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North Korea on the Brink: “We’re in Deep Doo-Doo”

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US and South Korean officials believe that North Korea is on the brink of firing multiple Musudun intermediate range ballistic missiles. The Musudun is an untested weapon that is believed to have a 3500 kilometer range which would put US bases in Japan, Okinawa and Guam in range. US and South Korean intelligence services also note that a number of other mobile missile launchers been moved about the country.

This comes on the heels of a number of unprecedented escalations by Kim Jong Un and North Korean military leaders. In the past few days the North has closed the last remaining joint project with the South, the Kaesong joint industrial zone sending tremors through the South Korean business and banking industries. They also warned foreign diplomats in Pyongyang that it could not guarantee their safety and warned foreigners to leave South Korea. Those warnings followed nuclear tests, the firing of a long range missile and threats of a nuclear attack on the United States.

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Admiral Samuel Locklear, Commander of US Pacific Command said today that he “couldn’t recall a time of greater tension in the region since the end of the Korean War.” The US and South Koreans now believe that unlike past missile tests that the North could launch without warning. In preparation for any contingency US, South Korean and Japanese Aegis Guided Missile Destroyers have been deployed,the US has deployed THADD ballistic missile defense systems to Guam and the Japanese have deployed Patriot anti-missile defense batteries in Tokyo.

Both the Chinese Communists and Russians have sent warnings to the North about their displeasure with its provocations and escalation.

To add an additional measure of seriousness to a potentially grave situation former US Vice President Dick Cheney told a group of Republican lawmakers that “we are in deep Doo-Doo.” Since Cheney is very knowledgable about Doo-Doo and its consequences we have to take this serious situation even more seriously.

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But seriously, despite Dick Cheney’s levity we are facing a potentially volatile situation which through a miscalculation by any side could lead to a general war. Since we know little about the inner workings of the post-Kim Jong Il led North Korea, and even less about the current leader Kim Jong Un it is hard to predict what will happen. In the past the former leader Kim Jong Il would push to the brink of war but then pull back after getting some kind of concession. However Kim Jong Un has not seemed to know any limits in pushing the envelope, thus placing the world in very uncharted and dangerous waters.

A launch of one of the longer range missiles could trigger a war if it tracks toward Japan, Okinawa or Guam. Any missile intercept of a North Korean missile by the US, Japan or South Korea could be a trigger for the North to push even more and maybe even attack South Korean territory.

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As Barbara Tuchman said “war is the unfolding of miscalculations.” I do hope that Kim Jong Un will back down and not push the region into a war that could kill, wound and displace millions of people, damage the world economy and plunge the region and maybe the world into the abyss of war.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Going to the Brink: Kim Jong Un Pushes the Envelope

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The young and seemingly not very smart ruler for life of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, sometimes know as North or “Yankee” Korea has been pushing the envelope of sanity lately. In fact he is causing many people in the International community to long for the “good old days” when Kim Jong Il “Big Daddy” was the “Beloved Leader” of the Happiest Country on Earth.

One has to admit that when Big Daddy Kim (his Hip-Hop name) was the Supreme Leader of North Korea that he was extremely good at going to the brink but pulling back. However his Swiss educated son doesn’t seem to have his father’s knack for pushing to the brink and pulling back.

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Big Daddy Kim was a master at this, threaten something, create a provocation of some kind, even kill some South Koreans if need be but then pull back from the brink. He was a sane nutcase. Now his son seems to lack the finesse of Big Daddy. The young boy named Kim seems to have a need to outdo daddy in the lack of sanity department.

His actions are really becoming annoying and not just to the United States, South Korea and Japan. But now even the Chinese Communists and Russians seem to be tiring of Lil’ Kim. In fact they did not object to the US deployment of B-2 stealth bombers, F-22 fighters, Aegis Guided Missile Destroyers equipped with ballistic missile defense systems and submarines to the region. Nor have they challenged the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system on Guam. Normally they would be telling the US to back off. Instead they are not blocking United Nations sanctions. Likewise the Chinese who normally see any kind of US military concentration around the Korean Peninsula as threatening to them are publicly stating that the US moves are not seen as hostile or threatening.

