David Schaper

David Schaper is a NPR National Desk reporter based in Chicago.

In this role, he covers news in Chicago and around the Midwest. Additionally he reports on a broad range of important social, cultural, political, and business issues in the region.

The range of Schaper's reporting has included profiles of service members killed in Iraq, and members of a reserve unit returning home to Wisconsin. He produced reports on the important political issues in key Midwest battleground states, education issues related to "No Child Left Behind," the bankruptcy of United Airlines as well as other aviation and transportation issues, and the devastation left by tornadoes, storms, blizzards, and floods in the Midwest.

Prior to joining NPR, Schaper spent nine years working as an award-winning reporter and editor for Chicago Public Radio's WBEZ-FM. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems, financial and otherwise, plaguing Chicago's public schools.

In 1996, Schaper was named assistant news editor, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing a staff of six. He continued general assignment reporting, covering breaking news, politics, transportation, housing, sports, and business.

When he left WBEZ, Schaper was the station's political reporter, editor, and a frequent fill-in news anchor and program host. Additionally, he served as a frequent guest panelist on public television's Chicago Tonight and Chicago Week in Review.

Since beginning his career at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM, Schaper worked in Chicago as a writer and editor for WBBM-AM and as a reporter and anchor for WXRT-FM. He worked at commercial stations WMAY-AM in Springfield, IL; and WIZM-AM and FM in La Crosse, WI; and at public stations WSSU-FM (now WUIS) and WDCB-FM in in Illinois.

Schaper earned a Bachelor of Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and an Master of Arts from the University of Illinois-Springfield.

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5:20pm

Fri September 6, 2013
Around the Nation

Tensions Over Syria Run High In Two Chicago-Area Districts

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 5:20 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Defending national security is one of the core arguments President Obama is using in his bid to strike Syria. Congress is expected to vote on military action next week. NPR's David Schaper takes us now to two Chicago area districts where passions on Syria are running high.

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4:49pm

Thu June 20, 2013
Around the Nation

Rogue Jumpers Parachute From Top Of Chicago's Trump Tower

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 11:19 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Finally, a big jump and a mystery in Chicago. Police are searching for three men who jumped off the top of the 92-story Trump Tower late last night with parachutes. They managed to land and escape before police arrived.

NPR's David Schaper has been gathering reaction in Chicago.

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4:34am

Thu June 20, 2013
Business

Founder Of Men's Wearhouse Fired By Company's Board

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 7:07 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's report on some changes in the American clothing world. George Zimmer, of Men's Wearhouse, might still like the way he looks, but we can guarantee he doesn't like this. The famous face - and gravelly voice - and founder of the company, is out. The company gave no reason for the abrupt firing. But Zimmer is speaking out, as NPR's David Schaper reports.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: His graying beard is instantly familiar. And he speaks with that signature deep, gravelly voice when delivering this famous tagline:

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5:08pm

Wed June 12, 2013
Sports

Hockey's Hottest Teams Hit The Ice In Stanley Cup Finals

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 7:03 pm

An oversized Chicago Blackhawks hockey helmet sits on one of the lion sculptures outside the entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago in celebration of the team's upcoming appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in Chicago. The Blackhawks host the Boston Bruins in Game 1 on Wednesday.
Scott Eisen AP

The National Hockey League's Stanley Cup championship gets underway in Chicago Wednesday night, with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins facing off in the first game of the best-of-seven series. It's a classic matchup between two of the NHL's original six teams.

Both teams are recent champs, which is helping passionate hockey fans and players put the bitter labor dispute that almost iced the season behind them.

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5:34am

Fri June 7, 2013
Business

Ill. Assembly Called Back To Work On Pension Fund Shortfall

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with pension problems for Illinois.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: The credit rating for the state of Illinois has taken another step closer to junk bond status. Illinois already had the lowest credit rating in the nation before it was downgraded again this week by Moody's and Fitch. The state legislature adjourned last week without addressing a $100 billion pension shortfall.

