Ras Baraka
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Ras Baraka
Ras Baraka
Ras J. Baraka.jpg
40th Mayor of Newark

July 1, 2014
Luis Quintana
Member of the Municipal Council of Newark
from the South Ward

July 1, 2010 - July 1, 2014
Oscar James Jr
John Sharpe James
At-Large Member of the Municipal Council of Newark

November 2, 2005 - July 1, 2006
Donald Kofi Tucker
Mildred C. Crump
Personal details
Born (1970-04-09) April 9, 1970 (age 47)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Residence Newark, New Jersey
Alma mater Howard University
Saint Peter's University
Website http://rasjbaraka.com

Ras J. Baraka (born April 9, 1970)[1] is an American educator, author, and politician who is the 40th and current Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He was previously a member of the Municipal Council of Newark and the principal of the city's Central High School[2] until he took an indefinite leave of absence to run for the 2014 Newark mayoral election, which he won on May 13, 2014.[3] Baraka was sworn in as the city's 40th mayor at ceremonies at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on July 1, 2014 for a four-year term.[4]

Background

A Newark native, Baraka is son of poet and activist Amiri Baraka and his wife Amina.[2] Ras J. Baraka was educated in the Newark Public Schools and subsequently earned a BA in Political Science from Howard University in Washington, DC, and an MA in Education Supervision from St. Peter's University in Jersey City.[1] He was principal of Central High School from 2007 until 2013.[1]

Poet and spoken word

Baraka is editor of In the tradition: an anthology of young Black writers (1992).

Baraka was featured on singer Lauryn Hill 1998 The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, as the narrator of several interludes on the album.[5] He also recorded the intro to The Score, The Fugees' second album. Baraka and Hill recorded an unreleased single together entitled "Hot Beverage in the Winter", which later featured on his spoken-word album Shorty for Mayor.[6]

Baraka dedicated his collection of poems Black Girls Learn Love Hard to the life of his late sister, Shani Baraka[1][7] who had been fatally shot in 2003.[8] He had read as part of the city's Dodge Poetry Festival.[9]

Since its inception in 2004 Baraka has participated in the National Political Hip-Hop Convention.[10]

Political career

Newark Municipal Council

Between 2002 and 2006 Baraka was Newark Municipal Council member and in 2002 was appointed deputy mayor, and served that position until 2005. In November 2005, Baraka was voted to complete the term vacated by the deceased Councilmember-at-Large Donald Kofi Tucker.[2]

In May 2010 he defeated then-councilman Oscar James II in a highly contested election, on a platform critical of Mayor Cory Booker.[11] The election was documented on the Sundance reality television series Brick City, which stars Booker, Baraka and other Newark political and residential figures.[12]

Newark mayoral elections

Baraka ran his first campaign for mayor when he was 24 years old, in 1994.[13]

Baraka ran in the 2014 Newark mayoral election against former Assistant State Attorney General Shavar Jeffries,[14][15] after fellow council members Anibal Ramos, Jr. and Darrin S. Sharif dropped out of the race.[16] In August 2013, fellow council members Mildred C. Crump and Ronald C. Rice issued statements formally backing Baraka's candidacy.[17][18] Baraka's slate for the municipal council included John Sharpe James (council member-at-large running for South Ward), Mildred C. Crump (council member at-large incumbent), Alturrick Kenney (at-large candidate), Patrick Council (at-large candidate) and Joe McCallum (West Ward candidate).[19]

In December 2013, the Communication Workers of America, a trade union which counts 2000 members living, and thousands more working in Newark, endorsed Baraka.[20] In February 2014 he received the endorsement of former New Jersey governor Richard Codey and Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop.[21] In March he was endorsed by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.[22][23]

On May 13, 2014, Baraka was elected mayor of Newark. Official results show that of 44,951 ballots cast, he received 24,358 to Jeffries' 20,593. He succeeds Luis A. Quintana, after completing the term of Cory Booker, who had resigned after being elected to the United States Senate in October 2013. Baraka was sworn in as the city's 40th mayor by former Governor of New Jersey Richard Codey at ceremonies at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on July 1, 2014 for a four-year term.[24]

Transition team and municipal council composition

Soon after winning the election, Baraka had initiated meetings with Cory Booker on May 19[25] with Governor Chris Christie, and Essex Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. on May 21. Chris Christie has described Baraka as a "hostile guy".[26]

On May 28, 2014 Baraka announced his transition team, headed by former mayor Kenneth Gibson, comprising sixteen committees that will report to him before his inauguration.[27]

In the 2014 local elections four of the municipal council candidates Baraka supported won their races, leading the expectation that the elected body, in which he needs five votes on the nine-member council to get any proposal passed, will be cooperative to his agenda. His preferred candidates who won seats on the council last month include: At-large Councilwoman Mildred C. Crump, and union leader Eddie Osborne in the at-large race and At-large Councilman John Sharpe James in the South Ward race and Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins in the Central Ward race. Incumbents East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. and At-large Councilman Carlos Gonzalez were also re-elected on Shavar Jeffries' ticket. Mayor Luis A. Quintana, who was elected to be an at-large councilman, ran as an independent.

