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About NH Labor News

The New Hampshire Labor News is a group of NH Workers who believe that we need to protect ourselves against the attacks on workers. We are proud union members who are working to preserve the middle class. The NHLN talks mostly about news and politics from NH. We also talk about national issues that effect working men and women here in the Granite State.

Senators Shaheen and Portman’s Energy Efficiency Bill Passes Senate. 

Shaheen Portman Bill HEADER

Bipartisan Legislation will save energy, protect the environment, save consumers money, create jobs

 

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Bipartisan energy efficiency legislation authored by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today passed the U.S. Senate. The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 contains key energy efficiency provisions that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution.

The provisions that passed today come from H.R. 2126, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming support last Congress.

“Energy efficiency has received such strong bipartisan support because it’s the cheapest and fastest way to address our nation’s energy challenges,” Shaheen said. “Today we passed a bill that will create jobs, save consumers money, and reduce pollution in a smart, effective and affordable way. Energy efficiency holds enormous potential for America’s energy future and the Senate has taken an important step toward realizing that future.”

“This bill has garnered such widespread support because of a simple fact – it is good for the economy and good for the environment. It’s part of an energy plan for America that can help bring the jobs back, help fix our trade deficit, help make our manufacturers more competitive, and actually help to protect the environment,” said Portman. “I’m pleased that these key portions of our energy efficiency bill passed the Senate today.”

The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 includes four simple but effective provisions that have been scored by the Congressional Budget Office to be budget neutral.  Title I establishes a voluntary, market-driven approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to reduce energy consumption.  Title II exempts certain electric resistance water heaters used for demand response from pending Department of Energy regulation.  Title III requires federal agencies to coordinate with OMB, DOE, and EPA to develop an implementation strategy – that includes best practices, measurement, and verification techniques – for the maintenance, purchase, and use of energy-efficient and energy saving information technologies.  Title IV requires that federally-leased buildings without Energy Star labels benchmark and disclose their energy usage data, where practical.

NH Leaders Applaud Senate Vote for Constitutional Amendment to Stop Unlimited Campaign Spending, Urge House to Follow Suit

Open Democracy, the New Hampshire nonprofit committed to transparent and accountable government, congratulated the New Hampshire Senate for unanimously approving SB 136 on Thursday, a bill calling on Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to address the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
 
Open Democracy leaders and activists from both political parties, together with allied groups, simultaneously renewed their calls for the New Hampshire House to approve a similar measure. If adopted by the House, New Hampshire would become the 17th state to call for a Constitutional Amendment five years after the controversial Citizens United decision was handed down.
 
“New Hampshire citizens are frankly disgusted with the amount of special interest money flooding our elections,” said Daniel Weeks, Executive Director of Open Democracy, citing town resolutions adopted by 67 New Hampshire towns in 2014-15 calling for a Constitutional Amendment and the roughly 12,000 citizen petitioners across the state. “It is precisely because the First Amendment is so sacred that we need to protect the rights of ordinary Americans to speak and be heard in the public square, rather than be shouted down by big spenders with an agenda of their own,” Weeks said.
 
“We applaud the full Senate for responding to their constituents’ demands and passing this historic call for a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to rid our democracy of unlimited special interest spending in elections,” said Gordon Allen, co-chair of the Open Democracy Board. “We are especially thankful to Senators Martha Fuller-Clark (D-21) and Russell Prescott (R-23) for leading this important push.”
 
Members of the Open Democracy Advisory Board John Broderick and Brad Cook, the former NH Chief Justice and Republican Chairman of the Election Law Commission, respectively, called on elected representatives in the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the “bipartisan resolution opposing the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited spending in elections.”
 
“Although we may not agree on some issues, we both believe there is nothing more destructive of good politics and good policy than secret special interest money in elections,” Broderick and Cook wrote. “Left unchecked, it will consume our electoral process and silence the voice of the people.”
 