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In the past few weeks it has seemed that Lil’ Kim has been making at least one major provocation a week.

These have included with an ICBM missile test and in the past week alone Lil’ Kim or his minions have declared the Armistice between the Koreas over, announced a state of war, announced that the DPRK military has the authorization to attack the United States with a diverse nuclear attack, threatened, South Korea with devastation.

If these were isolated incidents I think that people would pretty much blow the threats off. But this is not the old Big Daddy Kim that we are dealing with. In addition to the missile tests and nuclear weapons tests the North Koreans closed a joint economic zone on the border to the South. They also announced that the plutonium reactor and Yongbyon would be re-started. The US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University believes may have already begun. Personally I think the boy is playing poker with a pinochle deck and unlike Big Daddy Kim may accidentally on purpose take the region to war despite the high level negotiations Lil’ Jim had with former NBA star Dennis Rodman which evidently ended in failure.

A war now would be bad. I mean really, really bad. I mean where would all the Hyundai, Kia and Samsung owners get replacement parts, new cars or electronic devices if Kim accidentally on purpose gets all of us into a war?

Of course that is the ugly Capitalist and cynic in me saying that but even if that were not the case any war on the Korean Peninsula or attack on US installations in the Pacific would kill lots of people and do huge damage.

Now no one really thinks that North Korea can strike the Continental United States with any missile that they currently own but when it comes to them who the hell knows?

I hate to say it but I think that Lil’ Kim Number One is very capable of accidentally on purpose plunging the region into war.

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Now the military of the Republic of Korea or South Korea as most of it know it is formidable even without the troops of the US Army based near the DMZ and the air and naval power of US and Japan in the region. (See my articles on the North Korean and South Korean orders of battle to get an idea of how things stack up.)

I have served in Korea and been on the DMZ spending time being serenaded by North Korean propaganda broadcasts each night while sleeping in a tent. I even would do my PT by running to the DMZ and through the paths in the minefields between South Korean machine gun pits, dug in tanks and fortifications. A North Korean attack across the DMZ would cause a huge loss of life before they were stopped and their country destroyed. I have seen the fortified zones that fill South Korea between the DMZ and Seoul. They too are formidable and the South Korean military is superior to the North in many ways. But if war comes the North will certainly employ thousands of special operations soldiers as well as spies, saboteurs and South Korean collaborators to spread chaos in the South. Likewise they may be able to hit US Forces stationed in Okinawa, Japan proper and Guam.

My guess is that if Kim the Younger keeps pushing that he will overstep and accidentally on purpose take the region into war. Some analysts think it could happen soon.

Perhaps the younger Kim is taking the wrong lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe he thinks that the US struggles against insurgents show we are vulnerable. If he thinks that he is buying the wrong war. A conventional war where firepower, mobility and technology are applied with devastating effect is the kind of war that the American military excels at fighting.

My hope is that Lil’ Kim and the leaders of the North Korean military will come to their collective senses before anything bad happens. However with each passing escalation by the North and counter move by the US and the South that hope is replaced by a sense of foreboding.

I wonder if the words of Barbara Tuchman that war is the unfolding of miscalculations” may be unfolding before our eyes.

Pray for Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Missile Impotence: Kim Jong Un’s Rocket Launch goes Splat

Don’t call it a failure to launch but a failure to fly. Tonight the rocket shot to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Most Beloved High Great Celestial Leader Kim Il Sung broke apart and crashed about 90 seconds into its flight. Debris crashed into the Yellow Sea about 165 km west of South Korea. Reports from South Korea say that South Korean Naval vessels are searching for debris which would help it to further understand how well developed North Korean missile technology really is.  Be assured that North Korean ships will likely speed to the scene which could trigger naval clashes between the two states.