So as NPR's David Schaper reports, the governor is calling lawmakers back.

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5:47pm

Thu May 30, 2013
U.S.

Will Ill. Legalize Gay Marriage Before Legislature Adjourns?

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 7:04 pm

Activists rally in support of gay marriage on March 25 in Chicago. The Illinois Senate has approved legislation that will legalize same-sex marriage, but it has stalled in the state House.
Scott Olson Getty Images

The clock is ticking for those who hope Illinois will become the 13th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn its spring session Friday night, and the marriage equality bill still has not been called for a vote in the state House, where supporters are struggling to round up the 60 votes necessary to pass it.

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6:05pm

Thu May 23, 2013
The Two-Way

After The Storm: Students Gather For One More School Day

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 6:08 am

Students and teachers from Eastlake Elementary and Plaza Towers Elementary schools gathered Thursday to say goodbye for the summer. This was a chance to reconnect after the devastating tornado brought an abrupt end to the school year at Plaza Towers in Moore, Okla.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Under cloudy skies and through intermittent showers, 4-year-old Kamrin Ramirez holds in her little hands two cards, one addressed to Ms. Patterson, the other for Ms. Johnson, her two preschool teachers at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla.

"I write thank you so much," she says.

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4:59pm

Thu April 25, 2013
Around the Nation

Mississippi River's Many 'Parents' Look To Unify

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 8:16 pm

Mississippi River floodwaters in Vicksburg, Miss., in 2011.
Dave Martin AP

Life on the Mississippi River is a roller coaster of highs and lows: record high floodwaters one year, a drought and near-record low water levels the next. And those are just two of the many problems faced by river stakeholders like barge operators, farmers and conservation groups.

Those stakeholders met recently in Chicago to discuss the Mississippi's most pressing needs, any common ground, and how to speak with a unified voice in advocating for the nation's largest river system.

So far, that hasn't been easy.

Critical, Crumbling Lifeline

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3:34pm

Fri April 12, 2013
The Two-Way

Goat's Head Sent To Cubs Owner Not From The 'Rahm-Father'

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 6:54 pm

Storm clouds pass over Wrigley Field on July 1, 2011, in Chicago.
Jonathan Daniel Getty Images

While many in Chicago immediately thought of the famous "Billy Goat curse," when a severed goat's head was delivered to Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts at Wrigley Field this week, I immediately wondered if it was a message from the "Rahm-father," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

After all, Ricketts is in the midst of intense negotiations with Emanuel's administration over renovating the iconic 99-year old ballpark, as I reported last week.

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4:45am

Wed March 6, 2013
Around the Nation

Chicago Commuters Brace For Delays During Bridge Repair

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 11:18 am

Construction on Chicago's Wells Street Bridge is taking place around the clock, as crews replace the south leaf section. The north leaf section will be replaced in the spring. The double-decked steel truss drawbridge was built in 1922.
David Schaper NPR

A major artery that feeds Chicago's downtown business district has been temporarily cut off as crews work around the clock this week to replace half of the 91-year-old Wells Street drawbridge.

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4:18pm

Fri February 15, 2013
Around the Nation

Checking In On Chicago Schools' 'Safe Passage' Program

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama was in Chicago today, promoting what he calls ladders of opportunity to the middle class. It's the latest stop of his post-State of the Union tour, fleshing out the proposals from Tuesday night's speech. At a high school near his southside Chicago home, the president said reducing urban gun violence is essential to economic development.

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5:26am

Sat January 5, 2013
U.S.

Illinois Claws At Mountain Of Unfunded Pension Liability

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 1:45 pm

Illinois union members and supporters rally at the state Capitol on Thursday against legislation that would try to control the state's pension-fund shortfall by, in part, reducing pension benefits.
Seth Perlman AP

Illinois' pension-fund shortfall is by far the largest in the nation, and the clock is ticking for the state's governor and lawmakers to tackle the problem before a new Legislature is sworn in next week. So far, their proposals have stoked frustration from state employees and retirees.