The issue of money in politics has attracted near-unanimous public sentiment from across the political spectrum, with 96 percent of New Hampshire residents polled believing that money has too much influence over politics. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of state residents across party lines support a Constitutional Amendment to limit campaign contributions and spending, according to a University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll.
 
As evidence of their frustration with the status quo, approximately 500 citizens took to the streets of New Hampshire this January, walking 300 miles across the state to protest money in politics as part of the NH Rebellion. The Rebellion activists and allied groups plan to continue marching and are also challenging the presidential candidates to support systemic campaign finance reform during the state’s first-in-the-national primary.
 
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The Senate-approved legislation, as amended, asserts “the need for a United States Constitutional Amendment to address the Citizens United ruling and related cases, that protects New Hampshire’s ability to make its own laws regarding campaign finance while protecting the First Amendment.” To bill also establishes a study committee to examine the impact of the Citizens United ruling and related cases in New Hampshire elections; to evaluate the different Constitutional Amendment options being proposed in Congress; and to consider short-term solutions to issues raised by Citizens United.
 
One such measure, disclosure of independent spending in state elections, was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Hassan in 2014. However, insufficient compliance with SB 120 in the 2014 election led Open Democracy to file complaints against both liberal and conservative political committees with the New Hampshire Attorney General. As of March 2015, the Attorney General’s investigations are still ongoing.
 
A forthcoming Open Democracy analysis of the 2014 mid-term election in New Hampshire reveals that approximately $100 million was spent by candidates, parties, and third-party groups – the highest level of election spending in state history. More than half of the total spending came from so-called “independent” groups, with the majority of their funding coming from out-of-state and/or undisclosed sources, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate contest also ranked as the most negative race in the country with over 90 percent of all television ads characterized as attacks. 
 
Although efforts to overturn Citizens United in Congress have stalled in recent years for lack of bipartisan support, liberal and conservative leaders alike have called for state and congressional action to mitigate what they describe as the ruling’s adverse effects on elections and representation. As early as 2010 when the decision was handed down, New Hampshire’s late Republican Senator Warren Rudman wrote in The Washington Post, “Supreme Court opinion notwithstanding, corporations are not defined as people under the Constitution, and free speech can hardly be called free when only the rich are heard.”
 
To mitigate the corrupting influence of money in politics, Senator Rudman went on to urge “Republicans and Democrats in Congress [to] work together to expand political speech for all citizens by replacing special-interest money in politics with small donations and public matching funds.”
 
Open Democracy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Concord, advocates for a range of campaign finance and election reforms including citizen-funded elections, overturning Citizens United, election modernization, and full rapid disclosure of campaign contributions and spending. 

Senate Democrats’ Comments on Senate GOP Making it Harder to Vote

CONCORD – Senator Bette Lasky, Senator David Pierce and Senator Molly Kelly condemned the passage of Senate Bill 179, which imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

 

“This bill will only serve to further complicate the voting process for New Hampshire citizens. SB 179 proposes a new standard for what constitutes a domicile that is more confusing and less concise than the current law,” said Sen. Bette Lasky. “Voters need consistency and clarity when it comes to eligibility standards and this bill fails that test.”

 

In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled in Dunn v. Blumstein that durational residency requirements for voting in state and local elections were unconstitutional.  

 

“I am disappointed to see my Republican colleagues support such legislation even though the Supreme Court has been clear on this issue,” said Sen. David Pierce. “These unconstitutional assaults on our constituents’ right to vote in free and fair elections have got to stop. Unfortunately, the Republican majority won’t stop.”  

 

“Unlike other states, our constitution explicitly guarantees the equal right of every citizen to vote,” said Sen. Molly Kelly. “As we mark the 50thanniversary of the Selma march where some of our fellow Americans lost their very lives to secure the right to vote and as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we should be encouraging all eligible citizens to vote instead of making the process more confusing.”

