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Obama Earned Nearly $2.5 Million in Book Royalties in 2008

By Garance Franke-Ruta
Disclosure forms filed with the Secretary of the Senate for Barack Obama's final year as a U.S. senator show that, as he spent 2008 campaigning for president, he earned nearly $2.5 million in royalties from the sale of his books.

And he added $500,000 more on Jan. 15, just before taking office as president, when he signed a deal for "an abridged version of Dreams from My Father suitable for middle grade or young adult readers."

President Obama has authored two best-selling books, "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," published in 1995, and "The Audacity of Hope," published in 2006.

Most of the royalties came from Obama's more recent book, which brought in $1,512,933 in 2008. "Dreams from My Father" also continued to sell well, earning the author $949,910.

The disclosure forms were filed Tuesday afternoon.

An attachment to the disclosure sheds more light on Obama's book deals. On Jan. 9, he amended a December 2004 deal with the Crown Publishing Group, which is expecting another nonfiction book from him, to note that the book "would not be delivered during his term of office."

Crown also intends to publish his young-adult version of "Dreams."

Posted at 6:45 AM ET on Mar 19, 2009  | Category:  Barack Obama
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All I'm saying is: right-wing commentators, it's sufficient to say, "I hate Barack Obama." That's pithy and to the point.

Don't embarrass yourselves and nullify actual conversations by making arguments that even you yourself, on a moment's reflection, probably wouldn't believe.

Try this test before you comment: what if [insert your favorite right-wing personality] did the same thing, how would I feel?

That's a very small, quick test you can perform to prevent yourself from appearing merely churlish at best, idiotic at worst.

I hear Bush is going to publish a book. He also published one before he was President. Didn't do as well as Obama's. Is he bad too? Or is Obama just bad because he's a more successful writer than Bush? Are Hannity and Limbaugh and Coulter bad because they make money from books? Do liberal books bear a special moral hazard that conservative books do not? In reality, I mean, not just in your fevered desires.

Think about it for a minute. Or just a second. Before you comment. Save us all some trouble wading through the profusion of knee-high vapidity that's typical of conservative posts here. Contribute something of value, please.

Or go for the power and value of concise expression and let it rest with a simple "I hate Barack Obama."

Posted by: nodebris | March 20, 2009 2:29 AM

So the Neocon-Fascist strategy is to turn Obama into post WWI German President Ebert.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | March 19, 2009 6:42 PM

Does this sound familiar???:

Ebert's party had achieved the highest portion of votes, 38%, in the first post-War elections, held in January 1919. Ebert would have to govern by coalition.

It was at this time that the right wing made its crucial decision. Despite its shocking, naked failure over the prior decade, despite the horrific devastation it had wrought on the German people, despite the discrediting of everything they had purported to stand for, they would fight Ebert, his new government, and its plans for recovery. They would do everything they could to make sure that the new government failed.

Their strategy was two-fold: first, stoke the resentment of the population about the calamitous state of its living conditions-no matter that those conditions had been created by the very right-wing oligarchs who now pretended to befriend the little guy. Rage is rage. It is glandular and unseeing. Once catalyzed it is easy to turn on any subject.

And stoking resentment was easy to do. Just before the War ended, the military concocted its most sensational lie: the German army hadn't actually been defeated. It had been "stabbed in the back" by communists, traitors, and Jews. It was an easy lie to sell. It entwined an attack on an alien political ideology -- liberalism -- with the latent, pervasive myth of German racial superiority.

The second strategy of the right was to prevent the new government from succeeding. To begin with, success of the left would conspicuously advertise the failure of the right. Moreover, success by the left would legitimize republican government, so hated by the oligarchs of the right. Much better for the people to be ruled by the self-aggrandizing right-wing autocracy that had governed Germany for centuries.

So the rightists set out to do everything they could to make it impossible for the leftists to govern. They would use parliamentary maneuver, shifting coalitions, domination of the new mass media, legislative obstruction, staged public relations spectacles, relentless pressure by narrow but powerful interests, judicial intimidation and, eventually, outright murder of their political opponents.

Contrition for their abject failure, humility for their destructive hubris, compassion for their crippled country-those had nothing to do with it. All they possessed was a blinding, visceral hatred of the left and a masturbatory lust for the return to power.

