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BLIND AMBITION

JG Boccella is a crazy, genius artist. He’s also one of my long time readers. I’ve never met him or spoken to him. He doesn’t comment on my blogs much, however he always sends me great emails; a new picture he’s painted, seminars he’s taught, a new song he's written, or a BIG worthwhile project he has in the works. His emails are short and to the point—makes it easy for me to respond. That’s the thing about not giving us everything you’ve got in one email, or one album, or one big splash—best to tease us along the way with crumbles of greatness and bit’s & pieces of brilliance, so that when you finally release the BIG one we’re already hooked. Drug dealers know what I’m talking about. Anyway, this time JG sent me a short video (2:41). And what’s great about it is that in all the emails he has sent me over the years, this is the first time he ever mentioned that he was legally blind. I just thought he was a great artist! So I thought I’d share his video with you. You can also check out his art on his WEBSITE. This is a man with a clearer vision than most, and actually lives a life brimming with “blind ambition.” I support his impossible dream whole-heartedly. Thanks for watching, and helping others triumph.


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A HEALTHY BASH!

I recently received an email invitation from the band Vox Lumiere. The awesome, theatrical live production show that combines the power of epic rock with the beauty of classic silent films. You can check out their website here.

Anyway, they’re doing a very good thing: On Wednesday, November 6, 2013 they’re throwing a big Hollywood party. They’re calling it a “Health Insurance Information Party.”  The purpose is to inform, enlighten and educate other musicians and showbiz folks on the ins & outs of healthcare. So it’s an opportunity to hang out with other musicians and artists, and learn something about healthcare at the same time. This is NOT a political event, and of course it’s free. Here’s the info:

Date & Time: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Where: King King Club 6555 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90019

More Info Here


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ConversationWe

One of my readers has taken on a very unique, worthwhile project called "ConversationWe." Here's what he says:

"Wouldn't it be cool if there were a place where people of all backgrounds could come together as fully engaged allies and friends, and address the realities of race in the 21 century?  J.G. Boccella invites you to participate in such a forum. Using a combination of creativity, humor and insight, he creates a welcoming atmosphere, and opens a candid dialog for such a conversation to take place."

Here's the info: http://www.conversationwe.com.


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A SPLENDID TORCH

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations." — George Bernard Shaw


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James Taylor’s “CharityBuzz"

Take part in the "Charitybuzz" 12-Days of Giving event for your chance to win an autographed, personalized copy of "Carolina in my Mind" music; an autographed, personalized acoustic guitar; or even a Berkshires holiday escape including an evening at the theatre with James in Pittsfield, MA!

Proceeds will benefit these three charities: Tuberville, the Berkshire Theatre Group and the Ortum Girls Project of the Center for Global Collaboration and Health Initiatives.
See and bid on charitybuzz auction items here.

"Gratitude is the best attitude, to realize how fortunate we are. This beautiful country, our precious freedom, secured for us by the sacrifice of so many. Give thanks! Pass it on!"James Taylor


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Help Hurricane Victims

Hurricane Sandy – an unprecedented storm – is now cutting a destructive path up the coast, flooding streets with torrential rainfall and battering homes with dangerous, gale-force winds. Hundreds of thousands of evacuees have already rushed to emergency shelters with their loved ones, and your support is desperately needed to help us keep as many people safe from the storm as possible. Please make your tax-deductible gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief now.


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How to Join a USO Tour

Are you ready for a life-changing experience? If so, you are only a few clicks away from beginning an incredible journey to visit the best audiences in the world, our troops and their families! The USO is famous for producing hundreds of events each year and you can join the list of top stars who have gone on a USO tour. Click here to get started.

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The Vitruvian Man Project

One of my regular readers, filmmaker Robbin Michael Wagner, gave me a shout-out about a project he’s extremely passionate about. After reading the info and checking out the video, I agreed. So I’m “paying it forward” in the hope that you’ll do the same thing...pay it forward.

 The Vitruvian Man Project is about finding hill tops and high places all over the planet and placing vertical wind turbines that are only ten feet tall and nine feet square on a mosaic tile pad. There are millions of hilltops around the globe where the wind blows night and day. And yet, there exists nothing to catch, harness and put that free energy to use. Here, in Bodega Bay, our home, where Alfred Hitchcock made The Birds, 1963 is where we want to place our first vertical wind turbine and a thousand more just like it on a 30 acre parcel of land. Our idea is simple and our concept is sound, plus we have the support of  Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey who loves the idea!
 

