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Posts tagged ‘GOP’

Dems Hope to Force House Vote on Minimum Wage Hike.


House Democrats said Thursday they will try to highlight GOP resistance to a higher minimum wage with a tactical maneuver meant to bring new attention to an issue they consider a political winner.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said her party will push a “discharge petition” when Congress returns from its recess on Feb. 24. If Democrats can persuade roughly two dozen Republicans to sign the petition, it would force GOP leaders to allow a House vote on the wage issue.

Most Republican lawmakers oppose a higher minimum wage. They say it prompts employers to cut down on hiring, a claim Democrats dispute.

It’s by no means clear Democrats can collect enough signatures in the House, where they hold 200 seats to the Republicans’ 232. Three seats are vacant.

Pelosi’s announcement, at a House Democratic retreat in rural Maryland, might displease immigration reform advocates who want priority given to a discharge petition on that subject. Pelosi said a discharge effort may come later for immigration, but “right now we’re starting with the minimum wage.”

Democrats say most Americans favor both a higher minimum wage and sweeping changes to immigration laws. They say Republican leaders thwart the public’s will by refusing to allow House votes on these topics.

President Barack Obama and many congressional Democrats want to raise the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

An AP-GfK Poll in January found 55 percent of U.S. adults favor an increase in the minimum wage. Just 21 percent oppose it, and 23 percent are neutral.

Democrats say it’s frustrating to see polls show widespread support for their proposals — including a higher minimum wage and an immigration overhaul — even as Republicans appear likely to retain their House majority and possibly gain control of the Senate in this year’s elections.

Some strategists want congressional Democrats to find new ways to underscore their differences with Republicans, and paint Republicans as obstructionists.

“The minimum wage is one of the illuminating contrasts we have,” Rep. Steve Israel, of New York, told reporters at the party’s retreat. He chairs the committee overseeing Democrats’ House races.

Earlier, Republicans dismissed the idea of Democrats getting enough petition signatures to force a House vote on a Senate immigration bill that would grant new pathways to legal status for millions of immigrants.

“This scheme has zero chance of success,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “A clear majority in the House understands that the massive Senate-passed bill is deeply flawed.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he believes nearly all House Democrats would sign a petition seeking a vote on a higher minimum wage. If all 200 Democrats did so, they would need 17 Republicans to join them.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Cleta Mitchell: IRS Targeting of Conservatives Continues.


Image: Cleta Mitchell: IRS Targeting of Conservatives ContinuesCleta Mitchell testifies on Capitol Hill on Feb. 6. On the panel with Mitchell are, from left, Catherine Engelbrecht, Founder of King Street Patriots, Becky Gerritson, Founder and President Wetumpka Tea Party, Inc., and Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel American Center for Law and Justice.

By David A. Patten

Explosive testimony lit up a House hearing on the IRS targeting scandal Thursday, as GOP super lawyer Cleta Mitchell told representatives that the systematic effort to delay the processing of grass-roots groups applications for nonprofit status continues to occur.

Mitchell represents several grass-roots conservative organizations whose applications under sections 501C3 and 501C4 of the internal revenue code were delayed for years in the run-up to the 2012 election. She said that targeting had not stopped.

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Fox News on Thursday that the effort to suppress conservative voices was “almost Nixonian,” noting President Obama said in a recent interview that there was “not even a smidgeon” of corruption involved in the apparent IRS effort to chill conservative groups after the tea party movement emerged in February 2009.

“How could you possibly say that when Lois Lerner in charge of tax-exempt groups pled the fifth?” Graham asked.

Also testifying Monday was Jay Sekulow, head of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). ACLJ officials also contend the IRS targeting continues to this day.

There were 41 grassroots groups named as plaintiffs in the ACLJ lawsuit alleging widespread abuses of the First Amendment rights of assembly and free speech by the Obama administration and the IRS. Of those, 13 still have not yet received adjudication of their request for non-profit status.

The oldest of those 13 pending applications for nonprofit status dates back to December 2009, French says. That would mean at least one group has been sidelined through two election cycles, with a third rapidly approaching.

Of the 13 groups in limbo, two sought 501c3 non-profit status and the other 11 sought 501c4 status as “social welfare” organizations, French said.

According to the ACLJ, five other groups joined the lawsuit after withdrawing their nonprofit applications due to frustration over the IRS approval process. Also, two of the plaintiffs refused to answer IRS questions that they considered unconstitutional, which led to the IRS closing their nonprofit applications without further consideration.

