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Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

The latest This American Life podcast on NPR was all about summer camp. https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/109/notes-on-camp

About those people who absolutely loved camp and still think of it as a highlight of their young lives; and those who either never went to camp, or hated it for one summer. I fall into the former category. I started attending Camp St Joseph (CSJ) for Girls in the Catskills when I was around 10 years old, for the whole summer, and made it all the way to Counselor-in-Training at 16.

Which means I was a glorified waitress, but it was my first real job, and I was ecstatic.

Of course I was homesick that first summer. I had been contemplating moving home with the Flapper, and she was a working single mom at the time. So if I wanted to make the move work, she and my older sister Kay insisted I go to camp. CSJ was run like a military base camp. A bugle woke you at dawn and points were deducted from your team if you were late for the flag raising, if your uniform was wrinkled, or if a nun couldn’t bounce a coin off your neatly made cot/bed. The rafters were open so evening temperatures plummeted – we slept in our sweaters and socks.

Did I forget to tell you that each cabin had a nun sleeping in it?

Or that we went to Mass. Every. Single. Morning.?

But this is the place where I came of age. Where we sang Ave Maria on our way through the woods to a secluded grotto with a statue of Mary. Where I played Sir Lancelot in the play because I was taller than the other girl with a voice. Where I learned to play basketball like a pro. I can still remember the smell of the basketball court’s wood floor. The stomping, the cheers from the crowd, the ice cold Pepsi bottle from a machine after all our games.

I think the Flapper was pleasantly surprised that I cried when it came time to leave camp that first summer. After all, there were no smart phones to keep in touch; in fact, the camp didn’t want us to contact our parents at all. Every now and then we’d have to sit down and write them a letter, but that was voluntary – hence the phrase, no news is good news! After my first letter pleading my case to return home, my Mother never heard from me again.

Separation is an essential part of human development. Who really wants their kids living in their basement forever? Every year, when it came time to sew my name tags on all my camp clothes (khaki shorts and white polo shirts), the process of mini-individuation would begin. Raised as an only child with my foster parents, I learned how to handle conflict. I was also free to ride horses, learn archery, and play a mean game of jacks on our cabin’s front porch!

Today parents can keep track of their kids at summer camp via social media. I hate to sound stodgy, but IMHO this is not a great idea. Instead of separating parent from child for the summer, and allowing your child to blossom, constant virtual contact can give rise to separation anxiety… for the parent. Why isn’t Johnny in the river rafting picture? Where are Jane’s bunkmates in the craft cabin photo?

If I remember correctly, there were certain things I’d rather NOT tell my parents. Today, privacy is a thing of the past, and we Boomers are to blame. Kids share every detail of their lives on so many sites I can hardly keep track. Which is why I find it particularly hard to believe that Donald Jr didn’t say anything at all to Donald Sr about the possibility of digging up some dirt on Hillary via Russia last summer…

Now I get that Don Jr was raised as an entitled, elitist prep school snob. And I get that he thought he could pretty much get away with anything he did because Daddy’s money and power would bail him out of trouble. But I can’t buy into the “rookie” mistake language, or that he was an “innocent” bystander in all things Russian.

I think the President’s son needs to ship out to summer camp now, yesterday! Get off Twitter, remain unplugged and take a canoe out on a lake somewhere far away from reporters. Because even if his meetings with Russians were pure, and not illegal, they were certainly not saintly.       IMG_0809

 

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“What should I write this morning?” I asked Bob. He mumbled something over coffee that sounded like, “I dunno thatsatourriff.” This is what happens when you talk with your mouth full, cause I’m pretty sure he actually said, “I don’t know that’s your gift.” Or gig, or whatever. So I said,

“I know, facelifts!”

Well, actually I don’t know much about facelifts except, that every celebrity of a certain age is starting to look the same. And when you go too far under the knife, or too often, you could start to look like a lion. Beware, that image you see in the mirror may no longer be you!

