the names of the authors of the Enforcer 2.0 blog. The blog is rumored to be authored by a Memphis police officer, and is critical of the department, Godwin, and some procedures. Godwin is actually using taxpayer dollars for this and, interestingly, the complaint is sealed".
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Police Director Sues AOL For Critical Blogger's Name

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2008 @03:53AM (#24315657)

    with a Godwin Law violation...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:14AM (#24315771)

      I believe this story has Godwined itself.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jd (1658)

      How do you propose to violate Godwin's Law? Do you even know what Godwin's Law is?

      (For those interested in the subject, Godwin's Law states that as the length of any discussion approaches infinity, the probability of a reference to Naziism within that thread in any context approaches 1. It says nothing about who wins, who loses, or even when the event occurs, only that the probability goes up with time. You could substitute any word or phrase you like into that equation and it would still hold true. In an i

      • by Ihlosi (895663) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:00AM (#24315961)

        In an infinitely long thread, you are absolutely certain to have at least one mention of every single concept, object, philosophy and idea ever known to humanity, because of the way probability works.

        Only if the thread is irrational (just like you can find any combination of numbers in pi or e). In a nice, rational thread, you'll eventually get repetitions and the thread will loop back to itself.

        • by locofungus (179280) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:24AM (#24316061)

          In an infinitely long thread, you are absolutely certain to have at least one mention of every single concept, object, philosophy and idea ever known to humanity, because of the way probability works.

          Only if the thread is irrational (just like you can find any combination of numbers in pi or e). In a nice, rational thread, you'll eventually get repetitions and the thread will loop back to itself.

          This doesn't follow at all.

          Liouville's constant is not only irrational, it's transcendental. But it only contains the digits 0 and 1.

          Tim.

        • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Thursday July 24, 2008 @06:47AM (#24316327)

          > Only if the thread is irrational

          What discussion thread isn't? The empty thread?

          c.

        • by somersault (912633) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @08:35AM (#24316873) Homepage Journal

          I know you're referring to rational and irrational as numerical concepts, but do you seriously expect to be able to describe any slashdot discussion thread (never mind an infinitely long one) as completely 'rational'? ;)

          Godwin's law is likely to be invoked pretty quickly in any debate where both sides dislike each other, a lot quicker than my law at least: "as any discussion continues to infinity, the probability of a man on horseback lighting jelly babies on fire, tossing them up into the air and catching them in his eyes being mentioned approaches 1".

      • by kaos07 (1113443) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:27AM (#24316075)
        Did the miss the fact that the Police Director in this article is named... Godwin?
      • by jimthehorsegod (1210220) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:36AM (#24316115)
        and I do believe JD's law states that as the length of any discussion approaches infinity the probability of someone missing a joke approaches 1.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The most commonly seen form of Godwin's law in the wild is closer to "As thread length approaches infinity, the probability of someone making an unjustified comparison with nazi germany goes towards 1. The first person to do this is usually considered to have lost the debate."

        That might not be the original form, but I've found that it's often useful to use the same meaning for things as the majority of the audience.

        Incidentally, quoting Godwin: "Although deliberately framed as if it were a law of nature or

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tony Hoyle (11698)

        Try reading the The Godwins Law FAQ [faqs.org]

        The point of Godwins Law is that once a thread degenerates into comparisons with Hitler that thread is effectively over, and can be killfiled by the participants without risk of losing any useful information.

        This leads to the tradition that mention of Nazis in a thread by a participant automatically makes them lose the argument (http://www.jargon.net/jargonfile/g/GodwinsLaw.html)

      • by sm62704 (957197) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @08:39AM (#24316911) Journal

        That was an excellent post, except you dodn't add any links. From the Nazis at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

        Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies)[1] is an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states:[2][3]

        "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

        Godwin's Law is often cited in online discussions as a caution against the use of inflammatory rhetoric or exaggerated comparisons, and is often conflated with fallacious arguments of the reductio ad Hitlerum form.

        The rule does not state whether any reference or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the probability of such a reference increases over time. It is precisely because such a comparison may sometimes be appropriate that Godwin has argued[4] that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.

        In one of its early forms, Godwin's Law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions.[5] The law is now applied to any threaded online discussion, including electronic mailing lists, message boards, chat rooms, blog comment threads, and wiki talk pages.

