Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond

Course No. 5964
Professor Michael Dues, Ph.D.
University of Arizona
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Course No. 5964
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Course Overview

Conflict is everywhere, something we all experience on a regular basis. Whether it's learning that your spouse has a different kind of vacation in mind than you do or that your boss's idea of your job differs from your own, conflict is simply an inevitable aspect of human relationships. As desirable as it might seem, there's just no way to live a conflict-free life.

Handled badly, conflict can do real harm, both to you and the people you care about the most. It can cripple your career and the businesses you work for. And it can leave its scars on your community and even your nation.

Handled well, however, conflict can be extraordinarily useful. If you have the skills needed to identify and resolve conflict, it can actually be your ally. It can help you identify and solve problems. And it can build deeper and stronger relationships, whether with your coworkers, supervisors and subordinates, or your closest friends and loved ones.

Most of us, though, haven't been lucky enough to have been taught those vital skills or to have learned the ways in which factors like perspective, emotions, goals, and power can create or drive a conflict. For better or worse, we've had to pick things up as we went along, beginning in our homes or schoolyards and going on from there. All with uneven results that can play out for the rest of our lives, burdening us with a default conflict "style" that may be dysfunctional at best and seriously harmful at worst.

The Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond is an opportunity for you to gain those essential skills. Its 24 lectures are brimming with practical tips, tools, and techniques everyone can use to better manage conflict in his or her professional and personal lives, which receive equal emphasis in the course.

Strategies and Tactics You Can Use Right Now

Presented by Professor Michael Dues of The University of Arizona—an award-winning teacher, writer, author, and successful consultant to both public and private organizations—these lectures will show you how to effectively deal with conflicts of all kinds, using the "win-win" model that has dominated the field for the past six decades.

  • You'll gain effective techniques for handling conflicts in your workplace, other organizational settings, or your personal life, whether you're dealing with supervisors, coworkers, acquaintances, close friends, or family members.
  • You'll learn the best ways to analyze conflicts and work through the steps toward resolving them, including clarifying goals, handling difficult emotions, and negotiating agreements.
  • And you'll grasp the fundamental tricks of the trade that experienced negotiators have long used to deal with even the most seemingly intractable moral and cultural conflicts.

While drawing on the latest groundbreaking research, Professor Dues has designed this course to be as practical as possible. Requiring no background in conflict management, negotiation, or psychology, the lectures offer you not just knowledge, but strategies and tactics you can put to work in your own life right now.

See the Best Conflict Management Techniques in Action

Best of all, you'll be able to see those strategies and tactics in action. Professor Dues has crafted 70 professionally acted dramatizations to illustrate different conflict situations at home and in the workplace.

Most of these situations will be familiar to all of us, undoubtedly echoing similar conflicts we've experienced in our own lives. And as you watch them unfold, you'll grasp far more than what works and what doesn't. You'll understand why.

Moreover, to ensure that you gain a true working feel for the dynamics at play in each of these situations, Professor Dues ends each lecture with a simple yet provocative "assignment."

He asks you to focus on events in your own life in which those same dynamics have been felt, and to then apply what you have just learned in evaluating your own statements and actions. There's no better way to get a real handle on a conflict you know well and to see immediately what needs to happen to resolve it.

Even something as simple as offering an apology, for example, takes on a whole new light after you learn the five components that must be included if an apology is to be truly accepted and effective. And while most of us probably believe we already know how to apologize, it's likely that many of our own apologies might not include all of these essentials:

  • A specific statement of the offending behavior
  • An acknowledgment that it was harmful
  • Our assumption of responsibility for both the behavior and the harm done
  • An admission of regret
  • Our commitment to not repeat the behavior

Discover New Realizations about the Conflicts in Life

Time after time, you're likely to catch yourself in a quick one-two punch of realization after Professor Dues makes a telling point, or after a pair of dramatizations illustrates the right and wrong way we can communicate during a conflict:

Realization No. 1: Well, of course. That makes sense. I probably knew that already. Quickly followed by...

