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SBC and AT&T Boards Vote to Go Ahead 203

telstar writes "As a follow-up to earlier coverage regarding the possible acquisition of AT&T by SBC, MSNBC is reporting that boards from both companies met to vote today and that the acquisition will go forward at a price of 16 billion dollars. Both companies are currently keeping the deal quiet."
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SBC and AT&T Boards Vote to Go Ahead

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  • by caferace ( 442 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:05PM (#11525210) Homepage
    Of course, a lot of this is going to rest on the combination making it past US gummint Antitrust hurdles.

    I don't see this happening anytime soon. My SP asked me today why we ever broke up "Ma Bell" in the first place. I half-joked we'd still be dialing like this: (making circular motion) if we hadn't...

    • by tinrobot ( 314936 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:15PM (#11525290)
      I think you confuse the current government with those in the past who actually cared about creating competition.

      George Bush's FTC will approve the merger. Guaranteed.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        George Bush's FTC will approve the merger. Guaranteed.

        I'm no fan of Bush, but it's not like this is a Republican thing. My phone company changed names 3 times under Clinton (New England Telephone->NYNEX->BellAtlantic->Verizon. (Well, Verizon was in mid-2000, so that's Bush, but the foundations of the merger were well underway by inauguration day.

        We need to stop pretending that one party is pro-big-business and the other isn't. Politics is all about money, and only big companies can give the

        • by gcaseye6677 ( 694805 ) on Monday January 31, 2005 @12:01AM (#11525771)
          I don't think this will make any difference to the end user. It's not like AT&T ever presented a low cost alternative to anything. With VOIP and cell phones, SBC can never have the type of monopoly that AT&T once had.
    • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:23PM (#11525340) Homepage Journal
      Hurdles? The current administration loves mergers.

      You know, the Bell System breakup wasn't entirely involuntary. They could have continued to drag out procedings until they became irrelevent -- the usual procedure when the antitrust people go after a company that size. (And at the time, AT&T was the biggest company in human history.) But management wanted to get out of the local phone business. As long as AT&T remain a public utility, there were a lot of businesses they couldn't enter: computers, telecom hardware, wireless communication. They had tons of technology that they had invented (remember where Unix came from; not to mention solid state electronics, satellite communications...) but couldn't profit from directly. They were sure that if they were allowed to compete in an open market, they'd own the world.

      Didn't happen, of course. It take more than good technology to be the leading player. It takes basic business skills, skills AT&T's management lost when then were a legal monopoly.

    • by jdreed1024 ( 443938 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:35PM (#11525406)
      I don't see this happening anytime soon. My SP asked me today why we ever broke up "Ma Bell" in the first place. I half-joked we'd still be dialing like this: (making circular motion) if we hadn't...

      Well, Ma Bell was certainly being as bad, if not worse, than Microsoft. Forcing operating companies to purchase equipment from a subsidiary (Western Electric), routinely undercutting competitors such as MCI, and most importantly in this day and age of companies deciding what users can and can't do, doing everything to prevent users from using non-Bell equipment on their phone lines, despite an FCC ruling that the consumers had a right to do that.

      On the other hand, perhaps all these consolidations of the Baby Bells are trying to tell us something - maybe that's just the way the market works. Certainly it would make life easier for consumers to not have to switch phone companies every 5 years. I've gone from New England Telephone to NYNEX to Bell Atlantic, and finally Verizon. And it's been barely 20 years since AT&T broke up. OTOH, service has suffered - I used be able to make a call from a pay phone for a dime in Massachusetts, even 7 years ago. Now it's 50 cents minimum charge, and you're lucky if you can even find a phone booth, let alone one that's run by Verizon and not one of these 10-10-whatever companies. Is that because the big companies don't care? Or is that because of cell phones become more commonplace? Who knows. But I bet in 5-10 years we'll be right back where we started, and someone will have been laughing all the way to the bank.

    • Well, not quite.

