U.S. state

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A U.S. state is any one of the 50 subnational entities of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government (four states use the official title of commonwealth rather than state). Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile.[1] However, state citizenship is very flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states (with the exception of convicts on parole).

The United States Constitution allocates power between the two levels of government in general terms. By ratifying the Constitution, each state transfers certain sovereign powers to the federal government. Under the Tenth Amendment, all powers not explicitly transferred are retained by the states and the people. Historically, the tasks of public education, public health, transportation and other infrastructure have been considered primarily state responsibilities, although all have significant federal funding and regulation as well.

Over time, the Constitution has been amended, and the interpretation and application of its provisions have changed. The general tendency has been toward centralization, with the federal government playing a much larger role than it once did. There is a continuing debate over "states' rights", which concerns the extent and nature of the states' powers and sovereignty (in relation to that of the federal government) and their power over individuals.


[edit] Union as a single country

Upon the adoption of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in 1781, the states became a confederation, a single sovereign political entity for the purpose of international law—empowered to levy war and to conduct international relations. In part due to the failings of the Confederation, the thirteen states instead formed a union via the process of ratifying the United States Constitution, which took effect in 1789.

[edit] Federal power

Since the 1930s, the Supreme Court of the United States has interpreted the Commerce Clause of the Constitution of the United States in an expansive way that has dramatically expanded the scope of federal power. For example, Congress can regulate railway traffic across state lines, but it may also regulate rail traffic solely within a state, based on the theory that wholly intrastate traffic can still have an impact on interstate commerce.

Another source of Congressional power is its "spending power"—the ability of Congress to impose uniform taxes across the nation and then distribute the resulting revenue back to the states (subject to strict conditions set by Congress). A classic example of this is the system of "federal-aid highways", which includes the Interstate Highway System. The system is mandated and largely funded by the federal government, but also serves the interests of the states. By threatening to withhold federal highway funds, Congress has been able to persuade state legislatures to pass a variety of laws. Although some object that this infringes on states' rights, the Supreme Court has upheld the practice as a permissible use of the Constitution's Spending Clause.

[edit] State governments

States are free to organize their state governments any way they like, as long as they conform to the sole requirement of the U.S. Constitution that they have "a Republican Form of Government". In practice, each state has adopted a three branch system of government generally along the same lines as that of the federal government—though this is not a requirement.

Despite the fact that each state has chosen to follow the federal model, there are significant differences in some states. One of the most notable is that of the unicameral Nebraska Legislature, which, unlike the legislatures of the other 49 states, has only one house. While there is only one federal president, who then selects a Cabinet responsible to him, most states have a plural executive, with members of the executive branch elected directly by the people and serving as equal members of the state cabinet alongside the governor. And only a few states choose to have their judicial branch leaders—their judges on the state's courts—serve for life terms.

A key difference between states is that many rural states have part-time legislatures, while the states with the highest populations tend to have full-time legislatures. Texas, the second largest state in population, is a notable exception to this: excepting special sessions, the Texas Legislature is limited by law to 140 calendar days out of every two years. In Baker v. Carr, the U.S. Supreme Court held that all states are required to have legislative districts which are proportional in terms of population.

States can also organize their judicial systems differently from the federal judiciary, as long as due process is protected. See state court and state supreme court for more information. Most have a trial level court, generally called a District Court or Superior Court, a first-level appellate court, generally called a Court of Appeal (or Appeals), and a Supreme Court. However, Texas has a separate highest court for criminal appeals. New York state is notorious for its unusual terminology, in that the trial court is called the Supreme Court. Appeals are then taken to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, and from there to the Court of Appeals. Most states base their legal system on English common law (with substantial indigenous changes and incorporation of certain civil law innovations), with the notable exception of Louisiana, which draws large parts of its legal system from French civil law.

[edit] Relationships among the states

Under Article IV of the Constitution, which outlines the relationship between the states, the United States Congress has the power to admit new states to the union. The states are required to give "full faith and credit" to the acts of each other's legislatures and courts, which is generally held to include the recognition of legal contracts, marriages, criminal judgments, and—at the time—slave status. States are prohibited from discriminating against citizens of other states with respect to their basic rights, under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The states are guaranteed military and civil defense by the federal government, which is also required to ensure that the government of each state remains a republic.

[edit] Admission of states into the union

U.S. states by date of statehood      1776–1790     1791–1799     1800–1819     1820–1839     1840–1859     1860–1879     1880–1899     1900–1950     1950-
The order in which the original 13 states ratified the constitution, then the order in which the others were admitted to the union.

