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  Whats New @ IEEE-USA - Eye On Washington


Vol. 2007, No. 1 (12 January 2007)

1) CAPITOL HILL WATCH

  • New Finance Chairman Baucus Seeks Permanent R&D Credit
  • Senate Democrats Offer Top 10 Legislative Priorities
  • House Science Committee Leadership Urges Clear Research Agenda to Study Potential Implications of Nanotech
  • Internet Caucus Chairmen Optimistic On Net Neutrality
  • R&D Caucus Briefing - Large-Scale Facilities for Small-Scale Science: The Spallation Neutron Source Becoming a Foremost Center for Materials Research

2) WHITE HOUSE & EXECUTIVE AGENCY WATCH

  • Members Named to New Advisory Panel to Measure Innovation

3) REPORTS, SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

  • Government Accountability Office Reports
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • National Science Foundation
  • New AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies Report on The Politics of Patent Reform
  • British Intellectual Property Gowers Review
  • Task Force on the Future of American Innovation - Benchmarking our Innovation Future

4) U.S. COURTS ACTIVITY

5) U.S. STATES WATCH

6) AWARDS & GRANTS

7) CONFERENCES, FELLOWSHIPS, PROGRAMS & INTERNSHIPS FOR ENGINEERS, and STUDENTS and SCHOLARS OF ENGINEERING

  • National Academy of Sciences  - Designing Cyberinfrastructure for Collaboration and Innovation
  • 2007 Engineering R&D Symposium

8) LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

  • IEEE-USA Today's Engineer Online Cites $30 Trillion Unfunded Medicare Liability
  • IEEE-USA Launches Critical Infrastructure Protection Committee, To Focus on Protecting Information Technology
  • SAVE THE DATE!  March 13 – 14, 2007  The 3rd Annual IEEE-USA Career Fly-In
  • Track IEEE-USAs Progress
  • IEEE-USA In The News

9) U.S. COMPETITIVENESS & INNOVATION: WHO'S DOING WHAT TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE?

10) OTHER ITEMS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST


1) CAPITOL HILL WATCH

  • New Finance Chairman Baucus Seeks Permanent R&D Credit

On the first day of the 110th Congress, new Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) – who has indicated he will focus on competitiveness issues – introduced a bill to make the research-and-development credit a permanent part of the tax code. The credit is a top priority of the business community, but similar legislation failed during the 109th Congress.

The R&D tax credit has bipartisan support, though it's unclear how much support there is for making it permanent. In a tax bill that cleared in the final moments of the lame-duck session, the 109th Congress extended the credit through 2007.

  • Senate Democrats Offer Top 10 Legislative Priorities

The new Senate majority has unveiled their top 10 legislative initiatives for the 110th Congress. The list includes:

  1. Legislation to impose more stringent ethics rules on Members of Congress. The language is the same as a bill passed by the Senate last year.
  2. A nonbinding Sense of the Congress resolution urging the enhancement of the readiness of U.S. military capabilities; improvement of health care and educational assistance to those in the military; and restoration and enhancement of the capabilities, "that America needs to protect her people and her interests around the world."
  3. A minimum-wage bill that would raise the lowest legal pay rate from the current $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour over two years. It does not appear to include tax breaks for small businesses, as the president and congressional Republicans have requested.
  4. Federal funding for human stem-cell research.
  5. A bill to expand federal aid for higher education by increasing the maximum available under the Pell Grant program, cutting student loan interest rates and providing a permanent tax deduction for college tuition.
  6. A bill to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission will focus on enhancing cargo screening and security, improving training and equipment for first responders, securing nuclear materials that could be used for dirty bombs, and crafting a new foreign policy that tries to address the economic, social and political conditions that breed terrorism, according to the fact sheet.
  7. Plans for overhauling the Medicare prescription drug bill that includes a review of the current law prohibition on Medicare officials negotiating with drug companies for lower prices and a proposal for creating a reserve fund from any savings gleaned from giving Medicare officials negotiating power.
  8. An energy bill that requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, repeal tax breaks for large energy companies, attacks price gouging in the energy market, and encourages development of alternative energy sources.
  9. A bill to deal with illegal immigration and guest workers that is likely to be similar to a bipartisan measure that passed the Senate last year.
  10. A bill to reinstitute pay as you go budgeting rules, which require offsets for any new spending or new tax cuts.
  • House Science Committee Leadership Urges Clear Research Agenda to Study Potential Implications of Nanotech

