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The Brown Season

November 26, 2022

Shades of brown – Jim Baker Reservoir – S. Adams County, Colorado. November 25, 2022

(note – the poem by family friend Jan Chism Wright of Brownville, Nebraska; photo by Rob P.)

The Brown Season

Fall’s grandeur’s faded
like tired flannel after
too many washings
reduced to nuanced,
subdued hues, a
monochromatic mosaic
of the brown season.

Black brown trees cower
naked limbed and trembling
in beds of brittle burlap.

Tawny, tufted, once tall grasses
bend over coal brown ground
like supplicants, beaten down.

Shorn fields sport sandy
brown, bearded corn stubble
or broad berber carpets bisected
by somber grey brown gravel.

Burnt sienna slowly seeps
from dried, dying veins
like bleeding madras
while umber slumbers.

The not so evergreen
juniper cannot keep
the rust from creeping
like a monk among
feathered boughs.

Sensibilities are shocked
on rare occasions
by a tart, gaudy green,
winter wheat field
or lone, long-legged,
eastern pine tree
lounging by the road.

And in the hollow stand
three cottonwoods crowned
in gold amid the dross,
silly, young, rebellious,
suborning a bit of beauty.

Defiant and determined,
foolishly unrepentant,
decrying their dark end
before they too must bow
to the brown season.

Jan Chism Wright
11/10/99

Audio: KGNU – Hemispheres Interview with Nebiyu Asfaw, co-founder Taste of Ethiopia, Ethiopian Community Activist in Colorado. November 22, 2022.

November 22, 2022

Taste of Ethiopia – August, 2019

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“To be an enemy of America can be dangerous; but to be a friend is fatal”

a quote attributed to Henry Kissinger

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(Note: – the audio is edited so as to concentrate on the content of the interview with the introductions cut out. For the complete audio – go to ww.kgnu.org – then to archives – then to Hemispheres for November 22, 2022)

Tonight on Hemispheres it’s the Middle East Dialogues with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. This evening – leaving the Middle East temporarily for the Horn of Africa – Rob will return to the series “Colorado and the Horn of Africa”. On Tuesday, November 22 from 6-7 pm, KGNU continues with its series “Colorado and the Horn of Africa” bringing back Nebiyu Asfaw of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community to speak about the peace agreement signed recently in South Africa between the Addis Ababa government of Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The agreement came as Ethiopian government forces were closing in on the TPLF stronghold of Mekelle in Tigray Province. During this armed conflict in which the TPLF attempted to overthrow the Addis government, the U.S. State Department as well as the mainstream media in the USA  presented a distorted narrative of the unfolding events. The TPLF was little more than Washington’s proxy in the Horn – no more, no less. As the two year war appears to have come to and, questions remain about Ethiopia’s future and that of the broader Horn of Africa and what has been an apparent zigzag in U.S. policy toward Ethiopia, long a key U.S. ally in the Horn, but now the two countries appear to be heading in different directions.

Nebiyu Asfaw, of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community and frequently a spokesperson for that community, appeared on KGNU a year ago and gave an excellent presentation. We bring him back for a return act. He is a co-founder of the Taste of Ethiopia – an annual summer event which brings people from all over the Horn of Africa in the tens of thousands in a weekend of culture, food, history both of Ethiopian and the Ethiopian Community in Colorado, today by some estimates more than 35,000 in the Denver-Aurora area.

Ethiopia – A New Beginning … or More of the Same? – KGNU – Hemispheres interviews Nebiyu Asfaw. Tuesday, November 22, 2022 @ 6-7 pm Mountain States Time

November 19, 2022

Taste of Colorado. August 2019.

On Tuesday, November 22 from 6-7 pm, KGNU continues with its series “Colorado and the Horn of Africa” bringing back Nebiyu Asfaw of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community to speak about the peace agreement signed recently in South Africa between the Addis Ababa government of Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The agreement came as Ethiopian government forces were closing in on the TPLF stronghold of Mekelle in Tigray Province. During this armed conflict in which the TPLF attempted to overthrow the Addis government, the U.S. State Department as well as the mainstream media in the USA  presented a distorted narrative of the unfolding events. The TPLF was little more than Washington’s proxy in the Horn – no more, no less. As the two year war appears to have come to and, questions remain about Ethiopia’s future and that of the broader Horn of Africa and what has been an apparent zigzag in U.S. policy toward Ethiopia, long a key U.S. ally in the Horn, but now the two countries appear to be heading in different directions.

Nebiyu Asfaw, of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community and frequently a spokesperson for that community, appeared on KGNU a year ago and gave an excellent presentation. We bring him back for a return act. He is a co-founder of the Taste of Ethiopia – an annual summer event which brings people from all over the Horn of Africa in the tens of thousands in a weekend of culture, food, history both of Ethiopian and the Ethiopian Community in Colorado, today by some estimates more than 35,000 in the Denver-Aurora area.

This program is produced by Jim Nelson and Rob Prince

An audio of the interview will be provided, technical glitches aside, in a day or two. In fact, here it is – just hot off the press

Thinking about Mao Tse-Tung and China

November 9, 2022

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“”The process of the war will present China the possibility of capturing many japanese prisoners, arms, ammunition, war machines and so forth. A point will be reached where it will become more and more possible to engage Japan’s armies on a basis of positional warfare, using fortifications and deep entrenchment, for as the war progresses, the technical equipment of the anti-Japanese will greatly improve and will be reinforced by important foreign help. Japan’s economy will crack under the strain of a long, expensive occupation of China and the moral of her forces will break under the trail of a war of innumerable but indecisive battles. The great reservoir of human material in the revolutionary Chinese people will still be pouring men ready to fight for their freedom into our front lines long after the tidal flood of Japanese Imperialism has wrecked itself on the hidden reefs of Chinese resistance.”

– Mao Tse Tung in Red Star Over China by Edgar Snow. Grove Press edition. 1968. p. 113 –

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1.

