Berger: Benefits for 37,000 jobless still in limbo (with updates)

Senate GOP Leader Phil Berger said at his weekly press conference this morning that he has no immediate plan for dealing with the 37,000 unemployed workers whose benefits were cut off on April 16.

“No movement on that, for now,” Berger said, in response to a reporter’s question.

The long-term unemployed workers, who have been looking for jobs for well over a year, had their extended benefits cut off April 16 when a bill that would have allowed the federal funds to flow through to the workers was derailed. GOP members had attached a rider that would have forced Gov. Bev Perdue agree to major budget cuts.

Perdue, a Democrat, vetoed the unemployment bill, saying it irresponsibly put the worker’s lives in the middle of a state budget dispute.

She’s said she’ll sign a clean bill, and Democrats in both the House and Senate are trying to move a clean bill forward in hopes that some of the GOP-majority will cross party lines and support the bill.

Berger said he’s waiting for the governor to propose a compromise before taking action to restore the benefits.

“I’d like to hear back from her,” Berger said. (UPDATE: Perdue will sign a clean bill to extend the benefits, and only a clean bill, a spokeswoman said this afternoon. See below for more.)

We wrote last week about a Charlotte woman who is facing eviction now that her extended benefits have stopped.

But we still want to hear from others, and the situations they’re facing.

So if you’re one of the 37,000, please feel free to leave your comments and thoughts about what’s happening below. You can also email reporter Sarah Ovaska at sarah@ncpolicywatch.com.

UPDATE, 12:30 p.m.: Sen. Martin Nesbitt, the Senate Minority leader, said he’s continuing to try to get around the impasse set up over the unemployment benefits.

All 19 Senate Democrats have signed onto a measure that would allow the benefits to be restored, and separate the issue from the budget fight, Nesbitt said at a press conference he held late this morning.  So far, no Republicans have signed on, Nesbitt said.

They’ll need at least 15 of the GOP members to come aboard, with 2/3 of the 50 Senate members needed to move the measure forward.

Nesbitt did say that all Republican members have been emailed about the effort, and that he or others will be personally approaching them in the next week to see if they’re in favor of restoring the benefits or not.

The predicament of the 37,000 jobless highlights an emerging unemployable class of people, mostly older, that want to work but can’t find jobs, Nesbitt said.

“We’re going to have to help these people survive and are going to need to figure out how to re-employ them,” he said.

But, if Senate and House GOP leaders wanted to put forward a clean bill themselves, Nesbitt said it could be passed and benefits restored within a day.

Also, we’re waiting a call back from Perdue’s office to see what, if any, compromise she’d consider.

UPDATE No. 2, 2 p.m.: Perdue doesn’t have a compromise to offer Berger, other than to have the Legislature simply restore benefits, according to a statement from Chris Mackey, a Perdue spokeswoman.

Essentially, the ball’s in the Legislature’s court in Perdue’s eyes.

Here’s the statement from Mackey:

“The Governor has been clear, and this issue is not complicated. The Governor supports extended unemployment benefits. The legislature claims to support extended unemployment benefits. When the legislature sends a clean bill that extends unemployment benefits to her desk, she will sign it. No further discussion should be necessary.”


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  3. terty

    May 10, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    NC Unemployment Extended Benefits have been reinstated and are continued as of May 10. 2011. Payments are retroactive back to the April 16 cutoff that left Tens of thousands of people in poverty. 37,000 people are saved from being homeless and losing the little they have left. The bill was approved after the fat bastards that govern our states stuffed their faces full of food at an expensive restaurant for lunch and drove their fat asses back to work in their $75,000 luxury car after being on break for 4 hours to their air conditioned offices where they sit on their ass and buy gold plated furniture for their million dollar houses on the internet while at work. Thank goodness they found time out of their hard days for the little people. Hallelujah!

  4. Sarah Ovaska

    May 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    @Terty. Though I suspect you may realize this, I just wanted to make it clear to others that might read your comment that the benefits have not been reinstated.