Kuster Statement on Passage of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015

Washington, DC – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement regarding the passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Actof 2015, which would end the threat of harmful cuts to Medicare reimbursements and prevent millions of children from losing access to health insurance:

 

“Since taking office, I’ve made fighting to protect Medicare one of my top priorities. Today, I was proud to join an overwhelming majority of members from both sides of the aisle in passing legislation to replace the broken Sustainable Growth Rate formula – which threatened to prevent many Granite State seniors from continuing to see their own doctors – with a new model that protects access to care for our seniors, ensures cost-savings, and most importantly, helps support the sustainability of Medicare for generations to come. 

 

“This bill also included important measures to protect the Granite State’s most vulnerable: it will extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years and prevent millions of children from losing access to health care, expand funding for Community Health Centers (CHC), and protect vital assistance for low-income seniors.

 

“This is not a perfect bill, and I will continue to fight for a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But this legislation will help protect access to medical care for older Americans and shore up Medicare for future generations, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to improve this bill and see it signed into law.”

Leaked Investor Chapter Of TPP Worse Than Imagined

Larry Cohen CWA

Larry Cohen, President of the Communication Workers of America

Washington, D.C. — Following is a statement by Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen:

“The 56 pages of the Investor chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are worse than imagined and must be a wake up call for our nation.  Amazingly, this chapter is sealed for four years after either adoption or rejection of the TPP.  Everything we read and learn makes “Fast Track” authority unimaginable. It’s secrecy on top of secrecy.

The TPP is shaping up to be an exercise in words about citizen rights that are not enforceable versus expanded corporate rights to sue governments for supposed diminishment of corporate profits.  Section B of the leaked chapter documents new provisions of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), the secret tribunal process that is above national law or courts.

It is ironic that the document demonstrates that the U.S. is leading the push for expanded Investor or corporate rights provisions while Australia is leading the opposition.  The center-right Abbott government has forced inclusion of a footnote in the current draft that Investor State Dispute Settlement “does not apply to Australia.”

Current ISDS action by Philip Morris, challenging Australia’s plain packaging cigarette regulations designed to prevent cancer and heart disease, is likely part of the explanation for this footnote.  This leaked chapter says as much about the corrosive effects of money and corporate interests in our political system as it does about trade.

These 56 pages must be a wake up call for our nation.  We must be defenders of democracy first and push aside the special interests of multinational corporations.  The nice words in other parts of TPP are more than outmatched by this section placing corporate rights over citizen rights and providing reparations for corporations versus government reports for other complaints.

The case for rejecting “Fast Track” authority for the TPP is now even clearer.  “Fast Track” or Trade Promotion Authority is only being considered by the U.S.  Every other government is preserving its right to read the text before speeding its adoption.  This chapter on Investment compels the U.S. to do the same. CWA will redouble our efforts to participate in the broadest coalition ever to defeat “Fast Track” and the TPP.  Our jobs, our living standards, our safety, our environment, our national sovereignty and our very democracy are on the line.  We will stand up and fight back for as long as it takes.”

Climate Disruption Not So Sweet for Maple Syrup

Speakers together_Wilhelm, Carlson, Lane and Presby

Event Speakers Whilelm, Carson, Lane and Presby

Over 80 Flock for Stacks, Speakers and Climate Action

DURHAM, NH – Pancakes and maple syrup brightens even the darkest corners of cabin fever as days get longer and spring slowly emerges from snow driven days to the official mud season. At the University of New Hampshire’s Halloway Commons, the Climate Impacts Pancake Breakfast highlighted the impacts of climate disruption taking place in New Hampshire on the tasty amber colored syrup. Over 80 people came to enjoy maple syrup, hear the speakers and take action to protect our environment. The forum was hosted by the UNH Sustainability Institute and Student Environmental Action Coalition with sponsors Moms Clean Air Force, Union of Concerned Scientists, National Wildlife Federation, League of Conservation Voters, Environment New Hampshire and New Hampshire Sierra Club.

