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[Control Units] [Organizing]
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Reforms Won't End Indefinite Isolation

We can't afford for prisoners to sacrifice their lives because self-appointed vanguards refuse to do a little philosophic/scientific homework and make a few minor adjustments to our current path. We're pursuing what is essentially a tactical issue of reforming the validation process as if it were a strategic resolution to abolishing social-extermination of indefinite isolation. This is not a complex issue to understand, and it requires a minimal amount of study at most to understand that the validation process is secondary and is a policy external to the existence of the isolation facilities. It's not difficult to comprehend that external influences create the conditions for change but real qualitative change comes from within, and to render the validation process, program failure, the new step down program, etc, obsolete, and end indefinite isolation, requires an internal transformation of the isolation facilities (SHU and Ad-Seg) themselves. Otherwise, in practice, social extermination retains continuity under a new external label. Appearance is reformed, hence the suffix "re", while the essential composition (contradictions) is unchanged. Do you fix a bad motor on a car by altering its appearance with a new paint job? It might look nice, but it's still the same motor.

I don't know if these "representatives" are just refusing to consider anything else, if they are making a conscious decision to hear the sound of their own voices only, or if they believe that to acknowledge a need for course adjustments will discredit them. They hold power in here, but it's a power held through threat of force, and most youngsters aspire to this, or those who don't, understandably keep their mouths zipped. Either way, because of this power, they're not used to hearing the truth, but praise form the brown-nosers who tell them what they think they want to hear and tell them what will benefit them. This only hinders the accuracy of their analysis. This refusal to be more receptive and adjust course where necessary based on an application of dialectical materialism is going to cost us lives pursuing an incorrect course. Our victories are superficial and exist more in appearance than anything. They are privileges, rights that we already had coming to us, so what appears as a victory is really implementing our established rights (abstractly anyhow), without actually making essential progress. It's a vehicle to distract us without actually conceding essential transformations. And these are, and will be, reversible.

Although it is dangerous, and all it takes is for the current so-called reps to openly denounce any true vanguard, all others will accept this proclamation, and the true vanguard will be discredited and hit first opportunity. So a true vanguard must tread very carefully to build large scale support with their ideas and education. But what's of greatest importance, it must be done in the interest of all! As we, you and I, know, a vanguard is not someone, a program, philosophic logic, etc, that appoints itself, it is the most advanced line and it must be complemented with a corresponding practice. As Lenin and Joe Steel said, "there can be no theory there can be no movement" Just as a "movement is necessary to develop theory upon." Obviously, I'm paraphrasing but the point is evident.

I'm convinced we need to circulate a few pamphlets that serve an educational purpose, but more importantly, function as an outline. And if necessary, appeal to convict mass to launch our own hunger strike, one or two at a time. Write up our own list of demands - tables in each pod, phones, bars, cellies, dayroom time for social intercourse, demands that can all be achieved by a victorious struggle for "association" based on U.S. constitutional rights and UN Geneva conventions (for publicity). To implement "association" (social intercourse) would necessitate the peripheral demands above and thus qualitatively change the isolation units from within as we currently know them.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Control Units are isolation cells within prisons where people are confined to small cells for long periods of time. Control units are a common tool of repression throughout the Amerikan prison system, frequently used to target prisoners who are actively fighting for their rights. They target Black, Latino and indigenous people who are a disproportionate part of control unit populations.

As a part of our ongoing campaign to shut down the control units, we fight for reforms to give our comrades in indefinite isolation some improved conditions, especially when these reforms are focused on better enabling their political study and organizing. We recognize that some reforms may mean the difference between physical or mental health or serious illness. But we agree with this author that we need to fight the attempts by proponents of the criminal injustice system to paint a happy face on long-term isolation and call that "reform." It is only by ending long term isolation completely will we actually win this battle.