        From the Uncyclopedia [uncyclopedia.org] death camps:

        "Godwin's Law is precisely like Hitler. The similarities between Godwin's law and the Nazis are uncanny. People who start screaming that the fascist law of Godwin has been invoked are no better then the guards at the Nazi death camps." ~ Godwin's Law on Godwin's Law

        You'd better log off. Science says - he's coming for you.Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Apparition) is a scientific law. It is not a theory!

        The law states:

        As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of Nazis or Hitler spontaneously materialising and enacting systematic genocide against the poster approaches one. Godwin's Law does not question whether the genocide enacted by Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate or justified, but only asserts that the enactment of one is increasingly probable.

        The most frequent invocation of the law today is found on Wikipedia, where discussion threads for the most trivial of topics cover pages and pages. This explains the origin of the WikiNazis who roam the site, permitting only their warped "NOPV" version of the facts.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:01AM (#24315963)

      I hereby present you Godwin's Law 2.0:

      As the internet grows and Godwin's Law becomes more and more famous, internet discussions will increasingly refer to Godwin's Law instead of actually mentioning Nazism.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Thursday July 24, 2008 @03:54AM (#24315665) Homepage
    If Larry Godwin is using tax dollars to protect himself from embarassment then his force should investigate him for misuse of public funds, prosecute him and make him pay the bill.

    If the bloggers are leaking information that harms investigations then Larry is doing the right thing; if they are merely critical of Larry then they should be encouraged at their efforts to improve the police service.

    • by Drenaran (1073150) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:13AM (#24315769)

      Yes, what you say is true, but you forget that this America! We are KINGS of misappropriating funds to defend politicians and law enforcement, and our legal system is all for supporting such practices (since it helps protect them as well). Screw what is right, what about the status quo!

      Yes, this statement is perhaps pandering, but it's also painfully true (dammit).

      • by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:40AM (#24315875) Homepage Journal
        I don't know why people keep subjecting Status Quo to American culture. They're a great British rock group and should be left that way.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chris Mattern (191822)

        We are KINGS of misappropriating funds to defend politicians and law enforcement,

        No, we aren't. It happens here, yes; it happens everywhere. It's even a defendable proposition that it's been getting worse here. But there are countries out there that make us look like pikers. Burma, to pick a particularly egregious example.

        • by Elldallan (901501) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @06:55AM (#24316353)
          Yes dictatorships and their like tends to be much better at misappropriating funds for personal interest but US is a democracy and thus subject to higher standards on matters like these.

          Modern dictatorships usually exists to enrich the dictator but democracies claims that they exist to protect the general population and hence your comparison is not very fitting.
          • by smoker2 (750216) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @08:14AM (#24316739) Homepage Journal
            "but democracies claims that they exist to protect the general population"
            Yeah "protect" like in the phrase "protection racket".
            Besides which, democracy is not designed to "protect" the general population - it is designed to allow governance that is representative of the majority's wishes. No "protection" or safety inherent in that. The police aren't there for your safety, they are there to catch criminals. The military aren't there for your safety, they are there to protect the government from outside aggressors.
            This repeated tagging of government activities as "for your safety" is a load of bollox, and leads to interception of your communications, categorisation of certain groups of people as undesirable, and a virtually unlimited line of credit from your pocket.
            • by wellingj (1030460) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @08:31AM (#24316837)
              The way the constitution and the amendments was designed was supposed to protect individuals against the majority rule of government. Mistaking that for "protect you, for your safety" is the single largest misconception that the USA has, and it's killing the once fine form of government we had.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by sumdumass (711423)

                This is all because some jack ass started teaching kids that the word public servant means the public official serves the public instead of simply belonging to the public services work sector.

                In fact, most kids graduating from schools today think the government is there to serve them in some way.

          • by sm62704 (957197) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @09:15AM (#24317205) Journal

            Yes dictatorships and their like tends to be much better at misappropriating funds for personal interest but US is a democracy

            Actually, no it isn't. The US is a republic, not a Democracy. It isn't even a democratic republic; if it were, before any bill became law it would have to be voted on my the citizens.

            We have "almost" democratically elected legislators. I say "almost" because we are more of a plutocracy than a democracy; usually the candidate with the most money to spend on his campaign wins. This allows the corporates, who own the media, to marginalize all but two of the political parties and "contribute" to those two, making whoever wins beholden to them.

