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LBJ and the Civil Rights Act

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I am aware that I am the only person on this Forum who believes that LBJ was blackmailed into passing the 1965 Civil Rights Act. I argue this for the following reasons:

LBJ long record of public hostility to civil rights. His first speech in the Senate was an attack on Harry Truman’s proposed civil rights legislation that would have given black Americans protection against lynching and discrimination in employment. It would also have made it easier for them to vote. In the speech Johnson argued that Truman’s proposals were a call “for depriving one minority (white people living in the Deep South) of its rights in order to extend rights to other minorities”. (1)

Liberals in the Senate became angry with Johnson in 1957 over Eisenhower’s Civil Rights Bill. They first of all complained about the weakness of the original bill. Then they turned on Johnson when he assigned the bill to the Judiciary Committee. This was under the chairmanship of James Eastland, the most extreme racist in the Senate. As one historian pointed out, this resulted in the bill “being buried” by Eastland. (2) Joseph Rauh commented that it was now abundantly clear that Johnson was “running the Democratic party for the benefit of the Southern conservative viewpoint.” (3) This is why the civil rights activists were so upset when LBJ was selected as JFK's running mate.

The fact that LBJ was a racist is not only shown by his political record. It is also supported by information from his friends who claim he was a nasty racist in private (apparently he called his black servants “niggers” in front of people).

I have argued that LBJ was being blackmailed by a liberal in JFK’s government who knew who was responsible for the assassination. This helps to explain why Richard Russell changed his mind on the subject.

When the bill was first introduced Russell told the Senate: "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states." Russell organized 18 Southern Democratic senators in filibustering this bill. With the help of conservatives in the Republican Party he would have had no difficulty in blocking the bill.

Although in public LBJ and Russell were in great conflict over the civil rights bill, this is not reflected in the taped telephone conversations between the two men. In fact, they appear to be the best of friends and the issue is never raised.

On the 15th June, 1964, Russell privately told Mike Mansfield and Hubert Humphrey, the two leading supporters of the Civil Rights Act, that he would bring an end to the filibuster that was blocking the vote on the bill. This resulted in a vote being taken and it was passed by 73 votes to 27.

Why did Russell do this? Had he been converted to the issue of civil rights? No. One answer is that both Johnson and Russell were being blackmailed into passing this legislation.

When LBJ signed the 1965 Civil Rights Act he made a prophecy that he was “signing away the south for 50 years”. This proved accurate. In fact, the Democrats have never recovered the vote of the white racists in the Deep South. This is the electorate that now gives its support to the Republican Party. A new alliance has therefore taken place between the white racists, right-wing conservatives and Christian fundamentalists.

Was that the long-term objective of the conspiracy? After all, the realignment has resulted in the liberals in America losing political power.

Until yesterday I had not come across anyone who agrees with the idea that LBJ was blackmailed into passing the Civil Rights Act. However, last night I was reading Deborah Davis’ book, ‘Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post’. (4) The book is about the role the Washington Post played in Operation Mockingbird and does not cover the assassination of JFK.

Davis appears to be well informed about these events. Although she rarely reveals her sources. Davis worked for Ramparts when it became a target of Operation Mockingbird. At the end of 1966 Desmond FitzGerald, head of the Directorate for Plans, was informed that Ramparts, a left-wing publication, had discovered that the CIA had been secretly funding the National Student Association. FitzGerald ordered Edgar Applewhite to organize a campaign against the magazine. Applewhite later told Evan Thomas for his book, The Very Best Men: "I had all sorts of dirty tricks to hurt their circulation and financing. The people running Ramparts were vulnerable to blackmail. We had awful things in mind, some of which we carried off." (5)

This dirty tricks campaign failed to stop Ramparts publishing this story in February, 1967. As well as reporting CIA funding of the National Student Association it exposed the whole system of anti-communist front organizations in Europe, Asia, and South America was essentially blown.