Former Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and incoming Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) reiterated their call for the Administration to establish a research agenda with clear priorities to ensure a greater understanding of the potential environmental, health and safety risks associated with nanotechnology. Boehlert and Gordon made their comments in a joint statement that accompanied the release of witness responses to questions issued by the Science Committee following a September 21 hearing on, Research on Environmental and Safety Impacts of Nanotechnology: What are the Federal Agencies Doing?  The witnesses' responses, along with other materials from the hearing, are available on the Committee's Website. Boehlert and Gordon issued the following statement:

"The witness answers have provided useful insights for the next Congress to consider.  In particular, we think the next Congress must continue to review whether an outside entity, like the National Academy of Sciences, ought to be charged with putting together a research agenda with clear priorities on environmental, health and safety issues related to nanotechnology, and whether the Health Effects Institute ought to carry out some of the more sensitive public health research.  Regardless of the role of outside organizations, we continue to believe that the federal government needs to move much more quickly to put together a truly coordinated strategic plan for research in this area along the lines of the recommendations that were recently published in the journal Nature."

NOTE: The new name of this Committee is now the House Committee on Science and Technology. For more info, visit: http://science.house.gov/

  • Internet Caucus Chairmen Optimistic On Net Neutrality

As the House looks for bipartisan issues to pass early in the next session, Congressmen Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), co-chairmen of the Internet Caucus, hope one technology issue definitely gets floor time – the controversial net neutrality proposals. Net neutrality refers to proposed plans by those who own the Internet lines to charge preferred customers more for faster service.

"The driving fear [among content providers] is owners of the pipes would set up a situation where access is controlled by how much they pay," said Goodlatte. "People would not get as good access to your business if you don't pay more." Goodlatte said he hopes Congress can prevent that by changing antitrust regulations. "I really think there is some middle ground to be achieved."

AT&T agreed to follow net neutrality principles for 30 months as part of the conditions for the FCC to approve its merger with BellSouth. Goodlatte and Boucher said Congress still needs to resolve the issue. Boucher said Democratic control of Congress makes it more likely to come up next session.

"The broadband providers need to have this issue resolved. It's not going to go away," Boucher said. "Nothing is going to pass unless this net neutrality issue is passed.

  • R&D Caucus Briefing - Large-Scale Facilities for Small-Scale Science: The Spallation Neutron Source Becoming a Foremost Center for Materials Research

 

The R&D Caucus, for which IEEE-USA serves as an advisor, is sponsoring a briefing on the unique capabilities of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s new Spallation Neutron Source.  The SNS will provide America the world’s foremost center for materials research. A Department of Energy scientific user facility, the Spallation Neutron Source is ten times more powerful than existing neutron sources in Europe and Asia and will be an environment in which 2,000 researchers from around the world will conduct small-scale basic research that promises a broad range of discoveries and new technologies. Scientists anticipate that research conducted at the Spallation Neutron Source will strengthen American competitiveness in energy, telecommunications, manufacturing, transportation, information technology, health, and biotechnology.

 

Details:

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 12:00 noon–1:30 p.m.

