Posts Tagged ‘Referendum

18
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama laughs while walking with Senior Advisor David Axelrod following an event at the Costa Mesa Town Hall at OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., March 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern):

3:40: President Obama awards 24 Army veterans the Medal of Honor in recognition of their valor during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War

5:20: Attends a DNC fundraiser, Washington DC

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HHS.gov: Marketplace Enrollment Hits 5 Million Milestone

As this historic open enrollment period enters its final weeks, millions of Americans are finding quality, affordable coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Fernando Valdez and Denise Schroeder were part of a weekend wave of consumers signing up for new coverage and bringing enrollment nationwide to more than 5 million through the Federal and State-based Marketplaces since October 1st.

Fernando Valdez, 25, of El Paso, Texas woke up early on Saturday, after his mother insisted that he walk to an enrollment center and enroll in Marketplace coverage.  Now, he will pay $22 a month for his health insurance. Fernando said that he walked away knowing that if “I get into an accident I will not be in trouble with trying to find health care.”….

And Denise Schroeder says she now feels like “I have a whole new life” after enrolling in coverage in recent days. Denise, a small business owner in West Chester, Pennsylvania is also a cancer survivor. Because she had cancer, Denise knew she couldn’t let her health coverage lapse, but the $880 premium she was paying each month wiped out her savings account, and she said it was killing her. But after working with an enrollment navigator, she enrolled on Thursday in a Silver Plan for $22 a month.  When she saw the new premium, she cried.

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Des Moines Register: IowaCare Shift Shrinks Wait Time At Broadlawns, U Of I ERs

Not long ago, a trip to the emergency room at University of Iowa Hospitals was an exercise in frustration for people expecting immediate medical care. Unless they arrived with a life-threatening injury, most people often were forced to wait two hours or more in a crowded waiting room before seeing a doctor.

The federal Affordable Care Act has changed that, reducing congestion at the hospital and at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines.

Today, Iowans once covered by IowaCare are no longer forced to choose between two public hospitals — U of I Hospitals and Broadlawns — when they need medical care. Under the new Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, they can seek medical care in their hometowns where physicians now are reimbursed for services they provide.

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Kathy Robertson: Covered California Hits Million Sign-Ups For Health Care Coverage

Covered California hit a milestone late Friday of one million people signed up for coverage in the state’s new health benefits exchange. By the end of Saturday, the figure was up to 1,018,315 people who have applied for coverage and selected a health plan.

There are two weeks left to sign up for individual coverage in the new insurance marketplace. Open enrollment started Oct. 1 and ends March 31. “This is a historic threshold for our exchange, for the state of California and for the nation,” Peter Lee, executive director at Covered California, said in a news release. “It speaks to the immense need for the Affordable Care Act and the millions of people who have been waiting for affordable coverage.”

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@petesouza: President Obama with President Abbas following meeting at the White House

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Reuters: Russian Government Admits Economy In Crisis As Ukraine Weighs

Russia’s government acknowledged for the first time on Monday that the economy was in crisis, undermining earlier attempts by officials to suggest albeit weakening growth could weather sanctions over Ukraine. Moscow markets wait to see the full scale of western measures over the seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea and support of its referendum to join Russia, after losing billions of dollars in recent weeks in state and corporate money.

For weeks, Russian officials have said the confrontation between Moscow and the West over Ukraine that threatens economic sanctions and asset freezes would “weigh on the economy”. Although not speaking directly about the impact from the conflict, Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Belyakov said on Monday the economy was in trouble. “The economic situation shows clear signs of a crisis,” Belyakov told a local business conference.

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Reuters: Defiant Putin Signs Treaty Making Crimea Part Of Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin, defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions, on Tuesday signed a treaty making Crimea part Russia but said he did not plan to seize any other regions of Ukraine. In a fiercely patriotic address to a joint session of the Russian parliament in the Kremlin, punctuated by standing ovations, cheering and tears, Putin lambasted the West for what he called hypocrisy. Western nations had endorsed Kosovo’s independence from Serbia but now denied Crimeans the same right, he said.