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[Abuse] [Control Units] [Tabor Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Arbitrary Use of Control Units in North Carolina

I am currently on a 6 month program called Intensive Control Unit (I-Con). Since I've been on "state" I have come across many injustices towards prisoners from the administration. I know the situation in California with the debriefing process in Pelican Bay SHU. Here it is very different. Here a prisoner can get snatched up off the yard solely on the words of a confidential informant (CI). The administration does not need facts to convict, just the label "reliable source," and a prisoner will be stripped of school/work and be placed in Ad-Seg, possibly Security Threat Group (STG). And, like in my case, thrown in a lockdown program.

Not only this, but prisoners who have completed their term in I-Con or M-Con (Maximum Control) have gone to board to be released without any incidents are being lied to. Board is telling prisoners that they have completed their term only to still be held for another 6 months. Corruption.

There's many injustices that I can write about and share with you. But truth is that these people really don't want us to learn and better ourselves. So this is why I believe that one has to approach this life behind these walls with caution. Do our best to move and operate under the radar of these people, and of those who are blind, misled or sometimes brainwashed.

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[Control Units] [California]
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Commemorating California Hunger Strike, Continuing Fight Against Control Units

I'm writing to contribute to the continuing exposure of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)'s corrupt capitalist-imperialist system locking up human beings in long-term solitary confinement for decades.

As we know, the anniversary of the 1st hunger strike just passed 1 July 2012. We must remember the three soldados who lost their lives in this battle for our basic human rights and to end all indefinite isolation units (SHUs and Ad-Segs).

And to all who participated and those who gave and continue to give us moral support over our torturous and inhumane conditions of being segregated and placed in solitary confinement, known as CDCR's SHUs and Ad-Segs "Crypts", indefinitely with no rights or due process.

It's also very important we don't forget about the women and girls locked up in women prisons, Central California Women's Facility Chowchilla, Valley State Prison for Women, California Institution for Women, White Oaks, CRC, etc. I can't imagine the hardships and torturous conditions these women/girls have to endure. I would bet my life on it that thousands of these women/girls are also locked away in isolation confinement crypts. So let's walk side by side with our equal counterparts women and girls who are being isolated to indefinite SHUs, where concerns around living conditions of mental/physical torturous behavior fall on deaf ears.

I know this first hand because I've been in solitary confinement indefinitely since 1993 and counting. All we're asking for is to be treated as humans. Our 5 core demands are very reasonable.

But as the world now knows, California CDCR continues to deny that we are human by placing us in their "crypts" based on lies and making it a priority that we don't get basic necessities: medical, mental health treatment, human contact with our family, and sunlight.

I ask everyone who is a part of this struggle to join the fight to eliminate unjust solitary confinement.

The prisoncrats will never admit they are terrorist dictators who are allowed to run California's prisons with no honest oversight or accountability for their terrorist ideology, behavior and actions. They falsely use so-called "prison security concerns" to label thousands of human beings as prison gang members or associates to justify decades of isolation practices.

Attorney Peter Schey, from the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, has filed a petition to the United Nations concerning our solitary confinement. There is also a separate federal civil rights action in motion. This will take time, as we know how the court system operates.

Don't give up hope, this is gonna be a long battle and journey. A lot of us are stuck in these "crypts" until real change comes. It's up to us to protect the new generation - so they don't have to go through torturous inhumane isolation.

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [Control Units] [Georgia] [ULK Issue 27]
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Georgia Hunger Strike Approaches One Month Mark

In December 2010, prisoners across the state of Georgia went on strike to protest conditions. Rather than address the prisoners' concerns of abusive conditions, the state responded with repressive force, beating prisoners to the point where at least one prisoner went into a coma. Since then, 37 prisoners have spent the last 18 months in solitary confinement, a form of torture, in response to their political activities. On 11 June 2012, some of those prisoners began a hunger strike in response to the continued attempts to repress them. More recently, prisoners in other facilities in Georgia have joined the hunger strike.

