Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In class this week we previewed the book, Stewart Pidd Hates English and completed a few exercises, namely quizzes to test our skills on "Confused Words" and "Sentence Punctuation." I was really pleased that most students have their books. I had a few copies of sections from Pidd, such as: "Plagiarism and Paraphrasing" and Essay 1.

Here are more details on the reading, essays and Pidd. I will give students copies of these assignments Thursday in class.

Homework was to read and do the exercises up to page 30 or Essay 1 as well as start the exercises re: "Plagiarism and Paraphrasing."

Tomorrow we will summarize the news articles students read about Katrina 6 Years after the Storm or Michael Jackson. Make sure you read your article.

Tupac Readings for Fall 2011 All classes

We will read a book a month. In August-September as we work our way through SPHE we will read Michael Eric Dyson’s Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur.

Weekly there will be at least 2-3 weekly cyber assignment connected to each section. At the end of the book we will write a short essay reflecting on a central theme from the book or a character analysis of Tupac Shakur based on Dyson’s scholarship. We will listen to select songs as well as write a skit based on one of the chapters and perform it in class (smile).

Week 2: Aug. 29-Sept. 1: Introduction-Preface
Summaries, paraphrasing and outlines. In class and cyber-assignments

Week 3-4: Sept. 5 – 8: Childhood Chains: “Dear Mama” (21) & “Son of a Panther” (47); “No Malcolm X in My History Text” (69)
Selections from The Rose that Grew from Concrete

Week 5: Sept. 12-15: Portraits of an Artist
Give Me a Paper and a Pen (105); For All the Real Niggas Out There (141)

Selections from The Rose that Grew from Concrete

Week 6: Sept. 19-22: Bodies and Beliefs
“Do We Hate Our Women” (175); “But Do the Lord Care” (201); “I Got Your Name Tatted on My Arm” (231)

“Epilogue: How Long Will They Mourn Me?”
Posthumous Presence of a Ghost Saint (247)

Selections from The Rose that Grew from Concrete

Week 7: Essay plans and essay
Plans Monday/Tuesday, Sept. 26-27

Essay due Sept. 27-28 for peer review 1

Essays due Sept. 29 for peer review 2

Final drafts due: Sept. 30 via mail for English 201 and for English 1A.

There will be a separate essay assignment sheet.

Readings for Fall 2011 All Classes con't. (English 201 & English 1A)

Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary by Jasmine Guy is an easier read than Dyson and we will finish it quickly. I like to look at the themes: nature vs. nurture for this book as well as forgiveness of self and others. These will be the topics students can consider for the essay based on this book.

We will start the book in October, October 10, but students can start sooner. We will read, beginning with the preface, 50 or so pages a week. We will finish the book the week of Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

Essay plans are due: Nov. 1. First drafts are due Nov. 2/3. Final drafts are due: Nov. 7.

Students will already be looking at potential subjects for the final essay on a Social Entrepreneur and the research associated with this essay will start in November. The essay is due at the end of the month, Nov. 21/22, the presentation Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

We will be multitasking. Students will be watching videos late October on Social Entrepreneurs into November to get a feel for what a business person who creates wealth for social good, looks like.

There will be separate assignment sheets for all the essays. This is an overview for the semester. Students who have free time should read ahead. We will be finished with Pidd by the time the first essay is due—that is the plan (smile). Stay on top of the work and ask for help and get help if you are not grasping a concept. If you don’t ask questions, I don’t know what you don’t know until the essays come in.

There are quizzes associated with the Pidd work. We will take the short quizzes and longer Grammar Exams in class.

We will also squeeze a Library Orientation into the September mix (smile). Plan to be busy. This is a plan, so it is open to revisions and suggestions if it isn’t working for students. The only constants are the end marks or dates for the beginning and ending of the semester, as well as holidays like Labor Day, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. We do not have a sitting final. The final is an e-assignment – the portfolio which we will work on the final week of classes.

Stewart Pidd Hates English Assignment Schedule for Fall 2011
English 1A/English 201 Professor Wanda Sabir

WEEK 2-3 August 22-Sept. 8

Part 1, Confused Words (p. 1)
Paraphrase exercise (pages 339-354)
Read MLA Format (pages 312).

