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I love baseball. I have always loved baseball. I will always love baseball. I like the long games. I don’t mind the lag between plays, the standing around, the flashing of the signs. I love the stories that the color commentators tell between pitches. I love talking about all the stats. I find honor in the sacrifice bunt. I feel a rush when a base is stolen. You get the point…

I tried not to jump on the bandwagon last summer when Jackie Robinson West went to the Little League World Series – only because I’m the type of guy who hates to jump on bandwagons (ask my friends that are annoyed that I’m not a Blackhawks fan) – but I couldn’t help but find myself looking for any news during their title chase, and smile every time they advanced.

Little League World Series - USA FinalInstead of some Hollywood creation, Chicago had its own “feel good movie” of the summer. Today I’m sad. I’m saddened by the news that Jackie Robinson West was stripped of its US championship. I’m more sad for what they did. What I’m most sad about is what the kids are going through and what they are going to go through.

I disagree with the punishment they received… partially. Because the team violated rules and had an unfair advantage that allowed them to create an all-star team, they should be punished, but I believe that the coaches and league officials are the ones that need to bear the brunt of the punishment. The coaches and league officials that are guilty of creating the false boundaries are suspended, but can rejoin Little League another day while the hard work and accomplishments of the kids are wiped from the record books and the memories created are tarnished forever. It is my belief that the coaches and league officials should be banned from Little League, in any capacity, for life and have to pay a substantial fine for the damage they have done to the game.

I don’t believe in awarding championships or the stripping of championships by resolution. Games are won on the field. That is the beauty of sport. David can beat Goliath on any given day. The truth of the matter is that while the record books will now say that Las Vegas is the reigning US champion, our memories will be of those kids from Chicago. The tragedy is that now those memories will be entangled with the word “cheaters.” That is the horrible thing that will stick with each player from Jackie Robinson West. A moment that should be a highlight of their lives will now talked about with ridicule and shame. That is why I’m sad. Those boys don’t deserve to have that joy taken away from them.

Those of you that are Du Page County Illinois residents like me are likely already aware of the waste and corruption going on at the College of Du Page. For those of you that are unfamiliar, let me encourage you to read this article from the Huffington Post that chronicles the many abuses uncovered in the last year. As a result, a ground swell of support for reform is growing daily. The taxpayers in Du Page County are fed up with arrogant politicians and bureaucrats taking our hard earned tax dollars and spending them on lavish and vain projects. The problems at the College of Du Page (COD) are personified in President Robert Breuder. He has used school money to pay for an African Safari, he traded an endorsement of former Governor Pat Quinn for school funding that precipitated a scandal that forced Governor Quinn to withdraw the funding, and he also used school funds to pay a food and bar tab of over $21,000.00 for only 9 Board of Trustee dinners… while making nearly $500,000 a year salary as president of a junior college. Except for one person on the current board, Breuder has had the full support and sanction from the Board of Trustees. A strong sentiment of “throw all the bums out” has grown exponentially and has the very real possibility of succeeding.

Enter the COD Board of Trustees re-election strategy – get rid of Breuder. As reported in the Chicago Tribune today, the board is looking to buy out President Breuder and thereby remove the headline lightning rod from this election. Don’t be fooled, the board is not doing this willingly. The like Breuder and want him to stay. The cushy severance package described in the story is just one bit of evidence. This move is simply based on the hope that casual followers will see Breuder’s termination as the board cleaning up it’s act and therefore holding the line is good enough and reformers won’t be needed. While this is a good and much needed move, I strongly encourage the voters of Du Page County to not forget that these current trustees (except for Kathy Hamilton) condoned and allowed these abuses of power by Breuder as well as taking advantage of culture of free spending, arrogance, and poor administration themselves (large food and alcohol reimbursements, driving reimbursements for coming to meetings, employing a felon, among other transgressions).

The termination of Robert Breuder should not be seen as the solution for the ills at the College of Du Page. This should be seen as the beginning. A purge of the board, aside of Vice-Chairman Kathy Hamilton, MUST happen. Vote these bums out!

chi-robert-breuder-photo-20150122Photo Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune


A week ago a made a smart-alec comment about President Obama’s wish to teach the world to sing… er… I mean, send all of America to community college. I am not alone in my bewildered outrage at yet another unpaid for “gimme” that has an enormous price tag. A person that I am privileged to call a friend, Frank Napolitano, has written an op-ed piece that I am reprinting here courtesy of Illinois Review.  Community college education is a subject immediately close to his heart as he is a candidate for College of DuPage Trustee in District 205.