Speaker Dr. Martha Carlson spoke on the specific climate impacts on maple trees and syrup production in New Hampshire and the region. As a maple farmer in Sandwich, NH, Doctor Carlson has researched the ways changing climate trends have affected the level of sweetness in the maple syrup and the timing for tapping over the years.

The tone of the event was squarely focused on solutions and innovation to help preserve the traditional coming of spring in New England – maple syrup. One such solution is the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan that will help reduce climate changing pollution from power plants, the largest source of carbon and greenhouse gases. The Clean Power Plan allows states to adjust the most effective technologies and methods to best reduce pollution to the emissions standards for their state. Flexibility and planning are the hallmarks of the Clean Power Plan – and New Hampshire is expected to be at the front of creating a plan because the state participates in a carbon reduction program already, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“The Clean Power Plan is our best defense to help save maple syrup in New Hampshire,” stated New Hampshire Sierra Club Chapter Director Catherine M. Corkery. “Lowering carbon from power plants and shifting our energy to more renewable sources is the way we can protect our maple trees and local food economy.”

Quotations from Speakers:

Martha Carlson, Scientist and maple farmer in Sandwich
For eight to ten millennia human beings have known precisely when to tap the sugar maples.  We knew by the watery blue sky, the warmth of the bark on the tree, the angle of the sun.  We developed methods and technologies fitted to a four to six week season.  We could count on mild nights just below freezing and warm days just above freezing.  The sap always ran just before the Spring Equinox.

Today, something is out of balance. The sap runs earlier than ever before or later than usual, for fewer days or more days.  Sap is less sweet than it was a century ago. The filters in the saphouse turn black with sugar sand and the syrup is dark.  In summer, the leaves of the sugar maple have more insect damage and in autumn, the leaves turn a dull brown and drop off earlier than usual.

This year with record cold persisting well into spring, with nights so cold even sugary sap can freeze, many of us have not made a drop of syrup yet.  And, now, as our orchards thaw out, we may find popped spiles and leaking equipment.  Our technologies and methods are not designed for climate disruption. Sugar producers are intelligent and adaptable.  So are the maple trees.  But there are very few of us.  If the sugar maple can be seen as an icon of our culture and environment in New England, then perhaps everyone can help us confront climate change.

What can we do?  We have to stop using fossil fuels.  We have to invest in alternative energy.  We need innovation in science and technology.  We need artificial photosynthesis and a new battery that is as easy to use, as portable and as clever as a sugar molecule.

Erin Lane of the USDA Northeast Climate Hub
“In a synthesis of assessed vulnerabilities in northeastern agriculture and forestry, we found that tree fruit and maple syrup are among the region’s MOST vulnerable products,” said Erin Lane, Director for Partnerships with the USDA Northeast Climate Hub. “The threats include extreme precipitation, drought, pests and early spring followed by frost. On the flip side, a longer growing season could provide opportunities in the northeast. Adaptation can mean BOTH adjusting to and taking advantage of variable weather conditions.”

Jennifer Wilhelm, New Hampshire Food Alliance

“A Network and Strategy approach allows us to leverage opportunities while addressing challenges and managing risk. It gives us the adaptive capacity to be more resilient to the effects climate change will have on the food system.

Chris Keeley, NH Sea Grant, UNH Cooperative Extension
New Hampshire Seacoast communities are taking action to prepare for climate change. They are hosting community conversations, reviewing vulnerabilities assessments, and identifying appropriate actions based on the impacts and vulnerabilities made visible by storms in recent years, and based on local research from the University of New Hampshire as well as regional and national research. We are fortunate in New Hampshire to have a collaboration called the New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup that combines skills and knowledge of about 20 different organizations to assist communities by providing education, facilitation, and technical assistance.

