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FILM: Local Organizations Team up to Show "Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience"

East Michigan Environmental Action Council - Mon, 08/19/2030 - 7:02pm
What: Film screening of "Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience" with Question and Answer session to follow afterwards

When: September 6th, 2013

Time: 8PM

Where: Cass Corridor Commons
             4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201

East Michigan Environmental Action Council, 5E, Heru, and the American Indian Health and Family Services invite you to the film screening of, Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience, on September 6th, 2013. The showing will take place in the D. Blair Theater of The Cass Corridor Commons.

Focusing on the lives and experiences of the Native/Indigenous community in the Midwest, Our Fires Still Burn is a one hour documentary that works to dispel the myth that American Indians have disappeared from the United States. The narrative that Native and Indigenous peoples no longer exist in the US has been perpetrated in many forms since the beginning of colonization in the US, with perhaps the most famous example being the book (and movie), The Last of the Mohicans. The narrative usually argues something along the lines that because Native peoples are now dead (or are actively dying), we need non-Native peoples to "save and recover" (read; loot) Native artifacts (very often including actual bones of human beings). Another strand of the narrative argues that names like Washington Red Skins are actually compliments that honor long dead tribes rather than the offensive insults that Native/Indigenous peoples say they are.

Our Fires Still Burns argues that the narrative that Native/Indigenous peoples are dead is harmful in that it invisibilizes and makes unnecessary the voices of the very much alive Native/Indigenous community. But as Our Fire Still Burns shows, Native and Indigenous peoples continue to persist, heal from the past, confront the challenges of today, keep their culture alive, and make great contributions to society.

The film viewing of Our Fires Still Burn will appeal to native and non-Native alike, and will be followed by a question and answer session featuring many of the people appearing in the film, as well as film director Audrey Geyer.  Ms. Geyer is an independent video producer and director whose programs have been broadcasted locally and nationally on PBS. She is the founder and current executive director of Visions, an independent video production company local in Metro Detroit. Visions work focuses on creating documentaries that tell the stories of communities that are underrepresented in mainstream media.

As East Michigan Environmental Action Council co-director, Diana Copeland says, the most important thing to do right now in light of various attacks on marginalized communities in Detroit is to build community responses to those attacks, "Conversations that happen where we can begin to get to know each other are essential and will only make our communities stronger."
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

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Padres & Jovenes Unidos - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 5:36pm
Address: CO
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Padres & Jovenes Unidos - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 4:46pm
Address: CO
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Padres & Jovenes Unidos - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 4:33pm
Address: CO
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Fighting for Worker Safety: “End Deathtraps” from Miami to Chicago

USAS - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 1:55am

We’re a week into our National “End Deathtraps” Worker Tour featuring Kalpona Akter, Director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, and Mahinur Begum, survivor of the Rana Plaza building collapse. Together we’ve hit ten cities in just a week with speak-outs, vigils, letter drops, rallies, and more, all in the name of worker safety in Bangladesh. Check out highlights and photos from this past week below and look back here for updates on where our movement is headed next!

Even More Students Are Joining Our Fight!

From the beaches of Miami to the frozen lakes of Chicago, Kalpona and Mahinur have shared their inspiring stories with students, faculty, and administrators. At each campus students have been ready to join the fight by demanding their University cut ties with Jansport/VF unless they agree to sign on to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Sixteen schools have already taken action including NYU, Rutgers, Cornell, the University of Michigan, and Washington State University. Which school will be next to demand VF listen to the needs of their 190,000 workers in Bangladesh? It might just be one of the campuses below!

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

University of Miami

University of Colorado, Boulder

University of Texas, Austin

University of Madison, Wisconsin

The Children’s Orphan’s Place

The Children’s Place was sourcing from Rana Plaza when it collapsed, killing 1,134 and injuring dozens more. However, the brand is still refusing to pay the $8 million it owes to the workers and families who were impacted by this historic disaster. In light of this, we made several visits to Children’s Place locations around the country demanding the brand pay up. As we walked around the store, Mahinur could easily point out the shorts and pants she used to sew when she worked at Rana Plaza. Although their apparel empire was built off the labor of workers like Mahinur, the Children’s Place is still refusing to take responsibility for this tragic incident and make their workers whole.