Eventually, they succeeded. Every setback in recovery -- and there would inevitably be many -- was met with hysterical demonizing of the left wing government. The lie was repeated relentlessly that the government was run by communists, traitors, and Jews-the same furtive cabal that had purportedly stabbed the country in the back at the end of the War. They steadily chipped away at the efficacy and, thereby, the legitimacy of successive governments.

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/132155/does_america_face_the_risk_of_a_fascist_backlash_/

Posted by: kevinschmidt | March 19, 2009 6:39 PM

cowen:
YES. so true.
another example
Bolshivek Revolution

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 19, 2009 6:09 PM

No doubt President Obama is an intelligent and future thinking American. Such a shame that so many with "0" education and success dishonor his job and family.

Remember 1919 at the end of WW1. The conservatives in Germany directed the failure of the country and started the disastarous war.

After the German people placed control in the hands of the left after 1919, the conservatives vowed to do everything to destroy the new government. The lunatic fringe of the Conservative Party in Germany at the time was a mad man named Hitler.

There were too many events to report in this writing but the end result was the new government failed and rather than loose power again the German Conservative Party placed the party and the control of the Country with Adolph Hitler , and the rest is History.

Let's not let History be repeated.

Posted by: COWENS99 | March 19, 2009 5:49 PM

So sad...You republicans are very bitter.

Posted by: keys1 | March 19, 2009 5:17 PM

Yeah I bought his books and gave some away


----but unfortunately he STILL won the election.

Posted by: JaxMax | March 19, 2009 4:58 PM

kevinschmidt - my apologies. I made a connection that wasn't there. I stand by my statement about the terms needing to be seperated, but your post wasn't an example of it.

Posted by: jacktheconqueror | March 19, 2009 4:52 PM

ah kevin...thank you for reminding me.
yes, our previous Vice President Dick Cheney.
Our previous Vice President Dick Cheney.

Haliburton. My God...and people are sitting here bashing President Barack Obama.

Our previous Vice President Dick Cheney.
Such a glorious righteous man at the helm of the second highest office in the land.
Yeah, can I get an AMEN !!!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 19, 2009 4:41 PM

More on criminal dick Cheney and criminal Halliburton's criminal subsidiary, criminal KBR:

'In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, former Halliburton unit KBR complained that it will be at a “competitive disadvantage” to win “large-scale” international contracts because it is being forced to comply with U.S. laws.

Last month, KBR pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and admitted that it paid $180 million in "consulting fees" to two agents for use in bribing Nigerian government officials to win a lucrative construction contract for the Bonny Island natural gas liquefaction plant while former Vice President dick Cheney headed the corporation. KBR paid a $402 million fine as part of its plea deal.'

http://pubrecord.org/nationworld/773-kbr-complains-that-abiding-by-us-laws-puts-it-a-competitive-disadvantage.html

Oh Boo! Hoo! criminal dick Cheney's criminal KBR can't make any money if it obeys U.S. law.

It's time to take a lesson from the French Revolution. They solved problems like this with the guillotine.

Some Americans like to call them, "Freedom Blades."

Posted by: kevinschmidt | March 19, 2009 4:05 PM


Why doesn't our childish and petulant congress levy a 90% tax on that too?

Posted by: pgr88 | March 19, 2009 3:47 PM

What for? Your comment is childish and petulant.

Obama honestly earned that money.

He did not help to throw this country into a deep recession and then ask the U.S. government to bail out multi million dollar bonuses for incompetence.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | March 19, 2009 3:59 PM

Why doesn't our childish and petulant congress levy a 90% tax on that too?

Posted by: pgr88 | March 19, 2009 3:47 PM

love the WaPo. havin' more fun today than Edward Norton at a foreign grocery store.

and President Obama's book deals mean ..
what exactly?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | March 19, 2009 3:30 PM

"by: VirginiaConservative I think its disappointing that (Obama's book), like rap music, has such an audience..."