Realization No. 2: I don't think I actually said it that way the last time I was in that situation. Maybe that's why things didn't work out as well as I had hoped.

The lectures abound with examples producing similar realizations. Professor Dues repeatedly reveals conversational pathways that make all the sense in the world, but that we might not necessarily take or even consider on our own. By folding these insights into the findings of six decades of research and presenting the material in easily digestible form, he succeeds in leaving you with knowledge that manages to be both eye-opening and intuitive.

That knowledge becomes a toolbox of techniques you can put to work today, not only preventing as many conflicts as possible but equipping you to manage in the best possible way the ones that do take place in spite of your best efforts.

One of the most remarkable points Professor Dues makes is how even the most seemingly intractable conflicts can be eased toward resolution by these techniques. His riveting descriptions of how they have been put to use on the world stage—including President Carter's creative eliciting of empathy during the Camp David negotiations between Israel and Egypt—offer profound examples of how powerful these techniques can be.

And while your own conflicts may not seem to rise to a similar scale, there is no mistaking the impact they can have on your own world, where your relationships—at work, with friends, or with family—define your success and happiness.

You don't have a choice about becoming involved in conflict. You do, however, have a choice about learning to manage it successfully and about using the invaluable tools this course can give you.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Why Conflict Management Matters
    The study of conflict management has made enormous strides since the mid-20th century. In this introductory lecture, learn what conflict is, why it is inevitable even in successful relationships, and why dealing with it constructively is both essential and beneficial, whether in your business or personal life. x
  • 2
    The Adversary System
    Recognition of conflict and its costs goes back to the philosophers of ancient Greece. Grasp both the advantages and disadvantages of the system they devised to cope with it, including the adversary system's underlying assumption that conflicts are inherently competitive, with resolutions requiring winners and losers. x
  • 3
    Morton Deutsch and the Concept of Win-Win
    Meet the founder of modern conflict management theory, whose research resulted in a far different approach than that envisioned from the adversarial perspective. His finding that most conflicts can, in fact, produce a "win" for both sides has dominated the field for the last 60 years. x
  • 4
    Perception, Perspective, and Punctuation
    Conflict arises not so much out of differences between parties, but in how those differences are perceived by each side. Gain fresh insight into the factors that shape those perceptions, including the critically important fundamental attribution error, of which just about everyone is guilty. x
  • 5
    Managing Multiple and Conflicting Emotions
    Emotions, even when powerfully felt, do not have to derail your attempts to manage or resolve a conflict. This lecture describes the role these "internal facts" play in any conflict and offers useful tools for recognizing and handling them in yourself and others. x
  • 6
    Multiple, Complex, and Changing Goals
    Goals that appear simple on the surface actually have many layers, with each concealing different needs. Add a key skill to successfully managing conflict by learning to identify the multiple goals driving both parties. x
  • 7
    Power—How Much We Need and How to Use It
    Power is in play in every conflict, but its "advantage" is less than you may think. This discussion of the sources and uses of power reveals a valuable insight from recent research: that lasting resolutions are more likely when power is equally distributed. x
  • 8
    Conflict Styles
    An exploration of the five most common "default strategies," or styles, of conflict management upends a commonly held assumption. Compromise, it seems, is not the most effective conflict management strategy. It produces results far less desirable than the preferred strategy for producing "win-win" results, which is collaboration. x
  • 9
    Dysfunctional Conflict Strategies
    Dissect the rogue's gallery of strategies that should never become your ongoing conflict management style and that are best avoided unless they are the only viable alternatives. Delve into the damage that can be done through avoidance, withdrawal, imposition, triangulation, manipulation, absolute framing, payback, or compromise. x
  • 10
    Principled Negotiation
    Explore the basic principles underlying the true "win-win" approach. These include understanding the importance of separating people from the problem; focusing on interests instead of positions; generating multiple options for mutual gain; and basing your choices on objective criteria. x
  • 11
    Preparing and Arranging to Negotiate