Thanks for watching this short video and helping out in any way you can:

 

Get complete info at the IndeGoGo Website: http://www.IndieGoGo.com/TheMan


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Hannah Carter Japanese Garden

I recently received an email from my actress friend, Jean Hale-Coleman. She brought to my attention a story about the possible sale and closure of an L.A. landmark, the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden, and asked that I please notify my readers.

I’m more than happy to, because back in the day (waaay back in the day) when I was a fledgling photographer, I used to take headshots for actor portfolios, and my favorite place to take pix was the Japanese Garden in Bel-Air. Although it was always free and open to the public, it was nevertheless a place where celebrities could walk around in peace without being bothered (by photo hacks like me). It was also a great place for me to break away from the crazy hoopla of Hollywood and spend some quiet time in meditation, so I personally have many memories of the garden.

Why This Is Important
The Hannah Carter Japanese Gardens were created by noted Japanese designer Nagao Sakurai in 1959, and are modeled on the great Gardens of Kyoto. The landscape and architecture is recognized as one of the finest examples of a Japanese garden in America. The property was eventually “donated” to the University of California in 1964, with a condition to maintain the gardens in perpetuity.

Sadly, in spite of their promise and agreement to maintain the property in perpetuity, UCLA has listed the Hannah Carter home and Japanese Garden for sale, after removing valuable art objects that are integral to the design of the garden.  But it’s not too late to urge the Chancellor and the Regents of the University to STOP the sale of the garden. Please sign the petition below and forward it to others who are interested in saving this cultural landmark.

Thanks for signing the petition: http://chn.ge/IjaFyF


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NOTES FROM THE SAND

I received an email from Stephanie Simon, a music supervisor, writer, actress and producer. She has a heartfelt story regarding the work of her late husband and asked that I please "pay it forward." Here’s the story:

Jeffrey Simon hated what he was doing, and hated what his job was doing to him.  When his wife walked into his office and said, "Let's sell all our things and go live on a Kibbutz for awhile," he didn't even flinch.  Notes From The Sand is the story of how Jeffrey Simon goes from a three-hundred-pound unhappy life insurance salesman with serious doubts about his marriage and future, to a one-hundred-eighty-pound happy husband...with serious doubts about his future.  A journey that teaches him how - with a little creativity and a lot of guts - anything is possible.

Jeffrey Neil Simon passed away just four days after he named his unborn son. He died at the young age of 33, before he was able to fulfill his dream of writing and starring in his own one-man show.  In memory of this brilliant man and comedian, we have published his book Notes From The Sand and are turning this humorous and meaning of life-filled adventure into a full length feature film.

Request posted at IndieGoGo: http://bit.ly/yULg7V
With $25,000 we can hire a comedic screenwriter to finish the script.  Any funds above and beyond our goal will be used for pre-production.  Our director, Kenneth Kokin (producer of the multi-Academy award winning film The Usual Suspects), is putting together a presentation package to get third party financing to make the movie, which will include elements of Adventure, Comedy, Romance and Drama.

Thank you for spreading the word,
Stephanie Simon
stephanie.simon.music@gmail.com
www.blockheadproductions.net
www.youtube.com/user/stephsmusicla

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Get The Picture? (Read time 0:41)

I received an email about a worthwhile documentary film that needs post-prod support. Perhaps we could help these folks Triumph:

Greetings,

My name is Cathy Pearson and I have been making a film since Oct 2009 in the role of producer/director. The film is a documentary about John G Morris, 95, “the legend of photojournalism” whose unerring eye for the best shot has moved and changed the world. I first met John in Paris in a serendipitous meeting in the lovely Chez Janou Restaurant in Le Marais district in Paris, John's local neighborhood. He was 92 years old at the time. He told me stories about his times with Alfred Hitchcock, Marlene Dietrich, Robert Capa, Earnest Hemingway  and Henri Cartier Bresson to name but a few of his peers. I read his professional memoir "Get the Picture" and then asked his permission to make a film about his life. He agreed and this is what is now unfolding. The film includes contributions form some of the worlds most renowned names in photography and journalism including Marc Riboud, Martine Franck, Paulo Pellegrin, Stanley Greene, Don McCullin, Christiane Amanpour, Yann Arthus Bertrand, Peter Turnley and New York Times staff photographers Chester Higgins Jr and Librado Romero and many at the Magnum Photo Agency.