I've read your drive-by rantings and falsehoods on WP for years and have never seen you engage in any meaningful dialog on the topics at hand, but for once I've got to give you credit - YOU ACTUALLY READ A BOOK By Barak Obama! (Right? otherwise you couldn't have made the statement above)

Posted by: daler1 | March 19, 2009 3:30 PM

while KevinSchmidt's equating Republican party advances of big business and the Iraq war with conservatism.

Posted by: jacktheconqueror | March 19, 2009 2:25 PM

Please don't put words into my mouth, or try to oversimplify my position.

I never mentioned "conservatism" nor did I mention "advances of big business".

Here is what I said:

'...the Republican dodos she supports took this country down a path of death and destruction.

As I said in my previous post, no one died when Obama took his royalties. Not true for dick Cheney who kept his Halliburton stock. Now Halliburton is guilty of killing U.S. troops for profits.

That's what happens when you vote Republican and vote against your own best interests!

Where were all the Obama critics when Halliburton and dick Cheney were killing our soldiers for profit?

A Democratic mole hill of self promotion for profit does not equate with a Republican mountain of criminal neglect and manslaughter for profit.

This is yet another reason why the now politically irrelevant Republican dodos are doomed to political extinction.'


'Conservatism' is a discredited political philosophy.

'Big business' is a bunch of greedy baztards.

But the Republicans are a treasonous crime syndicate.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | March 19, 2009 3:19 PM

Wow! Lots of haters on this post. Incredible. Is this more of the "wall street has to get its bonuses, but the auto makers have to break their contracts" bull?

Obama earned his money from his books fair and square. He didn't cheat anyone, cut jobs to boost his income, send innocents to war to gain power, or any other immoral thing that you people should scream about. If his book wasn't any good, no one would buy it. But they are both great books and I am glad for his intelligence, his industriousness, his example of being able to do more than one thing well at a time, and for giving opportunity for the revelation of just how hypocritical most conservatives are about making money. It's only right if it's them making it. The rest of us should have "caps" on our income, right?

Posted by: bronzee | March 19, 2009 2:43 PM

Let's take a step back here.

VirginiaConservative, the "mind-numbing comment" was made before your post, and I had started my own response before yours showed up. Neither were in response to your post.

Also, to split hairs, he said they were mind-numbingly "boring" not "hard to understand" :)

Can we divorce "republican" and "conservative" and "Democratic" and "leftist?" I'm sick of these terms being interchangable and it muddies the waters. VC's qualms about "jobless millionaires" assumes that Democrats are automatically far-left, while KevinSchmidt's equating Republican party advances of big business and the Iraq war with conservatism.

The "jobless millionaires" have NOTHING in common with the people I know who collectively own bookstores, participate in food co-ops, etc. Similairly, the people raking in billions and/or waging ware are certainly a different breed of "conservative" than my friends who own small businesses, reserve the right to own a gun for protection, etc. It's all smoke and mirrors at that level.

Back to the matter on this page, I guess the question is: If Obama doesn't give part of his proceeds to charity, is he not rising to the challenges he's laid out for the American people? If he does give back, how much should he give? What about his time as a community organizer? Does that count as volunteering his time (I honestly don't know if he was paid for that)? Or, assuming that his actions are benevolent, does the fact that he's now running the show count as his "giving back" to the community?

Posted by: jacktheconqueror | March 19, 2009 2:25 PM

To VirginiaConservative regarding Obama's charitable donations: when his past 7 years' worth of tax returns were made public in 2007, it was revealed that in 2005 he and Michelle gave $77k to charity and in 2006 he gave $60k. From 2000 to 2004, they gave less than $3500/year each year. Google "obama tax returns charitable donations" to get the details. Whether that's a lot or a little, I don't know.

Posted by: dkp01 | March 19, 2009 2:13 PM

I thought you conservatives admired success and making money? Oh, I get it. You only like rich people if they got that way by war-profiteering and looting Wall Street.

Posted by: carolinagirl2 | March 19, 2009 1:45 PM

Obama fits right in with Reid, Pelosi, Kennedy and Kerry. Rich beyond belief - but can't see their way clear of much - unless it is someone else's money.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | March 19, 2009 1:07 PM

What a whiner!

Meanwhile, the Republican dodos she supports took this country down a path of death and destruction.

