Melania Trump closes second night of RNC marked by apparent violations of Hatch Act – live

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Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron received praise from his.....tay tuned.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron received praise from his fellow Republicans for his speech at the convention tonight.

“I think often about my ancestors who struggled for freedom,” said Cameron, the first black attorney general in Kentucky. “I also think about Joe Biden who says ‘If you aren’t voting for me, you ain’t Black,’ who argued that Republicans would put us back in chains, who said there is no diversity of thought in the Black community.”

Cameron went on to say, “Mr Vice President, look at me. I am black; we are not all the same, sir. I am not in chains. My mind is my own.”

Some commentators praised Cameron as a potential breakout star of the convention:

But a number of others were quick to criticize Cameron for not having yet pressed charges against the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was fatally shot by the officers as they carried out a no-knock warrant.

Joe Biden’s campaign released a separate statement accusing Republicans of using immigrants as “props,” after the convention featured a naturalization ceremony in tonight’s programming.

Jennifer Molina, the Biden campaign’s Latino media director, said in a statement, “We can’t afford four more years of the Administration and will not be persuaded by gimmicks. Immigrants and Latinos are not props, and these empty gestures won’t make us forget Donald Trump’s failures.”

The televised naturalization ceremony and pardoning tonight also prompted some commentators, such as MSNBC anchor Joy Ann Reid, to accuse Trump of improperly using his presidential powers for political gain.

A former associate counsel in the White House Counsel’s Office, Daniel Jacobson, explains that while the Office of Special Counsel has the authority to enforce the Hatch Act, it hasn’t been aggressive in doing so:

Jacobson also noted that if the naturalization ceremony featured during the RNC was filmed by staff “knowing and intending that it would be used at the convention (which they obviously did), it violates the law”.

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

The Biden campaign’s communications Director Kate Bedingfield said the RNC presented “an alternative reality” and a “delusion”:

In this delusion, thousands of Americans didn’t die in the last week from Covid-19, nor have millions of Americans been infected or put out of work. Our economy hasn’t ground to a halt and our kids aren’t being kept home from school. Donald Trump’s continual refusal to take this virus seriously has given the United States the worst outbreak in the world, and his convention’s refusal to come to grips with reality or acknowledge the magnitude of the loss is a stark reminder to Americans of his complete failure to lead.

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

A White House official told the Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus that they’d worked around the Hatch Act...

It’s unclear if the reasoning will hold up to legal scrutiny.

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

The government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has been documenting what it calls a pattern of Hatch Act violations by the Trump administration.

“We’ve never seen this many repeated Hatch Act violations by senior officials of an administration in so short a time,” the group has noted in a statement documenting alleged violations throughout Trump’s tenure.

Kathleen Clark, a legal and government ethics professor at Washington University School of Law in St Louis, noted that the RNC video of Donald Trump and Chad Wolf presiding over a naturalization ceremony amounted to a crime:

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

That the White House would feature in the convention so prominently had raised early concerns that the convention was in violation of the Hatch Act, which bans government employees from participating in politics while they’re at work.

The president and vice president are both exempt from the act, but other officials who participated in the RNC tonight – including Chad Wolf, the acting head of homeland security, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state – are not.

The Office of Special Counsel told Congressional Democrats earlier this month that although Trump could deliver his speech from White House grounds, the Hatch Act prevented White House employees from working the event.

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

Today both Melania Trump and Cissie Graham Lynch claimed that Trump was the first president to talk about the importance of religious freedom in front of the United Nations.

He was not.

Here is Barack Obama speaking about religious freedom in front of the UN.

Here is George W Bush doing the same.

– Maanvi Singh

During her speech, first lady Melania Trump said she admired her husband’s authentic approach to the job of president.

“Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking,” the first lady said of her husband.

Even the president’s critics would probably agree with that assessment.

“Like all of you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country,” Melania Trump said. “We are not proud of parts of our history.”

