May 27, 2005 | 3:31 p.m. ET

More reality TV? Give me fingernails on a chalkboard instead (Monica Crowley)

If you’re the kind of person who thinks the singers on American idol sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, if the thought of “Survivors” forging alliances and voting each other off some sort of Gilligan’s island makes you want to take to your bed, and if the sight of Donald Trump’s hair in the board room makes your hair hurt— then fasten the seat belt on your Lazyboy!

You haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to reality television. Just take a look at what the networks are offering up for this summer:

  • There’s “Venus and Serena: For Real,” which will show us the lives of the famous tennis sisters.
  • CBS will have “Fire Me Please”—here the contestants try to get fired.
  • The Sundance Channel will have “Transgenerations,” where college students get sex change operations.
  • And NBC offers us “Tommy Lee goes to College,” it’s all about rocker Tommy Lee's attempt to fit in at the University of Nebraska. And in case you’re wondering— he'll be working toward a bachelor's degree— not a masters.

And to think: network executives are paid a lot of money to come up with this stuff, which they then inflict on us.

Enough! Reality TV may be sold as “escapist” TV, but aren’t we really just escaping into total ridiculousness?


May 27, 2005 | 12:27 p.m. ET

What’s happening to Pres. Bush’s capital?

Guest host Craig Crawford: Back in November, things where looking pretty good for the president. Fresh off his re-election, the president was prepared to aggressively pursue his second term agenda.

Host Monica Crowley: But Congress is continuing to get in the way of the White House agenda. Despite the president's best efforts, his push to reform Social Security has yet to gain traction. His judicial nominees are finally beginning to get approved, but only after a long stalemate in the Senate. And the threat of filibuster lingers. And now there's the delay over the approval of John Bolton— the president's choice for ambassador to the U.N..

Your e-mails

Get over it, Monica! The Democrats agreed not to filibuster appellate court nominees--they didn't agree to completely forgo filibustering! It would be nice if you *actually* listened rather than hearing what you want to hear!
--Christine, Pompano Beach, Fla.

The Bolton nomination is a disaster waiting to happen. While Bush and the Administration continue the rhetoric of wanting to strengthen global relations their actions demonstrate the opposite. I support a strong position on all matters affecting our country. In order to be successful  this also means we must be represented by individuals respected and having the highest ethical standards. Mr. Bolton does not fall in this category and the Senate should do what is right for the country by rejecting his nomination.
--Anthony Mastrangelo, Prescott, Ariz.

I've been listening to TV talking heads, Republican politicians, and Bush Administration officials since last night with regard to the Senate vote to hold up the Bolton nomination. The Bush White House 'talking points" frame this as "Democrat obstructionist business as usual" and a "breakdown of the Senate agreement on judicial filibusters." But the Bolton vote yesterday had to do with continued Bush House obstructionism with regard to supplying adequate info to the Senate BEFORE Senate votes. This is not a new development with regard to the Bolton nomination. Bush administration, please release that info... If you don't, you will be giving the strong impression to the American People that you have something to hide. The comity and goodwill between Senators with regard to judicial filibusters remains intact. Nobody broke their word yesterday with regard to that agreement. Something new, however, is happening in both houses of the U.S. Congress. They are less willing to be White House Rubber Stamps. In 3 days, The Bush White House was told "NO" 3 times.
--Marilyn Mason, Boston, Mass.

May 27, 2005 | 12:20 p.m. ET

Check out the Websites we're referencing and talking about, by going to Tony's Tabs .

May 26, 2005 | 6:04 p.m. ET

Quran mishandling substantiated

'Connected' on Thursday 5 p.m. ET showed breaking news of a Pentagon press conference.

There, U.S. officials have substantiated five cases in which military guards or interrogators mishandled the Quran of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay but found "no credible evidence" to confirm a prisoner's report that a holy book was flushed in a toilet, the prison's commander said Thursday.  Click here to read more on this story .

Here are your reactions:

I cannot understand why we are all the time trying to prove our innocence, to justify our actions. I am watching on TV now how media sharks are sinking their stinky teeth into a Pentagon representative, General Hood, and he is muttering some explanations instead of telling them: Shut up! Why don't you say a word about desecration of Christians and Jews, Bible and Torah by Muslims? Recall executions of Jews in Ramallah and desecration of Americans on a Fallujah bridge, and shut up!
--Constantine Ivanov, Queens, N.Y.