The proposed new IRS regulations seek to limit 501c4 groups’ activities. Conservative activists say the rules have exacerbated their sense of uncertainty and intimidation.

“Of course that has a chilling effect,” says French. “And until it is decisively and emphatically stopped through public, legal accountability, that chilling effect is likely to linger.”

Mitchell, who represents grass-roots conservative activists not included in the ACLJ lawsuit, recently echoed the view that conservative groups continue to be singled out in the run-up to the 2014 elections.

“The IRS is still, very deliberately targeting conservative organizations and subjecting them to additional intense and burdensome scrutiny — and this has not stopped,” she said. “This is still ongoing.”

According to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, the new proposed IRS regulations, which were first unveiled in November, appear to single out as political activity the precise sorts of programs tea party organizations typically run: Candidate forums, voter registration drives, and distributions of voter guides.

In a column published in the February edition of Newsmax Magazine, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel contends that conservative groups are much more likely to become ensnared in the new proposed limitations.

She notes that neither unions, which conduct most of their activities as 501c5 groups, nor 501c3 organizations such as the liberal League of Women Voters Education Fund, are affected. That’s because the rules were not written to apply to those types of nonprofits.

The reaction of conservative activists has grown increasingly strident. Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the grass-roots National Liberty Federation organization, tells Newsmax:

“Never before have we seen such attitudes and actions taken in America by an administration or government body.

“They are intentionally trying to silence the voices of millions of Americans, who all they want is to be heard.”

Wilkinson said his organization is closely following nine critical Senate races that could flip either way. But the fear of some that they could become targets of the IRS is having an impact, he says.

“Through this intimidation a lot of people have said, ‘I don’t know if I want to risk the IRS or the Treasury Department or whoever they’re going to send after me,’” he says.

Recent remarks by Democrats appear to have exacerbated conservatives’ concern that the IRS has been politicized.

In January, New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer urged the IRS to “redouble [its] efforts immediately” to constrain the tea parties.

Urgent: Is Obama Telling the Truth on IRS, Benghazi Scandals? 

During his Super Bowl interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, President Obama said there was “not even a smidgeon of corruption” involved. This despite the fact that the FBI has yet to release the findings of its investigation.

Such remarks appear aimed at energizing a Democratic base that has seen tea party nonprofits as fair game ever since the Citizens United ruling made it easier for corporations to get involved in politics.

Curiously, the IRS targeting has had relatively little impact on the major activist groups that raise millions of dollars each year.

A recent New York Times story reported that four major conservative organizations — FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, the Club for Growth Action Fund, and the Senate Conservatives Fund — are actually outraising their more establishment GOP counterparts such as Crossroads GPS.

But unlike the big groups that can afford to “lawyer up,” it is the smaller activist organizations all over the country — with names like Linchpins of Liberty, Colorado 9/12 Project, First State Patriots, Mid-South Tea Party, and American Patriots Against Government Excess — who have been ensnared by the long arm of the IRS.

Those smaller organizations are believed to play a key role in getting out the vote in local neighborhoods.

Wilkinson praises the myriad local tea parties as “the most effective system out there, compared to the Republican consulting groups that get millions of dollars in TV ads and radio ads.

“They put every dollar they have in, and their heart and soul. They’re getting people to the polls for maybe pennies on the dollar.”

How those groups will fare as the tax laws they must comply with grow increasingly complex and demanding is open to question.

French says the proposed IRS rules will mean “an enormous amount of activity undertaken on the basis of issues, is now re-characterized as political, and now subject to limits.

“That essentially takes a group’s ability to engage in issue advocacy and then completely neuters it in the days and the weeks leading up to an election, by defining political activity so very broadly,” he adds.

When the targeting controversy first broke last May, President Obama said the IRS targeting was “inexcusable,” and added: “I’m angry about it.”

The “social welfare” and issue-advocacy 501c4 organizations have received special attention in part because their donors’ names generally do not have to be disclosed.

The controversy over IRS targeting dates back to May 2013. That’s when former IRS executive Lois Lerner revealed that IRS personnel had acted in what she called an “absolutely inappropriate” way by holding up the non-profit applications of groups with the terms “tea party,” “patriot,” or “9/12” in their names.

The IRS asked the targeted groups to answer intrusive questionnaires regarding their activities — ranging from information on their members’ employers, donors lists, and even in one case how much time a particular organization spent “on prayer groups.”

At the time, GOP Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, received several complaints. He wrote a letter of inquiry to then-acting IRS Commissioner Stephen T. Miller.