            I truly wish we were a democratic republic, where nobody could contribute to more than one candidate in any given race, where nobody could contribute to a candidate he wasn't eligible to vote for, where all laws expired after ten years and had to be relegislated, and where no bill became law unless voted on by the citizens.

            I'd like to be rich, too, but that's about as likely to happen.

    • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:57AM (#24315935) Homepage Journal

      The correct action is to give Larry Godwin as much rope as he wants. Record everything. Document everything. Ensure this pooled information is made accessible to the blogger somehow - someone'll know who it is. People who are upset make mistakes. Pushing them deeper into their paranoia and neurotic state of mind will cause them to make bigger and bigger mistakes. It's not entrapment, as nobody is making Mr Godwin do anything illegal, they're not even suggesting it. It would be his choice, with the alternative being to back off. He has total free will. Once he has done something openly illegal, provided immunity doesn't cover him, arrest him for it.Even if immunity did cover him, this is election year and politicians aren't going to want to leave a loose cannon in a public position. He'll be removed from office.

      The result will not be a court decision (which never helps anyone) but will give whistleblowers additional measures they can take.

      • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jcr (53032) <jcr@NOsPAM.mac.com> on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:23AM (#24316059) Journal

        The correct action is to give Larry Godwin as much rope as he wants

        Not with tax money. The city council has a fiduciary duty to the people of Memphis to keep this asshole from wasting their money litigating over his hurt feelings.

        -jcr

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:49AM (#24316173)

      if they are merely critical of Larry then they should be encouraged at their efforts to improve the police service.

      But that's not the American way, sue sue sue is how its done these days

    • read the blog itself (Score:3, Informative)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      This is not about embarassment. The top story shows that some top ppl within the police are criminals. The least crime was a cover-up, and aiding/abeting. It is probably a great deal more. As such, this site is about to cause either the state or possibly the feds to come in (not likely the feds with our current admin).
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        (not likely the feds with our current admin).

        Now your just being moronic. If you would have been paying attention to the feds recently, you will know that they have stepped in at several time in several areas. Zanesville Ohio, comes to mind, there has been more in other areas too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Malevolyn (776946)
      Plus, I'm not sure why he thinks he'll win, considering the first amendment and I didn't see any sensitive material on the blog itself. Isn't it poor little Larry's job to know the law? Including the amendments? Or do I have the term "officer of the law" confused with something else?
  • what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by edittard (805475) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @03:56AM (#24315671)

    is interestingly

    I don't know whether to be amusingly or annoyingly about the quality of the editing round here.

    • Links (Score:5, Informative)

      by Morosoph (693565) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:14AM (#24316017) Homepage Journal

      I notice that they haven't even linked the blog [blogspot.com] directly.

      Does anyone care about the stories, or it it just "another libertarian story that they'll love"?

      Granted, it wasn't hard to click through from the article, but it's not as if blogspot as going to get slashdotted, and free speech needs examples, not just meta-waffling.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by H+FTW (1264808)

        mmmm meta-waffle

        do they come with irony icing and sarcasm syrup?

      • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @08:28AM (#24316817) Journal
        The last story indicates how backwards that district is, but the first story shows so many crimes being committed by the police themselves. I remember back in the late 80's, that a story surfaced about the New Orlean police. The feds had JUST shut them down. The reason is that the police chief was going to have a witness murdered to keep him from talking (they had no idea how close the fed were). In fact, the feds had figured out that several other murders by the police had taken place to prevent the feds, so they took this one serious. What was more amazing is that this made the front page and then disappeared from the press the next day. That alone indicates how much control there is over the press.

        But taking a side note, this blog really shows that news papers are doomed shortly. It really is important that blogs like this continue. I mean, if news papers were doing their jobs, this would be in the news. The fact that it is not, shows that even when a story is there, they ignore it.
    • by dwater (72834)

      Here, I've fixed it :

      "Godwin is actually using taxpayer dollars for this and is interestingly illiterate ; the complaint is sealed."

      Oh, no. That would be whoever posted the article. ...and, no, I don't know in what way his illiteracy might be interesting, though I can probably think of one or two ways, if I put my mind to it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Perhaps it was sealed in an interesting fashion?

      With ear wax, for example. Or by a team of weaver ants.

