Nancy Pelosi vows to Raise Taxes – Bye Bye Iran Deal | Look At News Daily  (May 5-11/Day 106-112) Week 16

By Michael Hernandez


May 5 (Saturday): Day 106

President Trump thanks American patriots; reaffirms natural rights at NRA

President Donald Trump took the podium at the NRA convention on May 4 amid massive applause, thanked NRA leadership and the “American patriots of the NRA,” then launched into a speech reaffirming that our natural rights originate in God.

Trump said, “The people of his hall have never taken our freedom for granted, ever, and you’ve never stopped fighting for our constitution.” He talked of NRA members’ commitment to fight for “our sacred rights, given to us by God.”

Trump’s words echoed the sentiment of our third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. It was Jefferson who penned the Declaration of Independence, writing, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

Federal judge questions Mueller’s prosecution of Paul Manafort

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “Russia Investigation” may be facing its most significant push-back yet Friday when federal Judge Thomas Ellis questioned Mueller’s prosecutors fundamental authority, motives, and honesty in a pre-trial hearing for one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

“C’mon man!” Ellis reportedly exclaimed to Mueller’s prosecutors, telling them later, “We don’t want anyone with unfettered power.”

Ellis called out Mueller’s lawyers on their motive in prosecuting Manafort for crimes that allegedly occurred long before the 2016 campaign. “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” he said. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”

Manafort is indicted for money laundering and tax fraud in the Eastern District of Virginia, the subject of Friday’s hearing with Ellis. He also stands accused in the District of Columbia of financial crimes to his activities as a lobbyist and surrogate for foreign leaders, including ousted Ukrainian President Victor Yanokovych, years before he joined the Trump campaign. One of the crimes with which he is charged, violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), has resulted in only one conviction in its more than five decades on the books.

Friday’s hearing was an attempt by Manafort’s lawyers to question Mueller’s office’s authority to bring all these charges against their client as it was outside the stated scope of their investigation. According to the document that appointed Mueller as special counsel, he has authority to investigate:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a) [a regulation that expands a special counsel’s jurisdiction to crimes, such as perjury or obstruction of justice, that interfere with his investigation].

A more detailed memo drafted by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and hidden from public view lays out the Mueller probes scope with more specificity. A heavily redacted version came to light as result of proceedings leading up to Friday’s hearings.

The Reagan-appointed Judge Ellis slammed Mueller’s lawyers on their reliance on and evasiveness about this “Scope Memo,” which they refuse to hand over. He characterized their attitude as, “We said this was what [the] investigation was about, but we are not bound by it and we were lying.”

Ellis did not rule on Manafort’s motion to dismiss the indictment and is instead demanding to see an unredacted copy of the Scope Memo within two weeks, or get a detailed explanation of why it does not pertain to the case, as the Special Counsel’s Office attorneys are claiming.

Between his two criminal cases, Manafort is facing sentences that could easily see him die him prison. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Should his case in Virginia be dismissed, he will still face trial in Washington, DC, before the Obama-appointed Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Jackson has yet to rule on a similar motion by Manafort’s lawyers to dismiss the indictment in her courtroom, but expressed some scepticism of the Special Counsel’s Office’s authority in a hearing last month.

California becomes the 5th largest economy in the world

California zipped past the United Kingdom to become the 5th largest economy in the world in 2017. The U.S. Commerce Department reported that California with a population of 39.54 million has a larger Gross State Product at $2.75 trillion, versus the United Kingdom with a population of 65.64 million and a Gross Domestic Product of $2.62 trillion.

A big advantage California enjoys is having a surface area of 163,696 square miles, compared to the UK with just 93,628 square miles of area. Although almost a third of California is uninhabited, about the same one-third of the UK is uninhabited.

Setting a new all-time highest ranking versus the world is a huge change from 2012 when huge swaths of California real estate was getting foreclosed and thousands of cars were getting repossessed. This knocked the not-so-golden state to a world economic ranking of #10.

But California’s Gross State Product jump by $700 billion and created 2 million jobs in the last six years. A huge piece of that recovery has been due to globalism, with the U.S. Commerce Department reporting that California exported $171.9 billion to 229 foreign economies in 2017.

Outstanding performing export sectors were Silicon Valley which passed $30 billion, Hollywood entertainment hitting about $16 billion, and the state’s agricultural sector recording a near-record $20 billion in exports.

The chief economist at the California Department of Finance Irena Asmundson told the Associated Press that California’s economy since the lows in 2012 hit new highs in 2017 that included $26 billion for financial services and real estate; $20 billion for the information sector; and a decade-high $10 billion in manufacturing.

Asmundson added that during the five-year period, California with 12 percent of the U.S. population created 16 percent of all new domestic jobs and the state’s share of U.S. Gross Domestic Product grew from 12.8 percent to 14.2 percent.

California’s unemployment rate was at a 17-year low of 4.8 percent in 2017 and has steadily declined to 4.3 percent at the end of March to set a 38-year low, according to the state’s Employment Development Department.

But not everything is great for all Californians, with Breitbart News reporting that Silicon Valley has the highest income inequality in the nation and the U.S. News & World Report naming California as the worst state for “quality of life,” due to the high cost of living.

If California was a nation, the only countries left to pass would be Germany with a GDP of $3.69 trillion, Japan with a GDP of $4.87 trillion and China with a GDP of $12.02 trillion. Then the Golden State could try to pass United States that has a GDP of $16.64 trillion, without California.