I would like to know if t tables were turned, and The Bible was mis-handled in the same manner as The Quran, would it even be a news story?
--Kimberly Seidel, Las Vegas, N.V.

Rather than criticize Newsweek for insufficient checking of sources, why don't
reporters go down to Guantanamo and do some research and a latrine check?  Maybe
with a perfect fair and balanced approach the world could find out what indeed
is being flushed down the toilet.  Maybe uncritical commentators on talk radio are more interested in media bashing than fact finding or truth searching in the Quran matter and prisoner abuse?  Is the jingoistic approach of "my country, right or wrong!" making us immune to the reality and truth of the actions of our nation and its military?
--Dr. Terrence Lauerman, De Pere, Wisc.

Maybe the lack of anger over the "abuse" of the Quran is due to the general public believing it DID happen and more dismally, that many of the mouthbreathing citizens actually believe it'd be a good thing.  I have had several of my aquaintances tell me that the prison abuses are deserved by the Arabs and they ought to have more of it.
--Bob Schmitz Belleview, Fla.

Teach these people not to cut off the heads of people who do not believe in the Quran, then maybe they will have some respect for it.  
--O.L. Lakeland, Fla.

The news media is becoming ridiculous in its reporting.  Flags, bibles and many other sacred items are tampered with or destroyed every day, some unwittingly I'm sure.  This is the sort of reckless journalism that does not warrant all the panic and coverage that is going on.  They should have ignored the story from the beginning.  If Newsweek has nothing more important to report on, they should pack it in. 
--M. Lee

Where were the prostestations everytime a hostage's body was desecrated, nay slaughtered on film?  This is opportunism on the part of the Bush administration at it's most transparent.
--Brad Watson, Scottsdale, Ariz.


May 25, 2005 | 5:45 p.m. ET

Presidential politics at play in Senate deal

It's a compromise that spared the Senate from the so-called "nuclear option" and one that could well set the stage for a presidential election some 1200 days away.

Most say John McCain has taken the early lead. It was McCain who brokered the bipartisan deal that averted a breakdown. Mccain insists White House aspirations did not motivate him to craft the compromise, but he did acknowledge in this week's New Yorker magazine that his background would serve him well in the oval office.

And a new movie, based on his experiences as a POW, thrusts mccain even further into the national spotlight.

Another Senate Republican that could benefit from the compromise is Virginia's George Allen. He took a strong stand against filibusters, gaining some major conservative support that could prove beneficial in 2008.

Political analysts say Senate Leader Bill Frist stands to gain the least from this fracas…mainly because seven senate Republicans choose to execute an "end-run" around him— not including him in the compromise.

Your e-mails

Thankfully there are still some American heroes left among the Senate...14 to be precise! Boo Ya and keep reclaiming our country back from the Rebiblican revolution!
--Bill Simms, Plymouth, Mich.

It troubles me that 14 senators made the decision for the other 86. Saw Lindsay Graham on Chris Matthews last night and he said we could look for the same 14 to settle the Social Security problem. What have I missed? We the people hired 100 senators and only 14 are working?
--Janie Whitt, Visalia, Calif.

I would expect 6 Republican Senators will either not run for the Senate again --- or will be thrown out of office in their next election. Ergo The Democrats will pick up 6 seats reversing the senate's makeup.
--Gil Jungert, Grand Junction, Colo.

I was hoping for a showdown, expecting Frist's "nuclear option" to blow up in his face. I am disappointed that the moderates' deal essentially allows the up/down vote on 3 candidates that are unacceptable to me. The Democrats lose and we lose...
--Barb, Tampa, Fla.