      The move to digital exchanges was inevitable - monopoly or not. It took something like 20 full time engineers to keep a 10,000 line Strowger (electromechanical) telephone exchange in operation. But with digital exchanges, you only need one engineer to keep six 10,000 line exchanges running. Even the most stultifying monopoly will see the savings in that.

      Having said that, when I lived in Houston (GTE then Verizon when I was there) I was always mildly amused to see that I had to pay a few ce
      • by drmerope ( 771119 ) on Monday January 31, 2005 @03:46AM (#11526635)
        "Having said that, when I lived in Houston (GTE then Verizon when I was there) I was always mildly amused to see that I had to pay a few cents extra for the privilege of having touch-tone dialing. Yes, touch tone dialing was an additional cost paid service."

        The reason for this was regulatory. When the exchanges are upgraded to support services like Touch Tone or Caller-ID, every line supports those services--the capital cost is already sunk.

        However, the tariff regulations did not permit the teleco to simply active said service and charge the extra cent per customer unformly--even though the capability was already there.

        This was done because their was a congressional mandate to keep the cost of basic POTS service low--and infact often below operational costs. Thus, the oddity of being charged for touch-tone service. It was a little congressional welfare tax snuck into your telephone bill to keep the minimum cost low.
    • "I half-joked we'd still be dialing like this: (making circular motion) if we hadn't..."

      A slow adoption of technology was never the problem with the old Bell System--quite frankly it was the opposite. AT&T and siblings tended to overinvest in the infrastructure and in introducing new technologies--the latter especially because this one of the few ways the regulatory framework would allow them increase revenues.

      If you read some of the planning reports Bell Labs had developed for the Late 80s and Early
  • Wow... (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Jigabug ( 834780 ) *
    AT&T... swallowed up in 2 big bites by SBC... Who's next!?
  • by RasputinAXP ( 12807 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:06PM (#11525220) Homepage Journal
    This is the loudest quiet deal I've ever heard.
  • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:07PM (#11525223) Homepage
    " Both companies are currently keeping the deal quiet."

    Yes, that's quite evident from its being posted on Slashdot, of all places.

    Don't worry guys, I'm sure nobody will read it! Probably not even the second or third time they post it!

  • by game kid ( 805301 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:07PM (#11525230) Homepage
    Bill Gates responds "16 billion? If they need the dough they know where to find me."
  • by Bite-lover ( 826567 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:07PM (#11525233)
    Does it just rub me wrong that all these major companies are merging? If this trend really continues we could easily find ourselves with no choice on communcations period.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    bad for the consumer,
    question is where exactly are all these consolidations heading ? what happens when there are only 2 giant companies in the whole world ? (see the recent p&g merger) do we wipe them out and start capitalism all over again or maybe we will evolve a better economic model

    either way less choice is bad for the consumer

    • by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @11:07PM (#11525564) Homepage
      the next economic model after capitalism will only take hold when capitalism can no longer support the population... however I do not think it will be communism like Marx says... i think that it will be corpratism.... no competition and one monolithic source of production.

      if you look at the trends of economic development over the centuries, a slow and even evolution takes place... right now capitalism is being transformed into something else. people will no longer have property but will purchase all their needs from a central body, no, not the government like Marx said, but the corporation... a large monolithic corporation acts just like a communist government. it is responsible for all the welfare of the people who it serves and it serves the people because they all work for it. the government may get supplanted by the corporation at some point.

      it sounds bad, but this form of economic system can either be good or bad. it will depend on the implementation... however, new economic transitions (real ones based on natural societal pressures) tend not to fall apart because they take so long to transition from one state to another, giving the society time to accept and learn how to support the system.
      • I think that this has been the case already, in large part, since the industrial revolution. The original capitalist paradigm of a multitude of companies competing in a single market has simply been obsoleted. Global communication and transportation, among other factors, allow a far greater economy of scale, and thus it has been the case in most markets for a very long time that no two companies have much hope of competing against a single company the size of their combination -- or in any case, far less
      • The great weakness in your argument is this:

        "a large monolithic corporation acts just like a communist government. it is responsible for all the welfare of the people who it serves and it serves the people because they all work for it"

        Sorry Charlie, but corporations have been pushing for ZERO responsibility for years. The real "people who[m] it serves" are the executives, then insitutional shareholders, and then a bit of the general shareholders. Everyone else can just suck vacuum and fight consta
  • ANTI-Trust? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gambit3 ( 463693 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:08PM (#11525240) Homepage Journal
    It's one thing to say that the boeards give the go-ahead (it was expected), but this deal should REALLY get close Anti-Trust inspection.