Miller wrote back with assurances that no conservative groups were being targeted. But not long after Lerner’s disclosure, Miller was asked to resign.

The Obama administration has portrayed the IRS affair as a limited imbroglio involving a few rogue agents in the IRS’s Cincinnati office.

But Mitchell says several of her clients were told a final decision on their applications would be handed down from IRS offices in Washington, D.C.

Not every grass-roots leader is concerned that conservative activists’ IRS problems will work to Democrats’ advantage, however. Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer is among those predicting it will backfire.

“When all this came out about the IRS targeting, it made people mad,” she tells Newsmax. “It made them mad as hell.

“…You get these individuals, under whatever local group, they don’t care: They’re going to go out there, and work their hearts and souls out for the cause.”

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Raul Labrador, House GOP: Immigration Out This Year.


Image: Raul Labrador, House GOP: Immigration Out This Year

 

Conservative Republicans are ruling out any immigration legislation in the House this year, insisting that the GOP should wait until next year when the party might also control the Senate.

House GOP leaders unveiled their broad immigration principles last week that gave hope to advocates and the Obama administration that the first changes in the nation’s laws in three decades might happen in the coming months.

Immigration legislation is one of the top priorities for Obama’s second term.

But several of the conservatives were adamant that the House should do nothing on the issue this year, a midterm election year when the GOP is angling to gain six seats in the Senate and seize majority control. Democrats currently have a 55-45 advantage but are defending more seats, including ones in Republican-leaning states.

“I think it’s a mistake for us to have an internal battle in the Republican Party this year about immigration reform,” Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told reporters at a gathering of conservatives. “I think when we take back the Senate in 2014 one of the first things we should do next year after we do certain economic issues, I think we should address the immigration issue.”

Labrador’s comments were noteworthy as he was one of eight House members working on bipartisan immigration legislation last year. He later abandoned the negotiations.

“This is not an issue that’s ready for prime time to move legislatively,” said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who said Republicans should use the principles to begin a dialogue with Hispanics.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the House should focus on the four bills dealing with security that the Judiciary Committee approved last summer. Absent any action on those bills, Jordan said it would be tough to do any immigration legislation this year.

The definitive statements from the conservatives came as Douglas Elmendorf, the head of the Congressional Budget Office, told a House panel that the comprehensive, Senate-passed immigration bill would have a positive impact on the nation’s finances.

The Senate last June passed a bipartisan bill that would tighten border security, provide enforcement measures and offer a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally.

The measure has stalled in the House where Speaker John Boehner and other leaders have rejected a comprehensive approach in favor of a bill-by-bill process.

Elmendorf told the House Budget Committee that a CBO analysis “found that that legislation would reduce budget deficits and lead to a larger economy and over time lead to higher output per person in this country.”

Specifically, he said additional workers, especially high-skilled, highly educated employees, would increase the nation’s tax revenues.

The House leaders’ broad principles would tighten border and interior security, establish a verification system for employers and legalize some of the 11 million immigrants. It would not provide a special path to citizenship to those living here illegally, though it would give children brought to the country by their parents a shot a citizenship.

Conservatives have said they distrust Obama to enforce any new law, citing his waivers and suspensions of provisions on the health care law.

Boehner said Tuesday that Republicans were discussing “whether we should proceed, if we proceed and how we would proceed. It’s also clear from our members that we believe that securing our borders has to be the first step in this process.”

But he added that conversations are continuing and “no decision’s been made.”

Further tamping down any optimism for legislation this year was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who told reporters that differences between the Senate’s comprehensive approach and the House’s piecemeal strategy were an “irresolvable conflict.”

“I don’t see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such a different place,” McConnell told reporters.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Democrats Breaking with Obama on Key Issues.


Image: Democrats Breaking with Obama on Key IssuesFrom left: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin and Martin Heinrich

By Melanie Batley

 

A growing number of Senate Democrats are speaking out publicly against a range of President Barack Obama’s policies in an attempt to distance themselves from theincreasingly unpopular president in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections.

According to Politico, the lawmakers appear to have become unusually comfortable with criticizing the president, particularly since the State of the Union Address. 

“You had two or three Democrats in the Senate who made statements after the president’s State of the Union speech that wouldn’t have been written any different if they had been written by the [National] Republican Senatorial Committee,” Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt told Politico.

Until recently, criticism of the president was concentrated among vulnerable red state Democrats, but now others are becoming vocal in their dissent on a range of issues including energy policy, Obamacare, the Nation Security Agency surveillance programs, and the Keystone XL pipeline. 