Two key FBI lawyers leaving the bureau

Jesse Byrnes reports in The Hill that Lisa Page, who notoriously exchanged anti-Trump emails with fellow FBI employee, now-demoted counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, has resigned from the bureau.

Two key advisers to former FBI Director James Comey are leaving the bureau.

James Baker, who served as the FBI’s top lawyer before being reassigned in December under the agency’s current director Christopher Wray, resigned on Friday, The New York Times reports.

Lisa Page, another FBI official who served as an adviser to Comey and his deputy at the bureau, Andrew McCabe, on various legal issues, is also resigning, the Times reported.  Page, meanwhile, has been the focus of GOP ire in recent months after text messages emerged between herself and another FBI official in which they criticized Trump and other political figures.

John Kerry working to undermine President Trump on Iran nuclear deal

Former Secretary of State John Kerry

The Boston Globe reported on Friday that former Secretary of State John Kerry has been secretly working with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to save the Iran nuclear deal, which the Trump administration has strongly criticized and might renegotiate or cancel within the next two weeks.

The Boston Globe describes Kerry’s activities as “shadow diplomacy” and an “aggressive yet stealthy” effort to save “one of his most significant accomplishments”:

John Kerry’s bid to save one of his most significant accomplishments as secretary of state took him to New York on a Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, where, more than a year after he left office, he engaged in some unusual shadow diplomacy with a top-ranking Iranian official. He sat down at the United Nations with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to discuss ways of preserving the pact limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It was the second time in about two months that the two had met to strategize over salvaging a deal they spent years negotiating during the Obama administration, according to a person briefed on the meetings.

With the Iran deal facing its gravest threat since it was signed in 2015, Kerry has been on an aggressive yet stealthy mission to preserve it, using his deep lists of contacts gleaned during his time as the top US diplomat to try to apply pressure on the Trump administration from the outside. President Trump, who has consistently criticized the pact and campaigned in 2016 on scuttling it, faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to continue abiding by its terms.

Kerry also met last month with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and he’s been on the phone with top European Union official Federica Mogherini, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal the private meetings. Kerry has also met with French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York, conversing over the details of sanctions and regional nuclear threats in both French and English.

Boston Globe Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Matt Viser sought to capture how both sides of the partisan divide are responding to the news of Kerry’s “unusual” activities: As Seth Mandel of the New York Post pointed out, the “supporters” half of Viser’s formulation is a matter of partisan opinion, while the “critics” half is a literal description of what Kerry is actually doing. One suspects mainstream media coverage of, say, Condoleeza Rice jetting around Europe to secretly undermine Barack Obama’s foreign policy in 2010 would not have praised her “unflagging energy.” The Obama administration veterans and sympathizers quoted in the Boston Globe piece sound an awful lot like people either ignoring the results of a presidential election or seeking to nullify it.

There is also the question of whether Kerry’s activities violate the Logan Act, that highly controversial and almost completely ignored piece of 18th-century regulation that expressly forbids private citizens from undermining U.S. foreign policy. The relevant U.S. Code reads as follows:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

The Logan Act is something of a joke among legal scholars and political analysts, who often call for it to be repealed as obsolete rubbish because no one has ever been convicted under it… but it recently was employed as the pretext for action against President Trump’s first National Security Adviser, Gen. Mike Flynn.

Flynn was not actually charged under the Logan Act, but he pled guilty to making false statements during an investigation based upon it, as CNN explained in December 2017:  “In court filings, Michael Flynn acknowledged he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about calls with foreign officials, including the Russian ambassador, to try to influence the outcome of a UN resolution in December 2016 while a member of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team.”

Michael Zeldin, a former prosecutor who was a special assistant to Mueller in the Justice Department, said the outreach to foreign governments by Trump’s team at the time the Obama administration was in dispute with Israel over the vote is “facially” a violation of the Logan Act.

Flynn’s contact with the Russian ambassador “seems to violate what the Logan Act intended to prevent,” Zeldin said. He added that even though the Logan Act hasn’t been used successfully “it doesn’t mean that Mueller wouldn’t consider using it to pressure defendants.”

The New York Times reported in February 2017 that Obama advisers heard about Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and “grew suspicious that perhaps there had been a secret deal between the incoming team and Moscow, which could violate the rarely enforced, two-century-old Logan Act barring private citizens from negotiating with foreign powers in disputes with the United States.”

In December 2017, the NYT ran an op-ed from Daniel Hemel and Eric Posner that took the Logan Act very seriously indeed, and warned the Trump team they should “fear” it:  “The statute, which has been on the books since the early days of the republic, reflects an important principle. The president is — as the Supreme Court has said time and again — “the sole organ of the nation in its external relations.” If private citizens could hold themselves out as representatives of the United States and work at cross-purposes with the president’s own diplomatic objectives, the president’s ability to conduct foreign relations would be severely hampered.

Hemel and Posner dismissed the argument that the Logan Act could be ignored because it has never been successfully prosecuted before, arguing that both Flynn and whoever directed his actions — they suggested President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — should be jailed, and even suggested impeachment proceedings for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. “If the phrase ‘high crimes or misdemeanors’ means anything, it includes violation of a serious criminal statute that bars citizens from undermining the foreign policy actions of the sitting president,” they declared.

As Dan McLaughlin points out at National Review at the end of an argument for repealing the Logan Act, Kerry has potentially set himself up for more serious charges under the law than Flynn, who was “apparently acting for a duly-elected incoming presidential administration” when he committed his alleged transgression. Kerry can make no such claim.

