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  • Mediator Interview Topic - How would you describe your work in terms of your neutrality, impartiality, and objectivity in a case?
    maybe even THE valid perspective And so we need to make sure that everyone is included Over a period of time they began to recognize that and appreciate that When I was there the first time for those five months from May until September of 1992 as that long detail was just about over and it was clear that I was going home four different victim associations who to some extent were sort of in competition before came and visited me at my office and brought me plaque of appreciation And it really became quite emotional First of all I had not expected that And I said I really feel like I didn t do a whole lot There are still so many needs and so much more that needs to be done here But they said Silke at least you listened I tell that story often not because I want to show off the plaque but it again was sort of a visible validation of the importance of just listening There are times when I d be there until late in the night or would come at almost any hour of the day or night just to listen You spend a whole lot of time listening You begin to realize how much of the conflict and how much of the frustration and then anger on the part of the victim communities come not so much from what s not being done but a sense of They aren t even listening to me They don t even take me seriously And so listening is such a crucial part of what you do Much earlier in our conversation I mentioned going into a community and almost being accosted with the anger and frustration and then hearing all of these stories Then all of that gets toned down by the time you get to the tables But I think the key to that also is that regardless of how angry and how almost belligerent they might be I m listening And it s probably one of the few times that someone that they think might be able to do something came and actually listened to everything that they had to say So that listening and hearing is such a crucial part Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top Our role is to try and bring both of you together and to work with you to see how you can come up to some kind of agreement to resolve your issue We re not going to take your issue and fight it for you that s not our role What information you share with me sometimes I share with the other side and if there s something you don t want me to you need to tell me because that s a big part of bringing you both together to resolve it You guys own the problem Bob Ensley Full Interview Topic Top Did you at any time have a problem keeping your objectivity or impartiality Answer Yes a few times particularly around the court house with the attitude of the some of the state troopers You know when you have state patrol cars lined up people are going to lean on them Some of the troopers would say things like Will you get off of my car Boy This attitude really angered me I just had to say to some Who are the hell are you talking to He s no boy that s a grown man and that s not your car That car is a state car If you don t want any of them leaning up and touching it go park it somewhere else or else I ll get the judge to just have all cars moved from this area And he d say I see now where you stand And I d say No you don t see where I stand because you re blinded by racism You can t even begin to see where I stand And then a State Patrol Captain called me aside and said You know that young man needed that and you told him just right He s been itching to whip some butt but he s not going to do it here So incidentally all of these young troopers that we worked with over the years in Georgia Alabama Mississippi all became commanders Barefoot became the commander of the North Carolina Highway Patrol because of JoAnn Little Hugh Hartisan became head of the Highway Patrol in Georgia because of the Columbus Georgia riot Question Is that good or bad Answer Well it s good because these men worked with us when they were young troopers and they knew the powerful influence of conciliation and mediation and talking with groups and everything Therefore I did not always just stay there and maintain a neutral position I had to speak out at times Like the merchants would always come out and some of the merchants along there would always want to come out and start sweeping and watering and all of that stuff They were willing to take the dollars that were being spent but they didn t want them standing in front of their stores They wanted the blacks to come in and buy stuff and get out of the area So I had to speak up about that Edward Howden Full Interview Topic Top Question How did you deal with the idea of impartiality neutrality or objectivity If you are actively telling the tribal group this is what you need to do how does that affect your neutrality in situations Or was that even an issue Answer It didn t get raised by either side as an issue I don t like the term neutrals to describe mediators I prefer other terms objectivity and impartiality I don t think any individual mediator is going to be without his or her assessments and personal values with regard to situations The only question is whether that is going to interfere or unethically intrude upon the action that the mediator takes and that s a distinction obviously that ought to be maintained The more strongly you feel about a given injustice as you see it the more careful you have to be as a mediator The mediator really does need to look at the concerns and problems of both sets of folks Bob Hughes Full Interview Topic Top I ask that question because getting to the next question I wanted to ask you when you re dealing with hate groups how are you able to maintain your impartiality and objectivity at that particular point Answer Oh with