Baraka appointed his brother, Amiri "Middy" Baraka, Jr. as his chief of staff.[28]

During his tenure as mayor he has earned praise for improving Newark's economic prospects.[29]

Position on issues

Uber

The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, has released details on a tentative agreement he's reached with ride-hailing company Uber to operate in the state's largest city. The deal calls for Uber to pay Newark $1 million a year for 10 years for permission to operate at Newark Liberty International Airport, which serves the New York City region and is one of the busiest airports in the nation. The San Francisco-based company also will provide $1.5 million in liability coverage for all drivers in its network.

Newark Schools

The Newark Public Schools system (serving approximately 40,000 students)[30] was placed under state control in 1994.[31][32][33] Newark is one of 31 "Abbott", or "SDA district"[34] which requires the state to cover all costs for school building and renovation projects in these districts under the supervision of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.[35]

In 2010 Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, donated $100 million of his personal fortune through his foundation StartUp Education to the Newark school system.[36][37][38] Release of the funds required matching funds, which were mostly raised through the Foundation for Newark's Future and have largely been spent, though funds remain.[39][40] The foundation was short-term philanthropic "shot in the arm," By 2015, FNF and its partners will have spent $200 million. The donation precipitated an effort to reform and restructure the system.

Teams of consultants have suggested numerous management reforms from the top down, but according to Ras Baraka, echoing concerns of many residents, they have ignored the community and the needs of chlldren and wishes of families in the neighborhoods. A restructing program called One Newark calls for the closure of some public schools and the opening of more charter schools (some in public school buildings).[41] The reorganization spearheaded by state-appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson, would relocate, consolidate or close one quarter of the district's schools that she has determined are underutilized. The plan has met with stiff resistance from large segments of Newark's population, with critics saying there's no evidence it will increase student performance.[42][43][44][45][46][47] The plan would also include teacher lay-offs.[48] While there is some agreement with many of the policies being implemented in the program, the disregard for community input and the pace of change has drawn criticism.[49][50] The plan will require some students to leave their neighborhoods and travel across the city, with many parents fearing for their safety.[51][52][53][54][55]

Baraka ran for election with a campaign to take back local control of the schools.[56] In May 2014, Newark, which already had control of operations (includes student transportation and other support services), was granted local powers over budget and finance, giving the local advisory board its first formal vote on the district's nearly $1 billion in annual spending. The state retains the right to veto any action of the local board and has the final say in appointing the superintendent of the district. Baraka as an outspoken advocate of returning control of the Newark's school to local authority has called for the ouster of state-appointed Superintendent Anderson.[57] Anderson's contract was renewed in June 2014.[58]

A discrimination complaint filed on behalf of Newark parents and the Newark branch of New Jersey's Parents Unified for Local School Education (PULSE) claims that 86 percent of the students affected by "One Newark" changes are African American, while African-American students make up 51 percent of the entire district. The allegation is being investigated by the United States Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.[59]

Baraka has called for the resignation of Cami Anderson, the state-appointed superintendent.[60] Anderson resigned in June 2015.[61] While Anserson's resignation made the situation less politically volatile, Baraka opposes the creation of more charter schools, and believes they come at the expense of public schools.[62]

Crime and gang violence

In October 2013 Baraka introduced his program to deal with crime and gang violence in the city, the Ras Baraka Blueprint to Reduce Crime and Violence in Newark[63] It includes "Project Chill", which incorporates elements similar to Boston's Operation Ceasefire and other engagement with gang members and intervention programs.[64][65][66][67][68][69] As of June 30 there had been 43 homicides in 2014. In 2013 through June 30, the city recorded 41 homicides. A surge of violence in the second half of 2013 pushed the homicide total to 111, the most since 1990.[70]

In Fall 2014, Baraka started the Model Neighborhood initiative, which increased police presence in troubled neighborhoods.[71]

