You Are Invited to a Free Street Theatre in Eugene! Ghost Buskers 40

Do you live in or near Eugene, Oregon? Then you will want to enjoy our free street theater skit tomorrow, Saturday, April 1, 2017. Really!

Below is info about this, including a flyer you can download and a Facebook event page. Since the event is based on street theater in a busy location, we expect mainly an audience from passers-by. But the more the merrier, hope you can be there!

Saturday, April Fool’s Day, April 1, 2017, at 6 pm, at Kesey Square, in downtown Eugene, a little troupe of us will be doing a free street theatre skit, Ghost Buskers 40. For me, I dedicate this to my mom’s memory.

April Fool’s is my favorite fun holiday, the truly universal holiday here on our planet Earth! More info on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1747190835570892/

Or you can download this flyer: ghost-buskers-free-20170401-flyer

Here is more info, spread the word, thanks, see you there:

Free Street Theatre!

“Ghost Buskers”

April Fools Day, this Saturday, April 1, 2017

6 to 7 pm

Kesey Square, Willamette & Broadway, Eugene, Oregon

This is a peaceful creative street theatre called “Ghost Buskers.” You can just watch, or play along. Will we start a revolution and reach the year 2192, which is seven generations down the line?

The troupe includes activist David Oaks, folk singer David Rogers, performer Dale Kegley, humorist Howard Falk, activists Sue Barnhart, Clay Hurand, and Ian McTeague. And you? Play Ask-It Ball designed by Ken Kesey.

Logo by artist Isaac Paris, 2016, for International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM)

Logo by artist Isaac Paris, 2016, for International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM)

Sponsored by the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. The IAACM is dedicated to peaceful action for social and environmental justice. In this day and age that is revolutionary! Performance in memory of Violet Oaks.

www.LoveEarthRevolution.com   

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Violet Oaks, Mom, Would Be 100 Years Old March 29, 2017!

Dear friends, relatives, and readers! 

My mother, our #1 volunteer at MindFreedom International office for a decade.

If you ever met my mother, Violet Oaks, you know that she almost always smiled. Wednesday, March 29, 2017, she would have turned 100 years old. She died just short of her 98th birthday, apparently in her sleep over at the Eugene Hotel, an active retirement center that she lived in her last decade here in Eugene, Oregon.

If you did not know my Mom, her smile may reach you somehow. At bottom is a little letter that I shared with some friends and relatives.

You will find links with bio info, still photos, and lots of videos.

I will remember Mom in many ways. For example, this Saturday, April Fool’s Day, April 1, 2017, at 6 pm, at Kesey Square, in downtown Eugene, a little troupe of us will be doing a free street theatre skit, Ghost Buskers. For me, I dedicate this to Mom’s memory. Yes, I am the fool, but Mom loved the world even though foolishness appears to be our universal holiday. For those of you in Eugene, more info on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1747190835570892/

Or you can download this flyer: ghost-buskers-free-20170401-flyer

“Mom, I hope you do not mind if I tell the world that your spirit lives through the kindness we show one another!” I will hopefully sow peace and love, now and throughout my life, or at least try. Sowing kindness was kind of a mantra for Mom.  Mom and I, like many of our relatives, have Lithuanian heritage and Chicago connections.

In her 80’s Mom left her beloved Illinois and I had the immense pleasure and honor of being close with her for about a decade. Incredibly, for the first few years she volunteered about two or three days per week, almost every week, at our MindFreedom office, where I worked as Executive Director. Mom probably touched and filed every single paper in the entire office, and she was “old school” which means she worked in a focused way from beginning to end. Even into her 90’s, Mom volunteered there about one day a week. Only in her final years did she stay at home, and even then she supported my activism for human rights and mental health.

One quick story: About the fifth time I was locked up in a psychiatric institution way back in the 1970’s, I learned from an activist from Mental Patients Liberation Front how to submit a “three day letter” which would force them to release me or go to court. The head psychiatrist phoned up Mom.

He said, “We would like to go to court to commit David.”

Mom famously replied, “If our David wants to try freedom, we support him.”

