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Encyclopedia > Bush administration (2000)

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George Walker Bush

George W. Bush

Order: 43rd President
Term of Office: January 20, 2001–Present
Predecessor: Bill Clinton
Successor: Incumbent
Date of Birth: July 6, 1946
Place of Birth: New Haven, Connecticut
First Lady: Laura Welch Bush
Profession: Businessman
Political party: Republican
Vice President: Dick Cheney

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States. He took office on January 20, 2001 after a close election. In 2004, he was re_elected to a second four_year term, which is set to end on January 20, 2009. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Before entering politics, Bush was a businessman. He was involved with several companies in the oil and gas industry, and he was one of the co-owners of the Texas Rangers baseball club from 1989 to 1998. He also served as Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2001.

Several of his family members are prominent in politics. He is the son of former President George Herbert Walker Bush, the older brother of current Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and the grandson of former U.S. Senator Prescott Bush.

Bush is sometimes referred to as "Dubya" (which is a Southern dialect variant of "W" his middle initial.) His Secret Service code name was changed from "Tumbler" to "Trailblazer" in 2001 ([1] (http://www.evote.com/index.asp?Page=/news_section/2001-02/02162001Mexico.asp)).


Personal life, service and education

George W. Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut to parents George and Barbara Bush. He grew up in Midland and Houston, Texas. He has four younger siblings: Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. A younger sister, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953 at the age of three.

George W. Bush and Laura Bush with their daughters Jenna and Barbara, 1990
George W. Bush in his National Guard uniform.

Like his father, Bush was educated at Phillips Academy (Andover), (September 1961–June 1964) and at Yale University (September 1964–May 1968). At Yale, he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon (of which he was president from October 1965 until graduation) and the Skull and Bones secret society. He was a "C" student, with a grade point average of 2.35 out of 4.00. He played baseball during his freshman year and rugby during his freshman and senior years. He received a bachelor's degree in history in 1968.

After graduating from Yale, Bush enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard on May 27, 1968 during the Vietnam War, with a commitment to serve until May 26, 1974. He served as an F-102 pilot until 1972 and was twice promoted during his service, first to second lieutenant and then to first lieutenant. In November 1970, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, the commander of the Texas Air National Guard, recommended that Bush be promoted to first lieutenant.

In September 1973 he received permission to end his six-year commitment six months early in order to attend Harvard University. He transferred to inactive reserve status shortly before being honorably discharged on October 1, 1973.

It has been charged that Bush skipped over a waiting list to receive a coveted National Guard slot, that he did not report for required duty from 1972 to 1973, and that he was suspended from flying after he did not take a required physical examination and drug test. These issues were publicized during the 2004 campaign by Texans for Truth and other Bush critics. See George W. Bush military service controversy for details.

Bush entered Harvard Business School in 1973. He was awarded a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 1975 – he would become the first U.S. president to hold an MBA degree.

On Labor Day weekend, September 4, 1976, Bush was pulled over by police near his family's Kennebunkport summer home in Maine. He was arrested, admitted his guilt, was fined $150, and had his driving license suspended for 30 days in the state for driving under the influence of alcohol [2] (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/bushdui1.html). News of the arrest was released five days before the 2000 presidential election by the Kennebunkport police department.

Bush married Laura Welch in 1977. They have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna Bush, born in 1981. In 1986, at age 40, he became a born-again Christian, leaving the Episcopal Church and joining his wife's denomination, the United Methodist Church.