The so called agreement in the Senate is not a "win" for the American people. The filibuster is long overdue for burial. If the majority party does something the public doesn't like, we'll vote them out!
--Richard Spitzmesser, Hometown: Cibolo, Texas

It's absolutely a breath of fresh air in this hot summer of Republican political thuggery to see statesmen rise above the ignorance of partisan politics.
--William, Kansas

Those who voted for Bush in 2004 never understood the far-reaching consequences. After the intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, their eyes should be opened. Unfortunately, now it will be hard work to turn back the tide of the Republican majority. The polls are being ignored, and there is no representation. Let's just hope the American people will be more mindful in the 2006 and 2008 elections.
--Lori, Arizona

Partisan politics has loways been the name of the game. When something happens that looks like both sides are cooperating, you gotta know that a deal has been done that will not be made known to Joe six-pack. Congress only has the respect of the rich. Mean while Joe-Four pack has just gotten it again.
--Pacheck, Huntington Beach, Calif.

I don't think anybody won.I think it was a ploy to get their names and faces before the American people pretending they were working for us. Those members of both parties have pretty weak backbones.
--Anonymous, Mandeville, La.

May 25, 2005 | 5:55 p.m. ET

Get 'Connected' to the blogs we talked about

Blog blurbs on the Senate deal

Wednesday Web links


Pizza 911

Don't try this at home

Romance book cover spoof

Check out our senior producer's blog, Tony's Tabs .

May 25, 2005 | 2:11 p.m. ET

Where is the love? (Monica Crowley)

Last week, I spent a few days in London giving a series of lectures on American foreign policy.

My audiences were American and generally supportive of what the Bush administration is doing in fighting terror and spreading freedom.

The Europeans, on the other hand, were a different story. The British media were full of stories pounding the president and his policies. Since I couldn't get MSNBC in London, I was stuck watching the BBC, with its nightly onslaught against the U.S.

The day I left London, I saw a screaming headline in one of the big British papers, "President Bush's failures."

By the end of my trip, I was drowning in anti-Americanism.

The British and European press can say whatever they want about us— but the truth is that without the United States, the world would be a far more dangerous place. Thanks to the leadership of the Bush administration, members of Al Qaeda are being hunted, captured and killed. 50 million people have been liberated in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Libya, long a terrorist state, did not want to face America's wrath, and offered up a preemptive surrender of its WMD programs. Syria is leaving Lebanon. Democratic elections in some form or another have happened in places they were never imagined possible— Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia— and pressure for them is building in Egypt and Syria.

American pressure on the international community is leading it to deal with the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. This is all because of American leadership, not European leadership. 

Maybe the Europeans suffer from superpower envy.  Maybe it's just a difference in political values and approach. But whatever the reason for their anti-Americanism, deep down they know that they would not want a world without the United States. Because if the Europeans were threatened in any way, the first call they would place would be to Washington.

And guess who would be there, right away, to lend a helping hand?

I know the answer... and you know something?  So do they.


May 24, 2005 | 6:27 p.m. ET

Restrictions eased on stem cell research... but Bush promises a veto

Ignoring President Bush’s veto threat, the House voted Tuesday to loosen limits on embryonic stem cell research , approving a measure supporters said could speed cures for diseases but opponents viewed as akin to abortion.

The president has never before exercised his veto power, but he argues that science must not destroy life—to save life.

Supporters of the embryonic stem cell measure insist the research could lead to cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other degenerative brain and nerve diseases.

The House approved it by a 238-194 vote, far short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a veto.

Currently, researchers can use as much private money on stem cell research as they wish;
This bill would make it easier to use federal funds.

Your e-mails

I support the use of tax dollars for embryonic stem cell research. The benefits to mankind from these efforts have the potential to effect change for countless people with debilitating disease and injuries.  If right wing extremist find this effort unethical due to their belief's the solution is simple: Do not avail yourself to the treatments.
-- Anthony Mastrangelo, Prescott, Ariz.

For countless Americans waiting for their lives to go on, our leaders must support legislation that will allow stem cell research to advance. Stem cell research is about families. It is about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Stem cell research advances the culture of life.
-- Viewer, Va.

How sad it is for our country when Bush, in spite of public opinion, refuses to budge on scientific research.  To see our country wait on the sideline while the advances are coming in other countries.  Remember the pride we used to take in being the world's leader in medical advances.
-- Mark Kjergaard,S.C.