In her book Davis briefly covers LBJ’s reasons for advocating the 1965 Civil Rights Act. She believes the pressure (she does not use the word blackmail) came from the CIA and the FBI. Davis argues that the CIA main preoccupation was to prevent the spread of communism. The CIA (and the FBI) were aware that “dangerous kinds of radicals” were playing an important role in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements.

According to Davis “Communists were working in American to try to create chaos, a belief that Katharine shared not only with the president, but with the directors of the FBI and the CIA, army intelligence and navy intelligence, all of whom a few years later blamed the Soviets for the rise of Black Power” (6)

The Military Industrial Congressional Complex (MICC) could not compromise over the Vietnam War. However, it could undermine the work being done by communists working via the Civil Rights movement. In doing so, the MICC (as reflected in the Suite 8F Group) switched its support from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. The alliance between the Northern liberals and Southern racists had been destroyed. The 1965 Civil Rights Act made no difference at all to the MICC’s financial objectives.

I think this also helps to explain the assassinations of Malcolm X (7) and Martin Luther King (8). You need to look very closely at the political direction they were taking at the time they were murdered.

In the early 1960s. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King offered two very different approaches to the civil rights issue. This resulted in a divided movement. This would have given great pleasure to those opposed to racial equality. However, in March, 1964, Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca. On his return, he began to change his views on the subject. In the weeks preceding his murder, he rejected his former separatist beliefs and advocated world brotherhood. Malcolm now blamed racism on Western culture and urged African Americans to join with sympathetic whites to bring it to an end. If Malcolm X had lived he had the potential to unite those who wished to change American society.

After the passing of the 1965 Civil Rights Act Martin Luther King became increasingly involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement. He also got involved in trade union struggles. J. Edgar Hoover was now convinced that King was a communist agent.

In March 1968, James Lawson asked King to visit Memphis, Tennessee, to support of a strike by the city's sanitation workers. On 3rd April, King made his famous I've Been to the Mountaintop speech. The following day, King was killed by a sniper's bullet while standing on the balcony of the motel where he was staying.

After the death of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy the left fragmented. The Military Industrial Congressional Complex was back in full control. Today, with George Bush in the White House, the MICC must feel it is invincible. After all, who would have thought it would have survived the fall of communism in the late 1980s? It did so by creating another threat. The fear of international terrorism.


1. Lyndon Johnson, speech in the Senate, 9th March, 1949

2. Robert Dallek, Lone Star Rising (1991) page 498

3. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy (1968) page 436

4. Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post (1979)

5. Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA (1995) page 330

6. Deborah Davis (pages 237-238)

7. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAmalcolmX.htm

8. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAkingML.htm

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  • 3 years later...

Some people believe that JFK was killed by white racists who were opposed to civil rights legislation. When LBJ signed the 1965 Civil Rights Act he made a prophecy that he was “signing away the south for 50 years”. This proved accurate. In fact, the Democrats have never recovered the vote of the white racists in the Deep South. This is the electorate that now gives its support to the Republican Party. A new alliance has therefore taken place between the white racists, right-wing conservatives and Christian fundamentalists.

RFK and MLK called for further civil rights legislation before their deaths in 1968. Both men were probably assassinated as part of a right-wing racist conspiracy.

LBJ was right in his prediction. However, so was RFK when he said in 1968 that the US would have a “Negro president” in 40 years.

It is ironic that the Republican Party is now only really strong in the Deep South. LBJ was right in the short-term about how the passing of Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s would hurt the Democratic Party. However, in the long-term, it hurt the Republican Party.

If Barack Obama now orders the release of CIA and FBI files on the three assassinations, we might well be in a good position to have a fuller understanding of US history since the election of JFK in 1960.

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  • 4 years later...
Guest Robert Morrow

In honor of today's 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I would like to give you a little tidbit about Lyndon Johnson as president, his take on civil rights & his attitudes towards black Americans. LBJ called up George Wallace to visit him in the White House, probably in 1965. Wallace brought along his right hand man and #1 Alabama political operative Seymore Trammell. His son Warren Trammell is one of my Facebook friends.