    THAT's the go-ahead I'm really curious about.
    • >Anti-Trust inspection.

      After the DOJ's bang-up job with Microsoft and the FCC and SEC letting just about every merger happen without too many questions, well, I wouldnt expect the GOP run government to do anything remotely pro-consumer.
  • by Suburbanpride ( 755823 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:09PM (#11525242)
    MY two years with SBC DSl were the worst two years of my life, always down, always slow, laggy on CS. I was glad when my contract was up.

    I heard ATT wireless sucked untill it was sold to cingular. If this merger goes through, I wouldn't mind it so much if it meant consumers were going to get better service, but whats the chance of that?

    My guess is that this will end up with a lot of layoffs and not much benefit to anyone except for a few large shareholders.

    • I heard ATT wireless sucked untill it was sold to cingular.

      Funny...my experience is almost the complete opposite of that. Where I live, I got almost no signal with Cingular until they bought ATT Wireless. Now, my signal is somewhat better, but it's still shitty.
      • Do you happen to live in the NYC area? If so, that's becuase Cingular technically didn't exist there. They had a sharing agreement where NY Cingular customers used T-Mobile's towers while T-Mobil used Cingular's towers in California. After the merger obviously you could use AT&T's towers as well. For the record I consistently get a better signal using AT&T towers over T-Mobil's

        Granted, it was incredibly stupid of Cingular to try to claim to be a national cell provider when they could not service th
        • Actually, I live in Texas, in a suburb of Dallas, to be exact. This makes it even more pathetic, as Cingular was co-founded by SBC (and they still have a 60% stake in the it), who has had phone service in Texas since they were split off from Ma Bell. There is no excuse for them to have spotty service in Texas.

          Speaking of which, ``spotty'' is the perfect word to describe their service here. I used to get a decent signal in my old apartment. It wasn't as good as it should be, but it wasn't horrible, either.
          • It was just as bad were I lived in Alabama, You'd think that since the local telephone company(BellSouth) helped found it we'd get some coverage, but we're stuck with Verizon and the small regional carriers like Corr.
      • On another note, in my area we get pretty good Cingular signal, have for 6 years (Hello PacBell), except in my house, where you had to hunt for signal. ATT has always had spotty service at best, regardless of what the signal on your phone is, from LA to santa barbara. Now that they have merged, and theres a new tower up, I get full signal in and around my house on the ATT tower (Cingular Extended), but it is near useless to make a call on, with Cingular at least when you had a bar, it was signal, and you co
    • my SBC DSL experience was good.
      • I got on SBC when they first got DSL to my area in 2000. It was slow and once a motnh or so, would be down for an entire day. A fe months after my contract expired, and I switched to cable which had since been expanded to my area, I got a letter about a class action lawsuit which offered my a $75 service credit. Aparently they were sued (and lost) over service that was slowler and less reliable than what they claimed. It may have gotten better in the last 5 years, but us early adopters got screwed.
        • early adopters always get screwed... I got screwed by Time-warner cable with their service because it was up for about 4 days a month those first 8 months they had service in my area.

          I was kind of pissed but they did not charge me for the lost time.

          I wanted to get off my nasty cable monopoly so I got direct TV and DSL from SBC... I enjoy being cable free.
  • by Limburgher ( 523006 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:09PM (#11525245) Homepage Journal
    ...as if thousands of people all dialed 911 at once. . . and got a busy signal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:09PM (#11525250)
    If I remeber correctly didn't we shatter Ma Bell into the baby bells once upon a time? It's like the liquid termenator in T2. It would seem they are all sucking themselves back togeather again.
  • by Yonkeltron ( 720465 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:11PM (#11525260) Homepage
    Grep through your fortune files for references to AT&T.....it's amazing how many jabs are all too true now.

