Wonkbook: Assessing the fallout from the Hobby Lobby ruling

July 7

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Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: (1) The rapidly growing Hobby Lobby fallout; (2) the jobs report was great but...; (3) beyond the surface in the border crisis; (4) putting green into clean energy; and (5) how polarized are we as a nation?

1. Top story: How much can Hobby Lobby's reach grow, and how quickly?

The White House must move fast on expanding contraception coverage. "Legal and health care experts expect a rush to court involving scores of employers seeking to take advantage of the two decisions, one involving Hobby Lobby Stores, which affects for-profit businesses, and the other on Wheaton College that concerns religiously affiliated nonprofit groups. About 100 cases are pending. One proposal...would put companies’ insurers or health plan administrators on the spot for contraceptive coverage, with details of reimbursement to be worked out later. Another would give the administration itself a larger role in offering cost-free coverage...although the option for a new government entitlement appears unrealistic." Robert Pear and Adam Liptak in The New York Times.

Justices let Wheaton escape mandate, at least for now. "The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Wheaton College doesn’t have to abide by the Obamacare contraceptive coverage requirement as long as the Christian school tells the Obama administration that it has a religious objection to providing birth control to its employees and students. The order from a 6-3 court, and a scathing dissent, may foreshadow the second round of legal battles expected to take place in the Supreme Court later this year....They were careful to say that Thursday’s order is not a reflection of their view on the merits of the case." Jennifer Haberkorn in Politico.

Primary source: The full text of the Supreme Court's Wheaton College order.

A rare but potentially important dissent? "Dissents to Supreme Court orders are rare, and a 17-page dissent to a curt, four-paragraph order is extraordinary. But Sotomayor is on to something: The Hobby Lobby decision...itself pushes the law a bit farther than many legal scholars are comfortable with. No one disputes the sincerity of the religious beliefs of the trustees of Wheaton College, or the evangelical owners of Hobby Lobby. And courts have long declined to inquire too closely into what precisely constitutes a religious belief. What the majority did in Hobby Lobby, however, was to allow the plaintiff also to determine what constitutes a 'substantial burden' upon it." Daniel Fisher in Forbes.

How wide can the Hobby Lobby ruling go? "Tuesday, the justices offered some clues: They declined to review three other cases won by plaintiffs who objected to covering all forms, and they sent three similar cases in which plaintiffs lost back to the lower courts to reconsider. Still, observers remain divided over just how broadly Monday's decision in the case brought by crafts retailer Hobby Lobby and cabinet maker Conestoga Wood Specialties should be read." Jayne O'Donnell and Kaitlyn Krasselt in USA Today.

Explainer: Myths and spin fly after Hobby Lobby decision. Some common questions, with answers. David Lauter in the Los Angeles Times.

Free birth control is emerging as a standard. "This week the Supreme Court allowed some employers with religious scruples to opt out, but most companies appear to be going in the opposite direction. Recent data from the IMS Institute document a sharp change during 2013. The share of privately insured women who got their birth control pills without a copayment jumped to 56 percent, from 14 percent in 2012. The law's requirement that most health plans cover birth control as prevention, at no additional cost to women, took full effect in 2013. The average annual saving for women was $269." Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in the Associated Press.

Here's what everyone has been missing in this debate. "Ginsburg, in her scathing dissent...made an important point about women's health that's been almost entirely overlooked elsewhere: For many American women, the birth-control pill has nothing to do with controlling births. It's a life-saving medicine....The decision...may affect millions of women who suffer from a variety of medical conditions. These women depend on the pill to regulate their hormones and do everything from ease pain to reduce the risk of cancer. These medical benefits have nothing to do with sex or the prevention of pregnancy....Even if these women never have sex once in their lives, they need to be on birth control." Lucia Graves in National Journal.

Other health care reads:

Why transforming the VA will be a daunting task. Craig Harris and Michelle Ye Hee Lee in The Arizona Republic.

Doctors may soon be paid for not making you wait. Bruce Japsen in Forbes.