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6:01pm

Sat December 22, 2012
Shootings In Newtown, Conn.

Near-Replica Of Sandy Hook Made Nearby For Students

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 7:54 pm

A school bus drives past a welcome sign near the Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, Conn. Students from Sandy Hook Elementary in neighboring Newtown will attend the school in January.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

The surviving students of Sandy Hook Elementary will not be returning to their school in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six educators were shot to death on Dec. 14.

Instead, when classes resume after the holidays, they'll attend a school in the neighboring town of Monroe. Parents, teachers and administrators in both towns are working to make the new school as similar as possible to the one Sandy Hook students left behind.

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3:33am

Wed December 12, 2012
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond

N.J. Spars Over Free Beach Access Post-Sandy

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 5:58 am

Superstorm Sandy caused massive beach erosion and damage to the Jersey shore. Some people say the beach restoration work, which will largely be paid for with federal tax dollars, will mostly help to protect expensive homes for the wealthy — people who have free access to the beach — while most communities would still be charging fees for public access.
Doug Mills AFP/Getty Images

At an oceanfront park in Long Branch, N.J., Tim Dillingham looks out over the beach in awe of how much the pounding waves and high waters of Hurricane Sandy have changed the Jersey shore.

Dillingham is the executive director of the American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation group. Before the storm, he says, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent years building up the beaches by pumping sand onto them.

But that shouldn't be a solution to restoring the shore, he says.

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5:12am

Thu December 6, 2012
Around the Nation

Post Sandy: Atlantic City Wants Its Tourists Back

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 4:24 pm

Atlantic City's boardwalk, with its shops, restaurants, casinos and hotels, was mostly protected during Hurricane Sandy by a dune restoration project. But TV images of one small section that was damaged gave the impression that the whole thing was destroyed.
David Schaper/NPR

A month after Hurricane Sandy pounded the New Jersey Shore, Atlantic City is back in business. Even though most of the casinos and restaurants sustained very little damage in the storm, they're now suffering from a lack of visitors. But the city has launched an effort to change that.

As three young boys roll their skateboards down the "World Famous Atlantic City Boardwalk," it's proof that it is still here, fully in tact, and that rumors of its demise were greatly exaggerated.

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3:32am

Tue November 13, 2012
U.S.

In Chicago, Violence Soars And Witnesses Go Silent

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 8:22 pm

Paramedics treat multiple gunshot victims in Chicago in August.
Devlin Brown, Chicago Tribune MCT/Landov

It's an old problem and an old code — "don't snitch." And it exists everywhere.

But in Chicago, where homicides and shootings are up significantly this year, that old code is leaving a rising number of violent crimes unsolved. Chicago Police Department statistics show arrests are being made in about 30 percent of shooting homicides, while close to 80 percent of nonfatal shootings are going unsolved.

When police can't find and arrest the perpetrators, they worry that the shooters will soon shoot again.

Witness Protection

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5:43am

Sun November 11, 2012
House & Senate Races

Senate Win In Wis. A 'Turning Point' For Gay Rights

Originally published on Sun November 11, 2012 2:05 pm

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin greets supporters at a campaign rally for President Obama on Nov. 3 in Milwaukee. Baldwin became the first openly gay candidate to win a U.S. Senate seat.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin's sexual orientation was never really a factor in her victorious campaign against Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson. Advocates for gay rights see that as a watershed moment for the movement.

Baldwin won a seat many thought she couldn't, defeating one of the state's most successful politicians in the process. The celebration Tuesday night in Madison was euphoric.

The enthusiastic crowd was never louder than when Baldwin acknowledged making history.