It wasn’t until our most recent visit that we learned managers were recently forced to sign a gag order preventing them from discussing the issue of fair compensation with anyone in their stores. What’s the Children’s Place trying to hide? Maybe we’ll find out as we continue our campaign at stores across the country.

Chicago Organizations Unite Around REI’s Sweatshop Apparel

We united with Chicago Fight for $15, members of UNITE HERE!, and Chicago Fair Trade for our final action of the week. Together our groups marched on REI to continue to demand the outdoor retailer cut ties with the North Face/VF until the brand agrees to sign onto the Accord. As soon as our chants began, REI employees were ready for us – taping up signs warning customers of “free speech activity” (see image). Although the store representatives were prepared with talking points straight from their friends at VF, they couldn’t object to Kalpona’s list of reasons why the corporate-controlled Alliance is an ineffective solution to the ongoing problem of factory safety for workers in her community. How many more actions will it take for REI to understand that their choice is clear: drop the North Face or continue to be shamed for selling sweatshop apparel. 

 

 

 

To learn more about our national End Deathtraps campaign, check out www.northfacedeathtraps.com. To find out if we’ll be at a college or university near you, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required /* */

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

2015 Contract Survey Results

UE - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 9:04pm
URL: uege2015/cbc-ue-contract-survey-resultsImage: 
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Healthcare Speakout #2

UE - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 7:59pm
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

UE-GE Current National Agreement

UE - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 5:01pm
URL: http://www.ueunion.org/uege2015/ue-ge-current-national-agreementImage: 
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

UE-GE Contract 2015

UE - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 4:38pm
Image: URL: http://www.ueunion.org/uege2015
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Healthcare Speakout #1

UE - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 3:53pm
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

GE Workers United Main Website

UE - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 1:42pm
Image: URL: http://www.geworkersunited.org/
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

UE Main Website

UE - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 1:39pm
Image: URL: http://www.ueunion.org
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Contract Issue: Healthcare Not Wealthcare

UE - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 7:14am
URL: uege2015/healthcare-not-wealthcareImage: 
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Healthcare Not Wealthcare

UE - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 6:43am
28 February, 2015We Need Real Healthcare, Not GE Wealthcare

Everybody agrees the GE healthcare cuts have hurt. That’s why, in 2015 negotiations, UE is demanding that GE restore rational employee health insurance that covers our needs and is simple to use. GE now pays almost 10% less for our health benefits than it did in 2011, while our deductibles and co-pays have escalated.


As our costs rise, workers and our families are doing without care. From 2011 to 2013, GE hospital admissions dropped 14%, outpatient radiology visits were down 11%, ER visits declined 12%, and specialist visits were 4% lower.


GE cuts in prescription drug coverage best illustrate what’s happened overall. Company pharmacy costs per worker are down 11% from 2011 to 2013, while in the same period employee drug costs are up 11% - even though the typical GE family now fills 8.3% less prescriptions per year. We’re paying more money for less care.


Adding to the misery, GE dumped on us the responsibility for getting the bills paid, many of us spend several hours a week trying to get our claims paid. We’re hit with high deductibles, and then it’s up to us to try to get reimbursed by the HRA account or debit card, using a glitchy internet computer program.


While we’re paying more for less care, and spending many frustrating hours trying to get our bills paid, GE reaped more than $10 million in healthcare savings in 2012 and 2013 combined (*Based on GE total savings in both 2012 and 2013, compared to annual health care spending in 2011 for all hourly employees.)