The rocket called the Unha-3 was launched at 0739 local time from the missile facility at Tongchang-Ri.  Based on the Taepodong ballistic missile the three stage Unha-3 was to launch the Kwangmyongsong-3 weather satellite into a Polar orbit. Or that was the story  told by the North Koreans who had allowed numerous western reporters to visit the site and see the satellite. Most Western, South Korean and Japanese analysts believed that the launch was more of a cover to test a longer range ballistic missile which could provide North Korea with the capability to strike the United States.

Kim Jong Un and his Generals give each other the Clap

North Korea defied warnings from the United States, Japan, South Korea and the United Nations in launching the rocket.  Speculation runs rife as to the motives of the North Koreans for launching. With the recent ascent of the young and inexperienced Kim Jong Un the grandson of Kim Il Sung and son of Kim Jong Il to the leadership of the nation it is possible that Kim Jong Un went ahead with the launch in order to show his strength in defying international sanctions and condemnation. South Korea described the launch as a “grave provocation” while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “This launch will give credence to the view that North Korean leaders see improved relations with the outside world as a threat to the existence of their system” and warned “And recent history strongly suggests that additional provocations may follow.”

The North Koreans had invited in over 100 journalists from around the world to report on the launch, a clear departure from previous very secretive launches.  Reports indicate that instead of getting briefings about the launch that North Korean minders when asked about the failure shrugged and ran away and that a scheduled press conference was cancelled.

Pyongyang we have a problem…

Since the North publicized the launch the regime will have to determine how it will advertise the failure to the world and its people.  It would have a hard time admitting any technical mistakes so look for the regime to either blame the South Koreans or Americans for shooting it down.  Another option is to declare this an act of sabotage carried out by traitors or western agents.

The implications of this failure could be dangerous. There could be internal political ramifications in North Korea which could destabilize the regime or trigger conflict with South Korea and its allies. It could speed up a suspected nuclear weapons test and bring about even great tensions. Consequences for the designers, builders and managers of the Unha-3 program will probably be severe. If I were a North Korean rocket scientist involved with the project I would make sure that I paid my life insurance premium in full and make a run to the Chinese border.

Since little is known about the internal political struggles except that the North Korean Military is the most powerful institution in the impoverished country it is hard to determine what will happen next. One thing that can be said is that the launch and its failure will serve to ratchet up tensions and add to the uncertainty on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.

Maybe it is fitting that the anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s birth happens to be the same as the sinking of the Titanic. Obviously there will be much more to come…

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Miracles of Kim Jong Il and the Rise of the Kim Jong Un, the Un-Kim: North Korea in Transition

 

Kim Jong-Un leads the procession for his Father Kim Jong Il (AP Photo)

North Korean Dictator until Death Kim Jung Il was able to join his friends Adolf, Joe, Muammar, Osama and Saddam just in time for the annual Christmastime in Hell celebration.  Of course Kim Jong Il was much more of a man than his buddies. According to North Korean State media Kim was the greatest golfer who ever lived and that miraculous signs appeared in the heavens when he was born.  He could walk by three weeks of age and talk by the time he was 8 weeks old and never had to worry about potty-training.  As an adult he is said to have written 1500 books in 3 years and written the greatest operas ever written. That is right North Korean state media at one time reported why the miracle child never had to be potty-trained. According to them Kim never had to take a piss or a crap thus meaning that he didn’t have to be potty trained. That my friends undoubtably puts him at the top of the world’s shit list.

He was incredibly talented man so much so that he is said to have written 1500 books in 3 years and written the greatest operas ever written.  He is also one of the very few people that gained weight in North Korea during his reign miraculously surviving famine by eating only the best fresh lobster flown in daily, prepared by his personal chef and washed down with the best French wines, champagne and Hennessy cognac.  He was also a style icon who influenced countless people to wear sunglasses all over the world.

