jaspreet – UNITED SIKHS Blog http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog Recognize The Human Race As One Fri, 01 Sep 2017 23:45:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 There’s still time…so fill out and mail back your census form TODAY! http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/04/there%e2%80%99s-still-time%e2%80%a6so-fill-out-and-mail-back-your-census-form-today/ Tue, 13 Apr 2010 18:57:00 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=895 There’s still time…so fill out and mail back your census form TODAY!

  • If you have not received a census form in the mail, or think you were left off your household’s census form, you can pick up a Be Counted form to ensure you are counted.
  • Be Counted forms, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian, can be picked up in nearly 39,000 community locations nationwide and mailed back in the attached postage-paid envelope.
  • Don’t forget to write in Sikh under “Other Race” in Question No.9 if you want to identify yourself as a Sikh and support getting Sikhs counted in the 2010 Census!
  • Call UNITED SIKHS if you have any questions or concerns! 1-888-243-1690

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Sikh Advocacy Organizations Join Together to End the Ban on Sikh Teachers in Oregon http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/04/sikh-advocacy-organizations-join-together-to-end-the-ban-on-sikh-teachers-in-oregon/ Thu, 01 Apr 2010 19:07:56 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=885 Oregon Governor Signs Legislation Ending 87-year-old Ban on Religious Dress for Public School Teachers

Sikh Advocacy Organizations Join Together to End the Ban on Sikh Teachers in Oregon

After almost of year of campaigning, SALDEF, UNITED SIKHS, and the Sikh Coalition were pleased by the signing of HB 3686, effectively ending the ban on teachers having religiously required dress in school. The campaign began in the Summer of 2009, when SALDEF initiated a campaign to overturn 87-year-old legislation originally supported by the Ku Klux Klan; legislation which had resulted over the years in Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish teachers being banned from teaching in schools while wearing religiously mandated dress.

Earlier this morning at the signing, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed the bill stating that he will make sure that the bill has “uniform application across the State of Oregon” and that it will be interpreted correctly to address the discriminatory concerns.

Legal Teamwork

UNITED SIKHS, SALDEF, and the Sikh Coalitions’ legal teams worked together and:

♦ engaged in numerous strategic discussions with various representatives of the Oregon legislature,

♦ engaged the Sikh community, and other faith leaders to in joint support of the historic effort, and

♦ prepared and gave testimony before the Oregon legislature on the issue.

SALDEF’s Northwest Regional Director, SatHanuman Singh Khalsa, testified before the Oregon legislature stating, “As a Sikh American and a proud public servant, I support an immediate repeal of ORS 342.650.  I am a living testament to the American promise of equal opportunity, but this law is a throwback to the separate but equal doctrine.  As a Sikh, my turban is as integral to my identity as the color of my skin.  If I were a teacher, I could not, as required by this law, leave my turban at home to go to work.”

The Sikh Community’s Voice is Heard

In January of this year, UNITED SIKHS, SALDEF, and the Sikh Coalition asked the community to write to Oregon legislators to sign onto House Bill 3686. Earlier this week, we asked you to call the Governor’s office. The Sikh Community’s Voice is strong and was heard.

“Being active and involved in progressive change in America is a vital part of realizing the American dream. The foundation of Sikh philosophy is egalitarian and its great that so many Sikh Americans engaged in passing this legislation,” commented Jaspreet Singh, Staff Attorney for UNITED SIKHS.

For a previous press release on this advocacy effort, please visit: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-06-01-2010-00.html

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Tri State Gurdwaras Meet at Singh Sabha Gurdwara NJ & Decide to Write Sikh in the Census Form http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/03/tri-state-gurdwaras-meet-at-singh-sabha-gurdwara-nj-decide-to-write-sikh-in-the-census-form/ http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/03/tri-state-gurdwaras-meet-at-singh-sabha-gurdwara-nj-decide-to-write-sikh-in-the-census-form/#comments Tue, 16 Mar 2010 05:34:18 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=826 Port Reading New Jersey, 13th March 2010: In a meeting convened by Joga Singh (member of Glenrock Gurdwara Saheb) the present members unanimously decided that the Sikhs should write “SIKH” in the census form for 2010 under the “Some other race” column

It was decided that the Sikhs should

1) Respond to the Census Questionnaire:
All households in United States will receive a questionnaire that you or a member of the household will need to accuratelyanswer. Sikhs need to actively participate in the survey by completing the information in the questionnaire.

