4.30.2014

US Supreme Court reverses patent judges again in 9-0 decision on lawyer fees

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Access to public transit a big factor in where millennials will live

A supermajority of millennials say that access to high quality transportation is one of the top three criteria they would weight when deciding where to live.'s according to a recent survey from the Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America, which studied millennials and their transportation views in 10 major U.S. cities, including Chicago. This is good news for the long-term future of our country. Some other survey results:

  • A large majority of millennials want access to better transit options and the ability to be less reliant on a car

  • More than half (54%) of millennials surveyed say they would consider moving to another city if it had more and better options for getting around

  • Though Millennials value the transportation options they currently have, they support continued and growing access to quality transportation options in the future


Millennials living in cities with mature transportation systems (Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco in the study) count on a mix of transportation to get around and look to transportation access when they are deciding where to live, work, and visit.

  • 95% say that having a convenient and reliable public transportation system is important to them, and 67% say that their city is doing an excellent or good job delivering on that

  • 82% say that access to quality transportation options in one of their top criteria when deciding where to live

  • 70% would consider moving to another neighborhood if it had more and better options for how to get around and 53% would consider moving to another city entirely for more and better options


Millennials in mature transportation systems want to live in places with a wide range of transportation options, including car- and bike-share services. And though they think their cities largely provide them with adequate options, they desire even greater access moving forward.

  • 93% say their ideal transportation system would include a range of options so they can decide for themselves how best to get around

  • 83% say that having a wide range of transportation options, including public transportation and car- and bike-sharing services is important to them

  • Even with these positive ratings, 62% say they would like more public transportation options in their area


Transportation access shapes where millennials in mature transportation systems spend their time, and they believe it offers cities real economic benefits.

  • 88% are more likely to shop, eat out, or go to a bar in areas with access to quality public transportation

  • 76% say that visiting an area without access to public transportation is a major inconvenience

  • 91% say that investing in quality public transportation helps improve the economy and create jobs






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4.29.2014

Publicity Rights Being Used To Try To Stop Family Members From Talking Publicly About Other Family Members

For years now, we've been writing about the rise of publicity rights as a new(ish) form of intellectual property that was ripe for abusing. These are laws, usually at the state level, which were officially designed to allow famous people to block companies from misappropriating their image in order to suggest an endorsement. You can kind of understand how that type of thing might make sense, though you'd think that certain existing misappropriation and fraud statutes might cover most of the really bad scenarios. However, over time, publicity rights laws have expanded massively, leading to some crazy lawsuits. In the past few weeks, we've seen two specific ones that highlight just how insane publicity rights laws have become.



First up, a pair of siblings sought to stop another sister from writing anything about the death of their mother. Eric Goldman summarizes the situation:
Today’s family feud involves a mom, Lois Reynolds, and her three kids, sisters Sylvia and Robin and brother Doug. Mom died in January 2011. A few months before mom’s death, sister Robin wrote about end-of-life issues and published the article in a (now-defunct?) online publication Phoenix Woman. I thought the article provided fairly straightforward observations about caregiving to the elderly, but siblings Sylvia and Doug were “shocked, hurt and deeply angry” about the article. Sylvia had a lawyer send Robin a demand that Robin:

refrain from making any ‘[p]ublication actually or reasonably perceived to be about or relating to Lois (including without limitation Lois’s name, likeness and description…).’



(Please re-read that demand again. Say what???). Undeterred, on Mother’s Day 2011, Robin “posted a blog tribute to Lois that included a photograph of herself with her mother.” In response, the estate listed, as one of its assets, a legal claim against Robin for violations of mom’s publicity rights, which Robin challenged in the estate proceedings.



Yikes! The second case involves someone famous... but that's not who's arguing for publicity rights to protect himself. Actor Jason Patric is involved in an apparently bitter custody battle over his son. His ex-girlfriend sought to use California's publicity rights law to stop Patric from using his son's name in the name of an organization he set up to "raise awareness of parental alienation." Patric, rightly, points out that he should be able to actually use his own son's name and it would be ridiculous for the law to block that.