Fashion Icon…

He was treated as if he were a deity by North Korean state media, which is pretty ironic considering that North Korea is officially an atheist state.  But for a near deity Kim seemed a bit afraid of death, or at least flying.  It seems that if he had the choice he would always travel by train.  There are rumors that the reason he feared flying was due to the book Fear of Flying written by his distant American relative Erica Jong.  Evidently he believed that as Ms Jong wrote “There are no atheists on turbulent airplanes.” Thus as an atheist that believed himself to be a deity he was not able to get on an airplane.

His funeral was today and had all the hallmarks of the great fun had by North Koreans during his 17 year reign.  The thrilling sounds of the Gulags were reproduced as thousands of mourners wailed and even gnashed their teeth along the route travelled by his funeral motorcade.  The 1975 Lincoln Continental that was used as a hearse was a nice touch although Kim violated funeral decorum by riding atop rather than in the armored Lincoln.  It kind of reminded me of Aunt Edna riding atop the Wagon Queen Family Truckster in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation, but I digress….

His successor Kim Jung-Un who is affectionately known as the Un-Kim was prominent at the funeral looking all spiffy in a black overcoat and saluting as smartly any recently appointed 4 Star General would the Un-Kim led the delegation followed by North Korean military officers all planning to see who might undo the Un-Kim in the near future.  Interestingly the Un-Kim’s brothers were not at the funeral of their father, or were at least not shown on the media, perhaps because they were in the process of either fleeing the country or going to a gulag for a vacation.  Evidently the original heir apparent Kim Jong-nam blew his chance of getting the job when he got arrested at Tokyo airport traveling on a Dominican passport under a fake Chinese name with two women in tow.  The other son that had a chance at the job Kim Jong-chul was not considered because according to Fujimori Kim Jong-chul was too “nansy pansy” for the job, too much like a “little girl.”

We don’t know much about the Un-Kim except that he appears to be Asian and apparently speaks fluent Korean. He reportedly went to an English school in Switzerland under a fake name which means that he may also speak English. Fellow students say that he told them while watching Team America that Kim Jong Il was his father, to which a classmate responded “yeah, like Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s dad.”  Evidently the Un-Kim loves NBA basketball and during the player’s lockout was quite disappointed that his hero Michael Jordan didn’t execute a few players to make a point and end the strike sooner.

We don’t know if he is quite the prolific writer and connoisseur of food and film as his father but he has been described by Kenji Fujimori, his father’s personal chef as having “superb physical gifts, is a big drinker and never admits defeat.” If this is true the Un-Kim is an physically fit obnoxious drunk which is exactly the kind of leader that a paranoid and starving country armed with nuclear weapons needs.

So anyway with that said let us all raise a glass to the new Dictator Until Death Kim Jong Un and pray that somehow just maybe that his love of the NBA will cause him not to start any wars.  We’ll see how long this lasts…

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Year in Review and Predictions for 2012: The Best Jibber-Jabber on the Web

Once again it is that time of the year when I look back at the events of the last 12 months and say “that was some year.” And what a year it was.  So many things happened at home and around the world that it makes one’s head do the Linda Blair 360.  Yes the year was crammed full of events too numerous to mention and full of the jibber-jabber of “expert” analysis of news commentators, pundits, politicians and preachers.

Every major news agency and many writers publish what they believe to be the major stories of the year about this time and sometimes prognosticate about the coming year. Mostly these articles are so much jibber jabber and I don’t claim this to be inclusive of everything that happened but these are what I think are some of the highlights of the events that occurred in 2011.  Call it my end of year jibber-jabber.