Yes, I was very troubled, but Mom knew that the inner me was far more complex than the mental health system recognized, apparently. Mom would say later, “They did not know who you were.”

Mom and the rest of our home family, Dad, brother Tony and Uncle Al, were all there to attend my graduation in a few months in 1977, 40 years ago.

Thanks Mom, for supporting freedom!

Hi everyone,
Just a note that our mom, Violet Oaks, would have turned 100 today, and I wanted to reach out and mark the occasion.
Mom of course was so very nice that any fashion of marking this occasion would be fine with her. Here are some still photos and videos to share.
Feel free to forward this, and I will post this on the GageParkOaks group on Facebook. Thanks!
There are a bunch of photos of mom in the gallery for her online memorial here: http://violet-elizabeth-oaks.forevermissed.com/
And we put a few hours of video on YouTube here:
VIOLET OAKS’ VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE (updated list):
David’s Birthday 1995 http://youtu.be/oZzvp1LiREg
David’s Birthday 1997 & 1998 http://youtu.be/a1pNUse0YYg
Mom’s Birthday 1997 http://youtu.be/NnIMeCdUXq0
Violet Oaks 2001 Oral History Part 1 http://youtu.be/7uFloB5mOqE
Violet Oaks 2001 Oral History Part 2 http://youtu.be/gfMK0guHDh4
Coast Videos Part 1 http://youtu.be/BkKbj2HA6qA
And here is a YouTube video of the grave side ceremony in Chicago, thanks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCXejV9ImYw
Love,
David​
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Ruby Rogers Center in Danger of Being Defunded by Massachusetts

Ruby Rogers Center in Danger of Being Defunded by Massachusetts

One of the very first community centers run by and for psychiatric survivors is at risk of losing its funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I know about the roots of this user-run space, because as a senior at Harvard College back in the 1970’s, I was placed at Mental Patients Liberation Front as an intern by Phillips Brooks House, Harvard’s social service group.
MPLF, with the leadership of the late Judi Chamberlin, author of a book on empowered mental health centers, created the community gathering locations that eventually became the Ruby Rogers Center in Somerville, Massachusetts. Here are some of the highlights as we created the center:

  • In the mid-1970’s a handful of us in MPLF came together for weekly mutual support. We were gratified to see that Judi’s book, On Our Own, was published. We often met at the storefront of an early activist space, Vocations for Social Change, near Central Square, Cambridge.
  • For a while we created a center at Stone Soup Art and Poetry storefront in Boston, thanks to the generosity of Jack Powers, proprietor. I recall briefly meeting poet Allen Ginsberg when he visited Jack. Activist Ted Chabasinski, survivor of forced electroshock, also visited.
  • Thanks to a grant from Haymarket Fund, we established an office and community center across the street from Boston Common.
  • As a group we met with state-employees at Department of Mental Health headquarters to explain our deep concerns about human rights violations and the need for humane alternatives.
  • About at that time, 1981, I left Boston, but the MPLF members won an agreement from Massachusetts to create a community center that was eventually named after Ruby Rogers, one of the early psychiatric survivor plaintiffs in a key lawsuit against forced psychiatric drugging. I saw Ruby, a charismatic African American psychiatric survivor, who I heard spoke up while locked up in a psychiatric ward, supported by MPLF organizing and a petition by other folks who were locked up.
  • During the three decades since then I have been very delighted to hear that the Ruby Rogers Center, keeping alive the name of MPLF, has continued to do great work. You can read about the details here.

Now the center is in danger of being eliminated by DMH, even though there is a need more than ever for independent living centers run by and for people diagnosed with mental health issues. Not only are such alternatives cost effective for taxpayers, anyone may someday need to have such a welcoming place for their own well being. If not you, then perhaps a loved one may benefit.

I remember a few years ago when I was chatting with a employee of the small, activist-friendly foundation, Resist. They were unfamiliar with our movement, but I knew they were located in Somerville. I asked them if they were familiar with the Ruby Rogers Center, and it turns out that was right across the street. Perfect to illustrate how our movement was widespread but little known! We got the small grant for MindFreedom International, and I recommend other grassroots groups in our movement apply for a Resist grant.