By Frank Napolitano – 

Last week, President Obama announced a plan for “free” community college. President Obama in a speech at Pellissippi State Community College said “Today I’m announcing an ambitious plan to bring down the cost of community college tuition in America. I want to bring it down to zero. I want to make it free”

There are several problems with this plan and announcement. The first issue is that he wants to make it free. I think most people realize that is not possible as almost everything has a cost. His plan, would simply shift the cost from the family of the student, or the student themselves to taxpayers across the community college area, across the state, and across the nation. Regardless of how you shift the expense, there still is an expense. Therefore, this is not a “free” college education, it is simply a taxpayer funded college education.

The White House estimates this plan would cost “roughly $60 Billion over 10 years” So even they admit there is a cost, but what is $60 Billion when the United States currently has over $18 Trillion in debt. That equates to over $146,000 per household. We cannot keep kicking the financial can down the road, sooner or later someone has to pay for these “free” programs.

I think access to quality secondary education is important, but with families already paying property, income, sales, capital gains, inheritance and even death taxes to help pay for all the infrastructure projects, pensions, public debt and government programs already in place, it is not fair to ask them to pay more taxes for someone else to attend a community college.

mlkPhoto courtesy of the Seattle Times

There is a fundamental difference between the right and left on immigration policy. The disagreement is quantity versus quality. The left says “the more the merrier”, and the right says “let’s think about this first.” The left says that immigration should be as free and loose as possible because everyone should be able to enjoy the blessings and opportunity life in America. Emphasis on the word “says”…

What they really mean is that everyone that can make it this country should be a citizen so that they can

A. Vote, and for the most part, vote Democrat.

B. Enroll in some form of public assistance so that they become dependent on public assistance, and then to keep those public assistance programs, vote Democrat.

C. Cheap labor, that is often unskilled and needs to be organized. This helps big business interests and drives up union membership. Both special interests give campaign money and encourage their memberships and organizations to vote Democrat.

The left’s position on immigration comes down to power, plain and simple. Democrats see immigration as a way to add a solid voting bloc with just one policy decision. I sound cynical, but I also sound right. You can try to deny it, but in doing so, please explain the actions of 148 Democratic House members yesterday. Congressman Ron DeSantis (R – Florida) proposed an amendment to HR 240. His amendment would prioritize deporting illegal immigrants that have been convicted of child abuse, sexual abuse and domestic violence. 148 Democrats voted against this amendment. This amendment targets the lowest of the low, the vermin that are victimizing women and children, those that are committing most heinous acts. Heck, I bet I’m not alone in saying that we should deport natural born citizens that commit these crimes. I hear Antarctica is a delight this time of year. HA!

The Democrats that voted against this amendment most often cited one reason for voting against it. They said that the amendment would discourage the reporting of abuse. They say that victims of abuse will fear facing deportation after coming forward. Are you kidding me?!?! First, they have that fear already. This bill and amendment does nothing to change the circumstances they face now. Victims of abuse that are illegal immigrants already face deportation. Second, they are foolishly assuming that the victims of abuse by illegal immigrants are always illegal immigrants themselves. Third, this means that Congressman have proved once again that they don’t read the bills they vote on. The amendment prioritizes illegals that are CONVICTED of domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual abuse. It does NOT prioritize deportation of the victims of said crimes.

That leaves me with only one overriding desire that would keep one from saying “Aye” on the DeSantis Amendment: power. Wake up. It’s all about power.

I have reposted John Di Leo in the past. This is another example of his fine work. Courtesy of Illinois Review.

Di Leo: Common Sense and The Glorious Cause

Reflections on the anniversary of the publication of Thomas Paine’s classic work…


By John F. Di Leo – 

Historians, political scientists, and philosophers alike often look at revolutions and ask the question “Was it a simple coup d’etat, or a real popular revolution? And if a real popular revolution, just how ‘popular’ was it, really?”