To see a sample form and to read more about the Census, visit www.sikhamericancensus.org

Does America know who the Sikhs are? Sikhs first came to the United States in the 1800s. After more than 130 years, Sikhs are still virtually unknown to most Americans, and are not counted by the Census Bureau and hence this is our chance

 2) Write-in “Sikh” appropriately. Under the “Some other race” category, fill in “Sikh”.  This is an important step toward accurate tabulation of all Sikhs in United States, particularly as a follow-up to the petition, to show by  example, that we want to be counted correctly.

Members of the following institutions participated or gave their consent over the phone:

Gurdwara  Saheb Name

1) Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Port Reading, New Jersey

2) Bridgewater Gurdwara Saheb

3) Glenrock Gurdwara Saheb (UNITED SIKHS

4) Singh Sabha(UNITED SIKHS)

5) Sikh Cultural Society of New York Inc.

6) Dashmesh Darbar Gurdwara Saheb

7) Panjab Express Newspaper

8) Gurdwara Saheb, Blue Mountain PA

9) Glenrock (UNITED SIKHS)

10) Nanak Naam Jahaaz Gurdwara

11) CJSA Windsor NJ

12) wakeupkhalsa.com

13) Sikhs For Justice

14) Ramgharia Sikh Sangat of North America

15) The Sikh Cultural Society of New York, Richmond Hill, NY

16) Afghan Sikh Association

17) Pennsylvania Sadh Sangat

18) The Sikh Center of New York Inc, Flushing, Inc

Jaspreet Singh
UNITED SIKHS-Staff Attorney

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Census 2010 Sikh American Census Campaign FAQ http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/03/census-2010-sikh-american-census-campaign-faq/ http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/03/census-2010-sikh-american-census-campaign-faq/#comments Wed, 10 Mar 2010 16:13:10 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=789

Census 2010 Sikh American Census Campaign FAQ
This FAQ has been drafted as a result of many questions and concerns that have been expressed by members of the Sikh community in relation 1to the Sikh American Census campaign. We hope that the questions and answers below will provide clarity to any confusion, and you are welcome to contact us at law-usa@unitedsikhs.org.

Q1: What happens if I mark “Other Race” and write in “Sikh” on the Census Form?
A1: Currently, the Census bureau automatically codes all Sikh writeins as “Asian-Indian.” This is a problem because it doesn’t allow Sikhs to counted by the Census Bureau, even though many other nationalities and ethnic groups are coded and counted correctly. In conversation with Karen Humes, Assistant Division Chief for Special populations for the Census Bureau, members of the Sikh community asked how to get a code, and she responded that we should petition the Census Bureau. UNITED SIKHS submitted a petition, with the support of SALDEF, the Sikh Coalition, World Sikh Council, and many other leading Sikh organizations and Gurdwaras to the Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget to ask for a separate code, and we will continue our effort to obtain a separate code. You can review the petition and supporting academic paper at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/petitions/census.php 

Q2: The Census form asks for race. Sikhs are a religion, not a race. Why should I write-in Sikh?
A2: The definition of “race” used by the Census is vague, and the Census form is not the best designed form. It only asks for “Race,”
and this is a problem for many people. It should rather ask for “Ethnicity.” The Census counts many categories of people that are not
“races” by any traditional definition. For example, if you write in “Bangladeshi,” you will be counted as Bangladeshi, even though
Bangladeshi is a nationality, not a race. Another example are the “Hmong” people who are of the same ethnicity, but not necessarily the
same “race.” Rather than only recognizing Sikhs as a religion, Sikhs are recognized as an ethnicity in many countries as we do have a very
distinct identity and idea of the “kaum.” We have a distinct language (Gurmukhi script), religion, marriage, festivals, appearance, and
other cultural variances; all of these additional factors qualify Sikhs as an ethnic group and a religion. We should be counted as Sikhs by the Census Bureau.
In the past, other ethnic groups have also been counted if they have many write-ins. The Census Bureau informed us that they will not assign Sikhs a code because of writeins, Sikhs will be coded as Asian Indian. However, the write-in forms are not thrown away and the Census Bureau does review the data. It is important to show that Sikhs want to be counted; also the forms become a part of national historical data and are made public after 72 years. This campaign is for now, and our future generations.

Q3: Why should we waste the Sikh Community’s time and money to be counted? Why now? Aren’t we too late? Are you being dishonest or misleading the community?
A3: UNITED SIKHS and other members of the Sikh community have been working on this issue for more than a year, and we understand that
this must be a sustained effort until we succeed in being coded correctly. Sikh Americans are tax-paying citizens just like everyone
else and have been excluded from being counted. It is a difficult task to change the government’s opinion on an issue, and it will
require the Sikh community in America to unite and take action by calling their Congressman and Senators and by having their voices
heard in public forums to be successful on this issue. If we do not succeed in getting a code in 2010, it is still important for the
Annual American Community Survey, which also codes Sikhs as Asian Indian, for the Census 2020, all other Censuses to come.