“You cannot call the same thing black today and white tomorrow,” he declared to stormy applause, saying Western partners had “crossed the line” over Ukraine and behaved “irresponsibly”. He said Ukraine’s new leaders, in power since the overthrow of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovich last month, included “neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites”. Putin said Crimea’s disputed referendum vote on Sunday, held under Russian military occupation, had shown the overwhelming will of the people to be reunited with Russia after 60 years as part of the Ukrainian republic.

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Paul Waldman: What The Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Mean

The Obama administration announced late yesterday that 800,000 people have signed up for new health insurance so far in March. That brings the total under the Affordable Care Act to over 5 million and makes it likely that 6 million will have enrolled by March 31, the last day to sign up before getting a fine. That 6 million number would meet a projection made by the Congressional Budget Office. So what are we to make of those numbers? To a degree, targets like these are arbitrary when we’re judging the law’s success. It isn’t as though we’ll say that if 5,999,999 people signed up by the end of the month then the law has failed, while if 6,000,001 sign up then it has succeeded.

Nor does that number include the millions of people who have been enrolled in Medicaid, many of whom are getting health coverage for the first time. And the number of people signed up will continue to rise, particularly since the fines are quite small in the first year but get larger over time. But it’s worth remembering that for all the time we spend gaming out the political winners and losers of Obamacare, there are real people’s lives at stake. The law isn’t going to be repealed, something Republicans know as well as Democrats. For all its complications and the difficulty of implementation, the ACA has already done an extraordinary amount of good for those millions of people. If Republicans took their newfound concern for (some) people’s access to health care and used it to actually work to make the law work as well as possible, millions more might be helped as well. If only.

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Antoni Slodkowski: Japan To Impose Sanctions On Russia For Crimea Move

Japan will suspend talks on investment pact and relaxation of visa requirements as part of sanctions against Russia after Moscow recognized Crimea as a sovereign state, top government spokesman said on Tuesday. “Japanese government does not recognize a referendum in Crimea,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, adding that the referendum had no legal force as it was in breach of Ukraine’s constitution. “The recognition of Crimean independence by Russia violates Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and is regrettable,” he told a regular news conference.

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Danny Vinik: Obama Is Cracking Down On For-Profit Colleges – And Liberals Should Applaud Him For It

The Department of Education released the final draft of its proposed rule on Friday to ensure that for-profit colleges offer post-graduation employment opportunities for their students that leave them capable of paying back their student loans. The rule, known as the “gainful employment” regulation, represents the culmination of a three-year fight with the industry, which successfully challenged a previous version of the rules in court.

The administration believes that the new regulation, which will first go through a 60-day public comment period, can now withstand a court challenge. And that’s a good thing once you understand what the changes will do and why they’re necessary. Students at for-profit colleges drop out at an alarming rate and those that do graduate have much higher levels of debt than students in public and private non-profit colleges. For-profits also receive a substantial share of their revenue—more than 80 percent to be exact—from loans and grants from the federal government.

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AP: Biden Says More Sanctions Coming For Russia

Denouncing Russia’s actions in Crimea as nothing more than a “land grab,” Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that the U.S. and Europe will impose further sanctions as Moscow seeks to annex the Ukrainian territory. Meeting with anxious European leaders in neighboring Poland, Biden said the world sees through Russia’s actions. He said virtually the entire world rejects the referendum in Crimea that cleared the way for Russia to annex the peninsula in Ukraine.

“The world has seen through Russia’s actions and has rejected the flawed logic,” Biden said. Biden, who arrived Tuesday morning in Warsaw, said the U.S. joins Poland and the international community in condemning the continuing assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty, calling it a blatant violation of international law.

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AP: UK Suspends Military Cooperation With Russia

British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the U.K. is suspending military cooperation with Russia in light of the crisis over Ukraine. Speaking shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to annex Crimea from neighboring Ukraine, Hague told British lawmakers on Tuesday that it is regrettable that Putin is choosing a path of isolation in the annexation of Crimea and denying Russian and Crimean citizens of a partnership with the international community. Hague said the U.K. is suspending military export licenses to Russia, has canceled naval exercises and suspended a proposed Royal Navy ship visit to Russia.