It is hard to deny that these past 43 years, since Deng Xiaoping initiated the great economic reforms that China has become a global superpower and that as such, it challenges the position that the United States has in the world today. This reflection, however, is not so much about the current tensions associated with China’s rise and Washington’s relative decline. (1) No, I am more interested in exploring the 20th century history of China’s extraordinary rise to world power status and in contrasting it with the collapse of the Soviet Union both of which happened at more or less the same time..

Given that both communist countries instituted market reforms, and at about the same time, why is it that in response to these reforms the Soviet Union collapsed but, to the contrary, China has flourished. Some of the answer, I am convinced, has to do with the more immediate policies both countries used, how they went about making the reforms at the time they did.  But in order to understand the contrasting results better, one has to look back earlier in the histories of both countries, returning to approximately the same moment – the 1917 Russian Revolution that swept the Bolsheviks to power and for China, that which immediately followed, the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921.

In the case of China, the long, complex history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and the person who emerges in the mid 1930s as its penultimate leader, Mao Tse-Tung, is key as is his relationship to helping build the CCP along lines somewhat independent of Soviet influence. I must admit, that when I first started studying both Chinese and Soviet socialism back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that I thought that Chinese socialism with all its chaos and turmoil at the time would have collapsed and it would have been Soviet socialism that would  triumph and prosper. That precisely the opposite happened, a reflection of how wrong I have been (although not only myself).

As is quite obvious, History, that harsh teacher, gave the opposite verdict. But then there are a number of historic events that many scholars and commentators, even those who try to follow events closely, failed to grasp. I would cite among them Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979, both the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European Communism from 1989 to 1991, and in the same vein, the growth and stabilization of Russia after the calamity of the 1990s. These examples are reminders of how shallow our analyses often are, and how there are processes going on under the surface that even the best social scientists don’t see nor can’t fathom until years later when history reveals its secrets.

When I first ventured into studying the Chinese Revolution, it was in the midst of a convulsion called the Cultural Revolution, which as I understood it, actually threatened to bring the whole house down, and which was – as is well known – the brainchild of the country’s founder, Mao Tse-Tung. At the time, the 1960s I was less than impressed with what I knew of the goings on in China. Mao’s shrill criticisms of the then Soviet Union seemed pretty empty. In China’s case – and the example is not limited to China by any means – it was one thing for the Communists to seize power and quite another to build a socialist society there, the latter being even more difficult than the former. Mao excelled at the process of seizing power but was less successful, I would argue, in the actual construction of socialism in China.

The “Great Leap Forward” of the 1950s was essentially a bust, more a few steps backward in terms of the country’s economic development than a basis for laying the foundations for China’s future growth. By the 1960s, chaos and directionlessness had deepened that much more and the split between the Soviet Union and China had emerged full force. The Chinese were referring to the Soviets as “social imperialists” – a designation void of any substance then or now; Mao’s American clones, a number of Maoist revolutionary groups that sprang up at the time – the Revolutionary Union, the October League come to mind. It was hard (for me) to take these groups or their analysis seriously (and I didn’t). They appeared all the more pathetic carrying around and quoting from – Mao’s little Red Book, as if it had even the slightest relevance to the conditions and movement for socialism in the USA. That these groups soon disintegrated or turned into something approaching cults was not surprising. Then there was Mao’s irresponsible and frequent comments downplaying the dangers of nuclear war which was little more than icing on the cake.

And yet, projecting forward to the present, China, led by none other than its Communist Party, has succeeded to a degree that I doubt many would have thought possible. It has eliminated abject poverty (or so it claims – a claim I find quite credible) and built a manufacturing giant soon to be the “workshop of the world” if it isn’t already. Its international prestige has soared and its trade relations with much of the world continues to grow. It’s alliance – informal or not – with Russia has insulated it to a certain degree from U.S. pressures. In a world of climate change, growing global economic insecurity, with ethnic tensions on the rise, it appears as an outpost of hope and stability in an increasingly irrational world. It has managed to institute its extensive market reforms without imploding as the USSR did or abandoning its one party rule. Where there is life, there are problems and certainly, China has plenty of its own, but not to acknowledge its breathtaking accomplishments today is simply to deny history or refuse to accept reality, a problem pervasive in Washington DC.

2.

Certainly, despite the chaos and the factional tensions he created once in power (as noted just above), much of the credit for China’s rise, unquestionably lays at the feet of Mao Tse-Tung. If Mao was unable to envision the mix of a nationalized economy open to market reforms that China embraced shortly after his death, still, his life’s work laid the groundwork for his country’s spectacular rise. Many of the themes for which he was singularly responsible for innovating  -“the sinification of Marxism”, his long term strategies for guerilla warfare both against the nationalist forces of Chiang Kai Shek and the Japanese Occupation, his unending insistence on political, ideological training, his profound understanding of when and with whom to develop “united front” alliances – there could not have been a Chinese Revolution without these and other innovations. Combine that with his courage, physical stamina, his profound understanding of China’s history, its civilization and his belief in his country’s potential and a much more comprehensive understanding of both Mao and China today become clearer.

Years ago, sometime in the 1970s, I read Red Star Over China. I remember appreciating the book, especially its descriptions of the Long March, and its expose of the civil war between the Communists and Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalist forces. Rereading it a few months ago I was impressed with the book’s richness and wondered why it was that I failed to appreciate the book’s breath and depth more earlier. It is one of the finest pieces of modern political journalism of the last century, nothing less.  In any case, watching China’s recent dynamism made me curious to go back to the roots of its success, to get a better understanding of these current developments and China’s road to success. With this in mind, I picked up, read and thought a great deal about the content of two books: Edward Snow’s classic Red Star Over China, and Stuart Schram’s lesser known classic, Mao Tse-Tung. “Red Star Over China” was first published in 1938 and contains some of the first interviews Mao gave to a Western journalist. It was republished several times since. “Mao Tse-tung” was published nearly thirty years later, 1966, with the author having far more documents in hand than Snow did at the time, yet Schram admits that Red Star Over China is a book of considerable historical value to which he frequently refers. While the time periods covered are not identical, the main subject matter of both is essentially the same – the thirty year period from the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in 1919 to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. If I were still teaching courses in Global Political Economy today, both books would be required reading.