Northeast Climate Hub: The Northeast Climate Hub includes the region stretching from Maine to West Virginia. A USDA multi-agency effort, the USDA Climate Hubs deliver science-based knowledge, practical information and program support to farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and resource managers to support decision-making related to the impacts of a changing climate. Climate Hubs are led by the Agricultural Research Service, Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster Helps Reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act

Equal Pay for Equal Work (lilly ledbetter act)

Washington, DC – Yesterday afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) helped reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation she has championed since taking office. The Paycheck Fairness Act would help eliminate pay disparities based on gender.

“On average today, women in New Hampshire continue to make only 78 cents to every dollar their male counterparts make. That’s simply unacceptable, and I was proud to reintroduce legislation to help close the gap and level the playing field for female workers and the families who rely on them,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “No woman should ever make less money than a man doing the same job. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join together and pass this legislation now, so we can move one step closer towards pay equity for every American, regardless of his or her gender.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would institute a number of new safeguards against pay inequity, and would provide recourse for individuals who may be experiencing pay discrimination based on gender. It would also prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who share salary information with their coworkers – an important tool for victims of pay discrimination. Congresswoman Kuster also cosponsored this legislation last year, and has long pushed for its passage.

A strong advocate for paycheck fairness, Kuster believes pay inequity is not just a women’s issue, but a family issue. Since taking office, she’s worked to level the playing field for women and their families, and she’s fought to create equal opportunities for female professionals and women-owned businesses.  Last year, Kuster authored a Women’s Economic Agenda, a plan for Congress to prioritize initiatives to reduce pay disparities based on gender and support Granite State women and their families. In her first term in office, Kuster successfully pushed the President to issue executive orders to support fair pay for federally contracted employees. She has also hosted a series of roundtables to hear directly from women business owners and other professionals all across New Hampshire about what more Congress can do to help Granite State women succeed and receive fair pay in the workplace.

Manchester Mayorial Race: Joyce Craig Announces Aldermanic Endorsements

Joyce Craig MayorAldermen Dan O’Neil, Pat Long, Bill Barry,
and Norm Gamache Endorse Craig for Mayor

MANCHESTER – Today, Joyce Craig announced that Alderman-at-Large Dan O’Neil and Aldermen Pat Long, Bill Barry and Norm Gamache have endorsed her campaign for Mayor of Manchester.

“I am proud to support Joyce’s campaign for Mayor because I know she shares my belief that it is time to move Manchester forward. To move Manchester forward, we need a Mayor who can bring people together to solve the problems facing the city that we all love. From the School Board to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Joyce has always worked hard and put the people of Manchester first. Manchester has many challenges – from our struggling schools to our failing roads to the problems of drug abuse and crime that our first responders are fighting every day – and we need a Mayor who will bring the community together to solve these problems. Manchester is a great place to live and work, and we need a Mayor who will put collaboration before confrontation. I know Joyce Craig is the right person to move Manchester forward and I am proud to support her campaign for Mayor,” said Alderman O’Neil.

“I have worked with Joyce Craig for many years and I know that she cares deeply for this city and I have no doubt that she is the right person to be our next Mayor. As the Ward 3 Alderman, I know Joyce understands that our residents and small businesses want a Mayor who can bring the community together to solve the problems – from pot holes to panhandlers – facing our downtown. Joyce Craig will be a Mayor who can move all of Manchester forward,” said Long.

“As two Aldermen who represent Manchester’s West Side, we know that Joyce is the right choice for all of Manchester. Joyce never lets politics stand in the way of what is right for the people of Manchester, especially West Side residents. Joyce led budget efforts that allowed the West Side library to remain open and to preserve city wide bus service, which is essential for many West Side residents. We have seen firsthand the great work that Joyce has done as an Alderman and we are confident that she is the right person to move Manchester forward as our next Mayor,” said Aldermen Barry and Gamache.

