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Thursday
Aug162018

More than 300 newspapers to publish editorials in response to Trump's attack on media

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- More than 300 newspapers plan on publishing editorials on Thursday pushing back against President Donald Trump’s ramped-up rhetoric against news media.

“This dirty war on the free press must end,” Marjorie Pritchard, the Boston Globe's editorial page deputy managing editor said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “It calls for urgent action by those committed to free speech and the free press to stand against a White House and its allies who are bent on eroding a pillar of an informed democracy.”

The Boston Globe first proposed a coordinated response by editorial boards nationwide last week as the president continues to rail against so-called “fake news” media organizations with claims that the press covers him unfairly.

Publications ranging from the New York Times to smaller regional publications such as the South Bend Tribune are part of the initiative.

“We’re not your enemy. We just want to help make this community stronger. There’s nothing fake about that…,” the South Bend paper's editorial read and listed the staffers who are part of and report on the community.

"Christian Sheckler’s investigative reporting on Elkhart County’s criminal justice system revealed how poor policing led two men to spend years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit, and how prosecutors continued to double down even in the face of new evidence. His work shed new light on a stark example of injustice," the editorial read.

"Christian is not your enemy. He calls himself a “fact-finder,” whose work is meant to “reveal what the truth is.”

Since his inauguration, President Trump has characterized major news organizations as “the enemy of the people”. In a tweet on Thursday, Trump repeated the claim and declared "THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country....BUT WE ARE WINNING!"

"Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news," the president said at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention last month. "Just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening."

First amendment experts have raised concerns over the president’s tone toward the media and worry about the possibility of violence towards the press.

“Because of the power of his authority, just by the nature of the office, [Trump] needs to really consider whether his language has a negative impact on the press,” David Kaye, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, told ABC News. “At the end of the day, we rely on the press to keep tabs with what’s going on in the government.”

“We should really understand this not just as an attack on specific journalists or outlets but as an attack on the public’s right to know what the government is doing,” Kaye said.

The publisher of the New York Times, A.G. Sulzberger, said in a statement to ABC News that he told the president during a meeting with the president last month that his language towards the media is “divisive" and "increasingly dangerous.”

“I told him that although the phrase 'fake news' is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists 'the enemy of the people.' I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence,” Sulzberger said.

The president said he had “a very good and interesting meeting at the White House” with Sulzberger in a tweet.

Last month, a CNN correspondent who was representing a number of networks as a "pool reporter" was “dis-invited” from covering an official White House event after she shouted out what the administration called “inappropriate” questions to the president about his former lawyer Michael Cohen and about a White House invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White House Correspondents' Association condemned the administration's action.

"This type of retaliation is wholly inappropriate, wrong-headed, and weak. It cannot stand," WHCA President Olivier Knox said.

Papers participating in the effort say the editorials are a way to collectively voice the significance of the freedom of the press.

“Our words will differ," Pritchard said in her statement. "But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug162018

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin dead at 76

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images 

(DETROIT) -- Aretha Franklin, the pastor's daughter who became the undisputed Queen of Soul over a career that spanned more than five decades, has died of advanced pancreatic cancer, ABC News has confirmed.

"It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul," read a statement from her rep.

"Franklin, 76 years old, passed away on Thursday morning, August 16 at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit, MI, surrounded by family and loved ones. Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s Oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, MI."

“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds," the statement continued.

“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.

Franklin's health had been a concern for the past few years, causing a spate of concert cancellations.  In 2017, she appeared alarmingly thin but claimed it was a side effect of an unspecified medication. After announcing she was retiring from the road in 2017, Franklin still scheduled shows for 2018 but in March, she was ordered by her doctors to cancel all shows and rest for two months.  Despite rumors of serious health problems, she's never publicly spoken about her ailments.

Merely saying that Franklin was one of the greatest vocalists of all time hardly seems adequate to describe her influence and impact -- her voice was officially declared a natural resource by her home state of Michigan.  In 2015, President Barack Obama said of Franklin: "Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock and roll -- the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope."

Franklin started her music career early, singing gospel music as a child at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit where her father, C.L. Franklin, was minister.  In 1960, at the age of 18, she signed to Columbia Records and experienced some success, especially on the R&B charts.  But it wasn't until 1967, when she signed to Atlantic Records, that her career really took off. 