But I DO recognize that schoolyard bully who might tell a young girl her lips are too big, or her hair is dirty, or (pick a body part and insert a slur). Mr T has got a huuuge problem with smart women, like Mika Brzezinski, and fast, tiny fingers that tap out his stream of putrid consciousness almost every morning. This is horrifying to the civilized world but somehow continues to delight his followers. Leaders don’t do this, they don’t intimidate, harass and belittle others into compliance. They certainly don’t talk about women bleeding…

When I opened Twitter this morning, one of my favorite authors, Joyce Carol Oates, popped up with this:

“Face-lift? Who needs a face-lift? All of US badly in need of soul-lift.” 

Here are a few things we can do for our souls, instead of trying to dissect the Presidential Twitter feed – which is simply vindictive nonsense.

  1.  Do something good for our planet. Plant a tree, pick up garbage on your street, bring tote bags to the grocery store if you’re not already. Donate to an environmental agency like The Sierra Club, or pick a non-profit: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2006/03/guide-environmental-non-profits/  We only have THREE years to get right with the world, so what are you waiting for? http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/06/29/we-have-3-years-to-act-on-climate-change-before-its-too-late-s_a_23007680/
  2. Become someone your grandchildren will admire. Pick a cause (and not cyber-bullying, FLOTUS has that covered y’all) and throw your body and soul into it. Is gun violence driving you mad? Guns kill nearly 1,300 children each year in our country. Join “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” and help them #disarmhate https://momsdemandaction.org. If you think women’s rights are human rights, see what your local Planned Parenthood is up to, that is if they are still open?
  3. Go Deep. Turn off all those devices and listen to the world. First of all, your inner peace is depending on you. Meditate, even if it’s just for ten minutes while you’re watering the garden. Did you know walking the dog could be a meditation? You don’t have to sit in a lotus position and chant things. Great Grandma Ada said she would have to get up and dust if she ever tried meditating. But once we make peace with ourselves, we have a ripple effect on the rest of our lives. Acceptance is a form of grace, and it doesn’t just happen on Sunday morning.

Wasn’t it Lady Gaga or the Dalai Lama who wrote about self-acceptance? Everybody has a body part they don’t like, and we women are notorious for being critical. Her nose is too long, her hands betray her age, if only I could just lose that last ten pounds…The Flapper didn’t like her freckled, ski jump nose. She told me she would rub lemon juice on her nose to try and bleach out the freckles. For me, I was a tomboy just as flat-chested as the Flapper, and there were some boys who liked to remind me of this fact.

Lucky for me, I never succumbed to the ridicule by placing sacks of saline in my chest.

Stay Woke people. Get out there and enjoy this glorious weather and remember you don’t need to eat and breathe politics. When I was young, we had one half hour at night to watch Walter Cronkite and complain about the news…as a family, around one TV set. Daddy Jim read the newspaper, you remember those, in peace and quiet. It wasn’t all consuming all the time. Mr T’s Tweets are bad for our collective health. Here’s the latest Dalai Lama’s Tweet:

“We experience happiness on a sensory level that is relatively short-lived. But lasting happiness is related to our state of mind.” 

Enjoying a frozen hot chocolate with cupcake bear can also be soul-lifting.

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While cleaning and decluttering my aviary, I discovered a wish list I had made back in February of 2002 while still in NJ. At that time my son was applying to college and my daughter was working at her first post-college job in DC. I was anticipating the dreaded Empty Nest syndrome. It was fun to read the 25 wishes; many have already come true! Though I do not have an agent or a cook…yet.

Strangely enough, the very first thing on my wish list is to get more organized! Which is exactly what I’m doing; I now know where every single utensil is in my kitchen, I have the perfect amount of towels, and I have thrown out all those files I kept of Rumson Borough Council meetings. I did however keep the random thank you note from readers. It’s always nice to know your copy was read, and not just used to line a bird cage. Newspapers, good stuff.