  • A link (Score:5, Informative)

    by miraboo (1164359) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:01AM (#24315705)
    to the actual blog: http://mpdenforcer20.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
    • Re:A link (Score:5, Informative)

      by BPPG (1181851) <bppg1986@gmail.com> on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:25AM (#24315811)

      They make some pretty serious allegations in this blog. Including possible murder cover-ups and tolerance of rampant sexual harassment directed at females in the police force.

      I'm not sure I really believe everything I'm reading here, but if much of it is true, then I can see why the MPD would want to shut them up.

      • by dbcad7 (771464)

        I haven't read the blog.. So I don't know how specific it gets, or if it names names.. but you can't assume that this is just to "shut someone up".. it could very well be that they might want to do something with these allegations.. There is also the fact that this blogger has knowledge of alleged crimes.. and this can go either way.. he could find himself a criminal, or a witness... I would think at this point, he needs to take what he knows to whatever authority (justice department ?) for investigation..

      • Re:A link (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @08:24AM (#24316789) Homepage Journal

        If it's not true, then it's probably libel, then the blogger should be stopped.

        • You can really see that this has little chance of being libel. THis is an outing of a series of crimes. Godwin and his buddies are going to do time before this is over.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)

            I looked at it, and I don't see anything that is convincing that this is an "outing" or truthful vs. possible libel.

      • Re:A link (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tinkerghost (944862) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @09:29AM (#24317391) Homepage

        I've known several female police officers. If there wasn't sexual harassment going on I would be stunned.

        Q: Why are most female police officers absolute cunts?

        A: Because the ones who have a soul were driven off the job.

        A large number of cops are exactly the pigs we refer to them as - they are bullies with badges with way too much testosterone and not enough brains. Female cops do not fit into their little world except as meter maids and clerks - and they have no objection to showing them exactly that.

        One former female cop I know spent part of a shift bagging several hundred used condoms that had been dumped into her car. Another did the same with tampons & pads.

        Propositions are a constant & threats are not uncommon following rejection.

        Discipline for shit like this is usually an unofficial "don't do it again" or "sensitivity training" which just pisses them off more.

    • by omuls are tasty (1321759) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:05AM (#24315983)
      It's signed!

      Posted by Dirk Diggler MPD

      ;)

  • by kaos07 (1113443) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:02AM (#24315717)
    I don't actually think there's anything intrinsically "technological" about this story, be it the fact that there's an anonymous whistle-blower or that the boss is trying to hunt him down, except maybe the amount of people the blogger it could reach. But, and yes I know this clearly is not the case, the Internet was supposed to free us and allow us to share knowledge and information freely and that includes opinions. Since that obviously is no longer here (If it ever was), I think it's time to find or create something else.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kaos07 (1113443)

      Some of you may wonder about the long-windedness of a such a simple point. The thing is, I was trying to pre-empt essentially useless replies from other Slashdotters that get modded Insightful. Say I had written it much simpler without the commas and brackets, like this:

      "I don't actually think there's anything intrinsically "technological" about this story, be it the fact that there's an anonymous whistle-blower or that the boss is trying to hunt him down. But the Internet was supposed to free us and allow

      • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:30AM (#24316091)

        Then, obviously, you get the expected three replies to each of those posts and the thread exponentially drifts more and more off-topic until the initial point is lost amongst a haze of Natalie Portman's and gritz.

        But "Natalie Portman's [sic] and gritz [sicker]" is the whole reason why I visit Slashdot.

    • by MrNaz (730548) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:40AM (#24316125) Homepage

      It's time to create something else that provides free speech? They already did, it's called Europe.

      • by Beezlebub33 (1220368) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @07:15AM (#24316443)

        Free speech in Europe? Try promoting Nazism in Germany. Try denying that the Holocaust happened in Austria. Try insulting Ataturk in Turkey (okay, let's not argue whether or not Turkey is in Europe).

        Free speech is more free in the U.S.

        • by rah1420 (234198) <rah1420@gmail.com> on Thursday July 24, 2008 @07:33AM (#24316531)

          Now, Grasshopper, THAT's a true demonstration of how Godwin's law works. :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by SkunkPussy (85271)

          Free speech in Europe? Try promoting Nazism in Germany. Try denying that the Holocaust happened in Austria. Try insulting Ataturk in Turkey (okay, let's not argue whether or not Turkey is in Europe).