Part 2, Punctuating Sentences (p. 18) (WRITE ESSAY)

MLA exercises (pages 319-320)
Do “Titles” and “Quotations” exercises (pages 322-329).
Paraphrase ex (pages 346-350)

WEEK 4 Sept. 12-15

“In-text parenthetical” exercises (pages 330-332)
More in paraphrases (pages 355-380)

Part 3, Pronoun Agreement (p. 69) (WRITE ESSAY)

MLA exes (pages 319-320)
“Ellipsis marks” (pages 333-334)

Part 4, Pronoun Case (p. 108) (In Class Essay)

WEEK 5 Sept. 19-22

Part 5, (144-175) Point of View (WRITE ESSAY)

Part 9, Subject-Verb Agreement (p. 277)

WEEK 6 Sept. 26-29

Part 7, Possessive (p. 221) (Take-home exam: optional)

Part 6, Be Verb (p. 178) (WRITE ESSAY)

WEEK 7 Oct.-3-6

Part 8, Parallel Structure (p. 243) (In class Essay)

Film and Theatre in the SF Bay Area

Beginning Sept. 1 and for consecutive Thursdays in Sept. at 7:30 PM there will be a hip hop film festival presented by Fist Up! Productions. Visit There is a $5 donation, but it is optional.

On Sept. 29, also at La Peña Cultural Center, in Berkeley near Ashby BART, Dennis Kim performs excerpts from "Tree City Legends," I saw this really wonderful work in the Hybrid program at Intersection for the Arts about two years ago.

The San Francisco FRINGE Festival starts next week too. Visit

Students might also want to see what is happening culturally re: September 11, commemorations. Let us know.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Homework for 8-8:50 AM Class

Today is the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the worse natural disaster at that time to hit American shores. Presently there are many New Orleanian residents still in the disapora, displaced and then stuck in cities and towns throughout America. A lot of families here at College of Alameda are here as a result of this displacement.

Today is also the birthday of America and the world's most celebrated artists, Michael Jackson, who died about 2-3 years ago.

You have a choice: Find an article that looks at New Orleans or the Gulf Region, six years after Katrina (specifically hip hop's response if possible) or an article on Michael Jackson (something current). He would have been 53 today.

Read the article, bring the article to class, and be prepared to share it tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Cyber-Assignment for Tuesday/Thursday 201 class and Homework Recap

The TTh English 201 met for the first time this Thursday in stuffy A-202 (smile). The class was full and the energy positive as we reviewed the syllabus and then looked at the course materials before completing a writing assignment based on Tupac Shakur's song, "Keep Ya Head Up." Most of the students knew the song, but had never analyzed it before. The idea of a song having a thesis was kind of far fetched for a few but overall students began to roll with the idea and in groups after spending a few minutes discussing the themes running through the song and arguing back and forth about whether the thesis or argument was stated or implied, students wrote a five-sentence summary.

Several students said that they believed the sampled track, the chorus, "Ooh Child . . . was from the Jackson 5, were correct. I was thinking as I pulled out of the COA parking lot I don't know why I said it wasn't (smile). Perhaps I needed a protein shot--at 3 PM my brain is kind of tired (smile).

Post the group discourses here. It's okay if you didn't get to finish. We will write a summary together in class on Tuesday afternoon next week.

Homework for both classes is to read the Introduction to Holler and annotate the text. Start your vocabulary logs for words you don't know and have to look up. Buy your books -all of them.

For those students who still need permission numbers, which by the way expire Sept. 3, see me Monday between classes in the morning. You can also call me on my cell if you were in class yesterday and are not on campus on Mondays.

Have a great weekend and if any student is not busy on Sunday afternoon, I have work in an art exhibit which is closing Sunday, August 28, 2011, 2-5 PM. I have posted the flier here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Cyber-Assignment: Keep Ya Head Up

Today in class we reviewed MLA format for the essay. Students got into groups and read an essay on MLA from Stewart Pidd Hates English and then corrected a student essay together (Politt Baker 311-314). We discussed recommendation for the student, so he could write a passing essay.

We then listened and read the Tupac Shakur song: Keep Ya Head Up. Homework is to write a 250 word summary of the key ideas or themes in the song.