Bhadrakumar Melkulangara, the retired Indian diplomat whose commentaries I often read, recently suggested that people could do worse than to reread Red Star Over China. In these current times, with US foreign policy focusing more and more on hostility to China, that sounded like a good idea.

The jacket cover of the Snow’s 1968 edition of Red Star Over China says it all: “The classic account of the birth of Chinese Communism.” That, it is; Edgar Snow represents the best of a political journalistic tradition that offers historical perspective of the times in which he lived both prior to and just after World War II. So much was Snow’s work respected that during WW2, 1942 I believe, then U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, distrustful of his own official advisors on Asia, asked for a meeting with Snow and requested that the author report back to him after his next trip was over. That trip would take Snow to Russia, the Middle East, India and China, the results of which would be written up in another volume, People On Our Side, published by Random House in 1944. (2) Snow, the experienced global traveller, lived outside the United States (b. Kansas City) where he was born. In 1928 he started a trip round the world that included living in the Far East for thirteen years, most that in China. He learned Chinese well enough to speak and read it with “modest fluency” he would relate. With an introduction from his friend Madame Sun Yat Sen, he was able to gain access to the CCP’s base in Yenan Province, where they had found refuge after the Long March. There he was introduced to Mao Tse-Tung who, interested in familiarizing an audience outside China, dictated the story of his life to Snow. Until the end of World War II, when no foreign journalists had access to Mao or Yenan, this book was a unique source of information; in fact it was the only source of information available in English. As Dr. John K. Fairbanks, noted scholar of Asia, wrote in his introduction to the 1968 Grove Press edition of the book:

“The remarkable thing about Red Star Over China was that it not only gave the first connected history of Mao and his colleagues and where they came from, but it also gave a prospect of the future of this little-known movement which was to prove disastrously prophetic. It is very much to the credit of Edgar Snow that his book has stood the test of time on both these counts – as a historical record and as an indication of a trend.”

At the height of Communist influence during World War II, the CPC was already in control of vast forces and territories where it had established its own government, economic and educational institutions. Snow visited the Communist base in Yunan for a second time in 1939. (described in People On Our Side). In Yenan, formerly one of the most backward and poorest places not just in China but on earth at the time, the rebel government had built “an intelligent and prosperous community with an “energetic and honest” administration. It included free compulsory primary education, middle schools, technical schools and colleges including a College for Women. “Thousands of youths walked hundreds of miles across enemy-held territory to reach Uenan and study in its institutions. Public health services and several hospitals were established as well as industrial cooperatives and some state-owned industries. Peasants in the liberated territories opened up more than 600,000 acres of new landa and with government support tens of thousands of refugees from occupied China were settled there. Opium sale and usage was prohibited and ended; prostitution and child slavery were effectively eliminated. Rights hitherto denied to women for millennia were granted. Polygamy was outlawed, freedom of marriage at the age of 18 was instituted, free education and suffrage for women became the law in these regions.

All this was accomplished in the Communist-liberated zones but there were also similar developments even in Japanese occupied areas during the war, as well as right under the nose of Tokyo’s armies. American Professor Michael Lindsay (who had escaped from Japanese-held areas to these liberated zones) gave more details of Communist policies that Snow cited. Lindsay claimed that there were over three million members of the women’s organizations under Communist control, that in some liberated areas as much as 80% of the younger children of school age were literate. He spoke of some 4,000 cooperatives in Shansi Province along which were established and 5,000 of them in Central Hopei. Again according to Snow, in 1943 guerilla districts behind Japanese enemy lines had given training and organizing skills to some seven million people. Supporting the armed elements were as many as 12,000,000 members of various anti-Japanese associations which helped to clothe, feed, house, equip and transport regular troops. Even Chiang Kai Shek’s official data showed that 455 counties (hsien) of North China where the Communists were concentrated and which they effectively controlled, there were 52,8000 villages with a population of more than 60 million people.

Such was the result of the organizational genius that produced such revolutionary gains even prior to the 1949 independence.

The point here is that even prior to the final offensive that threw Chiang Kai Shek and his ilk off the mainland in 1949, Mao Tse-tung had under his belt an extraordinary range of profound and broad-based experience with political change and societal organizing. Furthermore it was precisely these reforms instituted during the war against the Japanese that won the respect and support of the entire country of China once the war had ended, propelling Mao and the Chinese Communists to power in 1949. It was this effort that laid the basis for the stability of the Chinese Revolution despite all its twists and turns.

 

Women Students in Yenan. Edgar Snow. People on Our Side. 1944.

3.

Nearly thirty years after the appearance of Red Star Over China, Stuart Schram’s Mao Tse-Tung appeared in print in a Pelican Original paperback. Written some 17 years after the Chinese Revolution of 1949, it covers much of the same territory as Snow’s work with some additional commentary on the progress of the People’s Republic of China 1949-1966. But for my purposes it is the period prior to 1949, the same time that Snow was writing about that is primarily of interest. Snow is mentioned in Schram’s acknowledgement at the book’s beginning; quotes and commentary from Red Star Over China appear throughout the work although Schram has been able to use sources either unknown to Snow at the time of his writing or produced afterwards. There is, from what I can tell, virtually no contradictions or corrections of Snow’s work of any substance in Schram’s analysis but the tensions between the Soviet (meaning mostly Stalin’s) approach to China and that of Mao Tse-Tung are expanded upon significantly.