Download the Flyer:

 

Healthcare Leaflet
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

UE-GE Contract Issue #1

UE - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 5:22pm
27 February, 2015
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Daily Negotiations Report #1

UE - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 5:17pm
27 February, 2015
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Women's History: How Young Women Shook Up GE in the '70s

UE - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 5:07pm
27 February, 2015by Al Hart

In the 1970s, salaried women workers at Erie GE fought important battles for workplace equality, including two strikes in 1974 and ’75 in which they demanded equal pay for equal work. The participants in these struggles were predominantly young women, and they were influenced by the ideas of the feminist movement as well as by UE’s long-established principles of equality and rank-and-file unionism.

UE Local 618, the salaried workers union at Erie GE, started shortly after UE Local 506, the production and maintenance unit at Erie GE. Local 506 was chartered in 1937 and won legal recognition in 1940. Local 618 was chartered by UE 1941 and certified by the labor board after winning an election in 1944. At the highpoint of employment in the 1970s, when 506 represented around 13,000 workers, the Local 618 unit was around 1,300.

At the beginning of the 1970s, the membership of Local 618 was only about 35 percent of the eligible workforce. (GE was an open shop – joining or not joining the union was entirely voluntary – until 1985 when an agency shop clause was added to the UE-GE National Contract.) The bargaining unit was about two-thirds female, but the union officers were almost entirely male. By the end of the 1970s, these numbers had dramatically changed, with around 85 percent of eligible salaried workers being dues-paying members of Local 618, and a number of women in leadership positions in the local. Several important women leaders emerged from those struggles, including the current president of the UE Eastern Region, Deb Gornall.  

Ron Flowers and Dee Engel, key activists and officers in Local 618, both now retired, give much credit to UE Field Organizer Earl Koedinger who came to Erie in 1971. Flowers, who started at GE in 1961 at age 20, became business agent of Local 618 in 1971. Flowers remembers Koedinger, after studying the seniority list, asking him why the women in Local 618 were in all the low-paying jobs while the men held the high-paying jobs. Flowers calls Koedinger “the ultimate organizer”, and he and Engel remember countless hours of hard work, on evenings and weekends, as Koedinger taught them how to build up the local’s numbers and strength by organizing workers around issues that affected them, recruiting and training stewards, fighting for their grievances, getting them to come to meetings.

Dee Engel met Earl Koedinger and became involved in the union through her husband Craig Engel, who was the Local 506 chief steward of Building 12 during the early 1970s, when the rapid transit division was a hotbed of militancy by young production workers. Koedinger was a mentor to both of the Engels, and Dee was helping UE as a volunteer organizer even before she got a job at GE. When she came to GE, she got a job in the Building 18-10 stockroom, “Right where I was supposed to be.”

Earl Koedinger later became a UE international representative, but died of heart disease in February 1981 at age 39. Those who knew him remember him as one of the best UE organizers they ever met.

STOCKROOM STRIKE

Dee Engel was elected shop steward of the Building 18-10 stockroom not long after she started working there, and in less than a year she organized the first of two key strikes that began to shake up the sexist order at GE. The workforce in the stockroom consisted of 24 young women, many of them 18 and 19 years old, just out of high school. The pay rate was salary grade 2, one of the lowest in the plant, less than the floor sweeper rate. “The hard part was getting the women to join the union, and even when they joined they were afraid to do anything,” says Engel. The father of one of these young women was the manager who set the wage rates for the entire plant, “and it got so bad that she was not allowed to sit at the table with her family and have dinner at night because she had decided that the union was the way to go and we needed to be paid an equal wage for the work she did. And that went on for a lot of the girls whose dads were in management,” says Engel.

The union filed a grievance demanding equal pay for equal work and took it to third step, but the company refused to budge. Under the UE-GE National Contract, the union can legally strike over any grievance that remains unresolved after third step, which is what these stockroom clerks did in October 1974.

“It was a four-day weekend strike, and it was unheard of. It was the first time that 24 women had done anything like this,” remembers Engel. They picketed all four gates of the Erie plant and caused major traffic tie-ups. As they returned to work and passed through the production areas on the second floor of Building 18, they were given a standing ovation by the Local 506 members.