Chief political correspondent Byron York makes the same case that investigating Flynn under the Logan Act but giving Kerry a free pass is illogical: “York noted in December 2017 that the Logan Act was the reason Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama administration holdover, decided to interrogate Flynn: “Yates described the events in testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee on May 8, 2017. She told lawmakers that the Logan Act was the first concern she mentioned to McGahn.

“The first thing we did was to explain to Mr. McGahn that the underlying conduct that Gen. Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself,” Yates said. That seems a clear reference to the Logan Act, although no one uttered the words “Logan Act” in the hearing at which Yates testified. “We took him [McGahn] through in a fair amount of detail of the underlying conduct, what Gen. Flynn had done.”

Yates and the aide returned to the White House the next day, Jan. 27, for another talk with McGahn. McGahn asked Yates “about the applicability of certain statutes, certain criminal statutes,” Yates testified. That led Sen. Chris Coons, who had called for an investigation of the Trump team for Logan Act violations months before, to ask Yates what the applicable statutes would be.

“If I identified the statute, then that would be insight into what the conduct was,” Yates answered. “And look, I’m not trying to be hyper-technical here. I’m trying to be really careful that I observe my responsibilities to protect classified information. And so I can’t identify the statute.”

While Yates became reticent in the witness chair, the public nevertheless knows from that “official familiar with her thinking” that Yates believed Flynn might have violated the Logan Act, a suspicion she shared with other Obama administration officials.

The coda to the Mike Flynn Logan Act saga is that a House Intelligence Committee report released on Friday made it clear that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn “didn’t think he was lying.”


May 6 (Sunday): Day 107

California Attorney General seeks dismissal of fed lawsuits

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a motion with a federal court in Sacramento on Friday, asking the judge to dismiss a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit challenging three of the state’s so-called “sanctuary” laws.

“California’s laws work in concert – not conflict – with federal laws and are fully constitutional,” Becerra said in a statement Friday. “The 10th Amendment of the Constitution gives the people of California, not the Trump Administration, the power to decide how we will provide for the public safety and general welfare of our state. The federal government has no grounds to intrude on California’s constitutional authority to enact laws designed to protect its people.”

The federal government’s lawsuit, filed in early March, targets three recent California laws: the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (HB 450), the Inspection and Review of Facilities Housing Federal Detainees law (AB 103); and the California Values Act (SB 54).

Becerra’s court filings (here and here) cite the Tenth Amendment, which provides that “[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Democrats mocked conservatives as “Tenthers” when they used similar arguments against Obamacare in 2010.


May 7 (Monday):  Day 108

Chula Vista high school mural depicts decapitated President

Artists in Chula Vista, California, who painted a school mural depicting an Aztec warrior carrying the severed head of President Donald Trump on a spear have decided to change the mural after a storm of protest.

The mural also depicted the warrior holding a human heart — presumably, that of the president. The image recalls well-documented rituals of human sacrifice among the Aztecs, who are also thought to have eaten their victims.

The mural was painted several days ago and then immediately covered up after local news reporters learned of it. Artist Sasha Andrade Mercado posted images of the mural to social media regardless, decrying what she called censorship. Several days later, the mural has been repainted to remove the offending image. A report by local ABC News affiliate 10 News indicates that the artists intend to  repaint the mural of Trump elsewhere in the city.

Mercado posted a note on Facebook on Sunday, indicating the mural was moved due to threats to the school: “We decided to change the mural because there were threats made to the school from “white supremacist” and threats to the kids, we were just going to adjust the mural but when things got out of control and the school started receiving threats and putting the students at risk we decided to change it completely, other media outlets started to enter school property and not being nice about it for example KUSI News John Soderman walked in the schools reception demanding to see the mural with no respect what so ever they also did not do their research and gave out my name and my images without my permission and because of that is why I started to get hate threats.”

Mercado concluded: “We will never give up to fighting for our rights and fighting to end this racist country that this ‘president’ has created!”

Melania Trump announces her White House initiative

First lady Melania Trump will announce her formal initiatives during a White House press conference on Monday. Trump’s agenda will focus on the well-being of children, according to her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham.

“The unique aspect to this rollout is that she’s not choosing just one topic as has been done in the past,” Grisham said in an email.

“I’m here with one goal: helping children in our next generation,” said the First Lady.

GOP Majority Leader:  ‘Dems want to impeach the president’

On Monday’s broadcast of the Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stated Democrats want to take control of the government to impeach the president, stop any legislation from passing, or raise taxes.

McCarthy said, “I’m going to tell you this, people can underestimate us. They’ve done that before. And this is the same thing Nancy Pelosi said in the time before. All they want to do is capture this government to try to impeach this president or stop anything from happening or raising your taxes. I think the American public is too smart for that. They’ve watched having unemployment the lowest it’s been in 18 years. They’ve watched the world become safer. And there’s so much more we can do to make this country greater.”

New York Attorney General resigns after allegations of abuse

New York Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Monday evening he would resign from his post, following allegations of physical abuse from four women.

 “In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018,” Schneiderman said.

The resignation comes shortly after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on Schneiderman to step down. “No one is above the law, including New York’s top legal officer,” Cuomo said in a statement Monday evening.

The allegations were detailed in a report by the New Yorker published earlier Monday. Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam told the publication Schneiderman hit them multiple times while they were in bed, against their will. The two women characterized his behavior as “assault” and disclosed that the violence typically occurred after Schneiderman had been drinking.