Alcohol and allegations of drug use

Bush has described his days before his religious conversion as his "nomadic" period and "irresponsible youth". Bush admitted to drinking "too much" in those years. He said that although he never joined Alcoholics Anonymous, he gave up drinking for good shortly after waking up with a hangover after his 40th birthday celebration: "I quit drinking in 1986 and haven't had a drop since then." He ascribed the change in part to a 1985 meeting with The Rev. Billy Graham ([3] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/stories/bushtext072599.htm), [4] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/stories/bush072599.htm), [5] (http://www.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/11/02/bush.dui/)). Some have argued that a 1992 video shows him drinking at a wedding. [6] (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/bush/bush.html)

Bush's well publicised alcohol abuse as a younger man has sometimes made his character an easy target in the press in later years. Katherine van Wormer, a professor of social work and writer on addiction treatment, claimed in an Irish Times article on 6 May 2003 that Bush seems to display "all the classic patterns of addictive thinking" (reproduced here in CounterPunch (http://www.counterpunch.org/wormer1011.html)). She bases this view on her perception that he exhibits "the tendency to go to extremes (leading America into a massive 100 billion dollar strike-first war); a "kill or be killed mentality;" the tunnel vision; "I" as opposed to "we" thinking; the black and white polarized thought processes (good versus evil, all or nothing thinking)." (See also [7] (http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/info/a/aa081397.htm), [8] (http://www.americanpolitics.com/20020924Bisbort.html), and [9] (http://www.counterpunch.org/mccarthy1019.html).)

Bush has also been accused of using cocaine in the past. In the summer of 1999, many news organizations received an email alleging that Bush had been convicted on a drug charge, but that the conviction had been expunged in exchange for Bush's performing community service at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Houston. The email included the contact information for the director of the Community Center, but she responded, "I've never heard of him doing community services here at this agency, and I've been the only director for 31 and a half years." [10] (http://www.salon.com/people/col/reit/1999/08/25/geob/)

Two months later, J.H. Hatfield published a biography of Bush, Fortunate Son, a largely favorable account of the life of the younger Bush and the Bush family in general. Hatfield said that, because it was known that Bush had worked at Houston's Project P.U.L.L. in 1972, the news reports about the community service allegations led him to wonder if Bush's work at Project P.U.L.L. could have been part of such an arrangement. In an afterword to the book, Hatfield stated that this version of events was confirmed by three sources; he did not name them, but described them as being close to the Bush family. [11] (http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/1999/10/18/cocaine/) Hatfield's original publisher later recalled the book after learning of Hatfield's concealed felony conviction resulting from an unsuccessful murder conspiracy. Hatfield responded that, before the Bush campaign brought pressure to bear, the same publisher had stated that the book had been "carefully fact-checked and scrutinized by lawyers" ([12] (http://www.drudgereport.com/411.htm))

In a New York Times article in June, 2000, "Ally of an Older Generation Amid the Tumult of the 60's" (http://www.dke.org/bushyaletimes.html), senior Times journalist Nicholas D. Kristof, author of the chapter on George W. Bush in the reference book The Presidents, concluded that "For all the buffeting that late-night television has given Mr. Bush over questions of drug use, he was in most respects a very conventional young man, and classmates say they do not recall him ever using marijuana or other illegal drugs."

In 1999, while beginning his campaign for the 2000 presidential race, Bush told the press that, as a condition of Federal employment, he had signed a statement that he had not taken drugs within the past seven years. Asked if he would have met the fifteen-year drugs background test imposed by his father in 1989 as a qualification for White House employment, he answered affirmatively, while refusing to answer regarding cocaine use before 1974. He also called Hatfield's book "totally ridiculous" ([13] (http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99/n1143/a08.html?4588)).

In February, 2004, Eric Boehlert in Salon magazine claimed that Bush's cessation of flying in April, 1972 and his subsequent refusal to take a physical exam came at the same time the Air Force announced its Medical Service Drug Abuse Testing Program, which was officially launched April 21. Boehlert said "according to Maj. Jeff Washburn, the chief of the National Guard's substance abuse program, a random drug-testing program was born out of that regulation and administered to guardsmen such as Bush. The random tests were unrelated to the scheduled annual physical exams, such as the one that Bush failed to take in 1972, a failure that resulted in his grounding." Boehlert remarks that the drug testing took years to implement, but "as of April 1972, Air National guardsmen knew random drug testing was going to be implemented" [14] (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/02/06/drugs/).

