Health Diaries > Politics of Health

January 11, 2008

Man Dies in Miami After Being Tasered at a Party

Filed under Tasers |

Another taser death has occurred in Florida. Xavier Jones, 29, died after being Tasered by Coral Gables police near the University of Miami. Police were called after Jones reportedly became disruptive at a party in an apartment complex. They said they needed to use the Taser on him because he was aggressive and they needed to get him under control.

A press release issued by Miami-Dade County Police stated in part: "While in custody, [Jones] experienced a medical emergency. Coral Gables Fire Rescue responded, and transported the male to [Doctor’s Hospital] where he was pronounced deceased."

Miami-Dade Police Detective Carlos Maura would not say that the death was caused by the Taser but did say that an investigation was planned.


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December 10, 2007

New Jersey Makes Flu Shots Mandatory for Preschoolers

Filed under Vaccinations | Comments (1)

New Jersey has just become the first state to require flu shots for all children attending preschool and day care centers. Sixth graders have also had two new shots added to their mandatory vaccination schedule, a DPT booster and a meningitis shot.

Here are the details of the new requirements:

-- Children aged 6 months to 4 years and nine months old must get the flu shot each year to attend preschool or day care.
-- Children two months to 4 years and nine months old also must get the pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine.
-- Sixth graders must get a Diptheria-Pertussis-Tetanus (DPT shot) booster in order to attend school.
-- Sixth graders must get a meningitis shot in order to attend school.

child vaccination
Since opting out of vaccinations is difficult in New Jersey (only allowable on religious or medical grounds), many parents are concerned that they will have no say in whether their children are given the flu shot or not.

"It is not right for the government and unelected councils to dictate what we put into our children," said Sue Collins, co-founder of the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination.

While many vaccines given to children don't contain mercury, the flu shot does contain the potentially harmful heavy metal.

New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who approved the new vaccine requirements, said he didn't "want to speak to the specifics."

However, Gov. Corzine is quite proud of the heavy pharmaceutical presence in his state and he stated in June of this year that "Central New Jersey is the birthplace of the global pharmaceutical industry."

The pharmaceutical and medical technology industry contributes more than $27 billion to New Jersey's economy.

"The pharmaceutical and life sciences industries are vital to New Jersey's economic stability," said Governor Corzine. "I am proud that 15 of the world's 20 largest pharmaceutical companies and over 235 biotech companies call New Jersey home. The men and women working in this important field help to maintain New Jersey's role as a global leader in life sciences."

Not surprisingly, stock analysts say this could be a "big boost" for flu vaccine makers.

Is it any surprise, then, that the state that stands to gain the most from making the flu vaccine mandatory for all preschoolers is the first one to do so?

November 28, 2007

Flying Taser Saucer Coming to a Crowd Near You

Filed under Tasers |

One of the "biggest Taser representatives" outside the United States, Antoine di Zazzo, says his company, Taser France, is working on a flying Taser saucer that would be able to zap criminals and "rioting crowds" from the sky.

The unmanned drones are expected to launch next year and will be sold internationally by Taser International.

There isn't much more information on this in the English-language media but I did find some information in the French media about Taser France and something they have developed called the "Quadri-Ufo". I believe this is the same thing that Antoine di Zazzo is talking about.

Here is my translation of the information I found in French:

A little technological gem, capable of seeing details of 2cm as far as 3km away, the Quadri-Ufo, a drone made for civil use, could become an important tool in the surveillance of forest fires. There are already three prototypes of this 100% French machine, produced by SMP Technologies, and it should be officially unveiled in Marseille in a few months.

The idea is that of Antoine di Zazzo, general director of Taser Trance, the company that provides police and gendarmes with Tasers. This native of Vaucluse was tired of seeing the destruction done by forest fires in his region and came up with the idea of putting the most sophisticated technology to use in the battle against these fires. For four years he mobilized his network of researchers on the project. "The Quadri-Ufo is now operational," he said. "A product 100% French," he adds with pride.