Underwater mortgages and eminent domain

Between 2008 and mid 2013, 6,810 homes were foreclosed in Newark, and citywide, and homeowners in the city and lost roughly $1.8 billion in home values. At that time about 9,000 Newark residents were "underwater", where payment balances are higher than the fair market value of the property.[72] In May 2014, Baraka introduced a resolution adopted by the municipal council that would affect an estimated one thousand Newark homeowners threatened with foreclosure, giving the city legal authority to purchase home with underwater mortgages through eminent domain and refinancing them.[73] it is estimated that more than 50% of Newark homes are financed by underwater mortgages, partially as a result of the 2010 United States foreclosure crisis.[74]

Newark Watershed

The Newark Watershed comprises 35,000 acres of reservoirs and water treatment and supply systems for more than 500,000 customers in northern New Jersey including Newark and neighboring Belleville, Elizabeth, Bloomfield and Nutley. It is considered one of the city's greatest assets. A New Jersey State Comptroller report issued in February 2014 revealed irregularities and corruption within the Newark Watershed and Development Corporation, which is the process of being dismantled after being taken over the city.[75][76][77] In March 2014, Baraka called for a forensic audit of the agency.[78] Despite protestations from the city council, in April 2014 a Superior Court judge has ruled that the city must continue to fund the agency during the process.[79] The United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey is investigating the matter.[80]

Budget deficit and state oversight

In August 2014, citing a $30 million deficit from the city's 2013 budget and an anticipated $60 million in 2014, Baraka said that Newark would likely have to ask for emergency aid from the state, which if received, would require state oversight and involvement in the city's financial affairs. As of September 2014, the state's Local Finance Board overseesn by the Department of Community Affairs had not taken action.[81][82][83] In September the city auctioned properties, most of which had been foreclosed, in an attempt to raise funds.[84] The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs awarded Newark $10 million in transitional aid, comes with a required oversight memorandum of understanding. The state will hire a private firm to oversee the city's financial management and compliance.[85] The state will reduce budgets for the city clerk and expenses for councilmemebers as part of the agreement.[86]

Model Neighborhoods

In 2014, Baraka initiated a program to help troubled neighborhoods that will take a comprehensive approach to address issues called Model Neighborhoods.[87]