2325 Rayburn House Office Building, Independence Ave, SE, Washington, D.C.

http://www.researchcaucus.org/docs/jan_07_briefing_sns_revised_12-27%20(2).pdf


2) WHITE HOUSE & EXECUTIVE AGENCY WATCH

  • Members Named to New Advisory Panel to Measure Innovation

Fifteen business and academic leaders – including six Fortune 500 executives – were named by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez to serve on a new panel to understand better how U.S. innovation contributes to American economic prosperity and high living standards. Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation will join other notable names including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano, 3M CEO George Buckley and Wal-Mart Vice Chairman John Menzer. The Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy Advisory Committee will help develop better ways to measure innovation so that the public and policymakers can understand its impact on economic growth and productivity.  Learn more from the Department of Commerce announcement.


3) REPORTS, SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

  • Government Accountability Office Reports

Export Controls:  Challenges Exist in Enforcement of an Inherently Complex System - GAO-07-265 (December 20, 2006) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07265.pdf

Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07265high.pdf

International Energy: International Forums Contribute to Energy Cooperation within Constraints - GAO-07-170 (December 19, 2006) http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-170

Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07170high.pdf

Offshoring: U.S. Semiconductor and Software Industries Increasingly Produce in China and India - 06-423GAO (September 7, 2006) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06423.pdf

  • National Academy of Sciences

NRC Report Finds Much of Current K-8 Science Teaching Outdated - The Committee on Science Learning, Kindergarten Through Eighth Grade of the National Research Council's Board on Science Education released a report on K-8 science education charging that most science instruction in schools today is based on outdated research of 30 to 40 years ago.  The report offers a framework for the next round of reforms, based on the latest understanding of how children learn and what they bring to the classroom, a narrowed focus on the main ideas in science, improved preparation and professional development for teachers, and better alignment across all aspects of the instructional system.

Faced with "the looming mandate of the No Child Left Behind Act that states assess science beginning in the 2006-2007 school year," and the fact that "U.S. students fare poorly in comparison with students in other countries," the Committee reviewed over a decade of reforms in science education and the latest research on learning and cognitive development. The resulting conclusions challenge the science education community to examine some tenacious assumptions about children's potential for learning about science and, as a result, the priority of science in elementary schools." The committee summarizes its conclusions as follows:

 

-Children entering school already have substantial knowledge of the natural world, much of which is implicit.

-What children are capable of at a particular age is the result of a complex interplay among maturation, experience, and instruction. What is developmentally appropriate is not a simple function of age or grade, but rather is largely contingent on their prior opportunities to learn.

-Students' knowledge and experience play a critical role in their science learning, influencing all four strands of science understanding.

-Race and ethnicity, language, culture, gender, and socioeconomic status are among the factors that influence the knowledge and experience children bring to the classroom.

-Students learn science by actively engaging in the practices of science.

-A range of instructional approaches is necessary as part of a full development of science proficiency.

 

As a framework for curriculum and instruction, the report proposes the following four interrelated strands of proficiency. Students who are proficient in science:

 

1  know, use, and interpret scientific explanations of the natural world;

2. generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanations;

3. understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge; and

4. participate productively in scientific practices and discourse."

 

The report, Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8, can be purchased online from the National Academies Press at http://books.nap.edu/catalog/11625.htm

  • National Science Foundation

Directorate for Education & Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education - National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Digital Library (NSDL) - The goal of the National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Digital Library (NSDL) program is to create, develop, and sustain a national digital library supporting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Collectively, its projects form a network of STEM learning environments and resources. The resulting digital library is intended ultimately to meet the needs of students and teachers at all levels -- pre-K to 12, undergraduate, graduate, and lifelong learning. It will serve both the individual learner seeking understanding and groups of learners engaged in collaborative exploration of concepts; and it will support formal and informal modes of learning. The NSDL (http://nsdl.org) will provide the premier path to a rich array of current and future high-quality STEM educational content and services, and also function as a forum where resource users may become resource providers. For example, users might contribute their expertise to produce new teaching modules from resources such as real-time experimental data or visualization software available through the network. Or they might evaluate and report on improvements to student learning due to specific digital learning objects (such as images, Java applet simulations, Flash animations, or interactive electronic notebook modules). For more information, visit: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf07538/nsf07538.html