She has however, in the past defended her husband’s racist birtherism rampage against Barack Obama. In a 2011 interview with Joy Behar, Melanie Trump said that it wasn’t just her husband who wanted to see Obama’s birth certificate, “It’s American people who voted for him and who didn’t vote for him. They want to see that.”

Second night of the convention concludes

First lady Melania Trump has concluded her speech at the White House, wrapping up the second night of the Republican convention.

The blog will have more reactions and analysis coming up, so stay tuned.

Melania Trump said she admired her husband for never giving up on his policy agenda and for supporting her.

“Donald is a husband who supports me in all that I do,” Trump said. “We will be honored to serve this incredible country for four more years.”

Nearing the end of her speech, the first lady noted she had not spent much of her time criticizing Democrats.

“I don’t want to use this precious time attacking the other side, because, as we saw last week, that kind of talk only serves to divide the country further,” Trump said.

Melania Trump said she became a US citizen “after 10 years of paperwork and patience... with hard work and determination.”

Her experience isn’t unique – many immigrants (including this reporter) – have to wait years to obtain a green card and then citizenship. The arduous process has only gotten more so under the Trump administration, which, in addition to criminalizing and detaining migrants, imposing a “public charge” rule to deter immigrants from using benefits like food stamps and public healthcare, restricting travel from many Muslim-majority countries, and limiting the number of refugees admitted to a historical low, has overseen increases in backlogs for immigrants who’ve made it past the maze of deterrents and are seeking naturalization.

The time it takes for those who want citizenship to gain it is now nearly double what it was two years ago, per the New York Times.

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

Melania Trump touched on the national reckoning over racism in her speech at the Republican convention.

“I urge people to come together in a civil manner,” Trump said. “I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice. And never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin.”

As Trump spoke, protests continued in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an African American man who was repeatedly shot in the back by officers.

Melania Trump expressed admiration for her husband, who she noted was not a “traditional” politician.

“He demands action, and he gets results,” the first lady said of the president.

According to Politifact, Trump has broken about half of the promises he has made since becoming president.

Melania Trump said she was “honored” to have served as the first lady of the United States for the past three and a half years.

“It is my greatest honor to serve you,” Trump said in her convention speech.

The first lady’s speech so far has been very personal, from offering condolences to families affected by coronavirus to recounting her experience becoming a US citizen.

Melania Trump appears to be the first speaker tonight to offer sympathies to Americans suffering through the coronavirus pandemic – a reality that her husband, his administration officials and supporters have denied

“I want to acknowledge the fact that since March, our lives have changed drastically,” Melania Trump said. “My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one and my prayers with those who are suffering.”

Though more than 178,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 so far, the RNC has worked to distract from the devastatation. Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, tonight spoke about the ongoing pandemic in the past tense.

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

First lady Melania Trump reflected on her childhood in Slovenia and thanked her parents for all they did to help their family.

“It is because of you that I am standing here today,” Trump said to her parents.

The first lady then recounted her path to becoming an American citizen after arriving in the US at the age of 26. “It is still one of the proudest moments of my life,” Trump said.

First lady Melania Trump offered her condolences to Americans who have lost a loved one to coronavirus. More than 178,000 Americans have now died from the virus.

Trump pledged that her husband would not stop working until an effective treatment or vaccine was developed.

Melania Trump addresses Republican convention

Following an introductory video, first lady Melania Trump appeared at the podium in the White House Rose Garden to deliver her speech.

The first lady’s entrance was greeted with applause from the audience gathered in the Rose Garden.

Trump began by saying she and her husband were “humbled” and “grateful” for the support of voters who brought them victory in 2016.

A pardon, a naturalization ... and a violation?

Trump has now mixed the powers of his office with the spectacle of the convention on two occasions. First he gave a pardon to Jon Ponder, who became a prisoners’ rights advocate after being imprisoned for robbing a bank. Then he naturalized five immigrants in an official ceremony led by Chad Wolf, his acting head of homeland security.