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Sahil Kapur: 45 Religious Orgs Back ‘Universal Access To Contraception’

Forty-five nationally known religious organizations want the Supreme Court to uphold Obamacare’s requirement that employer insurance plans cover birth control without co-pays, calling it a “moral good.” “As religious leaders, we support universal access to contraception,” leaders of the groups said in a joint statement Monday. “We believe that all persons should be free to make personal decisions about their reproductive lives, their health

and the health of their families that are informed by their culture, faith tradition, religious beliefs, conscience, and community.” “No single religious voice can speak for all faith traditions on contraception, nor should government take sides on religious differences,” they said. “We call on our government to respect the beliefs and values of everyone’s faith by safeguarding equal access to contraception for those whose conscience leads them to use it.”

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Six Years Ago Today:

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On This Day:

Sen. Barack Obama at a fundraising event in Denver on March 18, 2007

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President Obama signs books at the Costa Mesa Town Hall at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., March 18. 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shakes hands with audience members following a town hall meeting in Costa Mesa, California on March 18, 2009

President Obama and Senior Advisor David Axelrod depart an event at the Costa Mesa Town Hall at OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., March 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama arrives to sign the Hire Act in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 18, 2010

President Obama, backed my Members of Congress, signs the Hire Act in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 18, 2010

President Obama checks his BlackBerry as he walks along the Colonnade to the Oval Office, March 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama discusses health care reform during a meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office, March 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha Obama walk across Lafayette Park on their way to services at St. John’s Church on March 18, 2012

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President Obama arrives at the Women’s History Month Reception in the East Room of the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama, March 18, 2013

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16
Mar
14

President Obama’s Call With President Putin

White House

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16
Mar
14

The World Speaks

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White House

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Yahoo: Crimea Vote Result Won’t Be Recognized: EU’s Barroso, Van Rompuy

The secession referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea is illegal and illegitimate and its outcome will not be recognized, The European Union’s top officials said in a joint statement on Sunday.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy also called on Russia to withdraw its armed forces to their pre-crisis numbers and to usual areas of deployment.

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Continue reading ‘The World Speaks’

16
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama talks on the phone with Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan from the Treaty Room office in the White House Residence, Wednesday night, March 16, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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HHS.Gov: Making Health Care Coverage More Accessible And Equitable For Same-Sex Couples

Today, we are clarifying that, starting next year, if an insurance company offers coverage to opposite-sex spouses, it cannot choose to deny that coverage to same-sex spouses. In other words, insurance companies will not be permitted to discriminate against married same-sex couples when offering coverage. This will further enhance access to health care for all Americans, including those with same-sex spouses.

You can learn just how affordable coverage can be. Across the country, 6 out of 10 uninsured Americans can get covered for $100 per month or even less – some for a lot less.  And legally married same-sex couples are treated equally for purposes of financial assistance when purchasing coverage in the Marketplace, regardless of where they live.

Security and peace-of-mind are just a click or call away.  You can sign up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at HealthCare.gov or 1-800-318-2596.  You can even get in-person help in your own community (just visit localhelp.healthcare.gov and punch in your zip code).

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Joshua Green: The Jeep Plant Mitt Romney Said Was Moving To China Is Hiring 1,000 Workers In Ohio

Remember the closing days of the 2012 presidential campaign when Mitt Romney ran that explosive ad suggesting Chrysler was going to stop building Jeeps in Ohio and move production to China? The one that got “Four Pinocchios” from the fact-checker at the Washington Post? Anyway, that Jeep plant? It didn’t move to China. And it’s actually doing quite well. No, scratch that: It’s going gangbusters. Demand for Jeeps is so high that Chrysler workers are clocking 60 hours a week and still can’t keep up. So according to the Toledo Blade, the company is planning on hiring up to 1,000 part-time workers—American workers, in Ohio—so they can crank out enough Jeeps to meet the demand.

