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Christmas 2000
Thursday, December 21, 2000

 

"News,
Inspiration,
& Consumer Protection
for Spiritual Seekers"

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NHNE: Christmas 2000
Thursday, December 21, 2000
Current Members: 1642

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Hello Everyone!

I'll keep my message short and let the projects, resources, and inspiring stories that are included below speak for themselves.

May you and yours have a truly beautiful, meaningful, spirit-filled holiday season!

With Love & Best Wishes,
David Sunfellow & Staff

P.S. Sherry Stultz, the facilitator of NHNE's Forum for a Common Understanding, and husband Vince, are due to have a baby at any moment. If you happen to see three wise men looking for a new born babe, you can point them in the direction of Mississippi. You may also want to send Sherry, Vince, and baby some warm thoughts and prayers...

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CONTENTS:

GOOD DEEDS:

The Box Project
The Heifer Project
Give For Change

ECO & PEOPLE-FRIENDLY SHOPPING SITES:

EcoMall
Sustainability Source
Ethical Shopper
Real Goods
The Co-op America National Green Pages

FOUR INSPIRING HOLIDAY STORIES:

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus
Something To Make Me Happy
The Homeless Man
The Innkeeper's Daughter

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THE BOX PROJECT
By Kathleen Blake
NHNE's Holistic Health Resource Person

A few months ago I was watching the Oprah Winfrey Show and she had a short segment on The Box Project. For over 38 years, The Box Project has been helping people trapped in America's worst areas of rural poverty. It seeks out poor families who want to work, learn, and better themselves and matches them with "Helping Families" who provide encouragement, advice, and boxes of needed supplies about once a month. As the two families come to know each other, the project helps build meaningful person-to-person relationships and empowers the low-income families to become self-reliant.

Here's how it works:

The dues are $35.00 per year. Your family fills out a form saying how much money you can spend monthly to purchase needed items to put into a box and send to a family. The folks match your family up with a family in need. The receiving families are usually in Mississippi, but since the Oprah Show aired, The Box Project has been expanding into other places, like Appalachia and Kentucky.

Once you have been matched with a family, you begin corresponding. What appealed to me about this project, is that it is one-to-one. No red tape or beauracracy. No wondering where your money is going. You are in control. You send what you can and your adopted family helps you to know what they need.

Besides sending the physical items that they need, it is also a wonderful opportunity to show someone less fortunate than you that there is someone in the world that cares about them. In the Box Project newsletter, I was really touched by some of the things they said:

"It means you have been entrusted with something very precious -- the hopes, dreams and lives of your sister family. YOU become their mentor. YOU have a role to play in the history and life of that family."

"Regular sponsorship is not just sending a once-a-month box of 'stuff'. It is remebering kids' birthdays, and the name of the family dog. It is learning FROM your family just as much as you share with them. It is SHARING life experiences, ideas and insights. Your job is to help them figure and work a way out of this poverty trap. We believe in you. Your family believes in you. They don't just want a hand-out. They'll take it... but what they REALLY want is a hand UP. Be creative....."

"It's a great adventure in living fully."

I received an answer back from the sister family the Box Project matched me up with last week. The woman has five children. I asked her in my first letter what her family needed. She said she would like some pots and pans and some towels, and since Christmas was coming, perhaps I could surprise her children with some gifts. I went to Walmart yesterday, and I cannot tell you the joy I felt picking out the pots and pans, and some kitchen towels and pot holders. It was more fun than buying anything for myself ever has been.

So that is my beginnings with the Box Project. I look forward to sending 'stuff' every month to my sister family. But more than that, I look forward to the building a relationship with new friends.

If this project interests you, here's where you can find out more about it:

THE BOX PROJECT WEBSITE:
http://www.boxproject.org/

BOX PROJECT STORY ON OPRAH'S WEBSITE:
http://www.oprah.com/rys/journeys/rys_journeys_20001005.html

TO CONTACT KATHLEEN:
Kathleen Blake <kathleen888@hotmail.com>

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THE HEIFER PROJECT
By David Sunfellow
(The following information was sent to the NHNE News List on 12/13/2000.)