Here is how the meeting of Lyndon Johnson and George Wallace went. This meeting was on March 13, 1965. It was the following Saturday after the previous "Bloody Sunday" in Selma. Actually this meeting was highly publicized, but the actual contents of it as relayed by Warren Trammell are not well known. Also, I do not know if the USA was bombing the Ho Chi Minh trail at that time, but I think Trammell catches the unvarnished behind the scenes "flavor" of LBJ quite well.

Go to LBJ's presidential schedule and look up March 13, 1965: http://www.lbjlibrary.net/collections/daily-diary.html
On the diary it says 12:05PM Meeting - LBJ, George Wallace, Seymour Trammell, Katzenbach, Bill Moyers and Burke Marshall.

By the way, like Wallace and the Trammells, I am a native of Alabama so this is of special interest to me.


On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 5:52 PM, Warren Trammell wrote to Robert Morrow:

"To Robert Morrow: to whom it may concern....my father's (Seymore Trammell) memories of his and Alabama Governor George Wallace's private and not really publicized meeting, with President Lyndon Johnson in his Oval Office, concerning the racial violence in the Southeast in the 60s. It's been impossible to nail down the exact day since it was not well publicized.

In the mid 1960s in America, white/black racial unrest had reached the most violent levels the South had ever seen in modern times! Alabama Governor George Wallace and his number one adviser my father Seymore Trammell had their hands full "managing" the black/white racial violence all the Southern politicians thought was caused by the Reverend Martin Luther King and his growing crowds of black followers!
At the same time in a lesser known part of the world, the LBJ's USA was deeply embroiled in a massive war in North Viet Nam over oil (the real reason we know today). America's President at that time, in charge of "managing" these two violent situations, was Lyndon Baines Johnson, affectionately know by his Southern political buddies as just LBJ or just Lyndon. Unknown to the public, Southern politicians privately shared Lyndon's hatred of what he called in private, "niggers". Lyndon hated "niggers'! He called them "niggers" in private. He cussed "niggers" every day, my father said, and called them all kinds of vile names! He had his hands full with the Viet Nam war and hated being "bothered by those G--damned niggers" my father said Lyndon said.
To rid his hands of those "G-damned niggers" he called my father and Governor Wallace to his Oval Office officially to have a "friendly informative talk" about the disturbing violence in the South. George and Seymore were very excited! They just knew their buddy Lyndon was going to give the massive help in "managing those niggers" Lyndon said.
However, in typical trickster style, when George and Seymore got into Lyndon's Oval Office, they were shocked! Lyndon began to cuss like a sailor and ask them, "What in the hell are you boys (Lyndon called them boys) doing with those G--damned niggers down there?" Shocked and taken back, the "Guvna" said "Well Mr. President, we're doing the best we can! What do ya want us to do?"
At that Lyndon began to cuss "niggers" again. They were sitting on either side of a narrow coffee table in the Oval office and big Lyndon with his long strong arms and big powerful Texas rough hands reached over and slapped both Seymore and George hard on their knees and held their legs a moment and said "Now you boys, you gotta get your G--damned asses back down to Alabama and make those G--damned niggers act right and calm the hell down! I am G--damned tired of hearing 'bout those G--damned niggers on the G--damned news every night! Every night at midnight, I hafta get on that damned Red Phone over there on my desk and give the G--damned orders for the B-52 Bombers to fly over the Ho Chi Mien trail and all over that G--damned North Viet Nam and bomb the the hell outta the whole G-damned country every G--damned night and this G--damned war is killing me!"
"You boys got it lucky. Hell George (Lyndon called him George and "boy"), all the hell you got is those G--damned niggers throwing rocks and tot'in signs! Hell, here, I had to get the Secret Service to put-up double thick bullet proof glass to the White House windows cause these G--damn niggers and hippies up here are shootin' bullets at me and my wife and 2 little girls are scared to death! I hate those G--damned niggers and hippies"
At that point my father tried to tell Lyndon something but again Lyndon slapped him hard on his knee and said "Now be quiet boy, here, take this pad and pencil and take some G--damned notes". My father gave me the pad and pencil with the Presidential Seal on them!
The short meeting was over and Lyndon lastly said "You boys go back to Alabama and get them G--damned niggers quiet! And I don't want to hear nothin' else on the news about them G--damned niggers!" At that point Lyndon said to the "Guvna", "Come-on boy we gotta go outside, wave at the press and tell'em we had a very productive meeting 'bout them G--damned niggers!" As they stepped up to the mic, Lyndon said kind words about the blacks in the South and indicated that the "Guvna" agreed with him and was going back to Alabama to help them get their justice.
Lyndon grabbed George by the arm before he could speak, turned him around and with his huge hand on the Govna'a back, pushed him back into the Oval Office and out the door to get on one of the Presidential Planes back to Alabama! The "Govna" and Seymore were sadly disappointed and grumbled all the way back to Alabama, the Guvna angrily chewing on his cigar and Seymore clutching his blank Presidential note pad with great frustration."
Edited by Robert Morrow
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Guest Robert Morrow