Why liberals are abandoning the employer mandate. Paige Winfield Cunningham and Kyle Cheney in Politico.

HEALEY: The Supreme Court's muddy new ruling. "Despite Sotomayor's passionate response, the real-world result appears to be no change for Wheaton's employees, at least not yet. They'll still receive contraceptive coverage as part of their health plan, with no separate premium or added out-of-pocket costs. Clearly, the Hobby Lobby ruling wasn't the end of the story as far as the Supreme Court and the contraceptive mandate. But as the court demonstrated Thursday on Wheaton's injunction, sometimes the steps it takes appear larger than they really are." Jon Healey in the Los Angeles Times.

DOUTHAT: A company that liberals could love. "Of course I’m talking about Hobby Lobby, the Christian-owned craft store that’s currently playing the role of liberalism’s public enemy No. 1....But this isn’t just a point about the company’s particular virtues. The entire conflict between religious liberty and cultural liberalism has created an interesting situation in our politics: The political left is expending a remarkable amount of energy trying to fine, vilify and bring to heel organizations — charities, hospitals, schools and mission-infused businesses — whose commitments they might under other circumstances extol." Ross Douthat in The New York Times.

Top opinion

KRUGMAN: Build, we won't. "We can’t simply write a check to the highway fund, we’re told, because that would increase the deficit. And deficits are evil, at least when there’s a Democrat in the White House, even if the government can borrow at incredibly low interest rates. And we can’t raise gas taxes because that would be a tax increase, and tax increases are even more evil than deficits. So our roads must be allowed to fall into disrepair. If this sounds crazy, that’s because it is. But similar logic lies behind the overall plunge in public investment....What’s useful about the looming highway crisis is that it illustrates just how self-destructive that political choice has become." Paul Krugman in The New York Times.

SALAM: Why wage subsidies are superior to unconditional income support. "Should the goal of anti-poverty policy be, as Columbia University political scientist Chris Blattman suggests, to purchase a better life for poor people through the use of cash transfers, or should it be to help poor people become less poor by helping them raise their earning potential, as the Campaign for Boring Development (CBD) argues?...Their disagreement is relevant to poverty-fighting efforts in the United States....While a UBI is a policy that will make poverty more tolerable, wage subsidies have the potential to, over time, make poverty less pervasive." Reihan Salam in National Review.

NEUMARK: Who really benefits from the minimum wage: Not so much the poor. "Because the EITC operates through the tax code, it also has the virtue, in this era of rising inequality, of being financed disproportionately by those with the highest incomes. Raising the minimum wage is ineffective on that score because it is paid by those who hire low-wage labor. Some employers of low-wage labor may be rich, but many are not. The desire to help poor and low-income families is understandable. But increasing the minimum wage is a misguided way to do it." David Neumark in The Wall Street Journal.

THOMPSON: Stop freaking out about millennials living in their parents' basement. "The personal reason to worry about young people is that they're not making enough money. The big-picture reason to worry about young people is that their not making enough money has been dreadful for the U.S. housing market. The faster the economy grows, the faster young people can get back to their historic role of marrying, buying houses, and replenishing the top soil of economic growth." Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.

LEHRER: A conservative vision on climate change. "While many on the environmental left tend to overstate their case, there’s little doubt that the climate is changing and that human activity plays a major role in this shift. In fact, not even those conservatives whom the left unfairly tars as 'deniers' dispute that....Negative consequences likely will outweigh positive ones by a large margin. However, many current government programs are downright counterproductive in dealing with climate change. It’s time to respond. Conservatives should address climate change. And they can do it without giving up a single conservative principle." Eli Lehrer in National Review.

Cute interlude: Puppy tries his best to see the new baby.