Dee Engel held several union offices and was the first woman business agent of Local 618, serving alongside Flowers, who was then the local president. She worked in a variety of jobs all over the big GE plant until she retired in 2009. She viewed herself as an organizer, and says, “When I was really active in 618 I never stayed on a job that long. From the time I started working with Earl, my thing was to keep moving. I never looked at GE as my job, they just sent me a paycheck. I worked for the union.”

TIMEKEEPERS STRIKE

A few months later in 1975, years of organizing among the plant’s 109 timekeepers paid off in another strike. The timekeepers were all women, mostly young, with the same issue as the 18-10 stockroom – their pay was grade 2, below the floor sweeper rate. At the time, 80 percent of Local 506 members were compensated through a complex system of incentive pay. The timekeepers manually calculated the paychecks of each Local 506 member, based on the worker’s hours and the “piecework” earnings he or she had turned in for that week as well as non-incentive hours for attending meetings and other job duties.

Sandy Steward was one of the key workplace organizers who made the timekeepers strike happen. “Timekeepers didn’t make very much money,” she says. “You’ve got all this responsibility and all these deadlines, but you’re not making the money. I don’t know how it started out – there was a grievance involved that kicked it off. So we figured, what’s the one thing that can hurt this company? The timekeepers can shut this whole place down,” because of their central role in the pay system. “We were not trying to hurt the guys on the floor, we were trying to hurt the company.”

Timekeepers worked in small groups in various satellite offices. After she organized the timekeepers in her own building, she says, “At lunchtime every day, I walked from building to building – I got an hour lunch, therefore I could go on my lunch and talk to these timekeepers. Every day I would go farther down the avenue, go to the time office, talk to these girls. ‘We’re getting ready to go on strike, we’re going to walk out of this joint.’”  She says other union women gave her names of timekeepers to talk to. “I had people you could really depend on, that were right there with us. They would tell me, ‘Go talk to her, she’s this or that.’ So I’d go talk to her.”

“So we walked out,” says Stewart. “The company never thought we would do it. They thought maybe we’d go out for an hour. What’s an hour going to do? An hour wouldn’t make a dent because you come back in and they want you to work harder to catch up for the hour that you didn’t work.”

Sandy Stewart held over 18 jobs in 34 years at GE, in a variety of buildings. “I kept bidding on jobs, I would get bored. I learned the job, now it’s time to go learn something new.” First hired at age 18, she retired in 2005.

The timekeepers strike lasted nine days, and GE never knew when it would end. The timekeepers struck the entire time, but it was also a “rolling strike” by other groups of Local 618 members who walked out for a day or less and then returned to work, keeping the company off balance. Some groups of Local 506 members walked out too. Meanwhile bosses trying to do the timekeepers’ work made a “royal mess” of it, recalls retired former timekeeper and Local 618 officer Mary Stewart-Flowers. The company thought they’d return to work Monday morning. Instead they ended the strike at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday.

Deb Gornall started at GE in 1972 at age 18 as a timekeeper. “At that time for me it was the women’s movement, trying to get equality and stop discrimination in the workplace, being able to get access to the higher paying jobs.”

“Some of the interviews when I bid on jobs got me really pissed off.” She was turned down for a drill press job because she was “too small, too young, not strong enough – you name it. I needed the money – I had two brothers staying with me when they weren’t in college.” About a year later she bid on an expediter/dispatching job, and the foreman told her “I would be taking away a man’s job that has to support their family, and I said, ‘Well I support my family, I need the job.’ And he said no, it’s a man’s job. He said I’ll train you, you’ll get married, get pregnant and quit after I’ve invested all this money in you.” She filed a grievance, but the company replied that she wasn’t qualified. The experience of blatant discrimination “motivated me to get more involved in the local.”