Thankfully, on both of these cases, the efforts at using publicity rights for the sake of censorship have failed. The court in Arizona (which doesn't have an explicit publicity rights statute, but recognizes common law publicity rights) noted that publicity rights cannot restrict the use of someone's identity "in news reporting, commentary, entertainment, works of fiction or nonfiction" and thus decided that it is perfectly fine for Robin to write about her mother. In Patric's case, a judge noted that blocking Patric from using the name of his son would represent unlawful prior restraint and violate the First Amendment.



It's good to see that both of these attempts failed. But just the fact that we've seen a couple of these cases means it's likely that we'll be seeing many more -- and sooner or later some may actually succeed. Or, worse, people will start to lobby to adjust publicity rights laws in a manner to expand them to cover this sort of behavior. It's good that these two attempts have failed, but it shows where people go once you start to give them the power to censor others with new forms of "intellectual property."



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Meet The Woman Who Did Everything In Her Power To Hide Her Pregnancy From Google

She wanted to hide her pregnancy from big data. How hard could that be? Turns out hiding from Google and Facebook is almost impossible.


The post Meet The Woman Who Did Everything In Her Power To Hide Her Pregnancy From Google appeared first on ThinkProgress.






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JJ Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII will not draw upon ‘expanded universe’ stories, says Disney

Disney has signalled a fresh start for its Star Wars trilogy by officially ruling out storylines borrowed from the scores of “expanded universe” (EU) novels in book shops. Fans of the books, written to sate the appetite for more stories about Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and company following the release of 1983′s Return of the Jedi, had hoped the tales would inform JJ Abrams‘ forthcoming Star Wars: Episode VII and successive films. But a statement […]



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Updated: plans for Champaign housing project back in motion

A new version of a proposed housing complex in Champaign could go before the city's plan commission next month.


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4.28.2014

Mumps outbreak on UI campus




Nine University of Illinois students have become sickened with the mumps in an outbreak that began just after spring break and has continued with about two new cases a week.





CHAMPAIGN — Nine University of Illinois students have become sickened with the mumps in an outbreak that began just after spring break and has continued with about two new cases a week.


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4.27.2014

Netflix Pondering Peer-to-Peer Technology For Streaming Video

An anonymous reader writes "The folks at Ars Technica have discovered evidence that Netflix is actively researching the possibility of using peer-to-peer technology to stream its videos to its customers. The evidence: a one-month old job listing seeking a software engineer with extensive experience developing and testing large-scale peer-to-peer systems. In addition: Netflix's admission of wanting to 'look at all kinds of routes.' A recent blog post by BitTorrent's CEO explains how, in a peer-to-peer architecture, 'Netflix traffic would no longer be coming from one or two places that are easy to block. Instead, it would be coming from everywhere, all at once; from addresses that were not easily identified as Netflix addresses — from addresses all across the Internet.'" In other Netflix news, the company has "reached an agreement with three smaller cable companies that, for the first time, will let U.S. subscribers watch the streaming video service’s content as though it were an ordinary cable channel."

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4.24.2014

Report: Google to end forced G+ integration, drastically cut division resources

Report says 1000-1200 employees will be moved from Google+ to other divisions.



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Conservatives begin backing away after Cliven Bundy’s remarks disparaging ‘the Negro’

Republican politicians began backtracking on their support of Nevada anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy after the New York Times caught Bundy making racially-inflammatory remarks blaming African-Americans for willingly submiting to dependency on federal assistance. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton,” Bundy was quoted as saying to a group of supporters last Saturday. “And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, […]



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4.23.2014

Five Illinois Cops Are Caught Lying On The Stand When Defense Produces A Recording Contradicting Their Testimony

Cops lie. Citizens know this. Defense attorneys know this. Prosecutors know this. Most importantly, judges know this. But rarely does it have any effect on the outcome of the case at hand. But in what has been described as a "Perry Mason moment," five Illinois police officers were caught lying on the stand. (h/t to Trevor Debus)


A seemingly routine suppression hearing in a suburban Chicago courthouse last month took an unexpected dramatic turn when video from a police car was introduced that disproved the testimony of five police officers.