Although neither reported their accusations of misconduct to police, both said they had to receive medical attention following strikes to their ears and face, and after being choked. Both women also claimed Schneiderman warned they would be killed if they cut ties with him, an allegation Schneiderman’s spokesperson denied.

Another woman who was romantically linked to Schneiderman told Manning Barish and Selvaratnam she also experienced nonconsensual physical violence in her interactions with him. Although the third woman remains anonymous, the New Yorker verified the accounts Manning Barish and Selvaratnam provided.

A fourth woman, who asked to remain anonymous, has also accused Schneiderman of slapping her on the face after she rejected one of his advances. She shared a photo with the New Yorker of the mark left on her face after the incident and also revealed she screamed out of shock and pain after the blow.

Schneiderman backed the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct and recently issued praise for news outlets who won Pulitzer Prizes for their sexual harassment coverage.

Schneiderman has historically been an adversary of President Trump. After the 2016 election, he won a $25 million settlement for former attendees of Trump University who claimed they were deceived by the unaccredited program. In April after the settlement was finalized, he said “victims of Donald Trump’s fraudulent university will finally receive the relief they deserve.”

Additionally, Schniederman requested that state lawmakers and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo change a section of the law that could permit those who receive federal pardons from Trump to dodge state criminal charges.

Donald Trump suggested New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would be the next in a line of Democratic New York politicians to end his career in disgrace, more than four years before Schneiderman resigned Monday, hours after allegations he physically abused four women went public.

In September 2013, real estate mogul Donald Trump tweeted that his followers should “wait and see,” because Schneiderman was worse than either his predecessor, Attorney General (and later Governor) Elliot Spitzer, or Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY – both of whom were forced to resign after being caught in high profile sex scandals. Weiner is gone, Spitzer is gone – next will be lightweight A.G. Eric Schneiderman. Is he a crook? Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner.”

The prediction proved uncanny Monday when the New Yorker magazine’s Ronan Farrow, the man who broke the Harvey Weinstein scandal wide open, and fellow reporter Jane Mayer, published a bombshell report in which four women accused Schneiderman of violently brutalizing them in sexual and other situations over a number of years.


May 8 (Tuesday):  Day 109

President Trump withdraws from Iran nuclear deal

President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Iran deal on Tuesday, keeping his campaign promise to end the agreement reached by former President Barack Obama.  “This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” Trump said. “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”

The president announced his decision in a speech at the White House in the Diplomatic Room as Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence looked on. Trump signed a memorandum to end the deal, reinstating the nuclear sanctions against Iran originally put in place by the Obama administration.

“America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail,” he said. Trump’s decision signals a major blow to the Obama administration’s signature foreign diplomatic agreement reached in 2015 with the rogue regime.

The President described the deal as “decaying and rotten” and “defective at its core” recalling it as a “great embarrassment” to all American citizens when it was signed. “A constructive deal could easily have been struck at the time,” Trump said. “But it wasn’t.” He denounced the Obama administration for sending billions of dollars to a “regime of great terror” including vast sums of cash. He denounced Iran for using that money to further sponsor terrorism and violence in the Middle East, pointing out that the regimes military budget had grown 40 percent since the deal was reached.

“At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction: That a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program,” he said. “Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie.”

Trump repeatedly trashed the deal during his campaign for president, describing it as a terrible deal that should have never been enacted. At the White House on Tuesday, he said he was determined to keep his promise made to the American people. “Today’s action sends a critical message,” Trump said. “The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them.”

Key allies in Europe face their own decision of what to do with the deal whether or not to keep the elements of the deal intact with Iran, choose to reimpose sanctions, or allow it to die.

President Trump withdraws from Iran nuclear deal

President Trump ridicules former Secretary of State

President Donald Trump further ridiculed John Kerry, after reports that the former Secretary of State was working behind the scenes to save the Iran deal. “John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!”

“The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal,” he wrote. “He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!” John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it! Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!”

Kerry reportedly met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in recent months. Kerry reportedly also spoke with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was foreign minister of Germany when the deal was negotiated; French President Emmanuel Macron; and European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

California Assembly seeks to socialize healthcare services

The California State Assembly’s Health Committee passed a labor-backed bill on a strict 11-4 partisan vote last week under which the state would create a commission to socialize the price of all healthcare service costs.

The “Health Care Price Relief Act,” titled AB 3087, is sponsored by Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), a fast-rising star in progressive California Democrat circles. The legislation would create the “California Health Care Cost, Quality, and Equity Commission” as an independent state agency to control in-state healthcare costs and set the amounts accepted as payment by health plans, hospitals, physicians, physician groups, and other healthcare providers in the commercial market.

The bill is opposed by the California Hospital Association (CHA), including Providence St. Joseph Health and all of its faith-based ministries. They call the legislation a poorly constructed measure that would take billions of dollars out of the state’s healthcare system while doing nothing to improve the quality of patient care in California. The CHA is especially leery of allowing a government-run price setting scheme.

The state’s powerful labor union consortium backs the bill, including the Service Employees’ International Union; California Labor Federation; Health Access and UNITE HERE; and the California Labor Federation, representing 1,200 unions with more than 2.1 million members.

Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Officer of the California Labor Federation Art Pulaski testified in the Assembly Health Committee that the cost of health care is too much for union members because most of their wage increases go to pay for health insurance.

Pulaski sounded like a conservative when he thundered that union members are paying more for health care to get less. But rather than unions joining the effort to dump Obamacare, they are blaming insurance companies, doctors, and hospitals.