Valentine's Day plot sales

In 2014, initiated a Valentine's Day building lot sale in which married couples could purchase housing plots in the city for $1,000.00.[88] Nearly 100 plots were sold; as of 2015 few had been built on due to financing issues. [89]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d ""Baraka, Ras", Our Campaigns". Retrieved 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "City of Newark, NJ: Ras J. Baraka". City of Newark, New Jersey. Retrieved 2012. 
  3. ^ Dawsey, Josh (May 13, 2014). "Ras Baraka Is Elected Mayor of Newark". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved . 
  4. ^ Nix, Naomi (July 1, 2014). "Ras Baraka to be sworn in today as Newark's 40th mayor". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  5. ^ Checkoway, Laura (August 26, 2008). "Inside 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'". The Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012. 
  6. ^ "Ras Baraka". Moore Black Press. Retrieved 2012. 
  7. ^ Black Girls Learn Love Hard at Amazon.
  8. ^ Campbell, James (2008), Syncopations: Beats, New Yorkers, and Writers in the Dark, University of California Press 
  9. ^ "Ras Baraka". Dodge Poetry Festival. Retrieved . 
  10. ^ "Ras Baraka". NLLC. Retrieved . 
  11. ^ Giambusso, David (May 12, 2010). "Newark residents vote in highly contested council elections in South, Central wards". The Star-Ledger. nj.com. Retrieved 2012. 
  12. ^ "COMING JANUARY 30 - ALL NEW SEASON OF BRICK CITY". SUNfiltered. Sundance Channel. December 17, 2010. Retrieved 2012. 
  13. ^ "Our Campaigns - Candidate - Ras Baraka". Retrieved 2014. 
  14. ^ Giambusso, David (August 16, 2013). "Darrin Sharif announces run for mayor of Newark". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . Much of the economic development in Newark and a large stake of its business community operates in Sharif's ward, but its residential neighborhoods are among the most troubled. 
  15. ^ Glover, Vivian (October 15, 2013). "Who will run Newark without Cory Booker?". The Grio. Retrieved . 
  16. ^ Queally, James (February 12, 2014). "Newark mayoral race narrows to 2 as another candidate drops out". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  17. ^ Pizarro, Max (August 27, 2013). "Crump and Rice endorse Baraka in Newark mayor's race". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  18. ^ "Newark mayoral contenders Ras Baraka, Anibal Ramos pick up union endorsements". NJ.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  19. ^ Bonamo, Mark (January 7, 2014). "Newark mayoral slates start to coalesce". NJ.Politcker. Retrieved . 
  20. ^ Isherwood, Daryl (December 2, 2013). "CWA set to endorse Baraka in Newark mayoral contest". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  21. ^ "Newark mayor's race: Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop endorses Baraka". NJ.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  22. ^ Giambusso, David (March 4, 2014). "Newark mayor's race: Baraka awash in labor union endorsements". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  23. ^ "Newark mayor's race: Baraka, Jeffries hold dueling events at city supermarkets". NJ.com. Retrieved 2014. 
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  26. ^ Nix, Naomi; Friedman, Matt (May 21, 2014). "Christie, Baraka, DiVincenzo discuss Newark's future". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  27. ^ "Mayor elect Ras Baraka announces transition team". NJ.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  28. ^ Bonamo, Mark (July 1, 2014). "Newark mayor's new chief of staff Amiri Baraka, Jr.: "I've got my brother's back"". NJ Politicker. Retrieved . 
  29. ^ "Newark's rebound". The Economist. 21 September 2017. 
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  33. ^ (Facebook Inc) (2014-02-27). "Why Aren't Chris Christie, Mark Zuckerberg, and Cory Booker Defending Newark's School Chief?". Businessweek. Retrieved . 
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  35. ^ What are SDA Districts?, New Jersey Schools Development Authority. Accessed 2014-01-10
  36. ^ "Startup:Education". Retrieved 2014. 
  37. ^ Richard Pérez-Peña (September 22, 2010). "Facebook Founder to Donate $100 Million to Help Remake Newark's Schools". The New York Times. 
  38. ^ The Oprah Winfrey Show, September 24, 2010
  39. ^ Mooney, John (October 22, 2013). "EXPLAINER: WHAT'S BECOME OF ZUCKERBERG'S $100M GIFT TO NEWARK SCHOOLS". NJSpotlight. Retrieved . 
  40. ^ Severns, Maggie (March 28, 2013). "Whatever Happened to the $100 Million Mark Zuckerberg Gave to Newark Schools?". Mother Jones. Retrieved . 
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  42. ^ Strauss, Valerie (April 19, 2014). "Clergy warn Christie: Your Newark school reform is a mess". The Washington Post. Retrieved . 
  43. ^ "No time for nostalgia: Cami Anderson's Newark school reforms should go foward [sic]: Editorial". The Star-Ledger. January 22, 2014. Retrieved .  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  44. ^ McGlone, Peggy (December 18, 2013). "Newark school restructuring includes plans to put charters in district buildings". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  45. ^ Mueller, Mark (February 25, 2014). lay-offs "Newark schools chief warns of massive teacher layoffs; wants pink slips tied to performance" Check |url= value (help). The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  46. ^ McGlone, Peggy (February 12, 2014). rebuilding funds "$100M for Newark school construction waits for approval" Check |url= value (help). The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  47. ^ Eidelson, Josh (February 18, 2014). "Christie's ed reform scandal: Principals suspended after questioning charter scheme "Narcissism," "dictatorial" and "totalitarian" tactics by Christie appointee, Newark councilman charges to Salon". Salon. Retrieved . 
  48. ^ Giambusso, David (February 22, 2014). "Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries hits superintendent, opponent in rollout of education plan". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  49. ^ Leonard, Devin (May 14, 2014). "Did Mark Zuckerberg Help Elect Newark's New Mayor?". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved . 