difficulty and with skepticism on the part of the hate groups Question And what did you do Answer Well on Whitby Island that is the site whereby the leader of the most violent terrorist group ever to form in the U S an off shoot of the Aryan Nations formed in Northeast Washington There were about 22 people primarily men who assassinated Allenberg here in Denver and other individuals Some of the victims were their own members who were thought to be informers They tried to bomb the house of the head of the Northwest Coalition at one point in Coeur d Alene The FBI in 1984 was able to track that group down and the leaders were tracked to Whitby Island But they had several safe houses up there right on the edge of the water They were surrounded by several hundred law enforcement and the leader of the group was killed Now the Aryans and neo Nazis go to the State park which is almost adjacent to this site of his Martyrdom as they put it They hold services Then anti neo Nazi groups from Seattle and other places come to the site to protest their presence A confrontation then develops and law enforcement s caught in the middle From the beginning I was involved in getting the State Park s people to arrange to meet with law enforcement and the leaders of the protest groups to meet and sort out ground rules We discussed what could be expected from each and that sort of thing That doesn t really involve the neo Nazis But the neo Nazis have a campsite that they usually camped in and people such as newspaper reporters were filtering down into the campsite So I went down and they were chasing them out I recommended What we re trying to do is avoid violence in this case This would play into their hands But we urged them to talk with the leadership of the group there who is an old time neo Nazi We urged him Why don t you go up there and set up a perimeter at this gate up here at the top of the road a hundred yards from where the campsite is and have somebody up there to meet whatever medial representatives come there and make a determination as to whether you want them down here in your campsite The interview could be done up there or just to decide whether or not you want to talk with them at all But not to leave it wide open where conflicts were developing A lot of confrontations were developing along that road They thought that was a good idea and followed that suggestion In subsequent years I would meet with the first arrivals at the campsite and just establish rapport as tenuous as it was I was there in the event that some problems did arise outside of demonstrations that were orderly and in the area but not at their campsite Things generally worked out very well Bob Hughes Full Interview Topic Top Did you offer any type of training to various parties that were involved in conflict Answer Well I would talk about mediation and explain the guidelines I might also expound on how they might comply with these or fulfill these or react to these in the mediation But I know that for some mediators before mediation starts they ll have training sessions with one of the other parties on how to negotiate and I ve never done that I felt like it could be difficult to my image of impartiality I would always try to do the same thing to both sides and let each of them know that I was doing this We have had cases that would eventually be taken through a process where you ended up in a training session but that s a little bit different from what you were asking Ernest Jones Full Interview Topic Top Question What part did objectivity neutrality and partiality play in this particular case Answer Well it ended up not playing a real big role But in the beginning we were very clear in establishing ourselves as an agency that was there to respond and provide assistance It wasn t going to be guided by other agendas and everybody knew up front that we were there to deal with the community conflicts that came up but not that we were playing the advocate role of the community Again neither were we playing the advocate role for the cops We were a neutral entity and the argument was made that because we state that we are a neutral entity and because we are viewed that way hopefully we can provide that service that somebody else can t provide I mean we can do something that you can t do because you re not neutral So we can fill that void And I didn t have any problem with it one way or the other It never really came up Werner Petterson Full Interview Topic Top Question How would you talk about your work in this case in terms of neutrality objectivity and impartiality Answer After the end of the day you have to be comfortable with yourself and about how you re working in the situation but that means you have to take time to reflect on what s happening in the situation and kind of how you re responding in the situation We all have our shortcomings and there can be some people for me who are just pure pains in the butt I have to find ways to deal with that I have to monitor how I m handling the situation Question And how did you manage those situations where your emotions were saying one thing and your sense of reason was saying no you can t say that Answer Well I don t know Probably if you talk to anyone in CRS they will tell you I m the slowest speaking person on the face of the earth That may very well be true but I guess part of my slowness is measuring my words Maybe I measure my words too much but even then things will happen where something s going on and you just try to recover If you ve said something or are pursing a direction that s detrimental and is probably screwing up your work then you need to handle the situation differently I think there is a lot to be said for two people working in mediation That was never a luxury in CRS I mean for 90 of my cases I was the only mediator but there is a lot to be said for having two