MIM(Prisons) stands in solidarity with these comrades that are combating the abuse faced by Georgia prisoners, being beaten and thrown in solitary confinement. State employees have told these comrades that they are going to die of hunger under their watch. Oppressed people inside and outside prison need to come together to defend themselves from these state sanctioned murders and abuse.


All information in this article is summarized from reports found on www.blackagendareport.com, where you can find contact information for public officials responsible for this torture, and an online petition to demand the end of long-term isolation in Georgia prisons.

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[Control Units] [Florida]
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Solitary Confinement Torture in Florida

Evidence is never impartially investigated or presented at disciplinary hearings. Contrary to claims of disciplinary teams, captives are railroaded and cheated, subject to arbitrary one-sided, kangaroo court, despite the evidence (camera and/or eyewitness) in captive's favor.

Air Conditioning is used as a torture device in disciplinary confinement. Cells are kept freezing cold, so cold that frost can be seen coming from the AC vent. Captives are allowed no sweat shirts or long johns from their personal property, only thin, torn and inadequate state issued blues, boxer shorts and socks in these freezing cold cells. Cruel and unusual, inhumane. Lights on, whistle blow wake up calls 4:30 a.m. every morning including weekends screaming "wake up, get dressed, bunks made." Captives are not allowed under their sheets or blankets till 5:30 p.m., forced to remain exposed to the cold in these locked cells. How cold is it? Between 50-60 degrees. Prolonged hours of cold causing numbness of bones.

Confinement meals are always cold due to being intentionally left to sit on the food cart in the hallway, way before feeding time.

Strip (property restriction, steel) captives are placed on steel or strip by overseers for 72 hours or more at a time in these cold cells. Stripped of all property except boxer shorts and a steel bunk, based on fabricated reasons of zealous overseers. If captives are caught under their covers, or wrapping themselves in their sheet worn under their blues, or overseers claim that captives are too loud, standing on the door or talking on the door, overseers will lie that captives have been disruptive and disorderly. They would write on a captive's contact file that he is being disruptive even while he's not just so he can be placed on steel or gassed (sprayed with chemical agents, i.e. pepper spray). Picture prisoners being gassed, placed on steel, and receiving more disciplinary reports. Captives are being gassed or placed on steel for asking for 303s (grievance forms), request forms, sick call forms and/or ink pens, tooth brushes, tooth paste, toilet paper and other necessities permitted by law but are denied.

Captives arriving in confinement any time after the monthly issue date of tooth brushes or the biweekly issue date of tooth paste or the weekly issue of toilet paper are deprived until next issue date. No toilet paper? Use your hands or your sheets.

Captives cannot file complaints due to being intimidated with retaliation or due to being denied ink pens and 303 forms. The grievance box is empty, not because captives are okay but because of the above mentioned reasons. Without ink pens, captives can not only not file complaints, but cannot write or contact family or outside sources, cannot fill out sick call or canteen forms. Overseers and the whole administration adhere to the rules only when and if convenient.


MIM(Prisons) adds: It is descriptions of conditions like this one that led us to initiate the campaign to shut down prison control units. Part of our work on this campaign is documenting both the conditions of torture in these isolation units and systematically documenting where and how many of them exist. Write to us for a survey of control units in your state if you can provide an accurate count for your prison or others.

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Texas] [ULK Issue 27]
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New Prisoners Isolated as Security Threat in Texas

The control units here were designed for prisoners the state couldn't control physically. Later it became a place for those it couldn't control mentally as well. Example: I was placed in Administrative Segregation immediately upon my arrival in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) because of tattoos. These were used to confirm me as a member of a Security Threat Group (STG). I don't deny I am a member of [an organization]. However TDCJ made it a rule violation to be a member of any STG. All members are placed in isolation, no matter if they participated in clashes or not. I was never given a chance in population nor is any other confirmed member of any STG. We are all judged on the actions of others who are/were incarcerated.