Only the most uninformed zealots cannot understand that embryonic stem cell research does not end human life. These pre-embryos come from fertility clinics and would otherwise be discarded. Literally thrown into a "medical waste" bin.  If our government doesn't fully research stem cells we will fall behind many other countries. It seems some people insist on trying to pull our country back into an era long gone.
-- Kristi, Tifton

I find it interesting that those that see stem cell research as "taking a life"  but don't see sending our troops to Iraq is "not taking a life to save a life"  We need to get such narrow "religious dogma"  out of our government. Live your life as a Christian etc. but don't run the country like a church! 

At a time when American colleges and universities are graduating fewer and fewer mathematicians and scientists, the President of the United States has given medicine and science in this country another blow by condemning the scientific advancement in embryonic stem cell research achieved by South Korea.

May 24, 2005 | 12:36 p.m. ET

Centrists craft deal to preserve filibuster

The last minute compromise brought the Senate back from the brink of historic showdown. The deal caught Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle by surprise.  The compromise opens the way for a “yes-or-no” vote on three of President Bush’s judicial picks who have been in nomination limbo.

The vote on one those judges—Priscilla Owens— is expected to begin this hour.

Your reactions to this development

Republicans and Democrats did not win or lose this battle concerning the vote, we the American people lose to their inability to vote. 
-- Robert Swindle, Tenn.

The compromise reached by Senate moderates regarding filibuster rules is a fraud on the American people. It postpones a showdown but dilutes the power of the minority! What is fair and balanced about that?
-- Jiggs, Long Beach, Calif.

I am so glad to hear that there are some centrists in the Senate. You would never know if from the likes of cable news. John McCain is a real conservative as I remember them, these other noisy ingrates are reactionaries and know not the meaning of compromise. We can only hope that these 14 centrists will take a firm hand and teach the rest of the Senate respect for the minority or at least civility.
--Ivan Thompson, Greencastle Pa.

The 11th hour agreement could be more benificial to the Democrats. Republicans may have splt thier party. Sen. Frist had a lot of pressure on him to complete the domination of all wings of goverment,and failed. Sen McCain may have made some enemies, but he won alot of swing voters over, like myself.
--Floyd Masters, Salt Lake City, Utah

What a deal. The seven Democrats say they have preserved the right to filibuster in "extraordinary circumstances," but they define extraordinary circumstances as not including Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and William Pryor, three of the most right-wing nominees ever. To block enemies of the Constitution like these three is the very reason for the filibuster! Don't be fooled by any absurd declarations of victory. These three are the main ones Bush wanted to win. We have learned a valuable lesson, as if we didn't already know it. We cannot depend on Senate Democrats to stand firm, no matter what is at stake. It is disheartening, but also liberating. It's all in our own hands. Fight on!
--David Van Os, Candidate for Attorney General of Texas

I think the US Senate and Senators [Reps and Dems alike] are making "much to do about nothing" on the deal struck yesterday on constitutional procedure. For the overall protection of the American people, I for one believe "gridlock" is now the order of the day. Yesterday's deal is an attempt to make them all look good. They seemed to have leaned a lot from Mr. Bush and his gang on grandstanding and diverting the issues before their constituents; and you, our respected media giants, help them fulfill their self promotion.  The question is, how are these forceful, hardworking leaders of government going to get us out of Iraq, save lives and save US taxpayers $80 billion a year? It's hard work!! 
--Albert Colone, Oneonta, N.Y.

What did we, the people win??? Absolutely nothing..because this filibuster fight isn't over, it just got delayed a little is all.
--Meryl Vladimer, Brooklyn, N.Y.

It's not about who wins and who loses; it's about working the way the American people expect that the Senate and House should. With discussion of all views, minority and majority, with compromise to help represent all the people not just those of one party or the other. Represent what the people want not the lobbyists.
--Dee, Wilkes Barre, Pa.

I am thankful that there are senators who are not afraid to stand up to pressure groups and do what is right. Now let's get down to real business and do something for the American people.
--Sherrie Farley, Greenville, Texas

The filibuster deal is leaves both sides winners/losers;truly a bi-partisan effort indicated by the fact both sides are complaining.
--Gorden Hanz, Hartford, Conn.

I'm glad to see that the center took back some power yesterday from the extremists in both parties. It is nice to see some bipartisan cooperation for once in our bitterly divided country.
--Jonathan Long, West Chester, Pa.