    Approaching a negotiation can be just as important as the negotiation itself. This lecture explains the steps you need to take in first recognizing whether the basic conditions for negotiation are present and then arranging for the actual negotiation. x
  • 12
    Negotiating Conflict Resolutions
    Enhance your chances for success at the table by absorbing the essential "how-to" steps for conducting the negotiation, gaining a clear agreement, and following through—including the steps you should take when agreements are or aren't kept. x
  • 13
    Listening in Conflict
    It's one of the most important skills you can have in your relationship tool kit, but it's also one in which many of us fall short. Learn the fundamentals of this demanding skill, including the key things you should focus on in discerning someone's real messages. x
  • 14
    Dynamic Patterns in Close Relationships
    Dealing with conflict in your personal relationships, whether with friends, family, work colleagues, neighbors, or simply acquaintances, requires its own special set of skills. Gain vital insights into the conflict management styles that can sustain or damage those relationships. x
  • 15
    Disruptions in Close Relationships
    There are steps you can take to avoid conflict in a close relationship or manage and resolve conflict when it does inevitably occur. However, when a destabilizing event—such as a serious illness—creates what is known as a critical communications context, the special insights offered here become even more important. x
  • 16
    How Management Theories Affect Conflict
    Explore the impact of several accepted theories of management to understand why the biggest losses to organizations don't come from major conflicts at all. Instead, they come from the accumulation of small, day-to-day ones. x
  • 17
    The Manager's Role in Dealing with Conflict
    Even when managers aren't actively involved in managing a conflict, their everyday actions help determine the frequency and seriousness of the conflicts that occur. Learn the steps managers need to know to create the best atmosphere possible for successful conflict management. x
  • 18
    Getting Professional Help with Conflict
    Several decades of focus on conflict management have led to a wide array of professional specialties, each devoted to different aspects of conflict management. Become familiar with the different skills of mediators, arbitrators, ombudsmen, counselors, and informal organizational "priests"—as well as when to call on them. x
  • 19
    Helping Others Manage Conflict
    What should you do as a nonprofessional to help others resolve a conflict? And how can you best do so? This lecture offers suggestions on the best procedures to follow and the pitfalls you need to avoid. x
  • 20
    Moral and Cultural Conflicts
    Conflicts based on moral and cultural differences can seem the most intractable of all, beyond anyone's skills of resolution. Nevertheless, there are steps that can achieve positive and lasting progress. Grasp the essential principles of reframing the issues, fractionating them into resolvable pieces, and developing empathy and mutual trust between opposing sides. x
  • 21
    Managing Moral Conflicts—Success Stories
    See how the principles of the previous lecture are put into successful practice to resolve three notable conflicts long in the public eye. In particular, learn how they were used by President Jimmy Carter in the Camp David Accords and President Ronald Reagan in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty talks. x
  • 22
    Managing Conflict's Aftermath
    Conflicts are rarely "over" when negotiations conclude, even when the results are successful. Gain insights into the concepts of acceptance, apology, amends, forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, and even the escalation that can follow in conflict's wake. x
  • 23
    Teaching Our Children about Conflict
    Some of the strongest advances in the study of conflict management have been in how to pass on what we have learned to the next generation. Examine the different ways children learn about conflict and what we are already doing to improve that process. x
  • 24
    Conflict Management—A Success in Progress
    Compare what you've learned in this course to what was known about conflict and its management in 1950, before research really began in earnest. Conclude the course with 10 key takeaway points, each of which can be applied in your own life right now. x

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  • 112-page printed course guidebook
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Your professor

Michael Dues

About Your Professor

Michael Dues, Ph.D.
University of Arizona
Dr. Michael Dues is Senior Lecturer in Communication at The University of Arizona, where he also served as head of the Department of Communication. The holder of an M.A. in American History from the University of Louisville and a Ph.D. in Communication and American Studies from Indiana University, Professor Dues has spent 40 years not only as an award-winning teacher and respected scholar, but also as a successful...
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Reviews

Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work, and Beyond is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 58.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I was quite impressed. Warning, this is going to be a wall of text. I'm going to give this course an awesome review, with the understanding that I purchased this course expecting to not like it. I've been a teaching company customer for about 10 years now, and I own dozens of courses. (I'll review them all eventually.) Up until now, I've enjoyed the "purely academic" nature of TTC courses. When TTC began producing "Professional" courses, I admit I rolled my eyes at this and thought "Great, TTC is trying to capitalize on the 'Management Fluff seminar' market." I do I.T. for the U.S. Government. While my job is 60% - 80% technical, I do have to sit in on meetings and analyze accounting information and perform other "business executive" activities that I'd rather not deal with. I've also had my fair share of "pointy haired bosses" who know little about management and even less about technology. I had one manager who so blindly followed anything she heard in a management workshop, she probably would have made men wear pink dresses to work if Franklin Covey stated that a study had shown this to improve performance. With all of this said, when TTC released this course, I groaned and thought maybe this was going to be one of those "The change must come from within" business seminars that's all theory and has absolutely zero real world wisdom or an ounce of practical implementation. Wow. I purchased this on audio. If I were to do it over again, I'd probably buy it on video for the dramatizations. I enjoyed several things about this course. 1) I enjoyed the dramatizations. I found them to be practical conflicts that I'm actually going to face in real life. I also enjoyed how they spanned lectures and how Dr. Dues tweaked the scenarios to look at them from different angles. I also enjoyed how there were multiple dramatizations. It wasn't 2 scenarios over and over again. 2) I like the fact that Dr. Dues references other TTC courses. Off the top of my head, he referenced David Zarefsky's course on argumentation, and I seem to remember that he referenced Jeremy McInerney's course on Ancient Greece during the lecture on the Adversary System. Whether he actually watched these courses or just skimmed TTC's catalog, I don't know, but the fact that he took the time to see if there were other TTC courses we could turn to "For more information" I felt was a nice touch. 3) I felt the course was a nice blend of theory and practical implementation. I've been sent to management and business development workshops, and I've been to my share of "fluff theory" seminars that don't actually tell you anything you didn't already know or couldn't figure out with common sense. With that said, I had several “Hey! I never thought of it that way!" moments during this course. While there is plenty of theory, Dr. Dues does a wonderful job of covering some theory, and then demonstrating those theories through practical examples and dramatizations. 4) I loved the "Conflict: Then versus Now" discussion in the last lecture as well as the "Teaching our kids about conflict" discussion in the previous lecture. Both lectures make excellent points about conflict. 5) Dr. Dues does an excellent job of citing his sources (of which there are many). If I wanted to do further reading on my own, I know exactly where to go. All in all, I think this is yet another excellent course from TTC.
Date published: 2011-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Kudos for Dues! As someone whose career has focused on mostly formal conflict resolution, I found the lectures informative and Dr. Dues authoritative as well as warm and engaging. Unfortunately, however, the several cameras did not *view him* from different angles but "moved viewers* from one spot to another. That was distracting -- as was his looking for (or responding to) cues about which camera was live. Choreography of, e.g.,the critical decision-making course was less distracting. Dramatizations were useful. I disagree with a reviewer who found a disconnect between them and advice in the lectures. Indeed I was surprised by how often and well the latter was modeled. A couple of times I hoped for more.
Date published: 2011-11-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A Disappointment If you like vague, impractical, feel-good generalities, many of which are demonstrably false, and unrealistic dramatizations that often contradict the course material, you will enjoy this course. However, if you want to understand the sources of conflict and reduce it, you must look elsewhere. For those who have studied some of the professor's source material (Morton Deutsch,Kurt Lewin, etc.), you may not recognize it as presented here.
Date published: 2011-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Valuable course Conflict management is not necessarily intuitive, although many of us feel we may have a natural knack for solving conflict - especially the conflicts of others! Dr. Dues' presentation was excellent - I learned how to recognize and analyze conflict as well as specific stragegies to manage conflict. This course will be useful to me not only professionally, but personally, as well. I have already recommended the course to several friends, and will require my college -age children to work through the course. Such skills should be taught in our secondary schools and in our halls of government. I enjoyed Dr. Dues' presentation style - not only his knowledge of the material, but the kindness and warmth of his presentation, and will look for more of his courses. This is a course I will listen to again.