“I am honored to have the support of Chairman O’Neil and Aldermen Long, Barry and Gamache in my campaign for Mayor. The support of my colleagues means a lot to me and to our campaign to move Manchester forward. Aldermen O’Neil, Long, Barry and Gamache have long and admirable records of public service and I know the people of Manchester are grateful for their service. My Aldermanic colleagues and I share the belief that Manchester needs a Mayor who favors collaboration over confrontation, and I look forward to working with them to move Manchester forward,” said Craig.

Bill to Extend Positive Train Control Implementation Misses Chance to Make Rail Transportation Safer

Transportation Trade Department LogoWashington, DC—Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement about the Senate markup of the Positive Train Control (PTC) extension bill:

“A five-year extension of the deadline by which Positive Train Control (PTC) technology must be implemented cannot be considered in a vacuum or in isolation. Rail employees, first responders, and communities have witnessed too many deadly freight and passenger rail accidents in recent years, including those involving the transport of crude oil and other hazardous materials. While the causes of these accidents vary, we know that passing long overdue safety reforms – not just simply delaying implementation of PTC – will make rail transportation safer.

“We unveiled a plan outlining measures that Congress can implement in order to improve both passenger and freight rail safety. That plan includes mandating at least two qualified crewmembers on every train; addressing chronic fatigue among rail employees; and requiring use of common sense technology such as alerters and shunting. We also released reforms to make hazardous materials transportation safer, including a call for better support and training for first responders and stronger tank car and inspection standards.

“A blanket five-year extension of PTC is the wrong approach. We understand that some of the reasons for delay in implementing PTC are outside the control of the railroads, but these companies could have done more to meet this mandate. Any extension should be of shorter duration and considered on a case-by-case basis while requiring carriers to submit a plan for how they will meet an extended deadline.

“At a time when the safety of rail transportation is gaining much-needed attention, it makes no sense for the Senate to only move a bill that delays implementation of life-saving technology without considering comprehensive safety reforms.”

Statement of LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan on the 50th Anniversary of the Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March

Washington, DC (March 25, 2015) – Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) General President Terry O’Sullivan today made the following statement regarding the 50th Anniversary of the conclusion of the Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March:

Fifty years ago today, a weary but proud nonviolent army of civil rights activists took their last steps in a 54-mile march for voting rights, pushing our nation one step closer to fulfilling its promise of equal justice for all.  Led by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, these heroic Americans put their lives on the line to call attention to the ongoing denial of our most fundamental right: the right to vote.  Three laid down their lives during the campaign that culminated in the march: Jimmie Lee Jackson, the Reverend James Reeb, and Viola Liuzzo.  On behalf of the General Executive Board and 500,000 members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), I thank all who marched, and all who supported the marchers, for their dedication, commitment, and sacrifice.  Our union, our movement, and our country owes these brave champions of justice an enormous debt of gratitude that can only be repaid by continuing to protect, and to exercise, the voting rights of all Americans.

At LIUNA, we are proud that the fight for racial justice has been a part of our organizational DNA since our very founding in 1903.  We are proud that our first General Executive Board included two African-American Laborers: Moses Payton and Elmo Chambers.  We are proud that our very first General President, Herman Lilien, a Belgian immigrant who knew the bitter taste of prejudice himself, refused to charter separate White and Black Local Unions.  We are proud that our great International Union was founded by those who were targets of bigotry: African-Americans; Catholics; and immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and many other countries.  Over the past 112 years, we have seen that as long as the rights of any one group of Americans are threatened or denied, the rights of all Americans are in danger.

Sadly, even as we mark this anniversary, we are faced with efforts to turn back the clock.  Overly restrictive voter ID laws, increased barriers to voter participation, and brazen attempts to suppress voter turnout continue to tear at the very fabric of our great democracy.  But just as the marchers of Selma would not be deterred in their righteous battle for freedom, so we will not be deterred in our defense of their accomplishments.  These courageous men and women of all races, religions, and nationalities bequeathed to us a stronger, better, more inclusive republic.  It is our sacred duty to honor, protect, and preserve that bequest.

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