As you probably know I am NOT a list-maker. But I did pick up a book during the Cville Festival of the Book titled, “52 Lists for Happiness,” by Moorea Seal. Anita and I were talking about how we could have more fun during these Trumpconian years, how we could avoid being dragged down by politics. When I read on my Facebook feed yesterday that we had dropped the “Mother of All Bombs” on Afghanistan, during the holiest week for Christians and Jews, I thought it must be fake news. But I knew Gail, the person posting this, she is a devoted activist and feminist in her church and our community.

She held un umbrella over our heads when we marched in Cville to support Planned Parenthood. She helped organize our first trip to Richmond to march for women’s rights. Gail knows a thing or two. She probably makes lists because she knows how to get things done! Gail quoted a minister, Rev Emily Heath, who said:

Next time someone tells you this is a “Christian nation” remind them that we just bombed Afghanistan during Holy Week.

Specifically we did it on the day that Scripture tells us Christ said these words:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Number 9 on my wish list was to have a “writing room.” A retreat from the world that was not just a corner of the dining room. As I sit here this morning looking at the journal I bought that might prompt me to make lists, I am profoundly afraid for our nation. We have an unpredictable President dropping bombs with alacrity, because his daughter was moved by dying Syrian babies, but not by a dead Syrian baby who washed up on a Greek island. But no, we can’t let Syrian refugees into our country. God Forbid.

At least Assad has decided to move civilians out of their war-torn cities, Sunnis go to Sunni territory and Shia go to Shia. That’s a step, to get the proxy war moving along. The Russians must be just as worried as we are! “The meeting in Moscow on Friday between Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers was the first held between the three allies since the US launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase in response to the alleged chemical attack.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39597630

I am now packing up my home, about to start a new chapter. What will I carry with me, what about all the Flapper’s correspondence? Yes. The elbow noodle pictures from preschool? Probably not. Will we be welcomed into a new community? Will people ask us, as they do all over the South, “What church do you belong to?”

Well, I belong to the church of peace and love, to the people who don’t run their lives by dogma or dietary dictates. I belong to my family of all colors and faiths. I belong to the sisterhood of brave, smart women. I’m going to start my first list – The Things That Make Me Happy Right Now:

Classical Music

Ms Bean

Birds Singing

The Mountains

Spring

The GIF of Our 2 yr Old Grandson Dancing

Bob in the Buddha Garden

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What’s happening in the world. As Tillerson jets to Russia with a “Make my Day” kind of deal, an Asian physician is dragged off a United plane while passengers documented every minute. This morning, the United CEO has done an about face, finally apologizing for the incident; and simultaneously lovely Melissa, oops, Sean Spicer got his apology right on the third try. Yes Sean, Hitler DID use chemical weapons on innocent people, they just happened to be Jews.

The Jewish people are used to this kind of thing. In fact, a dear friend just told me that one of her son’s friends/acquaintances is a Holocaust denier. And that they actually don’t say it didn’t happen anymore, just that it was more like what we did with the Japanese internment camps…. You know, like a “Holocaust Center?!”

Over the years, I’ve met relatives with numbers on their arms. My first supervisor at an outpatient mental health clinic was a child of Holocaust survivors. One of our Big Chill friends was conceived at a refugee camp in Italy after his parents were liberated from a concentration camp in Poland. I’ve been attending Seders now for almost 40 years, and yet this was the first time I actually ran the show. I knew something would go wrong. I forgot to give everyone some parsley, so I started a new tradition of a parsley posey.

This is the first time I’m actually afraid for the survival of the human race, not just one group of people. Seriously – will Russia decide to sacrifice another pawn. Or maybe North Korea will put us into checkmate?

What kind of plagues should God rain down upon us this time? At least I didn’t poison anyone at my Seder. I’m a compulsive germaphob in the kitchen. Ever since I nearly killed my first husband with a salmonella infested sandwich I picked up at a deli in Harvard Square. I made Great Grandma Ada wash her hands all the time, and we cooperated on the prep for the haroset. Maybe Mr T will get a bad case of boils? Or locusts could infest the Rose Garden?