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5:43am

Sun October 28, 2012
It's All Politics

Democrats See Opportunity In Fiery Illinois House Race

Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 3:06 am

Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh and challenger Democrat Tammy Duckworth before a televised debate at the WTTW studios on Oct. 18, 2012, in Chicago.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

One of the most bitter congressional races is in the suburbs of Chicago, where controversial freshman Republican Joe Walsh is fighting to keep a seat he was actually drawn out of.

The Tea Party favorite's bombastic rants frequently get him into trouble, even with members of his own party, and Walsh is facing a tough Democratic opponent in Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in combat.

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7:15pm

Mon October 8, 2012
All Tech Considered

Baseball Autographs Get A Digital Upgrade

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 11:39 am

Sarah Wagner shows off an Egraph of Kerry Wood, her favorite Cubs player.
David Schaper NPR

On her 22nd birthday this summer, Sarah Wagner of suburban Wheaton, Ill., who describes herself as a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs, opened an email to find an incredible surprise — a recorded message from her favorite Cubs player:

"Hey, Sarah! Kerry Wood here! Thanks for your message and I hope you're having a great summer!"

"When I heard for the first time, I instantly smiled," says Wagner. "I think my hands probably went over like my mouth, like, 'Oh my gosh, Kerry Wood is talking to me, even though he has no idea who I am!' "

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4:49am

Fri September 28, 2012
NPR Story

With Senate Control At Stake, Key Wis. Race Tightens

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 11:39 am

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson in Madison, Wis., ahead of the Aug. 14 Republican primary for Wisconsin's open Senate seat. He was one of four candidates.
Andy Manis AP

One of the most important seats in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate is in Wisconsin, where Democrat Herb Kohl is retiring. Early polls showed popular former Gov. Tommy Thompson might easily flip the seat to the GOP, but he's now trailing Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin. It's a race that's going down to the wire in this almost evenly divided state.

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4:52am

Thu August 23, 2012
Around the Nation

Drought's Effects Keep Expanding

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 5:23 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This summer's drought is not helping the wildfire situation, and the drought is also deeply harming the nation's agricultural economy. Parched lands extend from California to Indiana, and from Texas to South Dakota, impacting everyone from farmers and ranchers to barge operators and commodity traders.

As NPR's David Schaper reports, some farmers are getting close to calling it quits.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Looking over his small, 100-acre farm near South Union, Kentucky, Rich Vernon doesn't like what he sees.

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5:51am

Sat August 4, 2012
Around the Nation

Soaked In Drought: Lessons From The Dust Bowl

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 11:43 am

Scorched pastures are spreading across central Illinois and the rest of the Midwest. Technology and techniques developed from previous droughts like the Dust Bowl are helping to save some of today's crops, but there's no substitute for water.
Scott Olson Getty Images

This summer's drought continues to wilt and bake crops from Ohio to the Great Plains and beyond. Under a baking, late-afternoon sun just outside of the tiny east-central Illinois town of Thawville, John Hildenbrand walks down his dusty, gravel driveway toward one of his corn fields.

"You can see on the outer edge, these are a lot better-looking ears on the outside rows. Of course, it's not near as hot as it is inside the field," he says.

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4:33pm

Mon July 2, 2012
Business

As Strikes Wane, Caterpillar Workers Hold The Line

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 6:35 pm

Striking workers picket outside a Caterpillar plant in Joliet, Ill. The work stoppage is now entering its third month.
Joseph P. Meier Sun-Times Media Photo

Whenever a car or truck turns off busy Channahon Road onto the long drive to the Caterpillar plant in Joliet, Ill., a handful of union workers on a picket line scream, "Scab! Scab!!"

As strikers try shaming the few workers and managers who cross the line, even a clearly marked sandwich delivery car gets shouted down.

Approximately 800 workers at this plant, which makes hydraulic systems for Caterpillar's heavy construction and mining equipment, are about to enter their third month on strike.