Business and early political career

In 1978, Bush ran for the U.S. House of Representatives but lost to State Sen. Kent Hance, a Democrat.

Bush's portrait as Governor of Texas (1995–2000)

Bush began his career in the oil industry in 1979 when he established Arbusto Energy, an oil and gas exploration company he formed in 1977 with leftover funds from his education trust fund and money from other investors. Some of this funding came from Saudi Arabian nationals including the bin Laden family, which in 1994 publicly distanced itself from its kinsman Osama bin Laden. The 1979 energy crisis hurt Arbusto and, after a name change to Bush Exploration Co., Bush sold the company in 1984 to Spectrum 7, another Texas oil and gas exploration firm. Under the terms of the sale, Spectrum 7 made Bush its chief executive officer. Spectrum 7 lost money, and in 1986 it was merged into Harken Energy Corporation, with Bush becoming a director of Harken.

After working on his father's successful 1988 presidential campaign, he was told by a friend, William DeWitt, Jr., that then-owner Eddie Chiles, another of the Bushes' many friends, wanted to sell the Texas Rangers, an Arlington-based Major League Baseball franchise. In April 1989, Bush assembled a group of investors from his father's close friends; the group bought 86% of the Rangers for $75 million. (Bush later appointed one of these partners, Tom Schieffer, to the post of Ambassador to Australia.) Critics expressed concern about the propriety of the purchase, charging use of political influence and favoritism involving a family friend ([15] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/stories/bushside073199.htm)). Bush received a two percent share by investing $606,302, with $500,000 of it a loan from a bank. Bush paid off the loan by selling $848,000 worth of stock in Harken Energy in 1990, sparking allegations of insider trading.

In House of Bush, House of Saud, Craig Unger notes that at the time of Bush's sale, Harken Energy "was expected to run out of money in just three days" (p. 123). In a last-ditch attempt to save the company, Harken was advised by the endowment fund of Harvard University to spin-off two of its lower-performing divisions–"According to a Harken memo, if the plan did not go through, the company had 'no other source of immediate financing.'" Bush had already taken out a $500,000 loan and sought Harken's general counsel for advice. The reply was explicit: "The act of trading, particularly if close in time to the receipt of the inside information, is strong evidence that the insider's investment decision was based on the inside information... the insider should be advised not to sell." This memo was turned over by Bush's attorney the day after the SEC ruled that it would not charge Bush with insider trading. On June 22, Bush sold his 212,140 shares of stock anyway for a net profit of $848,560. The very next quarter, Harken announced losses of $23 million, which continued to the end of the year when the stock "plummeted from $4 to $1.25."

The subsequent SEC investigation ended in 1992 with a memo stating "it appears that Bush did not engage in illegal insider trading," but noted that the memo "must in no way be construed as indicating that the party has been exonerated or that no action may ultimately result" ([16] (http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/07/03/bush.stock/)). However, the SEC's makeup at the time may have heavily favored Bush. The chairman at the time was Richard Breeden, a good friend of the Bush family who had been nominated to the SEC by George H. W. Bush and had been a lawyer in James Baker's firm, Baker Botts. The SEC's general counsel at the time was James Doty, who had represented George W. Bush when he sought to buy into the Texas Rangers (although Doty recused himself from the investigation). Bush's own lawyer was Robert Jordan, who had been "partners with both Doty and Breeden at Baker Botts and who later became George W. Bush's ambassador to Saudi Arabia." Finally, Bruce Hiler, the associate director of the SEC's enforcement division, who wrote a letter to Bush's attorney saying the investigation was being terminated, now represents former Enron president Jeff Skilling in matters before the government ([17] (http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml%3Fi=20020722&s=leopold20020718)).

As President, Bush has refused to authorize the SEC to release its full report on the Harken investigation. When the Rangers franchise was sold for $250 million in 1998, at a total profit of $170 million, Bush personally received $14.9 million for his $600,000 investment ([18] (http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/vol17/issue19/pols.bush.html)).