Please join me on this incredible creative journey, through the world of photojournalism, history, humanity and time, and become a part of the community involved in getting this film made and documenting an important part of our world history. Thank you for paying this forward.

See a promo of the film on INDIE GOGO: http://www.indiegogo.com/Get-The-Picture?a=427406
Contact Cathy Pearson: getthepictureproduction@gmail.com

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Marco Romano Bhimani

I received the following email from a person who’s trying to help her best friend triumph. Perhaps we could "Pay It Forward..."

Hi Michael,

My name is Paula Baba and your blog “No Doubt” really spoke to me, especially the line, “Doubt's prey of choice is artists & entrepreneurs because they are the ones who play on the risky, skinny branches of life.”

This is so true, and it reminds me of the journey of my best friend Marco Romano Bhimani, a brilliant, accomplished, yet struggling photographer. Marco has a very special and interesting personal story which I feel can be a groundbreaking story for any documentary or independent film content. Being an orphan at a young age, having four brothers all from different fathers, living on the streets and getting kicked out of orphanages, has left him a strong person with a scared heart. On top of which, his 15 years worth of photography work has recognized him locally as one of the best photographers of our time. But, both his personal story and his work have a special relationship, which is part of the reason why he is unrecognized, does not have a book published, is not in top fashion magazines, is currently unemployed.

His work really does speak for itself:
Here is Marco’s Curriculum Vitae: http://filmoverfood.com/cv

Marco has thousands of photographs, unknown and untouched by anybody. All we need is the right person to  point us in the right direction, or at least help us get an agent who will help him. If anyone has any ideas or can lend any assistance please contact me directly: Paula.Marie.Baba@gmail.com

Thank you so much Michael, for helping to spread the word about this remarkable artist. —Paula Baba

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YOU COULD DO THIS! (read/view time 2:20)

PAY IT FORWARD...

This holiday season why not walk in to a K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. and anonymously pay off someone’s "Layaway" balance? Check out this short video, then follow your heart.


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SURVIVING JAPAN (read time :19)

Help Chris Noland finish his documentary!

"I am an American living in Japan during the March 11th events. In short I feel that this event is a great opportunity to wake up many people in the world who are asleep and to inspire peace and change in our world. This on-going disaster is about energy and lack of Government oversight. Our world does not have an infinite supply of Energy and many current methods cause environmental damage beyond repair. Thus I am making a documentary using this event as there is a small window of opportunity to do so. I have connections in the entertainment industry to help with the release once the post-production has been finished."

View Unedited Documentary “Surviving Japan”
 http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/324769158/surviving-japan

More about Chris Noland's volunteer work in Japan:
http://imaginepeace.com/archives/15129


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Maroon 5 Creates Aids Quilt Panel

I Recently received this (PSA) email from the guys in Maroon 5:

Dear Michael,

2011 marks the 30th anniversary of AIDS. This World AIDS Day - December 1st - join us, along with millions of ONE and (RED) supporters and create your own panel on the (2015) QUILT: www.2015quilt.com. The (2015) QUILT is a groundbreaking piece of digital artwork from people all over the world who are fighting for the first AIDS free generation in 30 years. And before we officially launch the (2015) QUILT on World AIDS Day, we want to give everyone a chance to create and share their own panel. Check out ours and then make your own.
All the best to you,
Maroon 5

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NOT DEAD YET (read time :29)

The year is 1989, and 19-year old Jason Becker has the rock and roll world at his feet. He's just been offered the biggest rock guitar job on the planet, he's on the cover of every rock and guitar magazine, and he's being hailed by critics as a musical prodigy. Jason’s childhood dream of making and performing music has come true. One week later, his dream turned into a nightmare when he was diagnosed with ALS and given just 3-5 years to live.

 Now, 22 years later, and without the ability to move or speak, he continues to compose music note by note with his eyes.