2. No, you still can't break out the champagne after the jobs report. At least not yet.

Finally, this is the jobs recovery we've been looking for? "Unemployment fell for the good reason that more people were getting work rather than more people were giving up, as the labor force grew by 81,000. Revisions, which tend to be pro-cyclical, added another 29,000 jobs to the previous two months. And the 2.5 million jobs the economy has added the past 12 months make it the best year of the recovery so far. And...the 3-month average of job growth — 271,000 now — is almost the best of the recovery, too. The only times it's been better were after the Census hiring temporarily boosted the numbers in 2010, and when the economy briefly looked like it was achieving escape velocity in early 2012." Matt O'Brien in The Washington Post.

Primary sources:

The June jobs report.

Top White House economist: We still must do more. Jason Furman in The Washington Post.

Explainers:

5 takeaways: "The jobless rate fell for the right reasons....More workers and time at work signal GDP jump....Manufacturing jumps on the jobs bandwagon....So does city hall....Factory hiring could help wage growth." Kathleen Madigan in The Wall Street Journal.

Economists' reactions to the jobs report: "Early fireworks." Sarah Portlock in The Wall Street Journal.

Some reasons for muted optimisim. "This isn’t one of those months when some good headline data is undermined by the fine print....The unemployment rate fell because 325,000 fewer people were unemployed and 407,000 more people had jobs — not because people just dropped out of the labor market. Revisions to April and May numbers were positive. Perhaps the best news was on worker pay: The index of weekly payrolls for private-sector workers rose a nice 0.4 percent....But if this halting, sluggish recovery has taught us anything, it is to not let our assessments of the economy be driven by hope, but rather by sustained and credible improvement in a wide range of economic data." Neil Irwin in The New York Times.

@USATODAY: Why does Wall St. obsess over jobs data? Because the Fed, reading a economic upswing, may hike interest rates: http://usat.ly/1mnGhrx

Can we expect the Fed to change things up? "Probably not for now, although a change in the rhetoric is perhaps not that far off. Janet Yellen, the Fed's chairman, seems relaxed enough with the way things are. She has expressed a willingness to leave policy on hold, with a gradual tapering away of the asset-purchase programme and no increase in interest rates until there is either a fall in the unemployment rate below 6% or there is an obvious acceleration in wage growth. After describing signs of growing inflationary pressure as 'noise', Yellen will no doubt be comforted by the latest data." Larry Elliott in The Guardian.

Jobs gains mask softer spots, presenting a challenge to Fed. "Consumer spending remains weak, a consequence of...new jobs but skimpy wage growth. And the...labor-force participation rate...is near its lowest levels since the late 1970s, despite steady hiring....Improvement in top-line metrics such as unemployment and inflation, both of which are nearing the central bank's targets, is spurring speculation about earlier-than-expected rate increases even though gauges under the surface show the recovery remains soft. Other data show the broader economy is still struggling to rebound from an unusually sharp decline in the first three months of the year." Jonathan House and Eric Morath in The Wall Street Journal.

What else the Fed has an eye on: More are stuck in part-time work. "The number of people in part-time jobs jumped by more than 1 million in June to 27 million...making it one of the corners of the labor market that has been slowest to heal. That has led to worries that the workforce may be becoming permanently polarized, with part-timers stuck on one side and full-time workers on the other....Washington has begun to take notice. As the unemployment rate has dropped, the debate among policymakers has expanded from providing aid to those without a job to include improving conditions for those who do." Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.

Another lingering point of weakness: the 'Shadow unemployed.' "Finally, we have the people who are not counted as unemployed because they are not actively seeking work. We don’t know how many of these people might return to the labor market as the economy improves. One simple measure: In June, the government reported that 2.7 percent of American adults said they were not actively looking for work, but they would still like a job now. About 2 percent of adults were in that category in December 2007." Binyamin Appelbaum in The New York Times.

Related: Jobs report masks woes of long-term unemployed. Rob Garver in The Fiscal Times.

The other jobs number that was strong: Jobless claims at 315,000. "This level of claims is right around where claims were before the financial crisis hit. It is also a vast improvement over the middle of the recession, when claims were more than double where they are now." Danielle Kurtzleben in Vox.