For Atlantic, Franklin recorded-now classics "Respect," "Chain of Fools," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," and "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," which helped her cross over to the pop charts.  She won her first Grammy in 1968, the same year she appeared on the cover of TIME magazine.  She'd eventually go on to win a total of 20 Grammys, including special Grammys awarded outside of competition, and chart more than 73 songs on the Billboard Hot 100.

Franklin was also part of the civil rights movement of the sixties and has been called "the voice of Black America."  Having met Martin Luther King Jr. through her father, himself a noted civil rights leader, she sang at events with Dr. King and her signature hit,  "Respect," became a civil rights anthem.  When King was assassinated in 1968, Franklin performed "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" at his funeral.

Aretha's hits continued through the '70s but she left Atlantic records in 1979, signing to Clive Davis' label, Arista, in 1980.  That same year, she made her unforgettable appearance as a waitress in The Blues Brothers.  Her 1982 album, Jump to It, returned her to the pop charts for the first time in six years.  She remained with Arista for more than 20 years, racking up hits like "Who's Zoomin' Who," "Freeway of Love" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash." In 1987, she was the first female performer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

During this time, Aretha also started recording duets with younger artists, including Eurythmics, Whitney Houston, Michael McDonald, Mary J. Blige, Elton John and George Michael, the latter with whom she scored the 1987 #1 smash duet "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me."  

In 1994, Franklin received the Kennedy Center Honors, at the time the youngest person to be so honored. That same year, she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  She was also the recipient of the National Medal of the Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among countless other awards.

While Franklin's musical output covered rock, soul, pop, R&B and gospel, in 1998 she proved she really could sing anything by belting out the operatic aria "Nessun Dorma" at the Grammy Awards, filling in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti.

Over the past 15 years, Franklin performed at a number of high-profile events.  In 2006, she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XL in Detroit with Aaron Neville and Dr. John.  She performed "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at President Barack Obama's inauguration, where her fanciful hat received nearly as much attention as her vocal performance.

Franklin continued to release albums throughout the 2000s, including a 2014 album that featured her singing songs by other female artists including Adele, Barbra Streisand and Alicia Keys.  Her version of "Rolling in the Deep" gave her her 100th charted song on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

Recently, Franklin had spoken of an album she'd been working on with Stevie Wonder, and early in 2018, it was announced that Jennifer Hudson would portray her in a biopic.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug162018

Section of American WWII destroyer discovered off remote Alaskan island

Project Recover(KISKA, Alaska) -- Some 75 years after an explosion from a Japanese mine ripped through the USS Abner Read, a team of scientists says they've discovered the missing stern hundreds of feet beneath the waves off the Alaskan Island of Kiska.

"This is a significant discovery that will shed light on this little-known episode in our history," retired Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, acting undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, said in a statement. "It's important to honor these U.S. Navy sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation."

It was about 1:50 a.m. on Aug. 18, 1943, when the Japanese blast tore apart the American destroyer.

The ship's 75-foot stern, along with 71 sailors, disappeared into waters off the remote island of Kiska. Amazingly, the rest of the Abner Read survived.

The crew had kept its hull watertight until two nearby U.S. Navy ships could tow the destroyer back to port. Within months, the Abner Read was deployed back to the Pacific during a critical period of World War II.

It was used until November 1944, when a Japanese dive bomber destroyed the ship in a kamikaze attack during the battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines, considered one of the largest naval confrontations of the war.

The discovery was made by the research team at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and the University of Delaware, which was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Exploration and Research. They partnered with four U.S. Navy sailors from the Naval Special Warfare Group.

The effort also was supported by Project Recover, a public-private partnership working to find the final underwater resting places of Americans missing in action since WWII.

The team made the discovery July 17 during a mission to document the battle off Kiska. Sonar mounted to the side of a research ship identified the target before a remotely operated vehicle captured live video that confirmed that the Abner Read's stern indeed was below, now covered in sea life.

"There was no doubt," said expedition leader Eric Terrill, an oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and co-founder of Project Recover. "We could clearly see the broken stern, the gun and rudder control, all consistent with the historical documents."

According to the researchers, the Kiska mission was the first to thoroughly explore the underwater battlefield where as many as 7,200 Japanese forces occupied the Aleutian islands from June 1942 to mid-August 1943.