If an organization will give over a list of its ranking structure and work with the state, then the label of STG may be removed. Prisoners can return to population if they participate in Gang Renouncement and Disassociation. Yes, it's a program and they attempt to program the individual. It's straight up brain washing.

All organizations (or gangs as they call them) were in population somewhere. Only by their own actions should they be segregated, admitted to the Special Management Unit or ADX.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Across the country prisoners are placed in isolation based on labels the prison imposes on them. Often this has to do with who the prison administration thinks they associate with, and nothing to do with the prisoners' behavior as described above. Either way, these isolation cells are torture, causing many to become both physically and mentally sick. MIM(Prisons) is keeping one of the most comprehensive counts of control units as a part of our campaign to abolish control units. To help collect statistics for your state write to us for the control unit survey.

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[Control Units] [Abuse] [Potosi Correctional Center] [South Central Correctional Center] [Crossroads Correctional Center] [Southeast Correctional Center] [Missouri]
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Missouri Forces Fights, Brutalizes Prisoners

I have been incarcerated in the Missouri Department of Corruption since 1997. Over these many years I have been confined to seven different "camps" within the state of "Missery."

I have seen prisoners maced and beat severely at Potosi Correctional Center in the late 90s. Officers there would routinely chain prisoners up "hog tied" like and leave them lying in their cells. Rather than move prisoners that didn't get along or otherwise weren't compatible they would make them fight and in two instances I know of, prisoners were murdered by their cellmates.

All over the state it is common practice to place completely incompatible people in a cell together. Guys with life without parole being celled with prisoners with only a matter of months left in their sentence.

At Crossroads Correctional Center I saw a sergeant kick a "chuck-hole" closed on one prisoner's arm. Another sergeant grabbed a prisoner in a reverse headlock and dropped said prisoner on his face using all his own body weight. Prisoners with asthma or other health problems are sprayed with pepper spray.

All over the state it is common for prisoners to be "free-cased" for violations or crimes they had nothing to do with because a scape-goat was needed in a hurry to save face or out of animosity issues between staff and prisoners.

At South Central Correctional Center prisoners were "free-cased" for another prisoner's murder because the institution needed scape-goats to cover up their own incompetency in running a safe and secure 'camp' and insufficient security equipment.

All over the state there are prisoners on a status termed "long term mandated single-cell confinement." This security status has no set end, no guidelines and no governing policies or any unit set aside for such a special security status. There are men on this status who have been confined solidarity for over ten years.

At South East Correctional Center things are to a point where at the time of this writing there are prisoners eating foreign objects such as ink pens, screws, and any item obtainable (in one case the ear stem of a pair of eye glasses) to express the need to be transferred away from the tyrannical oppression found in this backward run facility.

All over the state prisoners are housed in single-man cell units with prisoners with severe mental illness so they are subjected to round the clock beating on walls and sinks, yelling and screaming, smearing and throwing feces, urine, etc. Lights are left on or shut off per the whim of the officers.

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[Control Units] [Gang Validation] [Security] [Texas] [ULK Issue 27]
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More Orgs Labeled "Security Threat" for Raising Consciousness

Recently I was informed that my naci├│n is now considered a Security Threat Group (STG) here in the state of Texas. Not because we are doing anything that's criminal, but because the system knows that we have the potential to make change possible for all, which they see as a direct threat to their institution. For years we have been around, but now they see more and more of us getting tuned in to our doctrine, becoming aware of the de-humanization of the system. So it seems that they want to slap us with this label. Recently in an article published in ULK there was a fellow Black Panther, who is here with me, informing you all that the Gang Intelligence staff have also classified them as an STG in the state of Texas.

All I can say to those manitos and manitas doing time representing [these groups]: there is nothing new under the sun! Keep underground not because we have a sense of guilt, but because by watching and studying history we made ourselves a threat and now the system is ready and waiting to take us out just like it does with so many others. The war on STG is real and the tracking mechanism they use is serious, inside and out.