mediators in the situation Question So it sounds like you had a pretty good sense of when you were veering from being impartial And there s been a lot of discussion about even whether neutrality is a desired position Whether you are in fact an advocate How did you reconcile those kinds of issues Answer I guess I think you d have to be comfortable with yourself and doing this kind of work At the same time being hard on yourself Somebody else might see that you re not objective in a situation I think that s always something that for people who do this kind of work anybody who does civil rights work there will always be some question there I don t know how you ever deal with that You can work on the trust but I m not sure that you ever resolve some of these fundamental questions about objectivity Question Is your impartiality ever challenged Answer Oh yes Question And what did you do Answer I guess I d try to ask them why they had drawn that conclusion because people have opinions and feelings but I don t think it does any good to talk about feelings and opinions I would ask what happened that has brought you to that opinion Maybe it was something that I said something I did other times there was some explanation and that helped clear the air Sometimes it was just my being a representative of the Justice Department I mean there is no way I can rationalize things that the department did in a situation I think one of the very interesting things that CRS struggled with was that CRS has always been kind of an aberration to the Justice Department There would be positions the Justice Department would be taking say school desegregation or fair housing and I would work out an agreement in federal court and I had questions raised saying that s not a policy I think that s being a mediator within a legal context you re helping parties reach agreements that may be extra legal and as long as the courts say this is okay then that s the answer On the other side you are the representative of the Justice Department and people who are involved and invested in issues know what the Justice Departments position is on particular issues You get involved in the community and people know those positions They ll have questions about what you re doing Manuel Salinas Full Interview Topic Top Question Did you feel that you might be losing some impartiality or neutrality Answer Probably pretty quickly because I felt empathy for them and the situation that occurred Even though I was losing that I still felt that I had to maintain contact with the department And El Comite asked me to do some things that you can t do Like they asked Is the chief going to be hard on us in the future if they arrest anybody what do you think I would tell them to my knowledge especially now because of the recent hostility I think you could almost feel somewhat comfortable that s not going to happen Because it ll just create another incident Naturally the point about CRS is that you don t have to be totally neutral to get things accomplished In other words you can lean one way and still accomplish a goal You don t have to be so strict on neutrality that everybody that s looking at you on both sides will say you re neutral You just go down the road and see what happens A lot of times when you re working with minority community groups you have to lean in their direction in order that they then can gain the strength to deal with the problem or to meet the structure over here so they can be effective I find myself leaning to their side all the time so they can be stronger when they meet the problem directly I help them prepare Otherwise they re back not prepared Question How far did you have to lean Answer I really don t know how far I went but I guess I leaned enough to get them to accept the assessment process Because they totally were unaware that we could do that Some of them knew about a self audit so I told them it s almost the same thing as a self audit But they didn t know that an assessment could be made of

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1800.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you ever have a need to strike a balance between helping the parties reach a settlement and achieving equity?
    to have a clear belief that the parties understand what they ve agreed to And if it s fair to them then that s legitimate But if I m concerned then I need to go with that concern to make sure that I m confident the parties understand what they ve done If they do and they re still ok with that then I don t have any right to determine or say do you realize what you ve just done That is biased but as an ethical issue and certainly as a private mediator I have a responsibility to make sure you re competent to make that decision and that you understand the decision you made In a divorce situation one of the parties will say I just want out let them have everything If you re sure that they are really competent to make that decision and they understand what they re doing it s not your business to say are you kidding me It s a common property stage You get half I don t care and I don t want it I don t want to deal with that but you re ethically obligated if you don t believe they re emotionally competent even to say Why don t you get some advice and why don t you go talk with someone first consult your attorney and let s come back next week I think you re obligated to do that And I would say the same thing in a community dispute if you think one party really doesn t understand what they re doing then it would be critical to refer them to somebody for coaching or insight I may do it in a private caucus with the community group because everybody knows I ve

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1810.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you address the issue of the fairness of the settlement?