Our trees are greening and birds are singing. Spring is a time for rebirth, not sarin gas and armageddon. In fact Sean, you were right in one detail, Hitler did NOT use sarin to exterminate 6 Million Jews, “innocent” people, even though it had been discovered by a German scientist. Some speculate it was because he was gassed in the First World War. But most scholars say it was because Churchill would have retaliated if he tried to use gas on the battlefield or in the camps.

“War is chess. Hitler would have sacrificed a lot of pieces that he couldn’t afford to lose.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/04/11/hitler-refused-to-use-sarin-gas-during-wwii-the-mystery-is-why/?utm_term=.9dc38985fc9d

The Nazis constantly searched for more efficient means of extermination. At the Auschwitz camp in Poland, they conducted experiments with Zyklon B (previously used for fumigation) by gassing some 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 ill prisoners in September 1941. Zyklon B pellets, converted to lethal gas when exposed to air. They proved the quickest gassing method and were chosen as the means of mass murder at Auschwitz.

At the height of the deportations, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed each day at Auschwitz. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005220

6 Thousand a day, 6 Million in WWII. Holocaust centers, killing camps. Sarin gas vs Zyklon B vs chemical weapons. A gaffe is a gaffe is a gaffe. And this whole Trump administration is one big gaffe.

Today we rode along Skyline Drive to get the long view, the balcony shot. I wish we humans could just decide not to play chess with our lives on this planet.  IMG_0305

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What is your carbon footprint? Do you know what (or who) is the biggest factor in greenhouse gas emissions? This is not a quiz, although this last question was on the GRE I took decades ago.   They are important questions if you are a believer in fact-based science; you understand that human development is responsible for climate change, and climate change is a factor in the migration and extinction of animals, while also contributing to the refugee crisis.

And since you are a believer and want to save the planet, if not for your grandkids then maybe for that condo you bought in Miami, may I suggest you light a candle today in the church of your choice.

Because today Mr T will be signing an Executive Order to dirty the waters around the Clean Power Plan and walk us away from the 2015 Paris Agreement – it’s like Kyoto all-over-again.

President Trump will take the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record Tuesday, instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing U.S. carbon emissions.

The sweeping executive order also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.

The order sends an unmistakable signal that just as President Barack Obama sought to weave climate considerations into every aspect of the federal government, Trump is hoping to rip that approach out by its roots.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-moves-decisively-to-wipe-out-obamas-climate-change-record/2017/03/27/411043d4-132c-11e7-9e4f-09aa75d3ec57_story.html?utm_term=.ec3f40a30921

In other words, IF we have any federal regulators left, they will not be asked to look ahead at the big picture when they bring coal back to coal country. This order will also allow drilling on federal land and accelerate fossil-fuel production by lifting President Obama’s cease and desist orders to the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. Remember all those Native Americans protesting those pipelines, and the Marines who joined them? Well Mr T just showed us what he’s made of, that he values corporate interests over American lives.

When I was growing up in Victory Gardens, we had a coal bin right outside our kitchen. Daddy Jim would shovel the coal into our furnace and toss the ashes outside, somewhere. Whenever we all piled into his little Chevy Impala, I would scream bloody murder to open the windows because both Nell and Jim smoked cigarettes non-stop. Camels I think. That’s probably why I never started smoking, I had been semi-tortured as a child. It’s a wonder my lungs are still functioning at all! Maybe it’s all those rosary beads I kept in my pocket?

