Monday, December 31, 2007
Happy morphine, my darling.
Then in the afternoon, an intervention. Alison, you're making yourself ill with this blogging shit - you used to paint.
This much is true - I did use to paint. Hard to see how another nude will be of much use at the moment however and I can't seem to manage both at once. I give them, my kind and loving friends, my standard citizens' democracy chat, only slightly ruining it by fitting in the word 'ambulance' at the end and bursting into tears. Noted pamphleteer Thomas Paine used this debating technique all the time I'm sure.
Thing is I haven't blogged, read any blogs or papers, or watched tv news in a week and it's been a great relief to know little more than that Benazir Bhutto was apparently killed by a car door handle.
I think I'll just check my mail though and maybe a couple of blogs, just in case Harper has decided to use Xmas week to kick up his conversion to full psi-lon status....
Oh look, Skdadl said something nice about me in a great piece on the freedom of the press to become whores. Wait, actually it's even better than that. She says that even as much of the fourth estate "have decided to make careers out of laundering government propaganda", there's still us - the lowly unpaid blogging pamphleteers - to point out both this fact and where the facts in their stories should be.
Skdadl : "This is very hard work for a volunteer army, but it is a privilege to know so many people who have joined up anyway."
And a pleasure to serve with you, chickie chick.
Night. Trying to snow.
I've opened the gates to let the local deer into my normally off-limits garden. They walk uncertainly past the lighted window and sprint off down to a winter salad of roses and the remains of the veggie garden. They want those cabbages but first they'll strip every leaf off every ivy they can reach, ivy being higher in vitamins C and D than most veggies.
Much is made of the superior cunning of predators; not enough of the perseverence of herbivores. I've seen a doe run repeatedly up a 7' chainlink fence, throw her weight at the top, and spring back to the same side again.
If unlucky, she'll snag a hoof between the links, break a leg and die. If successful, she'll flatten out just enough of the top of the fence to turn what was an obstacle into a landing touchdown, a springboard to take all the deer right over the wall.
I imagine it is at those times that she turns to her fellow deer and says something like : "This is very hard work for a volunteer army but it is a privilege to know so many who have joined up anyway."
Eat everything down to the ground, my lovelies. There's a new year coming.
Jan 3 update : Thank you so much for your many kindnesses left here and elsewhere. He still can't breath without the machine and is not expected to come home any time soon, so if it's ok with you all, I'm not going to mention this again till I have something more encouraging to report. Your good wishes very dear to me and I thank you.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
"No asses or oxen in the stable"
And worst of all - "Jesus probably not born in December"
Bummer. Prolly no presents then either.
And not a word about how things worked out for the little donkey.
Someone alert the christmas troops.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
This year's informal sister to the SPP brings some familiar names and themes :
North American Cooperation and Community
Vallarta Palace Hotel Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
October 12-14, 2007
Under the Joint Chairmanship of:
The Hon. George Shultz, Former U.S Secretary of State
The Hon. Peter Lougheed, Former Premier of Alberta
The Hon. Pedro Aspe, Former Finance Minister of Mexico
II Strategic dimensions of the North American security and prosperity partnerships
Gustavo Mohar, Deputy Director, National Intelligence (CISEN)
Stephen Rigby, Executive Vice-President, Canada Border Services
III: Investing in competitiveness: new ideas and options for infrastructure, borders and business - Public/private partnerships, municipal bonds and border development
Tom d’Aquino, Canadian Council of Chief Executives
Ron Covais, President, The Americas, Lockheed Martin Corp.
IV: NAFTA at 15: where do we go from here? How to create a North American Community
Anne McLellan, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
Moderator: Robert Pastor, American University
VI: Energy in North America – Security, rationalization and climate change
James Gray, Former CEO Canadian Hunter Exploration
David O’Reilly, CEO, Chevron Corporation
Read the full Agenda on pdf H/t to Council of Canadians
Gotta love that title "Energy in NA - Security, rationalization, and climate change" as discussed by oilbidness.
Purportedly SPP booster John Ibbitson from the G&M attended as a supporter.