The Environment: Yes there is an environment and whether one wants to assign credit or blame to God, the Devil, Mother Nature or the theory that “shit happens” it has been a year full of natural disasters.  We begin with the 9.1 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan which triggered a nuclear disaster when the Fukishima nuclear plant melted down. There was Hurricane Irene which though only a category one storm was so big and slow moving that it that caused massive damage to the East Coast, especially North Carolina. I got to experience Irene.  Even more frightening was the massive F5 Tornado that pretty much wiped the city of Joplin Missouri off the map. There was a series of wildfires in Texas that burned nearly 4 million acres of land and one fire around Bastrop Texas that destroyed over 1600 homes.  Over in Asia there was flooding that put Bangkok underwater for an extended period of time.

Prediction for 2012: Cable News networks will continue to rake in the bucks covering human misery in all parts of the nation and the world as natural disasters occur.  I predict that there will be major earthquakes, fires, famine and flood, hurricanes  and that many will be really bad.  Sure that’s rather generic but I can be surge that I am not wrong in making this prediction.

World Events: Overseas there was the Arab Spring revolts that brought about the fall of dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and quite probably Yemen. Syria appears to be on the brink of civil war and Bahrain with the help of Saudi Arabia put down its own Arab Spring revolt.  Jordan and other Arab states are quite nervous and the situation in Egypt which began with so much hope has deteriorated as the military faces off against demonstrators as Islamic parties make headway in elections.

Who would have thought that in 2011 that Moammar Ghadaffi would be overthrow and killed by his own people, that Osama Bin Laden would meet his end at the hands of US Navy SEALS and that Kim Jong Il, the nutty leader of North Korea would die.  The European Union looks like its days could well be numbered as the contagion of economic crisis which began in Greece has spread to much of the EU.  The United States withdrew its forces from Iraq just in time for the Iraqis to start to undo everything that their soldiers and ours had fought to achieve since 2005, Iran continues to build nukes and attempt to provoke the United States, Western Europe and Israel while the Israelis prepare to whack Iran. The war in Afghanistan grinds on and Pakistan is more of a pain in the ass than it ever has been.

Padre Steve’s Prediction: You thought things were bad in 2011… they will really be sporty in 2012.

United States Domestic Politics: The United States has had its own political and economic problems as the government seems pretty much to have become a parody of itself.  The President has had an approval rating below 50% for almost the whole year and the Congress God bless them has an approval rating of just 11% a new record which will undoubtedly be broken in 2012.  President Obama is unchallenged in the Democratic primaries and the Republican candidates seem to be doing all that they can to ensure that whoever wins the nomination will lose the general election next year as each takes his or her turn to give their followers hope and then implode.  I mean really, despite all of our economic problems the United States would, if our politicians could get their collective shit together have a bright future compared to the EU and the “new” economies in China, India and Brazil which despite all their success are dependent on us to buy their stuff.

Meanwhile the Tea Party movement has become the kingmaker in conservative politics and the Occupy Wall Street movement gathered steam before going into winter hibernation.

Padre Steve’s Predictions: Expect that both the Tea Party and OWS movements despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum to continue to influence both major political parties. In 2012 the Congress will sink to even lower lows and for President, Congress and Presidential candidates to do even more stupid things to get just enough of the vote to be elected in November. You thought that 2011 was bad…well it was just the warm up for 2012.

Sports: The sporting world produced its share of excitement and agony as great team and individual accomplishments were overshadowed by scandals. Baseball had a most amazing end to its season in which the St Louis Cardinals defied all odds in winning the World Series after being written off as dead in late August. The Red Sox went from the sure thing to win the World Series to greatest regular season collapse ever seen which resulted in manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein leaving the team.  A potential scandal has come up with the alleged positive test for some kind of performance enhancing drug by National League MVP Ryan Braun. The Los Angeles Dodgers filed for Bankruptcy amid the McCourt family feud and Albert Pujols collected his halo as well as about 260 million dollars for the next 10 years from the Angels.

The NFL endured a strike and player lockout by the owners which threatened the beginning of the season but the NFL’s stupidity was totally blown away by the actions of NBA players and owners in their strike and lockout. There were scandals in college sports outside the SEC the most notable being the sexual abuse scandal that shook the nation at Penn State University which brought about the inglorious end to the career of the legendary coach Joe Paterno. The BCS Bowl system appears to have gone from controversial to nearly pathetic in the selection of teams for the BCS bowls.