You can read about the Ruby Rogers Center on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/rubyrogercenter/

Thanks to a Facebook post from Harry Agritha, shared by Karen Langley, that alerted me about this. Charlie Carr commented and this brought my attention to the danger, here.

I encourage all those who support the disability and prison justice movements to speak up about the importance of the Ruby Rogers Center, now! I especially call out for support from disability activists in the hundreds of independent living centers, which form the backbone of the funded disability movement in the USA today.

You are invited to join me in emailing a civil but strong message to DMH of Massachusetts via this address: dmhinfo@massmail.state.ma.us

 

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My Return to Sam Bond’s: Stand-up Comedy (Or Should I Say Lean-back) This Saturday

You can download free one-page flier here: oaks-flier-20170225

David W. Oaks drawing by artist Isaac Paris c 2016

David W. Oaks portrait by Isaac Paris c 2016

Free!

This Saturday:

David Oaks, stand up comic

…or should we say lean back comic

One of many at Bleepin’ Funny,

Sam Bond’s, 407 Blair, Eugene, OR

Saturday, February 25, 2017, 5 pm – 7pm.

Get there early and eat, drink, and tip well!

More info at http://www.sambonds.com/

Or https://www.facebook.com/events/210853359381221/

 

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Disability Movement Tips About Supporting Each Other During Crisis (Like a Trump Presidency)  

 

A Gold Lining: People Are Finally Using the Word, “Revolution”!

 

More Than Ever, Let Us Support MindFreedom International

 

By David W. Oaks

dw-oaks-standingchair-2016

I tried out a “standing chair” during my rehab.

Stand up now & fight back!

“Now” in Lithuanian, my heritage, is “Dabar”!

Dabar!

Last month we watched my nation’s presidential inauguration. The reality of the USA’s catastrophic election started to sink in.

Even if you voted for Donald Trump, my intuition is that your disappointment has already started, dabar.

But I notice a number of gold linings, recently:

A lot more people are starting to use the word “revolution.”

For another, as I have often hoped, the word “normality” is no longer being used much.

We must look, and keep looking, for gold linings. I draw here upon the wisdom of the disability movement, which I have been an activist in for more than four decades. I have especially been a community organizer for deep change in the mental health system.

I am a psychiatric survivor. That is, about 40 years ago, as a working class kid going to Harvard, I ended up in psychiatric institutions five times, where I experienced forced drug injections and solitary confinement. I graduated anyway, in 1977.

I helped start one of the key independent groups in the psychiatric survivor movement, MindFreedom International, and I was the Executive Director for about 25 years. The MindFreedom community, and their hard-working board, have won many campaigns for human rights in mental health care over the years. Four years ago, I fell and broke my neck, and because of complications, I had to retire from working for this superb group.

The past four years I have been doing about two dozen rehab activities, so I have been a bit isolated. But now is a good time to say “I am still alive,” and share what I have learned. My main goal in this note is to encourage everyone to give urgent support to MindFreedom International, which as we will see is going through a crisis of its own.

A Whole Lot of Falling Sure is Happening Now

Yes, Uncle Sam certainly fell down at the voting booth in November. The very same week as the election, the global climate crisis talks in Morocco fell apart. It feels as if the world is paralysed over the climate crisis.

As the author Hunter S. Thompson once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” With the world slowly coming to the realisation that we are all, 100%, collectively “disabled,” both physically and mentally, let’s turn to the social change movement led by people with disabilities for some tips about how to get through these trying times, and even to thrive.

Here is something you can tangibly do: Support the crucial nonprofit MindFreedom International, which has worked independently for decades to radically change the mental health system.

We wonder why the world seems to be stuck right now, well one of the reasons is that centuries of psychiatric oppression of new thinking has taken a toll. The population gets these messages: Avoid any reality that is uncomfortable, and thinking outside of the box is often punished.

Because people in the mental health system tend to be so poor, the vast majority of activities in the mental health consumer field have been government-funded: The conferences, the offices, the research.