The AB-3087 commission would set provider payment rates in the commercial insurance market based on a number of factors that would be tied to discounted Medicare rates. The advocates claim that the commission would make healthcare cost pricing more rational, more transparent, and more reflective of what it costs to provide medical services.

But Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the CHA, says the bill is a recipe for disaster. CHA estimates the bill would make 60 percent of California hospitals unprofitable by slashing $18 billion of annual revenue. The CHA estimates 175,000 healthcare workers could lose their jobs.

President Trump seeks rescission of $15 billion in federal spending

President Donald Trump sent Congress a proposal on Tuesday to rescind $15 billion in federal spending, not including omnibus spending – the largest rescission request in American history and the first since Bill Clinton was president.

Senior administration officials briefing reporters late Monday emphasized that the $15 billion to be rescinded includes unobligated balances, primarily those that will not have an effect on current programs as the legal authority to spend those funds has passed.

Nearly one-third of the cuts, $4.3 billion of the $15 billion, come from the Advance Technology Vehicle Loan Program – a program which hasn’t made a loan since 2011. Another $523 million comes from the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program. The authority to make new loan guarantees under this program lapsed in 2011.

The World Health Organization declared the Ebola epidemic over in 2016. However, $252 million in excess of 2015 Ebola response funds remain. The package includes rescission of these funds.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has $800 million in funding beyond what is needed for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and is set to receive another $10 billion in appropriations for 2020. The $800 million is being included in the rescission package.

While some have framed the $7 billion in proposed rescissions from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as if it would cut funds that are slated to be used, according to the administration officials, the CHIP rescissions would come from two accounts. One at about $5 billion where there is no authority to spend the money under the law. The authority to spend these funds lapsed in 2017. Funds in the other account valued at just under $2 billion are part of an additional allotment to states, and the officials said they don’t expect any states to be eligible for these funds.

The administration expects to get bipartisan support for the rescission package. Officials cited Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, who has previously voted for rescissions. Conversations continue between Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and lawmaker, and officials were adamant that there should be no reason for Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie in the Senate.

Officials were adamant that they are focused on this package before moving on to a second large revisions package that addresses ineffective items in the omnibus. One did suggest that the second package would come within 2018. The official said the administration wants to make sure the “muscle memory” of Congress is intact with this first package before moving on to what will be a similarly “historic” package involving the omnibus.

Congress will have 45 days to act on the package by passing a bill, according to the officials. They expect the package to quickly pass the House and that they will begin conversations in the Senate once that is accomplished. One of the significant benefits of this process is that it bypasses any filibuster in the Senate. “Democratic and Republican Presidents have used the ICA to propose nearly $76 billion in spending cuts since the law was enacted,” read a portion of a Tuesday White House release on the rescission package. Presidents from Gerald Ford to Bill Clinton have used the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (ICA) to rescind federal funds to the tune of $76 billion.


May 9 (Wednesday):  Day 110

President Trump announces North Korea frees three Americans

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was returning from North Korea after successfully negotiating the release of three American citizens. “I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting,” Trump announced on Twitter. “They seem to be in good health.”

Kim Dong-chul of Virginia was detained in 2015, sentenced to ten years in prison on charges of espionage and subversion. Accounting Professor Tony Kim and Pyongyang University Professor Kim Hak-song were both detained in 2017.

Trump also announced he would travel to Andrews Air Force Base to personally welcome the three freed detainees home to the United States. “Secretary Pompeo and his ‘guests’ will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:00 A.M. in the morning,” he wrote. “I will be there to greet them. Very exciting!”

Trump praised Pompeo’s successful meeting with Kim, looking forward to his upcoming summit with the North Korean dictator. “Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un,” he wrote. “Date & Place set.”

West Virginia, Indiana elect GOP Senate candidates

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey defeated Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV) and coal businessman Don Blankenship to become the state’s Senate GOP nominee. Morrisey defeated the establishment-backed candidate Jenkins and businessman Don Blankenship.

Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin cheered Morrisey’s victory in a statement on Tuesday night:  “Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund congratulates Patrick Morrisey on his victory in the West Virginia Republican Primary for U.S. Senate. Our supporters urged us to back Patrick because he has proven himself to be a strong constitutional conservative with the fortitude and conviction necessary to dismantle Big Government without getting stuck in the Washington swamp. We are proud to have endorsed Patrick, and urge The Mountain State to send this conservative leader to Washington, DC.”

Several prominent conservative Republicans, including Sens. Paul, Ted Cruz (R-TX), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sebastian Gorka, and Tea Party Patriots president Jenny Beth Martin have endorsed Morrisey for U.S. Senate.

Morrisey said, “I think if you want that contrast – a conservative vs. a liberal who’s part of the swamp in Washington, and I can get those results.”

Businessman Mike Braun decisively won the Indiana Senate Republican primary on Tuesday night. Mike Braun handily defeated Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Luke Messer (R-IN) on Tuesday. Braun will face off against incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in the 2018 Indiana general Senate election.

Braun said in a statement on Tuesday night, “Tonight, Hoosiers spoke loud and clear – they want a conservative outsider representing them in the U.S. Senate and I am grateful to have their support.” Braun added, “From the beginning, our message has been pretty simple – we need more outsiders and less career politicians in Washington. More folks that have done something in the real world.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Chris Hansen applauded Braun’s victory in Indiana’s GOP primary.“Congratulations to Mike Braun on his win in tonight’s primary,” said NRSC Executive Director Chris Hansen. “Mike’s success in creating jobs for Hoosiers as a business owner is a stark contrast to Joe Donnelly’s history of ship

“This fall, we’re going to send a message to Senator Donnelly and the rest of Washington that politics shouldn’t be a career and if we want to change things we need to change the people we send there,” Braun explained. “I’m going there to get the job done and come back home, and the only people I’ll owe anything to is the voters of Indiana,” Braun concluded.