Check out his story and how to help finance the documentary about his life: http://www.indiegogo.com/NOT-DEAD-YET

Website: http://www.jasonbecker.com/

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Letter From Yoko Ono:

Dear Friends,

On October 9th 2011, I will relight IMAGINE PEACE TOWER in Iceland in memory of my late husband John Lennon. Please ask all your friends to join us by Tweeting wishes to IMAGINE PEACE TOWER (@IPTower), which you can do at IMAGINEPEACETOWER.com. You can also send wishes by post, email & Facebook. I hope the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER will give light to the strong wishes of World Peace from all corners of the planet and give encouragement, inspiration and a sense of solidarity in a world now filled with fear and confusion. Let us come together to realise a peaceful world.

Love is our energy. Wisdom is our power. It’s time to shed light to all corners of the world.
 Enjoy the trip we make together.

Love,


Yoko Ono Lennon, 
October 2011

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BONO FIGHTS FAMINE (read time:15)

ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support smart and effective policies and programs that are saving lives, helping to put kids in school and improving futures. Co-founded by Bono and other campaigners, ONE is nonpartisan and works closely with African activists and policy makers.

 


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SWEET RELIEF (read time :27)

Since 1994 Sweet Relief Musicians Fund has provided assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. Grant recipients include recording artists, club and session musicians, composers & songwriters from across the country. Every musical genre is represented including pop, rock, jazz, classical, country, blues, reggae, hip hop and all styles in between. Sweet Relief has served the music community by helping musicians with medical and living expenses including insurance premiums, prescriptions, medical treatment and operative procedures, housing costs, food costs, utilities and other basic necessities. I recommend that you check out their website: https://www.sweetrelief.org/

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INBOX (read time (1:03)

I received the following email from a singer/songwriter based in Boston, named John Auerbach. I was extremely impressed with his desire to use his music to Help Others Triumph. Perhaps we could Pay It Forward...

Hello Michael,

Jonathan Auerbach here. I'm an original indie rock guitarist/singer/songwriter based in Boston, MA, and Nashville TN. I've made three Nashville-recorded rock CD's, and have  performed worldwide, all done DYI. I invite you to check out my website: www.jonathanauerbach.com.

Your blog, "Music People On Call," resonated with me, because this fall marks seven years of my major commitment to secure the future of music therapy in cancer care at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute—donating and raising money, raising awareness, and teaching music to kids with cancer. To date, I've donated from my music revenues and helped raise upwards of $80,000 in support of the music therapy program at DFCI's Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. I also created a series of master class workshops for young cancer patients that I've taught at the hospital, called  "Rock In Time.”

Now I'm launching a major philanthropic effort in support of U.S. military veterans, an interest sparked from playing several benefits for  wounded vets these last years. I have partnered with a leading not for profit organization, “The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.” 100% of the proceeds generated from all sales of my song, “Brave Woman, Brave Man” will go to benefit the fund and their critical work. This link takes you to their website: www.fallenheroesfund.org/

Thank you Michael for making your readers aware of the work I’m doing and this very worthwhile organization. It will certainly help carry the cause.

Best regards,
Jonathan Auerbach


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MUSIC PEOPLE ON CALL (read time :41)

About a decade ago a concert was held at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Nurses carefully transported patients to the hospital’s recreation area, arranging seats and wheelchairs around a temporary stage and IV poles were present throughout the audience. Finally, the musicians began to perform and something wonderful happened. Feet that could barely move began to tap, heads nodded to the beat, and smiles formed on patients’ faces. “It was just what the patients needed,” one of the nurses said, and such a shame that some were unable to attend because they were too sick to leave their rooms—so they brought the concert to them. The musicians went room to room and played at the bedsides of those who had missed the concert and low and behold an organization called "Musicians On Call" was born. MOC  brings “on call” volunteer musicians to the bedsides of patients in select healthcare facilities around the country. I support the efforts of this organization and I invite you to check out their website, join their tribe and help them triumph: http://bit.ly/pN0FRA


 

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James Taylor Guitar Lessons (read time :21)

I’ve always been a James Taylor fan. A genius wordsmith with that recognizable nasal plumbing.  When I first began playing guitar (circa 1975) I started with a (multiple artist) song book called “Songs for 3-Chord Guitar.” Not 100% sure of the title but you get the idea. In that book were a few JT tunes and that’s when I mastered the art of “faking it.” Today James is teaching guitar on his website to anyone who wants to learn. I joined his tribe, and recommend that you do to. This is only one of the many ways that James Taylor is Helping Others Triumph. http://www.jamestaylor.com/guitarlessons/

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THIERRY KAUFFMANN (read time :43)