He later declared the SPP to be dead.
Perhaps the Mexican poolside buffet didn't agree with him.
Once upon a time it was called a mere myth, a conspiracy theory apparently believed only by paranoid nutters :
"The so-called NAFTA superhighway - a massive, 12-lane road, rail and oil-and-gas corridor that would snake from western Mexico, through the United States and into Canada, making it far easier and cheaper to import Chinese goods, thus completing the final destruction of the American and Canadian manufacturing sectors.
Of course there is no NAFTA superhighway, and no plans to build one, any more than there is any serious talk of a North American Union. "
"There is no new proposed 'NAFTA Superhighway' : There are no plans to build a new NAFTA Superhighway - it exists today as I-35."
Because nowadays the NAFTA Superhighway is just business-as-usual :
"Number two on the popular US web site Digg is a map of the NAFTA Superhighway on an Alberta Government web site. [Picture at top] Why in the name of free trade are so many people freaked out about this thoroughfare?
Many believe the transcontinental corridor is a myth.....The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation web site uses the exact phrase, showing a thoroughfare that begins in Manitoba and drops all the way down to West Texas.
When initially reached for comment, ministry communications director Jerry Bellikka said, “Where’s the secret agenda if it’s on a government web site?" He added that the controversy is a “pretty good example of political rhetoric getting twisted out of shape.”
After some further investigation, Mr. Bellikka reports that the name in question has been on the site for five years and is used to help inform truckers of certain weight restrictions. "We don't see any link between trucking weights and conspiracy theories," he said."
"Manitoba is also taking a major role in the development of a Mid-Continent Trade Corridor, connecting our northern Port of Churchill with trade markets throughout the central United States and Mexico. To advance the concept, an alliance has been built with business leaders and state and city governments spanning the entire length of the Corridor. When fully developed, the trade route will incorporate an “in-land port” in Winnipeg with pre-clearance for international shipping."
"On September 19-21, 2007 , the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor Coalition hosted the Great Plains International Conference 2007 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver, Colorado, gathering hundreds of elected and government officials, business leaders, communities and citizens from Laredo, Texas, and the Alberta-Montana border, to examine how to work together to secure the benefits of trade, promote energy security and strengthen trade linkages to western Canada, on behalf of the communities of the Great Plains, North America’s energy and agricultural heartland. The Colorado Department of Transportation and Texas Department of Transportation were co-hosts.
Major events of the conference included: Texas Transportation Commissioner Fred Underwood announced TxDOT would develop financial master plan for the Ports-to-Plains project; Len Mitzel, a Member of Legislative Assembly of the Province of Alberta, Canada’s energy powerhouse and a potential candidate for Coalition membership, spoke on behalf of the Alberta Minister of Transportation, and invited Coalition leadership (including state officials) to Alberta for follow-up meetings.
The Great Plains International Conference was the first formal gathering of three Congressionally-designated north-south High Priority Corridors that, together, form the primary trade corridor serving the states of the Great Plains: Ports-to-Plains (from Laredo to Denver); The Heartland Expressway (from Denver to Rapid City, South Dakota); and the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway (from Rapid City to the Canadian border provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan).
Ron Covais, President of Lockheed Martin Americas, and U.S. Chair, North American Competitiveness Council, reported upon the recent Montebello Summit of the NAFTA heads of state, and the recent NACC report on the NAFTA Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).Two post-9/11 realities dominate NACC activities, he said:
1) After 9/11, international business and homeland security are intertwined; and
2) North American business will increasingly grapple with intense competition from the “BRIC” nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
Under the circumstances, it is both necessary and appropriate to have the private sector on the front lines helping NAFTA governments to develop strategies for a secure, prosperous North America.The Great Plains conference helped to demonstrate that the Ports-to-Plains coalition has significant potential as a NAFTA-wide program, embracing interests from Coahuila to Alberta. Coalition staff and leadership have begun planning on next steps to more fully engage U.S. states and Canadian provinces on the northern end of the Great Plains region, particularly those at key connection points at the border, including Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana."