    This is truly the end of an era.
  • Great (Score:2, Funny)

    Now were gonna have "Ma SBC"
    • Ha! It's been Ma BellSouth for years. BellSouth just bought up AT&T's wireless services, and most everything of value left in AT&T, SBC is getting their land lines and that's it. SBC has bought all of that old fangled technology, and BellSouth bought all of AT&T's investments in the future.

      Did ya hear when Bill Gates recently named BellSouth as one of the companies lined up with MS in a strategic partnership for delivering content to MS based media centers?

      I used to do tech suport for BellSout
      • Ha! It's been Ma BellSouth for years. BellSouth just bought up AT&T's wireless services, and most everything of value left in AT&T, SBC is getting their land lines and that's it. SBC has bought all of that old fangled technology, and BellSouth bought all of AT&T's investments in the future.

        WTF are you talking about? Cingular bought AT&T Wireless. BellSouth has a 40% share in Cingular, while SBC has 60%. Cingular is a joint venture between the two, with SBC holding a controlling interest. W

      • OK, I just noticed THIS sentence, which I missed before:

        Did ya hear when Bill Gates recently named BellSouth as one of the companies lined up with MS in a strategic partnership for delivering content to MS based media centers?

        Didya also hear that Verizon, SBC, and Comcast are ALSO part of the same strategic partnership? Honestly, I don't understand your rabid cheerleading for (at best) a third-rank telecom.

  • Bell Labs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jaymzter ( 452402 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:15PM (#11525284) Homepage
    Any word on what this means for Bell Labs? Does SBC have an equivalent, or experience managing an organization like that? It would be a shame to see a legacy like that come to an end, sold or be spun off.
    • Uh... dude (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:18PM (#11525314)
      Welcome to 1996 [lucent.com]
      In February 1996, the soon-to-be-spun-off systems and technology unit of AT&T [includes Bell Labs] renamed itself Lucent Technologies and launched its separation with an initial public offering of stock issued in April 1996. The spin-off was completed in September 1996 when AT&T distributed its shares of Lucent to AT&T shareholders.
    • Umm.. didn't Bell Labs get sold/spun off to Lucent years ago?

      My uncle used to work for Bell Labs. He was one of the people who developed the gallium arsenide chip. I got to tour the place once - way back in, say, '78 - and saw all sorts of nifty stuff. The one thing I remember was the Videophone they had. They thought it would be ubiquitous within 10 years time.

      Sigh. The future ain't what it used to be.

    • Re:Bell Labs (Score:3, Informative)

      My uncle was a pure researcher in the laser wing at bell labs from 1975-2001. Between 1996-2001 when lucent took over, his department went from over 250 people, to 100, to 50 and then to none. Lucent was interested in only keeping its stock price high (it didn't work) and not investing into research that might not be profitible until along time down the road.

      Without an investment in research, american industry would be no where. and if everyone keeps cutting their R&d, I think the the Asian companies

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:15PM (#11525285)
    We are going to have to take a serious look at antitrust law in the United States. It seems like we don't ever enforce in a real way. We make moves to enforce it, we convict people, and then we stop short of solving the problem. There's one big instance of this I'm not going to mention to prevent dragging in a flamewar. But the instance here... we broke up a telephone monopoly, yet appear to have not in any way constricted either its horizontal or vertical monopoly power. SBC retains a monopoly in all the areas it does business in and has done so unbroken since the Ma Bell breakup-- Birch is nothing-- and now it's rejoining after a short break with Ma Bell. We do have successful competing long distance providers now but this may not last too much longer in Texas. Surely this breakup could have been done in a more intelligent way?
    • umm... Monopolies are not illegal... only abusive ones are.
    • Companies doing mergers over a certain deal value must notify the federal government of the deal under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. Unless I missed it, we don't know yet whether the government is going to challenge the merger, so it's premature to say we don't ever enforce the antitrust law. (It's interesting to note, though, that the DOJ/FTC have challenged several large, high-profile mergers over the past few years but have been shot down in the courts.) In any case, the antitrust enforcement in the US is
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am just dreaming this up as I type it.. but it would be nice if we got away from the conventional internet/telephony network and went strictly to a wireless/peer-to-peer model for service. That would send a nice "fuck you" to major companies.
    • Please. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:37PM (#11525412) Homepage
      I am tired of my internet access options coming down to "would you rather pay money to the local cable monopoly? or the local dsl monopoly?". I exclusively use a cell phone and I don't watch television. I don't particularly want to do business with either of these companies. If there were some third way to get Internet, I wouldn't have to.