  5. Randel Scott

    May 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    37000?! You do realize that more and more people are cut off every week. Its probably closer to 100,000 by now.

  6. Judy

    May 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I want to thank you for keeping information on this situation available. Otherwise, I would have no idea what is going on with this issue. Of the three jobs I have had in my career, I have been laid off from each of them. The comfort of being eligible for these benefits has been immeasurable, until one day 37,000 were told that we were being used as a bargaining chip for Republicans. WHAT??? WHY???
    Please continue to stay on this issue with those who MUST be held accountable for their shyster ways. I am a one income household and I need help!!!
    Thank you so much for your time…Judy

  7. UCubed

    May 10, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    its WAY more than 37,000. Berger is clueless and needs to have a DEM opponent next election

  8. Sarah Ovaska

    May 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    @Randel Scott and UCubed. I just talked to the ESC public information office and they say that the 37,000 number is still the best estimation they have. The reason is, as more people are coming onto the extended benefits, there are also those that are exhausting their benefits. The actual numbers may be rising and falling, but are roughly the same overall, according to an ESC spokesman.

  9. Randel Scott

    May 10, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    @ sarah, thanks for the info. I wasn’t sure how they kept track of the numbers since no new data has been published.

  10. Randel Scott

    May 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm

  11. Jason

    May 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I am begging the gop and the dems to quit playing with my and other peoples lives,it is time to quit the political standoff and remember you were voted in by the people to speak for the people. I am begging to please help us!!!

  12. Judy

    May 10, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Please spend your time on adjusting the rates and stop spending your time on all this political nonsense!!!

  13. Ginny

    May 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    This should have been a clean Bill!!! I don’t care how Berger spins it they are holding the unemployed benefits hostage to further their agenda!!! I don’t care which side of the political party line you are on this is unacceptable!!! I hope they realize Rublicans and Democrats alike are unemployed!!!!

  14. Ginny

    May 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Sorry I meant Republicans and Democrats alike are unemployed!!

  15. Salena

    May 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    This is outta control!! I want the state that I pay taxes in to understand that I am not gonna vote for any of them when its time to get re-elected. We can bailout banks, fight a 10 yr extremly costly war, and cut taxes for people that are already wealthy but we cant extend unemployment benefits for the american people?? Politicians have to learn to take care of home (americans) so that we can be the strong economic country we use to be!! There is no reason for people to be getting evicted and mothers having to tell their kids there is no food to eat period. How about we vote you guys out cut your pay to nothing and then lets see how fast your compassion kicks in. The whole process is ridiculous, the GOP as a whole are just evil!

  16. UCubed

    May 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Tillis, Stam, and Berger all need to be voted out!

  17. paula barnes

    May 10, 2011 at 7:32 pm


  18. paula barnes

    May 10, 2011 at 7:35 pm


  19. Chonda R. Stephens

    May 10, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Paula Barnes’ comment speaks more truth than any other! This has never been a physical debate/battle between citizens & the government of man- this is an awakening for people, from the atheist to the buddhist to christians, to realize & understand that the Sovereign God, the I AM THAT I AM, is our Provider- not democrats or republicans, not presidents or governors! Matthew 11:12 tells us what to do as “we wrestle against spiritual wickedness in high places”. We are not beggars, nor have we been forsaken- but through bold, constant prayer, fasting, praise & worship We will TAKE from the enemy what God has already blessed us with! Waste no more time talking about the problem but with our mouths open wide, cry out to God & He will hear us & deliver us & slay our enemies! If you are waiting on human flesh to do the right thing you will be disappointed- these same government officials claimed they were lovers of God & understood that they were put in these positions to do HIS WILL, not theirs. TRUST GOD & NOT MAN (Psalms 118). If you don’t know God, if you’ve never thought of him or prayed, there is no better time than now- we will need God more than ever in the days to come. Stop worrying, being anxious or complaining- focus your energy on the weapons mentioned above & see the salvation of the Lord!

