“The Fate of Biden’s Agenda Hangs in the Balance”

…mocrats as the 2010 round, because numerous states that had egregious Republican gerrymanders back then now have some sort of impediment to that happening again” (commissions, Democratic governors, interventionist courts). “My best guess,” Stephanopoulos continued, is that the congressional playing field will be a little more tilted in a Republican direction than it currently is, but significantly less skewed than in the early 2010s….

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“On Google Podcasts, a Buffet of Hate; The platform’s tolerance of white supremacist, pro-Nazi and conspiracy theory content pushes the boundaries of the medium.”

…om the Google Play store for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus. But Mr. Jones’s programs are still available on Google Podcasts. Told of the white supremacist and pro-Nazi content on its platform and asked about its policy, a Google spokeswoman, Charity Mhende, compared Google Podcasts to Google Search. She said that the company did not want to “limit what people are able to find,” and that it only blocks content “in rare circumstance…

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“Republicans set to quiz tech CEOs on election misinformation tweeted #StopTheSteal themselves”

…y Long (Mo.) and Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (Ga.), tweeted or retweeted posts with the phrase “Stop the Steal” in the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. Stop the Steal was an online movement that researchers studying disinformation say led to the violence that overtook the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Graham Brookie, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, said the online Stop the Steal movement was “the coor…

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Under Israel’s PR System, An Islamist-Arab Party Might Determine Who Governs Israel

…yahu bloc of parties would be able to muster at most 59 seats, and the anti-Netanyahu bloc 56 seats. In Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, control of 61 seats is necessary to choose the Prime Minister and decide who heads the government. In a result that defined pre-election polling, a new, more conservative Islamist party — Ra’am — broke off from the other Arab parties and appears to have won 5 seats. That would make Ra’am the kingmaker in deciding which…

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“G.O.P. and Allies Draft ‘Best Practices’ for Restricting Voting”

…l Committee has created an “election integrity’’ committee, a group of 24 R.N.C. members tasked with developing legislative proposals on voting systems. The committee is populated with officials who were deeply involved in the “stop the steal” effort to overturn former President Donald J. Trump’s election loss last year and who have refused, more than two months after President Biden’s inauguration, to admit publicly that his victory was legitimat…

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“Joe Manchin Faces Home State Pressure to Oppose Fellow Democrats’ Voting Bill”

…again underscoring his pivotal role as the Senate’s most prominent centrist. Mr. Manchin is the only senator on the Democratic side of the chamber who isn’t listed as a co-sponsor of the legislation. Last week he told reporters he was still reviewing it. All 49 other Senate Democrats back the bill, which would loosen state voter-identification requirements, expand mail-in voting and mandate online and same-day voter registration as well as early v…

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“Voting rights becomes a new battleground for US companies”

…rs took high-profile stances against racism. “Many of these same companies . . . made bold statements around racial equity. They had a commitment to racial equity, and healing a nation beyond racism,” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, one of the groups leading the campaign. “Now it makes me wonder: were their statements disingenuous? Were their statements just a marketing ploy?”…’ Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Polit…

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“Garland is the Last, Best Chance to Uncover Trump’s Role on January 6”

…ed, because most criminal investigations are conducted in secret, via grand-jury subpoenas. Garland could also announce charges, go to trial, and fail to win convictions, a debacle that would reinforce claims from Trump that he is the victim—and the unbowed survivor—of another deep-state plot against him. Yet facts, hopefully, remain weapons. That is why Garland should use his powers as Attorney General to exhaustively, and impartially, reconstruc…

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“Why the effects of Republican efforts to limit voting aren’t clear”

…ways of voting that were popular for Black voters and Democrats in 2020 (e.g. mail voting). Democrats and Black advocacy groups are, of course, up in arms and trying to stop the GOP.We can’t know how these changes, if they come to pass, would affect future elections. But by looking at two of the most prominent moves Republicans are trying to make, we can see it’s not at all clear that Republicans will succeed in helping their electoral prospects….

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“MAGA voters discovered a new home online. But it isn’t what it seems.”