Monday, December 17, 2007
"From Sir John A. Macdonald on, every prime minister has made mistakes," Mulroney said. ". . . part of the greatness of Sir John was that he was flawed..."
Ah, now that was an unfortunate comparison, Bri.
As Ottawonk points out, Sir John A holds the distinction of being " the very first conservative prime minister to take kick-backs on a procurement contract (they didn't have planes back then so they did it with trains)."
Despite Sir John A's claims of innocence, there was the little matter of receipts for the money from the Canadian Pacific Railway bidder (thank heavens we've progressed since then!) plus a telegram from Macdonald six days before the election which read, "I must have another $10,000. Will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me. Answer today."
Sadly, telegrams are seldom used for this type of transaction nowadays.
Best live-blogging of Muldoon's 3 1/2 hour non-testimony is Hope and Onions' The Mumbrage. The subtitles alone are worth the jump.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Ken Boessenkool, original signatory to the 2001 'Alberta Firewall' letter and former Alliance campaign advisor to both Harper and Stockwell Day, has added TASER™ International to his lobbying portfolio.
According to the Gov. of Canada Lobbyist Registration System, his job for TASER™ will be to lobby the Prime Minister's Office, the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC), and the RCMP with an "Awareness campaign to educate decision-makers on the facts of TASER International's products" for "Government reviews of taser use by law enforcement".
One of the "Techniques of communication that you have used or expect to use in the course of the undertaking" listed on Ken's TASER™ page at the same government lobbyist website is "Grass-roots Communications"
LOL, as the kids say.
Previous "grass-roots communications" by Ken Boessenkool's firm, Hill and Knowlton Canada, have been "getitrightalberta.ca", a grass-roots effort to convince Albertans they really don't want to benefit personally from $2B+ in tarsands revenue after all, and the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, another grassroots org famous for shilling for ethanol for agri-biz firms.
Based on past performance, we now eagerly await new TASER™ grassroots websites like tasersaveslives.ca, exciteddelirium'r us.ca and onemilliontasered.ca.
Possibly, onemillionserved.ca would be pushing it.
Former advisor to Harper and Day lobbies for Taser Int - a very good article from Sue Bailey at Canadian Press re the revolving door of gov/industry lobbying and Boessenkool's work for Merck Frosst, which benefited from a surprise $300-million fund in the last federal budget to vaccinate girls against cervical cancer.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Remember back in September when Canada's Getting-Old-Really-Fast Government not only declined to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, but according to Maclean's, aggressively opposed it?
A bit of a puzzler at the time, garnering a ton of bad PR and apparently for little gain, as the declaration wasn't binding on Canadian law anyway.
In The Uranium-Backed War on Indigenous Peoples, Politics and Poetry provides new research that suggests the reason Canada didn’t sign that declaration is because Canadian companies intend to mine uranium on indigenous lands in Niger, Quebec, and New Mexico.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Oh and I've changed my mind about having a full public inquiry -
I've decided I don't want one after all.
Update : Excellent catch from J from Wpg in comments :
"Byron Muldoon claims he only received $225,000 and stashed some of it in the USA. Does that mean he got the $300,000 Canadian in US dollars?"
"Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, who commanded Canadian and multinational forces in southern Afghanistan last year says the government "is past three-D." [development, diplomacy and defence]
And no wonder. Perhaps you recall Brig.-Gen Fraser's Hearts and Minds Canadian Flak Tour back in January, in which he praised such Canadian reconstruction projects as "building roads", although these same projects were referred to in the NYT as :
"NATO troops bulldozed through orchards, smashed down walls and even houses, and churned vineyards and melon fields to dust. Reconstruction projects were planned, but never materialized. Now NATO countries are championing the thoroughfare as a $5 million gift to local people."
OK, so what did the 'development' and 'diplomacy' part of the now apparently passé 3-D consist of?
"Canada's aid agency will have 35 professional staff working in Afghanistan by April 2008, up from 10 in 2006. Five foreign affairs personnel, six from CIDA, 10 from the RCMP and two from Correctional Services Canada positions. DFAIT also has two foreign affairs officials at the Kandahar airfield."???That's it???