  20. paula barnes

    May 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    37,000 citzen go in pray god never will leave us or forsake us !!!!! He said when two or three agree it shall be done. Seek the kingdom of heaven and all righteous shall be giving i got my praise are yall ready lets get it with our pray 37,000 citzen we can beat this with a prayer!!!!

  21. Unemployed

    May 10, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    As we all know it’s not that easy to just get out here and find a job. I have never been a lazy person. I would rather work than to sit home and get 231.00 a week, when i was working i made 700 dollars a week so it was a major cut back for me but now that i have no income i have an eviction notice, lights are off and gas is off. I have two kids and i have no clue what i am going to do. This economy is not getting better. It’s bad when you can’t even get a job at Hardee’s or Wendys. While they are going back and fourth over signing a bill, we are out here struggerling and trying to make ends meet. I’m currently in school and i’m not the type who want to depend on unemployment, foodstamps, or none of the other government assistance. Now that my benefits are gone, i am lost and i wish they could and would come to a conclusion. No money, no gas this really suck. We did’nt ask to become unemployed, and we should’nt be looked at as freeloaders, because that is not the case. I do not think 37 thousand people would just want to sit around and want to freeload for the little bit of money that they give us. People got on TV and begged the lawmakers to restore benefits and that still was not good enough. Since they pretend to care so much, give us a job or come let us live with you all in the big mansions. Both sides need to put their pride aside and help us. If the lawmakers did not have the citizens to support them, then they would’nt have a job , if there was’nt unemployed workes then Employment Security Commission would’nt be neccessary. So we the citizens are keeping your jobs going, do something to keep our benefits going.

  22. no job

    May 10, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    when it time to vote again somebody want be getting the 37,000 unmployed votes next year election time and the 37,000 is going to remember who was there for them !!!

  23. need help

    May 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    We been without our unemployment since April 16 2011 . I have put over 300 application in no one has called me. I have a 16 month old daughter who watches her mother cry every day cause I am about to get evicted lights turned off. I always had a job since I was 16 years old and when you are looking everyday and no results it just make you feel like giving up. The law makers are making it hard for us people well if they are not going to pay our rent light bill then donate money to the 37000 citzen we are like a charity now when you have done all you can do what do we do next smile at what bev and the senate are doing . You know we are in recession and some of us need our unemployment and if the other states changed there formula so can north carolina change it for the people who have children think about the children who are in need. And you try to get help from social service and they are always out of funds.

  24. Man 50 unemployed

    May 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I thank you for keeping up with this story…because without this I would not know the latest. I also thank those who added scripture because it is how I am making it since I lost my Job…very informative as I eat my Peanut Butter sandwich crackers….

  25. Jim

    May 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    This is crazy… But sooner or later someone will hurt just as bad as I do.

  26. Joy Sykes

    May 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

    What is being overlooked is the fact that the number is much larger than 37,000 at this point. Thousands more who were not drawing EB on April 16th; those who were on their last weeks of the 4th tier federal benefits and their benefits ran out after April 16th are not being counted in this number.

  27. sea

    May 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    @Joy Sykes,
    This is so true, because I am one of those individuals who received my last check this week and would have been eligible for extended benefits. I’m not getting how these politicians can so easily play with peoples lives. NC gave the unemployed no notice that these benefits were going to expire, most of us just woke up and saw the impersonal message on the employment website. How do they sleep at night knowing there are families without food, gas, electricity and shelter in some cases. I worry for my family, I worry for my children. I’m not lazy have worked since 14 years of age, relocated to NC for a better quality of life only to end up losing my home, my way of life and everything I’ve built as a responsible, contributing citizen of this country and state.

  28. sporty

    May 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I t bring’s tears to my eye’s as i listen to all of the comment’s,however, i am one of them.i too have woked all of my life.i had an job working with the disabled.which i love to do,and jealousy, hatred, and just mean people took it all away!now i sit waiting on an job,but God is good,and he will do, what he said he would do! To God be the glory!