…f high-octane MAGA content. In the nine weeks sincethe Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, SafeChat’s app has been downloaded more times than in all of 2020, quickly becoming a hotbed of conspiracy theories and disinformation that paints President Joe Biden’s new administration in the worst possible light. But the once-obscure social network, which touts its security protections and respect for free speech,is not just MAGA-friendly. It’s also a condu…

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“In Restricting Early Voting, the Right Sees a New ‘Center of Gravity’”

…tal heartbeat could be detected and opposing civil rights protections for L.G.B.T.Q. people. From their shared offices in suburban Virginia, they and their affiliated committees spent more than $20 million on elections last year. But after Donald J. Trump lost his bid for a second term and convinced millions of Americans that nonexistent fraud was to blame, the two groups found that many of their donors were thinking of throwing in the towel. Why,…

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Slimming Down Democracy Reform

…any existing voting opportunities. For his part, Rick would keep some of H.R. 1’s voting and redistricting provisions, add a new coverage formula for the Voting Rights Act, but scrap H.R. 1’s sections on campaign finance, ex-felon reenfranchisement, Supreme Court ethics, and presidential tax returns. Ned’s and Rick’s proposals are both motivated, in part, by a legislative calculation. They think their ideas would be more likely than H.R. 1 to att…

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“‘Dark money’ topped $1 billion in 2020, largely boosting Democrats”

…torically expensive cycle. That’s according to an estimate from OpenSecrets. The billion-dollar sum includes a whopping $660 million in donations from opaque political nonprofits and shell companies to outside groups. In 2020, dark money groups preferred to bankroll closely-tied super PACs rather than spend the money themselves — politically active nonprofits that do not disclose their donors reported roughly $88 million in direct election spendin…

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“Massive Facebook study on users’ doubt in vaccines finds a small group appears to play a big role in pushing the skepticism”

…ebook is conducting a vast behind-the-scenes study of doubts expressed by U.S. users about vaccines, a major project that attempts to probe and teach software to identify the medical attitudes of millions of Americans, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. The research is a large-scale attempt to understand the spread of ideas that contribute to vaccine hesitancy, or the act of delaying or refusing a vaccination despite its avail…

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“YouTube still hosts extremist videos. Here’s who watches them.”

…ese channels was highly concentrated. Among the 1 in 10 participants overall who watched at least one extremist video, for instance, many watched considerably more. Mean viewership of videos from extremist channels among those who saw at least one was 11.5. In total, 6 percent of participants in the study were responsible for 80 percent of consumption of videos from these channels. Similarly, the mean number of videos from alternative channels wat…

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“From vote to virus, misinformation campaign targets Latinos”

…eas that had been Democratic strongholds. Videos and pictures were doctored. Quotes were taken out of context. Conspiracy theories were fanned, including that voting by mail was rigged, that the Black Lives Matter movement had ties to witchcraft and that Biden was beholden to a cabal of socialists. That flow of misinformation has only intensified since Election Day, researchers and political analysts say, stoking Trump’s baseless claims that the e…

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“The Recount Arizona Republicans Are Calling for Has Big Implications”

…olen votes to whether Republican lawmakers will conduct a credible evidence-centered inquiry. “The Senate has and is doing a 100 percent audit, which is why we fought so hard to have access to all the data and documents,” Arizona Senate President Karen Fann wrote on Facebook on March 2. “We are doing extensive research, interviewing, and background checks to make sure we find the best team available… This is and has always been about election inte…

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“Biden Signs Order Meant to Make Voting Easier”

…process during the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 riot that erupted at the U.S. Capitol after that predecessor, Donald J. Trump, repeatedly sought to overturn the election results. The executive order is relatively limited in scope. It calls upon officials at federal agencies to study and potentially expand access to voter registration materials, especially for those with disabilities, incarcerated people and other historically underserved groups….