But the Quadri-UFO isn't reserved just for monitoring of forest fires. Other possible applications of this formidable "spy machine" that haven't escaped the director of Taser France include "sensitive" operations. "It could call the GIPN (French SWAT) in the case of a hostage situation or when a desperate person becomes dangerous." And why not use it for surveillance of political protests? Capable of sending out a charge ranging from 500g to 8kg, the Quadri-Ufo could even deal with areas infested with insects.

Click here for the full article in French.

Related Content
List of Taser Deaths Over the Past Two Months
U.N. Committee Says Tasers Are a Form of Torture

November 27, 2007

Ron Paul Quotes on Medical Marijuana

Filed under 2008 Candidates on the Issues, Medical Marijuana, Ron Paul |

"That's something that the president can do. I could just say, 'state law overrides federal law,' instead of federal law coming down with a heavy hand. I think you can do a lot to end that war without congressional changes because we have the authority, especially if you're a state - states willing to take on some of these issues. So if a state wanted to start using that authority, they would be allowed." (June 5, 2007, in Manchester, New Hampshire, responding to whether he would end the federal raids on medical marijuana patients)
"I'd stop them. I wouldn't do them, because it's unconstitutional. Why should I go and send someone out to California to overrule a state law when we have no jurisdiction? Besides, it's a waste of a lot of money and energy. No, there should be no federal preemption on laws like that." (Aug. 19, 2007, event in Londonderry, New Hampshire, responding to a question about whether he would end federal raids on medical marijuana patients)
"Yeah, because they're so compassionate, 'compassionate conservatives.' I don't have any compassion, you know, I would like people who are dying with cancer and AIDS to have access to whatever they want and make their own choices, especially under a state law." (Aug. 19, 2007, event in Londonderry, New Hampshire, speaking about the fact that several of the other Republican candidates will continue the federal raids on medical marijuana patients)
"I would absolutely never use the federal government to enforce the law against anybody using medical marijuana. There are a couple of reasons for that. We talk about medical marijuana and, as a physician, it's controversial in conventional medicine. I happen to believe that it is probably very, very helpful, and I bet you there are a few testimonials for that. But even in the legislative sense - in the political sense - the federal government doesn't have this authority. I mean, if a state especially comes in and says you can use it, like some of these states have, then for the federal government to come in and say that we are going to override the state law, even if it's just a modest legalization, and override this law, that's an offense just on the issue of states' rights. But how can people do this? How can an individual talk to you like that, and still say, 'Well, I'm a compassionate conservative - I want you to suffer'? That's what they're saying. You know, it's outrageous." (Nov. 9, 2007, town hall meeting in Durham, New Hampshire)

Bill Richardson Quotes on Medical Marijuana

Filed under 2008 Candidates on the Issues, Bill Richardson, Medical Marijuana | Comments (1)

Quotes by Gov. Bill Richardson on the topic of medical marijuana:

"So what if it's risky? It's the right thing to do. What we're talking about is 160 people in deep pain. It only affects them." (March 15, 2007, when asked if he felt signing the bill to legalize medical marijuana in New Mexico would hurt his Presidential chances)
"I don't see it as being a big issue. This is for medicinal purposes, for ... people that are suffering. My God, let's be reasonable." (March 15, 2007, when asked if he felt signing the bill to legalize medical marijuana in New Mexico would hurt his Presidential chances)
"We must protect the seriously ill; we certainly must protect these people." (May 7, 2007, meet-and-greet in Hooksett, New Hampshire)
"Well, I don't support, for instance, decriminalizing marijuana, but for individuals like you — you know, I had a bunch of people in New Mexico that had cancer, that were suffering, and they said they wanted a chance to get relief, to ease their pain. And I said if we can have a program, a plan, supervised by our department of health that is very strict, that has safeguards, I'll support this, even if it isn't popular. We don't do enough cancer research in this country. We don't do enough Alzheimer's research. We should be doing more about stem cell research and a lot of kids that have autism right now, it's proliferating. Our veterans' PTSD. So you know, if there is a relief, a small way I can help, and do it properly like medical marijuana, I will do it. I am not going to legalize marijuana and hard drugs and cocaine. But, if this is properly supervised, I will do that and I hope your pain is eased and I've made, at least in New Mexico, the lives of those that want to have a little relief." (July 16, 2007, campaign event in New Hampshire)
"Look, I am not for decriminalizing marijuana, but ... there are people that are dying that just want their pain eased, and so they came to me in New Mexico, 199 human beings that said, look we just want it for medicinal reasons, to be able to use medical marijuana to ease our pain. And I said, okay, let's find a way that there’s proper Department of Health safeguards that, you know, we don’t have running rampant a bunch of gardens with you-know-what. Let's do it right. And it's working, it’s working. And it doesn’t mean you decriminalize, although I will tell you the war on drugs is not working. It’s just not working. Lets have more treatment, more education; you know, lets have a program in our prisons where you give these men and women some kind of job skill or treatment, so they don’t come back. So many things we’re not doing." (July 27, 2007, meet-and-greet in Concord, New Hampshire)
"Mr. President, you still have an opportunity to leave a legacy of compassion by adding an exemption in federal law for states that enact medical marijuana and be an ally instead of an adversary in assisting critically ill people. Respected physicians and government officials should not fear going to jail for acting compassionately and caring for our most vulnerable citizens. Nor should those most vulnerable of citizens fear their government because they take the medicine they need." (August 17, 2007, letter to President Bush)
"You know, the Bush people instead of going after drug dealers are going against people that are dying. I mean that's the ludicrousy of our approach to many issues." (Sept. 2, 2007, house party in Plymouth, New Hampshire)
"I'm going to fight the Bush people. I'm not going to let them - this is a matter of state sovereignty. If my legislature and the governor pass a law, for medicinal reasons and with full protections, we'll see you in the courts. And I said to the Bush people, don't arrest a poor $60,000-a-year researcher. Arrest me, come after me, because I pushed for this law. Anyway, that's not getting me many votes either." (Sept. 2, 2007, house party in Plymouth, New Hampshire)

November 26, 2007

UN Committee Says Tasers Are a Form of Torture

Filed under Tasers | Comments (1)

The U.N. Committee Against Torture says that Tasers are a form of torture that violates the U.N.'s Convention Against Torture.

"The use of TaserX26 weapons, provoking extreme pain, constituted a form of torture, and that in certain cases it could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that had happened after practical use."

This comes after a series of Taser deaths over the past two months in the United States and Canada.

Taser International claims their product is safe and that the deaths were "attributable to other factors and not the low-energy electrical discharge of the Taser".

Related Content
List of Taser Deaths Over the Past Two Months

Barack Obama Quotes on Medical Marijuana

Filed under 2008 Candidates on the Issues, Barack Obama, Medical Marijuana | Comments (2)

"I don't think that should be a top priority of us, raiding people who are using ... medical marijuana. With all the things we've got to worry about, and our Justice Department should be doing, that probably shouldn't be a high priority." (June 2, 2007, town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire)

"The Justice Department going after sick individuals using [marijuana] as a palliative instead of going after serious criminals makes no sense." (July 21, 2007, town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire)

"You know, it's really not a good use of Justice Department resources." (responding to whether the federal government should stop medical marijuana raids, August 13, 2007, town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire)

"I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It's not a good use of our resources." (August 21, 2007, event in Nashua, New Hampshire)

"My attitude is if the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the way to relieve pain and suffering is medical marijuana then that's something I'm open to because there's no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief from pain. But I want to do it under strict guidelines. I want it prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs are prescribed." (November 24, 2007 town hall meeting in Iowa)

John McCain Quotes on Medical Marijuana

Filed under 2008 Candidates on the Issues, John McCain, Medical Marijuana | Comments (1)