They had said Joseph Sperling was arrested after officers who pulled him over in a traffic stop smelled marijuana, searched the vehicle and found nearly a pound in a backpack lying on the back seat of his car. But the Glenview police video showed the search occurred only after Sperling was taken from his car, frisked and handcuffed, reports the Chicago Tribune (sub. req.).

I suppose once the film rolled, there was little the judge could do but address it. It's one thing for a cop to lie in the courtroom and have it discovered months, weeks or even years later. It's quite another when the testimony is rebutted by video evidence during the same hearing.
"All the officers lied on the stand today," said [Judge Catherine] Haberkorn, who herself is a former prosecutor, at the March 31 hearing. "So there is strong evidence it was conspiracy to lie in this case, for everyone to come up with the same lie."

The officers, currently on desk duty, apparently did conspire to lie about the specifics of the search, at least according to the lawsuit filed by the arrestee shortly after this suppression hearing went sideways.
Joseph Sperling says in his suit that Chicago police asked Glenview officers at the scene of his arrest last June to turn off their squad car dashcams. At least one Glenview officer didn't, resulting in video footage that persuaded a Cook County Circuit Court judge to grant a motion to suppress seized evidence, because police testimony contradicted what the camera showed.

This case has obviously provoked quite a bit of discussion as to how often cops lie and what the final arbiters -- the judges -- do when they take this knowledge into consideration. The answers, unfortunately, are depressing. Even if these temporary desk jockeys manage to retain their jobs, one would think their days as credible witnesses are over. Nothing could be farther from the truth.



Scott Greenfield talks about one judge he heard discuss why he kept on pushing defendants into the maw of the prison system, even while knowing those on the law enforcement side weren't necessarily any better when it came to truth-telling.
After a cocktail or two, Harold talked about how his experience as a judge changed him. Case after case, defendant after defendant, victim after victim, made it all a blur. Sure, cops lied. Everybody knew cops lied. Everybody knew cops lied in every case. That was the game. It was their job to put the bad guy away, and the way to win the game was to speak the magic words that the system accepted as necessary…



What was he supposed to do, Harold asked? They may not all be guilty, but they all were guilty. No one could pluck out the one in a hundred who didn’t deserve to be there, and he wasn’t going to cut everyone free because he couldn’t tell who was who. […] He had a job to do, to keep the cattle moving toward the slaughter. Harold could be a rather charming guy, personally. As a judge, he was utterly despicable.

Judge Richard Kopf, prompted by Greenfield's post, offered his own thoughts as to why he finds cops credible witnesses, despite loads of evidence otherwise. It's a bracing read and admirably soul-baring, but it's not going to make anyone feel any better about their odds against a lying law enforcement officer. While he makes several points that indicate he's still more careful in his selection process than the Judge Harold mentioned above, he does make the following indictment of his own beliefs and behavior.
I am a shitty judge of credibility. Truly, I am. See here for what happened when I believed a defendant and it blew up in my face with an editorial cartoon and the whole nine yards. Thus, when forced to judge between a cop and a defendant it is safer to believe the cop than the defendant particularly if a judge cares about his or her reputation. While pleading the subconscious in mitigation, there was a period of time when I really thought I might make it to the Circuit if I were a good little boy. See what happened to Judge Baer when he “screwed” up.

Will Baude at the Volokh Conspiracy, who originally questioned whether these five cops would be unable to offer believable testimony in the future, gathered some notable comments from Judge Kopf's post that lend credence to the belief that everyone in the courtroom knows cops lie, but there's very little anyone's actually willing to do about it, partly because the system destroys judges who refuse to play along.