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Scoring District Plans Instantly

…ironments. What might be the uses of this information? Here are a few: If H.R. 1 becomes law, it would presumptively bar congressional plans with partisan skews above certain thresholds. PlanScore’s analyses could quickly reveal whether draft maps are likely to fall above or below these limits. In states whose constitutions have been construed to prohibit partisan gerrymandering (like North Carolina and Pennsylvania), PlanScore’s analyses could in…

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“The most engaging political news on Facebook? Far-right misinformation.”

…ebook engagement for news sources across the political spectrum between Aug. 10, 2020 and Jan. 11, 2021, and found that on average, far-right pages that regularly trade in misinformation raked in 65% more engagement per follower than other far-right pages that aren’t known for spreading misinformation. That finding was specific to the far right. In every other category — including far left, slightly left, center and slightly right — misinformation…

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“How Pro-Trump Forces Pushed a Lie About Antifa at the Capitol Riot”

NYT: At 1:51 p.m. on Jan. 6, a right-wing radio host named Michael D. Brown wrote on Twitter that rioters had breached the United States Capitol — and immediately speculated about who was really to blame. “Antifa or BLM or other insurgents could be doing it disguised as Trump supporters,” Mr. Brown wrote, using shorthand for Black Lives Matter. “Come on, man, have you never heard of psyops?” Only 13,000 people follow Mr. Brown on Twitter, but hi…

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“Some local GOP leaders fire up base with conspiracies, lies”

…tion be overturned, sometimes in deleted posts or now-removed online forums. “Sham-peachment,” they say, and warn that “corporate America helped rig the election.” They call former president Donald Trump a “savior” who was robbed of a second term — despite no evidence — and President Joe Biden, a “thief.” “Patriots want answers,” they declare. The bitter, combative rhetoric is helping the officials grow their constituencies on social media and gai…

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“Mark Changed The Rules’: How Facebook Went Easy On Alex Jones And Other Right-Wing Figures

…llowers could continue to share his lies across the world’s largest social network. “Mark personally didn’t like the punishment, so he changed the rules,” a former policy employee told BuzzFeed News, noting that the original rule had already been in use and represented the product of untold hours of work between multiple teams and experts.“Mark personally didn’t like the punishment, so he changed the rules.” “That was the first time I experienced…

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Trump Lawyers File Supplemental Brief in Supreme Court Urging Court to Hear Challenge to Wisconsin Election Case (Arguing Trump May Run for President Again So Case Falls in a Mootness Exception)

…e critical in a subsequent presidential election…. Footnote 5 reads: See, e.g., “Inauguration Day isn’t the end of the Trump era. It’s just the beginning.” USA Today, January 17, 2021 (“President Donald Trump would enjoy an almost certain early favorite status in an open 2024 Republican primary”), available at: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/01/17/paleologos-polltrump-era-just-getting-started/4196345001/; “It’s still Trump’s par…

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“A quarter of Trump’s 6,081 Facebook posts last year featured misinformation or extreme rhetoric”

…ust seven posts by Trump and his campaign, four of which were for copyright-related issues. Trump and his campaign shared an account. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone pointed out that not all forms of misinformation related to the election or covid-19 were banned by the company, and that Facebook removed Trump’s posts in the handful of instances where executives found that they violated the social network’s policies. In instances when Trump and other…

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“The COVID States Project #39: Public attitudes towards the storming of the Capitol building”

…suppression and intimidation), with Democrats somewhat more concerned (by 7-8 points). Democrats and Republicans were about equally concerned regarding foreign country interference (62% vs 61%). The big differences between Democrats and Republicans emerged with regard to the integrity of the votes that were cast. Republicans were much more worried than Democrats about mail-in voter fraud (80% vs. 32%), illegal votes from non-citizens (79% vs. 33%)…

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“Democracy Is Weakening Right in Front of Us; Is technopessimism our new future?”