"I believe that there is some possibility that quote 'medical marijuana' could spread into other areas and that the definition of medical could expand rather dramatically. You've seen that in other cases." (July 14, 2007, town hall meeting in New Hampshire)
"I don't think marijuana is healthy, I don't think that it is good for people, and I also, there is a large body of medical opinion that says there is plenty of other medications that are more effective and better and less damaging to one's health to use to relieve pain." (July 14, 2007, town hall meeting in New Hampshire)
"I think there's other ways to relieve pain ... I do not believe in legalizing it because I think there's other ways of relieving pain and applying medical help than that, and that’s my position." (August 9, 2007, town hall meeting in Merrimack, New Hampshire)
"I believe that marijuana is a gateway drug. That is my view and that's the view of the federal drug czar and other experts, although that is also a debatable question. I think that there is much more effective ways of relieving pain and suffering than the use of marijuana, and so therefore I view it as something that I do not support. That's just my considered opinion, I'd be glad to receive additional information." (August 11, 2007, house party in Milton, New Hampshire)
"No town hall meeting in New Hampshire is complete without some young man who has been sent here to talk to me about medical marijuana ... The fact is I do not approve of the medical use of marijuana, I never have and I never will, and you all keep coming to the town hall meetings. I'm always glad to see you, it helps with the attendance." (September 29, 2007, house party in Exeter, New Hampshire)
"Every medical expert I know of, including the AMA, says that there are much more effective and much better treatments for pain than medical marijuana ... I still would not support medical marijuana because I don't think that the preponderance of medical opinion in America agrees ... that it's the most effective way of treating pain." (September 30, 2007, town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire)
"The law is the law, and I do not believe it's going to be changed, and it's not going to be changed by me." (October 23, 2007, town hall meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire)
"The will of the people, my friend, is that medical marijuana is not something that the quote 'people' want. Certain people feel strongly about this issue, and they show up at most town hall meetings, obviously feel very strongly about it. There is no convincing evidence ... there’s evidence, but no convincing evidence to me that medical marijuana relief of pain and suffering cannot be accomplished by prescriptions from doctors." (Nov. 14, 2007, McCain blogger conference call)
"There may be times when the will of the people, for example Iraq, the will of the people, unfortunately is that we withdraw from Iraq immediately or very very soon. I don't share that view of the will of the people. And I think the will of the people was that we get out of Korea when Harry Truman was president of the United States, but then he decided to do what he thought was best for the will of the country. Now, I don't compare this issue with Iraq or Korea, but, look, I'll be glad to continue this discussion, and read the stuff about it, but I am not changing my position on quote 'medical marijuana,' okay?" (Nov. 14, 2007, McCain blogger conference call, said upon being reminded that the will of the people in California was to make medical marijuana legal)

November 25, 2007

List of Taser Deaths Over the Past Two Months

Filed under Tasers |

Sammy Baker - Quitman, Georgia - Oct. 1, 2007
Veteran Sammy Baker, 59, was Tased by an officer outside a convenience store in Quitman, Georgia, causing him to fall to the ground. The fall caused Baker to dislocate and fracture his spinal cord and ended in his death.

Robert Dziekanski - Vancouver, Canada - Oct. 14, 2007
A 40-year-old Polish immigrant who spoke no English, Dziekanski became distraught when he couldn't connect with his mother at the Vancouver International Airport. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived on the scene and, after only 20 seconds and no attempt to investigate the situation, began Tasing him. Even after he had fallen to the ground and was restrained, police continued to Tase him, resulting in his death.

Quilem Registre - Montreal, Canada - Oct. 17, 2007
Registre, 38, was Tased on Oct. 14 during a traffic stop. Police say he was intoxicated and aggressive and that they used the Taser in order to subdue him. He went to the hospital in critical condition and died three days later.

Jarrel Gray - Frederick, Maryland - Nov. 18, 2007
Police responded to a fight between four people in an apartment complex in Frederick, Maryland. Gray, 20, was Tased and fell unconscious. He was taken to the hospital were he was pronounced dead.

Christian Allen - Jacksonville, Florida - Nov. 18, 2007
Allen was pulled over by police for playing music too loud in his truck. Allen reportedly shoved an officer before he and his passenger ran away. He was Tased after a struggle with the officers. He went into cardiac arrest and died.

Jesse Saenz - Albuquerque, New Mexico - Nov. 18, 2007
Police say 20-year-old Jesse Saenz struggled with officers and that they had no choice but to Tase him. They say they Tased him only once. However, a witness says there was no struggle and that the police Tased Saenz for about five minutes. Saenz was transported to the county detention center where he died.