  29. need help

    May 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm


  30. […] the legislative leaders held press conferences this week to talk about the benefits, the Georgaras family was adjusting to living without their […]

  31. Alida Hartley

    May 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I too am a Christian and the only way I make it is to keep the Faith and keep on praying! The Lord is my strength. If you talk to most Republicans in N.C. they will say the Republican Party is the Christian party. I don;t see it. When they put the wealthy and their agenda ahead of the needy! Is that what Jesus would do?Think about this and don’t try to justify their actions. There is no justification.

  32. ebNow

    May 11, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    @Sarah Ovaska I got the same answer but wished I’d asked them for the number of people that have exhausted tier 4 benefits since 4/16/11

    That would be a VERY interesting number to have.

  33. meghan

    May 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I also was one of the 37000 ..Single mother of 4 children..and I simply cant find a job!! I do not know how I will pay my mortgage I have cut every expence I could cable..phone..sercurity system..this is very bad..Praying everyday that something will change…

  34. need help

    May 12, 2011 at 11:33 am

    are the gop reading the comments sarah

  35. sporty

    May 12, 2011 at 11:34 am

    There is an message on the link to this blog,that is misleading,stating that the benefits have been restored.I wish that it was the truth ,but it is not!,who would post such an thing? just curious!

  36. Cam030

    May 12, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I am really hurt by all the games our politicians are playing with the lives of those who put them in the nice lovely jobs they have ignoring our pleas. I cried when I read Paula Barnes comment. The 23rd Psalm. I keep praying too Paula. I know that we are all scared and nervous. It may be beneficial for us to also offer help to one another during this time. If someone has a direct need such as food or clothing. I worked 4 jobs yes 4 at one time to take care of myself and my daughter. I was a contract employee for the state working 3 of the jobs I held and 1 was at the N.C. Food Bank. Program after program got cut until I had no job. During this time I was diagnosed with a disease and have no insurance. I have been going to free clinics for help. I am not trying to whine about my circumstances, I just get so upset to see these politicians acting as though we do not want to work and that we the unemployed are LAZY. My heart and prayers go out to all of you. I know I am not in this alone. Paula you have the right attitude. The Lord is our Shepard. We have been cast out just as the wondering children of Israel wondering looking and waiting. The Lord lead them to the land of Milk and Honey and we too shall find ours. Think positive every one. I am a full time student back in college when I get my Masters I will get my foot in the door and hold and office where I can make a difference. This happened to us all for a reason. We just have to stand strong together. I am 38 years old and know I will have time to make a difference. WE EACH WILL. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
    John 3:16

  37. Alida Hartley

    May 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    If they are saying it will be July 1 before they will restore extended unemployment, what are we suppose to do until then? If they are going to restore it what will be the difference. They will still have to pay out unemployment benefits then. Why put the working class through so much pain? What kind of crazy game is this? Sounds like chess and the unemployed are the pawns!

  38. mrs jones

    May 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Is the senate going to restore our unemployment benefits no need to keep going back in forth either you will give it back or take it away. I love north carolina cause it my home town but god be the glory.

  39. Nicole

    May 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Fact – the 37,000+ jobless individuals were terminated due to no fault of our own. Eliminating the benefits from circulating in the states economy is fiscally irresponsible and shows blatant disregard for the states most vulnerable citizens. The bill was attached to the budget to buy some type of leverage and to paint the governor as the bad guy. If Berger and the Republicans are serious about their having passed the bill because they are concerned about those depending on the benefits, they would simply vote for the bill again as a free standing bill.

    The Republican spin is weak and I hope they don’t think people are buying it. I hope they are enjoying what I bet will be a shortlived majority. This is precisely why people hate politicians!

  40. mrs jones

    May 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    The same thing keep repeating it self each year with the unemployment benefits. The world is not getting any better God will not put no more on us than we can bare. What god has for the 37000 jobless he has no republican no democratic no senate can take it away. All I have right now is my praise and when the praises go up the blessing come down Thank you God!!!