It’s often not that easy to tell. We can easily look at the Russian Revolution, for example, and see how there was first a large popular revolution, one that was then taken over by a much smaller communist contingent that was nowhere near as popular, but was brutal enough to win over the nascent White Russian government. One can do the math easily, to see the difference between those loyal to the czar, those loyal to the White Russian government of Kerensky, and the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks who took over once the czar had been deposed and a much more fragile new government was nominally in charge, but had not yet consolidated its power.

The American Revolution, or our War of Independence, was known by its contemporary supporters as “The Glorious Cause” (we can only imagine how its opponents referred to it!), and it poses an interesting question.

It’s usually assumed, 200 years later, that the American colonies south of Canada were split roughly into thirds: a third of the people were loyalists, a third were patriots, and a third didn’t particularly care, and just hoped to stay out of trouble.

This is a roughly accurate split for much of the war, but even so, it paints an incomplete picture because it doesn’t get into the distribution (for example, New Englanders were mostly patriots, and Georgians and Carolinians were mostly loyalist)… and it doesn’t explain WHY the idea of independence caught on as a popular trend at all. Even in New England, why did people – who generally had a much happier and healthier life there than back home in Europe – want to separate from the great protection and general benevolent neglect of the British Crown?

A Moment in History

Many wars begin with a single event, on a single day, and that day is often remembered.  The current War on Terror had started long before – the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, or the murders at the Munich Olympics in 1972, or the ghastly intifada of the 1990s… but we in the USA date it to the horrific mass murders at New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC on September 11, 2001.

We think of the War Between the States as starting at the Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.  We think of World War II as commencing on December 7, 1941.  All these wars had really begun earlier, but these were the first big dates, the first memorable events from the eyes of the Americans.  Europeans certainly date WWII from a couple years prior, and Israel has been living with the war against islamofascist terror since its founding… these are just the dates from our perpective.

So too would Great Britain view the American Revolution differently than we would on this side of The Pond.  Americans think that we had been trying to negotiate for a peaceful resolution during the 1760s and 1770s; we view that period as our conciliatory era in which we hoped to stay in the Empire, as George III kept driving us away.  But the British (or at least, some British) think that  we started on the path toward revolution with the Stamp Act Crisis in 1765.

The truth of such popular uprisings can’t easily be pinned down to a single date, but in the case of the American Revolution, there certainly is a moment when the tide turned, and it came from perhaps the most unlikely of sources.

It was on January 10, 1776, that a recent immigrant from Britain – a former ropemaker and Customs clerk named Thomas Paine – self-published a tract called “Common Sense,” and he opened the eyes of the American colonists in a way that had never been done before.

For all his faults – and yes, he had many – “Common Sense” was arguably the single most popular political documents in human history, making Thomas Paine one of the most important figures in the Founding period.  Without “Common Sense” being so voraciously read across the colonies – it went through multiple printings, and by the end of the Revolution, had been read by most of the population – it is entirely possible that the Revolution would never have caught on in the public mind, and we would have surrendered in 1776 or 1777.

The Context of January 10, 1776

George III was the third Hanoverian king of England.  Unlike his father and grandfather, he was born in England, and thought of himself as an Englishman… but it is important to note that the history of the 17th century – the popular revolution against Charles, the great battles for legislative control over the monarchy that had intended to solidify more of the post-Magna Carta trends in limited government – was not a history of his branch.

George III balked at the idea of some Parliament overruling him, so he used the power of his office – appointments and the award of lands, titles, and monopolies – to strengthen his power base in Parliament.  For most of his rule – not all, but most – the king’s faction, represented by Lord North and other sycophants, was dominant in Parliament, and did the king’s bidding.

The Rockingham faction recognized that the majority was foolishly driving the American colonies away, and fought in the Houses of Commons and Lords for over a decade on the matter, but got nowhere.  The King’s power in Parliament won practically every vote, for ever more restrictions on, and punitive measures against, the troublesome American colonies (which could have so easily been avoided if they’d just allowed our colonial legislatures to manage the necessary issues). Through appointments and pressure and outright bribes in Parliament, what later came to be known as “The Chicago Way” prevailed.