Gornall was a timekeeper and union steward in Building 64 and very active in the timekeepers strike. Later she served for years as Local 618 chief steward for Buildings 63 and 64. After being laid off in the 1980s she became a UE field organizer, international rep., and in 2011 she became Eastern Region president. Ron Flowers says of Gornall, “She did an excellent job of organizing Building 64. She’d call me up and say, ‘The boss is doing this and this and this.’ And  I’d say, ‘Ah, I don’t know if we’re going to win that one.’ And she’d say, “Oh, I already won it.”

Another young woman who became a union activist and leader because during the struggles of the 1970s is Lynda Leech, whose name at the time was Lynda Braunns. “I don’t remember becoming a militant person, but it seemed like all of a sudden we were just much more aware of our rights.”

In 1988 Leech became the second woman to serve as the local’s business agent. Besides the battles for wage and workplace equality at GE, she recalls the involvement of women from Locals 618, 506 and other UE District 6 locals (Western Pennsylvania) in the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), as well as women’s conferences organized by the district. On the initiative of women in locals in the Pittsburgh area as well as Erie, District 6 sent busloads of members to demonstrations for the ERA in Washington and in Richmond, VA when that state was considering ratification. (The ERA, guaranteeing equal rights for women, was passed by Congress and ratified by 35 state legislatures, but 38 were needed for it to become part of the Constitution. It was the major women’s rights legislative battle of the ‘70s.)

Leech became a District 6 delegate in 1977 and remembers some “terrible fights” at district council meetings over ERA and abortion rights, with some older men from 506 and a few other locals in opposition. “I think that’s when we started to get pretty vocal.”

SURVIVAL AND SOLIDARITY

In the late 1970s a ruling against GE by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) forced GE to abandon some of its policies that kept women from moving into the higher paying jobs. The company was also required to give upgrades and issue checks to a number of women workers who had experienced job discrimination, although the back pay did not fully compensate them for lost wages. Through persistent hammering by the local officers with the support of the members, the local finally won a job posting procedure that got rid of loopholes GE had used to mask its discrimination and keep women trapped in low-paying jobs.

“Too bad it happened as late as it did,” says Dee Engel, because around the time Local 618 was winning these victories, it began losing jobs. “Here comes the computers,” remembers Flowers, which changed job duties but also automated many salary positions out of existence. “The computers were the death of Local 618,” he says, along with the company reconfiguring jobs and then transferring them to management people.

Local 618 brought a massive case before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charging GE with systematically eroding the bargaining unit by giving the local’s work to management personnel. Officers, stewards and members of the local compiled a ton of compelling evidence, and after months of investigation by NLRB agents, Flowers and Engel remember a high-ranking labor board official telling them that, while the company had probably unjustly taken 350-450 jobs from the union, the case was too big for the NLRB to handle, and was therefore being dismissed.

Local 618 now has just 22 members. But it’s still a feisty union, with women in leadership, and along with other GE workers, it is gearing up for this year’s contract negotiations with GE.

The struggles led by young women in Local 618 also helped change Local 506. No woman had served on the production local’s executive board from the 1950s until 1981, when the late Kitzie Schumacher was elected to the Local 506 board. In 1974 she had been one of the young women in Local 618 who struck the 18-10 stockroom.

There was always a lot of mutual support between the two locals. Deb Gornall credits the late Tom Brown, longtime Local 506 chief steward of Building 64 as her “mentor.” Sandy Stewart says, “I was trained by the best,” and in particular credits two Local 506 chief stewards – Jimmy Nelson in Building 63 (who was later president of the local) and Whitey Dobrowolski in Building 18 – for helping to train her. “These were guys that were giving me information, they looked out for me, they would tell me right from wrong, what the company could do to me and what they couldn’t do to me, and that’s all I needed. I met some beautiful people out there, and they helped me along the way.”