1. Talk about the characters or subjects Tupac uses to illustrate his point. What is the song about? Is it about single parenting or more than that?

2. Use citations or examples from the song to prove or support your points. Remember, all ideas are good, but they need to reference the text.

3. Use Standard English. If you use slang, it needs to be from the song and in quotation marks. Put a line or stanza notation in parentheses after the citation or quote.

I brought the textbooks in this morning for students to look at. Buy your books or rent them or check them out from the public library. all the books are in the college bookstore. You need Pidd now and the other books: Dyson and Shakur by Monday at the latest. If you have Shakur now bring it to class, along with Pidd.

In Pidd
We start with the section Plagiarism and Paraphrasing (339-379). We will continue with the MLA review (315-317), Quiz (319-320) and (321-331).

At the same time we will be reading Dyson and starting on Chapters 1-3 (1-51)(Confused Words, Sentence Punctuation, and Pronoun Agreement).

Monday, August 22, 2011


Cyber-Assignment 1

Please respond to the syllabus in a minimally three paragraph essay August 23, 2011 (250 words). Comment on the goals and objectives, texts, methodology and anything else.

To post:

Click on "comment." Post response in box, then click anonymous, make sure you have included a heading: student name, course and time, date, my name.

Student Name (first and last)
Professor Wanda Sabir
English 201 A (or B) 8-8:50 AM or 1:30-3:20 PM
24 August 2011




English 201 Syllabus, Fall 2011

Course Syllabus for English 201
College of Alameda
Professor Wanda Sabir

English 201 A
40015 Lec 08:00-08:50 MTWTh Sabir A 200
40019 Lec 01:30-03:20 PM T/Th Sabir A 202

English 201B
40020 Lec 08:00-08:50 MTWTh Sabir C 200
40024 Lec 01:30-03:20 PM MW Sabir A 200

Final Exam: 8-10 AM, Friday, Dec.16 or 12-2 PM, Tuesday, Dec. 13 (Portfolios due via e-mail. There is no sitting exam.)

Drop dates: Sept. 2 (w/refund), Sept. 17 (w/out a W), Nov. 23 (w/W).
Class Meetings: August 22-Dec. 7 or August 23-Dec. 8. No classes: 9/5; 11/11; 11/24-27

Syllabus for English 201A/B: Preparation for Composition and Reading

The English 201 series (4 units) is a preparatory course designed to emphasize the thinking, reading, organizing and writing skills required for successful execution of college-level papers in all subject areas. This course is designed to for those students requiring minimal preparation for entering English 1A.

Absences must be kept to a minimum. If you miss 6 consecutive hours or 8 cumulative hours you will risk being dropped from the course, doing poorly or both. English 201 consists of weekly essays and daily assignments. This is a portfolio driven class. Keep all of your written work, graded and otherwise to turn in the last day of class. There will be an assessment, a midterm, a research project, a final and a presentation of the research essay.

Tupac Amaru Shakur

I thought it might be interesting to look at the life of one of rap’s more well-known artists, Tupac Amaru Shakur (25), who died before we had a chance to know the fullness of his genius. We’ll be reading a memoir about his mother Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary by Jasmine Guy; Holler if You Hear Me by Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D.; The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur, a college dictionary (American Heritage recommended)

The questions and analysis will come out of the discussions and listening parties as we look for themes in the work and try to reconstruct the artist’s life through his songs which were quite autobiographical. Tupac loved his mother, but he was angry with her too. We will describe this relationship and how mother and son were able to mend it. Forgiveness is preached, however, it takes a certain kind of personality to actually let bygones be bygones. Tupac personified “thug life.” He had old ladies tattooing his TL on their arms. What is a thug and why did Tupac celebrate it?

Keep a reading log. Discussion groups will meet each week. Students will also keep a reading log/journal/notes with key ideas outlined for each discussion section, along with vocabulary and key arguments listed, with primary writing strategies employed: description, process analysis, narration, argument, cause and effect, compare and contrast, definition, problem solving.