Nicholas Katzenbach on LBJ’s racial attitudes and his telling of “n jokes”

“After that he would get on an old fire engine that some admirers had presented to him and drive me around – me sitting beside him in my Brooks Brothers suit and tie, LBJ driving in his ten-gallon hat, flannel shirt, and blue jeans. He would point out sights of interest, and when he saw one of his black workers in a field he would stand up (the fire engine still moving), wave his hand, sound the siren, and shout, “Come over here, boy, and meet your attorney general.”

I would cringe beside him. It was almost as if he did not associate any of his workers with the civil rights leaders he regularly met with in Washington, although I am sure in fact he did. It was just a southern way of life that he was used to and felt comfortable with, just as he often did with the stories and jokes he told about blacks. They made me feel uncomfortable, but this president who did so much to secure equal rights saw no impropriety and no inconsistency between his stories, where blacks were the butt of a joke and his convictions about racial equality.”

[Nicolas Katzenbach, “Some of It Was Fun: Working With RFK and LBJ,” p. 207 ]

LBJ: “I’ll have them niggers voting Democratic for two hundred years.”

Luci Johnson: “Damn you. You go find my n right now!”

During one trip, Johnson was discussing his proposed civil rights bill with two governors. Explaining why it was so important to him, he said it was simple: “I’ll have them niggers voting Democratic for two hundred years.”

“That was the reason he was pushing the bill,” said MacMillan, who was present during the conversation. “Not because he wanted equality for everyone. It was strictly a political ploy for the Democratic party. He was phony from the word go.”

MacMillan said Johnson’s younger daughter, Luci, then seventeen, was a “wretched witch.” On one stopover in Florida, she was having a tantrum because she did not know where a servant was. She blamed MacMillan for it.

“She said, ‘Damn you. You go find my n right now,’” MacMillan said. Playing dumb MacMillan asked for a description of the man.

“She screamed again. ‘Find my n.’ People around were smiling. She drew her hand back as if she was going to slap me. I said, ‘Miss Johnson, I don’t think that would be a good idea.’ She said, ‘Dammit, I’ll find him myself.’ This was the attitude of these people who were championing civil rights.”

[Ronald Kessler, Inside the Whitehouse, pp. 33-34]

Edited by Robert Morrow
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While I have no doubt, Robert, that LBJ did let the N word fly when at home and/or surrounded by those he thought would be receptive, that doesn't make him the beast you seem to think he was. He was a southern politician; he new the value of Klan support. He knew he had to be one of the "boys" to get and hold the support of a primarily racist white population.

And your buddy Trammell ought to know this better than anyone. George Wallace tried to run a non-racist campaign early in his career and LOST. He then swore that he'd never be "outniggered" again. He played this role for the benefit of the "good ole boys" for quite some time. At the time of the meeting described by Trammell, he was their prime mover. When LBJ pushed him around, he was doing it with a knowing wink "Yeah, I'm a racist, too, but we're both Democrats, and our party NEEDS the support of these people, so shut up and do your job!" Wallace was humiliated, but he could hardly have been shocked by this.