Trump may be exempt from the Hatch Act, which prohibits “engaging in political activities while on duty, in a Government room or building”, but Wolf isn’t, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Updated

First lady Melania Trump will soon start delivering her convention speech from the White House Rose Garden.

The audience assembled at the White House applauded as second lady Karen Pence and Vice President Mike Pence arrived to watch the speech, followed by the president.

Speaking from Jerusalem, while he is on a taxpayer-funded diplomatic trip, Mike Pompeo is breaking a longstanding norm for officials to avoid partisanship while representing America abroad.

Eliot Engel, who chairs of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, noted the Pompeo’s appearance violates the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual, a memo from Pompeo’s own office, stating that “Senate-confirmed Presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event.”

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

Pompeo addresses convention from Jerusalem

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo addressed the Republican convention from Jerusalem.

Pompeo applauded Trump for making Americans’ “freedoms more secure.” “It may not have made him popular in every foreign capital, but it’s worked,” Pompeo said.

The cabinet secretary also applauded Trump for holding China accountable for coronavirus, even though the president repeatedly said at the onset of the outbreak that Beijing had the virus under control.

Among those who appeared at the White House naturalization ceremony presided by Trump were immigrants from Sudan, included in Trump’s restricted travel list – which he initially referred to as a “Muslim ban”.

The Trump administration this year added Sudan to his restricted travel list, which includes most countries with large Muslim populations. An immigrant from Lebanon also participated – though Lebanon was not on the list, reports revealed that travelers from Iran and Lebanon would be subjected to increased vetting.

Trump also infamously described El Salvador, Haiti and certain African nations as “shithole” countries.

– Maanvi Singh.

Note: this post has been amended to correct that Lebanon was not included on the original restricted travel list.

Updated

Eric Trump also repeated his president’s false claim that Joe Biden has pledged to defund the police.

In reality, Biden has said he does not support the movement to defund the police, which has attracted more attention since the police killing of George Floyd in May.

Eric Trump: 'It is a fight that only my father can win'

Eric Trump, the president’s son, echoed previous speakers’ claims that only Trump can protect the country from falling into Democrats’ dangerous hands.

Trump quoted former Republican President Ronald Reagan, who said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction … It must be fought for and protected.”

Trump said, “This is the fight that we are in right now – and it is a fight that only my father can win.”

The president’s son went on to attack Joe Biden as a “career politician” who has been “a total pushover for Communist China”, a message that was emphasized by Donald Trump Jr yesterday as well.

Updated

In making a case against Planned Parenthood, Abby Johnson – a former employee of the women’s health clinic who became an anti-abortion activist – raised the point that Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood’s founder, suppoorted eugenics.

It’s true that Sanger, who was long lauded as a feminist icon, has a dark legacy – which Planned Parenthood has recently acknowledged. Last month, the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York moved to esased Sanger’s name from its Manhattan health clinic.

The national organization has defended Sanger, citing her work with Black civil rights leaders, but has also condemned some of her beliefs, including her support for sterilization for those with disabilities.

“Planned Parenthood, like many other organizations that have existed for a century or more, is reckoning with our history,” Melanie Roussell Newman, a spokeswoman, said recently in a statement.

– Maanvi Singh

Trump oversees naturalization ceremony

Trump appeared in a prerecorded video of a naturalization ceremony at the White House, continuing tonight’s theme of putting his presidential power on display during the convention.

Acting secretary of homeland security Chad Wolf delivered the oath of citizenship to the five people participating in the ceremony.

The president announced earlier today he was nominating Wolf as the permanent secretary of homeland security.

Donald Trump stands with a newly naturalized US citizen during the Republican National Convention.
Donald Trump stands with a newly naturalized US citizen during the Republican National Convention. Photograph: Republican National Convention/Reuters

Updated

Echoing speakers from last night, Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez warned that Democrats were trying to “normalize socialism to dismantle our Constitution.”

In reality, Democrats are not trying to dismantle the Constitution, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden does not identify as a socialist.