According to Naval History and Heritage Command, there are often war graves near sites like that of the Abner Read that are considered the final resting place for sailors who lost their lives at sea.

"We take our responsibility to protect those wrecks seriously," said the command's director Sam Cox. "They're the last resting place of American sailors."

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Wednesday
Aug152018

Police make multiple arrests after 76 people overdose on K-2 at Connecticut park

WTNH-TV(NEW HAVEN, N.H.) -- Connecticut police have made multiple arrests in connection with 76 overdose cases at a New Haven park.

First responders found numerous people who appeared to have overdosed on the New Haven Green on Wednesday, with 25 of those overdoses occurring within a three-hour span in the morning and some four to six at a time, officials said.

Seventy-one people suffering from apparent overdoses were transported to local hospitals from the New Haven Green, according Dave Hartman with New Haven Police.

Another 5 people refused medical attention and were not in enough distress to be transported for treatment, he said.

Three arrests have been made in the case, Hartman said, but officials cannot say for certain if all three arrested or just one of them are directly responsible for the overdoses. Their names have not been released and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

Police believe all the overdoses are from K-2, also known as synthetic marijuana.

The victims appeared to be suffering from a "multiple of signs and symptoms ranging from vomiting, hallucinating, high blood pressure, shallow breathing, semi-conscious and unconscious states," Rick Fontana, director of the city's Office of Emergency Operations, told ABC News. Two people had life-threatening symptoms, he added.

"There have been a couple individuals that were certainly more sicker than others," Fontana told reporters at a press conference Wednesday morning. "We are doing our best to get people to the hospital in the safest, most practical and efficient manner. We have no deaths reported."

New Haven Fire Chief John Alston Jr. said emergency crews were overwhelmed with "multiple" 911 calls about people who were experiencing overdose symptoms or were passed out on the New Haven Green just after 8 a.m. local time. First responders sprinted across the park from victim to victim as more calls came in.

"Even while we were trying to return people to service, they were passing victims on the ground," Alston told reporters.

The overdoses were concentrated on the New Haven Green but because it's now dark the incident is beginning to branch out to different parts of the city, where more people are being found, police said.

Victims were given several doses of naloxone, an antidoe for narcotic overdoses, both on the scene and at the hospital.

"It's a nationwide problem," Alston said of drug overdoses. "This is a problem that's not going away."

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Wednesday
Aug152018

Swimmer bitten by shark off coast of Cape Cod, officials say

iStock/Thinkstock(CAPE COD, Mass.) -- A beach on the coast of Cape Cod has been closed after a swimmer was bitten by a shark, officials said.

The coastal town of Truro announced that Longnook Beach has been closed to swimming due to the shark attack on Wednesday afternoon.

The 61-year-old man appears to have been bitten in the leg on Wednesday afternoon and was taken to a local Boston hospital aboard a medical helicopter, ABC Boston affiliate WCVB-TV reported.

He told first responders that he was standing in the water about 30 yards offshore when he was bitten, according to WCVB-TV. He suffered puncture wounds to his torso as well, the station reported.

Witnesses nearby attempted to stop the bleeding, Kerstin Peter Leitner, a graduate from the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College, told WCVB-TV.

"We grabbed all the towels that we could, put them on him to stop the bleeding," Leitner said.

No one in the area had cellphone service, so someone had to run to a nearby home to call 911, witness Molly Tobin, another nursing school graduate, told the station.

The man's condition is unclear.

Several shark sightings have been reported in the area in recent days, according to WCVB-TV.

An increase in the gray and harbor seal population in the Cape Cod region has attracted great white sharks to the area, according to the station.

The incident marked the first shark attack in Massachusetts since 2012, WCVB-TV reported. The 2012 attack also happened in Turo.

Further details were not immediately available.

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Wednesday
Aug152018

Pregnant mom, 2 young daughters vanish in Colorado; police vow to 'not rest until we have the answers'

Town of Frederick, CO(FREDERICK, Colo.) -- A pregnant Colorado mother and her two young daughters have mysteriously vanished -- and local police are vowing to "not rest until we have the answers."

Shanann Watts, 34, and her two daughters -- Celeste, 3, and Bella, 4 -- were reported missing on Monday, according to the police department in Frederick, which is about 35 miles north of Denver.

Police were notified Monday by a concerned family friend who hadn't heard from Watts, who is 15 weeks pregnant, police said.