      P2P wireless isn't terribly realistic given the scaling issues involved, I don't think, but I would LOVE a commercial WiMax provider if it became a viable option.
      • P2P wireless isn't terribly realistic given the scaling issues involved, I don't think, but I would LOVE a commercial WiMax provider if it became a viable option.

        Unless your local government gets involved and sets up a free wireless network for your town, chances are you're going to be buying WiMax from the local phone monopoly as well.

  • by Karma Sucks ( 127136 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:20PM (#11525325)
    Would it kill the submitter to explain what SBC, AT&T and MSNBC *mean*?

    So many technical terms so little time...
    • SBC- Southern Bell Communications (one of tbe companies that came from the antitrust suit against Bell) http://www.sbc.com/gen/press-room?pid=5039 MSNBC- Microsoft and National Broadcasting Corporation. (News) Contender with CNN and FoxNews. Owned by GE and our great friends over in Redmond. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/ Now AT&T, honestly where have you been for your whole life. Haven't you seen those incredibly annoying ads for AT&T with the messed up-orange-haired-annoying-guy? AT&T- (Ameri
    • wait. is that a joke? or are you serious? just in case... SBC- Southern Bell Corp- a baby bell AT&T- American Telegraph and Telephone or something like that MSNBC- not fox news.
    • by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:52PM (#11525495) Journal
      Would it kill the submitter to explain what SBC, AT&T and MSNBC *mean*?

      SBC: Some Bastard Child of
      AT&T: A former Totalitarian Telephone company which
      MSNBC: May eventually Sire New Bastard Children.

      It's all about that circle of life crap. You know, like the way black widow babies eat their mothers. The corporate paradigm in a nutshell!
    • Ugh, because everyone got it wrong:

      SBC is Southwestern Bell. There's a separate entity called Bell South.
    • SBC is the parent company of Southwestern Bell. It doesn't stand for anything. They also own one of the cell provider companies or something, and a few other companies.

      MSNBC is a TV channel. Or maybe it's a website. I wasn't ever really sure.

      AT&T is a modem test command.

  • by malus ( 6786 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:33PM (#11525387) Journal
    I can say that SBC is completely out of their minds for buying AT&T, a company which has been losing money, in the billions, for years. ... Perhaps SBC has a way to turn this around? I don't know, but I don't think so. I think the stock holders are going to be in for a rude, rude surprise.

    As for Sprint? Hah. I would say in 6 to 8 months, you'll see Verizon buying them, assuming the Nextel deal goes through. If it doesn't? Sprint'll abandon it's wireline divisions, hurrah, and sell to the Germans.
    • ATT has a lot of customers. If they buy ATT they inherit all these customers.

      They can ditch all the ATT baggage they don't want, keep the profit centers, and make lots of money. Meanwhile, costing thousands of people their jobs.

      Big corporations are a danger to the job market. Every time one of these mergers happens, thousands of employees are standing in the unemployment line. If we end up with one bank, one phone company, and one TV provider, we're fucked. And the current administration will let it
  • by vjmurphy ( 190266 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:39PM (#11525425) Homepage
    I thought the mother was supposed to eat its young, not vice-versa!
  • When should I expect to receive the "Save the date" card?