As I said in my previous post, no one died when Obama took his royalties. Not true for dick Cheney who kept his Halliburton stock. Now Halliburton is guilty of killing U.S. troops for profits.

That's what happens when you vote Republican and vote against your own best interests!

'"Defense contractor KBR Inc. has been awarded a $35 million Pentagon contract involving major electrical work, even as it is under criminal investigation in the electrocution deaths of at least two U.S. soldiers in Iraq." "The deaths of [Staff Sergeant Christopher Lee] Everett and [Staff Sergeant Ryan] Maseth are among the 18 under review by the Pentagon's inspector general."'

http://www.havenworks.com/business/research/halliburton-kbr/

18 deaths under review?

Where were all the Obama critics when Halliburton and dick Cheney were killing our soldiers for profit?

A Democratic mole hill of self promotion for profit does not equate with a Republican mountain of criminal neglect and manslaughter for profit.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | March 19, 2009 1:34 PM

As a conservative, I don't care how much he makes off his book. I think its disappointing that it, like rap music, has such an audience because it tells a sad, sad tale about America.

I just want to know how much he gave in charity last year.

I think that is an honest question - especially given his exhortations to us all to give and cut back and volunteer.

Especially since he neither gives, cuts back or volunteers.

Is that so mind numbingly hard to
understand?

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | March 19, 2009 1:25 PM

The biggest problem with conservative comments is that they are so mind-numbingly uninteresting. It's just boring, and more than a bit sad, to watch them fumbling about trying to make something bad out of Obama's royalties, even if they have to invert all their own beliefs about the free-market to do it.

//

I've also noticed, on these pages, that the more general the statement, the less likely it is that the poster will engage in conversation.

One of the best parts about comments on news articles is that they can stimulate dialouge. Instead, they're often used for "drive-by" (if I may lift from Limbaugh's lingo) statments that often have nothing to do with the topic at hand and usually don't hold water under scrutiny.

I wouldn't be suprised if the same applies in reverse on conservative sites, but still. Try harder, people.

Posted by: jacktheconqueror | March 19, 2009 1:10 PM

How much did Obama contribute to charity?

Bet it wasn't much. Now lets make sure we have the question straight: How much of Obama's money - not ours - did he contribute to charity.

Judging by his own family member living in squalor (and an illegal alien) in public housing - it is doubtful he gave much if any to charities.

I am not picking on Obama - lack of charitable giving is the hallmark of the left. Along with telling those who really DO contribute that they are heartless bastar*s.

We could also ask the same question of the Kennedy family. So, Teddy, how much do you contribute? How much do you hide?

Caroline? You have never had a job - yet you are drenched with money.

Its amazing how jobless leftists always somehow make it to be millionaires - while calling the gop the party of greed.

Obama fits right in with Reid, Pelosi, Kennedy and Kerry. Rich beyond belief - but can't see their way clear of much - unless it is someone else's money.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | March 19, 2009 1:07 PM

No one died when Obama colleced his royalties.

dick Cheney, on the other hand, retained his Halliburton stock while in office, a federal offense. Then he awarded Halliburton numerous no bid contracts. When federal employees blew the whistle on this federal offense, they were demonized an fired, another federal offense.

Of course, Halliburton put their profits about the safety of our troops. Soldiers died because of Halliburton's neglect and malfeasance, which is yet another federal offense.

So where were all of you Obama critics when dick Cheney and his true employer, Halliburton were busy committing federal offensives and killing U.S. soldiers for profit?

This is yet another reason why the now poltically irrelevant Republican dodos are doomed to political extinction.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | March 19, 2009 12:53 PM

Analyst72/ He sure is doing a fine job concealing his brain since being elected.

Posted by: garrygeroberts | March 19, 2009 12:51 PM

The biggest problem with conservative comments is that they are so mind-numbingly uninteresting. It's just boring, and more than a bit sad, to watch them fumbling about trying to make something bad out of Obama's royalties, even if they have to invert all their own beliefs about the free-market to do it.

Posted by: nodebris | March 19, 2009 12:50 PM

Ha. i don't care how he earned his money....as long as HE doesn't cheat on his income taxes!