Police are now asking for the public's help to find the missing mother and young girls.

"There is a lot at stake here and we are exploring all avenues," Frederick Police Sgt. Ian Albert said Wednesday. "We are working around the clock on this case and will not rest until we have the answers we are looking for."

There's no reason to believe the public is at risk, Albert added.

When the mother and daughters disappeared, Watts' phone, purse and keys were left behind at home, said her husband, Chris Watts, according to ABC affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver.

"When I came home and then walked in the house, nothing. Vanished. Nothing was here," he told KMGH-TV.

"My kids are my life," the worried husband and father told KMGH. "I mean, those smiles light up my life."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are helping local police with the case.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Frederick Police Department at 720-382-5700.

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Wednesday
Aug152018

Gun-toting 13-year-old runaway hit with stun gun by Alabama police, authorities say

iStock/Thinkstock(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Police used a Taser on a 13-year-old gun-toting runaway in Alabama, whom authorities say fled from police as they approached him and reached into his pocket before being shocked and taken into custody this morning.

A .38 caliber revolver was recovered from the teen's pocket, a Birmingham police spokesperson told ABC News -- declining to disclose whether or not the weapon was loaded.

The boy was briefly hospitalized and later returned to police custody, where he is expected to be turned over to the family courts system, according to Birmingham police sergeant Johnny Williams, who added that the young man is "fine."

Authorities were responding to an early morning report of two juveniles with a gun near Birmingham's Green Acres Middle School. As police approached the pair and demanded they put their hands in the air, the 13-year old turned and ran, reaching into his pocket as he fled, Williams said.

That's when police used the stun gun.

The boy is originally from the Woodstock area of Alabama, but was in custody of the state Department of Human Resources when he ran away. While no charges have been filed against him to date, authorities said his case would be handled by the juvenile court system.

A 15-year-old teen at the scene, who was not carrying a weapon, was not charged. Instead police called his parents, Williams said.

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Wednesday
Aug152018

Employee fired after booting black girls from New Jersey gift shop

ABC(POINT PLEASANT, N.J) -- A New Jersey gift shop employee has been fired after she told seven black girls they were not welcome and ordered them to leave the store.

A video posted online showing part of the Aug. 10 incident at Jenkinson’s Aquarium Gift Shop in Point Pleasant Beach went viral, sparking outrage and making headlines across the country.

"The gift shop employee has been terminated effective immediately," Jenkinson's Boardwalk said in a statement Tuesday, while not naming the woman.

"This incident does not reflect the core values of the boardwalk. In our 90-year history, Jenkinson’s has always been and will continue to be the place where people from all races, religions, ages, genders, and cultures are welcome.”

Attiyya Barrett, the woman who had posted the video on Facebook, said Jenkinson's actions were a step in the right direction.

"I'm very happy about that," she told ABC News. "The girls are going to be very excited when I tell them."

Barrett heads an organization, Princess to Queenz, that offers summer camps and tutoring programs for children. The seven girls were part of a group of 40 girls from Paterson, New Jersey, between the ages of 7 and 14, whom she and a few other adults had taken to the shore as part of a summer camp. Some of the girls were seeing the Jersey Shore for the first time.

The employee initially told the girls to come back with a chaperone but even after they did so, she told them to leave, Barrett said. "Meanwhile, there were other white girls unattended and playing with items and they were not asked to leave," she added.

That's when she stepped in and began recording the video. Her Facebook post of the video has been shared more than 72,000 times as of Wednesday morning.

In the video, as Barrett pans the camera from the girls' faces to that of the employee, the employee tells her, "They're not welcome in here."

The girls were devastated by what happened, Barrett said, adding that they were crying and distraught on the long bus ride home. Such incidents are not new to the lives of black people, she said. "Honestly, I think that they just have never stopped," she said.

"The difference now is social media. Now we're able to capture these things on video and it just seems like they're more prevalent. But in my opinion, that is what people of color deal with every day."


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Wednesday
Aug152018

Sexual assault survivors react to report condemning alleged abuse by hundreds of ‘predator priests’

iStock/Thinkstock(HARRISBURG, Pa.) -- Sexual assault survivors shared their stories after a Pennsylvania grand jury report accused hundreds of Roman Catholic priests of assaulting children.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, several of them detailed heart-wrenching accounts of alleged sexual abuse against 301 priests across six of the state’s eight dioceses.