    Or are they trying to elope?
  • this time around.. though i'm still generally against such massive mergers, now you can ditch the Bells/POTS entirely, via a Cable or Satellite provider, and embrace VOIP. I work for a certain VOIP provider and what I've seen is the biggest thing freaking out the Bells is that they have to compete against cable companies on voice.
  • I don't understand all the hand-wringing about this merger. After the 1984 breakup, all that was left of AT&T was the long-distance service and Bell Labs. They spun that off into Lucent, which crashed and burned. And we all know what happened to long distance service. They dabbled unsuccessfully in cable and wireless - both spectacular failures. This merger is simply the last gasp of a burned out gas giant, with little resemblance to the AT&T of 20 years ago.

    And has anyone noticed that the tel
  • Looks like Ma Bell is having a reunion!
  • I wonder what this will do with their plans to start a MVNO with Sprint? Cingular was supposed to give up the right to the AT&T Wireless name in a few months so T could start AT&T Mobile (or whatever). But if this goes through, there really wouldn't be a point, would there? What would be really interesting would be for T to launch their wireless brand, and then be purchased by SBC.

    On another topic, I was with AT&T Wireless when it was spun off in 2001; God was I glad to be away from thos
  • What good was the ATT breakup, if the Baby Bells just re-merge?
  • by vinn ( 4370 ) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @11:41PM (#11525698) Homepage Journal
    Having worked in the telco industry for about 4.5 years, I can attest that every dealing I've had with AT&T is truly an awful experience. Whereas SBC seems pretty decent. Having read about SBC's business practices, they seem smarter than this. Is this the inverse of the Qwest/USWest merger? (Another truly awful deal that I imagine Qwest regrets). Here we have the baby Bell buying the long haul carrier. Now, in this case I think it will work better than Qwest/USWest because SBC won't be inheriting a local loop cable plant. Now, everyone start counting how many times they hear the phrase, "consumers will benefit because.."

    (..because we'll give the megacorporation more cash to brainwash us with.)

    Anyway, what I was really wondering is what impact, if any, this might have on Linux. If I recall correctly, SBC has used Linux heavily for multiple installations. And I heard AT&T is known for having a pretty strong Unix heritage too as well as being known for developing some hardware that uses it. I wonder if there's a chance we'll see anything benefit Linux. Anyone know if SBC has ever released stuff back to the community?

    Oh, and congratulations to all the workers who got to read on Slashdot about the new company they'll end up working for.
  • That would be more like if SBC bought both AT&T and Verizon as GTE was one of the large chunks of the old system. (GTE + some other companies made up Verizon)
  • by SEE ( 7681 ) on Monday January 31, 2005 @01:59AM (#11526267) Homepage
    With the breakup of AT&T in 1984, the telephone market largely looked like the following:

    Long Distance:
    AT&T
    MCI
    Sprint
    Qwest

    Local Telephone:
    Nynex (Baby Bell)
    Bell Atlantic (Baby Bell)
    BellSouth (Baby Bell)
    Ameritech (Baby Bell)
    Southwestern Bell (Baby Bell)
    U.S. West (Baby Bell)
    Pacbell (Baby Bell)
    GTE (independent local carrier)

    I mean, there were other minor players, but those were the biggies.

    Today, if this merger goes through, these players are now parts of:

    SBC (AT&T, Southwestern Bell, Pacbell, and Ameritech)
    Verizon (Nynex, Bell Atlantic, and GTE)
    Qwest (Qwest, U.S. West)
    WorldCom (MCI)
    Sprint (Sprint)
    BellSouth (BellSouth)
  • Keeping it quiet? sbc.com [sbc.com] has a box on the front page with the SBC and AT&T logos, linking to sbc.merger-news.com [merger-news.com].

    Is this the way that Gengis Khan kept his real estate aquisitions quiet?

  • Lucent Technologies broke off of AT&T. That dropped AT&T down from being a phone company to just being a company that provides phone service.

  • ... but they found out my parents were married when I was born and they wouldn't hire me.

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