MindFreedom has maintained its independence, and it is one of the few groups in the mental health advocacy field that receives its funding from everyday people and a few foundations who care about human rights.

While I am proud that MindFreedom International has avoided mental health system funding, I have always tried to maintain a supportive relationship with my many colleagues who work for groups that are funded by the government. But now, especially now, we need groups that are free from mental health system strings. We need groups to be activist.  

MindFreedom is a positive way to challenge this oppression. And now we must all come through for MindFreedom.

We Can All Learn From The Disability Movement

The disability movement is one of the biggest in the world, though we usually think of “disability” as being only about part of the population. Perhaps now we can realize that the disability movement encompasses every single person and their whole life, all the time. Let me explain.

It has been about four years since I fell off a ladder and broke my neck, becoming a quad in a powerchair with some additional challenges: An impaired voice. My fingers that used to type more than a hundred words a minute, and played improvisational piano music for 50 years, now cannot move independently.

For the past few years, I have been doing physical therapy, vocal exercises, and even had a surgical implant in my vocal fold. And now I am coming out of my rehab closet to encourage you to free your minds, and support MindFreedom International with your time and money.

A few days ago, I talked with my friend, the brilliant retired psychologist, Al Galves, of New Mexico. Al is MindFreedom Treasurer, and he reports: “From 2004 when I joined the Board to 2012 when David got hurt, MindFreedom received at least $65,000 a year in membership dues, donations and grants. Since David’s accident we have been limping along on less than $10,000 a year.” I guess that is a kind of compliment for me, but the bottom line is that my accident took quite a toll on MindFreedom.

“This is understandable,” said Al. He went on to say this about the difference between when I worked for MindFreedom and when I retired: “David was spending a lot of his time on membership relations and fundraising. Without a full-time, paid Executive Director we were unable to sustain that kind of income.”

I asked the MindFreedom board how we can all be supportive. Al said: “We are hoping that this appeal to our long-time members, friends and supporters will gain us enough money to rebuild our membership relations and fundraising capacity and return to our previous level of activity.”

Each one of us is called to support MindFreedom with both donations and also your time. Please help MindFreedom immediately. If you need more motivation, here are my top seven reasons why it is time to volunteer and/or donate to MFI now:

  1. Resist Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs! At about the same time as the election, less noticed was this tragedy: The US Congress fell down, too, when it voted overwhelmingly in favor of the multi-billion dollar 21st Century Cures Act. This was a huge bill, but deep down inside it included millions of federal dollars in support of outpatient coercive psychiatric drugging, from what was once called “the Murphy bill.” That’s right, the federal government will now support, with taxpayer dollars, getting a court order and forcing many Americans to take powerful psychiatric drugs against their will, while living at home out in the community. Note that this awful idea came from a “small government” politician, Tim Murphy (R-PA). We need independent, activist groups such as MindFreedom to challenge what amounts to chemical warfare. Studies show that this outpatient forced psychiatric drugging is disproportionately done to people of color. #BlackLivesMatter!
  2. Yes, USA Psychiatrists Still Do Involuntary Electroshock! By far my favorite campaigns at MindFreedom were stopping occasional instances of forced electroshock, which is electricity to the brain. Here in the USA, electroshock is usually signed for by the patient, but there is still the use of involuntary electroshock, now and again. Incredibly, sometimes forced shock is done even with a court order on an outpatient basis. For example, direct your search engine to: Ray Sandford. Every Wednesday morning, a van picked him in his group home in Minnesota for another court-ordered involuntary electroshock at a nearby hospital. Ray phoned us for help and we activated thousands and of course won. Want to unite good Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Libertarians? Fight forced shock, and all good Americans of all political persuasions are outraged. All you have to do is prove that forced shock is a reality, such as producing court papers. MindFreedom is the main group to expose and fight this atrocity, which is actually pretty common in poorer countries.
  3. Let’s Support People Who Are Resisting and Escaping Their Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs. Here is a “creative maladjustment” to the absurdity of the USA Congress approving millions for involuntary outpatient psychiatric care: Almost all USA States have these outpatient commitment laws. MindFreedom has over the years supported about a half-dozen American citizens who have pursued their own underground railroad to evade forced outpatient drugging. A weak spot in forced outpatient treatment, is that people can simply leave their region or State to escape. You may read about one of these successful escapes by directing your search engine to this phrase: gabriel hadd mindfreedom. One proponent of forced outpatient drugging knows about this vulnerability, and has even discussed his need for a federal extradition law. But at this time, there is no such law. Yet. Today, there is no known underground railroad for psychiatric survivors. The MindFreedom family supports human rights and can applaud people who create such an underground railroad for themselves, so if anyone could support such a sanctuary movement, it would be MindFreedom. There is even a great name for such a campaign: C/S/X Railroad. Let’s make this support real, by proposing this idea! (Note that I am not on the MFI board, and this is a proposal.)
  4. During a Crisis, Let’s Use Alternative Supports. MindFreedom has pointed the way to common sense, humane options other than corporate mental health. Create your small group for mutual support. At any moment we all can use creative thinking right now, the mind is free! Al Galves said this: “In 2014, 2015 and 2016 MindFreedom held ‘Creative Revolution in Mental Health’ conferences in which we advocated, promoted and supported alternatives to the medical model in mental health. These were well-attended, full of energy and inspiring to those great people who have created these alternatives.”
  5. MindFreedom is for Revolution! For many years, the MindFreedom mission statement has included a call for a “nonviolent revolution.” In fact, the Wikipedia page about “nonviolent revolution” has long included MindFreedom International as a model of a group with that goal. For example, Martin Luther King would say that the salvation of the world may lay in the hands of the “creatively maladjusted.” He repeatedly brought up this theme for more than a decade. MLK said the world was in dire need of an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. This IAACM was a dream of MLK that never became realized. But MindFreedom has made the IAACM real, and the physician psychiatric survivor Patch Adams is the honorary chair. The IAACM will soon launch a new project, for a preview see: http://www.LoveEarthRevolution.org Celia Brown, an African American psychiatric survivor activist, leads the hard-working board of MindFreedom. She said: “We need independent, activist and civil rights groups to challenge mass incarceration, oppressive psychiatric laws and racism that threaten the wellbeing of our people. MindFreedom encourages your voice to liberate mind, body and spirit, create non-violent alternatives and human rights for all. I’m proud to be creatively maladjusted.”
  6. This Grassroots Group Uses Every Donation Effectively! MindFreedom has a very specific and effective goal that can be reached with your donation: A new website. However, MindFreedom has many great ways to use every dollar that is donated to them. Janet Foner, long-time board member and co-founder of MFI, said “Donate to MFI to help us run our campaigns, to help us do another MFI Creative Revolution Conference, and to help us spread the word to new affiliates, etc.” Please help them today. You can support MFI by donating and/or volunteering, especially with the Shield and support calls.
  7. MindFreedom is a Powerful Way to Unite! Even after retiring from MFI’s staff, and now as “just” a member, I find being in touch with MFI is a way to be a part of a great community. One of the biggest challenges for me as an organizer during my time at MindFreedom, is that many of us psychiatric survivors prefer to pursue our own individual paths, like lone wolves. But even lone wolves might benefit now and again by travelling in a pack! I have met so many people who are grateful for MindFreedom putting them in touch with our social change movement. Sue Barnhart, a social worker with more than 30 years experience said, “MindFreedom may be the first organization that people find that offers alternatives to medication, such as education and support.”

To get involved with MindFreedom, see MFI’s website at: http://www.mindfreedom.org

To go directly to the DONATE button on the right side of the home page, click here: http://www.mindfreedom.org/join-donate

To see MFI’s Facebook page, search for MindFreedom International, or go directly here: https://www.facebook.com/MindFreedom-International-33579368821/?fref=ts

Those interested may stay in touch with me: davidwoaks@gmail.com. My blog is at www.davidwoaks.com

Please forward this appeal to support MindFreedom to others who understand the value of free, united minds!