Lorin Duckman, a former New York judge, noted how the system lends itself to accommodating lying cops, if only to keep the system moving at the pace that pleases most of those involved.
It’s not just about the trials. Jurors don’t want to sit, don’t understand the instructions and cannot consider what the sentence should be. They cannot tell if a person is lying or not and tend to believe those who look like them or wear badges, despite instructions to the contrary. It’s not about did the accused did it or didn’t do it, most of the time. It’s about the penalties, the sentences, and the lack of a future when one tries to put a life together after doing time. It’s about judges who need to move calendars, jailers and bailiffs, court reporters and clerks who depend on a steady stream of defendants for their livelihood ...

But Duckman also points out that judges have their own livelihoods to consider, and speaking aloud about the fact that cops lie on the stand tends to short-circuit their futures.
[M]ost of all it’s the Judges who sit silently, listening to the bartering, accepting the stories for fear that they will be removed if they question, dismiss or offer justice. Break my hear[t], they did.



A comment I made, “cops lie all the time,” was introduced as evidence at my removal hearing and served as the basis for finding me biased. I couldn’t have been the only judge who believed that, could I?

The system is broken all the way up and all the way down. These five cops were very possibly only called out because it was unavoidable. Their punishment for being caught perjuring themselves has been desk duty, something that may seem tedious compared to pulling people over and illegally searching their vehicles, but can hardly be considered a true punishment. It's not as though the facts are disputed. The cops are being "investigated" after lying in court in front of a judge and several witnesses. There's literally nothing to "investigate."



This is just two police departments (Glenview and Chicago) buying time until they can weigh possible punishments and outcomes. As few judges are willing to confront the fact that cops lie with the same frequency as other human beings, just as few PDs are willing to terminate officers (partly due to pushback from officers' unions), no matter the wrongdoing.



But before all hope is destroyed, another judge (Alabama's Judge Joseph Johnson) commenting at Kopf's blog noted the status quo is changing, at least in his courtroom.
Yesterday I met with our new police chief (city of 250,000) I I told him I was getting tired of not having video or audio recordings of defendants statements. I said I felt juries disbelieved the rendition by the officer (especially a narcotics officer). I added, I was not sure I was going to believe another citizen consented to the search of his vehicle unless I had a written signed consent to search (which they have). The Chief looked like I had kicked his dog. I said “Hey, the jurors expect this in this age of technology.” We will see.

Looking at this and another set of isolated incidents -- the pushback by two judges against overly-broad search warrants -- gives a modicum of hope that law enforcement will be finally forced to play by the rules that have been existent since shortly after the founding of this nation. It's too little, far too late and it's marked by outliers rather than exceptions to the rule. But at least it's something. And the more the public is informed about the routine abuse of civil liberties by law enforcement, the less those tasked with handling the intersection of cops and civilians will be able to ignore the reality of the situation and blithely (and blindly) believe badges denote a more trustworthy class of human.







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Arizona high court rules pot users must be impaired for DUI charge

(Reuters) - Arizona prosecutors cannot charge pot users for driving under the influence of marijuana simply because traces of the drug remain in their bloodstream, without evidence of actual impairment, the state Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.






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4.22.2014

Windmills driving landvalues up | News-Gazette.com





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Urbana track available to public

If you're looking for a place to walk or run, Urbana has a locale for you.


Six days before the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon passes through town, Urbana High School announced its track will be available to the public starting this week.


The track may be used by the public from 6 to 8 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturdays.


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UPDATED: UI basketball player Paul arrested




Illinois coach John Groce, who was on the road recruiting Tuesday, released a statement on the matter through the university.





CHAMPAIGN — A University of Illinois basketball player charged with resisting a police officer and underage drinking is due back in court next month.


Darius Paul, 20, who listed an address in the 0-100 block of East Healey Street, Champaign, was arrested about 3:20 a.m. Tuesday by UI police after they say he ran from them.