While a number of members of 506 honored Local 618’s picket lines in its 1970s strikes, the local had fairly conservative leaders who did not organize a plantwide walkout in support of Local 618 women. They also failed to take out the entire plant when their own young members in Building 12 struck over grievances. But that began to change as a result of the young worker activism in both locals. The issue came to a head in late 1985 over a Local 618 strike which a narrow majority of the Local 506 board voted not to support. But at least half the members of 506 honored the picket line. The next Local 506 meeting was “standing room only” in the local’s big union hall, and the members voted overwhelmingly for a motion that said, in the future their local would fully support any strike by Local 618. “The members run this union” is more than just a slogan.

Looking back on her years in the union, Karen Anderson, a timekeeper in the 1975 strike and recently retired from GE and as Local 618’s business agent, says she learned early to use creative tactics and arguments when fighting the company. “If you can’t get them with the contract, you go around the contract.” Of the big fights that the women of Local 618 undertook, she says, “We were a thorn in their side, but we were doing nothing more than sticking up for ourselves.”

Deb Gornall believes those struggle brought lasting victories. “It took years and years of grievances and fighting to get equality in the workforce, and I think we did achieve that. People look at women differently today than they did 40 years ago. I think we can keep doing better for our members and the community. If we give up the fight, we are stepping backwards, and we’ve got to keep pushing forward and gain rights for everybody.”

Clockwise from top left: Lynda Leech, Sandy Stewart, Karen Anderson, Deb Gornall.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Senate Passes Bill to Avert Homeland Security Shutdown

NNIRR - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 1:48pm
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Ashley Parker Story Publisher:  New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Friday passed a bill to finance the Department of Homeland Security, sending the legislation to the House with just hours to avert a partial shutdown of the agency at midnight.

The spending bill, which removed restrictions on President Obama’s executive action on immigration that were included in a bill passed by the House, easily passed the Senate, 68 to 31. Democrats also blocked a separate bill to undo the president’s action.

read more

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Indictment of NYPD Officer Peter Liang

CAAAV - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 4:24pm

 

CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities commends the Brooklyn DA’s office for pushing for this indictment of NYPD Officer Peter Liang. However, we know that this was only possible because the community had an uproar and demanded the indictment. The murder of Akai Gurley was no “accident” as NYPD Police Commissioner Bratton adamantly claims. There have been 179 NYPD-related killings in the past 15 years and only 3 indictments. CAAAV continues to support the Gurley family in their journey in seeking justice, however they define justice.

We called for indictment of Liang as the family has asked, and now we call for a conviction. The so-called “criminal” justice system is no immediate solution, but we know that this system would not be able to handle cops who kill because it was not set-up to function in that way. The indictment of Peter Liang only means that we have to organize even harder to hold accountable, ALL COPS who use excessive force and take unarmed Black lives. This means that we have to support the Justice Committee (JC) and the family of Ramarley Graham to fight for their demands that Commissioner Bratton fire all officers involved and that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutes all cops responsible for Ramarley’s death. This means that we have to fight for justice for Eric Garner’s family who demands that Bratton fire all officers involved and that the DOJ prosecutes all officerswho killed Eric. This means that Chicago needs to fight for the conviction of the officer who killed Rekia Boyds. This means that Denver needs to fight for an indictment of the cops who murdered Jessie Hernandez.

Bratton’s policies are inherently racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, and classist. He is just as responsible for Akai Gurley’s death, just as much as Peter Liang. He is responsible for Broken Windows policing and vertical patrols. Keep our eye on the prize – justice – however the families define justice for them and however communities define justice.  For us, justice means that the systems and institutions that perpetuate the structural inequalities are dismantled and chipped away.

“Divide and conquer must become define and empower.” – Audre Lorde

 

#BlackLivesMatter #ThisStopsToday

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Video: Equitable Healthcare Financing for Vermont, Explained in Under 3 Minutes!

VWC - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 3:42pm

Watch the video explaining the new healthcare financing proposal!

Read the full proposal here: bit.ly/1wssTsa

Categories: Grassroots Newswire
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