By way of comparison, we have 2,500 military personnel making up the 'defence' part of 3-D.
The Brig,-Gen bafflegabs onwards :
"A lot of people use three-D, but it's bigger than that," he said. "I think it's illustrative of the evolution of a concept that's getting bigger, getting broader, that has more depth, that is getting more mature and is developing more effects for countries like Afghanistan. It just shows the evolution of doing more."
What the fuck is he on about here?
Thankfully the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan were rather more succinct in their International Human Rights Day speech on Monday :
"The US and her allies tried to legitimize their military occupation of Afghanistan under the banner of “bringing freedom and democracy for Afghan people”. But as we have experienced in the past hree decades, in regard to the fate of our people, the US government first of all considers her own political and economic interests and has empowered and equipped the most traitorous, anti-democratic, misogynist and corrupt fundamentalist gangs in Afghanistan.Thanks, RAWA - that's pretty much what we thought he meant.
The US doesn’t want to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, because then they will have no excuse to stay in Afghanistan and work towards the realization of its economical, political and strategic interests in the region."
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Local eco-activist Tzeporah Berman blogs the Bali conference and spars with Minister Baird over a beer. Some quick quotes :
"Shall we hold off having democratic elections until China does as well?"
"Tomorrow we'll be doing a press conference and panel discussion on Canada's forests here at Bali. There is a lot of discussion here about tropical forests but few people know that Canada's forests store more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem or that our logging contributes as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the cars on the road."
"It turns out that there is one thing to admire about Baird. His chutzpa. With full recognition of how disgusted some of the most committed and informed people from around the world are at him, he waltzed into the non-governmental groups' reception and had a beer. Obviously I couldn't pass up the moment. After debating the issues with him for half an hour I can safely say that the chutzpa is all I found to admire and unfortunately that alone is not enough to make a great leader. We live in a time that calls for courageous and thoughtful leadership. Talking to Minister Baird tonight was a little like debating Bill O'Reilly. You have to be quick and he is clever but he doesn't listen for a second and he is more interested in scoring points than actually leading."
Update : Stop the Climate-Wrecking at Bali Avaaz Petition:
"We call urgently for the US, Canada and Japan to stop blocking serious 2020 targets for emissions reductions, and for the rest of the world to refuse to accept anything less."
62,823 signatures in 12 hours so far......Thank you, Holly Stick
Monday, December 10, 2007
"China's ranking on Germanwatch's 40th annual index, which ranks 56 industrialized and emerging countries, was an improvement of four places over last year, the group said Friday.Ya think? In preference to Kyoto, "Baird uses the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances as an example of what the world should strive for. "
The United States and Saudi Arabia were the worst on the list, at 55th and 56th places, respectively.
Canada placed 53rd on the list, down two spots from last year's survey. It has prompted concern that the country lacks credibility on the international stage."
"The Germanwatch ranking was developed by analyzing each country's emission levels, emission trends, and greenhouse gas reduction policies and combining the information to create an overall climate change performance target.
While Canada placed 46th and 43rd in terms of emission levels and trends, its governmental policies were ranked 55th, making them the second-weakest in the study.
"The people that compiled the whole survey have explained to me that if Canada substantially strengthened its policy, it could rise as much as 20 places in this ranking," he said."
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Or bees. Or a llama, a goat, a flock of ducks, a heifer, a pig, rabbits, sheep, or even trees.
Dana, one of my inkstained co-wretches at The Galloping Beaver, has set up a gift registry at Heifer International where you can donate shares in your choice of the above to help hungry families to feed, house and clothe themselves.
Heifer is the real deal, providing training in sustainable animal husbandry - yes, they have veterinarians working on a community level - and a unique feature which gives recipients the opportunity to pass the proceeds of their gift along to others.
Dave reports that as of yesterday we are at 1 flock of chickens, 5 shares of a goat, 2 shares of a heifer and 2 shares of a llama. What, no takers on the water buffalo yet? Direct link to Dana's registry here.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
On Dec. 6 every year since 1989, women, mostly women, hold vigils to commemorate the Montreal Polytechnique shooting massacre of 14 women merely for being women. As much as it is for the women who died, this yearly tribute continuess because not enough has changed for many of the rest of us in the intervening 18 years.