Wallace later got shot. And did some soul-searching. He went to the black community and begged their forgiveness. He received enough of their votes to lead his state away from its racist past, while sitting in a wheel chair.

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Guest Robert Morrow

Lyndon Johnson's first speech in the Senate was on decrying a civil rights bill proposed by Harry Truman. LBJ voted 12 times to allow Southern states to retain the poll tax, a key way of disenfranchising blacks.

Sidenote: Lyndon Johnson hated the KKK. He remembered when the Klan tried to terrorize his father who was a Texas state representive. LBJ hated the Nazis, too, although I would classify him with no exaggeration as a perfect authoritarian Nazi.

When LBJ was mysteriously and bizarrely picked as VP at the 1960 Democratic convention, the blacks, unions and progressive Democratic activists went into a rage precisely because Lyndon Johnson had been torpedoing civil rights legislation his entire career.

It is ONLY after Lyndon Johnson puts a bullet into JFK's head in Dallas that LBJ suddenly had a newfound interest in civil rights. Lyndon Johnson in the fall of 1963 was obsessing over the Kennedys well developed plan to destroy him with the Bobby Baker scandal. LBJ could not care less about civil rights previously.

Post assassination, Lyndon Johnson immediately picks up the protective mantel of civil rights. It was the highlight of his first address to Congress.

Lyndon Johnson knew that "civil rights" was his keep-out-of-jail ticket from the JFK assassination because it inoculated him from the scrutiny of liberals, blacks, unionists and progressives who justifiably suspected his role in murdering John Kennedy.

The JFK assassination was the Vice President Lyndon Johnson leading a rightwing military/CIA/oil coup on the presidency.

But a key ingredient in Johnson getting away with it, was he had to give a big bone to liberal constituency groups and "civil rights for blacks" was that concession.

Lyndon Johnson was not a monster because he had ingrained racist views like many Americans (not just Southerners). Lyndon Johnson was a monster because he was a serial murderer.

I remember when I was a liberal in college in the 1980's. I went to see my Alabama grandfather who was sick in the hospital and told him I was learning about the civil rights movement. Pa Pa told me about his intense dislike of "Martin Lucifer Coon" and he let me know that whenever the blacks voted his home county, he would take their ballots down to the creek where he would throw them away into the creek.

By the way, Greene County Alabama, was one of the absolute first places put under federal control about the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That is where 1/2 my family is from. It was or is about 25% white and 75% black in population.

Edited by Robert Morrow
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Guest Robert Morrow

Here is what the first family of civil rights thinks about Lyndon Johnson and his concept of civil rights: they think he was a murderer and have said so on national TV. Did LBJ murder MLK, too? I have no doubt that he had the chops to do it. Remember all the FBI harassment, wiretapping and terror campaign on MLK? Lyndon Johnson was tied to the FBI with an umbilical cord, with decades long friendship with J. Edgar Hoover, his neighbor of 19 years. Hoover, who hated MLK, once bragged that he raised the Johnson girls, used to babysit them. The FBI was the personal Gestapo of LBJ and he used it to harass, intimidate and spy on his opposition.

If FBI wiretaps or spying had figured out that MLK was going to support Robert Kennedy in the 1968 Democratic primary, that would have been reason enough for Lyndon Johnson to murder MLK. He saw the power of the black vote in 1960. Kelly Brown, who was a close friend of MLK, told me that he literally was with MLK on the very day Robert Kennedy got into the 1968 presidential race. MLK told Kelly that Robert Kennedy was his "secret main man" in the presidential race.

Weeks later MLK was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Btw, for the rest of the primary season Robert Kennedy got a huge chunk of the black vote.

ABC News: “Do you believe that Lyndon Johnson was part of the plot to kill your father?