Meanwhile, over on Capitol Hill... Nope, still nothing. John Bresnahan in Politico.

Will the push to extend long-term jobless benefits survive this jobs report? "Republicans will almost certainly point to this as evidence that the urgency to renew insurance benefits has declined. Or, more likely, that the cancellation of that insurance prompted the decline, as the long-term unemployed, without support from the government, find jobs. There's a long-standing debate over whether such cancellations actually have that effect....But that's a tough question to answer. Which makes Reed and Heller's task even harder." Philip Bump in The Washington Post.

IMF chief Lagarde still not convinced about the global economy's strength. "Lagarde signaled a cut in the institution’s global growth forecasts, saying investment is still weak and that risks remain in the U.S. even as its rebound accelerates....The remarks underline the threats to global economic growth at a time when the U.S. Federal Reserve is trimming stimulus and the European Central Bank is fighting inflation that is less than half its targeted level." Mark Deen and Francois de Beaupuy in Bloomberg.

Explainer: What's making the U.S. economy a world-beater? 5 factors. Paul Wiseman in the Associated Press.

Could the ECB add some QE of its own? "A raft of policy measures introduced last month will help lift inflation and support bank lending but the European Central Bank stands ready to create money in future if required, President Mario Draghi said on Thursday. The ECB left interest rates steady a month after cutting them to record lows and pushing the deposit rate into negative territory for the first time — effectively charging banks for holding their money overnight to prompt them to lend to businesses." Eva Taylor and Paul Carrel in Reuters.

Good charts to put the jobs report in perspective:

How every state in the U.S. has fared since the recession, in 1 chart. Quoctrung Bui in NPR.

Hiring pickup aided by rare source of strength: governments. Eric Morath in The Wall Street Journal.

@bencasselman: Far and away the best half of the recovery. pic.twitter.com/8E3FQhI5jr

Other economic reads:

Long read: The U.S. productivity puzzle. Robin Harding in The Financial Times.

U.S. services sector accelerates in June. Reuters.

U.S. trade gap narrows, but headwinds persist. Eric Morath in The Wall Street Journal.

As food prices rise, Fed keeps a watchful eye. Ben Leubsdorf and Jon Hilsenrath in The Wall Street Journal.

Obama not mulling specific Wall St. reforms, spokesman says. Kate Davidson in Politico.

BERNSTEIN: Strong jobs numbers raise questions about GDP shrinkage. "To see why, note that real G.D.P. growth equals productivity growth plus job growth (or, more precisely, hours-of-work growth, but that’s close enough for jazz). Rearrange that little equation...and you get productivity growth equals G.D.P. growth minus job growth. Since G.D.P. was a big negative in the first quarter, and employment has not just been growing but accelerating, it would seem the only way that equation makes sense would be if productivity had totally collapsed: As if the nation’s work force had suddenly forgotten how to make goods or provide services. That didn’t happen." Jared Bernstein in The New York Times.

EL-ERIAN: The report's Fed tea leaves. "If this robust June jobs report is repeated in the months ahead — and it remains a big if given still-weak wage growth dynamics and structural headwinds — the Federal Reserve would do more than completely exit its asset purchase program, also known as quantitative easing. It would also have to accelerate its interest rate hikes. Until then, financial markets will continue to benefit from central banks that are ready to bet big on the trade-off between greater economic gains today and possible financial instability in the future." Mohamed A. El-Erian in Bloomberg View.

World Cup interlude: Team USA goalie Tim Howard for secretary of defense? Don't rule it out just yet.

3. Some less-publicized aspects of the child-migrant crisis

It's not just about children. It's also about moms. "The unprecedented influx of immigrant youth overwhelming federal shelters has captured most of the headlines and roiled debate in Washington over how to solve the crisis....But an equally alarming — and less publicized — tide of women from those same countries are crossing over each day, children in tow. They're employing the same strategies as the unaccompanied minors: crossing the Rio Grande...and turning themselves in to the nearest Border Patrol unit. Border Patrol statistics show it's not just children crossing." Rick Jervis in USA Today.