It may seem antithetical to think that Evangelicals are also, as a group, big believers in climate change, but they are. In fact, it’s worth mentioning the Canadian climate scientist I follow on Twitter who manages to see no distinction between her Christian beliefs and science – the smart and talented Katherine Hayhoe @KHayhoe

Still, it may come as no surprise that a belief in human assisted climate change has become a political touchstone for our time, with the GOP digging their heads further into the sand of climate denial. Hence, with a stroke of the pen Mr T will take us back in time to America’s glory days of unregulated, polluted power. If you feel that politicizing science is just so 19th Century, you may be shocked by this graph from the Pew Research Center illustrating just how divided we are:  PS_2016.10.04_Politics-of-Climate_1-14

So dear readers, what can we do? Take a good look at your portfolio if you’re lucky to have anything left after 2008. Think about divesting in fossil-fuel companies, and investing in wind or solar. Think about global companies that are fighting the good fight. Use your economic leverage…call your legislators NOW…using your voting leverage. Our town hall tactics have stalled the rush to kill Obamacare, let’s use the same strategy to save our planet from this magalomaniac. Not only is Mr T’s pen poison, his policies are lethal.

And if you pray, this is our Hail Mary pass, in the name of Mother Earth.

 

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Imagine coming home, after nine days with no news of any sort, only to find out that our new political reality has become dissecting Mr T’s Tweets. So you naturally tune this out of your consciousness. You might tune up your classical music that magically erupts from a radio station in Seattle via your wireless Sonos speaker and an Ipad App.  http://www.sonos.com/en-us/products/wireless-speakers

You could probably get Radio Free Europe on there?!

And then, by reflex, you tune into NPR in your car. Big mistake, because you hear that all hell broke loose yesterday in a Mt T press conference over a sex tape that either does or does not exist! Let’s say our Intel thought it was important enough to brief both POTUS and PEOTUS last week.

In a climate that sends a shooter to a pizza place in DC over some far-fetched conspiracy theory about sex trafficking; and when Rolling Stone is taken to task over a fake rape allegation, it would behoove us to decipher what is real and what is fake news, dontcha think? Critical Thinking skills were all the rage when my kids were in high school. Young people today are better at reading #RealNews on the Internets than most of our peers.

I was taught in Catholic School that we received First Holy Communion at the age of seven because that’s when we could tell the difference between right and wrong, true and false. Monsters are not real. There is no Santa Claus, no unicorns, no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. But then we are supposed to believe that little wafer we’re about to eat is the body and blood of Christ, so the margin of reality becomes fluid. And a lot depends on what particular belief system we inculcate from our parents…

Still, lawyers can build a case in support of a theory by proving a “pattern” of behavior. Courtrooms love this stuff, people are convicted on their patterns all the time. Maybe this guy was nowhere near his wife when she disappeared, BUT here are all the pictures and phone calls and witnesses to prove that he liked using his wife as a punching bag for years.  You don’t always need a body to convict a murderer.

So let’s look at all this shall we:

Mr T said he liked going backstage at the Miss Universe Pageant, and he was in Moscow for that event in 2013, the year an “alleged” tape in question was made. In fact there are pictures of him there, smooching the contestants.

An ex-MI6 operator, Christopher Steele, who prepared the dossier on Mr T’s tape has left his home and is in hiding. Mr Steele runs a London-based security and intel firm that deals mostly with Eastern Europe. Among his allegations, which are unsubstantiated because this tape has not surfaced, “…are that Moscow has a video recording of Mr Trump with prostitutes and damaging information about his business activities.” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-38591382

Last April the CIA Director was shown evidence of money flowing from the Kremlin to the US Presidential campaign – it worried him enough that he convened “…six agencies or departments of government. Dealing with the domestic, US, side of the inquiry, were the FBI, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice. For the foreign and intelligence aspects of the investigation, there were another three agencies: the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency, responsible for electronic spying.”

And in other #RealNews, Mr T’s business partner, Tevfik Arif, in the early 2000s was a Turkish citizen, born in Russia, with some very interesting ties.

In 2010, Mr Arif was arrested in Turkey on charges he helped arrange an orgy on a yacht that had once belonged to the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. In 2012, the charges were dropped, a company spokeswoman says. Today, Mr Arif is believed to be living in Turkey. His spokeswoman said he was the “sole owner” of Bayrock during the time it did business with Mr Trump. She declined to provide details, citing litigation and confidentiality agreements.  https://www.ft.com/content/549ddfaa-5fa5-11e6-b38c-7b39cbb1138a

That yacht secured teenage “models” from Russia and the Ukraine, as “singers and dancers.” Google it.