Stewart Pidd Hates English

Stewart Pidd Hates English is a workbook which looks deceptively easy; however, students need to pay attention to the details. The fictional character, Stewart Pidd, hates English, so he doesn’t spend the necessary time to complete his writing tasks. He’d rather do anything instead of writing, and his grades, you will notice, reflect this. The essays you analyze are not deep so don’t worry about content, the authors want you to practice the grammar lessons Stewart Pidd has not mastered. These grammar assignments might be ones you don’t remember or remember only vaguely. The goal of the book is to help you identify these errors in your own writing in your revision process, so you don’t make the same mistakes Pidd makes.

We will use Michael Eric Dyson’s Holler to locate the grammatical forms for analysis SPHE takes us through. Dyson is a much more interesting and engaging writer than Stewart Pidd. I am using this book with my English 1A class also. Those students shouldn’t have as much trouble with SPHE or at least this is the hope; however, after SPHE students should feel a lot more competent about their writing, because you will have the language necessary to talk about what it is you are doing right and what you need to improve on.

Grammar is not the most important aspect of writing. Having something substantive to say is, however, if you make too many grammatical errors, your audience will often not know what it is you want to communicate.

Research Project

Your research project will entail finding an artist or organization that uses hip hop culture as a tool to develop consciousness and mental, economic, social and spiritual liberation among the members of its discourse community. Cov Records out of Covenant House, is an example of such an organization. The Ella Baker Center’s “Stop the Violence” Initiative is another such organization. East Side Arts Alliance is another such organization. DESTINY Arts is another such organization. All are in Oakland. The social entrepreneur has to have been active in his or her community for at least 10-20 years (exceptions have been made, so talk to me); however, if the social entrepreneur is too new, the researcher will have trouble finding documented resources to draw from, such as, books, essays, articles, films.

The paper will be about 2-4 pages. This does not include the works cited page and bibliography. Students will make 5-10 minute presentations of these papers the day of the final. The paper will be due about two-three weeks prior to the presentation. We’ll discuss this task further later on.

New Heroes

New Heroes
Visit to read about social entrepreneurs. has another program call: Frontline World which also explores social entrepreneurship. Visit: We will explore this assignment more, later in the course.

Why socially responsible economics?

Too often people feel helpless or hopeless when there is a lot you can do as an individual as soon as you realize the answer lies inside of you. If possible choose an entrepreneur who lives in Northern California, someone you’d like to interview and perhaps meet. Students can work on the project together, share resources. Each person has to write his or her own paper, but you can make a group presentation if you like. (If you have taken a class from me in the past, chose another subject.)

Course Objectives

English 201 will look primarily at writing which persuades: argumentative writing, as well as expository writing, narrative and descriptive writing. At the end of the course students will have read work of accomplished writers, as well as practiced writing in a variety of styles to suit the writer’s purpose.

This course is intended to be both a group learning experience as well as an individually rewarding one. Mid-semester we will schedule conferences so students can confer with the instructor to evaluate his or her progress in the course. Classroom instruction will consist of lectures, small group work, and students working in pairs. This is an effective way for students to exchange ideas with classmates, compare reactions to readings and practice giving and receiving constructive feedback on class work.

Preparation for class, regular attendance and active participation is imperative for those students who wish to succeed in this course.

It is a student’s responsibility to contact the instructor if he or she plans to miss class. The student is responsible for all materials and information given during the class time, so please get telephone numbers for three (3) classmates in case you are late or absent. You will not be able to make up in-class assignments when you miss class.

Requirements for homework assignments:

No late papers are accepted unless arranged in advance. Any papers below a C grade are an automatic revision or rewrite. Essays under 500 words (750 words for English 201B students) will not be accepted. (Put a word count on the upper right corner of page 1.) Choose topics which give you enough to write about. We will use documentation to substantiate all of our claims. With this in mind, I expect all papers to utilize at least two (2) different outside print sources, in addition to the occasional interview, or broadcast journalism, that is, radio or television, internet also. You will learn to document sources; we will practice citing sources in text, using footnotes and endnotes, and writing bibliographies and notes pages. Remember save all your work! This is a portfolio course.

All essay assignments you receive comments on have to be revised prior to resubmission; included with the revision is a student narrative to me regarding your understanding of what needed to be done; a student can prepare this as a part of the Writing Center visit (see below), especially if said student is unclear over what steps to take. SPHE will assist students with this response.