The Heifer Project "combats hunger, alleviates poverty, and restores the environment by providing appropriate livestock, training, and related services to small-scale farmers worldwide." It does this through donations made by people like you and I. A donation of $120.00 will provide a family with a goat, or you can share the cost of a goat for $10.00. You can also help purchase chicks (20.00), bees (30.00), geese (20.00), ducks (20.00), rabbits (60.00/10.00), sheep (120.00/10.00), buffaloes (250.00/25.00), llamas (150.00/20.00), heifers (500.00/50.00), pigs (120.00/10.00), even trees (60.00/10.00).

When I first heard about the project, I thought it might be another western-oriented attempt to "improve" the lives of seemingly disadvantaged cultures by perpetuating the ills of the West -- creating, for example, herds of cattle that lay waste to the environment and contribute to various dairy-related illnesses. But after visiting the Heifer Project website, it became obvious that they shared similar concerns and were making a concerted effort to pass on animals and practices that were truly helpful, eco-friendly, and sustainable.

The worst thing about the project I could see was that some of the animals that are provided by the Heifer Project will, after they've provided milk, manure, wool, eggs, and other valuable products and services, be eaten by their caregivers. If you're a vegetarian like I am, you might find this objectionable. If so, you can donate a goat, or a tree, instead of a rabbit, or chick.

In any case, I encourage those of you who are interested to look into this. With my brother's encouragement, our two families (and many of our friends) will be using the money we normally spend on Christmas gifts for one another to purchase a few animals (and trees) to help our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. Perhaps you, and your family and friends will feel an inner nudge to do the same...

HEIFER PROJECT FAQ:
http://www.heifer.org/about_hpi/faq.htm

HEIFER PROJECT WEBSITE:
http://www.heifer.org/

TO CONTACT BROTHER WES FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Wes Wyatt <wesleyrw@earthlink.net>

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GIVE FOR CHANGE
(Thanks to Tom Atlee)

If the Box Project and/or Heifer Project aren't your cup of tea, you can support any of hundreds of other progressive organizations working in 11 different categories, listed on the Give For Change Website:

http://www.giveforchange.com

Charitable donations can be made in the name of family and friends, who will receive note cards acknowledging your donation in their honor. (The Heifer Project also provides this service.)

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ECO & PEOPLE-FRIENDLY SHOPPING SITES:

ECOMALL:
http://www.ecomall.com/

SUSTAINABILITY SOURCE:
http://www.ssengine.com/cgi-bin/store/cb/igc.cgi

ETHICAL SHOPPER:
http://www.ethicalshopper.com/

REAL GOODS:
http://www.realgoods.com/

THE CO-OP AMERICA NATIONAL GREEN PAGES:
http://www.greenpages.org/

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FOUR INSPIRING HOLIDAY STORIES:

YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS
From The People's Almanac, pp. 1358-9
Originally published in The New York Sun in 1897
(Thanks to Noel Fray)

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

--- Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

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THE HISTORY BEHIND "YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS"

Francis P. Church's editorial, "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" was an immediate sensation, and went on to became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in the The New York Sun in 1897, almost a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O'Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

"Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn't any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

"It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, 'If you see it in the The Sun, it's so,' and that settled the matter.

"'Well, I'm just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth,' I said to father.

"He said, 'Go ahead, Virginia. I'm sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does.'"

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents' favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer. Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, "Endeavor to clear your mind of cant." When controversial subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girl's letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

"Is there a Santa Claus?" the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply which was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in April, 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia O'Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master's from Columbia, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator. Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O'Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.

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SOMETHING TO MAKE ME HAPPY
By Sharon Palmer
From Chicken Soup for the Parent's Soul

I was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping in a toy store and decided to look at Barbie dolls for my nieces.

A nicely dressed little girl was excitedly looking through the Barbie dolls as well, with a roll of money clamped tightly in her little hand.