I received this email last week and was touched by Thierry’s courage, along with his desire to help others triumph. Perhaps we could Pay It Forward:

Dear Michael,
I'm a pianist, composer, songwriter and writer. I was diagnosed with Parkinson five years ago. Since then, I've spent all my time and energy making a life for myself. I released my debut CD, and I am currently editing my memoir. I have obtained spectacular results in my fight against the disease, using music, and have made a series of videos to inspire others in a similar predicament. As it turns out, I'm inspiring people who are not even ill. My project is to make a professional DVD of my art and background story, to reach the heart of millions. I need help with this, technically and financially. I could use any feedback you might care to give. You can find out more about my project in this short video.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration and Have a blessed day.
Thierry Kauffmann
t0hierry@gmail.com


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THE ACTORS FUND (read time :23)

An actor friend of mine told me that an actor friend of hers was in deep trouble not long ago, and really praised the support and assistance she got from the Actors Fund. The Actors Fund is a nationwide human services organization that helps all professionals in performing arts and entertainment. The Fund is a safety net, providing programs and services for those in all areas of the entertainment industry who are in need, crisis or transition. When you get a chance, check out their website: http://www.actorsfund.org/

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BON JOVI OPENS HIS SOUL (read time :33 sec)

I know, I know, he said that thing about iTunes destroying the music industry, and I agree he was a real jerk for saying it. However he also has the ability to take on a few worthwhile projects too. After an easy battle with city officials, Jon finally got the approval to turn an old auto repair shop in Red Bank, Al. into a pay-what-you-want restaurant. It’s called “The Soul Kitchen” and the menu will feature nutritious items with no set price. If you can't afford to pay for your meal, don't worry, you can volunteer your time in the kitchen or help out in the community to cover your bill. The restaurant was set to open July 4, 2011 but rumor has it they’re serving it up now.

 

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ED NORTON MAKES A CROWD RISE

The actor’s awesome fundraising website, “Crowdrise” combines social networking with a cocky approach: “If you don’t give back no one will like you.” That’s the slogan under the logo. Norton says: “It’s really an innovative, crowd-sourcing community of volunteers and fundraisers that are answering the call to service by providing worthwhile charities with a cool new way to raise money and turn their grassroots supporters into grassroots fundraisers—plus, have the most fun in the world while doing it. I’m asking all my friends in show biz to join me in this awesome project." Check out the website: http://www.crowdrise.com


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CELEBS STILL HAILING HAITI (read time :57 sec)

 

What do Paul Pierce, Maroon 5 and Spike Lee have in common? They're three of dozens of celebrities who are (still) concerned about the situation in Haiti and are doing something about it. Celebrities from all over sports & showbiz are joining forces to launch the "Haiti: Aid Still Required" campaign to raise public awareness and fund the next wave of support for the Haitian people. "It's impossible to hear what's happening in Haiti and not want to help," says NBA star Blake Griffin. "For a full year they've lived through the worst nightmare."One year ago today a 7.0 magnitude earthquake leveled Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, killing 230,000. Today life remains grim -- less than 5% of the rubble has been removed, more than a million people are still living under tarps and tents (subject to every kind of violence and sexual attack), and cholera is spreading. But, although the recovery has seemed agonizingly slow, there are oases where care, education and rebuilding are taking place. "This outreach campaign is supporting projects that are offering free schooling to middle and high school-aged children, and free medical care and counseling to women who have been attacked," says Aid Still Required co-founder Andrea Herz Payne. "It's remarkable how much good we can do there. For a complete list of participanting celebs, visit the Website.

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FREE SOCKS! (read time :47 sec)

Hanes®, America's No. 1 apparel brand, today announced that it will donate up to 100,000 pairs of socks to the less fortunate - one pair of comfortable real socks for every virtual pair of socks that social networkers send to friends. Starting today, Hanes Facebook page visitors (www.facebook.com/hanes) may select a predesigned pair of Hanes socks that can be virtually sent to a friend. For each virtual pair of socks sent, Hanes® will donate one actual pair of socks to the United Way, one of Hanes' longtime charitable partners. "Charitable giving is critical to building communities," said Hanes Senior Vice President Sidney Falken. "We recognize the current economic climate will make it more difficult for people to donate financially to worthy causes that still very much need our support. The Hanes virtual sock drive encourages the use of social networking to make a difference. "We know that the online community will respond," said Falken, "people really love to help others.

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