An earlier post was on the same day, February 17, as a General Strike, which turned out to be more of a practice day for May Day. For more info about the General Strike, go here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1190364557743669/

National link:

http://www.strike4democracy.com/

That day was also a very important day for me, February 17, which is the commemoration for Giordano Bruno, the last person to be burnt at the stake in the Inquisition, back in 1600. As readers of my blog know, Bruno is very important to my family, starting with my grandfather.

Here on this blog:

February 17th is a great day for free minds and to remember Giordano Bruno!

On the web:

http://freethoughtalmanac.com/?p=1390

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno

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Winona, Water Protectors, Kogi & Gold Thread: My Newest Letter in Eugene Weekly

Here is my brief letter to the editor this week in Eugene’s main alternative newspaper. So far, I am in dialogue with the editor of the University of Oregon Emerald, and he does not see any reason to publish it.

We Younger Brothers must hear the warning from Elder Brother about Earth, now, now!

We Younger Brothers must hear the warning from Elder Brother about Earth, now, now!

LISTEN TO ELDER BROTHER

Winona LaDuke, Native American environmental leader and executive director of Honor the Earth, spoke to many hundreds of us in Eugene in November.

Before the program, attendees might have noticed a spool of golden thread was unraveled person-to-person, starting near the front and reaching individuals in the back. We are all connected, hanging by a thread.

This independent activity was inspired by the Kogi people, an indigenous civilization in Colombia. They call themselves “Elder Brothers” and have been warning “Younger Brothers” about the risk environmental catastrophe poses to life.

Scientists know that the lag between extra carbon in our atmosphere and negative effects is about 40 years. Harm from this year’s pollution will not be experienced for a long time. If enough positive feedback loops are triggered, we face chaos and unknown hazards.

In the Kogi people’s documentary film Aluna, which is free on the internet, we can learn from the way golden thread is used by the Kogi. Each of us has the powerful influence of the butterfly effect and can lead a peaceful, global revolution.

Let us not wait a moment longer. We Younger Brothers must hear the Kogi and leaders such as Winona LaDuke. Now.

David W. Oaks, Eugene

Following this blog entry is my letter to the Eugene Weekly editor that was published last month about the both the local and US Chamber of Commerce remaining silent about the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the big news is that we are moving forward on the pre-launch for LoveEarthRevolution, you may see the splash page on the preliminary website.

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Letter to Editor of Eugene Weekly: Dakota Access Pipeline & Chamber of Commerce

Oregon Community Credit Union leader will become chair of Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce in January 2017.

Oregon Community Credit Union leader will become chair of Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce in January 2017.

The local alternative paper, Eugene Weekly, published my letter to the editor today, 12/15/16. At the end, please see a way you can email a peaceful, strong note to Mandy Jones.

Climate Crisis

The Native American Water Protectors’ victory over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) may seem remote, but there is a way this climate crisis issue is directly in front of me, and all Americans.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, based in Washington, D.C., is one of the main groups championing DAPL and the petrochemical-industry rape of Earth. The climate defender group 350 asked for five years that local chambers assert their independence and say “the U.S. Chamber doesn’t speak for me.” Unfortunately, only 56 out of 3,000 of these local chambers have spoken up.

Rather than viewing this as a failure, I look at it as a challenge.

Several activists and I have petitioned the local Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, but despite many years of emails, peaceful protests and outreach, the leadership has maintained silence about the climate crisis and the U.S. Chamber.

In 2017, the chair of the local chamber will be Mandy Jones, the chief executive officer for Oregon Consumer Credit Union. I’ve been a proud member of OCCU since 1988. I am encouraging OCCU, as a member-owned entity, to ask the local chamber to speak up about the climate crisis.

David Oaks, Eugene

Action: Please send a message to Ms. Mandy Jones about how you encourage OCCU to speak out about the climate crisis and the US Chamber. Use the website here, and put your comment on the left side form: https://www.myoccu.org/contact-us

For more info about 350 campaign started in 2001 about the US Chamber, see:  http://chamber.350.org/

For news about Eugene-area activity about the chamber, see:  http://138.68.254.83/normalgeddon

 

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