Throughout the 1760s, crisis after crisis occurred, as the British implemented a tax, Americans would oppose it, and a different tax would be imposed.  The British would award a monopoly, Americans would oppose it, and a penalty would be imposed.  We saw smuggling increase as a way to avoid unfair monopolies; we saw local manufacturing grow as a way to avoid having to purchase everything from England.  By the end of the 1760s, Boston was essentially under martial law, which so horrified the other colonies that even blissfully peaceful Virginia joined a coastwise boycott of England.

In 1774, a Continental Congress had been convened, but the majority of those who elected them wanted resolution of our differences, not revolution.  In 1775, real war, hot war, broke out at Lexington and Concord, but still the Continental Congress didn’t even utter the word “independence.”  A Continental Army parked itself outside of Boston to place the still-British-held city under siege.  By the summer of 1775, that Congress had nationalized a Continental Army and appointed George Washington as Commander in Chief to lead them.

On May 10, 1775, a band of revolutionaries under the quarrelsome command of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga, specifically to win control over that fort’s great artillery stores, but as they couldn’t agree on a way to move them out, they left them behind.  In November, young bookseller Henry Knox pitched a wild idea to General Washington for their collection and movement, and set out with his blessing and a couple dozen men on a wild goose chase to transport a noble train of 5000 lb cannons across mountains, rivers, and forests in the dead of winter.  Amazingly, they made it in time to play the key role in the Battle of Dorchester Heights in March of 1776… but on January 10, they were still far away, in the middle of the Berkshires.  The Continental Army was still stuck in a nervous status quo outside Boston, where they had been for half a year, as both the Continental Congress and the majority of colonists were wondering if they’d all started down a foolish path toward a huge fatal mistake.

As the American people watched the army twiddle their thumbs, the Glorious Cause sure wasn’t getting any more popular in the public mind.

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine was born in 1737 in Thetford, in Norfolk, England.  He worked in his youth for his father’s business, making rope stays for the shipping industry, then attempted several very different careers on his own, none to any substantial success.  He served as a Customs collector, taught school, served on a town council and a parish committee, and eventually joined an action by the Customs collectors to complain to the government about the need for better pay (a legitimate issue, since underpaid tax collectors are especially susceptible to bribery and other corruption).  He got his first taste of real politics when he penned the Customs collectors’ complaint to Parliament, entitled “The Case of the Officers of Excise” in 1772.

In June of 1774, he met Benjamin Franklin, who had been in England for most of the prior decade as the delegate of several American colonies to represent them before the Crown.  Franklin recommended that Paine give up on England and move across the Pond for a fresh start.  Franklin gave him a letter of recommendation, and he headed to Philadelphia, arriving on November 30, 1774.  As soon as he recuperated from the fever he’d caught aboard ship, he became a citizen of Pennsylvania.  In January, 1775, he became editor of The Pennsylvania Magazine, and dove right into the goal of getting to know his newly adopted country.

As any good editor must, he talked to people.  To the public, to the politicians, to the merchants, to the shoppers.  He talked to other publishers; he talked to clergy.  He quickly developed an understanding of America that was almost entirely unavailable to the neighbors he’d left in England (even Ben Franklin, the colonies’ emissary, having been away for nearly a decade, had the same experience upon his own return in 1775).

America, he discovered, was not some frontier of newly arrived settlers, dependent upon the Mother Country for culture, for goods and services, for leadership and decision-making.  The American colonies had now been settled for almost a century and a half.  Many of the cities were as established as the English cities he had left.  Philadelphia was the largest English-speaking city in the world after London itself… with businesses, shops, schools, churches, newspapers, and everything else that any city has.  Some Wild West outpost of unwashed, uncultured illiterates, we were not.

With the exception of a few veterans of the Seven Years War, neither the king nor his ministers, nor the members of the Houses of Lords or Commons, had been to the American colonies.  And even the changes since that war, and since Franklin left, had been considerable, and evident to anyone who’d open his eyes and pay attention.

One more difference that Paine was one of the first to notice was in a general difference between Americans and Englishmen.  Even most colonists thought of themselves as New Yorkers, or New Englanders, or Virginians, or Georgians.  But there was now a distinct American character that could be recognized at a moment’s glance by an outsider, to which most of the colonists themselves were blind.