Nuñez’s speech warning of “the socialist takeover of our nation” continued the dark, ominous theme that Republicans established during the first night of the convention, despite promising to deliver an optimistic message to voters.

Here’s some more counterprogramming from the DNC tonight:

Yesterday, the Democrats projected a list of lies from the president onto the Newseum in DC.

– MS

Vice President Mike Pence just made his first convention appearance of the night, in a prerecorded video taped at Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home in Pence’s home state of Indiana.

In the video, Pence delivered a tribute to Lincoln and spoke to six Americans who said their lives had been positively impacted by the Trump administration.

The Republican attorney and lobbyist Pam Bondi didn’t hold back while attacking the Biden family, charging Joe and Hunter with nepotism.

But as with many parts of the RNC so far – such as the Monday segment that accused Democrats of downplaying the pandemic – there was a certain degree of irony in her remarks. The following speaker was none other than Tiffany Trump, and Eric and Melania’s speeches are yet to come tonight.

Before Bondi spoke, a video promoting women in the White House also featured former Republican governor Mike Huckabee’s daughter Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Mitt Romney’s niece Ronna Romney McDaniels.

Iowa governor Kim Reynolds applauded Trump for helping her state after the recent devastating derecho.

“Iowans did what you expect Iowans to do. They helped each other. They took care of each other. And they still are,” Reynolds said in her convention speech. “But someone else also had our back: Our president.”

Reynolds thanked Trump for quickly signing a disaster declaration for the state. The president also visited Iowa for a storm damage update last week, before traveling on to Arizona for a campaign event, which was part of his counterprogramming during the Democratic National Convention.

Trump won Iowa by 9 points in 2016, but recent polls have shown a much closer race between the president and Joe Biden in the Hawkeye State.

“Why should there be one standard for the elite political class and another set of rules for the rest of us?” Bondi asked rhetorically.

In 2013, Trump made a $25,000 gift from his charity to support Bondi’s reelection as Florida attorney general. Right before, her office decided not to join a lawsuit lodged by New York against Trump University – offering the elite, politically well-connected businessman reprieve.

Trump later paid a fine for making the illegal campaign donation from his charity.

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

Tiffany Trump says father will uphold American ideals

The president’s daughter, Tiffany Trump, addressed the Republican convention, saying her father would protect American ideals.

“Like so many students across the world, I graduated from law school during the pandemic,” Trump said.

“Our generation is unified in facing the future in uncertain times – and many of us are considering what kind of country we want to live in.”

That comment was noteworthy, considering Joe Biden currently holds a more than 20-point lead over Trump among voters between 18 and 29.

“You see, Make America Great Again is not a slogan for my father, it is what drives him to keep his promise of doing what is right for American citizens,” Trump said. “A vote for my father, Donald J Trump, is a vote to uphold our American ideals.”

Updated

Fact check: Hunter Biden

Pam Bondi, the former Attorney General of Florida, has poured out a cascade of lies and misleading statements about Joe Biden’s record in Ukraine and his son Hunter Biden’s entanglement.

Joe Biden’s push to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin was supported by American allies, the International Monetary Fund and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists. There is no evidence that Hunter Biden, who was working for a Ukrainian firm, was under investigation by Shokin.

Here’s more background:

– Maanvi Singh

The convention played a video highlighting the women who work in the Trump administration, an apparent attempt to win over women voters.

A recent Fox News poll showed Joe Biden is 12 points ahead of Trump among women voters, which could seriously complicate the president’s path to victory in November.

Pam Bondi, the former attorney general of Florida, focused her convention speech on Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Republicans have accused the younger Biden of corruption in his foreign business dealings, allegations that the Bidens have repeatedly denied.

Republicans tried to make Biden’s business activity a key focus of Trump’s impeachment trial earlier this year.

But Democrats said the president’s allies were only trying to distract from Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into interfering with the presidential election.

Despite the US reporting 38,045 new coronavirus cases and 450 deaths yesterday, and the total death toll now approaching 180,000, Trump’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow has just referred to the pandemic in the past tense.