When she came upon a Barbie she liked, she would turn and ask her father if she had enough money to buy it. He usually said "yes," but she would keep looking and keep going through their ritual of "Do I have enough?"

As she was looking, a little boy wandered in across the aisle and started sorting through the Pokemon toys.

He was dressed neatly, but in clothes that were obviously rather worn, and wearing a jacket that was probably a couple of sizes too small. He, too, had money in his hand, but it looked to be no more than five dollars or so, at the most.

He was with his father as well, and kept picking up the Pokemon video games. Each time he picked one up and looked at his father, his father shook his head, "no."

The little girl had apparently chosen her Barbie, a beautifully dressed, glamorous doll that would have been the envy of every little girl on the block.

However, she had stopped and was watching the interchange between the little boy and his father. Rather dejectedly, the boy had given up on the video games and had chosen what looked like a book of stickers instead. He and his father then started walking through another aisle of the store.

The little girl put her Barbie back on the shelf, and ran over to the Pokemon games. She excitedly picked up one that was lying on top of the other toys, and raced toward the check-out, after speaking with her father.

I picked up my purchases and got in line behind them.

Then, much to the little girl's obvious delight, the little boy and his father got in line behind me.

After the toy was paid for and bagged, the little girl handed it back to the cashier and whispered something in her ear. The cashier smiled and put the package under the counter.

I paid for my purchases and was rearranging things in my purse when the little boy came up to the cashier. The cashier rang up his purchases and then said, "Congratulations, you are my hundredth customer today, and you win a prize!"

With that, she handed the little boy the Pokemon game, and he could only stare in disbelief.

It was, he said, exactly what he had wanted!

The little girl and her father had been standing at the doorway during all of this, and I saw the biggest, prettiest grin on that little girl that I have ever seen in my life. Then they walked out the door, and I followed, close behind them.

As I walked back to my car, in amazement over what I had just witnessed, I heard the father ask his daughter why she had done that. I'll never forget what she said to him.

"Daddy, didn't Nana and Paw Paw want me to buy something that would make me happy?"

He said, "Of course they did, Honey."

To which the little girl replied, "Well, I just did."

With that, she giggled and started skipping toward their car. Apparently, she had decided on the answer to her own question of, "Do I have enough?"

...........

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http://www.chickensoup.com/Email.html

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THE HOMELESS MAN

It was a cold winter day that Sunday. The parking lot to the church was filling up quickly. I noticed as I got out of my car that fellow church members were whispering among themselves as they walked in the church. As I got closer I saw a man leaned up against the wall outside the church. He was almost laying down, as if he was asleep. He had on a long trench coat that was almost in shreds and a hat topped his head, pulled down so you could not see his face. He wore shoes that looked 30 years old, too small for his feet, with holes all over them, and his toes stuck out. I assumed this man was homeless, and asleep, so I walked on by, through the doors of the church. We all fellowshipped for a few minutes, and someone brought up the man laying outside. People snickered and gossiped, but no one bothered to ask him to come in, including me. A few moments later church began. We all waited for the preacher to take his place and to give us the Word, when the doors to the church opened. In came the homeless man walking down the aisle with his head down. People gasped and whispered and made faces. He made his way down the aisle and up onto the pulpit where he took off his hat and coat. My heart sank. There stood our preacher -- he was the "homeless man." No one said a word. The preacher took his Bible and laid it on his stand. "Folks, I don't think I have to tell you what I am preaching about today."

--- Author Unknown

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THE INNKEEPER'S DAUGHTER
From Edgar Cayce Reading #1152

[Editor's Note: The following reading was given to a woman that the Edgar Cayce source said was the daughter of the Innkeeper. While I don't know how accurate Cayce's rendering of the Christmas story is, this particular reading is one of the most remarkable readings Cayce ever did. Unlike most Christmas stories that focus exclusively on the miraculous birth of Christ, the Innkeeper's daughter version weds the miraculous with the mundane: it gives us a provocative look at what an average, run-of-the-mill human being might have thought, felt and experienced if they had been present at the world's most celebrated birth. -DS]

Sara was in the Earth when great changes and opportunities were coming to man by the fulfilling of time and the prayers of many. At the time, there was much turmoil and strife and the people were pulled between that which was being presented by the Romans, and the truths or lessons given by the people of the land...