George Washington and Gouverneur Morris, from long-established colonial dynasties, knew it… new arrivals like Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Paine knew it… but most Americans simply didn’t think of themselves that way… until Common Sense.

“Common Sense”

In those far-off days before such modern publishing houses as Allen and Unwin, Harper Collins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, the publishing business was wide open.   Anyone with a printing press was desperate to get the most possible use out of his expensive equipment, so the same shop might publish a weekly newspaper, a monthly magazine, political handbills, and ads for shops or theaters.

Political tracts were therefore self-published; it wasn’t shocking to see that a book didn’t come from a known publisher. They might even be published completely anonymously; especially if they took an editorial position against the established power structure.  The book would just show up in a shop for sale, without any indication of what printing press had been used to print it, or who funded the purchase of the paper, ink, and binding.

Throughout Paine’s first year in Pennsylvania, he gained an understanding of our ways, and recognized that the entire English approach to these colonies was wrong.  He realized that George III, who appeared to be a properly constitutional monarch in England, was indeed a tyrant from the perspective of England’s foreign territories.  And he started writing it down.

“Common Sense” was a short booklet, only 48 pages in its early printings, and declared itself simply as “Written by an Englishman.”  It aimed a solid broadside against King George III, showing what Paine had learned in his year in Pennsylvania, that the King was a vindictive tyrant, violating the natural and longstanding bonds between subject and crown that had for so long made Americans proud to be Englishmen.

He laid out the case, issue by issue, in plain common speech so that any reader could understand.  Political theorists generally wrote for the educated; Paine wrote for everybody in the clearest possible language.  He wrote of stark choices and clear contrasts, declaring what we all know that government ought to be, and then decisively proving that the English government had failed in every way.

Paine’s eloquence is amazing, considering his background.  This was not an English major from Oxford or a long-established parson who’d been giving homilies for decades.  He had been a magazine editor for barely a year, and had only written one minor political tract before. But he wrote “Common Sense” – in the spirit of a long and masterful sermon – and literally transformed the political landscape of the world.

Changing the World

Thomas Paine’s tract was sold out instantly.  Much like a modern movie, music CD, or bowl game that sells out on the day of release, Paine’s booklet went into a second printing immediately.

Because of the lack of copyright enforcement in that era, there were so many unauthorized editions that it’s impossible to know for sure how many were published.  Paine’s original printer, Benjamin Rush’s ally Robert Bell, printed and sold 100,000 copies in 1776 alone.  It is generally estimated that there were about 500,000 copies printed and sold in 1776, and it received widespread readings both in the Colonies and across the Pond, in France and Britain.

Paine donated his royalties to the Continental Army, and even formally renounced his copyright, enabling any willing printer to publish it if they could find an audience.

And what an audience they found!  With a colonial population of only about two million at the time, a book was published for one in four… and since the book was shared by families and friends, passed around in pubs and church halls, assigned by schoolmasters, and used as a subject for debate on the Op/Ed pages, it is reasonable to assume that practically every resident of the Colonies read it, as well as a huge number of Europeans.  As a publishing industry feat, it is unequalled in human history.

George Washington directed that it be read aloud to the Continental Army.  Parsons read sections from it in church and used it in their sermons.  It was everywhere… and so, it succeeded in its goal, far beyond what any sane analyst would have thought possible.

As Paine had his faults, so too does such a personal document.  Paine tried to channel for good his personal irritation with the way he felt he’d been cheated by the bureaucracy… but a bit of unfair personal griping is still evident.  He tried to channel for good his dislike for established churches, which grew to a malicious anti-clerical sentiment as he aged, but his personal prejudice still shines through in this book.

It is a testament to both the brilliance of the whole and the fairness of his audience that this very devout public still adored the book.  The reader could see his prejudices and set them aside, because the argument was not dependent on a distaste for the Anglican Church or the individual apparatchiks of a leviathan government.

In fact, the problem was with George III, as he said then, as Thomas Jefferson was to say six months later, and as today’s historians must acknowledge as well.  George III was a tyrant, acting against his colonies as he could not act at home, and so he, and he alone, had sown the seeds of his empire’s very destruction.