Since the establishment of the United States, the number of states has expanded from 13 to 50. The Constitution is rather laconic on the process by which new states can be added, noting only that "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union", and forbidding a new state to be created out of the territory of an existing state or the merging of two or more states as one without the consent of both Congress and all the state legislatures involved.

In practice, nearly all states admitted to the union after the original thirteen have been formed from U.S. territories (that is, land under the sovereignty of the United States federal government but not part of any state) that were organized (given a measure of self-rule by Congress). Generally speaking, the organized government of a territory made known the sentiment of its population in favor of statehood; Congress then directed that government to organize a constitutional convention to write a state constitution. Upon acceptance of that Constitution, Congress then admitted that territory as a state. The broad outlines in this process were established by the Northwest Ordinance, which predated the ratification of the Constitution.

However, Congress has ultimate authority over the admission of new states, and is not bound to follow this procedure. A few U.S. states (outside of the original 13) that were never organized territories of the federal government have been admitted:

Congress is also under no obligation to admit states even in those areas whose population expresses a desire for statehood. For instance, the Republic of Texas requested annexation to the United States in 1836, but fears about the conflict with Mexico that would result delayed admission for nine years.[citation needed] The Utah Territory was denied admission to the union as a state for decades because of discomfort with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' dominance in the territory, and particularly with the Mormon's then-practice of polygamy.[citation needed] Once established, state borders have been largely stable. There have been exceptions, such as the cession by Maryland and Virginia of land to create the District of Columbia (Virginia's portion was later returned) and the creation of states from other states, including the creation of Kentucky and West Virginia from Virginia, Maine from Massachusetts, and Tennessee from North Carolina.

[edit] Possible new states

Today, there are very few U.S. territories left that might potentially become new states. The most likely candidate may be Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has been under U.S. sovereignty for over a century, and Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917. Puerto Rico currently has limited representation in the U.S. Congress in the form of a Resident Commissioner, a nonvoting delegate.[2] President George H. W. Bush issued a memorandum on November 30, 1992 to heads of executive departments and agencies establishing the current administrative relationship between the federal government and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This memorandum directs all federal departments, agencies, and officials to treat Puerto Rico administratively as if it were a state, insofar as doing so would not disrupt federal programs or operations.

The commonwealth's government has organized several referendums on the question of status over the past several decades, though Congress has not recognized these as binding; all shown resulted in narrow victories for the status quo over statehood, with independence supported by only a small number of voters. On December 23, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed executive Order 13183, which established the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status and the rules for its membership. Section 4 of executive Order 13183 (as amended by executive Order 13319) directs the task force to "report on its actions to the President ... on progress made in the determination of Puerto Rico’s ultimate status."

President George W. Bush signed an additional amendment to Executive Order 13183 on December 3, 2003, which established the current co-chairs and instructed the task force to issue reports as needed, but no less than once every two years. In December 2005, the presidential task force proposed a new set of referendums on the issue; if Congress votes in line with the task force's recommendation, it would pave the way for the first congressionally mandated votes on status in the island, and (potentially) statehood by 2010. The task force's December 2007 status report reiterated and confirmed the proposals made in 2005.[3][4][5]

The intention of the Founding Fathers was that the United States capital should be at a neutral site, not giving favor to any existing state; as a result, the District of Columbia was created in 1800 to serve as the seat of government. The inhabitants of the District do not have full representation in Congress or a sovereign elected government (they were allotted presidential electors by the 23rd amendment, and have a non-voting delegate in Congress). Some residents of the District support statehood of some form for that jurisdiction—either statehood for the whole district or for the inhabited part, with the remainder remaining under federal jurisdiction. While statehood is always a live political question in the District, the prospects for any movement in that direction in the immediate future seem dim. Instead, an emphasis on continuing home rule in the District while also giving the District a vote in Congress is gaining support.

For the remaining permanently inhabited U.S. non-state jurisdictions—the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa—the prospects of statehood are remote. All have relatively small populations—Guam, with the most inhabitants, has a population less than 35 percent that of Wyoming, the least populous state—and have governments that are heavily reliant on federal funding. If these territories ever sought statehood, they would probably have to combine to maximize their population and territory—possibly with the addition of the former United States Trust Territories: Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands.