The Soviet view of their Chinese Communist counterparts, was, in the end both shallow and self serving. Stalin thought himself an expert on Chinese affairs; actually he wasn’t. The Soviets were more interested in defending their national interests (and not unnecessarily antagonizing the West – the United States, United Kingdom) than in The Soviet leader placed greater confidence on Chang Kai Shek’s nationalist movement and continually “suggested” that the Chinese Communists accept Kuomintang leadership. In a mechanical manner that backfired spectacularly, the Soviets insisted that its Chinese counterparts put their organizational focus on the urban proletariat, small and insignificant as it was at the time (1921 onwards) in China while downplaying the role of China’s enormous peasantry. This combined with a profound ignorance of the richness, the wisdom of 5000 years of Chinese culture. All that resulted in the Soviets and their international Communist arm, the Comintern, having “a thoroughly European outlook” in which their vision of Chinese realities – and how to address them – was fundamentally distorted. Stalin’s analysis that he understood China “was to lead to repeated catastrophes which Chinese leaders, and Mao in particular, never forgot.” (3) Comintern advice and leadership also led to the April 1927 purge and massacre of Chinese Communists in Shanghai,

The struggle between Stalin’s Comintern advisors whose influence in the CPC’s leadership was decisive early on and a more indigenous Chinese path to Socialism, came to a head in the 1930s with Mao’s ascension to the leadership of the party in Tsunyi, Kweichow in January, 1935. From that point onward, the Chinese communists essentially free themselves from the shackles of Soviet orthodoxy and continue on a more independent Chinese path. While not completely neglecting the role of the Chinese proletariat, the Chinese Communists emphasized organizing the country’s burgeoning peasantry, a strata of the population that proved themselves again and again – and at the cost of great sacrifice and suffering – open and ready for revolutionary action. In fact, the manner and the degree to which the Chinese Communists organized and became part and parcel of the peasantry forms the basis for their success,

Mao was fighting a war on two fronts – one against the Japanese occupation and the other against the Kuomintang opportunists. The Chinese Communists were able to survive the repeated Kuomintang efforts to crush them through a series of bold hit and run tactics. They, the Communists, emerged from World War II as the main force that confronted the Japanese, a reality which helped sweep them to power in 1949. So much of both the strategy and tactics developed by Mao to come to power would be studied and applied to other Third World revolutions in the post WW 2 period, among them, Chinese emphasis on placing the nationalist movement above the class struggle, the manner in which guerilla movements engage in armed struggle with more powerful colonial and neo-colonial militaries,  how to radicalize, organize largely peasant, poor rural populations and the complex tactics involved in establishing united front politics. No one knew how to organize a revolution in the 20th Century better than Mao Tse-Tung. Both Edgar Snow and Stuart Schram’s insights as to how that was done in China and, broadly speaking, how it can be done today, remain relevant.

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  1. I have nothing to add about the current situation at this point that others haven’t delved into in greater depth and knowledge. That said, I do try to follow Chinese developments – both their domestic achievements and their current international status – and have been greatly added in this effort by two sources. I find a website called Dongsheng, Chinese Voices, published by a collective of Chinese Marxists living in the USA invaluable and objective. There is also the constant outpouring of analysis of an Indian friend (well he has become one over the internet), Bhadrakumar Melkulangara, whose ideas can – at least of the moment – be read regularly on his Facebook page or his blog, Indian Punchline, a link to which is provided.
  2. As a part of that journey, Snow, already an internationally respected journalist, would be one of the first foreign reporters to enter Stalingrad after the great Soviet victory there over the Nazis in February 1943.
  3. Stuart Schram. Political Leaders of the Twentieth Century: Mao Tse-tung. Pelican Press: 1967. p. 61.

Returning to Cheyenne Bottoms in the Age of Climate Change

October 13, 2022

The parched ground, cracked mud, at Cheyenne Bottoms, normally a extensive wetlands area and home a rich variety of bird and other wild life, a place where 250,000 birds stop by during migration season most years, but not fall 2022. With a drought defined as “serious to severe” sucking up moisture this year, the famous wetlands is parched land and the migrating birds have stopped on their long journeys south somewhere else… but where?

Odd, not one of the reports I read about the drought in Southwest and South Central Kansas use either the terms “climate change” nor “global warming” as aggravating factors in one of the worst droughts in the region’s history. Neither the Great Bend Post  article of early August 2022, nor the September 6, 2022 tv news piece out of Wichita deemed it necessary to put the drought within a larger regional or more global context. Nor did High Plains NPR (HPPR), the state’s public radio station in a longer more detailed article, itself a part of a fine series of pieces “Parched” make even the faintest allusion to the global processes wreaking havoc on the earth’s surface, in Kansas and far beyond.

Instead these media sources follow the carefully constructed line to avoid the implications of the drought. “It happens every ten years,” “it is part of a normal cycle,” “there have been worse droughts in Kansas in the past,” “Not as severe as the dust bowl years,” and the like, all examples of not seeing the forest through the trees, missing the broader implications, etc. There is a measure of truth in all of these points but… There is not even a suggestion that this drought is in any way related to climate change and global warming. None. Just oil and gas complay party line reporting., even from NPR.

On October 4, 2022, a week before my arrival in Great Bend, Kansas to view the wetlands and the migrating birds, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks issued the following report which sums up the situation succinctly:

1A-dry, 1B-dry, 1C-dry, 2-dry, 3A-dry, 3B-dry, 4A-dry,  4B-dry, 5-dry.  There is no water on the area, including ZERO in the storage pools.  No way to replenish water levels due to dry weather.  No water available for diversion from the Wet Walnut Creek or Arkansas River as both are completely dry.  With hot dry weather, the minimal amount of rain in the last year has soaked up and there was no runoff.  It is going to take a very significant rain event/events in order for even a minimal amount of water on the area.  Cheyenne Bottoms has no ground water pumps to fill pools.

Numbers like “1-A” refer to wetland areas within Cheyenne Bottoms. Read more…

Reading Tolstoy in 2022 – Second Reading of Resurrection

October 4, 2022

Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana. The place was occupied and systematically destroyed by the Nazis during WW2 in a most obscene manner. It was rebuilt after the war. They too, like some today, were trying to “cancel Russian culture.” The earlier effort failed as will the present one. 

Stopping in Trinidad during a late winter snow storm

It was mid-March. Nancy and I were on our way home from visiting an old friend in northern Arizona, Marie Palowoda who has made a life for herself there that includes an occupation and a live-in boyfriend. Because of late winter storms we’d taken the round-about-route to get back to Denver, heading first to Albuquerque and taking I-25 north  from there home. But a winter storm along Raton Pass – celebrated in a Townes Van Zandt song – made us hole up in Albuquerque overnight. The next morning we started north, but stopped for a break in Trinidad, just north of the Colorado-New Mexico state line, a town with a rich history that includes the Sante Fe Trail and one of the epicenters of one of the  biggest labor struggles in American history – the Ludlow Massacre.