…the internet are, in fact, endangering democracy itself. Democracies pay a price for internet freedom, under this view, in the form of disinformation, hate speech, incitement, and foreign interference in elections. Writing separately in an email, Persily argued that Twitter and Facebook allowed Trump both to get around legacy intermediaries and to manipulate them by setting their agenda. They also provided environments (such as Facebook groups) th…

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“Lawsuits arrive for networks and lawyers who backed Donald Trump; Dominion and Smartmatic allege that conspiracy theories involving their products are defamatory”

…Smart Steve Mazie in The Economist: The First Amendment grants plenty of room for robust debate; plaintiffs seeking damages for defamatory statements face an appropriately steep climb. On the rare occasions when libel or slander claims stick, the defamed entity is typically the only compensated party. These voting-technology suits may offer a wider public benefit: curbing the spread of disinformation that destabilises democracy itself….

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Tom Coleman and John Danforth: “Opinion: Congress must invoke the 14th Amendment to stop Trump from running again”

…, tragically, in multiple deaths. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed these facts in his statement following the Senate vote. Such anti-democratic conduct should disqualify Trump from ever holding future public office. While conviction by the Senate would have been the best and quickest route to disqualification, because that failed, Congress can — and must — pursue an alternative path to protecting our republic from a future…

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“Study: How Online Propagandists Targeted The 2020 Election”

…curity team. “This is a lot of what we talked about with you at CISA [the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] in the lead-up [to Election Day], anticipating that were there were problems experienced, and then in the contested elections, those would be used to blow out of proportion or lie about what was actually taking place,” Masterson said, speaking to the nation’s state election directors in early February at a winter 2021 co…

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“Are Douglass Mackey’s Memes Illegal?”

…now being prosecuted (as to this and as to other memes) for violating 18 U.S.C. § 241, a federal law that punishes conspiracies “to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person … in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution”—namely, the right to vote. Lying to voters in a way that keeps them from voting, the theory goes, is a crime. Is this sort of prosecution constitutional? After all, peo…

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Letter to Facebook’s Oversight Board Supporting Trump Deplatforming As a Necessary Last Resort

…al capacities to offer comments on the indefinite deplatforming of former U.S. President Donald J. Trump from Facebook and Instagram following his remarks during the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. This letter also addresses related questions raised in the Board’s call for public comments. As scholars and leaders who have long studied election laws, democratic theory, the United States Constitution’s First Amendment, American politics,…

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“Last-Minute Tweaks to Voting Machine Standards Raise Cyber Fears”

…and the security of our election systems.” “We cannot sanction the use of online networking capabilities when they carry the very real and increased risk of cyber-attacks, at scale, on our voting machines,” reads the letter…. Meanwhile, others are asking the EAC to explain why changes to a document 15 years in the making were made less than two weeks before the scheduled vote. “The issue here is the EAC made changes to some of the most commented-…

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“60% of President Donald Trump’s post-election tweets sought to undermine legitimacy of presidential race”

…e election with the goal of manufacturing a crisis of confidence and overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election,” said Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman. Penniman continued: “Social media companies must do more to combat disinformation online, particularly when it comes to America’s elections. Moreover, a healthy democracy requires a commitment to norms that bolster the electorate’s faith in elections, including a willingness…

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“January 6 Was Just One Day in a Sustained Campaign”

…in American history. Donald Trump’s role in them will rightly be part of his trial. But the unprecedented attack on the Capitol was the culmination of a much larger campaign to subvert the legitimacy of the election. Whether that campaign is best understood as “The Big Lie” or “The Big Delusion,” it is what must be most forcefully condemned, for the health of American government and American democracy going forward….

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“Was Election Denial Just a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme? Donors’ Lawsuits Look for Answers” (with Juicy Tidbits on True the Vote Lawsuit)

…idate the Vote,” True the Vote even budgeted $700,000 for a battle in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the end, True the Vote filed suit in just four states and voluntarily dismissed those four suits just days later, before any hearings had taken place. The group has offered various explanations for the dismissals. In one email to supporters, the group referenced “an excruciating series of events that will one day be known, but now is not the time to ai…

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“Sen. Warner to unveil bill reining in Section 230, seeking to help users fight back against real-world harm”

…f life or other irreparable harm. “How can we continue to give this get-out-of-jail card to these platforms that constantly do nothing to address the foreseeable, obvious and repeated misuse of their products and services to cause harm? That was kind of our operating premise,” Warner said. Ultimately, it would be up to a judge to decide the merits of these claims; the bill mostly opens the door for web users to argue their cases without running as…