Padre Steve’s Prediction: The Chicago Cubs will not win the World Series and thereby prove that those that believe that the world will end in 2012 wrong. So as bad as everything seems it could be worse.

So with all that said there was so much more that I could mention but I have to stop somewhere.  I won’t go into the lives and scandals of celebrities because frankly though sometimes titillating they really don’t matter a hill of beans, unless it is your hill and they are your beans.  Likewise the year isn’t over yet and who knows maybe something will happen that will cause me to have to revise this article.

Until then and until tomorrow…

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Commie Trifecta

Once upon a time there was something called the Cold War.  It was rather frosty, even in the sub-tropical paradise of Cuba.  During the Cold War the Soviet Union aka Russia led what was called the Warsaw Pact in a global conflict of world domination against the United States and it’s Allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, better known as NATO.  Both sides had minor surrogates around the world.

During the Cold War there were several places where the United States had forces face to face with the Soviet Union and its Allies. The most prominent of these were Berlin where the Berlin Wall surrounded West Berlin keeping its prosperous citizens from the great deals to be found on the East German economy and the East Germans out of the decadent West.

The Wall Comes Down

In the far east the United States and its South Korean ally faced the DRNK or the Democratic Republic of Nutso Korea headed by a man named Kim who would pass the leadership of the DRNK to his son who also is named Kim.  I think that the second Kim was named after Kim Novak but this is just a rumor started by the CIA to attempt to undermine the DRNK.  The demarcation line was that of the Armistice line of the Korean War located  in the general vicinity of the 38th parallel.  This remains one of the most heavily fortified locations in the world.

The final point of direct contact was in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay where failed baseball prospect Fidel Castro took his revenge on Major League Baseball by taking over Cuba, allying himself with the Soviet Union.  He almost helped start a thermonuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  After this Castro isolated Cuba from the Major Leagues and prevented them from having access to his star baseball players, except for defectors.

Padre Steve at the Brandenburg Gate on the East Side of the Berlin Wall

To have served in the US Military at all three flash points was nearly impossible akin winning Major League Baseball’s hitting “triple crown.”  By this I don’t just mean the American or National League crown but the entire league.  The last player to do this was Mickey Mantle in 1956 who hit .356 with 52 home runs and 130 in a mere 154 games.  I refer to the feat of serving at all three locations as accomplishing the Commie Trifecta.

PT on the Korean DMZ

To do this now is an accomplishment because you had to be serving in the military in Germany before the Soviet Union went Tango Uniform and the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.  Thus it is an accomplishment that few can attain unless they enter an alternate time line were the the Soviet Union survives.

On the North Korean Side of the Armistice Line

However Padre Steve has accomplished this feat.  Back in November 1986 he and the Abbess made the trip from West Germany along the Helmstedt corridor to West Berlin and then through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin.  12 years passed and Padre Steve was now in the Navy serving with the the 3rd Battalion 8th Marines in Korea from February through April of 2001.  Part of this involved camping out at Warrior Base a mere 800 meters from the South side of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ.  Serenaded by nightly musical serenades and inspiring messages approved by the boy named Kim we trained and also got a tour of the Armistice village of Panmunjom where in the conference room guarded by really tall and scary looking South Korean Soldiers one can actually cross over the to North Korean side of the room.  I would also do PT along the DMZ carefully avoiding anywhere marked “mines.”

Overlooking Commie Cuba from Leeward

The third portion of the Commie Trifecta was in November 2003 while assigned to the Marine Security Forces who manned the Colonel Nathan R Jessup Memorial Fence Line which separates the Guantanamo Naval Station from Communist Cuba.

This makes Padre Steve a relic albeit one who has been around long enough to get to do the Commie Trifecta. That friends is is way cool.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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