The official gubernatorial portrait of Gov. Bush, hanging in the Texas State Capitol

Bush served as managing general partner of the Rangers until he was elected Governor of Texas on November 8, 1994 over incumbent Democrat Ann Richards. He went on to become, in 1998, the first Texas governor to be elected for two consecutive four-year terms.

Bush has been criticized for overseeing the execution of 152 convicted criminals while governor, more than any other governor in the history of the United States. Texas's penal system allows the governor to grant a single 30-day reprieve for each offense, which Bush did for Henry Lee Lucas, only. It does not allow the governor to commute a sentence or grant pardons, except on the petition of the state parole board; however the governor's opinion is generally considered to carry a lot of weight with the members of the parole board, particularly since he appoints them. In any event, Bush made no attempt to intervene on behalf of any of the condemned, except Lucas. Bush has expressed his belief that all those executed were guilty, based on briefings by Alberto R. Gonzales, even though these briefings failed to mention critical factors, such as the fact that a condemned man's public defender slept through much of his case. The execution of Karla Faye Tucker, who repented in prison and become a born-again Christian, was particularly controversial, in part because Bush appeared on television publicly mocking and mimicking her appeals for clemency. Family friend Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell both pleaded with Bush on Tucker's behalf, to no avail.

In 1996, Bush was summoned to jury duty in a Travis County, Texas drunk driving case. His counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, successfully argued that, as governor, Bush might one day be called to pardon the defendant, and that this should excuse him from sitting on the jury. When Bush's 1976 summary conviction for driving under the influence was made public during the 2000 presidential campaign, Democrat Ken Oden, the prosecutor of the 1996 case, re-examined the case and revealed that Bush's juror questionnaire left blank the question whether he had ever been accused in a criminal case. The prosecutor said, "With all the new information that has come forward, it's logical to see that there may have been motives at work that none of us knew about." He concluded that Bush had "used his position as governor" to avoid disclosing the information, because the conviction was neither included on the written form nor mentioned by Gonzales. The prosecutor added, "I feel I was directly deceived." A Bush campaign spokesman responded that the form had been "filled out by a staff member who left a variety of questions blank, including the Social Security number, because he didn't know the answers to them" ([19] (http://dir.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/11/05/jury_duty/index.html)).

Presidential campaigns

Al Gore greets President-Elect Bush at the White House in late December of 2000.
George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally in 2004.

In Bush's 2000 presidential election campaign, he declared himself to be a "compassionate conservative". He campaigned on, among other issues, allowing religious charities to compete on an equal basis for participation in federally funded programs, tax cuts, promoting the use of education vouchers, supporting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, maintaining a balanced federal budget, and restructuring of the armed forces. In foreign policy, he stated that he was against using the U.S. armed forces in "nation building" attempts abroad.

Bush was inaugurated President on January 20, 2001. Bush had faced Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, and won electoral votes in 30 of 50 states for a narrow majority of the electoral votes (Bush_271, Gore_266). Neither candidate received a majority of the nationwide popular vote (Green party candidate Ralph Nader received 2,695,696 votes, Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne received 386,024 votes, pushing Gore under 50%), but Gore received more votes by approximately 540,000 out of 105 million, a margin of barely one-half of one percent. It was the first presidential election since the 1876 election in which a candidate received fewer popular votes while winning the electoral vote, and the first presidential election since the U.S. presidential election, 1888 where the prinicpal party of the winning candidate received fewer popular votes than the principal party of the losing candidate. It was also the first presidential election to be directly affected by a Supreme Court decision.

The Florida vote, which favored Bush by a slim margin in the initial count, was heavily contested after concerns were raised about flaws and irregularities in the voting process, and became the subject of a series of contentious court cases. After the Supreme Court's mid-December decision in Bush v. Gore to end the recounts, Gore conceded the election. In the final official count, Bush won Florida's 25 electoral votes, and thereby won the presidency, by 537 votes. See U.S. presidential election, 2000. The election results are still disputed by many, though no longer contested in any legal venue.