In a local “used everything” store on Trinidad’s main street I picked up two books – one was an anthology of Russian Literature, the other a paperback copy of Tolstoy’s ResurrectionThe Russian Special Military Operation in Eastern Ukraine – or the Russian invasion – take your pick -was already underway at the time and part of the hysterical response included purges of Russian language and literature courses from universities in Great Britain and similar ill conceived gestures elsewhere. Suddenly Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gogol and the like were on “no-read” list. As a personal gesture of protest, I bought the two volumes, which together as I recall cost $3. And, I started to read – or reread – Resurrection

Daniel Cetinich Finest Moment: Tunis, March, 1968

It was not the first time I’d read Tolstoy and Resurrection in particular. I’d read it forty years ago, a hardcover copy put out by then Progress Publishers, a Moscow based publishing house that published not just Russian but Soviet writers from everywhere in different languages, including Russian. Then about ten years ago I passed in on to a young woman – very bright, endearing one at that – who was going through a difficult time in her life. Wondered if it might be helpful.

I had been encouraged to read it by my late old friend from Peace Corps, Tunisia (66-68), Daniel Cetinich. Dan came from Oregon; his family had migrated there from Dubrovnik,

Summer – 1994, Rutland Vermont. Dan Cetinich and me

Croatia. Dan wrote a history of Croatians in the United States and if I am not mistaken also created a film about his family’s journey from Dubrovnik to Portland. A generally gentle and humble soul, erudite as few I have known are, his finest moment – in my opinion anyway – was his participation in a protest of against Hubert Humphrey in Tunis in early March, 1968. Humphrey, we later found out, had come to Tunisia (as well as touring Europe) to gauge the reaction of U.S. allies to Washington using nuclear bombs in Vietnam. Tunisian students demonstrated against Humphrey’s visit and the U.S. War in Vietnam in particular and our Peace Corps group actually organized a petition signed by several hundred of us in the country at that time speaking about how, we Peace Corps volunteers in Tunisia were trying to build bridges in North Africa while Washington was blowing them up in Vietnam. The opposition to Humphrey’s Tunis visit was so overpowering that he cut short his visit by several days and headed to the Tunis Airport to leave the country. And there, as Humphrey walked through the lobby with his security force was one Dan Cetinich who had gone there to send Humphrey on his way with cries of “You Are A War Criminal” “End the war in Vietnam” etc. Dan was immediately arrested by the Tunisian authorities and kept in jail for several days, mostly because he admitted that he had studied Russian Literature in college. He was released after the intervention of the then Peace Corps Director, one Fran Macy, whose wife Joanna Macy would become a kind of anti-nuclear buddhist personality of some repute sometime later – but that’s another story. Read more…

Guest Blogger: M. K. Bhadrakumar: Attack on Nord Stream kills prospects for dialogue in Ukraine. September 28, 2022

September 29, 2022

(

Fracking – drilling for natural gas – in the mountains of Colorado began with several underground nuclear explosions – Fracking with nuclear weapons”. A group of environmentalists tried to prevent the blast. Here they are marking the 50th anniversary of “Project Rulison” – a federal-private sector dud on September 10, 1969. There is a fracking epidemic today in the state only intensified by the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and II pipelines

(note: M.K. Bhadrakumar is a retired Indian diplomat with extensive international experience. He write a blog Indian Punchline from which this column has been taken)

Attack on Nord Stream kills prospects for dialogue in Ukraine

by M.K. Bhadrakumar

In the present case, the war lobby has removed the pontoon bridge and made sure that European countries have no means to retrace now to source Russian gas and salvage their economies. As the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban remarked sarcastically, the American oil companies have become “war profiteers.” The US not only replaced the Russian energy supplier but is forcing the Europeans to pay 8-10 times the contracted price with Gazprom.

The three leaks that were discovered on Monday at the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines connecting Russia with Germany — one after another within hours of each other in the exclusive economic zones of Sweden and Denmark — were caused by blasts. Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted that the blasts “are consequences of detonations, probably caused by sabotage. We continue to collect information and do not rule out any cause, actor or motive.”

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson shared the same opinion and described the event as “a matter of sabotage,” adding that no version is currently being ruled out. Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen has since been quoted by Reuters as saying, “It is now the clear assessment by authorities that these are deliberate actions. It was not an accident.” Earlier, the Danish authorities issued a statement that the pipeline incidents were not caused by an accident. 

Meanwhile, Radoslaw Sikorski, a European Parliament member and a former Polish foreign minister, has thanked the US for damaging the Nord Stream pipelines. “A small thing, but so much joy,” Sikorski tweeted, adding, “Thank you, USA.” Read more…

As Iran Looks East – It Drags The Middle East With It: The Middle East After The Failure Of The JCPOA. Iran And The Shanghai Cooperation Organization. KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – September 26, 2022

September 28, 2022

Iran and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Tonight on Hemispheres the Middle East Dialogues continues with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. If it appears that Kazerooni and Prince have continued to focus on Iran and the JCPOA in the recent Middle East Dialogues programs it is because the United States and Israel have been obsessed with it as well. Had the JCPOA succeeded, there would have been far reaching consequences for the entire Middle East region. Now that that it appears the negotiations are on the brink of failure – essentially – ie; that Washington refuses to return to the deal under the conditions spelled out in the 2015 agreement – there are also profound consequences that will follow. What are they for the region? For U.S. Middle East policy? For Israel? For Iran?

What does Iran joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization mean for Iran, for U.S.-Iranian relations?

All that and more tonight on Hemispheres the Middle East Dialogues.

(technical note: it seems that more and more often Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues runs into some technical glitch. It happened again this time, a beeping about 35 minutes into the program for about ten minutes. Not too distracting, I talked right through it.)