Library Orientations:

We will write short essays that reflect themes and ideas discussed that week. Some of these essays will be written in class and posted on the class blog: The research essay will be an argument. There will be a midterm (SPHE) and a final (portfolio essay and presentation).

Jot down briefly what your goals are this semester. List them in order of importance.






Email the following data to me:
Your name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail answer, along with answers to the following questions. This is also due Tuesday, August 24, 2011:

What strengths do you bring to the class? What skills or knowledge would you like to leave with once the class ends? What can I do to help you achieve this? Is there anything I need to know, such as a hidden disability, childcare issues, etc., which might jeopardize this goal?

Presentation 1: Due Tuesday, Sept. 6 or Wednesday, Sept. 7
Bring in an object that represents hip hop culture. Write a brief profile on the object justifying its inclusion in the archives (100 words or so). Be prepared to share. This is also a cyber-assignment to be posted later.

Presentation 2: Due Tuesday, Sept. 13 or Wednesday, Sept. 14
Bring in an object that reflects America, American values, its people, landscape, or history. Write a brief profile on the object justifying its inclusion in the archives (100 words or so). This is also a cyber-assignment to be posted later.

Weekly essays: 20 percent
Cyber Assignments: 10 percent
Midterm: 10 percent
Final: 15 percent
Research Essay/Presentation: 5-10 percent
Portfolio: 15 percent
Office Hour Visits or instructor contacts (5 for the semester): 5-10 percent
This includes a reflection on the event sent as a follow-up.

Each book will have collected writings or essays. This in itself is its own “portfolio.” The essays which take their themes from the books are practice essays, and are about a fourth of your grade, your midterm and final are another fourth and your portfolio is the final fourth. (Save all of your work.) You can average the grades to see how to weigh the various components.

The Writing Center is a great place to get one-on-on assistance on your essays, from brainstorming and planning the essays, to critique in areas like clarity, organization, clearly stated thesis, evidence or support, logical conclusions, and grammatical problems. In the Writing Center there are ancillary materials for student use. These writing programs build strong writing muscles. The Bedford Handbook on-line, Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers on-line, Townsend Press, and other such computer and cyber-based resources are a few of the many databases available. There is also an Open Lab for checking e-mail, a Math Lab. All academic labs are located in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) or library. The Cyber Café is located in the F-bldg.

Again, students need a student ID to use the labs and to check out books. The IDs are free. Ask in Student Services (A-bldg.) where photos are taken.

Have a tutor of teacher sign off on your essays before you turn them in; if you have a “R,” which means revision necessary for a grade or “NC” which means “no credit,” you have to go to the lab and revise the essay with a tutor or teacher before you return both the graded original and the revision (with signature) to me. Revise does not mean “rewrite,” it means to “see again.”

When getting assistance on an essay, the teacher or tutor is not an editor, so have questions prepared for them to make best use of the 15-20 minute session in the Lab. I will give you a handout which looks at 5 areas of the essay you can use as a guide when shaping your questions for your peer review sessions. Please use these guidelines when planning your discussions with me also.

For more specific assistance, sign up for one-on-one tutoring, another free service. For those of you on other campuses, you can get assistance at the Merritt College’s Writing Center, as well as Laney College’s Writing Labs.

Correction Essays & Essay Narratives
All essay assignments you receive comments on have to be revised prior to resubmission; included with the revision is a student narrative to me regarding your understanding of what needed to be done, that is, a detailed list of the error(s) and its correction; a student can prepare this as a part of the Lab visit, especially if said student is unclear over what steps to take. Cite from a scholarly source the rule and recommendations for its correction.

Students can also visit me in office hours for assistance; again, prepare your questions in advance to best make use of the time. Do not leave class without understanding the comments on a paper. I don’t mind reviewing them with you.

Student Learning Outcomes
English language fluency in writing and reading; a certain comfort and ease with the language; confidence and skillful application of literary skills associated with academic writing. Familiarity if not mastery of the rhetorical styles used in argumentation, exposition and narration will be addressed in this class and is a key student learning outcome (SLO).