In the 2004 election, Bush won a second term, an electoral majority, and also received 3.5 million popular votes more than his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry. Bush was the first presidential candidate since his father, George H.W. Bush in 1988 to receive a majority of the popular vote. (The intervening elections had seen stronger showings by non-major party candidates such as Ross Perot and Ralph Nader.) His margin over Kerry of about 3 percent was the smallest popular vote margin for a re-elected President since Woodrow Wilson's 1916 victory. As in the 2000 election, there were charges raised alleging voting improprieties, especially in Ohio. In 2004 they did not lead to recounts that were expected to affect the result, but led to a civil case challenging the result. On January 3, three days before the counting of electoral votes, Bush's campaign asked the judge to throw out the case.

Bush was inaugurated for his second term on January 20, 2005; the oath was administered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Bush's inaugural speech centered mainly on a theme of spreading freedom and democracy around the world. George W. Bush is the only President to win re-election after losing the popular vote in his first election. Of the three other Presidents who lost the popular vote, John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Harrison were defeated in their bids for a second term, and Rutherford B. Hayes did not seek re_election.

Related articles: 2004 U.S. election voting controversies; 2004 U.S. Election controversies and irregularities and its subsidiary articles on 2004 election (voting machines), 2004 election (exit polls), and 2004 election (voter suppression)

Years as President


Foreign policy and security

George W. Bush flanked by wife Laura Bush (left), Marta Sahagún Fox (right), and Mexican President Vicente Fox (far right) .

During his first presidential visit to Europe in June 2001, Bush came under harsh criticism from European leaders for his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, which is aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions that may contribute to global warming. The treaty, however, had already been rejected by the United States Senate on the grounds that it would exempt polluting nations classified as "developing," such as China. In November 2004, Russia ratified the treaty, giving it the required minimum of nations to put it into force.

Bush's imposition of a tariff on imported steel and on Canadian soft lumber was controversial in light of his pursuit of other free market policies, and attracted criticism both from his fellow conservatives and from nations affected. The steel tariff was later rescinded under pressure from the World Trade Organization.

During his campaign, Bush's foreign policy platform included support of a stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America, especially Mexico, and a reduction in involvement in "nation-building" and other small-scale military engagements. However, after the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, the administration focused much more on foreign policy in the Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, which Bush charged with harboring Osama bin Laden. This action had strong international support, and the Taliban government folded quickly after the invasion. Subsequent nation-building efforts in concert with the United Nations under Hamid Karzai have had mixed results; bin Laden was never apprehended nor killed, and (as of 2005) is believed to be at large. A sizeable contingent of troops and advisors remains into 2005. See U.S. invasion of Afghanistan for details. Democratic elections were held on October 9, 2004. There were allegations of flawed registration and validation, and 15 of the 18 presidential candidates threatened to withdraw, but international observers called the elections "fairly democratic" at the "overall majority" of polling centers. The election was won by Hamid Karzai with 55.4% of the votes. [20] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3977677.stm)

On December 14, 2001, Bush scrapped the 1972 Anti_Ballistic Missile Treaty, which had been a bedrock of U.S._Soviet nuclear stability during the Cold War, arguing it was no longer relevant. Instead, Bush focused resources on a ballistic missile defense system. The proposed system has been the subject of much scientific criticism. Field tests have been mixed, with both some successes and failures. It is scheduled to start deployment in 2005. A ballistic missile defense system will not stop cruise missiles, or missiles transported by boat or land vehicle. Hence, many critics of the system believe it is an expensive mistake, built for the least likely attack, a nuclear tipped ballistic missile. Bush has also increased spending on military research and development and the modernization of weapons systems, but cancelled programs such as the Crusader self-propelled artillery system. The administration also began initial research into bunker-busting nuclear missiles.