 

And A Happy Anti-Zionist Rosh Hashanah To You and Yours: Anti-Zionist Rosh Hashanah 5783 – Denver, Colorado

September 26, 2022

Rob Prince, bar mitzvah photo. November 1957. Jamaica Jewish Center, Jamaica Queens, NY

Signs of the changing Jewish landscape here in Colorado among the state’s modest, but not insignificant Jewish Community.

  • A story related to me this morning by someone with long involvement of the city’s mainstream Jewish Community here in Denver. He told of a meeting at the Boulder Jewish Community Center – an impressive edifice on East Arapahoe Ave on the way out of Boulder towards the high plains. At an open mike a young Jewish progressive activist puts the issue square on the table: “We’re not joining your synagogue(s) until you deal more humanely with the Palestinian issue.
  • This is the same Boulder Jewish Community that for years fought tooth and nail against Boulder becoming a sister city with Nablus, West Bank, Palestine. That effort eventually did pass the Boulder City Council but not before some of the town’s more prominent – and considered more liberal – rabbis publicly savaged a young Jewish woman who had spearheaded the issue. She remains actively involved in the Boulder-Nablus sister city project which has, since approval, taken on a life of its own.

In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d witness this – a Jewish New Year’s service, Rosh Hashanah service with an anti-Zionist theme here in Denver, Colorado. It was organized by a small group of local Jewish women, young women at that, one of whom who is the daughter of a deceased long-time friend and political collaborator of mine. I wondered how many – or rather, how few – would show up 3? 5? which would make half a minyan Is half a minyan enough to do a service, a ritualistic question I could not answer. And then I was trying to determine when was the last time I had attended a Rosh Hashanah service? 1957? Maybe as recently as 1958? But none since.

What would it be like? What does it mean? An anti-Zionist Rosh Hashanah service?

I had no idea but decided to go and see for myself.  But then I don’t own a yarmulke, or even know if my talis in which I was bar mitzvahed is stored somewhere in the garage. I have the vaguest memory of having taken it out sometime since moving to Colorado 53 years ago, looking at it, thinking about Hebrew School at the Jamaica Jewish Center just off Parson’s Blvd and Hillside Ave. in Queens, New York.

from the ceremony program

The meeting was far on the other side of Denver. We live northwest, the service was way southeast not far from Tamarac Square (for those who know Denver) in one of the organizer’s backyard. Close to 40 people in attendance, with the exception of three of us, everyone else, easily under the age of 40. Among the “elders” was my old friend SK greeting me with affection and interest. There were times, with Israel was committing massacres of Palestinians that four of us – SK and her husband DG, Nancy and I – showed up in front of the capitol in downtown Denver., three Jews and Nancy. And here she was the mother of one of the organizers. We talked some; I hope we reconnect in a more substantial manner. But back to the audience, those present – they were more women than men, a good sprinkling of different gender persuasions. Setting the tone, one woman wore a t-shirt “Gaza Fights For Freedom”.  Don’t think we’d see another one like that in other Denver synagogues. The critique of Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, the sympathy, solidarity with Palestine was pervasive among those present. Long tedious explanations and history unnecessary. Was not particularly surprised to learn that a number of these folk are in the Denver chapter of Democratic Socialists of America and like groups.

When did this happen? How did it happen? Well I think I know something about that but will leave it for later.

Judaism, like the other monotheistic religions, Christianity and Islam is in its origins and much of its present structure both patriarchal and male chauvinist. Not that there hasn’t been some progress in Jewry in America dampening this long part of the tradition, but for the most part, it still holds firm. But this service was run by three Jewish women, all of whom knew their Judaism well, knew its ritual,its spiritual essence as well as any rabbi (so me thinks!) and ran a beautiful, heartfelt, touching service, even one that could touch such a hard core secularist as myself. The service, which lasted about an hour (mercifully) was as professionally done as it was unorthodox, but yet maintaining the spirit, the essence of Judaism as I remember it. A thing of beauty, really. I kept thinking – why does this remind me of Spinoza’s Judaism? Because it is that I suppose. All living and non-living things “holy”.

At the end of the ceremony the hostess announced, among other things, the October 8 “Together For Palestine” event sponsored by 18 Church, Left, Middle East Peace organizations among the Jewish Voice for Peace. An announcement of an upcoming meeting of Jewish Voice for Peace was also made.

For a 77 year old Jewish Marxist (me), who, whether it is true or not, has felt so alone for so long – more than half a century – opposing Zionism as some kind of pervasive but persistent aberration of Judaism, this gathering was like a homecoming.  I tried to hold back tears, but I couldn’t. I’m not one known for tears. Gave me such hope! Hope for what? Hope that someday Judaism can rid itself from the political Zionist monkey on its back, this particularly Jewish form of bigotry against Palestinians in particular, Arabs and Moslems more generally. Maybe this is a seed? I hope so.

The Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF), Washington’s main proxy in the Horn of Africa Uses Five Month Truce to Rearm

September 13, 2022

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed with Chinese President Xi Jinping, April, 2019. photo credit: CGTN. Thir relationship especially irks Washington although it is no way “anti-American”; rather it is Ethiopian policy, in line with the emerging multi-polar world, to make economic and trade alliances with all those willing to cooperate with it, not on an ideological basis.

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Interestingly enough, U.S. policy towards Ethiopia has follow the general outline set out a half century ago, in 1972, by none other than Henry Kissinger, at the time the head of the National Security Council, a body known at the time as “the committee in charge with running the world” as Theodore M. Vestal wrote in “The Lion of Judah in the New World”.