Q4: Why not simply mark the box for ‘Asian Indian’?
A4: If we want to be recognized as a group of people in the United States, and also if we (and the government) want to have accurate
numbers of how many Sikhs there are in the United States, we must ask to be counted as Sikhs. If we want the government to pay attention to
our community, they have to recognize how many Sikhs are in the United States. Also, not all Sikhs are of Asian Indian origin, and
many Sikhs who are not of Indian origin have expressed that they would like to be counted as Sikhs.

Q5: Why not fill in ‘Other Asian’ and then ‘Sikh’?
A5: Not all Sikhs are of Asian Indian origin, and many Sikhs who are not of Indian origin have expressed that they would like to be
counted as Sikhs. Also, it is important that for the purposes of showing our numbers, we all fill in the form the same way. Mark
“Other Race” and write-in “Sikh.”

Q6: What about Sikhs in other countries and Sikhs in India? Are you trying to separate Sikhs from India?
A6: The United States Census Bureau is only concerned with counting all people within the United States, whether they are legal or
illegal. This is an official count by the United States government and happens every ten years. This has nothing to do with Sikhs
outside of the United States, nor does it have any effect on Sikhs outside of the United States. It is important for Sikhs in the United
States to be counted by the Census Bureau because it is important to be properly recognized by the government for a variety of reasons; in
elections, for resources, and for advocacy.

Q7: What are some other minorities that have gotten themselves counted successfully in the past?
A7: Minorities always have to speak-up and advocate for their rights. In the past during the founding of the United States Constitution,
only three-fifths of the population of slaves were counted by the Census, changing the distribution of taxes and the amount of representatives into Congress by southern states. That means only three out of five slaves were counted as people. The Latino/Hispanic communities also had to advocate for their right to be counted separately, and some of them, such as people from the Dominican Republic are only being counted correctly for the first time, in Census 2010. Many communities are advocating around the Census because there are still many problems and solutions being proposed.

Q8: Are other religions counted by the Census?
A8: The Census Bureau is not allowed, by law, to ask a mandatory question on religion on the Census form. However, this does not stop the Census from accepting answers from those who self-identify, and the Census does count people of many different ethnicities. The only count the Census Bureau engages in where a question about religion is asked is in the American Community Survey, which is a much smaller annual survey that is done randomly around the country; Census 2010 aims to count every person in America.

Q9: How will this affect the count of Asian Indians? Does it affect the “Asian Indian” category at all with the current computer coding versus with the new coding, if we successfully obtain a new code?
A9: Currently, since writing in Sikh automatically codes a Sikh as “Asian Indian,” the number of Asian Indians increases, though Sikhs
are not specially recognized in that increase. If we successfully obtain a new code, the numbers that would have increased the Asian
Indian numbers will be counted as Sikhs, rather than as Asian Indian.

Q10: How will the Sikh community be affected if we are counted separately versus not?
A10: Census data is used by many many parts of government for a variety of things from allocating resources, to drawing districts for
political representation, to determining what areas require special assistance, to name a few uses. Even local governments often use
Census data in making decisions that affect the local people. If we are counted separately, we will be able to lobby more effectively as
a community when we approach our congressman and senators, and we will have recognition as a separate people. Many Sikhs express
frustration that people in government and in the public do not know who we are. This is another step in creating the awareness that we
need to be a successful community in the United States.

Q11: How do we benefit at the state level to register a Sikh Complete Count Committee?
A11: Forming a Sikh Complete Count Committee is another way to display to the Census Bureau that we want to be counted as Sikhs,
that we are taking the Census seriously, and that we are willing to work with the government to be counted. We need your help with this campaign so that the Sikh community can be counted correctly.

Please feel free to email law-usa@unitedsikhs.org with any further questions or concerns.

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Thinking About Volunteering in Haiti? Get Your Vaccinations Now. http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/01/thinking-about-volunteering-in-haiti-get-your-vaccinations-now/ Wed, 20 Jan 2010 18:13:15 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=681 Before volunteers leave for Haiti, you should already be up to date on
your regular vaccinations such as MMR, DPT, polio, etc., and at
minimum, get vaccinations for:
Tetanus
Hepatitis A
H1N1

All of these vaccinations are normally available from your State for
FREE, and all you have to do is walk into a clinic.