It hasn’t gone down well among some viewers:

Cissie Graham Lynch, the grandaughter evangelist Billy Graham, made this striking comment about the freedom of religion, and religious prosecution: “In America, we have not yet experienced physical persecution, even though the left has tried to silence us.”

Of course, people of color in America have experienced plenty of prosecution – for practicing their first amendment rights, including their freedom to practice religion from the very beginning. Native Americans were persecuted for practicing their religion and conducting tribal ceremonies.

– Maanvi Singh

Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic student who became a symbol of conservatives’ claims of liberal media bias, is now addressing the Republican convention.

Continuing the theme from last night, Sandmann denounced “cancel culture.” Recounting his experience last year after an encounter with a Native American activist, Sandmann said, “I learned that what was happening to me had a name. It was called being cancelled.”

Sandmann’s speech was the latest indication that the Republican convention would be defined by inflaming culture wars.

Cissie Graham Lynch, the granddaughter of the prominent evangelical leader Billy Graham, praised Trump as a defender of religious freedom.

Lynch criticized Democrats for trying to “allow boys to compete in girls’ sports and use girls’ locker rooms”, apparently belittling and misrepresenting transgender rights.

Updated

Larry Kudlow mentioned the Trump payroll tax deferral, that many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle oppose.

Trump has attempted to defer the payroll tax liabilities during the pandemic, though the government has yet to issue guidance on how that would work. Trump has also said that if he wins the election, he’ll permanently eliminate the tax, which funds the social security program.

On Monday, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration said the federal government’s ability to found the program would end by mid-2023 if Trump’s wish to eliminate the payroll tax came true. The president lacks the authority to unilaterally make that move, and Congress – which is run by Democrats, and includes many Republicans who’d oppose the policy – is unlikely to help him along.

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

Kudlow downplays ongoing financial consequences of the pandemic

White House senior adviser Larry Kudlow praised Trump for acting “swiftly and effectively” to save the US economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Eerily referring to the pandemic as if it were over, Kudlow warned that Joe Biden’s economic policies would “pick the pockets of taxpayers and drain money from their wallets and purses”.

The message struck many as odd, considering the US unemployment rate is currently at 10.2%, and tens of millions of Americans remain unemployed because of the financial effects of the pandemic.

Updated

In his convention speech, Republican Senator Rand Paul sharply criticized Joe Biden for voting for the Iraq war, while praising Trump for opposing the war.

But as a CNN reporter noted, Trump initially supported the war but later became one of its critics more than a year after it began. Biden has also since said his vote for the war was a mistake.

Updated

Trump has opened tonight’s convention by issuing a pardon to Jon Ponder, who served a five-year sentence for robbing a bank before setting up an organization to help former inmates.

It may be the first time a pardon has been broadcast on TV during a convention, and many Trump critics have taken issue with it, seeing it as an abuse of presidential powers.

It also coincides with the release of a new ad from Republicans Against Trump, which features a former administration official claiming that Trump offered pardons to homeland security officials to “implement illegal immigration policies”.

Senator Rand Paul, who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, offered a wholehearted endorsement of the president’s reelection bid.

“I’m proud of the job Donald Trump has done as President,” Paul said. “I don’t always agree with him. But our occasional policy differences are far outweighed by our significant agreements.”

Paul praised Trump’s record of accomplishments, even though the president has broken about half of the promises he has made, according to Politifact.

Neil Gorsuch and tribal rights

Myron Lizer, the vice president of the Navajo Nation, opened the RNC tonight, and lauded Trump for strengthening the supreme court “by nominating strong conservative judges like Neil Gorsuch, who supports Native American rights”.

He has a point.

Part of what Lizer was referring to was a 5-4 supreme court ruling last month in the case of McGirt v Oklahoma. It was a rare legal victory for Native American rights in the supreme court, upholding an 1866 treaty between the Muscogee Nation and the US government, ruling that much of eastern Oklahoma was Indian land. The result also means that the state is blocked from prosecuting First Nations individuals with Muscogee Nation boundaries.