  41. mrs jones

    May 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I was reading what happen last year this time and its the same thing every time the senate gets mad they through our unemployment benefits in read a couple articles you see they just love us some much to last year it was extensions this year extended benefits

  42. mike

    May 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    put it back thief!!!!!!!!

  43. sporty

    May 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm


  44. Sarah Ovaska

    May 13, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Thank you all for sharing your comments. I’ll be continuing to do work on this, and want to invite anyone those of the affected 37,000 share with me their situation.

    We’re hoping to launch a page soon dedicated solely to news about the standoff over the unemployment benefits soon. I’ll let you know as soon as it’s live.

    In the meantime, I’m trying to collect more profiles of people, include photographs of those of you that are caught up in this limbo.

    If you could, please email me the following:
    a.) A one to two paragraph description of your situation and your thoughts on the the tough choices you’re making with the benefits on hold as well as what you think about how politicians in Raleigh are dealing with this.
    b.) full name
    c) age
    d) town or city where you live
    e.) Job and date you were laid off from
    f.) A digital photograph of yourself or your family, whatever you’re comfortable with being shared.

    You can send it to sarah@ncpolicywatch.com.

    For those who don’t know, there’s also a rally Monday at the Charlotte ESC office that unemployed workers are invited to attend. More information is available here: http://www.ncjustice.org/?q=node/832

    Thanks, and please keep the conversation going.

  45. mike

    May 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm


  46. Alida Hartley

    May 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you Sarah.

  47. need help

    May 14, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    well if yall not going to letus get our unemployment than move on stop saying we can get it i am sick of the lies yall dont care so just move on but election will be nexy year lets vote out you guys !!!!

  48. sporty

    May 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Has anyone heard about the march they had yesterday in charlotte, just curious!,be blessed everyone!

  49. need help

    May 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    she stillwant sign the budget she needs to get voted out

  50. sporty

    May 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    To need help] she probably wont sign!, what does she have to loose?even if she does get voted out,she still has money!, we don’t!,they don’t care about poor people.

  51. A NC Republican who is ashamed to be called a Republican

    May 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Please remember that the Republicans started this. There is a bill in the legislature now that will restore benefits to the unemployed, but the Republicans will not pass it. In fact, they have it tucked away in a “Committee” so that they can make this look like a budget issue. This is not a budget issue………The EB program is 100% paid by Federal funds.

    Phil Berger and Thom Tillis are behind this and I hope they are making plans now for the time when they are unemployed because I am doing everything I can to assure that they are not re-elected. They knew that Bev Perdue would not agree to losing 11,000 teachers in the NC school system by signing their political blackmail bill………..all they wanted was to make people think that Bev Perdue is the culprit. The Republicans are totally responsible for this fiasco!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Write to your representatives and ask them to make sure House Bill # H676 is passed WITHOUT any attachments regarding budget.

    God bless all those who are stuck in the middle of this craziness.

  52. smooches

    May 19, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Thanks for the information!,people are hurting,it’s not our fault that we don’t have job’s,i had one that i enjoyed back in 2009,i would have still had it if companies didn’t hire supervisor’s that are not prejudiced.Also most of these job’s have click’s,and if you don’t comply, you don’t have an job!i hate to say this,but it is true!thank’s again for the information ,their making bev perdue the culprit!they should be ashamed!,but they are not!

  53. Cake

    May 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I have 8 kids I need my unployment hurting me and my family bad.i havnt hear nothing about it in two week they need to do something fastI yahoo oneal

  54. Jon

    May 27, 2011 at 12:00 am

    What can the little unemployed man do here in america except be at the mercy of the politicians. At least the Romans gave their people a drink of water every now and then. Can a poor man live a little here in America? America, you should be ashame:

  55. Judy

    May 27, 2011 at 11:42 am

    This is examples of my efforts. Please help us…no one else is getting the truth out!!!