These workers are even going to get health insurance. In case you’re wondering, hiring temp workers isn’t a maneuver to deny regular workers their hours. “You’ve gotta remember, these people [the regular workers] are working 10 hours a day, six days a week,” a UAW boss who helped negotiate the deal told the Blade. “It’s very important to have the day off you want with your family.” The Blade further reports that Chrysler has already hired 380 of these temp employees and converted 50 of them to full-time jobs.

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NYT: Under Watch Of Russian Troops, Crimea Votes On Secession

With thousands of heavily-armed Russian troops occupying this perenially embattled peninsula, the voters of Crimea went to the polls on Sunday to vote on secession from Ukraine in a public referendum that Western leaders have declared illegal and vowed to punish with economic sanctions. With the outcome of the vote virtually a foregone conclusion in a region that shares a language and centuries of history with Russia, the greater suspense lay in how swiftly and forcefully the United States and its European allies would levy threatened sanctions against allies of President Vladimir V. Putin, including senior Russian officials and business leaders. The answers were likely to depend to some degree on whether Mr. Putin showed any signs of acting quickly to annex Crimea or order further military incursion beyond Crimea’s borders, perhaps to seize vital infrastructure including water and energy supplies. “Our people must be united in Russia,” Yelena Parkholenko, 27, a manicurist with violet hair, said matter-of-factly after casting her vote at School No. 21 here in Simferopol, the Crimean capital.

It was a sentiment repeated over and over again at polling stations as citizens with misgivings about joining Mr. Putin’s Russian Federation, particularly Crimean Tatars, a Muslim Turkic people with a history of persecution by Russia, generally opted to stay home rather than participate in what they called a rigged vote. The referendum offered no option that would maintain Crimea’s current status of limited autonomy from the Ukrainian government in Kiev. The referendum asked voters: “Are you in favor of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as part of the Russian Federation?” or “Are you in favor of restoring the 1992 Constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?” The second choice would effectively grant Crimea independence without immediately breaking from Kiev, but such a break would be inevitable and the Ukrainian government, like the West, has rejected the vote as illegal.

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Timothy Egan: Paul Ryan’s Irish Amnesia

IN advance of St. Patrick’s Day, I went time traveling, back to the 1840s and Ireland’s great famine. On one side of the Irish Sea was Victorian England, flush with the pomp and prosperity of the world’s mightiest empire. On the other side were skeletal people, dying en masse, the hollow-bellied children scrounging for nettles and blackberries. A great debate raged in London: Would it be wrong to feed the starving Irish with free food, thereby setting up a “culture of dependency”? Certainly England’s man in charge of easing the famine, Sir Charles Trevelyan, thought so. “Dependence on charity,” he declared, “is not to be made an agreeable mode of life.”

And there I ran into Paul Ryan. His great-great-grandfather had fled to America. But the Republican congressman was very much in evidence, wagging his finger at the famished. His oft-stated “culture of dependency” is a safety net that becomes a lazy-day hammock. But it was also England’s excuse for lethal negligence. Ryan boasts of the Gaelic half of his ancestry, on his father’s side. “I come from Irish peasants who came over during the potato famine,” he said last year during a forum on immigration. BUT with a head still stuffed with college-boy mush from Ayn Rand, he apparently never did any reading about the times that prompted his ancestors to sail away from the suffering sod.

You can’t make these kinds of heartless remarks unless you think the poor deserve their fate — that they have a character flaw, born of public assistance. And there hovers another awful haunt of Irish history. In 2012, Ryan said that the network of programs for the American poor made people not want to work. On Wednesday, he went further, using the language of racial coding. You never hear Ryan make character judgments about generations of wealthy who live off their inheritance, or farmers who get paid not to grow anything. Nor, for that matter, does he target plutocrats like Romney who might be lulled into not taking risks because they pay an absurdly low tax rate simply by moving money around. Dependency is all one-way.