This morning I heard that Mr T said CNN trafficked in fake news, because they reported about said dossier that was published on Buzzfeed. He also said he would only discuss his grandkids with his sons over the next four years. And yet, Republicans looked askance when Mr Clinton said he had only discussed his grandkids for 20 minutes on a plane with the AG! I sometimes think that indeed, Mr T could get away with saying and doing anything he wants, which is downright chilling. After all, we have the Billy Bush/Pussy Gate tape, and that didn’t mean a thing.

Let’s hold all journalists to the same standard. If this tape does exist, we have just elected a Manchurian candidate. We actually don’t know the truth, yet… It’s true, US Intel was not involved, the Brits started this fire and we are now obligated to put it out.

Is it real, or is it Memorex?  img_5685

 

 

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Let me be brief. This is Hillary Rodham Clinton’s America. A country filled with opportunity and optimism, don’t let anybody else tell you we are not great. Ever since moving to VA we have regularly attended the Fourth of July naturalization ceremony at Monticello. I am always moved to tears by the ceremony; people from dozens of countries are proud and honored to take the oath of allegiance, to abandon kings and despots for our particular brand of democracy.

I never thought one party had patriotism wrapped up in a bow, all to themselves. I was born into a working-class, Democratic family. We had a picture of FDR hanging in our kitchen, where others in our mostly Catholic neighborhood might have had the Virgin Mary. When my Father died, the Flapper received a Child’s Insurance Benefit check from the government – $19.16 per child, per month. Do you consider that a hand-out or a hand-up? A helping hand? It’s time to pick sides.

Almost $77 dollars to feed and clothe four children in 1949.

The Catholic Church never showed up after the funeral. Never once offered a prayer, even after the Flapper was crippled in that July 4th car accident. In our family’s Year of Living Dangerously, only her friends, my Foster Parents came to help.

But last night at the DNC, a preacher man showed up:

“We are being called like our forefathers and foremothers to be the moral defibrillators of our time,” Barber said. The call brought most of the audience in the convention hall to its feet.

Barber, a preacher who described himself as the son of a preacher there to represent no particular organization, is the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., president of the North Carolina NAACP, a member of the organization’s national board, chair of the NAACP’s Legislative Political Action Committee and one of the primary organizers of Moral Mondays.

Moral Mondays are, as The New Yorker magazine described them, a now-regular set of progressive activist vigils held in North Carolina’s capital city, Raleigh. There, mostly black civil rights activists from poor coastal communities like Barber and mostly white and wealthy environmentalists from towns like Chapel Hill have joined forces with all kinds of progressive activists, with a constancy that has drawn national attention.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/07/28/the-rev-william-barber-dropped-the-mic/

And y’all know how I feel about religion right? I think everybody who’s praying has the ear of One God, if he/she exists. But don’t subvert your religion to run my life, or our country! Ever since a nun told me only Catholics get into heaven, I knew something was fishy. But this was before nuns boarded buses and last night I learned that Rev William Barber is doing God’s work. In a state that has seen Republican bills advanced to discriminate against LGBT people and women, Barber gets in these legislators faces every Monday. Last night he said:

“Pay people what they deserve, share your food with the hungry. Do this and then your nation shall be called a repairer of the breach.”

“Jesus, a brown-skin Palestinian Jew, called us to preach good news to the poor, the broken and the bruised and all those who are made to feel unaccepted.”

Now this is a church I could get behind a pew for, I might even kneel down again on these arthritic knees.

So no, we Democrats didn’t all of a sudden become patriotic, because we always were patriotic! We wear our flag on our heart, not on our sleeve. But last night, at such a historic moment, when we nominated the first woman to the highest office in the land, some of us came back to church! As my Nana would say, who was denied her first vote in 1920 because she had married an Irish immigrant, “Saints be praised!”

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