Negotiations Fail

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7:46am

Sat June 9, 2012
Politics

Conservative Confab Rallies Behind Wisconsin Victory

Originally published on Sat June 9, 2012 10:58 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. It seems that every week, there's a new study out on political polarization in America. More and more, we talk to, vote with, and get our news from only those who think the way that we do. So, this week we sent reporters on a couple of polar expeditions to political gatherings on the left and the right. And in a moment, we'll hear from NPR's Scott Horsley at Netroots Nation in Rhode Island. First, now here's NPR's David Schaper at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago.

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5:45pm

Wed June 6, 2012
Election 2012

Walker Moves Forward As The Right's Newest 'Hero'

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 7:29 pm

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (center) is greeted by his Cabinet and staff Wednesday at the state Capitol in Madison, a day after defeating Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a recall election.
Andy Manis AP

Republican Gov. Scott Walker triumphantly returned to the Wisconsin Capitol Wednesday, fresh off of his decisive victory in Tuesday's bitter recall election.

The governor appears to be emerging from the tough recall fight stronger, and with his national profile rising.

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5:29am

Fri June 1, 2012
Politics

Gubernatorial Recall Election Polarizes Wis. Voters

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 9:04 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's been more than a year since Wisconsin Democrats began talking about recalling the state's governor, Scott Walker. Next week they'll get their chance to do it. Last night, Walker and his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, traded barbs in their final debate before Tuesday's vote. Turnout is expected to be very high, as the recall is sharply dividing voters in Wisconsin, so much so, some have just stopped talking to each other. NPR's David Schaper has the latest from Milwaukee.

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6:16am

Sat May 26, 2012
Law

Chicago Outsider Busted Crime With Apolitical Flare

Originally published on Sat May 26, 2012 2:16 pm

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald speaks to reporters during a news conference Thursday in Chicago. Fitzgerald announced he would step down.
Brian Kersey Getty Images

Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor who went after the Gambino crime family, al-Qaida and even the White House in court — not to mention several Illinois politicians — is leaving his job as U.S. attorney in Chicago.

The career prosecutor, known as "Eliot Ness with a Harvard degree," will leave a legacy as a tenacious corruption buster, though some criticize his style as overzealous.

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12:22am

Sun May 13, 2012
Around the Nation

Lack Of Support Puts The Brakes On High-Speed Rail

Originally published on Sun May 13, 2012 12:09 pm

California's Legislative Analyst's Office said the latest proposal to build a $68.4 billion high-speed train system is still too vague and the state legislature should not approve funding it for it this year.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Three years ago, President Obama was rolling out an ambitious vision for high-speed rail in America. "Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 mph," the president said at the time.

Today, there are a few Amtrak trains going that fast, but for the most part, the president's plans for high-speed trains have slowed considerably.

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6:26am

Tue May 8, 2012
Politics

Wis. Primary To Choose A Candidate To Face Walker

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 2:00 pm

Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk chat before the start of a live debate for Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates Friday at the Wisconsin Public Television studio in Madison. The front-runners vying for a chance to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a June recall election bashed the governor during the debate. Not pictured are fellow candidates Doug La Follette and Kathleen Vinehout.
Rick Wood AP

Shortly after he took office last winter, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans in the Legislature enraged Democrats and public employee unions by cutting collective bargaining rights, and Wisconsin has been on fire politically ever since. A protest movement forced a recall election, scheduled for June 5, and now, voters in Tuesday's Democratic gubernatorial primary will select Walker's challenger.

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3:38am

Mon April 23, 2012
Education

Chicago Wants Longer School Day; Foes Want Details

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 9:39 am

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sits with South Side first-graders in October. Emanuel's plan to lengthen the school day and the school year has met with resistance.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Most kids in Chicago's public schools spend just five hours and 45 minutes in school a day. It's one of the shortest school days in the country.

That's why more than half of the city's public elementary schools have no recess. At those that do, it's shockingly short.

"We have a 10-minute recess and a 10-minute lunch at our school," says Wendy Katten, mother of a third-grader at Burley Elementary School in Chicago. "It's not sufficient."

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