Congress could still interfere and diminish the ruling by redefining boundaries. But Gorsuch, who wrote the ruling, undoubtedly has a record of upholding Indigenous rights. He has sided with the court’s liberal justices in four cases involving First Nations, affirmed treaties as binding, and appointed the first tribal citizen to serve as a clerk in the supreme court.

It’s worth noting here though, the Trump administration also filed an amicus brief opposing tribal in the McGirt v Oklahoma case.

– Maanvi Singh

Updated

Trump grants pardon during Republican convention

Trump has made his first appearance of the night, alongside Jon Ponder, the founder of the nonprofit Hope For Prisoners.

Ponder addressed the convention with Rich Beasley, the FBI agent who once arrested him, who Ponder called a “dear friend.”

Ponder and Beasley thanked Trump for his support of Hope for Prisoners, a re-entry program for those who have recently been released from prison.

After the two men spoke, Trump signed a pardon for Ponder.

Donald Trump shows a pardon he signed for Jon Ponder, who stands with his wife, and former FBI agent Richard Beasley.
Donald Trump shows a pardon he signed for Jon Ponder, who stands with his wife, and former FBI agent Richard Beasley. Photograph: Republican National Convention/Reuters

Updated

Myron Lizner, the vice president of the Navajo Nation, addressed the Republican convention from Shiprock Pinnacle, New Mexico.

“You see our People have never been invited into the American dream,” Lizner said. “For years we’ve fought congressional battles with past congressmen and senators that were part of a broken system that ignored us. That is, until President Trump took office.”

The president of the Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez, addressed the Democratic National Convention last week.

The second night of the convention began with an opening prayer from Pastor Norma Urrabazo, who prayed for Jacob Blake and his family.

Blake, an African American father of six, was repeatedly shot in the back by police officers on Sunday, sparking protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Updated

Second night of the Republican convention starts

The second night of the Republican convention has now started. Follow along with the blog for updates and analysis as the night unfolds.

A speaker has reportedly been removed from tonight’s RNC lineup, after it came to light that she reshared an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on Twitter earlier today.

CNN reports:

Mary Ann Mendoza, whose police officer son was killed by a drunk driver, had been included in a list of excerpts of speakers’ remarks sent by the campaign earlier Tuesday evening. But the latest rundown of speakers sent by the network pool does not have her listed as a speaker.

Mendoza apologized for the original tweet this evening, saying, “I retweeted a very long thread earlier without reading every post within the thread. My apologies for not paying attention to the intent of the whole message. That does not reflect my feelings or personal thoughts whatsoever.”

Besides first lady Melania Trump, two of the president’s children -- Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump -- will also address the convention tonight.

Their speeches come one day after the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, addressed the convention, defending his father’s record on the economy, even though the unemployment rate is currently 10.2%.

Senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump also intends to introduce her father before his nomination acceptance speech on Thursday.

The repeated appearances of the president’s family underscores how the convention is becoming “the Trump show” -- especially considering Republicans adopted no platform this year.

Melania Trump to speak at Republican convention tonight

Hello, live blog readers, and welcome to the second night of the Republican National Convention.

The convention kicked off last night with speakers like Donald Trump Jr and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley urging Americans to reelect the president, arguing Donald Trump was the only person preventing America from falling into the hands of socialists.

That baseless argument seemed sharply at odds with Republicans’ promises that the convention would focus on sharing an optimistic vision for the future of the country.

First lady Melania Trump hopes to change the tone of the convention tonight, when she delivers her speech from the White House Rose Garden.

An aide to the first lady said that her speech would be “positive and uplifting” and that (unlike her 2016 convention speech) it would be entirely her own words.

“I can tell you that every word in the speech is from her,” aide Stephanie Grisham told MSNBC today. “It’s very authentic and it’s going to come from the heart.”

The second night of the convention will kick off in about half an hour, so stay tuned.

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