Dexter King - on national TV in 1997 with the entire MLK family sitting around him: “Yes, I do.”

ABC NEWS: "What's more, Dexter King believes the plot went all the way to the White House." (See Dexter King's remarks as to who it was he believes was behind his father's assassination -- at 1:03:10).

Son of Dr. King Asserts L.B.J. Role in Plot

Published: June 20, 1997

Web link: http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/20/us/son-of-dr-king-asserts-lbj-role-in-plot.html

Three months ago, Dexter Scott King declared that he and his family believed that James Earl Ray was not guilty of the murder of his father, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tonight, in a televised interview, Mr. King asserted that President Lyndon B. Johnson must have been part of a military and governmental conspiracy to kill Dr. King.

''Based on the evidence that I've been shown, I would think that it would be very difficult for something of that magnitude to occur on his watch and he not be privy to it,'' Mr. King said on the ABC News program ''Turning Point.''

Mr. King, who heads the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, suggested that the Army and Federal intelligence agencies were involved in his father's assassination, in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

''I am told that it was part and parcel Army intelligence, C.I.A., F.B.I.,'' he said in the interview. ''I think we knew it all along.''

Mr. King's older brother, Martin Luther King 3d, said in the television interview that Mr. Ray had ''basically nothing to do with this assassination.''

Mr. Ray, 69, is dying of liver disease in a state prison hospital in Nashville. He originally confessed to the killing and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Several days later, he recanted, saying that his lawyers had encouraged him to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.

A Congressional inquiry and studies by several historians have concluded that Mr. Ray was almost certainly involved in the killing, although others may have played a part in a conspiracy.

The notion of a conspiracy by the Army and intelligence agencies to kill Dr. King has long been expounded by William F. Pepper, Mr. Ray's lawyer, who is seeking a trial for his client. In recent months, Mr. King, his three siblings, and their mother, Coretta Scott King, have apparently embraced Mr. Pepper's theories.

In the broadcast, Forrest Sawyer of ABC undermined at least part of Mr. Pepper's theory by introducing Mr. Pepper to Billy Eidson. Mr. Eidson is a retired Army officer whom Mr. Pepper has described as the leader of a unit that was ready to kill Dr. King if the assassin did not succeed.

Mr. Pepper has asserted that Mr. Eidson was himself later assassinated. After being presented with Mr. Eidson, Mr. Pepper said, ''I acknowledge that maybe I was provided with wrong information.''

In March, Dexter King traveled to Nashville to meet with Mr. Ray, and told him face to face that he and his family believed Mr. Ray's declarations of innocence.

With the King family's support, Mr. Pepper has won court approval for new ballistics tests on the rifle linked to Mr. Ray and the killing of Dr. King. Mr. Pepper hopes that new forensic methods will prove that the rifle did not fire the fatal shot. The tests have been completed, but a hearing has yet to be held on the results.

In the ABC program, Mrs. King and Andrew Young, formerly a top aide to Dr. King as well as a former chief delegate to the United Nations and Mayor of Atlanta, called on President Clinton to appoint a commission to investigate the killing again. Mrs. King proposed that anyone with information about the assassination be granted amnesty.

Neither Mr. Young nor any of the Kings could be reached for comment today.

Edited by Robert Morrow
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Guest Robert Morrow

Warren Trammell (8/29/13) follow up to me:

"In March of 1965 I was a new cadet at Sewanee Military Academy in way up in Sewanee, Tennessee! Thats prob why I was not so aware of it but my famous father told me all the details and gave me the pad & pencil LBJ gave him to take notes on!"

"The real truth on Wallace and my father on blacks in Alabama...they did have much support from blacks that wanted real improvement in their lives and they got millions and millions to all the Black Colleges in Alabama behind the scenes, and helped many poor, hard working, honest blacks here in Alabama!"

My reply: Wallace in the 1980's got significant black support in the Democratic primary (33%) which enabled him to claim the Democratic nomination for governor. I remember it well.

Edited by Robert Morrow
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