Constitutionally, a state may only be divided into more states with the approval both of Congress and of the state's legislature, as was the case when Maine was split off from Massachusetts. When Texas was admitted to the union in 1845, it was much larger than any other state and was specifically granted the right to divide itself into as many as five separate states. However, according to Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, "New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress."[6][7]

[edit] Unrecognized states

See also: Historical regions of the United States#Unrecognized or self-declared entities
  • The State of Franklin existed for four years not long after the end of the American Revolution, but was never recognized by the union, which ultimately recognized North Carolina's claim of sovereignty over the area. A majority of the states were willing to recognize Franklin, but the number of states in favor fell short of the two-thirds majority required to admit a territory to statehood under the Articles of Confederation. The territory comprising Franklin later became part of the state of Tennessee.
  • State of Jefferson
    • On July 24, 1859, voters defeated the formation of the proposed State of Jefferson in the Southern Rocky Mountains. On October 24, 1859, voters instead approved the formation of the Territory of Jefferson, which was superseded by the Territory of Colorado on February 28, 1861.
    • In 1915, a second State of Jefferson was proposed for northern third of Texas but failed to obtain majority approval by Congress.
    • In 1941, a third State of Jefferson was proposed in the mostly rural area of southern Oregon and northern California, but was cancelled as a result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This proposal has been raised several times since.
  • State of Lincoln
    • State of Lincoln is another state that has been proposed multiple times. It generally consists of the eastern portion of Washington state and the panhandle or northern portion of Idaho. It was originally proposed by Idaho in 1864 to include just the panhandle of Idaho, and again in 1901 to include eastern Washington. Proposals have come up in 1996, 1999, and 2005.
    • Lincoln is also the name of a failed state proposal after the U.S. Civil War in 1869. The southwestern section of Texas was proposed to Congress during the Reconstruction period of the federal government after the Civil War.
  • State of Muskogee (in Florida, 1800) and State of Sequoyah (in present day Oklahoma, 1905), both unrecognized states with large Native American populations.

[edit] Secession

The Constitution is silent on the issue of the secession of a state from the union. The Articles of Confederation had stated that the earlier union of the colonies "shall be perpetual". In 1860 and 1861, eleven southern states seceded, but were brought back into the Union by force of arms during the Civil War. Following the war, the federal judicial system, in the case of Texas v. White, held that states do not have the right to secede without the consent of the other states, citing the preamble to the Constitution, which states that the Constitution was intended to "form a more perfect union".

[edit] States called commonwealths

Four of the states bear the formal title of commonwealth: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In these cases, this is merely a historically based name and has no legal effect. Somewhat confusingly, two U.S. territories—Puerto Rico and the Northern Marianas—are also referred to as commonwealths, and do have a legal status different from the states (both are unincorporated territories).

[edit] Origin of states' names

State names speak to the circumstances of their creation. See the lists of U.S. state name etymologies and U.S. county name etymologies.

[edit] List of states

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Delaware Maryland New Hampshire New Jersey Massachusetts Connecticut West Virginia Vermont Rhode Island
About this image

The following sortable table lists each of the 50 states of the United States with the following information:

  1. The common state name
  2. The preferred pronunciation of the common state name as transcribed with the International Phonetic Alphabet (see Help:IPA for English for a key)
  3. The United States Postal Service (USPS) two-character state abbreviation[8]
    (also used as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standard 3166-2 country subdivision code)
  4. The date the state ratified the United States Constitution or was admitted to the Union
  5. The United States Census Bureau estimate of state population as of July 1, 2007[9][10]
  6. The state capital
  7. The most populous incorporated place or Census Designated Place within the state as of 2007-07-01, as estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau[11]
  8. An image of the official state flag
The 50 United States of America
Official State Name Common IPA USPS Flag Date Population Capital Most Populous City
State of Alabama Alabama /ˌæləˈbæmə/ AL 181912141819-12-14 04,627,851 Montgomery Birmingham
State of Alaska Alaska /əˈlæskə/ AK 195901031959-01-03 00,683,478 Juneau Anchorage
State of Arizona Arizona /ˌærɪˈzoʊnə/ AZ 191202141912-02-14 06,338,755 Phoenix Phoenix
State of Arkansas Arkansas /ˈɑrkənsɑː/ AR 183606151836-06-15 02,834,797 Little Rock Little Rock
State of California California /ˌkælɪˈfɔrnjə/ CA 185009091850-09-09 36,553,215 Sacramento Los Angeles
State of Colorado Colorado /ˌkɒləˈrædoʊ/ CO 187608011876-08-01 04,861,515 Denver Denver
State of Connecticut Connecticut /kəˈnɛtɪkət/ CT 178801091788-01-09 03,502,309 Hartford Bridgeport[12]
State of Delaware Delaware /ˈdɛləwɛər/ DE 178712071787-12-07 00,864,764 Dover Wilmington
State of Florida Florida /ˈflɔrɪdə/ FL 184503031845-03-03 18,251,243 Tallahassee Jacksonville[13]
State of Georgia Georgia /ˈdʒɔrdʒə/ GA 178801021788-01-02 09,544,750 Atlanta Atlanta
State of Hawaii
Mokuʻāina o Hawaiʻi
Hawaii /həˈwaɪi/, [haʋaiʔi] HI 195908211959-08-21 01,283,388 Honolulu Honolulu
State of Idaho Idaho /ˈaɪdəhoʊ/ ID 189007031890-07-03 01,499,402 Boise Boise
State of Illinois Illinois /ɪlɪˈnɔɪ/ IL 181812031818-12-03 12,852,548 Springfield Chicago
State of Indiana Indiana /ˌɪndiˈænə/ IN 181612111816-12-11 06,345,289 Indianapolis Indianapolis
State of Iowa Iowa /ˈaɪəwə/ IA 184612281846-12-28 02,988,046 Des Moines Des Moines
State of Kansas Kansas /ˈkænzəs/ KS 186101291861-01-29 02,775,997 Topeka Wichita
Commonwealth of Kentucky Kentucky /kənˈtʌki/ KY 179206011792-06-01 04,241,474 Frankfort Louisville
State of Louisiana
État de Louisiane
[citation needed] (French)
Louisiana /luˌiziˈænə/ LA 181204301812-04-30 04,293,204 Baton Rouge New Orleans
State of Maine Maine /ˈmeɪn/ ME 182003151820-03-15 01,317,207 Augusta Portland
State of Maryland Maryland /ˈmɛrələnd/ MD 178804281788-04-28 05,618,344 Annapolis Baltimore[14]
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Massachusetts /ˌmæsəˈtʃuːsɪts/ MA 178802061788-02-06 06,449,755 Boston Boston
State of Michigan Michigan /ˈmɪʃɪgən/ MI 183701261837-01-26 10,071,822 Lansing Detroit
State of Minnesota Minnesota /ˌmɪnɪˈsoʊtə/ MN 185805111858-05-11 05,197,621 Saint Paul Minneapolis
State of Mississippi Mississippi /ˌmɪsɪˈsɪpi/ MS 181712101817-12-10 02,918,785 Jackson Jackson
State of Missouri Missouri /mɪˈzʊəri, mɪˈzʊərə/ MO 182108101821-08-10 05,878,415 Jefferson City Kansas City[15]
State of Montana Montana /mɑnˈtænə/ MT 188911081889-11-08 00,957,861 Helena Billings
State of Nebraska Nebraska /nəˈbræskə/ NE 186703011867-03-01 01,774,571 Lincoln Omaha
State of Nevada Nevada /nəˈvædə/ NV 186410311864-10-31 02,565,382 Carson City Las Vegas
State of New Hampshire New Hampshire /nuˈhæmpʃɚ/ NH 178806211788-06-21 01,315,828 Concord Manchester[16]
State of New Jersey New Jersey /nuˈdʒɝzi/ NJ 178712181787-12-18 08,685,920 Trenton Newark[17]
State of New Mexico New Mexico /nuˈmɛksɪkoʊ/ NM 191201061912-01-06 01,969,915 Santa Fe Albuquerque
State of New York New York /nuːˈjɔrk/ NY 178807261788-07-26 19,297,729 Albany New York[18]
State of North Carolina North Carolina /ˌnɔrθˌkɛrəˈlaɪnə/ NC 178911211789-11-21 09,061,032 Raleigh Charlotte
State of North Dakota North Dakota /ˌnɔrθdəˈkoʊtə/ ND 188911021889-11-02 00,639,715 Bismarck Fargo
State of Ohio Ohio /oʊˈhaɪoʊ/ OH 180303011803-03-01 11,466,917 Columbus Columbus[19]
State of Oklahoma Oklahoma /ˌoʊkləˈhoʊmə/ OK 190711161907-11-16 03,617,316 Oklahoma City Oklahoma City
State of Oregon Oregon /ˈɔrɪgən/ OR 185902141859-02-14 03,747,455 Salem Portland
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania /ˌpɛnsɪlˈveɪnjə/ PA 178712121787-12-12 12,432,792 Harrisburg Philadelphia
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Rhode Island /roʊdˈaɪlənd/ RI 179005291790-05-29 01,057,832 Providence Providence
State of South Carolina South Carolina /ˌsɑʊθkɛrəˈlaɪnə/ SC 178805231788-05-23 04,407,709 Columbia Columbia[20]
State of South Dakota South Dakota /ˌsɑʊθdəˈkoʊtə/ SD 188911021889-11-02 00,796,214 Pierre Sioux Falls
State of Tennessee Tennessee /ˌtɛnɪˈsiː/ TN 179606011796-06-01 06,156,719 Nashville Memphis[21]
State of Texas Texas /ˈtɛksəs/ TX 184512291845-12-29 23,904,380 Austin Houston[22]
State of Utah Utah /ˈjuːtɑː/ UT 189601041896-01-04 02,645,330 Salt Lake City Salt Lake City
State of Vermont Vermont /vɚˈmɑnt/ VT 179103041791-03-04 00,621,254 Montpelier Burlington
Commonwealth of Virginia Virginia /vɚˈdʒɪnjə/ VA 178806251788-06-25 07,712,091 Richmond Virginia Beach[23]
State of Washington Washington /ˈwɑʃɪŋtən/ WA 188911111889-11-11 06,468,424 Olympia Seattle
State of West Virginia West Virginia /ˌwɛstvɚˈdʒɪnjə/ WV 186306201863-06-20 01,812,035 Charleston Charleston
State of Wisconsin Wisconsin /wɪsˈkɑnsɪn/ WI 184805291848-05-29 05,601,640 Madison Milwaukee
State of Wyoming Wyoming /waɪˈoʊmɪŋ/ WY 189007101890-07-10 00,522,830 Cheyenne Cheyenne