We will be evaluating what we know and how we came to know what we know, a field called epistemology or the study of knowledge. Granted, the perspective is western culture which eliminates the values of the majority populations, so-called underdeveloped or undeveloped countries or cultures. Let us not fall into typical superiority traps. Try to maintain a mental elasticity and a willingness to let go of concepts which not only limit your growth as an intelligent being, but put you at a distinct disadvantage as a species.

This is a highly charged and potentially revolutionary process - critical thinking. The process of evaluating all that you swallowed without chewing up to now is possibly even dangerous. This is one of the problems with bigotry; it’s easier to go with tradition than toss it, and create a new, more just, alternative protocol.

More on grades, and portfolio
We will be honest with one another. Grades are not necessarily the best response to work; grades do not take into consideration the effort or time spent, only whether or not students can demonstrate mastery of a skill – in this case: essay writing. Grades are an approximation, arbitrary at best, no matter how many safeguards one tries to put in place to avoid such ambiguity. Suffice it to say, your portfolio will illustrate your competence. It will represent your progress, your success or failure this session in meeting your goal.

In past semesters, students have skipped the portfolio and/or the final. Neither is optional.

Office Hours

I’d like to wish everyone much success. I am available for consultation on Wednesdays, 9:30-11:00 AM and on MW by appointment. I am also available after 3:30 PM Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment. My office is located in the D-216 suite. My campus number is (510) 748-2131, however, I don’t have an office phone number yet. I will share that with students later this month or next. My email again is: Let me know the day before, if possible, when you’d like to meet with me. I am more of a phone person. Texts are fine. Ask me for my cell phone number. I do not mind sharing it with you.

I am a phone person, especially on weekends, so take time to exchange email and phone numbers with classmates (2), so if you have a concern, it can be addressed more expeditiously. Again study groups are recommended, especially for those students finding the readings difficult; don’t forget, you can also discuss the readings as a group in the Lab with a teacher or tutor acting as facilitator.

More on Logs
Keep a vocabulary log for the semester and an error chart (taken from comments on essay assignments). List the words you need to look up in the dictionary, also list where you first encountered them: page, book and definition, also use the word in a sentence. You will turn this in with your portfolio.

Students are expected to complete their work on time. If you need more time on an assignment, discuss this with me in advance, to keep full credit. You lose credit each day an assignment is late and certain assignments, such as in-class essays cannot be made up. All assignments prepared outside of class are to be typed, 12-pt. font, double-spaced lines, indentations on paragraphs, 1-inch margins around the written work. See SPHE.


Plagiarism is ethically abhorrent, and if any student tries to take credit for work authored by another person the result will be a failed grade on the assignment and possibly a failed grade in the course if this is attempted again. This is a graded course. There might be an option to take this course C/NC. See Admissions and Records.

Textbooks Recap:

Pollitt, Gary. Craig Baker. Stewart Pidd Hates English: Grammar, Punctuation, and Writing Exercises. California: Attack the Text Publishing, 2008. ISBN: 13: 978-0-9755923-4-2

Shakur, Tupac Amaru. The Rose that Grew from Concrete. Pocket Books. 1999. ISBN: 0-671-02844-2

Jasmine Guy. Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary. Atria Books. 2004. ISBN: 0-7434-7054-0

Dyson, Michael Eric. Holler If You Hear Me. Basic Civitas Books. 2001. ISBN: 0-465-01756-8 (or latest edition)

Hacker, Diana. Rules for Writers. Fourth or Fifth edition. Bedford/St. Martins.
(Required for those students who have completed Pidd.)

Students also need a dictionary. I recommend: The American Heritage Dictionary. Fourth Edition.

The Prepared Student also needs...
Along with a dictionary, the prepared student needs pens with blue or black ink, along with a pencil for annotating texts, paper, a stapler or paper clips, a jump drive to save work from college computers, a notebook, three hole punch, a folder for work-in-progress, and a divided binder to keep materials together.

Also stay abreast of the news. Buy a daily paper. Listen to alternative radio: KPFA 94.1 FM (Hard Knock), KQED 88.5, KALW 91.7. Visit news websites:, Al Jazeera,,,,, CBS 60Minutes.

The syllabus and course schedule is subject to change, at the instructor's discretion, so stay loose and flexible.

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