You also should have malaria prophylactics, and if at all possible
typhoid vaccination, which may or may not be available.

For New York, call the New York City Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene’s Immunization Hotline at (212) 676-2323. They’ll give you
your closest clinic. If you say you’re going to Haiti, they’ll say we
don’t do travel vaccinations. Just tell them clearly that you need
these above, and they should tell you where to go.

And also ReliefWeb’s guidance for relief workers:
http://reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/DKAN-7ZRPHT?OpenDocument

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Support Sikhcess on Facebook for the Chase Community Giving Campaign http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/01/support-sikhcess-on-facebook-for-the-chase-community-giving-campaign/ Tue, 19 Jan 2010 19:05:25 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=675 Check out this great effort by Sikhcess – UNITED SIKHS wishes them the best in winning these funds from Chase – take a look below and see how you can vote for change.

From Sikhcess:

Sikhcess, a community service based non-profit is competing against 99 other top non-profits to win $1 million dollars as part of Chase Community Giving.

Rather than focus on one issue or community, Sikhcess came up with a BIG idea.  What’s the best solution to facing global calamities, including war, crime, poverty and drug proliferation?

Providing a world-class education to the world’s children.  All 2.2 billion of them.

This curriculum will be taught by exceptional teachers and and role-models, who will provide educationally-rich experiences; incorporating values, world history, current topics, future concerns, science, wellness and lifestyle habits, reading, writing, math and analytics.

Future generations of our world will gain valuable insight and skills, including integrity, responsibility, compassion, the sense of duty, the value of community, global-awareness.

Our goal is to provide the world’s children, through educationally-diverse experiences and culturally-rich interactions, the confidence, wisdom, and ability to make positive contributions to our world.

Please vote and help change the world!

Place vote here: http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/1077736?src=wallpost&ref=mf

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UNITED SIKHS Speaks to Employers at EEOC Seminar to Promote Healthy Work Environment for Sikhs http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2009/10/united-sikhs-speaks-to-employers-at-eeoc-seminar-to-promote-healthy-work-environment-for-sikhs/ Fri, 16 Oct 2009 02:30:41 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=512 Houston, TX; Washington, D.C., USA: – UNITED SIKHS representatives gave presentations at two seminars organized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for investigators and employers to promote Sikh awareness and to highlight examples of employment discrimination against Sikhs. The seminars were next in a long chain of efforts that UNITED SIKHS has been undertaking to prevent employment discrimination against Sikhs through a continued partnership with the EEOC.

First Event: August 25, 2009, Houston, Texas

Gurvinder Singh, Director, UNITED SIKHS, conducted a workshop on Religious Discrimination and Accommodations during a Technical Assistance Seminar (TAS) organized by the EEOC. The event was attended by over 200 Human Resource Managers from companies all over Texas. Mr. Singh spoke to the attendees about who Sikhs are and about Sikh kakaar, the five articles of faith that Sikhs are required to carry at all times. He also discussed a variety of discrimination cases that have arisen in the workplace for Sikhs, primarily around the dastaar (Sikh turban) and kakaar, and including discrimination in hiring, dismissal, pay raises, and promotions. Commenting on the effort, Gurvinder Singh stated, “UNITED SIKHS knows that it is pertinent to have a constant and active partnership with the EEOC, so workplace discrimination against Sikhs can be effectively tackled and employers educated on Sikhism.”

UNITED SIKHS and EEOC Texas Regional Representatives

UNITED SIKHS and EEOC Texas Regional Representatives

The workshop also touched upon the accommodations that employers need to make to their policies in order to not infringe upon an employee’s right to freely practice religion. Companies that attended the seminar, many of which have over 500 employees, approached UNITED SIKHS to directly conduct awareness seminars for their employees.

Gurvinder Singh Addressing Questions Raised by Participants

Gurvinder Singh Addressing Questions Raised by Participants

Second Event: August 27, 2009, Washington, D.C.

UNITED SIKHS Legal Director, Harpreet Singh, spoke at the EEOC National Headquarters addressing more than ninety EEOC investigators. The talk covered information about Sikhs, and discussed actual reported cases of employment discrimination against Sikhs. Mr. Singh also discussed how the EEOC and UNITED SIKHS can work together to end religious discrimination against Sikhs in the workplace, and also gave specific pointers in handling cases that arise. Harpreet Singh commented, “EEOC investigators are the backbone of the system to ensure fair and just employment for all. It is highly important that they be aware of the problems Sikh employees face in the workplace so that a healthy work environment can be ensured.”