Bush reading The Pet Goat on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Since 1998, when the United States Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act, stated U.S. policy had been to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. After the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration argued that the Iraq situation had now become urgent. The stated premise was that Hussein's regime had tried to acquire nuclear material and had not properly accounted for biological, and chemical material sold to Hussein's government by the US in the past, potential weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in violation of U.N. sanctions. Bush contended that Hussein might deliver such WMD to terrorists such as al Qaeda, though that group of Wahhabi Muslims positioned itself as mortal enemies of the secular Hussein government, whom Osama bin Laden referred to publicly as satanist.

Beginning in 2002 and escalating in spring 2003, Bush pressed the UN to act on its disarmament mandates to Iraq, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. He began by pushing for UN weapons inspections in Iraq, which he received with passage of the UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which allowed inspectors lead by Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei to investigate Bush's allegations. Increasing pressure from the United States in the spring of 2003 forced the UN weapons inspectors to leave the country, unable to verify the existence of any WMD in Iraq. The Bush administration examined the possibility of seeking a Security Council resolution to authorize the use of military force, but abandoned the idea when it became clear that the majority of the members (including most of the permanent members with vetoing power) would vote against such a resolution; the matter was never taken to a vote (cf. The UN Security Council and the Iraq war). The United States gathered a group of countries to support a war, a total of about forty. Bush has called it the "coalition of the willing". Spain has since pulled out of the war; Poland has announced that it will withdraw troops in 2005.

The United States invaded Iraq in March, citing the old resolution and the lack of Iraqi cooperation. The original stated goal of the war was to stop Iraq from deploying and developing WMD and to remove Hussein from power. The war proved extremely divisive, without any clear resolution with some of the U.S.'s long-term allies such as Germany strongly opposed to it. In many countries there have also been civilian opposition and antiwar protests, on a scale not seen since the Vietnam War. The war was called illegal by the Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. Critics, however, have attempted to connect the oil for food scandal, alleged to benefit UN officials and nations like France, Germany, and Russia, to their opposition to the war.

While the Iraqi armed forces fell apart within a few days the problems in Iraq escalated. An insurgency continued after the declared end of major combat operations on May 1, 2003, with several terrorist groups also supporting the insurgency. More than 1400 U.S. troops have been killed and over 9000 have been wounded in action. [21] (http://icasualties.org/oif/) The failure to uncover the alleged WMD led to renewed allegations that intelligence estimates were spun or distorted to support the war. These claims have been corroborated by investigations and reports by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which also concluded that there was a strong failure of intelligence overall. Nevertheless, Bush states that he still believes it was the right decision, because a demonstrably brutal tyrant has been overthrown and can no longer threaten the world. See 2003 invasion of Iraq for full coverage. In further support of his view, Bush praised the high turnout in the Iraqi election of

  Results from FactBites:
Grand Theft 2000 by Douglas Kellner // Table of Contents and Introduction (5150 words)
Bush had massive support from corporations, the Republican Party, rightwing activist groups, and allies in the media, and part of this story documents how the Bush machine mobilized support to steal an election to perpetuate its political dynasty and the economic and political interests of its supporters.
Bush's muted presence in this narrative suggests that George W. Bush himself is a spectacle, an actor in a ritual of image management, in which his handlers produce the script, and that the president of the United States is a puppet of powerful social forces.
By "Grand Theft 2000," I mean that a crime of the highest magnitude was carried off by the Bush machine, that the presidency was stolen, that U.S. democracy was undermined, and that the hardright were able to seize control of the state apparatus and public policy.
Bush Administration (699 words)
Paul O'Neill, Bush's nominee for treasury secretary was chairperson of Alcoa Aluminium from 1987 to 1999.
Martinez served as co-chair of Bush's presidential campaign in Florida and is a friend of Governer Jeb Bush, the President's brother.
Bush's appointment for the Environment Protection Agency was New Jersey state governor Christine Whitman, whose polluted state is home to some of the world's largest oil refineries.
  More results at FactBites »



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