With the publication of “Common Sense” on January 10, 1776, Thomas Paine changed the American mind, and as such, this humble staymaker and excise officer, editor and polemicist, very personally and very effectively, changed the world.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Copyright 2015 John F. Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and trade compliance trainer, a recovering politician occasional amateur actor.  His columns are found regularly in Illinois Review.

Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the IR URL and byline are included.  Follow John F. Di Leo on Facebook or LinkedIn, on Twitter at @johnfdileo, or at his own website at  

Nice “Barry for Student Council President” speech, but just how do you suppose this country is going to pay for it?

Remember that when you give away things for free, demand is artificially inflated. Anyone remember health insurance?

Yesterday I wrote that conservatives shouldn’t waste too much energy being upset that John Boehner was reelected as Speaker of the House. Boehner’s immediate actions are making me believe that I was too magnanimous. Reports are coming out that Speaker Boehner’s first actions are to punish those that opposed him as if he were channeling his inner Frank Underwood.

Speaker Boehner needs to remember that the dissent he experienced is representative of the backlash against business as usual. Voters didn’t pick Republicans to drive the car to the same destination that Democrats intended. Voters want things done differently. So instead of administering beatings to drive obedience, Speaker Boehner should be building coalitions and listening to new ideas. Maybe if he wasn’t apt to turn the clock back to 2006, he wouldn’t have so much opposition. Speaker Boehner, stop your crying and save your vengeance for the Democrats and those trying to undermine our great nation, not those that are trying to better it.


I don’t like John Boehner. I think he is the most useless, liberal-enabling, spineless piece of garbage this side of Lindsay Graham and that side of John McCain. However, all of the hand wringing and name calling of house members that voted for John Boehner to receive a third term as speaker is irrational.

boehner_cryFirst, let’s not pretend that the majority of Republicans are conservative. If every bona-fide conservative or tea party proud congressman/woman had voted for Louie Gohmert, Boehner still would have had the most Republican votes. There just aren’t enough of “our” guys and gals in D.C. This should not be news to us and we shouldn’t act as if we have been stabbed in the back.

Second, let us remember that there are still Democrats to contend with, and they were unified behind Nancy Pelosi. What if the vote for Speaker had been closer between Boehner and Gohmert? Boehner would have had too few votes and we would have the tragic misfortune of the minority holding the Speakership. And who would have received the blame for such a debacle? Conservatives, that’s who. Back to the first point, there are more establishment Republicans than Conservatives.

Conservatives and tea party backed members of Congress are constantly subject to the stigma of being uncompromising to the point of being unreasonable. Throwing away the Speakership by opening the back door to the Democrats and causing the party embarrassment is no way to grow the number of conservatives in the party. We don’t have the votes for a revolution, but we have momentum, and a growing presence at the table. This is different from having a seat at the table. The goal needs to be to have the most seats at the table.

So before you decide to swear off Trey Gowdy and Mia Love, think about the big picture and the worst thing that could have happened today… OB-LP585_bondi_G_20110104135907

First off, Happy New Year. Welcome to 2015.

This is a little strange for me since I haven’t written since last May. It has been a busy and interesting year. I went from being heavily involved in local politics (even finding myself elected to a leadership position) to having no involvement at all. We moved from Downers Grove, where I spent the last 17 years, to Naperville. It’s been an adjustment for me, but I love our new home. We have a lot of support out here and have made fast friends with our neighbors. Our son started preschool and he’s developing quite the personality. He cracks us up. Work has been good too. We’ve gone from wondering where we would get our next project from to wondering where are we going to find the time to finish all the projects. It has been a good year.

On to 2015…

The November 2014 elections have given us, our state… and our nation, an opportunity for a revival. Harry Reid is now minority leader of the Senate. The right should control the legislative agenda. I use the word should because while I am practicing optimism, I know that recent history has not shown the Republican Party to be bold and decisive. We have a Republican governor in Illinois. While I still have great reservations about just how Republican he really is, our chances as Illinoisans are better today than they would be with another term of Pat Quinn.

I promise to be around more often this year and continue to speak my mind, as some will enjoy and others will cringe – and that’s not just another New Year’s Resolution.

Prairie grasses at sunrise. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA.



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