  50. ^ Russakoff, Dale (May 17, 2014). "SCHOOLED Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg had a plan to reform Newark's schools. They got an education". The New Yorker. Retrieved . 
  51. ^ McKnighrt, Matt (May 14, 2014). "POLITICAL SCENE: INEQUALITY AND EDUCATION IN NEWARK". The New Yorker. Retrieved .  http://www.nj.com/education/2014/05/at_downtown_rally_critics_of_newark_school_plan_present_alternative.html
  52. ^ Goldstein, Dana. "Who Gets to Control Newark's Schools? A rabble-rousing new mayor wants to undo the reforms that Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg brought to town". Slate. Retrieved . 
  53. ^ Russakoff, Dale (May 19, 2014). "Schooled Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg had a plan to reform Newark's schools. They got an education". The New Yorker. Retrieved . 
  54. ^ McClone, Peggy (May 20, 2014). "At downtown rally, critics of Newark school plan present alternative". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  55. ^ "Newark, N.J., Schools Plan Opposed By Mayor-Elect Ras Baraka Takes Big Step Forward". The Huffington Post. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 2014. 
  56. ^ "Newark mayor Ras Baraka tries to wrest control of the city's schools from Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg". Slate Magazine. 21 May 2014. Retrieved 2014. 
  57. ^ "Newark, Paterson may have long roads to regaining full control of schools from state". NJ Spotlight. June 5, 2014. Retrieved . 
  58. ^ Cruz, David (June 30, 2014). "Anderson to Remain at Helm of Newark Schools, Activists Vow Ouster". NJTVOnline. Retrieved . 
  59. ^ McClone, Peggy (July 23, 2014). "Feds investigate claims of racial discrimination in Newark school reorganization". NJ Spotlight. Retrieved . 
  60. ^ "Baraka asks for Newark superintendent's resignation -- again". Retrieved 2016. 
  61. ^ "Newark leaders call Anderson's departure 'long overdue'". Retrieved 2016. 
  62. ^ "Baraka calls Christie's charter expansion OK a 'huge step backwards' for Newark". Retrieved 2016. 
  63. ^ "The Ras Baraka Blueprint to Redce Crime and Violence in Newark". rasjbaraka.com. 2013. Retrieved . 
  64. ^ "Newark mayor's race: Ras Baraka rolls out his public safety plan". NJ.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  65. ^ http://rasjbaraka.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BARAKA-BLUEPRINT-FOR-CRIME-Final-Copy.pdf
  66. ^ Giambusso, David (December 28, 2013). "Newark Councilman Ras Baraka calling for gang cease-fire, increased police presence in wake of killings". The Satr-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  67. ^ Queally, James (December 31, 2013). "Newark mayoral hopeful wrote letters on behalf of notorious city gang boss, records show". The Satr-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  68. ^ Strunsky, Steve (December 29, 2013). "Baraka calls for gang ceasefire in Newark; mom seeks justice for son killed on Christmas". The Satr-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  69. ^ "Newark mayoral candidate faces blowback for writing letters in support of gang member". NJ.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  70. ^ Augenstein, Seth (July 4, 2014). "Newark man gunned down before dawn is city's 44th homicide victim". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  71. ^ "Fixing Newark's neighborhoods a long-term initiative, report says". Retrieved 2016. 
  72. ^ Dayen, David (May 8, 2013). "Newark's Terrible New Foreclosure Fix Idea Activists in the city think eminent domain can save their". The Nation. Retrieved . 
  73. ^ Atlas, John (June 30, 2014). "Working With Grassroots Organizing Groups, Ras Baraka, Newark's Mayor-Elect, Takes Steps To Help Homeowners". Huffington Post. Retrieved . 
  74. ^ Tyrell, Joe (May 9, 2014). "NJ STILL DROWNING IN 'UNDERWATER' MORTGAGES, NEW STUDY REVEALS". NJ Spotlight. Retrieved . 
  75. ^ Giambusso, David (February 19, 2014). "Newark Watershed: timeline of troubles". The Star-Ledger. 
  76. ^ Giambusso, David (February 20, 2014). "Newark, state leaders call for criminal investigation of Newark watershed". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  77. ^ Giambusso, David (March 26, 2013). "Newark Watershed dissolves, leaving city to manage water for 500,000 customers". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  78. ^ "Baraka calls for forensic audit of Newark Watershed". The Star-Ledger. March 2014. Retrieved . 
  79. ^ Wichert, Bill (April 24, 2014). "Newark fights court order to fund shutdown of watershed agency". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved . 
  80. ^ Mulshine, Paul (September 5, 2014). "Cory Booker: U.S. Attorney reported to be probing his watershed pals (Mulshine)". The Star-Ledger. 
  81. ^ Dopp, Terrence & Versprille, Allyson (September 26, 2014). "Baraka Faces Newark's Challenges in Post-Booker Era". Bloomberg's Business Week. Retrieved . 
  82. ^ "Newark mayor Ras Baraka seeks transitional aid, state oversight". NJ.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  83. ^ "Newark Mayor Announces Strategy to Reduce $93 Million Budget Deficit". rlsmedia.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  84. ^ "Newark to auction off dozens of properties, amid budget deficit (Map)". NJ.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  85. ^ "State searching outside help to oversee Newark's finances". Retrieved 2016. 
  86. ^ "State to cut Newark council members' expenses in half in effort to rein in city's spending". Retrieved 2016. 
  87. ^ "Newark rolls out plans to rehabilitate two blight, crime-ridden neighborhoods". Retrieved 2016. 
  88. ^ "Land for $1,000: Homeowner hopefuls flock to Newark Valentines Day Sale". Retrieved 2016. 
  89. ^ "Here's what happened to those 100 lots Newark gave away last Valentine's Day". Retrieved 2016. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Luis A. Quintana
Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
2014-present
Incumbent

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Ras_Baraka
 



 

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