Date published: 2011-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Addition to the Professional Category This is what I expect when I buy a course in the Professional category. Prof Dues' course is a good mix of research results and practical discussion. It's readily apparent that he has both academic and business experience in conflict resolution. The use of dramatizations also aids understanding. More courses should use this device. This course is of use to anybody who has a job, a manager, employees, clients, a spouse, roommate, friends, etc. A must listen.
Date published: 2011-08-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good course Overall this was a good course and time well spent. The course is well researched and well presented. I personally was expecting the course to help me communicate better but the focus is on conflict resolution. If the latter is your goal (for example in the office), then take the course. If you want to communicate better with your spouse, then take Professor Kehoe's "Effective Communication Skills".
Date published: 2011-08-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Soft tone, felt like a dull corporate workshop Professor Michael Dues has a soft mellow voice that can dull an interesting topic. A course on conflict deserves a faster tempo, more juice, and more emotion. Uncharacteristically -- for a course from the Teaching Company -- Professor Dues’ style made the course somewhat painful, like a dull corporate workshop. I found Myers’ presumption that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev didn’t understood the true meaning of “win/win” to be patronizing and culturally myopic. Medvedev is a highly educated man who graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University, a man who taught civil and Roman law, a man who has also introduced a completely new style to Russian leadership, and frankly, the true meaning of “win/win” isn’t that difficult to grasp, so Myers’ condescending comment seemed inappropriate. The course would have been succinct with 12 lessons on 6 CDs, but 24 lessons on 12 CDs created too much space for redundancies, generalizations, and the unappealing use of bullet points in an audio presentation. Play acting was utilized for illustration, but the voice recordings were often followed by a set of melodramatic musical tones that felt distracting and unnecessary.
Date published: 2011-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding -- a must for every person This course is the absolute best compilation of the latest and greatest in the study of conflict management. The presentation was masterful, starting from how we got here and why conflict is so complex then moves on to demonstrate several conflict models and what to do with them then completes with what we still need to learn. As humans we handle conflict so badly. I think this course should be shared far and wide to schools, church groups, and businesses.
Date published: 2011-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous -- Held My Interest Every Minute! [Audio Version] I’m becoming addicted to TTC’s ‘Better Living” and ‘Professional” courses! Having recently completed ‘Effective Communication Skills,’ I found this course on conflict management a perfect follow up. The professor’s creds are impressive; his lifetime of experience in the field clearly shows. He’s concise, explicit, and held my attention with every sentence. I learned techniques and strategies that I will use for the rest of my life -- in business and in personal relationships. The examples Dr. Dues uses are dramatic and sometimes downright touching, especially the ones from his own life. Dues does a wonderful job of making difficult material easy to understand. You will learn the history and architecture of conflict. It’s rare to see a complex subject compressed so skillfully yet so thoroughly into just 24 lectures. If you want to get the most out of the course, it deserves a second viewing/listening, and use of the excellent guidebook. ‘Conflict Management’ is a must-have course. It’s as essential and necessary as having enough blankets on a cold night. Conflict will be with us forever, so we better know how to handle it. Professor Dues, in his superb course, will show you how.
Date published: 2011-05-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not up to Teaching Company standards This course was very repetitious, heavily padded, and aimed at an audience a lot duller than any other Teaching Company course I've listened to. It's a shame, because there was 5 or 6 lectures worth of useful material in here, but overall the experience was rather painful. Professor Dues keeps repeating authority's names - ten or twelve times in the lecture that covers their contributions - and often again in subsequent lectures. This is a waste of our time, and contributes to a general feeling of a lack of synthesis: we don't get a unified presentation; we get a series of long-winded summaries of various people's work. And I do mean long-winded: 7 bullet points here, ten there, each with five minutes of pain-stakingly slow exposition.