¡Trucha! Always be aware and make the right decisions.

Remember, just because you are in general population doesn't mean that the future is going to be the same. This goes for all the lumpen class. Prepare yourselves for that ripple effect because the war on so-called STGs is going to get much more repressive.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is right that the prisons throw around the "security threat" label as an excuse to lock down conscious prisoners organizing against the system. We get many letters talking about this happening in states across the U.$. In addition, the "security threat" label is used to keep Under Lock & Key out of prisons. This censorship is so common that every issue of ULK finds many copies returned to us, in some cases banned from entire facilities.

This writer gives good advice to be very careful about what information we reveal. We don't need more good comrades locked up in segregation just for their lumpen organization affiliation. Don't make it easy for the pigs. Don't give them any information.

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[Control Units] [Apalachee Correctional Institution] [Florida]
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Control Units in Apalachee Correctional Institution

I am currently housed in an administrative confinement unit in Florida's Apalachee Correctional Institution. The East Unit has two confinement buildings: Disciplinary Confinement (DC) and Administrative Confinement (AC). In DC we are on 24 hour lockdown except to take showers on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 3 minutes to wash. Once you've been on DC for 30 days you are eligible for recreation outside for 3-4 hours on Saturday, but they only give us 1 hour, if that. We exercise in what's called a dog cage. It is 15x8 feet approximately.

Administrative Confinement (AC) Y Dorm houses prisoners placed here for security purposes ranging from disciplinary reports, protective management, or investigation. They sometimes use AC as a form of punishment just because they want to. You can stay back here up to 180 days. AC holds about 30-40 prisoners on each wing (1,2,3).

The cell is 6x10 feet with bars as the door. I can touch wall to wall with both arms extended. We rarely get recreation. It's infested with rats and ants which come in and out of your room throughout the day. Your toilet only flushes two times every hour, sometimes less. There's no central heating or air conditioning so right now it's summer and it reaches 100 degrees and we have to be fully dressed. They only have fans at each end of the hall and certain officers will turn them off as a punishment. The office has AC so it won't affect them. Here showers are also Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but you are in a cage with another prisoner which is dangerous because there's a possibility of rape. They give you a piece of a whole soap about the size of a credit card broke in half, if even that big. It's hotel soap and we only get one a week. We get toilet paper every 10 days, sometimes it takes longer. We are supposed to receive 2 rolls per inmate but they just give us one and if you run out, you're just out until next time.

This place is terrible. I wouldn't want my worst enemy here in AC or DC.


MIM(Prisons) adds We have been collecting statistics on control units in prisons across the country as a part of our campaign to shut down the control units. This prisoner's report is part of more general information he provided about the units in Florida. To help us compile accurate statistics about control units in your prison, write to us for a copy of the control unit survey.

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[Political Repression] [Organizing] [Control Units] [California State Prison, Corcoran] [California] [ULK Issue 26]
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Report Back from Corcoran Hunger Strike

[This series of events followed two statewide food strikes in California in 2011 focused on putting an end to Security Housing Units and improving justice and conditions in CA prisons.]

When we, the prisoners housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU1) of CSP-Corcoran, initiated a hunger strike to protest against the inhumane conditions and constitutional violations we faced in the ASU1, the prison officials responded with retaliation and indifference. Their intent was clear: to set an example of what would occur if these protests that had been rocking the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) this past year continued. Their statement was not only meant for the protestors in this ASU1, but for the entire class of oppressed prisoners in the CDCR.

The hunger strike in this ASU1 initially began on 28 December 2011. It was a collective effort with various races and subgroups standing in solidarity for a common interest. A petition was prepared with the issues we wanted to address, and it was submitted to the Corcoran prison officials and also sent out to prisoner rights groups in an attempt to gather support and attention.