  

Dear Colleague Letter for Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE)-View the letter at: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf07015/nsf07015.jsp - "On behalf of the Division of Graduate Education (DGE) in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) we call your attention to an opportunity to request support for research and evaluation projects focused on graduate education. This opportunity is embedded in a program titled Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE) managed by the Division of Research, Evaluation, and Communication (REC) in EHR." The REESE Program Solicitation (NSF 06-609) can be viewed at: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2006/nsf06609/nsf06609.htm"

  • New AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies Report on The Politics of Patent Reform

Reforming the patent system has been a hotly debated political topic for the past decade. Yet, at the same time, recent research shows that patents are not really a critical factor in explaining why firms invest in and profit from new R&D initiatives. Harvard researcher Frederic Scherer seeks to explain this puzzle in a recent research paper for the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. Scherer argues that patent policy changes of the 1970s and 1980s have had a mixed effect. They have increased the importance of patents (at least in a legal sense), but they have also fostered the creation of many dubious patents and increased litigation around the entire process. Scherer concludes with recommendations for future reforms. He supports the creation of third party opposition rights during the patent application process, reform of technology transfer rules to encourage more rapid commercialization, and limits on the ability to obtain patents for business methods or natural processes. Overall, the paper is a useful review of the issues raised by ongoing patent policy reform debates. Download: The Political Economy of Patent Policy Reform in the United States," by F.M. Scherer.

  • British Intellectual Property Gowers Review

The US is not the only nation reviewing its patent and intellectual property (IP) laws. Great Britain is also engaged in a similar exercise. As part of this month's Pre-Budget reports, Britain's Department of the Treasury has released several independent studies on key topics. Under the leadership of Andrew Gowers, editor of the Financial Times, the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property is an assessment of how Britain can best support and promote innovation in knowledge-based industries. The review offers a detailed and readable review of the importance of intellectual property in the 21st century economy. It also offers some guidelines and recommendations that may sound familiar to those who follow similar debates here in Washington. The report recommends that the UK Patent Office improve its business outreach and also work with British firms to protect their IP rights abroad. It also advocates creation of new venues (via mediation and consulting) to avoid costly and time-consuming legal battles over IP rights. In general, the report seeks an elusive balance: ". . . an IP system that creates incentives for innovation, without unduly limiting access for consumers and follow-on innovators." Download the December 2006 Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.

  • Task Force on the Future of American Innovation - Benchmarking our Innovation Future

The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation, a private consortium of leading industry and academic organizations, has a released a new report that assesses America's future innovation capacity. Measuring the Moment: Innovation, National Security, and Economic Competitiveness is a benchmarking exercise designed to assess how America stacks up on key measures of research investment, knowledge creation, and the development of critical industries such as biotechnology, semiconductors and information technology. The report's main findings are similar to other recent studies from the National Research Council and the Council on Competitiveness. While the US economy has many strengths, it also faces serious long-term challenges in its educational systems and in its future ability to attract and retain talent. The study emphasizes the national security implications of these trends, arguing that declines in research spending may hamper our ability to develop the most advanced weapons systems and defense technologies. Similar threats may emerge if the US is unable to continue creating and nurturing a skilled pool of scientists and engineers. Download: Measuring the Moment: Innovation, National Security, and Economic Competitiveness 


4) U.S. COURTS ACTIVITY


5) US STATES WATCH


6) AWARDS & GRANTS

 

  • AAAS Grant Site

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has a service called GrantsNet Express.  Each week GrantsNet will provide a listing of science funding opportunities from private foundations and organizations, and new U.S. government grant announcements in the sciences. AAAS will send GrantsNet by e-mail to AAAS member subscribers. The weekly emails will include: — New science funding programs, divided into opportunities for postdocs/graduate students and undergraduates — Submission deadlines for funding opportunities scheduled in the upcoming week — New listings of funding for science-related research.