Unidentifed Man - Jacksonville, Florida - Nov. 20. 2007
A man whose identity has not been released fled the scene of a car crash and tried to break into a nearby home. The man reportedly fought with the officer and tried to bite him. The officer Tased him three times. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Howard Hyde - Halifax, Nova Scotia - Nov. 22, 2007
Hyde, a paranoid schizophrenic who had gone off his medication, was Tased by police during booking after they said he became unruly. He died a day later.

Robert Knipstrom - British Columbia, Canada - Nov. 24, 2007
The 36-year-old British Columbia resident died in the hospital four days after being Tased, pepper sprayed, and beaten with batons by Canadian police after acting agitated and combative in a store.

Dennis Kucinich Quotes on Medical Marijuana

Filed under 2008 Candidates on the Issues, Dennis Kucinich, Medical Marijuana | Comments (1)

Some quotes from Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich on the subject of medical marijuana:

"Let us reflect again on how cynical and how dark it is to even contemplate sending someone to prison for a year, when they may not even have that much time left in their life; but since 1996, eight states have enacted laws to allow very ill patients to use medical marijuana in spite of federal law. The present administration has sought to override such state statutes, viewing the use of medicinal marijuana for purposes in the same light as heroin or cocaine." (said during a statement to Congress in which he argued that doctors in states that have legalized medical marijuana be allowed to treat patients without federal interference)
"This is about compassion. The federal government should use its power to help terminally ill citizens, not arrest them. And states deserve to have the right to make their own decisions regarding the use of medical marijuana. (said during a statement to Congress in which he argued that doctors in states that have legalized medical marijuana be allowed to treat patients without federal interference)
"Well, four years go when there were raids in California, I as a member of the Congress objected to that. And, of course, it's a matter between doctors and patients, and if doctors want to prescribe medical marijuana to relieve pain, compassion requires that the government support that. And so as president of the United States, I would make sure that our Justice Department was mindful that we should be taking a compassionate approach ... this whole issue of drugs in our society is misplaced. Drugs have infected the society, but I think we need to look at it more as a medical and a health issue than as a criminal justice issue." (Aug. 9, 2007, Democratic forum on Logo network, after being asked by singer Melissa Etheridge id he would end federal raids on medical marijuana patients)
"Compassion requires that doctors be able to prescribe whatever they need to make sure that patients get relief from pain." (August 15, 2007, meet-and-greet in Manchester, New Hampshire)
"The practice of medicine has got to be compassionate. It has to reflect an understanding of what people go through. Now the compassionate approach is if somebody needed whatever kind of drug to relieve their pain, what's the difference? Why do we have a society that intervenes between a patient and a doctor? So to me, this isn't even a close question and that is how insane our drug laws are. To me, medical marijuana shouldn't even be an issue. Under a Kucinich administration, the U.S. Justice Department is going to be very involved, but they are not going to be involved in hunting down people using medical marijuana. Hello! I'm going to be looking maybe a little bit above the street level — 10 stories, 20 stories, 30 stories — you start at the top when you're looking for crime. That's what you do. So we are going to change the policies." (November 10, 2007, town hall meeting)
"Two main goals of a compassionate health care system are the treatment of disease and the alleviation of patient suffering. A growing body of evidence suggests that marijuana has vast potential in both of these areas. Therefore, the current policy of categorically rejecting marijuana as a legitimate medical treatment directly opposes these goals." (Kucinich campaign website)
"I support issuing an executive order allowing marijuana for medical purposes, effectively ending DEA raids on medical marijuana patients and their providers. Disease sufferers should not have to turn to dangerous black markets to obtain this beneficial drug. Instead, doctors should be free to prescribe marijuana and marijuana-based medicines to their patients as needed to treat illness and manage pain." (Kucinich campaign website)

Mitt Romney Quotes on Medical Marijuana

Filed under 2008 Candidates on the Issues, Medical Marijuana, Mitt Romney | Comments (3)

Some quotes by Mitt Romney on the subject of medical marijuana.