Conservative wins GOP North Carolina primary; loses in Ohio

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a key ally of President Donald Trump who has served in Congress since 1995, fended off a challenge for the Republican party’s moderate wing Tuesday in the GOP primary for North Carolina’s Third Congressional District.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Jones has secured 43 percent of the vote with his two challengers, Vice-Chairman of the Craven County Board of Commissioners Scott Dacey and Phil Law, a local IT contractor and Marine veteran, splitting the remainder roughly evenly.

Jones ran a campaign aimed squarely at outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan whom he accused of running a “closed shop” that locked out conservatives. He described Dacey, who appears to have come in third, as a lobbyist with ties and donations to establishment Republicans like Ryan and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

With his victory Tuesday night, Jones secures another term in office, as the Democrats are not running a candidate against him. The win comes as part of a bad night for the GOP establishment in North Carolina, where conservative challenger Mark Harris also unseated incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger in the state’s Ninth District.

In Ohio’s 16th Congressional District, “America First” candidate Christina Hagan, 29-years-old, was outspent and defeated by the Republican establishment-backed Anthony Gonzalez, who previously called “Never Trump” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) his “man crush,” has beat out Hagan in the congressional race after the pro-amnesty Chamber of Commerce and corporate donors poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars against Hagan.

Hagan trailed Gonzalez in the 16th District by 12 points. Hagan ran her campaign on the America First agenda of defending the unborn, less immigration, an end to job-killing free trade deals, and bringing U.S. troops home from foreign wars. In the midst of the campaign, Hagan swept into national attention as the darling of the America First movement, garnering small dollar donations from around the country in the process, from voters who wrote messages saying they are fed up with the Republican establishment.

Gonzalez received support and funding from Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), who voted consistently in Congress since 2015 to import more cheap foreign workers to compete against Americans for blue-collar and white-collar U.S. jobs.

Gonzalez was endorsed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) who famously authored the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill that would have legalized the majority of the 12 million to 30 million illegal aliens living in the U.S.

If Hagan had been elected, she would have likely beat out her Democrat opponent, making her the youngest congresswoman in history.

SF Chronicle:  Open Carry abolished after Black Panthers came to Capitol

An opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle observes that open carry was once the law of the land in California, abolished only after armed Black Panthers came to a political gathering at the state Capitol on May 3, 1967. The gathering featured a newly elected governor named Ronald Reagan (R), and the crowd on the Capitol steps watched as Black Panthers approached, guns in hand.

According to the Chronicle’s opinion piece:  “About two dozen African American men and women, some wearing leather jackets and black berets, started toward the Capitol carrying rifles, shotguns and pistols. They were not holding the weapons in a threatening manner; they were pointing them in the air as they marched into the building. The news horde — with cameras rolling — stumbled backward ahead of them, up the carpeted inner stairs and into the chamber of the Assembly, where a session was under way. One of the armed Panther’s allegedly found a cameraman who would film him and decried “the racist California Legislature” for “keeping the black people disarmed and powerless.”

The author of the opinion piece, Warren Olney–who was with KRON-TV at the time–recalls that three State Capitol Police officers arrived after about five minutes and asked the Panthers to hand over their weapons. He says the Panthers complied without incident. History reports that the Black Panthers who showed up that day announced, “The time has come for black people to arm themselves.”

Soon thereafter the California legislation passed the Mulford Act, banning the open carry of loaded firearms. The bill included “an addendum prohibiting loaded firearms in the state Capitol.” UCLA law professor Adam Winkler observed, “The law was part of a wave of laws that were passed in the late 1960s regulating guns, especially to target African-Americans.”

Winkler also pointed to the Gun Control Act of 1968, “which adopted new laws prohibiting certain people from owning guns, providing for beefed up licensing and inspections of gun dealers and restricting the importation of cheap Saturday night specials [pocket pistols] that were popular in some urban communities.”

President Trump:  Increase in favorability despite negative media coverage

President Trump experienced an increase in the polls for the first four months of this year, even though 90 percent of broadcast news coverage of him during that period was negative, according to a study.

The study from the Media Research Center (MRC) looked at how each of the major broadcast networks covered Trump from January 1, 2018, to April 30, 2018, and found that 90 percent of the comments about Trump on those programs were negative.

“The coverage totaled a whopping 1,774 minutes, or roughly one-third of all evening news airtime,” said Rich Noyes, a senior analyst at the Media Research Center.

But it seems that despite the negative news coverage, Trump is prevailing in the polls. Trump’s job approval rating jumped from 37 percent in December 2017 to 43 percent in April 2018, according to a RealClearPolitics average of the top pollsters.

Some topics covered on the networks seemed to be more negative than others. MRC’s analysts found that 98 percent of network news coverage of controversies such as the Russia investigation tended to be negative.

Coverage of the president’s policy issues tended to be overwhelmingly negative on social issues such as gun control—where 96 percent of those stories featured the president in a negative light. But coverage of policy issues regarding the economy tended to be slightly more positive, where seven out of ten stories featured negative coverage.

“There’s no precedent for a president receiving such a sustained level of negative press over such a long period of time,” Noyes said. “The fact that the public has become more favorable towards the president in this environment is the latest sign that the media watchdog’s bite isn’t as menacing as their bark suggests.”