In a confidential report cited by Vestal (but the actual document I could not find) Vestal goes on to claim that Kissinger “recommended that U.S. policy should be to keep the nation in perennial internal conflict, using such vulnerabilities as ethnic, religious and other divisions to destabilize the country.” Vestak goes on to comment, prophetically it turns out that “Kissinger’s recommendation  appears to have been followed successfully not only for Ethiopia but the Horn of Africa has been in turmoil ever since.. (p. 188)”\

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A friend returning recently from visiting family in Addis Ababa tells that the city is generally quiet and safe and that the proverbial “man on the street” is well aware of  the foreign entities that are behind the regime change effort. But now that quiet interlude appears to be over and fighting has started again between the Addis government and the break away TPLF dominated Tigray region. The TPLF is nothing more than Ethiopia’s version of the Nicaragua Contras – an organization bought and paid for by Washington to do its dirty work in the Horn of Africa and this it continues to do faithfully.

“After a fragile ceasefire lasting just five months, the TPLF (The Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front) have once again initiated violent conflict with federal forces in Northern Ethiopia”. Thus began a recent (September 3, 2022) by British researcher Graham Pebbles that appeared in the Eurasian Review in an article aptly titled “Renewed TPLF Terror War Against the Ethiopian People. Having been soundly defeated by the Ethiopian military in the first round, the TPLF cried uncle at that time, called for negotiations essentially to give it the breathing time to rearm rather than prepare for peace. While Washington has issued sanctions against arms sales to both the Ethiopian government and the TPLF, it has closed its eyes to surreptitious arms shipments to the TPLF through Sudan (and other channels). Egyptian support for the TPLF is also pronounced and is nothing new. “It has been known that it (Egypt) has been supporting proxy war in Ethiopia at least since the 1970s,” this according to an article in Borkena.

Missing from such reports – for whatever reason – is Washington’s role in managing the whole affair. Read more…

Guest Blogger: Renewed TPLF Terror War Against The Ethiopian People – OpEd by Graham Peebles

September 9, 2022
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Ethiopian-Eritrean Rally in Seattle Washington, March 2021.. One of the main goals of U.S. Horn of Africa policy is to break the growing ties between these two former adversaries

(Note – this article first appeared in the Eurasian Review on September 3, 2022. rjp)

Renewed TPLF Terror War Against The Ethiopian People – OpEd

 September 3, 2022  Graham Peebles 

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After a fragile ceasefire lasting just five months, the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) have once again initiated violent conflict with federal forces in Northern Ethiopia.

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They started the war in November 2020, were forced to retreat just over a year later, but not content with the level of human suffering resulting from their initial barbarism, they are, it seems, determined to kill and kill again; to rape and beat their Ethiopian brethren; to once more destroy property, burn farmland, slaughter livestock, sending fear through communities, deepening the pain of a nation in their frenzied quest for power.

This latest offensive was launched on 24 August, violating the humanitarian truce agreed with the Ethiopian government, and shattering the temporary peace. A Government statement relayed that, “Ignoring all of the peace alternatives presented by the government, the terrorist group TPLF…. continued its recent provocations and launched an attack this morning at 5 am (0200 GMT)”

The TPLF used the months of peace, not to enter unto constructive dialogue with the government, to address the needs of people in Tigray impacted by the war and beg for forgiveness, but to actively re-arm and rebuild its forces. The Crisis Group relate that they have “solid evidence” of at least 10 Antonov planes making deliveries (of arms it is assumed) “to two airports in Tigray,” almost certainly from Sudan. One such aircraft, en route from Sudan and loaded with weapons, was recently shot down by the Ethiopian air force.

The government has known about these arial shipments for some time, but failed to clamp down on them. This lack of decisive action, particularly in relation to law and order issues has been a feature of the Abiy premiership, and is something that needs to change.

Whilst TPLF thugs lit the fuse of renewed conflict in Tigray’s southern border, other misguided fighters, many little more than children, raided a World Food Program (WFP) warehouse in Mekelle (capital of Tigray region). “12 full fuel tankers with 570,000 litres of fuel” were taken, and UN staff detained, reported, Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “These fuel stocks were to be used solely for humanitarian purposes, for the distribution of food, fertilizer and other emergency relief items. This loss of fuel will impact humanitarian operations supporting communities in all of northern Ethiopia

Stealing from the UN to enable war is nothing new for the TPLF; From July-September 2021 the WFP state that, “445 contracted non-WFP trucks entered Tigray, but only 38 ….returned,” – 407 were stolen by the TPLF. The lack of vehicles the agency said, was “the primary impediment to ramping up the humanitarian response” within Tigray. The inability of UN agencies to deliver humanitarian aid is of no concern whatsoever to the TPLF leadership, who care not a jot for the people of Tigray, and even less for other ethnic groups throughout Ethiopia. Read more…

Interview: Samia Halaby, Artist, Author “Drawing The Kafr Qasem Massacre” – 9 am MST, Thursday, September 8, 2022

September 7, 2022

Copyright. Samia Halaby. Shaker Easa Family III 1999

This interview is in preparation for “Together For Palestine” October 8, 2022 , S. Broadway Church Christian Church. 23 Lincoln, Denver. 11-5 – Justice. History and Culture. More details will follow. The event currently has 18 sponsors. More detailed information will follow in the coming days.

While the interview is live it will be available on Facebook, YouTube and Linked in afterwards. RJP

For viewing go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiY1Jd0KAY0&t=4s

Solidarity With Cuba Fundraiser – Saturday, September 10 1-4 pm – 809 S. Washington St. Denver

September 6, 2022
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“The Turkish Tap Dance, The Israeli `Pickle’ and JCPOA – The Middle East, A Region in Transition” – KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – Tuesday, August 30, 2022

September 6, 2022

Qassem Suleimani. Iranian leader. Suliemani was assassinated by the Trump Administration on January 3, 2020. Most Americans have no idea how destructive that murder was to U.S. Middle East policy and how his death gave impetus to the Axis of Resistance

(Note on the audio: During the recording technical problems emerged which made for on-air periods which KGNU was trying to address. Unfortunately that affected the quality of the program itself. In this version I have edited out as much of the technical problem solving as possible but some remains and the remaining product is somewhat choppy here and there. Still, when listening to it several times after editing I am convinced that plenty of thoughtful content remains; it is worth publishing all the same.)