[edit] Grouping of the states in regions

U.S. Census Bureau regions:
The West, The Midwest, The South and The Northeast. Note that Alaska and Hawaii are shown at different scales, and that the Aleutian Islands and the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are omitted from this map.

States may be grouped in regions; there are endless variations and possible groupings, as most states are not defined by obvious geographic or cultural borders. For further discussion of regions of the U.S., see the list of regions of the United States.

[edit] State lists

[edit] See also

U.S. Census Bureau statistical areas by state, district, or territory


[edit] References

  1. ^ See the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  2. ^ Rules of the House of Representatives
  3. ^ Report By the President's Task Force On Puerto Rico's Status (December 2005)
  4. ^ Report By the President's Task Force On Puerto Rico's Status (December 2007)
  5. ^ [1] -Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2007 H.R. 900
  6. ^ http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articleiv.html#section3
  7. ^ http://www.snopes.com/history/american/texas.asp
  8. ^ "Official USPS Abbreviations" (HTML). United States Postal Service. 1998. http://www.usps.com/ncsc/lookups/abbreviations.html. Retrieved on 2007-02-26. 
  9. ^ "Table 1: Annual Estimates of the Population for the United States and States, and for Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007" (CSV). 2007 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2007-12-27. http://www.census.gov/popest/states/tables/NST-EST2007-01.csv. Retrieved on 2008-02-21. 
  10. ^ "United States -- States; and Puerto Rico: GCT-T1-R. Population Estimates (geographies ranked by estimate) Data Set: 2007 Population Estimates" (HTML). 2007 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Estimates Program. 2007-07-01. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/GCTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=&-ds_name=PEP_2007_EST&-_lang=en&-redoLog=true&-mt_name=PEP_2007_EST_GCTT1R_US9S&-format=US-9. Retrieved on 2008-05-03. 
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population for All Incorporated Places: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007" (CSV). 2007 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2008-07-09. http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/files/SUB-EST2007-all.csv. Retrieved on 2008-09-08. 
  12. ^ The Hartford-West Hartford-Willimantic Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Connecticut.
  13. ^ The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Florida.
  14. ^ Baltimore City and the 12 Maryland counties of the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Maryland.
  15. ^ The City of Saint Louis and the 8 Missouri counties of the St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Missouri.
  16. ^ The 5 southeastern New Hampshire counties of the Boston-Worcester-Manchester Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in New Hampshire.
  17. ^ The 13 northern New Jersey counties of the New York-Newark-Bridgeport Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in New Jersey.
  18. ^ New York City is the most populous city in the United States.
  19. ^ The Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Ohio.
  20. ^ The Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in South Carolina.
  21. ^ The Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Columbia Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Tennessee.
  22. ^ The Dallas-Fort Worth Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Texas.
  23. ^ The 10 Virginia counties and 6 Virginia cities of the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Virginia.

[edit] External links

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