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Supreme Court Discussion In Aereo: At Least The Justices Recognize The Harm They Might Do

The oral arguments in the Aereo case happened this morning before the Supreme Court and you can read the transcript here (it's still a travesty that there is no live broadcasting (or any video recording at all) of the proceedings, but that's a different argument for a different day). As with any such case, this discussion needs to be prefaced with the fact that reading the tea leaves from what Justices say during oral arguments is a unlikely to yield much that is useful. You'll often see large segments of the arguments discuss issues that later don't appear at all in the final ruling. In some cases, Justices are just testing out certain theories or pushing the lawyers to see how they respond. Oral arguments do matter, but not nearly as much as the underlying briefs. We still have a few months (probably) to find out how the Court will rule, but we can at least comment on some of today's discussion.



The important thing to get from the discussion was that the Justices, for the most part, seem to actually recognize that with copyright law the way it is today, finding -- as the broadcasters would like -- that Aereo is engaged in a public performance -- may have long term consequences for all sorts of other industries. It starts off early on, with Justice Sotomayor jumping in with a very different question, concerning whether or not Aereo is a cable company, which would include a different set of issues (in fact, this was exactly the strategy that Aereo competitor/predecessor ivi sought to take -- and ran into trouble). She points out that there may be value in avoiding the whole public performance question all together, since it could get messy:
If we take public performance, maybe we run into what Professor Nimmer saw as a problem. Why isn't what used to be called a phonograph record store that sells phonograph records to 10,000 customers a public performance? It seems to fall within that definition. But if it is, there's no -- no first sale doctrine and it's a big problem. So we could avoid that problem.

Meanwhile, Justice Breyer is clearly concerned about the possible impact on the cloud, again in discussing the possibility that the Court could avoid the issue by calling Aereo a cable company:
And what you've read in their briefs is they, in their supporting amici, have thrown up a series of serious problems not involving them, like the cloud, which the government tells us to ignore, and many others, which make me nervous about taking your preferred group.

Which bounces back to Sotomayor, who notes that the public performance definition the broadcasters want "sweeps up" an awful lot of other businesses where it doesn't make sense:
I mean, Justice Breyer has already asked you -- said he's troubled about the phonograph store, and -- and the Dropbox and the iCloud. I'm also worried about how to define or -- public performance or the performance of a work publicly, which I guess is the better way to do it, according to you. How do I define that so that someone who sells coaxial cable to a resident of a building is not swept up as a participant in this? Or someone who -- the sort of passive storage advisors that -- this is really hard for me.

Justice Kagan, also, quickly gets to the heart of the matter -- the point that we've been raising since the beginning with Aereo -- that this is all about the length of the cable. If someone were to do this at home -- with the same exact electronic setup, it's clearly legal. But the broadcasters want to make Aereo illegal, because the length of the cable between the "DVR" component and the "TV" component is much longer.
Suppose a company just gave the antenna and a hard drive, that's what they sold to the user, and the user was able to use the antenna and the hard drive in her own house or apartment in order to get all these broadcast programs. What would the -- would that be a performance?

When the broadcaster's lawyer pushes back, Kagan points out that it does seem odd that where the hardware sits determines if there's a public performance or not.
But then it really does depend on, like, where the -- where the hardware is. In other words, if -- if Aereo has the hardware in its warehouse as opposed to Aereo selling the hardware to the particular end user, that is going to make all the difference in the world as to whether we have a public performance or not a public performance.

Chief Justice Roberts highlighted the same issue:
Why isn't -- and I don't want to stretch it too -- but why isn't it like a public garage in your own garage? I mean, you know, if you -- you can park your car in your own garage or you can park it in a public garage. You can go to Radio Shack and buy an antenna and a DVR or you can rent those facilities somewhere else from Aereo. They've -- they've got an antenna. They'll let you use it when you need it and they can, you know, record the stuff as well and let you pick it up when you need it

There's then a discussion trying to see if there's a way to distinguish Aereo from the Cablevision decision (in the 2nd Circuit appeals court) saying that Cablevision's remote DVR was legal. The lawyer for the broadcaster says that he thinks the Cablevision decision was decided incorrectly, but the difference is that Cablevision already has a license. This is misleading, because the license in Cablevision was unrelated to the issue of the DVR feature. Furthermore, over-the-air broadcasts (which is what Aereo offers) have an implied license already associated with them (you don't have to pay to watch over-the-air TV for that very reason). So the distinction here is meaningless. Justice Breyer says that, even if that's true, there's still a real risk to cloud computing.
But then the problem is in the words that do that, because we have to write words, are we somehow catching other things that really will change life and shouldn't, such as the cloud? And you said, well, as the government says, don't worry, because that isn't a public performance. And then I read the definition and I don't see how to get out of it.