Trump’s rise in the polls has even prompted the pollsters to question their data. Reuters/Ipsos announced it would re-evaluate its data on its latest poll after noticing a spike in the president’s approval rating on April 27.

Santa Clarita opposes Senate Bill 54

The Santa Clarita City Council has voted unanimously to oppose California’s status as a sanctuary state, becoming the latest local authority to do so in an ongoing revolt against the state’s loose immigration laws.

Members of the city council voted 5-0 to oppose Senate Bill 54, which allows local law enforcement not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. According to Los Angeles Times, the atmosphere at the meeting was often “tense,” as audience members “repeatedly heckled and booed one another, prompting reprimands from Mayor Laurene Weste.”

“They are deciding that they don’t want to comply with the federal government whose policy they don’t agree with,” one man told ABC7. “It seems very similar to what the Confederacy did in 1861, to me.”

“I don’t understand. When these people have committed a crime … why can’t one agency be able to call another agency?” another woman, named Annette Burns, told the Times.

In March, City council members of the Orange County city of Los Alamitos became the first local authority to reject the state’s sanctuary law, setting off a domino effect in other Orange County cities including Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano, and Aliso Viejo.

Since then, other towns and cities to oppose the law have included Escondido in San Diego County and Hesperia in San Bernardino County.  Critics of SB54 have spoken out at city council meetings in Camarillo and Thousand Oaks—both cities have not formally placed it on their agendas.

California is currently the subject of a lawsuit from the federal government over its refusal to enforce federal immigration law. Last Friday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that “California’s laws work in concert – not conflict – with federal laws and are fully constitutional.”


May 10 (Thursday):  Day 111

President, Vice President and wives welcome Americans home

President Donald Trump welcomed Americans Kim Hak Song, Kim Dong Chul, and Kim Sang-Duk home to the United States at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland early Thursday after they were released by their North Korean captors.

The President and First Lady descended the steps of a medical aircraft with the three Americans at approximately 3 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time as a small crowd applauded.

The three were released by North Korea on Wednesday as a gesture of goodwill ahead of an upcoming summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, now planned for the island nation of Singapore. “They are really three incredible people,” Trump told assembled reporters, describing the release as part of a diplomatic process leading up to the summit.

“Frankly, we didn’t think this was going to happen,” he said, adding that he wanted to pay his “warmest respects to the parents of Otto Warmbier,” an American prisoner who died shortly after being returned home last year due to injuries sustained in North Korean custody.

They were released during meetings between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterparts. Fox News reported that the U.S. did not know with certainty that they were going to be released until they were physically aboard Pompeo’s plane.

The release of the prisoners in advance of formal talks between the U.S. and North Korea is a contrast to the approach used by the Obama administration in negotiating for the release of four American prisoners from Iran. That release came after the Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2015, and was accompanied by the secret transport of billions of dollars in cash from the U.S. to Iran.

Upon their release, the three freed Americans issued a statement:  “We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home. We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return. God Bless America, the greatest nation in the world.”

Warmbier’s family had earlier expressed their well wishes to the families of the freed Americans. A large US flag is set up ahead of the arrival of US detainees Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul after they were freed by North Korea, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on May 10, 2018.

The three were flown from North Korea to Japan, where they boarded a medical plane. After landing to refuel in Anchorage, Alaska, the plane continued onwards to Andrews.

Vice President Mike Pence shared a heartbreaking detail about one of the three US citizens freed from North Korean prisons early Thursday. His anecdote provided a glimpse into the brutal nature of hard labor and human rights abuses led by Pyongyang.  “It’s heartbreaking to think of it,” Pence told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday, referencing the US citizens’ stay in North Korea. 

“The secretary of state told me when the plane refueled in Anchorage [Alaska], one of the detainees asked to go outside the plane because he hadn’t seen daylight in a very long time,” Pence said. “As they came down the stairs, the joy on their faces, their appreciation for the people of the US, for their countrymen, for their president, and frankly their gratitude to God was deeply moving,” Pence continued. “The first words they said to us were: ‘Thank you, and thank you for your prayers.'”

North Korea operates several prison camps that have been compared to Auschwitz, the former Nazi concentration camp. “‘I was treated in various ways, but I had a lot of labor work,” Kim Dong-chul told media at the airbase, according to NK News. “But I received some treatment when I was sick.” The South Korean newspaper Dong-a Ilbo said the three Americans might be being coached to say that human-rights abuses did not occur while they were in North Korean custody.

President Trump has secured release of at least 14 Americans

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration — less than a year and a half into its tenure — has helped secure the release of at least 14 Americans, including three children born in captivity to an American woman and her Canadian husband held by the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network.

Not known for paying praise to President Trump, the liberal Vox news outlet acknowledges:  “The Trump administration seems to have made freeing US hostages held abroad more of a priority, and it has unquestionably had more success than the Obama administration.”