Posted by: PartySandwich | March 19, 2009 12:27 PM

Cutting a new book deal just before taking office. That certainly tells you something about Obama's character. Change we can count on.
Posted by: BubbaRight | March 19, 2009 11:48 AM


//

I don’t get it…is your problem that he’s a capitalist, or that he’s literate?

Bush is about to come out with his memoirs. Will you be complaining about that?


Posted by: Attucks | March 19, 2009 12:03 PM

Hullo, Obama wrote the very popular (and very good) "Dreams" well before he became a U.S. Senator, and in any case, when he wrote his autobiographies is completely irrelevant! If someone is in the public eye and/or has a compelling story to tell and is also blessed with a genius for writing, we should be celebrating this type of accomplishment, not denigrating it. He is a great role model for young people, so don't begrudge him his honestly-earned and well-deserved royalties. If Bush had half a brain, he too might be raking in the royalties right by now, but alas...

Posted by: Zacariah | March 19, 2009 11:56 AM

Cutting a new book deal just before taking office. That certainly tells you something about Obama's character. Change we can count on.

Posted by: BubbaRight | March 19, 2009 11:48 AM

I see the Nobamabots are out! Haters, quit hating Obama; the man has a brain and knows how to use it. The election and inauguration are over and the man is sixty days into his administration. Move on!!

Posted by: meldupree | March 19, 2009 11:35 AM

What may make Obama a hyporcite is not how much he earned, but what happens with the money he earned. If he pays tax on it according to the laws he passed, then there's nothing to complain about - he earned the money by writing the books, and followed his own rules. If he evades the law, employes some magical accounting practices, etc. then that's a different story.

Remember not to straw man Obama into a socialist - he isn't, even if he leans further left then most presidents in recent history have. The truth of the matter here is that he made a product and sold it. He received royalties because people bought them (see EarlC's comment - he summed this up perectly)

As far as the comment about limiting royalties for gov't employees, it's an interesting concept but a bit troublesome - who says someone can't have a sideline job if they get the work they're supposed to do done? I freelance write on the side, my job has no business interfering. And really? People bought it 'cause he's black? Get past it, man. His life story is still much different than that of the average American.

The people who say these things are far more hung up on his race than most of his supporters. If that was true, Jesse Jackson would have been President. Obama was voted in because people liked (or bought into) his message. That he's multi-racial is little more than icing on the cake.

It would be nice to see WaPo follow up on this down the road to see where this money goes.

Posted by: jacktheconqueror | March 19, 2009 11:29 AM

I think there should be a cap on royalties or other income that can be earned by Senators who are on the US payroll Full Time. It should be $250,000.
Obama was not working as a senator his entire 2 year term because he was running for president during that entire period.
I am not exactly sure which year he wrote his book, but the reason it sold at all is because he was in senate and running for president. lso, I forgot, because he is "Blavk" and doing all those things. Seems that while he was running it was also good publicity for his book. What is going on here?

Posted by: nychap44

-Who's the socialist now? I guess only paper wealth with no basis of work accomplished should be taxed at 15%. He wrote 2 books and people bought them. He's payed based on performance of the book selling. How is the investment class paid? Dividends based on work they didn't do.

I own a number of books written by members of Congress; both (R) and (D) alike. It's because some of them have something important to say and the means to communicate it to those interested. This is how capitalism works, so if you don't like it feel free to leave. Arbitrary caps on income make absolutely no sense at all.

Posted by: theobserver4 | March 19, 2009 11:08 AM

So let me try and understand the negative mindset on this "issue". Making money fair and square using your own talents is okay... unless you've written a book? Or is it unless you're the President? I really can't see the train of thought here.

Have we really gotten to the point where people think that having a President who's eloquent enough to write two bestselling books is a bad thing? Let's hope Obama really knuckles down on education reform.

Posted by: joew22 | March 19, 2009 11:05 AM

How dare he earn more than the President of the United States!!!! I mean, those evil rich people shouldn't make more than the President, right???

I guess this puts him in the evil rich category. Bummer to have to be a hypocrite to like him.

Posted by: thelaw1 | March 19, 2009 10:56 AM

GREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: BenLaGuer | March 19, 2009 10:34 AM

He made more than $4 million in royalties in 2007 so he's down a bit.