For example, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who isn’t up for re-election until 2018, has taken issue with Obama’s insistence in his State of the Union Address that he would bypass Congress whenever necessary to advance his agenda.

“I don’t think that’s what he meant. I swear to God I don’t,” Manchin said in an interview with Politico. “Could he have picked these words better? I would have thought he could have, I would have hoped he would have. But it came out offensive to a lot of people.”

Manchin is also part of a faction in the Senate that would approve construction of the Keystone pipeline, a group that is also critical of the administration’s positions on coal and energy exports.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, another Democrat who isn’t up for re-election until 2018, has called Obama’s energy policies “schizophrenic.”

Meanwhile, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, a freshman, has been a persistent critic of the White House on NSA policy, according to Politico. 

“I think the framers did an incredible job of finding the right balance, so, we’ve gotten away from that. And when we get back to that, my outspokenness will diminish,” he said.

Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado have also been vocal about the need for changes to the NSA’s surveillance programs.

A number of Democrats have for months been attempting to distance themselves from the president on Obamacare, aware that the GOP is likely to highlight the program’s failures throughout the 2014 campaign. But as Blunt put it, it may be an uphill battle.

“The White House and the Senate leadership understand the need of senators in states where the president is not popular to differentiate themselves from the president when they can,” Blunt told Politico. 

“On the healthcare bill, it’s going to be particularly difficult because all of them voted for it, all of them supported it. And it’s not going to get better between now and Election Day.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Paul Ryan: Obama Presidency ‘Increasingly Lawless’.


Image: Paul Ryan: Obama Presidency 'Increasingly Lawless'

By Greg Richter

President Barack Obama’s presidency is becoming ‘increasingly lawless’ as he signs executive orders contradicting existing law or proposing new ones, says Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

“Presidents don’t write laws, Congress does,” Ryan said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” 

Obama, in his State of the Union address last week, promised to go it alone by issuingeven more executive orders if Congress fails to pass laws he deems necessary.

“This Week” host George Stephanopoulos noted that the number of executive orders issued by Obama at this point in his presidency is fewer than those of the most recent two-term presidents, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan.

Ryan argued that the issue isn’t numbers, but scope.

“Executive orders are one thing, but executive orders that actually change the statute, that’s totally different,” Ryan said. He gave as an example Obama’s unilateral delay of some parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Still, Ryan doesn’t see impeachment proceedings over the issue, which he labeled a “dangerous trend.” Instead, he predicted court battles over individual incidents.

On others issues, Ryan:

  • Predicted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will continue to lead the Republican Governors Association despite his deepening troubles over the Bridge-gate scandal.
  • Said that despite internal GOP disagreement on immigration, the party does agree that it doesn’t trust Obama to enforce the law. He said Congress is unlikely to pass a bill this year to send to the president. Republicans want a secure border, interior security (a worker verification system and a visa tracking program), before the rest of law can take effect.
  • Said attaching policy to a debt limit bill is not a new approach, and that Congress should stop rubber stamping debt limit increases.
  • Defended comments he made that Pope Francis isn’t familiar with American capitalism because he is from Argentina, where “crony capitalism” is practiced. Francis is starting the debate on helping the poor, not ending, it, Ryan said. He admitted Francis wouldn’t back his budget proposal because “Popes don’t endorse budgets.”

Obamacare Alert: Massive Rule Changes to Affect Your Medicare 

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

McMorris Rodgers Seen as Rising Star After SOTU Response.


Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who delivered the first GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, is getting rave reviews from her fellow Republican colleagues about her future in the GOP.

“She’s one of our best messengers,” Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma told The Hill. “She an attractive and able spokesperson. Just look at her political skills, how far she’s come.”

“It’s hard not to see a very bright future,” he added.

Story continues below video.

McMorris Rodgers was elected by her colleagues to chair the Republican conference in November 2012, making her the No. 4 Republican in the House and the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress.

A former Republican aide to the House leadership said she managed to avoid the curse that others have faced after delivering State of the Union responses in the past.

“She certainly did an excellent job in her response, which is something that a number of alleged presidential contenders cannot say,” the aide told The Hill. “The State of the Union response platform has been more of a trapdoor than a springboard for future political success.”

Robert Costa of The Washington Post said that McMorris Rodgers’ response was “largely” successful.

“The challenge for McMorris Rodgers will be whether she can seize the moment and build the national profile that so far has eluded her,” Costa wrote. “It’s an open playbook for McMorris Rodgers.”