Some may try to enter the U.S. multiple times, despite deportation threats. "The Obama administration says it will try to speed up deportations of tens of thousands of children who have illegally entered the U.S. from Central America in recent months. It's part of a stronger message the administration is hoping gets back to would-be migrants contemplating coming to the U.S. But the message isn't getting through, and even those who have recently been deported say they will try again." Carrie Kahn in NPR.

New port-of-entry deportation data don't help that message. "The number of immigrants under 18 who were deported or turned away at ports of entry fell from 8,143 in 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, to 1,669 last year, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data released under a Freedom of Information Act request. Similarly, about 600 minors were ordered deported each year from nonborder states a decade ago. Ninety-five were deported last year...even as a flood of unaccompanied minors from Central America...began pouring across the Southwest border." Brian Bennett in the Los Angeles Times.

A public-health crisis in the works? "Diseases that are endemic to other countries are not always the same ones that we face in the United States....It is the reason immigrants who enter this country legally face rigorous screenings in advance of entry....Proof of vaccination is also mandatory....None of these rigorous screenings can be done in advance of entry on people who enter this country illegally and undetected. And once people are detained, the screenings they receive are not nearly as rigorous or effective....This is the reason that we have a potential public health crisis along our southern border." Marc Siegel in Slate.

The fast-tracked deportations could turn away kids who qualify for asylum. "The administration is considering making changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which requires that unaccompanied child migrants, excluding those from Canada or Mexico, who are apprehended by Border Patrol agents be held in custody...before they can be transferred to the care of a family member or sponsor while awaiting trial in an immigration court. Thus far, children...have been covered by these requirements, but the proposed changes would give them the same treatment as children arriving from Mexico and Canada." Brianna Lee in International Business Times.

Background reading: Our previous coverage: What the administration is doing about the child-migrant crisis and migrant-crisis policy dilemmas.

Other immigration reads:

Obama vows border fixes as protests go on. John D. McKinnon and Sheila V Kumar in The Wall Street Journal.

Sports interlude: Remembering Lou Gehrig, major leaguers recite his famous speech 75 years later.

4. How new trends in finance are making it easier to be green

U.S. clean-energy loan guarantees are back. "The Energy Department is taking applications for up to $4 billion of federal loan guarantees for renewable and energy-efficiency projects. It's a restart of the federal program that garnered heavy Republican criticism for backing a handful of failed ventures, most notably...Solyndra....Thursday's development builds on an earlier retooling of an alternative vehicle loan program that has $8 billion of debt authority remaining....Losses have stayed far under the $10 billion Congress set aside for the loan portfolio, and has credited it with invigorating the clean technology industry." Zack Colman in the Washington Examiner.

Clean-energy finance: The new way colleges are going green. "In the past, colleges and universities 'went green' by holding recycling challenges or encouraging students to turn down their air conditioners when the days got a little too sultry....To make real changes, university leaders realized, they needed to change the fundamental ways they did things." Laura Arenschield in the Columbus Dispatch.

Renewable power will be the benefactor of future investment. "Renewable energy may reap as much as two-thirds of the $7.7 trillion in investment forecast for building new power plants by 2030 as declining costs make it more competitive with fossil fuels. About half of the investment will be in Asia, the region where power capacity will grow the most, according to...a report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance....A glut of solar and wind manufacturing capacity has brought down prices of cells and turbines. That’s making clean energy plants in more locations profitable even though governments...are scaling back incentives." Marc Roca in Bloomberg.

But coal could score a win in Ex-Im Bank fight. "Both of the working proposals in the House and Senate to renew the bank’s charter would reverse Ex-Im guidelines that prevent financing for overseas power plants that decline to adopt greener technology. Bank officials adopted the policies, which included exemptions for the world's poorest nations, in December amid the Obama administration's broader push to address climate change....Thanks to the looming Sept. 30 deadline...opponents of the power plant guidelines are seizing on the time crunch to win concessions." Kevin Cirilli in The Hill.