Sara was the daughter of the Innkeeper, and she stood by and was the second of those who took the Babe into her arms. What should this mean in thy experience? Is it any wonder that you have looked long into the faces of those who were newly born, and wondered what their purpose, hardships, joys, and sorrows would be in the Earth?

In that time, she not only beheld the experiences of the shepherds, but also heard the words of the sages of the East who came bringing gifts to Him whom it had been proclaimed of old should come again. And He will come again and again in the hearts, minds, and experiences of those who love His coming. But those who, when they think of Him, and know what His presence would mean, and become fearful, He passes by...

In that sojourn, Sara was just a year younger than the little mother who came to the Inn where the entity helped her parents. And she knew of the event through the meetings which were half forbidden by those in Jewish law, and questioned by the authorities for the penal law. She was filled with wonder and desire to know about the occurrence, and she felt that some great thing in the experience of the world was about to come to pass.

The entity... requested that she might aid in the preparation of the quarters for the mother-to-be and father, who were revered by all. For the leaders had arranged with the Innkeeper for the care which must be provided for them when they came to register for their contribution to the Romans. Yet, as the entity waited, expectant, there was the general rabble, and there were the discussions of those who journeyed to Jerusalem for the meetings, as well as to the centers for their tax registration...

Then, Sara helped so that all was in readiness. And the late afternoon sun shone in all its glory on the Palestine hills, as if the voice of nature were proclaiming the heralding of a new hope, a new birth to the Earth, and the glorifying of man's hope in God. The specter of His star in the evening sky brought awe and wonder to all who saw it. And Sara, being anxious, gazed with wondering awe at that unusual experience. And she wept with joy in expectancy of a glory surpassing what had been told of all the glories of her people in the days of old. There, she felt similar to the experience at present, that a new light, a new vision, and a new experience were being born in every atom of her being.

When she knew that the den, the cave, the stable had been occupied, she felt consumed with desire to rush off to see what was happening. And as soon as her work was finished about the home, she started for the stable. But as she walked into the open, the brightness of His star came nearer and nearer. And she heard, even as the shepherds, "Peace on Earth, good will to men." Again, she felt awe, and the feeling of a new creation and a new experience as she, with the closer attendant of the mother, hastened. And all the rabble and all the jeers of a world were stopped.

She hastened to the quarters where the mother lay, in all awe of a new experience, and as the light as from His star filled the place, she first beheld the Babe. That was the crowning experience until the plea that she, too, might hold the glorious Child in her arms. And as this became a reality, she had the feeling, "Oh that the world might know the beauty, joy, and glory of His life in their own hearts, minds, and beings."

There she saw the shepherds gather. And on the next day, she saw the Wise Men, with their ladened camels; and she heard their praise for those who had kept the faith in preserving, keeping, and helping those who were in need and alone, yet having God with them. She heard the strange tongues spoken by the Wise Men, and knew and felt the reverence and awe which were experienced by all.

Sara sought to keep in touch with the mother and Child; and when the edict was declared, her heart was filled with fear. For her experience was something to be cherished; yet she feared the law, and the hatred which would naturally arise in the hearts of those who were persecuted. For often was her father questioned as to which way the Wise Men went, and as to the activities of these men who defied the authorities of Rome, as well as of Herod the king. For days, weeks, and months, she wondered. And the necessity for menial labor at the Inn brought her mental and material distress. Yet often in the stillness of the evening, she reviewed the events, and wondered what had become of His star, His light.

After the receding of the star, she learned of the flight into Egypt through the devious ways in which news came by word of mouth, and yet was kept secret. All of these experiences have become an innate part of her, so that when she sits alone in the twilight, she can almost again feel the music of the spheres, and the singing of the morning stars, as the Earth is quieted. And there enters again that peace, which is only troubled by the cares of a workaday world.