“With all she had to offer Tuesday for a party that is struggling to close the gender gap and rebound from back-to-back defeats in national elections, it’s a wonder she hasn’t appeared on the scene sooner,” he added.

Some suggest that she would be a great choice as a vice presidential candidate or a top office in Washington state. According to The Hill, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney considered having her join his ticket before he decided on Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. However, Romney did appoint her as his liaison to the House in 2012.

McMorris Rodgers is also the first woman to give birth to three children during her five-term tenure in office.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Courtney Coren

Grimm’s Re-election in Doubt as Federal Probe Continues.


Image: Grimm's Re-election in Doubt as Federal Probe Continues

 

By John Gizzi

The profane outburst at a TV reporter Tuesday by Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York has focused new attention on the recent indictment of one of his top fundraisers for campaign finance violations which, along with an ongoing federal investigation, has raised questions about the congressman’s re-election this year.

Were Grimm’s sole problem this lone outburst, his political problems would be minimal.

But what prompted the question from NY1 cable news reporter Michael Scotto following the State of the Union address concerned the investigation resulting in the Jan. 13 indictment of his longtime fundraiser Diana Durand of Houston on charges she tried to evade federal limits on campaign donations.

And looming large in the background is an FBI probe into whether Grimm accepted illegal donations — including large amounts of cash from foreigners in his first race for Congress in 2010.

The case involves Israeli Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, who has congregations in Israel and Manhattan, and who has agreed to testify for the FBI.

Durand, frequently referred to in press reports as a former girlfriend of Grimm’s, is charged with reimbursing two co-workers for donations to someone the FBI complaint refers to as “Congressman A” — and who The New York Times identifies as Grimm.

According to the complaint, Durand, who had already given the legal limit of $4,800 to Grimm, wrote both of the co-workers by email, saying, “I still have to make the deposit but I can write you both a check, or I can get your account numbers and do a transfer, whatever works for you.”

The Durand case is currently being handled by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Asked by Newsmax if Grimm was a target of any investigation, spokesman Robert Nardoza of the U.S. Attorney’s office said, “I can’t say, and I won’t confirm or deny that.”

The FBI probe involving Grimm and Pinto is more complex and potentially more devastating to the only Republican member of Congress from New York City.

Ofer Biton, a former top aide to Pinto, is alleged to have raised more than $500,000 for Grimm in 2010 from wealthy members of the rabbi’s congregation, including amounts of cash over the legal limit as well as donations from foreigners, which is illegal in federal races in the United States.

At the same time, Biton is also accused of embezzling millions of dollars from Pinto’s congregation, and last August pleaded guilty to visa fraud.

Rabbi Pinto is also alleged to have attempted to bribe Ephraim Bracha, a senior police official in Israel, who promptly reported the matter to superiors.

The Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva reported this month that “Rabbi Pinto has reportedly leveled his own charges against Grimm, claiming that Grimm’s associates attempted to blackmail him if he did not encourage his followers to donate to Grimm’s campaign.” The nature of the blackmail has not been disclosed publicly.

Grimm, a former FBI agent, has denied any knowledge of the financial schemes. But the recent indictment of Durand suggests that the feds may be tightening a noose around Grimm.

No leaders of either the Republican Party or the New York Conservative Party, whose ballot line the congressman carried in his two winning races, would speak on the record to Newsmax about Grimm facing further trouble or the possibility of a primary challenge.

Privately, however, there is growing concern among both GOP and Conservative chieftains in the Empire State that if there is more controversy ahead for Grimm, opposition might emerge out of fear that the 43-year-old congressman could be defeated.

Two years ago, Grimm defeated Democrat Mark Murphy — an aide to then-public advocate and now mayor, Bill de Blasio — with about 53 percent of the vote.

This year, the Democratic nominee is expected to be former City Councilman Domenic Recchia of Brooklyn.

The New York press has speculated that the former popular conservative Republican congressman from Staten Island, Vito Fossella, may challenge Grimm. Fossella has denied such plans, but an online poll conducted by the Staten Island Advance had more than 80 percent of respondents encouraging him to make a bid.

King County (Brooklyn) Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar told Newsmax that a committee met with Grimm and “we discussed his case. He may not like talking about it with reporters but he had no problems taking questions from us about it. He said he anticipates a conclusion of his discussions with federal government officials and nothing new will come up.”

As to whether Grimm is having political problems in New York’s 11th District, which includes Staten Island and a sliver of Brooklyn, Kassar said, “Any time some clouds appear, there is always a chance of a storm. But so far, this seems a case of guilt by association. We have confronted him directly about this and he has adequately responded to our questions.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

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