          Free speech is more free in the U.S.

          what about free speech in Mexico (okay, let's not argue whether or not Mexico is in USA)

        • by Hektor_Troy (262592) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @08:18AM (#24316759)

          Indeed - you even have such highly protected rights like "free speech zones". Not to mention how you have the FCC decide what can and cannot be said on public airwaves. And of course the FCC is an elected commision, answerable to the voters as well as congress, right?

          Arguing that Free Speech is more free in the US vs Europe results in some interesting argument, especially as the things you're pointing out are individual countries, not the EU.

          Hell, I can mention an EU member who up until a few years ago had a nationally funded Nazi radio station until the politician changed the funding law in a way that hurt I think 50 other radio stations. The result - they're still on the air through private funding. Aditionally, this country came under attack from Turkey for not banning ROJ from broadcasting sattelite TV.

          As for insulting Ataturk? Have a look at the Dixie Chicks - sure, that wasn't government censorship, but you can't really have free speech when you have that many members of the public upset over someone making use of their free speech.

          • by howlinmonkey (548055) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @09:31AM (#24317415)

            The outrage of the public over the Dixie Chicks is the perfect example of free speech, not an example of censorship. The DC were free to sing their song, and the public was free to react and let them know that it wasn't well received.

            Please tell me where the government stepped in to curtail anyone's free speech rights in that situation?

            (Hint: censorship is carried out by governments, not the public)

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by UnknowingFool (672806)

              True, in the Dixie Chicks case it wasn't the government that did anything. Rather, a large radio corporation (not to mention names here) decided that they were going to be proactive and ordered their radio stations to ban the Dixie Chicks from their stations. Senators from both parties were troubled by the action. Senator McCain who disagreed with the Dixie Chicks' statement said:

              "If a local station made a decision not to play a particular band, then that is what localism is all about. But when a corpor

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Oligonicella (659917)
            Dixie Chicks? Bull. Totally free speech. She was able to say what she wanted before and after the hubbub. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from response. Your last paragraph is pap.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by sumdumass (711423)

            Wow.. So many issues but I will only comment on one of them.

            Have a look at the Dixie Chicks - sure, that wasn't government censorship, but you can't really have free speech when you have that many members of the public upset over someone making use of their free speech.

            99% of the people weren't upset with what was said, it was the venue it was said in and where. When you wait until going over seas to open your damn mouth and speak ill of the country or it's leaders, you are unAmerican. The exception of c

  • Great idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AhabTheArab (798575) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:03AM (#24315719) Homepage
    Because all you have really ensured is that the blog will get a decent amount of free publicity.
  • 1st... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Oh I forgot about the First Amendment being repealed and the new laws forbidding freedom of speech... oh wait

  • by Dwedit (232252) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:22AM (#24315795) Homepage

    You know who else sued AOL for a critical blogger's name?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rpillala (583965)

      Does this joke rely on me knowing the answer or on the fact that I don't know the answer?

  • Godwin has illegally used his position and the City of Memphis as a ram to ruin the Constitution of the United States.

    Accusing someone of an illegal act without having that proven in a court of law puts you at risk of getting sued for libel, and that is as it should be.

    Something like this is probably less risky:

    I believe Godwin has illegally used his position and the City of Memphis as a ram to ruin the Constitution of the United States.

    No problem with that; it's the author's opinion, not a statement of fac

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Whats wrong with libel?

      Is it not free speech?

      • Anything you say is protected as free speech as long its not deliberately false.
        Libel is deliberate lie.
        So suing this guy with a libel statement can make the blogger turn around and sue for libel.
        Am sad that the city has to take the costs of the same when the police director's salary should be deducted for wasting people's money.

  • Forbidden... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...where I live.
    The police aren't allowed to try to find the source of information in cases like this. IF the blogger is seen as a journalist, which may or may not be the case. Not sure what the latest rulings say.

  • by SloWave (52801) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @04:53AM (#24315921) Journal

    Though most policemen are good people, I've heard stories of various 'Rambos' and other scummy types in police departments that would give the Zimbabwe PD a good run for the money. Most of these abuses are not reported by other cops because of guaranteed retribution. We need the anonymous blogs to get this crap in the open and dealt with. This case needs to be unsealed (public office after-all) and dealt with fairly.

  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:24AM (#24316069)

    So now the police need protection from the police. The privacy issues which they seek to deny civilians in the pursuit of justice they will adamantly defend for themselves. Of course there is a difference between Managers and Employees, but the symbolism is striking.

A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.

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