    want to be sure that we took time and let them have the last word and let them be able to look at it and conclude This works this works for me I can live up to it It s a good agreement Sometimes they say We need to come back together I say Fine let s come back together So I don t want anybody to feel jammed but I want them to look at it with the time and the opportunity to look at what are the consequences of this agreement are there things you don t want to happen can you live up to this agreement is it meaningful for you does it accomplish what you thought it needed to accomplish Then they will come to the signing and we will do that jointly I think that s the way I handle it We don t all have that luxury though Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top I had a case where beatings took place on television just like Rodney King and the Hispanic community was very upset There were demonstrations and marches We finally got the Hispanic community to sit down with the county sheriffs The county sheriffs felt they were in for a shellacking Yet the community asked for nothing I thought we had a real open situation where the community could ask for a number of mechanisms and strategies to avoid that kind of beating poor police protocol and use of force Yet when I got the parties together I wasn t able to clear out the issues They knew what they wanted they said and I was trying to get them into the meeting But when they came to the table they just asked for an advisory committee to the sheriff s department as a mechanism for long term discussions They didn t want any precise preventions for that kind of act It really surprised me and kind of flabbergasted me because the institution was willing to give much more then what was asked That was the opposite of your hypothesis You can get it either way Prepared parties for mediation is so important Question When that happened did you work with the community to help them understand that they could be asking for more Answer You know I didn t know if I would overstep my bounds in that situation I thought it was incumbent among the community to decide what it wanted The opportunities were there They needed to say what they wanted and needed and I felt that if I prompted anything it would be perceived that I had lost my neutrality and I was pulling stuff on the table in front of the county sheriffs I felt they had a much stronger position then they recognized Question Could that be shared in preparing them to come to the table Answer I thought I was dealing with a fairly sophisticated group and I didn t think I needed to do

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1820.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you have a problem retaining your impartiality while trying to level the playing field prior to negotiations?
    had trouble discerning Answer Maybe I m just fairly good at rationalizing my actions My rationalization is that I m trying to facilitate reaching a resolution of a whole bunch of problems Sometimes a whole bunch of them sometimes just one or two main ones You can justify all kinds of things if neither party is being pushed into something that is inappropriate or you re substituting your judgment I would say there probably are some fine lines there Let s say maybe the weaker party gets too dependent or gets very dependent or would be willing to take a strong recommendation from a mediator as to what their course of action ought to be I think that gets into areas that are questionable where good ethical professional practice of a mediator should give pause It s not always easy to do or answer where that line is Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top But I have had times when people say Well why do you write these things so negatively Well it is a complaint The issues are what we don t have what services are needed and how we are denied this and whatever I ve heard people say They re so negative Can you make them more neutral So I ve kind of looked at that Because here we are going to the table and it sounds like we re brokering even in our agenda for the complainant because of the way I ve framed the complaints So I ve reviewed this matter after some questions by the non complainant party as to can these issues be construed as statements that make overtures of position and are weighted in a way that they almost become advocacy positions As a mediator it s incumbent on us to try

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1830.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you work on cases involving hate groups such as the KKK or neo-Nazi groups?