In the years that followed, she became closer to those in Bethany and upon Mount Olive; for she took up her abode upon the edge of Olivet, on the road that led to the great city. And there, word was sought again of what had become of the participants in that marvelous event which had become a burning memory in her heart. Yet when persecutions came from the Romans, and from the Sadducees who persecuted especially the groups to which she had belonged and from which she had received so much help, doubts and fears arose within her.

From what she heard, the child had apparently become only another child among the people. And not until the days when He went again with His parents and a great company to again register did she learn the truth of what had happened. This was when it was commanded that the Passover feast should be kept by all the children of Israel, and she sought again that glorious Child who questioned the doctors. And she kept close that she might hear...

From time to time, she sought word of His progress, following His life almost like a story. And she held to the memories of that evening when she saw the light, and the Child in the mother's arms. Also, she relived many times the glorious moment when the Child had been placed in her own arms, and she had pressed her lip to the brow of the Babe.

When the ministry of Jesus began, she learned every word which could be gathered from those who heard Him often. And when His visits brought Him near, and yet her duties kept her close to home near the highways over which throngs often passed, she became fearful because of the things that were said. The rejection of His own people when He first began His ministry, brought tears of scalding shame to her for the ones who seemed to doubt when they should know.

At last came the triumphal entry from Bethany to the Temple in Jerusalem, and Sara was among the great throng which cried, "Hosanna to the Highest; the King cometh." Again, she was disappointed when that glorious man among men was not proclaimed king. And He seemed to exert so little of His power to help those who were sick, or in doubt, or fear. For the entity knew many who had been healed. And she was especially close to Bartaemus who had often rested on the road close to her home.

After the crucifixion, she was with the holy women and others who sustained the household which was beginning to feel that possibly the mother, Mary, had misjudged. Yet Sara knew from her own experience; for she had not forgotten that choir before the celestial throne which sang: "Glory, glory in the highest. Peace, peace on Earth to all men of good will."

She held to those experiences, and they are innate in the present. She was among the first to suffer martyrdom because of the roughness of the Romans as they attempted to disperse the crowds. As a result of her injuries, broken in body, she suffered in the flesh. But then, as now, she looked ever to Him who is life, light, and immortality to those who put their trust wholly in Him. For those who have tasted, felt and known within themselves that He is the way, the truth, and the light -- no other name is given under heaven whereby man may be made whole, or whereby may know his true relationship to God.

Hold fast to that, O Daughter of the Innkeeper, O the Beholder of His Glory. O the joyous, gracious feelings that fill thy soul and being with the richness of the Earth poured out at His feet. You were with the lowly shepherds who came to see that glorious sight; and they, too, were not hindered from beholding the face of their Savior.

And ye, too, O Daughter, may know His face; but turn within. For there ye may meet Him, as so often ye did in those days, weeks, months, and years, as ye recounted in your self the glorious events of that day when the Babe, the Child Jesus, lay in your arms. For He is very near unto all who call on His Holy Name. He has promised, and His promises are sure to you, and in you, may you know..."

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NHNE MISSION STATEMENT, CREDITS & CONTACT INFORMATION

The mission of NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE) is to answer humankind's oldest, most perplexing questions: Who are we? Where are we from? What is the origin and purpose of life? Instead of relying on ancient or contemporary wisdom, or the knowledge of isolated experts, we are building a global network of seekers from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, lay people and professionals alike, that can pool talents, experience, and resources to unravel life's great mysteries.

We also believe that our planet is passing through a time of profound change and are seeking to create a global community of like-minded people that can safely pass through whatever changes may come our way and help give birth to a new way of life on our planet.

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David Sunfellow, Founder & Publisher
NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE)
a 501(c)3 non-profit organization
P.O. Box 2242
Sedona, AZ USA 86339

eMail: nhne@nhne.com
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