7) CONFERENCES, FELLOWSHIPS, PROGRAMS & INTERNSHIPS FOR ENGINEERS, and STUDENTS & SCHOLARS OF ENGINEERING

  • National Academy of Sciences  - Designing Cyberinfrastructure for Collaboration and Innovation

On January 29-30, 2007, the NAS will host an interdisciplinary conference to examine the vision, design, and policy implications of cyberinfrastructure in the context of open innovation, the growing importance of collaboration, and the increased presence of intellectual property and other controls on the creation, management, and use of knowledge.  As publicly supported advanced infrastructure, cyberinfrastructure invites learning from the history of the Internet and the explosion of Internet-enabled innovation, but there are important technological, institutional, and contextual differences.  The conference is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the University of Michigan, Science Commons, the Council on Competitiveness, and the Committee for Economic Development.  A detailed program is available. Please visit the conference website: http://cyberinfrastructure.us

  • 2007 Engineering R&D Symposium

Mark your calendar to attend the 5th Annual Engineering R&D Symposium scheduled for Tuesday, May 8, 2007 in Washington, DC. Join leaders from the engineering community to gain firsthand knowledge of the administration's R&D priorities and the potential impact of the President's fiscal year 2008 budget request on the engineering, science and technology community.  Engineers play a critical role in the public policy process, providing expertise and knowledge regarding research and technology issues facing the nation.  The symposium will feature representatives from government, industry and academia, who will participate in panel sessions on innovation, U.S. competitiveness, research and development, and the state of the U.S. engineering enterprise. Contact Kathryn Holmes, Director, ASME Government Relations at holmesk@asme.org for additional information.


8) LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

  • IEEE-USA Today's Engineer Online Cites $30 Trillion Unfunded Medicare Liability

Because of rising healthcare costs, advancing technology, and an aging U.S. population, predicting future Medicare spending is difficult. In 2005, the unfunded liability for Medicare was projected to be close to $30 trillion, according to the current issue of IEEE-USA Today's Engineer Online.

"How well we deal with the funding issue will affect the extent to which we push costs forward to future generations," Today's Engineer author George McClure writes in "Fixing Medicare: An Intergenerational Dilemma."

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people 65 and older, disabled people under 65 and those with end-stage renal disease. Three-quarters of Medicare costs are covered by the program; the remainder by recipients. With the expected growth in those eligible for benefits and the uncertainty

of future healthcare costs, Medicare Part A, which covers hospital services, is expected to run out of money by 2018. The prescription drug program (Medicare Part D) is also unfunded. To prevent the projected shortfall, some combination of cutting benefits, raising premiums or increasing the payroll tax will have to implemented.

"The earlier that actions are taken to avert the looming crisis, the easier those actions will be," McClure writes. "But the politics are daunting." To read the entire article, go to www.todaysengineer.org. To subscribe to Today's Engineer Online, IEEE members can go to http://ewh.ieee.org/enotice/options.php?LN=IEEEUSA. Non-members can visit http://www.todaysengineer.org/emailupdates/index.html

  • IEEE-USA Launches Critical Infrastructure Protection Committee, To Focus on Protecting Information Technology

Citing a need to foster and assist policy initiatives related to critical infrastructure security needs, IEEE-USA will launch a Critical Infrastructure Protection Committee (CIPC) in January. IEEE-USA plans to work on these issues with government and private homeland security organizations.

 

The committee will look at all aspects of critical infrastructure protection, including cyber security, electric power, communications, computer networks, government services, public health, water, food supplies, energy, transportation, emergency services and banking and finance, among other key assets. IEEE-USA's focus will be on protecting the information-technology underpinnings of the infrastructure.

 

"The integrity of these systems is critically important to the recovery of communities after catastrophic events such as natural disasters, system failures or terrorist attacks," IEEE-USA CIPC Chair Dr. Luis Kun said. "The optimal functioning of our society depends on our nation's critical infrastructure."