    were their own members who were thought to be informers They tried to bomb the house of the head of the Northwest Coalition at one point in Coeur d Alene The FBI in 1984 was able to track that group down and the leaders were tracked to Whitby Island But they had several safe houses up there right on the edge of the water They were surrounded by several hundred law enforcement and the leader of the group was killed Now the Aryans and neo Nazis go to the State park which is almost adjacent to this site of his Martyrdom as they put it They hold services Then anti neo Nazi groups from Seattle and other places come to the site to protest their presence A confrontation then develops and law enforcement s caught in the middle From the beginning I was involved in getting the State Park s people to arrange to meet with law enforcement and the leaders of the protest groups to meet and sort out ground rules We discussed what could be expected from each and that sort of thing That doesn t really involve the neo Nazis But the neo Nazis have a campsite that they usually camped in and people such as newspaper reporters were filtering down into the campsite So I went down and they were chasing them out I recommended What we re trying to do is avoid violence in this case This would play into their hands But we urged them to talk with the leadership of the group there who is an old time neo Nazi We urged him Why don t you go up there and set up a perimeter at this gate up here at the top of the road a hundred yards from where the campsite is and have somebody up there to meet whatever medial representatives come there and make a determination as to whether you want them down here in your campsite The interview could be done up there or just to decide whether or not you want to talk with them at all But not to leave it wide open where conflicts were developing A lot of confrontations were developing along that road They thought that was a good idea and followed that suggestion In subsequent years I would meet with the first arrivals at the campsite and just establish rapport as tenuous as it was I was there in the event that some problems did arise outside of demonstrations that were orderly and in the area but not at their campsite Things generally worked out very well Nancy Ferrell Full Interview Topic Top Question That reminds me of something you talked about with the university case which we veered away from and never got back to You said the KKK was handing out leaflets Did you ever work with them Answer I did I made contact with them but not in that situation because they had come in to the community from somewhere else and just passed out leaflets They weren t in the community The only time we worked directly with them and it usually was as a team was when there was going to be a KKK rally We would help organize it so that it was peaceful We would work with the community and the KKK We would make sure it was marshaled and make sure everybody knew what to do and all that technical kind of stuff Other then that it was just a monitoring factor I would make contact with them though If there was a situation in a community in which they were involved I would usually try to find out who was there and make contact with them I never had an occasion where they became a party other than a demonstration Question So they never sat at the table Answer No I never had a situation where there were the direct perpetrators I suspect they were KKK members at the table but they were probably members of other organizations Question My impression this is just from the media is that the KKK wants to create violent situations at their rallies Is that incorrect Answer The ones that I was at were very small very few people so we could keep the community from reacting to them Usually it was a non issue a non event They got publicity by creating disruption But if you could keep things safe and let them demonstrate then it became a non issue It was sad to me to see the inauguration of their own children because that s who usually was there Four of five adults and their kids Perpetuation of hate and those kids don t know any better Question Were they interested in having your assistance with preventing violence Answer Yeah they were always cooperative with us in terms of creating safety Safety in terms of working with the city to make sure they get their permits Sometimes the city would say We re not going to give them a permit Well you know it might be better if you do go ahead and manage it do it the right way Don t have them off at the edge of town and you not having any influence over it So it was that kind of a negotiated deal Leo Cardenas Full Interview Topic Top did you ever have a problem with maintaining your own objectivity impartiality I m thinking in terms of if you were ever involved in cases with hate groups KKK something like that Were there times when it was difficult for you to be involved Answer Yeah the very nature of who we are a majority of our staff are minorities and we hire them for that and we all come with a baggage Baggage because we held offices with certain organizations or we ve been ministers in some cases and teachers Question I m sure there were cases where you weren t

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1850.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Were there techniques you used to help you maintain your impartiality?