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“Democracy’s Denominator”

…the power of randomized redistricting to investigate the representational effects of a different apportionment base. We create two sets of simulated maps—one equalizing districts’ total populations, the other equalizing their CVAPs—for ten states with particularly small CVAP shares. We find that minority representation would decline significantly if states were to equalize CVAP instead of total population. Across the ten states in our dataset, th…

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More on Small Donors: “Hawley rakes in grassroots cash after Capitol attack”

…Missouri Republican after the Capitol insurrection that followed the Hawley-led gambit. But his grassroots fundraising bonanza in the weeks after shows the GOP base still firmly in Hawley’s camp. What’s new: According to a memo released by Hawley’s campaign on Monday, his political operation brought in $969,000 in January. That’s more than Hawley’s campaign has raised in any single month since October 2018, just before he was elected to the Senate…

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“Trump’s Sleight of Hand: Shouting Fraud, Pocketing Donors’ Cash for Future”

…and other legal bills related to those claims. Instead, Mr. Trump and the G.O.P. stored away much of the money — $175 million or so — even as they continued to issue breathless, aggressive and often misleading appeals for cash that promised it would help with recounts, the rooting out of election fraud and even the Republican candidates’ chances in the two Senate runoff races in Georgia. What fraction of the money Mr. Trump did spend after the ele…

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Which Candidates Benefit Most from Small Donors?

…s a list from the Open Secrets website of those members of Congress elected in 2018 who raised more than 50% of their funds from small donors (the data for 2020 is not yet available).   Member of Congress Total from Small Donors Percent from Small Donors 1 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) $14,773,247 78.18% 2 Matt Gaetz (R) $3,870,740 65.09% 3 Jim Jordan (R) $11,263,113 64.21% 4 Adam Schiff (D) $11,427,347 58.96% 5 Ilhan Omar (D) $3,301,638 57.74% 6 N…

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“Do Facebook, Twitter and YouTube censor conservatives? Claims ‘not supported by the facts,’ new research says”

…itics, Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube are not slanted against right-leaning users, a new report out of New York University found. Like previous research, “False Accusation: The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives,” concludes that, rather than censoring conservatives, social media platforms amplify their voices. “Republicans, or more broadly conservatives, have been spreading a form of disinformation on how they…

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“The Gerrymander Battles Loom, as G.O.P. Looks to Press Its Advantage”

…ats after the 2020 census is tabulated. Some election experts believe the G.O.P. could retake the House in 2022 based solely on gains from newly drawn districts. Already, Republicans are discussing redrawing two suburban Atlanta districts held by Democrats to make one of them more Republican; slicing Democratic sections out of a Houston district that Republicans lost in 2018; and carving up a northeastern Ohio district held by Democrats since 1985…

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“Facebook Knew Calls for Violence Plagued ‘Groups,’ Now Plans Overhaul”

…tive Mark Zuckerberg called them the new “heart of the app.” Now the social-networking giant is clamping down on Groups. The effort began after Facebook’s own research found that American Facebook Groups became a vector for the rabid partisanship and even calls for violence that inflamed the country after the election. The changes, which Facebook escalated after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, involve overhauling the mechanics of a product th…

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New CA Secretary of State Shirley Weber to Participate in USC Panel Thursday

…Turnout—Is this the new norm? Featuring: California Secretary of State, Dr. Shirley N. Weber, First Black Secretary of State and fifth African American to serve as a state constitutional officer Dr. Bernard L. Fraga, Political scientist, author, and associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Emory University Dan Schnur, Professor at the University of California – Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, Pepperdine Universi…

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“Political process theory and institutional realism”

…lity of the process and decision-making underlying the institution’s action.. . . Confronted with the array of challenges and threats to democracy today, constitutional scholars, perhaps understandably, turn to courts and legal doctrine. But the challenges democracies face today are so much more profound than those at the time of Democracy and Distrust (or at least than the problems on which Ely’s work focused) that we must turn to matters of demo…

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