The American People have said very clearly poll after poll that the Filibuster must remain intact with the current rules. Should Frist and other Republicans ignore the American People the consequences are obvious. I know I have heard from many people that 2006 will be a election to balance power. If that is a indication of peoples feelings the Republicans may find themselves in the minority once again. The filibuster was created for the purpose of balancing power and protecting the minority.
--Crystal, Minn.

May 23, 2005 | 5:54 p.m. ET

The media and the message

Long gone are the days when American reporters were considered members of the “team” with the American military.

Ernie Pyle, a Pulitzer-prize winner and one of the most respected reporters of his era—would often use “we” when describing the allies’ fight against the Germans.

During the war in Vietnam, the tone of military reporting began to change. As the war waged on, more and more prominent members of the media began to question  just what their government was telling them about the conflict.

There were some in the press who began to refer to the military’s daily press briefings the “five o’clock follies.”

Flash forward to today: Computers, satellites and the Internet allow the most extensive war coverage in history.

Stories like the Abu Ghraib controversy show up worldwide almost instantly. 

And as Newsweek magazine learned— that combination of speed and suspicion can have dangerous— even deadly consequences.

What do you think of news and war coverage these days?

The mainstream media lost it's credibility with the public, whether you will ever except it or not, as soon as they allowed the president to take the focus from Afghanistan and put it erroneously on Iraq. You can't have credible followers when you don't have credible leaders. It doesn't get any clearer than that. Once the media/press continued with the charade of Saddam being responsible for 9/11 and the WMDs didn't exist, whether we remain in denial or not. The rest of the world is very wised to the deceitful tactics our
leaders chose to implement instead of truth.
--Wilberta Berry, Pittsburgh, Pa.         

The print media may have lost some of it's credibility, but television media has none. When I was instructed "Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear." I guess Grandma was right.
--Claudia Duberstein, Tarpon Springs, Fla. 

I just heard one of your moderators say something about the U.S. still having a "free press" and I'm laughng sooooooooooo hard I can hardly type!!!!! Pu-leeeaaase! We all know the press is owned by 'those same few' who own almost everything of value, along with our government! You want REAL news??? Go to the Internet! (at least for now, they'll probably destroy that soon!).
--Anonymous, Newton, New Jersey

I think that the American public is sick of hearing how many soldiers we have lost in the Mideast on any given day. I don't think that our government has been truthful on the exact number of casualties there has been since this war has started. How many caskets were really brought back in the dead of night before anyone asked the question of why flag-drapped casket were being brought back at night?
--Ed Gildner, San Angelo, Texas

I wish you would do an update on the reporters that wouldn't give up their sources in the outing of the CIA operative. I think it is an outrage they would threaten them with prison time.
--Sue Treadway, Sacramento, Calif.

It is clear to most Americans that the mainstream media is against the war in Iraq.  Therefore, they print one negative story after another.  I have yet to see a positive story in the NY Times on things we are doing to improve life in Iraq.  The press was all but forced to cover the elections and the formation of a new government. But ask your left leaning guests to decribe some specific project undertaken in the past 30 days by the military that is improving life for Iraqis--  I'll bet they can't do it. They sure haven't told us about it.
--Delia Emmons, N. Caldwell, N.J.

May 23, 2005 | 12:47 p.m. ET

Reporting illegals

First came the Minuteman Project, with its volunteer-patrols along the southern border. Now, there’s another way for civilians to participate in immigration enforcement.

Several new Websites are hitting the Internet, encouraging citizens to blow the whistle on possible undocumented aliens in their neighborhood. For a fee, some sites will actually forward tips and complaints to law enforcement officials.

Those behind the sites say illegal immigrants abuse federal resources and take away jobs from U.S. citizens.

The census bureau estimates that 10.3 million undocumented aliens were living in the United States last year. That’s up 23 percent from 8.4 million in 2000.