    well have happened more with my staff but we fought those things out internally That s natural I think Everybody had a high sense of justice and we were all torn by the need to bring about justice and to have the group get what it could maximize its gains Nancy Ferrell Full Interview Topic Top Question Did you do anything else to deal with power disparities between groups Answer This was something that I used to talk about with all the parties The CRS mediator became the fulcrum on this power beam and I may need to move toward one group or another to keep the balance We used pre mediation for coaching and guiding so as to make it productive when we did get together This way we had some substance there and not just emotions I don t ever want people to think I m diminishing their emotions Those are a significant part of it and they need to be shared But if you re going to create systemic change you have to go beyond that You need to determine where those emotions are coming from and what systems can be managed or changed in order to create positive emotions I may need to move closer to one group or the other but that s why I m doing it The only danger is if you don t let everybody know that you re doing it then one group hears about it and thinks that you re advocating or becoming aligned with that group You have to be real careful that the group doesn t perceive you as an advocate but that they know you re coaching and helping for the purpose of everybody You re offering that same level of service wherever it s needed Leo Cardenas Full Interview Topic Top How did you retain your impartiality while helping to level the playing field or prepare the parties for negotiation Answer We identified neutrality impartiality as part of the process and a part of the services that we provide We began using the word impartiality if my memory again serves me at about the late 1980 s when we began to focus more on table negotiations and looking more at written negotiations Up until that time we were doing shuttle diplomacy We ve always felt very comfortable about what we were doing and we had that innate ability to maintain neutrality with both parties It is only when we looked at it more deeply and we were looking at table negotiations we decided that it s really not true that we re neutral You re neutral for the process but you bring certain skills and talents and in certain cases even your race and that cannot be neutral What we say in our training is that if you put a vehicle in neutral it doesn t go anyplace It s only when you put it in reverse or put it up on drive that it goes

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1860.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you have techniques for managing your emotions during case work?
    various scenes and scenery and different things and rivers and water in the mountains I would just go to the parks and engage myself and forget about the purposes of where I am and just not think about it Sometimes I go there to give it a great deal of thought depending upon the situation The stress management exercises that I go through really relieve all the tension and stress associated with the case Manuel Salinas Full Interview Topic Top Question Let me ask you another question about neutrality and impartiality When you found yourself in a situation like this case where you had feelings about what was happening what techniques did you use to manage your own emotional reactions Answer Well mostly I had to control what I said I thought at times about things I would want to say but I wouldn t say them Because if you said them you d blow your neutrality If you say what you totally want to you could get into the situation where you could no longer perform the function you were supposed to perform at least not very well You can t get to be too much a part of the conflict I think one of the things was I would have protested a little harder not with the chief of police but with the city manager I think they could ve gotten more out of him But I couldn t tell them that And the other thing that I think they could ve done better is that someone should have worked with the family that filed the law suit they should have been more aggressive with that family and maybe gotten the ACLU involved or the Colorado Bar or some other strong organization I was disappointed that the family probably got nothing or pretty much got left out of the process But it was not my role to push that Maybe I could have moved them in that direction a little more but I didn t It didn t cross my mind until you asked the question Ozell Sutton Full Interview Topic Top I was a different kind of person even before I was with this agency Even before when I was dealing with civil right issues unlike most people I never carried my children with me I never carried my wife with me It s hard for me to be non violent when you twisted my child s arm but you can twist mine Question So that was how you managed your emotions Answer That s how I managed my emotions by not having them around You see if my wife s there I ve got to act manly You get what I mean I got to protect her with my life Question Did you have people that you d talk to about the things you were feeling How did you deal with that Answer People in the movement talk Nancy Ferrell Full Interview Topic Top Question Did

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1870.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you ever have your impartiality challenged? If so, how did you respond?
    had drawn that conclusion because people have opinions and feelings but I don t think it does any good to talk about feelings and opinions I would ask what happened that has brought you to that opinion Maybe it was something that I said something I did other times there was some explanation and that helped clear the air Sometimes it was just my being a representative of the Justice Department I mean there is no way I can rationalize things that the department did in a situation I think one of the very interesting things that CRS struggled with was that CRS has always been kind of an aberration to the Justice Department There would be positions the Justice Department would be taking say school desegregation or fair housing and I would work out an agreement in federal court and I had questions raised saying that s not a policy I think that s being a mediator within a legal context you re helping parties reach agreements that may be extra legal and as long as the courts say this is okay then that s the answer On the other side you are the representative of the Justice Department and people who are involved and invested in issues know what the Justice Departments position is on particular issues You get involved in the community and people know those positions They ll have questions about what you re doing Question Did you ever find that you had to address the fairness of a settlement Answer No To me as long as the parties understood that somebody outside the agreement might say it s not fair and I can t I don t go there Will Reed Full Interview Topic Top Question Did anybody accuse you directly saying Hey You re

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1880.shtml (2016-02-13)
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