“Who would’ve believed me?” Robert Corby, now 83, said Tuesday. “A priest in 1948 or '47 would abuse you? Do that? Never heard of such a thing because they covered it up. They targeted me because I was fatherless.”

Pennsylvania’s attorney general released the scathing report that revealed the results of a two-year investigation into hundreds of sexual abuse allegations. The probe found that at least 1,000 children had been abused at the hands of Catholic clergy members, dating back to the 1940s.

“Predators in every diocese weaponized the Catholic faith and used it as a tool of their abuse,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Tuesday. “Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all. For decades.”

Another survivor, Sean Dougherty, 48, said he believes he’d been ”groomed” for abuse by the church at a young age.

“When you have the priest touching you every day, you know, that’s a hard memory to have,” Dougherty said. “You’re being groomed to get used to a grown man’s hands, you know, on you, regularly.

“This is not a vendetta against the church. We’re called survivors for a reason,” he added.

The investigation was based on official documents and secret archives from the church, according to the report. High-level church leaders allegedly covered up the abuse for years, fostering a "circle of secrecy,” Shapiro said.

“The cover up was sophisticated and, all the while, church leadership kept records of the abuse and the cover-up,” Shapiro said Tuesday. “They sought to do the same things that senior church leaders and the diocese we investigated have done for decades: bury the sexual abuse by priests upon children and cover it up forever. Shamefully.”

Pennsylvania’s report named hundreds of what it called “predator priests,” including one in Harrisburg, the late Rev. Augustine Giella, who allegedly molested five sisters from one family in the 1980s.

A Catholic school teacher reported the priest after hearing disturbing allegations but church officials dealt with the matter quietly, according to the grand jury. Giella retired voluntarily in 1988 and continued to molest girls into the 1990s, a common pattern in so many cases, according to the report.

Shapiro also called out Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the former bishop of Pittsburgh. Wuerl helped to protect allegedly abusive priests during his time as bishop of Pittsburgh, according to the report.

In his defense, Wuerl said in a statement, “While I understand this report may be critical of some of my actions, I believe the report confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse.”

"I sincerely hope that a just assessment of my actions, past and present, and my continuing commitment to the protection of children will dispel any notions otherwise made by this report."

The Pennsylvania grand jury concluded that he reported some allegedly abusive priests to the Vatican but allowed other individual parishes to resolve the accusations in other cases.


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Wednesday
Aug152018

'Bittersweet day' as Stoneman Douglas students return to school 6 months after mass shooting: Superintendent

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Wednesday marked a "bittersweet day" for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who returned to class for the first time since the February massacre, the superintendent said.

"Everyone's glad to get back and be reunited," Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said at a news conference Wednesday morning. "But it's six months away from the tragedy, which feels like it happened just yesterday."

Seventeen students and staff were killed in the Valentine's Day mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas. The alleged shooter, a former student, was arrested.

"A lot of emotions going on," Runcie continued Wednesday. "It's still a challenging time for many of the students and faculty."

The district is providing "an enormous amount of support" to returning students, according to the superintendent, including counselors, social workers, behavior therapists and therapy dogs.

Ahead of the new school year, security at Stoneman Douglas was "significantly enhanced," Runcie said, including permanently doubling security staff, updating and adding more surveillance cameras and adding and upgrading intercom systems.

More fences were also added and classroom doors will now lock automatically, he said.

Beyond Stoneman Douglas, the school district is increasing the number of mental health counselors and social workers and enhancing its threat assessment teams, the superintendent said.

Runcie stressed that the more important element is to have "discipline around how we enforce protocols at the school." Manning the campus gates when they are open and locking the gates when school is in session are part of it.

Although the district now plans to hold active assailant drills at least once a month at its schools, Runcie said, Stoneman Douglas students will be notified ahead of time about the drills that may bring up traumatic memories.

As Stoneman Douglas sophomore Lauren Hogg returns to class, she told ABC News' "Start Here" podcast that school is "never going to be normal again."

Hogg, 15, is one of the Stoneman Douglas students-turned-activists who launched a youth-led movement to push for gun reform.

"I wish we didn't have to experience this new normal," Hogg said. "I can't help but constantly think about not only myself and my friends at my school, but constantly thinking about my friends at other schools who don't have as many safety precautions as we now do, and I worry about them."

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