Your e-mails

That's just what we need, a nation full of whistleblowers, pointing fingers at neighbors they don't like... wasting the time of the National Guard, police, not to mention wasting tax payer money!
--Darcy Leanne, Portland, Maine

I live on the San Francisco Peninsula, where in two cities bordering mine, they have set up work centers for the immigrants to go to seek work. This was done to remove the day laborers off the street corners waiting to be picked up for jobs.  
I'm totally against this! Most of these day laborers are here illegally. Instead of deporting them, we instead help them find employment. ILLEGAL! That is a simple word to understand. These people sneak across our borders, and are here illegally. They drain our medical system, live in houses meant for single families yet have up to 20 people living in them. There have been fires and death due to this over crowding. It's against the law to ask if they have legal paperwork to be here. So, they are free to use every resource that should only be available to our citizens, and immigrants that may wait years to enter our country legally. This is just not right! We need to question and deport these individuals, not pamper and protect them.
--Pam Avers, Belmont Calif.

I would turn in an illegal in a second. Not a problem, it would save this country billions of dollars that could be going to our schools, social security, medical, and our people’s needs. It is the Bush administration that is offering basically illegals a foothold in this country and has done little to protect our borders. Vigilanties are not those whom help enforce the laws of this country. Vigilanties would be those whom break a law in that effort. This has not happened, the American people have a right and should protect their country.
--Barb, Crystal, Minn.

It’s obvious our present government is much more interested in securing a source of cheap labor that keeps American wages depressed than they are in securing our borders from terrorists. A life term in prison for CEOs and confiscation of all corporate resources when they hire an illegal would stop the problem.
--Toni Boutwell, Myrtle Beach, SC

I see bigots and racists using the Web to harass people of color, brown in particular, by suggesting they’re illegal. Will there be criminal prosecution for false reporting? I doubt it.  I’m not a TERRORIST, I’m just a Mexican.
--Hector Acuna

It is Republicans that are hiring these illegal emigrants and protecting them.

May 23, 2005 | 12:37 p.m. ET

On the filibuster: Your e-mails

Should Senator Frist continue the path he has chosen he will find himself looking for employment. The American People have said very clearly poll after poll that the filibuster must remain intact with the current rules. Should Frist and other republicans ignore the American People the consequences are obvious. I know I have heard from many people that 2006 will be a election to balance power. If that is a indication of people's feelings the Republicans may find themselves in the minority once again. I know I see the 2006 election in my state as a balance of power. I think the Republicans have gone too far. Everyone should be very afraid. The filibuster was created for the purpose of balancing power and protecting the minority. Without it we do not have a democracy. We have a country of one party rule.
-- Crystal, Minn.

This is a question of trying to get activist judges for the Republicans religous conservative base. This has nothing to do with up or down votes. What the Republicans do not realize is that there are moderates like myself and others that see a balance of power will be needed in 2006 and 2008. Without the filibuster we may as well call this one party rule and not a democracy. The filibuster protects the rights of the minority and balances power. Without it you simply do not have a democracy period. Up or down vote is hardly right considering the Republicans have majority in both houses. So, to say it is fair or balanced is hardly the truth.
-- Barb, Crystal, Minn.

May 20, 2005 | 5:35 p.m. ET

Rave: Perfect Game (Ron Reagan)

Everybody knows that baseball - and I mean the real game, you know, fast pitch, hardball - that baseball is for boys. Only the male of our species has the strength, the competitiveness, the bat speed and the arm to truly excel at our national pastime. Right. Try telling that to 11-year-old Katie Brownell.

Katie is the only girl on her little league team. In fact, she's the only girl in the entire upstate New York little league. Now, you may be thinking, oh sure, one of these title 9, affirmative action, politically correct, throw 'em a bone deals. Uh uh. Katie's good. Real good. She's been an all-star for two years. Between the towns of Rochester and buffalo, she's just about the best there is in her age group.

This past Saturday, Katie proved it. She pitched her Oakfield Dodgers team to an 11-0 shutout. Not just any shutout, no, she threw a perfect game. And over six innings, not only did none of the 18 opposing batters reach base, Katie struck all of them out.

"I can't remember this ever happening", said team manager Jeff sage. In fact, it seems this may be the only perfect game ever pitched in Katie’s league, which means Katie’s in a league of her own.

Fluke? Nope. In her last two games, Katie has struck out 32 of the 33 batters she's faced.

Fine, you say, so this little girl has an arm. But the game is all about hitting. Wait till she has to face some real man-style pitching herself. Then we'll see what kind of player she really is. Yes, we will. 'Cause Katie is batting .714 - you heard me, .714. Paging George Steinbrenner.



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