Here is the description of the program that appeared just prior to its airing:

Tonight Ibrahim and Rob will discuss Middle East and how the region is caught between the old unipolar global political model in which Washington “calls all the shots” and the emerging multipolar realities in which, while still an important factor in the region, Washington’s influence is waning and that of China, Russia and Iran somewhat strengthening. The classic example of this fluid reality is Turkey, a NATO member on the one hand but becoming more economically and politically integrated with China and Russia on the other. Then there is never ending drama (approaching soap opera proportions) which is the fate of the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal). Is it dead? Has it been resurrected? Is Iran moving in the direction of the “North Korean option?”. Is there new momentum for peace in Syria? What is “the Israeli Pickle” and why is not likely to be resolved soon? All that and more Tuesday on Hemispheres – the Middle East Dialogues. Up to date news from the Middle East you won’t get from the mainstream corporate media.

University of Denver, which likes to boast of “celebrating diversity” throws Dr. Nader Hashemi, Director of the university’s Center for Middle East Studies, under the bus. The beginning of a witch hunt?

August 28, 2022

University of Denver Campus – Fall, 2013. In the fall when the campus is quite lovely. (R. Prince photo) 

A casual remark taken out of context…

An August 20, 2022 podcast interview with University of Denver’s Dr. Nader Hashemi on what for Americans is an obscure website, “The Iran Podcast by Negar Mortazavi” has trigger a storm of protest from Zionist sources both in Israel  and in the United States that includes a statement from the University of Denver essentially “throwing Hashemi under the bus” and undermining faculty freedom of speech. Very possibly all this is only the first step in targeting Hashemi and the Center for Middle East Studies which he has headed up at D.U.’s Korbel School of International Studies for more than a decade. It is worthwhile to listen to the said podcast to appreciate the degree to which the Jerusalem Post and the leaders of Denver’s Jewish Community have made “a mountain out of a mole hole”, “a tempest in a teacup”, “much to do about nothing”, etc. Still, don’t underestimate how this could spill out of control into something approaching yet another intellectual lynching of the kind that is becoming more and more common these days.

The heart of the matter in this case is academic freedom, the attempts to limit it and the effort on the part of the University to respect and defend one of their own.

Is the targeting Dr. Hashemi and D.U.’s Center for Middle East Studies a part of a broader attack, the second wave of targeting Middle East Studies programs nationwide that intensified after the September 11, 2001 attacks? It would appear so as in a few days, nay, 24 hours Hashemi’s remarks, grossly taken out of context, have triggered what appears to be a coordinated international response. A Jerusalem Post article “Mossad likely on behind Salman Rushdie stabbing, claims Denver professor” on August 23, was the opening salvo followed by a statement expressing “anger” and being “appalled” by leaders of Colorado’s mainstream Jewish Establishment. Rather than defending one of its key faculty members right to free speech, the University of Denver, which for decades has claimed to “celebrate diversity”, issued a statement (part of which is reported on this link) distancing itself from Hashemi, more or less throwing Hashemi under the bus. The accusations against Hashemi were also immediately published in Campus Watch,the twenty year old McCarthyite anti-Islamic organization that witch hunts Palestinian supporters and academics in U.S. universities.

It should not be surprising if this contrived controversy does not spill over into the mainstream media, but here in Colorado and nationwide in the days and weeks to come.

Initial Documents:

The Iran Podcast by Negar Mortazavi – Salman Rushdie and Iran – August 20, 2022 – Recommend listening to the entire interview to see the degree to which the Jerusalem Post and the leaders of Denver’s Jewish Community have made “a mountain out of a mole hole”, “a tempest in a tea cup”, “much to do about nothing”, etc.

Jerusalem Post – August 23, 2022 – Mossad likely behind Salman Rushdi stabbling, claims Denver professor.

Nader Hashemi: The University of Denver’s Statement (see below)

Campus Watch : University of Denver Professor Blames Israel for Rushdie Attack. August 24, 2022. (Note: What is “Campus Watch” ? Palestinian response. Note that the date on this Electronic Intifada article is from 2002, ie, this kind of McCarthyite nonsense has been going on for a very long time.

Hillel Press Statement “Press Statement on Comments by Nader Hashemi” – August 25, 2022

DU Middle Eastern Scholar under fire for comments on Rushdie stabbing believes he’s become a political target. Denver Gazette. August 26, 2022

Republican Leaders Vow to Investigate U.S. Colleges for Pro-Iran Bias After Prof. Claims Israel Behind Rushdie Attack – University of Denver facing GOP fire after professor claims Mossad could have been behind Rushdie Stabbing. August 26, 2022

Republicans Eye Pro-Iran Propaganda in US Colleges After Prof Claims Israel Behind Rushdie Attack. August 26, 2022

Nader Hashemi: An Iran Puppet in Denver August 27, 2022. A particularly scurrilous piece; the kind of thing floating around social media, conflating anti-Zionism (which is anti-racist) with anti-Semitism, old, worn out, invalid comparison

Colorado Jewish leaders call out DU professor’s remarks on Salman Rushdie stabbing Denver Post August 29, 2022

Jewish Community Statement About Scapegoating by University of Denver Professor. August 30, 2022

Middle East Studies Association. Committee on Academic Freedom. University of Denver Statement about Professor Nader Hashemi

Krista Kafer. Free Speech Under Attack, This Time At DU. Denver Post. September 4, 2022

Thrashed for Theorizing: Notes on Anti-Semitism, Israel and the Attack on Salman Rushdie. September 9, 2022

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University of Denver Statement 

This week, the University of Denver, my (Nader Hashemi’s) home institution, published the following statement about me after I gave an interview about the heinous attack on Salman Rushdie:

Professor Hashemi spoke as an individual faculty member and does not speak for the University. While we wholeheartedly respect academic freedom and freedom of speech, his comments do not reflect the point of view of the university, nor are we aware of any facts that support this view. The safety of every speaker and every student on our campus, and all campuses, is critical to our society. We condemn the stabbing of Salman Rushdie. And it goes without saying that we remain committed to assuring that the experience of our Jewish students, faculty and staff is safe, supportive, respectful, and welcoming.

How’s that for supporting a faculty member’s free speech rights?

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