Posted by: carolinagirl2 | March 19, 2009 10:33 AM

So....Obama earned the money fair and square.
This must really irk the followers of the Texas Moron who cannot even talk properly, much less read and write.
As a 'decider' the ape was a miserable failure, as a "writerer" the poor b*stard....well you all know.

Posted by: analyst72 | March 19, 2009 10:30 AM

Just think, having a president with a brain that can express ideas and ideals. What a refreshing change! Oh, and if you don't want him making so much money from these books, go to the library or don't buy them.

Posted by: dlbucs | March 19, 2009 10:29 AM

Read Ayers book and read Obama's book. For two "strangers" the language and metaphors is strangely similar.

Posted by: Weaver1 | March 19, 2009 10:15 AM

Let's see this windfall from this windbag is due to his election by the American public. He backs little of his life with records to access so we don't even know he wrote it. This money belongs to the American public let congress figure out how to reclaim it and we will use that as a model to get back AIG executive bonuses.

Posted by: Weaver1 | March 19, 2009 10:05 AM

I laugh everyday when I watch that moron Bob Gibbs (Obama's mouthpiece). A few weeks ago he was saying how very few people in Congress and the Whitehouse make over $250k (rich people). Now we know that at least one of those people is super rich (not unlike Pelosi). Obama is a fraud and an arrogant one at that. I think Geithner is gone in 2 weeks and Gibbs will be gone in a few months. In 3 months Obama's rating will be below 50%. Such is life.

Posted by: mmourges | March 19, 2009 9:57 AM

I think we need a windfall profits tax, you know, to make sure he's paying his fair share.

Posted by: island1 | March 19, 2009 9:38 AM

Wait, Obama earned 2.5 million selling books that individuals bought in order to get a better understanding of who he is? What an outrage! I mean, I'd much rather have Dick Cheney in office, he only got a $36 million severance package from Halliburton after he was CEO for 5 years. If Obama gives Crown Publishing no-bid contracts to build oil pipelines in Iraq, at least then we'll know that the last two administrations were equally crooked.

Posted by: tjhxc | March 19, 2009 9:25 AM

nychap, it is called Democracy and capitalism. From the tone of your comment, I would guess you are a conservative. Wonder how many congressmen and women are earning over $250,000 a year in addition to their salary and some in not so honest endeavors? I would guess a majority. Wonder how many congressmen and women are millionaires many times over, many born with silver spoons? I would guess many. I wonder how many people would run for congress if this was the rule? Get real.

Posted by: Skye1er | March 19, 2009 9:07 AM

Guess the buck stopped there..........

Posted by: wesatch | March 19, 2009 8:46 AM

Let's see, one intelligent response and one completely moronic response. Par for the course I suppose.

Posted by: VaTerp1 | March 19, 2009 8:18 AM

I think it is important to note that there are people serving the country in various capacities that can write so well that they can earn good money. Obama applied the skills of a writer to earn his money. Other people try to game the system to make their money. There is a difference. Those people who do not like Obama's books do not have to buy them. However, people who entrust others with their hard-earned money should expect those people to be honest.

Obama's earnings are royalties. Royalties are based on sales. Therefore, no sales, no royalties. Too many people in finance have been making big salaries and bonuses while driving their companies to near bankruptcies.

Let me phrase it another way. Obama got his book royalties because I decided to buy his books. My loss was a one-time deal when I paid the $20 or so for a particular book. Remember, I have something tangible for my $20 investment. The people making the big bonuses made their money off me while I was losing money big time. When my 401K became a 201K, this was a very steep price to pay so that someone else could have his multimillion-dollar bonus.

Posted by: EarlC | March 19, 2009 7:57 AM

I think there should be a cap on royalties or other income that can be earned by Senators who are on the US payroll Full Time. It should be $250,000.
Obama was not working as a senator his entire 2 year term because he was running for president during that entire period.
I am not exactly sure which year he wrote his book, but the reason it sold at all is because he was in senate and running for president. lso, I forgot, because he is "Blavk" and doing all those things. Seems that while he was running it was also good publicity for his book. What is going on here?

Posted by: nychap44 | March 19, 2009 6:57 AM

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