Women working fulltime still make .73¢ on every dollar made by men in comparable jobs and thousands of battered women still seek shelter in not enough shelters. Certainly Marc Lepine's battered mother could have used one. Yet despite this, last I heard the only street-level women's advocacy group in Victoria, the capital of BC, was still operating out of a storage locker.
Since 1991, The White Ribbon Campaign, almost all men, pledge to do what they can to end violence against women and children in their communities. Hats off to them.
Some other people wish we'd all just shut up about it. It's an unseemly public display, they say, and besides it's unfair to men. Usually they go on to state that more men than women die violently every year while neglecting to mention that those men are almost always killed by ...other men. Mostly they complain that the memorial is divisive and that destructive attitudes towards violence cross the boundaries of sex, class, and religion. I am willing to concede this last point; in fact I'm willing to prove it.
The following three sets of statements regarding the Montreal massacre were taken from texts written by Marc Lepine, the Let Freedom Reign group blog of a Calgary aldermanic candidate, and National Post columnist Barbara Kay, those last two just a couple of days ago. I challenge you to guess who said what.
"...male heroism was considered a quality deserving of public recognition. But now, a "grandfathered" Nov. 11 is the only day of the year when feminist ideologues refrain from overt misandry....male-bashing is often justified by the fact that more men kill women than women kill men."
"However my Christian upbringing isn’t good at telling me to go out and kill feminists. Even though they sanction the death of over 50,000 of their sisters each year. While everyone is agonizing over violence against women “today” more men in Canada fall victim than women to violence every year."
"...the feminists always have a talent for enraging me. They want to retain the advantages of being women (e.g. cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave preceded by a preventive leave) while trying to grab those of the men.... They are so opportunistic that they neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men throughout the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can."
Answers in comments.
Friday, December 07, 2007
"The Minister of Foreign Affairs is responsible to Parliament for the operation of the Export and Import Permits Act. The Minister produces an annual report on exports of controlled military goods and presents it to Parliament and Canadians. No country reports in more detail on such exports."
Well yes, at least no country with a lower transparency ranking than us, according to Small Arms Watch who notes we just squeaked past Iran in their transparency ratings to place 11th out of 20 countries.
500 companies across Canada are making LAVs, missile components, grenade launchers, firearms, ammunition .....and we have no idea what exactly or where it's all going.
Ten years ago Canada was a leader in drafting the treaty banning anti-personnel mines, known as the Ottawa Treaty. The US-#1, Russia-#2, and China-#5 all refused to sign it.
Then, after 4 million cluster bombs were dropped on southern Lebanon, representatives of 47 governments met in Oslo to begin crafting an international ban on cluster bombs. Israel, with whom Canada is expected to sign a "security accord" shortly, and the US, with whom Canada already has, are not expected to sign on.
Canada is obviously going to need a little nudge here to withstand the influence of her partners. Here's one from of Ceasefire :
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
Canada led the way to ban landmines. Now it is time to ban cluster bombs. I urge the Canadian government to declare a moratorium on the use, production and transfer of cluster munitions until a new treaty has been negotiated.
I await your reply.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
"In the most contentious move of the conference so far, Japan insisted it is “essential” for the world to “move beyond the Kyoto Protocol.” Just a few minutes later, in what appeared to be a prearranged move, Canada threw its weight behind the Japanese position, lending crucial support to Washington's refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty."U.S.: the next climate agreement must be “economically sustainable” and must promote economic growth for people and nations “everywhere.”
Japan : there must be “compatibility” between environmental protection and economic growth.
Canada : there must be a “balance” between the environment and “economic prosperity.”
None of the three mentioned binding commitments or mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gases or short-term targets for an agreement to replace Kyoto when it expires in 2012.
And yet, most amusingly, despite Canada's assertion that there must be a 'balance' between the environment and 'economic prosperity', the G&M reports that "Canada is not sending any ministers to the meetings of trade and finance ministers at Bali."