    Governor Perdue…It is my understanding that the unemployment extended benefits is money that the President of our United States of America has approved. It appears to be obvious that our money is being illegally kept from us. Do we not have protection against this? Should there not be charges filed against those responsible for stealing our benefits? I am loosing my family, I am loosing my home, I have had to take my possessions to a consignment shop in order to be able to survive this long. What more do you want us to give to this game of politics? You requested a stand alone bill for this issue and no one has taken you seriously or else you would have had that immediately! You must be able to take this matter into your own hands and get us our benefits…Please Please Please end this matter immediately, so we 45,000 families can scrap together the shreds of our lives that remain.

    We are in the middle and have no place in any of these politics. My understanding is that this is federal money that is already there. This federal money has nothing to do with state budgets. States can not arbitrarily steal federal money that doesn’t belong to them. Therefore…it is criminal that our money is being kept from us. They should release it AND be responsible for the disaster they are responsible for causing in our lives!!!

    Governor Perdue…why are you allowing Federal money for the extended benefits of the unemployed to be criminally kept from us??? Certainly you must have the authority to release that which you are keeping illegally. It would seem to me that all of us who are having our lives destroyed by the political games the Democrats and Republicans are playing should be entitled to damages based on the malicious conduct of those involved. NONE of the politicians involved in this issue should be allowed to enjoy a Memorial Day weekend with their family and friends when 50,000 families can’t!!!

  56. Judy

    May 27, 2011 at 11:52 am

    The state of North Carolina has absconded with federal money…tens of thousands of American Citizens are effected. This has been going on since April 16, 2011 when the politicians responsible decided to steal our money through malicious forethought and execution based on an agenda of self-interest. They have been allowed to continue this criminal activity, that is clearly in the public eye, without any legal intervention on behalf of We The People. There needs to be accountability for the devastations these political games have inflicted on us. Too many are loosing their families, their homes, their possessions. There must be someone out their who will take up our cause. We are entitled to our federally funded unemployment extended benefits and reparations!!! These politicians are entitled to criminal charges being brought against them the very least theft of federal money, destruction of 60,000 citizen’s livelihood with forethought and in a malicious way.

  57. Judy

    May 27, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    It would seem that since other states were able to do what was needed to avoid this type of disaster for its citizens, the same should be true for North Carolina. Since that is not how it happened, it would seem to me that the political game playing began around that time frame. It is becoming very difficult to see the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. Not just in our situation, locally, but our situation nationally and internationally. Greed for power might be the ultimate problem humanity has and is dealing with. Seems to me that it is truly time for a better way. Might just start with awareness…the clear and concise statement of the truth…not all this individual analysis of half-truths that the public is bombarded with.

  58. Bill

    May 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    So, Im at this graduation in Winston Salem, and I notice that, less than 50 people were in the graduation class.

    When I grew up in one of the countrys biggest city’s. We didn’t have teachers assistants. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT.
    So, Staff get’s paid, Teachers get’s paid, heck, even Sub’s get paid when the teachers are out for the day.
    so why is there so much attention to this budget and teachers and crap, if ya’ll dont do nothing down here anyway when it comes to REAL SUPPORT AND EDUCATION FOR THE SOUTH.
    look, just give these hard working people who moved down to NC with their college degree and work exp, THEIR UNEMPLOYMENT BACK,
    and let these WANNA BE CRIPS AND BLOODS from the country continue to do what they do.
    Teachers making $40K Teachers Assistants making $30K, Subs making $20k
    yet none of ya’ll can speak clear english , yet finish school.
    Fixing every pot hole in the streets is a waste of money. Spending $250K on the governors house in ASHEVILLE is a waste of money.

    is typical Red Neck Country Crap.

    Look Bev, you dont need to walk around wit bullet proof vests on anymonre, Just give us our benefits and we will all go back home and let ya’ll have this dumb boring state.

    Really dont care if you sign the bill or not, as you can tell. but the reasons and blame game sounds like you need a male figure next to you when doing the job, oh .. thats right.
    You the first woman to be GOVERNOR HERE. ha..
    crying on TV like a little girl. “help the people of NC” but dont take away my teachers assistants, I used to be a teacher”
    3% of the budget for 3 months and you acting funny.

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