Other energy/environmental reads:

A watershed moment for fracking foes? Timothy Cama in The Hill.

Fourth of July science interlude: A chemist explains the science of fireworks.

5. How bad is political polarization right now?

What remains of the political center? The answer's not so simple. "We are in a time in which there are both rising expressions of independence from the two major parties by many Americans and elections in which the red-blue divisions are increasingly stark. Party identification tells one part of it, the story of a country moving away from allegiance to the major political parties....Voting behavior tells a different story....The percentage of true independents may be only about 10 percent of the electorate....However disparate, however disengaged and whatever its size, the middle of the electorate cannot be ignored by either party." Dan Balz in The Washington Post.

Forget the whole red-blue dichotomy. Maybe we do agree on things, after all? "That, at least, is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC)....The analysis found overwhelming convergence in attitudes, regardless of the makeup of the state or district where people live....Kull doesn’t dispute the fact that Congress is polarized along partisan lines. But he said it’s wrong to blame that on a polarized population. Members of Congress, he said, are responding not to their constituents but to the power...of special interests that have their own, partisan agendas." Dan Balz in The Washington Post.

Counterpoint: Why gridlock in Washington is your fault. "The main problem with the study is that it focuses on red and blue states/districts and not red and blue people. The fact is that the vast majority of states and districts include healthy amounts of both Republicans and Democrats....Those large clumps of opposition voters in both red and blue states mean that, unless either side is overwhelmingly united on a given issue (i.e. more than 80 percent), a red state is likely to have the same position as a blue state, and it's going to look like a big kumbaya moment." Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.

Our misperceptions of polarization's extent may make us more polarized. "Participants given the correct information were 8 percent more moderate than those not given the correct information. Among participants who actually reported being surprised by this correct information, the effect was even larger....Telling people that the world isn’t as polarized as they thought actually made their own views more moderate. To be sure, there are real differences in political opinions between liberals and conservatives. But Ahler’s work — as well as some other research — suggests that we don’t perceive those differences accurately." John Sides in The Washington Post.

Video interview: Can Larry Lessig defeat polarization? Vox.

Partisan conflict is a drag on the economy. "Partisan political bickering is driving up government budget deficits and holding down job creation, business investment and overall U.S. economic growth, according to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The economic effects of rising partisan conflict 'are not only large but also persistent' and 'may help explain part of the slow recovery following the Great Recession,' wrote Marina Azzimonti, an economist at the Philadelphia Fed, in a new working paper." Ben Leubsdorf in The Wall Street Journal.

Background readings:

Our previous coverage: The American center is shrinking.

Soft money's squishy political influence. Derek Willis in The New York Times.

Geography lesson interlude: The America you don't see — in one video.

Wonkblog roundup

How Obama can rein in Wall Street without going through Congress. Danielle Douglas.

Is this the jobs recovery we’ve been looking for? Matt O'Brien.

A century of change in the nation’s capital, in maps. Emily Badger.

Avoidable injuries are killing too many young Americans. Jason Millman.

21 maps and charts that prove America is Number One. Christopher Ingraham.

Hating on big banks and big business could be the next big thing in Washington. Zachary A. Goldfarb.

An American Fourth of July, made in China. Christopher Ingraham.

Economy adds 288k jobs in June; jobless rate falls to 6.1 percent. Ylan Q. Mui.

Et Cetera

First lady bucks GOP on school food rules. Darlene Superville in the Associated Press.

Even with sanctions, U.S. sales to Russia hit new high. Ian Talley in The Wall Street Journal.

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are. Barton Gellman, Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani in The Washington Post.

Corinthian Colleges' dismantling begins as U.S., for-profit provider reach agreement. Paul Fain in Inside Higher Ed.

What do experts think of the future of the Web? Pew Research Center.

Got tips, additions, or commentsE-mail us.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams and Ryan McCarthy.

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UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
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