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Igor Volsky: Federal Judge Recognizes Marriages Of 3 Same-Sex Couples In Tennessee

A federal judge recognized the marriages of three same-sex Tennessee couples on Friday, issuing a preliminary injunction against the state’s same-sex marriage ban. “At this point, all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs’ marriages will be placed on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history,”

Judge Aleta Trauger wrote in the order. The ruling only applies to the three couples who filed the lawsuit last year asking the state to recognize their marriages, which had been performed in New York or California. Tennessee outlawed same-sex marriage in 1998 and passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman in 2008.

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Think Progress: Federal Judge Strikes Down One Of The Strictest Abortion Laws In The Nation

A federal judge struck down on of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation on Friday, ruling that that a measure in Arkansas restricting abortions starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy “impermissibly infringes a woman’s Fourteenth Amendment right to elect to terminate a pregnancy before viability” of the fetus.

The law cut off women’s access to legal abortion services well before the point of viability, which is typically around 24 weeks. However, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright’s ruling “let stand the law’s requirement that a woman seeking an abortion first undergo an ultrasound to determine whether a fetal heartbeat is present.” The legislature overrode Gov. Mike Beebe’s (D) veto and enacted the law in March 2013, which had initially sought to ban abortions after just six weeks.

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Jonathan Cohn: Begala To Dems: Come Out Swinging On Obamacare

And with Republicans making Obamacare the focus of their midterm strategy, many Democrats have been responding with a mixed message: Acknowledge the Affordable Care Act has flaws, but vow to fix them rather than repeal them. That seems to be roughly consistent with polls, which suggest the majority of Americans don’t like the health care law but the majority also don’t want to get rid of it. But nuanced messages have problems, even if the nuances reflect public sentiments. A politician who starts with backpedaling (“Yes, the law has problems, but…”) is bound to sound weak. And weak politicians don’t generally make attractive candidates. But it appears at least one prominent Democratic strategist is thinking along the same lines.

The strategist is Paul Begala. In an interview with the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, who has become the go-to source for insights into liberal political strategy, Begala gives Democrats some blunt advice: “We should flip the wording of how we talk about Obamacare. Open on offense, instead of defense.” That would mean starting the conversation by reminding voters what Republicans propose to take away—like guaranteed insurance, even for people with pre-existing conditions, and extra assistance on Medicare prescription drugs. One reason to think the argument might work is that it worked once before. In 2012, President Obama used a very similar set of arguments—and adopted a very similar posture—in his campaign against Mitt Romney. He attacked Romney and the Republicans relentlessly—pointing out that, if successful, repeal would mean more exposure to insurance company abuses and fewer people with insurance.

But the benefits of Obamacare are also a lot less hypothetical than they were when Obama was talking about them on the stump. People who could never get insurance have it for the first time. People who could barely afford premiums are getting financial help. People who had weak coverage, with major gaps, finally have comprehensive insurance. These are real constituencies, with stories that can resonate just as much as the ones on Fox News.

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On This Day:

Earl M. Bourdon Center, Claremont, NH, March 16, 2007

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President Obama has lunch with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, March 16, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama hugs a young girl after she and local students planted in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House, March 16, 2011

March 16, 2011: The President meets with national security aides John Brennan, foreground, and Denis McDonough after talking on the phone with Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan a few days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The call was made near midnight from the Treaty Room office in the White House Residence. Most nights after dinner and time with his family, the President retreats to this office where he catches up on paperwork and reads his briefing material for the next day.” Photo by Pete Souza.

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First Lady Michelle Obama at the Air National Guard base in St. Paul, Minn. on March 16, 2012 for a roundtable discussion with military and other local community leaders dedicated to supporting military families

Neighbors and supporters wave to President Obama upon his arrival in an Atlanta, Ga., neighborhood for an event, March 16, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets neighbors and supporters upon his arrival to an Atlanta, Ga., neighborhood for an event, March 16, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Audience members listen as President Obama delivers remarks at a reception in Atlanta, Ga., March 16, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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