A few hours after the protest began, Warden Gipson sent her staff to move the prisoners who were allegedly, and falsely, identified as "strike leaders" to a different ASU. I was included in that category because my signature was on the petition that was submitted to prison officials. When we initially refused to move, the correctional staff came to our cells wearing full riot gear to cell extract and move us by force. Since we were engaging in a peaceful protest, we agreed to move and were placed in the other ASU. This turned out to be 3A03 EOP, an Ad-Seg unit that houses severely mentally ill prisoners.

While isolated in that psychiatric ward, we continued to refuse food until we received word that the hunger strike ended in the ASU1. I later found out that the Warden and Captain had met with the spokesmen of the ASU1 protestors and promised to grant a majority of our demands but requested three weeks to implement the changes and to have the agreements in writing. The protestors agreed to give the prison officials the benefit of the doubt, and for that reason the hunger strike was put on hold.

I continued to file complaints and 602s during this period asserting that my placement in a unit along with severely mentally ill prisoners violated my Eighth Amendment right because I was not mentally ill; and that my placement in this psychiatric ward was the result of illegal retaliation by prison officials against me for exercising my First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and protest. These grievances went ignored. In addition to my isolation in the psychiatric ward, I received a 115 for "inciting/leading a mass disturbance" (12 month SHU term), and was later found guilty although they had no evidence to support that charge besides my signature on a petition. The other protestors who were also falsely identified as "strike leaders" were issued the same 115 for "inciting/leading a mass disturbance."

On 18 January 2012, Warden Gipson ordered her staff to move me, as well as the other isolated protesters, back to the ASU1 believing that the hunger strike was over. Before we were moved back, she sent an email to Lt. Cruz of 3A03 and asked him to read it to us. It contained a warning that she would not tolerate any more disturbances in the ASU1, and a threat that any such behavior would carry more severe reprisals.

After three weeks passed since the hunger strike was put on hold, it was clear that the prison officials had no intent to honor their word and keep their promises. The hunger strike resumed on 27 January 2012.

The ASU1 Lieutenant, after hearing that we resumed the protest, came to a few protestors and stated the following: "We are tired of you guys, all you guys, doing hunger strikes and asking for all this shit. I am not only speaking for myself, but for my superiors as well. There are correctional officers and staff getting laid off because the state doesn't have money, and you guys in here are asking for more shit? You know what, we don't care if you guys starve yourselves to death. You guys aren't getting shit. The only thing you'll get are incident packets."

Two days later, on 29 January 2012, Warden Gipson sent her staff again to round up the alleged "strike leaders" and place them in isolation. This time, the spokesmen who had previously come out to speak and negotiate with the prison officials regarding our demands were also included in that category. We were all moved once again to 3A03 psychiatric ward although we were not mentally ill. Furthermore, our visits were suspended by classification committee for the duration of our "involvement in the hunger strike," and we were issued another 115 for "inciting/leading a mass disturbance."

The retaliation did not stop there. All the participants of the hunger strike were issued 115s for "participation in a mass disturbance," and the most important of all, the correctional staff and prison officials were deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of the starved protestors in the ASU1. When some of the protestors started losing consciousness, experiencing serious pain, and requesting emergency medical attention, the correctional staff were deliberately slow in responding, and in many instances just simply ignored them. This conduct and this mindset, of prison officials to set an example by showing deliberate indifference to the medical needs of the protestors, directly contributed to the death of one of our own. His brave sacrifice and unfailing personal commitment will never be forgotten, nor will it have been for naught.

This is where they stand. The oppressors who take away our freedom and liberty continue to fight tooth and nail to deprive us of even our basic human rights. They employ brutal means of retaliation and suppression in an attempt to keep us from exposing the harsh truths of everyday life inside these prison walls. Although the ASU1 hunger strike may have ended, I will continue to have the spirit of resistance. The outcome will not be decided by a single battle but of many, and I will do my part in hopes that my small contribution may make a difference.

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