Ranging from college students caught shoplifting to a couple — an American woman and a Canadian man — who had three children while in captivity, below are an account of some of the U.S. hostages liberated under the Trump administration:

  • Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song, and Tony Kim:All three Korean-Americans, accused by the Kim Jong-un regime of anti-state activities. The North Korean regime imprisoned them for terms ranging between one and two years.
  • Aya Hijazi: The Trump administration negotiated the April 2018 release of aid worker Aya Hijazi, imprisoned in Egypt for three years. She was liberated soon after a meeting between President Trump and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to secure Hijazi’s release. Ultimately, the Egyptian judicial system acquitted her of charges of child abuse that human rights groups and U.S. officials deemed baseless.
  • Sabrina De Sousa: The Trump administration won the release in March 2018 of the former CIA agent who was scheduled to be extradited from Portugal to Italy over the kidnapping of radical Egyptian Muslim cleric Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. Referring to her release, Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), a spokesman for De Sousa, told Fox News, “I can confirm that this wouldn’t have happened without extraordinary help from the Trump administration.”
  • UCLA Basketball Players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill: In November 2017, President Trump personally took credit for asking his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to release the three players held in the communist country for shoplifting. Chinese authorities accused them of stealing designer sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store. President Trump wrote on Twitter after the players returned home, “You’re welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made your release possible.”
  • American Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle, and their three children: The Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorist group the Haqqani Network, deemed by the Pentagon as the top threat facing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, kidnapped the couple in October 2012. Haqqani terrorists held them for five years until their release in October 2017. The couple had three children while they were held captive.
  • Otto Warmbier: The Trump administration negotiated the release of the 21-year-old American student in June 2017 after he was detained by the Kim regime for 17 months for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster in his hotel. He died shortly after he was returned to the United States in a coma.
  • Sandy Phan-Gillis: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) credited President Trump for providing “leadership” in communist China’s decision to “deport” the Houston businesswoman in April 2017. The Chinese judicial system had sentenced her to three and a half years in prison on espionage charges.

As of October 2017, there reportedly were about 20 Americans held captive by militant groups around the world or foreign governments. The Trump administration has liberated about eight since.

President Trump and North Korea will meet in Singapore on June 12

President Donald Trump revealed that Singapore would be the site of his planned meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, scheduled for June 12. “The highly anticipated meeting etween Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”

Trump spent weeks teasing the announcement of the location, at one point citing his preference for a meeting at the DMZ on the border of North Korea and South Korea.

Singapore is a location close to North Korea, but the country is considered neutral territory.

The president is eager to make a peace deal with North Korea but has repeatedly vowed to walk away from negotiations if Jong-un is unwilling to denuclearize the peninsula.  “Both sides want to negotiate a deal. I think it’s going to be a very successful deal. I think we have a really good shot at making it successful,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “But lots of things can happen.”


May 11 (Friday):  Day 112:

President holds Indiana rally; joined by Vice President

President Donald Trump held one of his signature rallies in Elkhart, Indiana, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, hours after the pair hosted an early morning celebration for the American hostages arriving fresh from their captivity in North Korea.

The top two elected officials in the country spoke at length on the theme of “promises made, promises kept,” touting the administration’s successes and seeking to build momentum for the upcoming heart of the 2018 election season. High on the list of accomplishments were the North Korean prisoners’ release and the employment boom of the last 18 months.

The president and vice president’s campaign pitch called broadly for “more Republicans” to help implement the Trump agenda, but, being in Indiana, where Pence once served as governor, they focused significant attention on U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun, who won his primary Tuesday and will face incumbent Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly in what may be the Republicans’ best bet to pick up a Senate seat in November.

Both Trump and Pence made a point of laying blame for the agenda items left unaccomplished at the feet of their Democratic rivals, who are hoping a “blue wave” will deliver one or both houses of Congress in November.

“The Democrats, who are just obstructionists – that’s all they can do – have had a lock on the Hispanic vote…and the African American vote. No longer,” Trump told the packed North Side Middle School gym, citing record low unemployment rates for black and Hispanic Americans.

The president was echoing complaints his number two delivered just before in his introductory speech. “The truth is, our administration has faced unprecedented obstruction from Democrats in Congress,” Pence told his homestate crowd. “Democrats have stood in the way of every major reform the president and I have put forward. It’s been one obstruction after another by the Democrats, including Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly.” Pence then slammed the vulnerable Democrat on his votes against last year’s Republican tax cuts, repealing Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood, and confirming CIA Director-nominee Gina Haspel.

Nancy Pelosi:  Dems will raise taxes if they win 2018 midterm elections

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Thursday that Democrats would raise taxes if they win the 2018 midterm elections. Or, as she put it: tax cuts will be “revised.”

Bloomberg News reports that Pelosi continues to disparage President Donald Trump’s tax cut. “The tax bill is a dark cloud over our children’s future,” the California Democrat said Thursday at the Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit in Washington. “We want to revisit in a way that puts the middle class first and reduces the debt.”

Pelosi said she would seek to negotiate a bipartisan extension of the tax bill’s middle-class tax cuts for individuals, which expire in 2026. The new tax bill would be one that “promotes growth, generates jobs and reduces the deficit,” she said.

Pelosi didn’t say whether she would seek to raise the corporate rate — which was cut to 21 percent from 35 percent — and didn’t specify other tax breaks she would seek to end.

Recently, Pelosi said that she intends to return to the Speaker’s chair if Democrats win the House back in the November elections. She was the first female Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011, but led her party to historic defeat after she pushed through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in 2010.

Pelosi is characterizing Democrats’ current tax plan as a way to reduce the federal deficit. However, federal deficits exploded on her watch as Speaker, even though she promised “no new deficit spending.” The national debt also rose $5 trillion during that period, thanks largely to Democrats’ heavy spending.


Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor.  He has worked 23 years as a middle school teacher.   Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email:  [email protected].

Mr. Hernandez is dedicated himself to advance the 13 spheres—as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships and supporting constitutional awareness and active citizenship.

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