Apparently although we place the highest priority on an economically sustainable environment treaty, somehow we just don't feel like talking about it right now.
Hopefully The Yes Men will yet make an appearance on our behalf.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Schreiber promises Mulroney an unspecified amount of cash for unspecified work.
Mulroney has secret meetings with Screiber to pick up envelopes of cash in 1993 and 1994 while still an MP.
(At least Mulroney, if not Schreiber, knows the unspecified work is not for Schreiber's Bear Head project because Mulroney already cancelled that in 1990.)
Mulroney fails to declare the money on his income tax return at the time.
Mulroney's former solicitor-general drafts an apology letter for Schreiber to be sent in Schreiber's name to Mulroney. Letter states "Mulroney is the best advocate I could have retained" .
Mulroney and his spokesman Luc Lavoie make frequent use of letter as proof of Mulroney's innocence.
Schreiber alleges he sent the letter because he was told that if he provided the apology, Mulroney would get Harper to halt his extradition to Germany.
Schreiber claims Mulroney subsequently asked him to cover up their business arrangement
Schreiber is suing Mulroney for failing to provide promised business services, but testifies that Mulroney had nothing to do with Airbus contracts.
Luc Lavoie has resigned as Mulroney's spokesperson.
Well alrighty then.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
And when justice is gone, there's always force
And when force is gone, there's always Mom (Hi Mom!)
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms
In your automatic arms, your electronic arms
Your petrochemical arms, your military arms
In your arms
~Laurie Anderson, O Superman, 1981
CS Monitor : Taser death in Canada sparks heated debate around the world
Good article, but actually the debate, nominally about whether police forces around the world should use TASER™ stun guns, has hardly even started yet. The real debate is which end of the TASER™ you identify with. Is it a useful efficient tool which your trusted government deploys to protect you from baddies, or is it a weapon of ritualized oppression to stifle any incidence of otherness?
When the UN came out against the use of stun guns as incidentally lethal torture devices, Taser International responded that the UN was "out of touch with the realities facing law enforcement agents".
No, I don't think so. If there's one thing the UN understands, it's that regardless of political ideology, the battle is always between the "haves" and the "have nots".
So the real question is : Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is on tv right now.
M-m-m-m ....soft core pron.
Here's a little Victoria's secret for you - it takes a slave only 3.3 minutes to make each of these bikinis.
Of course the alternative of being beaten or jailed in Jordan is probably a big incentive to keep up.
Each Sri Lankan or Bangladeshi "guest worker" lives and works in a Victoria's Secret sub-contract factory compound in Jordan named D.K. Garments. They work 15 hours a day 7 days a week with mandatory overtime and a day off once every three or four months. They are regularly cheated out of their wages. The dorms in which they are housed lack both heat and hot water even though the outside temperature drops to zero in winter. Since their passports have been confiscated, they cannot leave.
According to The National Labor Committee, after a recent demand for a 43% increase in production with no raise in pay, six very brave workers went on strike.
On Nov 11, they were imprisoned and the next day their co-workers went on strike in protest.
D.K. Garments threatened to cut off food and water to the dorms.
The workers held out for 10 days but are now back at work under the same conditions. The original six strikers remain in prison.
Amazingly, these people paid from $1,500 to $3,000 to purchase the three-year work contracts in Jordan.
Now, in debt from borrowing the money to pay the contract fee and with their passports confiscated, they can't leave.
By the way, the workers' wages amount to less than 3/10ths of 1% of the $14 retail price of one of those bikinis pictured above.
Enjoy the show!
You can write to Victoria's Secret via :
Mr Leslie Wexner, CEO
Limited Brands Inc.
3 Limited Pkwy.
Columbus, Ohio 43230 United States
Phone: (614) 415-7000
Fax: (614) 415-7080
to demand the end of this abuse and the release of the six strikers from prison.
Be sure to mention that you won't be buying any of their products because in real life, evil is just not all that sexy.
h/t Marcus at Zavadil Design
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