 

The major goals of protecting critical infrastructure are prevention, minimization and recovery. Ideally, preventing disruption to the infrastructure is the first level of defense. If the traumas cannot be

prevented, minimizing their harmful effects is the next level. Finally, providing the means and methods for the systems to recover from these events would reduce disruption to people's lives and minimize economic impact. For more information, contact Dr. Kun (l.kun@ieee.org) or Debbie Rudolph (d.rudolph@ieee.org).

  • SAVE THE DATE!  March 13 – 14, 2007  The 3rd Annual IEEE-USA Career Fly-In

IEEE-USA invites all IEEE members in the United States to join us in Washington, D.C. this coming March.  All participants will have an opportunity to meet with their elected officials and staff to discuss issues related to engineering careers.  This is a great opportunity for you to express your concerns directly to people who can do something about them.

The 2007 Fly-In will probably focus on immigration reform. Congress is planning on continuing to debate major changes in the nation's immigration system.  High-skill immigration, which directly affects engineers, will be part of that debate.  But because the number of high-skill immigrants is so much smaller than low-skill immigrants, skilled immigration often does not receive much attention from legislators.

The Fly-In will change that. Participants will have an opportunity to express their opinions on this important issue directly to the individuals responsible for making immigration policy.  Face-to-face meetings offer the best possible chance to influence their decisions because they force policy makers to focus on your position.  Politicians always listen when voters travel to Washington. Meetings in Washington are, without question, one of the best ways to influence Congress.  IEEE-USA will fully brief and prepare you in advance of your meetings.  We will also schedule your appointments.  You just have to come to Washington to have a direct impact on immigration policy.All IEEE members in the U.S. are welcome and encouraged to attend.

More information can be found at www.ieeeusa.org or by contacting IEEE-USA staffer Russ Harrison at r.t.harrison@ieee.org.

  • Track IEEE-USAs Progress

Review IEEE-USA's year-to-date progress in working for the IEEE U.S. members at the new IEEE-USA Year-in-Review Web page. Check out what IEEE-USA activities and programs helped the IEEE U.S. members in 2004 at the new IEEE-USA Annual Report online. And find out what's on IEEE-USA's agenda through 2009, with the new, online IEEE-USA Strategic & Operational Plan.For the IEEE-USA Year-in-Review, go to: http://www.ieeeusa.org/about/yearinreview.asp

For the IEEE-USA Annual Report, go to: http://www.ieeeusa.org/about/Annual_Report/2004.pdf

For the IEEE-USA Strategic & Operational Plan, go to:

http://www.ieeeusa.org/volunteers/strategicplan/index.html

Read a full listing of IEEE-USA lobbying activities on our web site at: http://ieeeusa.com/policy/policy/index.html

  • IEEE-USA In The News

For more IEEE-USA in the News items, go to

http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/inthenews/default.asp


9) U.S. COMPETITIVENESS & INNOVATION: WHO'S DOING WHAT TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE?

  • IEEE-USA Resource  Web Page

U.S. Competitiveness: The Innovation Challenge  - A comprehensive list of reports and activities can be found at http://ieeeusa.org/policy/issues/innovation/index.asp


10) OTHER ITEMS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST

 


Top of Page | Whats New@IEEE | EyeOnWash Archive | IEEE-USA


Whats New @ IEEE-USAs Eye on Washington highlights important federal legislative and regulatory developments that affect U.S. engineers and their careers. In addition to this biweekly newsletter, subscribers receive legislative bulletins and action alerts on IEEE-USA priority issues, including: retirement security, employment benefits, research & development funding, computers and information policy, immigration reform, intellectual property protection and privacy of health/medical information.

You can change your IEEE-USA Eye on Washington subscription status by using the forms at http://whatsnew.ieee.org/ or at http://www.ieeeusa.org/emailupdates/.

Copyright © 2006, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  Permission granted to copy for personal use or for non-commercial republication with appropriate attribution.

Updated: 08 January 2007


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