When asked similar questions, the Deputy Solicitor General, Malcolm Stewart, (again, bizarrely, the US is intervening on behalf of Hollywood for no clear reason), appears to admit that there's no clear line, and that things should be decided on something of a case by case basis:
I think you would have to -- you would have to know both the details of the service and you would have to be making a harder call there about how to draw the line, because I don't pretend that there is a bright line between providing a service and providing access to equipment. If you look, for instance, at the extremes of a person putting a rooftop antenna at his own home, everybody agrees that the rooftop antenna manufacturer is not performing at all and the individual is engaged in a solely private performance.



The other extreme is the cable company, one big antenna, makes transmissions to a lot of people; Congress clearly intended to define that as a private performance. Somewhere in the -- you could come up with lots of hypotheticals that look more or less like one of the other extremes, they are somewhere in the middle. It's an authentically hard call as to where to draw the line. So I don't have a good answer for you.

But that seems rather important, given that this case is asking for that line to be drawn. And the Justices were clearly struggling with that point. Justice Breyer responded:
How do we get out of the example? I mean, how do we get out -- what words do I write to get out of this, throwing into this clause a music store that distributes via Federal Express, a device, or the U.S. Postal Service or even someone over the counter, distributes to 10,000 people a copy of a record which they then will take and play it? They have, to the same degree, transmitted something that will electronically make a performance of the music. So are they when they sell the record violating the display clause?

This isn't to say that the Justices are in agreement with Aereo. They expressed plenty of skepticism about the whole setup, arguing repeatedly that the whole thing seems to have been set up solely to fit within the law, using a technological setup that makes no sense. Aereo, in response, sought to argue that there were technical reasons for its setup, but frankly, that's bogus. The technological setup is insane, but the insanity is not because Aereo is trying to "get around" the law, but the exact opposite. Because it's trying to stay within the law. If the setup of copyright law itself wasn't so insane, there would be much better ways to do what Aereo is doing. But thanks to a bunch of interlocking "rights" buried within copyright law, and caselaw that is basically duct-taped onto the statute every time a new technology comes around, actually innovative requires the Rube Goldbergian-approach that Aereo took just to stay within the law. It's ridiculous that that is seen as a suggestion of illegality...



When the broadcasters lawyer comes back to rebut Aereo's lawyer, he argues that if Aereo loses, it can just get a license or go out of business. But Justice Breyer notes that it's really not that simple:
Once you take them out of the compulsory licensing system, they're going to have to find copyright owners, who owns James Agee's pictures? Who owns something that was written by -- like a French silent film in 1915? I mean, the problem is that they might want to have perfectly good things that people want to watch and they can't find out how to get permission. That is a problem that worries me and it worries me again once you kick them out of the other systems

In the end, I think the Justices were rightly worried about how any ruling might impact the cloud. While there was some skepticism about Aereo's setup, Aereo's lawyer did a good job highlighting why those were wrong. Still -- and again, reading Supreme Court tea leaves is nearly impossible -- if I were going to guess, I'd guess that the Supreme Court will seek some sort of "narrow" ruling that tries to say that Aereo should get a license (possibly just throwing the issue back to the lower courts on the details), while doing everything it can to avoid a ruling that throws the entirety of cloud computing under the bus.



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At long last, Roku finally is getting a YouTube app.

At long last, Roku finally is getting a YouTube app. That closes one of the few streaming holes it had left, and only goes further to make it more important than ever .


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