"I don't want marijuana to be used in our country. I'm not going to legalize marijuana." (May 29, 2007, town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire)
"I'm not talking about arresting sick and dying people, but I am talking about keeping marijuana from being a product on the street and being misused. The drug czar of our nation says it is the gateway drug for people becoming involved with drugs and drugs are a scourge of this country." (May 29, 2007, town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire)
"Drugs are ruining lives of our kids. And I don't want to do anything that would encourage in any way, some people to get involved in illegal drugs. So, I recognize your concern, I share the concern, I want people to have comfort as they are ill, but I don't want to do something that leads to anymore people becoming involved in drugs and having their lives ruined in that way." (May 29, 2007, town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire)
"I don't anticipate that I'm going to be running on the platform of making marijuana legal or making medical marijuana legal. I will look at the issue, I haven't got in place something on that point. I will inform myself on it, but I'm not going to promise you here that I'm going to change the federal law with regards to clamping down on the use of marijuana in our society for medical purposes." (June 6, 2007, town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire)
"People talk about medicinal marijuana. And you know, you hear that story that people who are sick need medicinal marijuana. But marijuana is the entry drug for people trying to get kids hooked on drugs. I don't want medicinal marijuana; there are synthetic forms of marijuana that are available for people who need it for prescription. Don't open the doorway to medicinal marijuana." (July 25, 2007, town hall meeting in Bedford, New Hampshire)
"I have spoken with doctors and researchers, and the medical marijuana effort is an effort to try and legalize marijuana in this country, and it’s a mistake in my opinion to go in the direction of opening up the nation to medical marijuana. The scourge of drugs has a huge cost on our society and our children." ( July 25, 2007, after the town hall meeting in Bedford, New Hampshire)
"I am not in favor of medical marijuana. Other pain relievers are available in this country and I support the use of those other pain relievers." ( July 25, 2007, after the town hall meeting in Bedford, New Hampshire)
"I believe marijuana should be illegal in our country. It is the pathway to drug usage by our society, which is a great scourge -- which is one of the great causes of crime in our cities." (October 4, 2007, town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire)
" ... of course, we are very concerned about people who are suffering pain, and there are various means of providing pain management. And those that have had loved ones that have gone through an end of life with cancer know the nature of real pain. I watched my wife's mom and dad, both in our home, both going through cancer treatment, suffering a great deal of pain. But they didn't have marijuana, and they didn't need marijuana because there were other sources of pain management that worked entirely effectively." (October 4, 2007, town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire)
"I'm told there is even a synthetic marijuana as well that is available. But having legalized marijuana, in my view, is an effort by a very committed few to try and get marijuana out into the public and ultimately legalize marijuana." (October 4, 2007, town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire)
"I would oppose the legalization of marijuana in the country or legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes because pain management is available from other sources." (October 4, 2007, town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire)
"I'd continue to enforce the law as it is, and in my view the law ought to be that medical marijuana is illegal. Marijuana is the gateway to illegal drug use in this country. Drug use is a plague on American society; I want to eliminate it, I do not want to expand it." (October 25, 2007, campaign event at Elliot Hospital in Manchester)
"I'm not in favor of medical marijuana being prescribed, I think that's the wrong course. I want to fight every way I can against illegal drug use in this country, and in my view expanding marijuana is not the right way to go for America." (October 25, 2007, campaign event at Elliot Hospital in Manchester)
"I'm not familiar with what they're doing in Nevada, personally, I'm in Massachusetts, all right, that was where I was governor and I believe in following the law and I also believe that medical marijuana is, if you will, a Trojan Horse for bringing marijuana into our society and I think that's the wrong way to go. I think the far better way to go is to treat people with other medications that are available, and synthetic marijuana that provides the same pain relief that can be received by, uh, by marijuana." (October 25, 2007, campaign event at Elliot Hospital in Manchester)
Marijuana is the starter drug, and the idea of medical marijuana is designed to help get marijuana out into the public market place and ultimately lead to legalization of marijuana overall. And in my view, that's the wrong way to go. (October 29, 2007, "Ask Mitt Anything" meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire)
"If you elect me president, you're not going to see legalized marijuana. I'm going to fight it tooth and nail." (October 29, 2007, "Ask Mitt Anything" meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire)


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