Date published: 2011-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential Subtleties of Conflict Resolution Professor Dues has an easy speaking style that draws you into the subject effectively. I listened to the audio only version of this course during morning walks and found it engaging. I know that conflict resolution is as much an art as a science and Dues was careful to point out that he wouldn't be providing cookie cutter solutions for every occasion. However, he did provide a number of effective frameworks and several useful lists of what to consider before engaging in conflict. It was the subtle points that were the most valuable: considering the value of relationships, being concious of the process that would be used etc. Dues also provided an fairly comprehensive list of the third party help available for conflict resolution and described these services in a logical and useful way. After listening to the course, it became much clearer to me where parties in a conflict were going wrong. Previously, I could usually sense something incorrect in the conflict resolution approach of colleagues but could rarely pinpoint it.
Date published: 2011-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Essential Skill Professor Dues is not a pie-in-the-sky ivory-tower type --he teaches how and when to debate an issue and most important, clearly state your point of view in a manner that will be understood. In my opinion, the best aspect of his teaching is the skill (and it is a skill) of how to prepare and what to prepare. Highly instructive.
Date published: 2011-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Art of Conflict Mgmt -- Prof Michael Dues Conflict is neither good nor bad. It tells you something is occuring that needs to be addressed. Things don't just resolve themselves -- they take effort and commitment. This course is a good mix of academic input as well as practical application that is presented in a systematic way -- building well upon each subject addressed. I highly recommend the course for anyone who is facing an important conflict / negotiation -- to go throught the course in preparation for the event. You will obtain important understanding and navigation points that will certainly enhance the effectiveness of your endeavor. Professor Dues has 35 years of practical experience that he brings to the table, making the course even better than many of those that are primarily college-based. A historical review identifies how the "adversarial" system of law began and continues to function. Clarification of the "starting point" of the conflict is essential if you want to truly resolve it. You will gain guidance for addressing your issues as well as understanding the other party's perspective better. Preparation is key, just like an athelete who trains before an event. To be successful, you must understand the meaning of what the other participant is really saying -- asking questions to clarify. Considering that conflict is part of the human condition, and that managers spend at least 25% of their time managing conflict, this course will help you learn what to do and how to do it. If you work diligently with the information, you can improve your competency skills while also understanding that the people with whom we interact have needs and wants just like us. Perspective is always necessary if we hope to accomplish what we actually want. And since all of the relationships that we have with others really matter, this course is a must. Otherwise, there would be no need for Mediators and/or Arbitrators -- who are becoming ever more common place in our lives. You won't regret the effort you expend.
Date published: 2011-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compliments Philosophical Reasoning Courses I thought this was a very good course for the reasons that the previous reviewer cited. Additionally, the Professor's speaking style included nice pauses to separate points. I bought this course because I have combat-related PTSD and thought that it would help to supplement my treatment. I feel that this course significantly enhanced the communication in my personal relationship. I recommend it for people who engage in conflict from day to day (ie; everyone!). It is especially complimentary to those who have completed courses that teach argumentation, debate, or critical thinking (tools of thinking) because it helps to incorporate emotions as facts in conflict.
Date published: 2011-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good This is another of the "practical" courses recently offered by TTC; however, it also is based on research cited by Dues throughout the course. This adds to its credibility and provides academic material to back up the practical aspects. It is clear that Dues has given many presentations based on this topic. The course is more of a "workshop" format which even has role-play/scripted material showing various conflict situations and solutions. This is a part of the hands-on nature of the course. In addition, Dues gives background, encouragement, various other applications, and a well-rounded approach to the topic. The listener will come away with definite skills on how to handle conflict in one's personal as well as professional life. My own criticism may be due to my professional background in a related field. For me, the presentation style was a bit patronizing/condescending and put me off. I found it irritating to listen to the professor's talk for long, in spite of the excellent content. It had the tone of a workshop given to business people on negotiating skills, with a sort of "salesman" approach. However, I assume that for most listeners this would not be a concern and somehow it is a personal reaction of my own. I would be curious to see other reviews and if the same comment is raised. I think it the course is worthwhile for those who want to analyze and improve communication/negotiation skills.
Date published: 2011-01-05
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