Harpreet Singh, Legal Director, UNITED SIKHS with Laura Hinton, National Outreach Coordinator and EEOC Staff

Harpreet Singh, Legal Director, UNITED SIKHS with Laura Hinton, National Outreach Coordinator and EEOC Staff

The presentation was coupled with a question and answer session to address the concerns and views of the participating EEOC investigators. Commenting on the presentation, Laura Hinton, National Outreach Coordinator for the EEOC stated, “As the agency responsible for enforcing the statutes prohibiting employment discrimination, we wanted to ensure that all of our new hires were aware of the issues of discrimination confronting Sikh applicants and employees in the workplace. Your presentation certainly helped us meet that goal.”

UNITED SIKHS encourages the Sikh community to fearlessly exercise their freedom of religion, and to contact us with any problems, concerns, or incidents of discrimination.

To read a previous press release on another collaborative effort between UNITED SIKHS and EEOC please visit: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-06-08-2009-00.htm, http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-15-04-2008-00.htm, http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-07-05-2008-00.htm, and http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-23-01-2009-00.htm

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Victory for Sikhs in South Carolina http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2009/08/victory-for-sikhs-in-south-carolina/ Fri, 07 Aug 2009 18:55:06 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=451 A few months ago, UNITED SIKHS was approached by one of our volunteers in South Carolina, Jagmeet Singh, about a problem he was facing at the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. He was requested to remove his turban to obtain his driver’s license, and they refused. You can read more about it here. UNITED SIKHS Legal Team wrote a letter to the South Carolina authorities, and we are happy to report that we’ve heard back from Jagmeet Singh. Earlier today, Jagmeet wrote to us, “I went to renew my SC Driver’s license today. I did not face any trouble. It was very smooth process. Last time DMV employees asked me to remove daastar to take picture and then UNITED SIKHS contacted SC authorities.”

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United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Comments on RTT Cases http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2009/08/united-states-commission-on-international-religious-freedom-comments-on-rtt-cases/ Fri, 07 Aug 2009 17:05:20 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=444 Thanks to the advocacy work of the RTT Legal Team, USCIRF has expressed serious concerns about the Sikhs right to wear the turban in France, and concern about the recent European Court of Human Rights Decision against the Right to Turban (http://www.uscirf.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2650&Itemid=126). As you may be aware, the ECtHR dismissed the case as inadmissible based on a previous ruling that the ban on turbans is a proportionate response to the aims of protection of the rights and freedoms of others and the protection of public order. You can read more about the cases at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/rtt and at http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-16024-Europe-Policy-Examiner~y2009m7d17-European-Court-rules-against-the-Sikh-turban-in-French-schools

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UNITED SIKHS Interns Lead Youth in Seva and Civil Rights Workshop http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2009/08/united-sikhs-interns-lead-youth-in-seva-and-civil-rights-workshop/ Mon, 03 Aug 2009 20:45:15 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=440

Plainview, NY, USA – Six UNITED SIKHS Law and Media Interns led a two-hour workshop and discussion session at the Sikh youth camp at the Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center in Plainview, New York on July 15th. 108 children, ages 9-16, participated in the workshop. The workshop focused on the concept of seva (selfless service); it also included discussion regarding the turban and screened the film The Right to Turban, which details various cases involving the turban ban in France. The workshop ended with children filling out and discussing questionnaires on bullying.

The children were broken up into different discussion groups within the main group. The workshop began with a discussion focused on working within the small groups to formulate individual definitions of seva, along with discussing why seva is an important part of their faith and brainstorming service projects that qualified as seva. After the portion on seva, the discussion shifted to the turban. This presentation included a discussion on why Sikhs wear the turban and its significance in Sikhism. The children then watched the movie The Right to Turban, which focused on the turban ban in France, followed by a short discussion. The workshop concluded with a discussion surrounding bullying, including what kinds of bullying the children have experienced, how they dealt with it, and how it made them feel.

The Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center has held a Sikh Camp every summer for the past seven years, with this year marking the highest attendance to date. The camp is everyday, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm for two weeks. The camp has a total of 210 campers, ages 6 to 16 and 23 volunteer counselors, age, 16-20.

“It was a great experience. Even at a young age, these children conveyed an immense sense of pride in their religion and culture. It was especially impressive how dedicated they are to the concept of seva, and how willing they are to act selflessly for the greater good of the community.” -Megan Collelo, Legal Intern

I think the kids and even the counselors learned a lot about some of the most important aspects of Sikhi that some realized that they completely misunderstood.” -Ravjot Bhasin, Counselor at the Gurudwara Camp

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