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Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?

Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?

Photo Source WeMeanBusiness | CC BY 2.0

The Paris Agreement of 2015 remarkably brought together all of the nations of the world, except for the United States after Trump cancelled, in a concerted effort to combat the dire consequences of global warming, which on a worst-worst-worst case basis could lead to human extinction; although, not many climate scientists discuss that possibility.

But, it really could happen.

But then again, when?

Meanwhile, the Paris Agreement is constantly being scrutinized because it is well understood that if the science about the timing of not exceeding 1.5C, or maybe 2C, is correct, then humanity doesn’t have many shots, or much time, at fixing this monster before it grows totally out of control, and then human extinction will reluctantly need to be factored into climate models… for the first time ever! Nobody wants that to happen.

Meantime, climate complexities, as they relate to the Agreement, are starting to throw poisoned darts at Paris/2015 and hitting bull’s-eyes.

After all, since the very beginning, the Agreement was not on solid footing, as for example: Dr. James Hansen, one of the world’s foremost climate scientists, “nailed it” when, immediately on the heels of the climate accord, he said:

“It’s a fraud really, a fake. It’s just bullshit….”

The famous or infamous, depending upon one’s viewpoint, Paris Agreement uses “linear relationships” in calculating cumulative CO2 emissions and global temps with the goal of holding temp increases to less than 2C vis-à-vis pre-industrial but preferably below 1.5C. Otherwise, all hell breaks loose. Disconcertingly, some climate scientists take issue with the data assumptions in Paris/2015, as way too timid. (See Postscript for alarming current status report on atmospheric CO2)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril

By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril

North Carolina has been hit with a storm of biblical ferocity.

Florence has left at least 17 dead there, 500,000 without power, with flash flooding across the state from the coast to the western mountains. Landslides and infectious diseases are predicted to follow. North Carolina is not alone, of course.

We’ve witnessed the devastation wrought by Katrina in New Orleans, Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Maria is now estimated to have taken 2,975 lives, nearly as many as died on Sept. 11, 2001.

As economics historian J. Bradford DeLong summarizes, the four storms — all in the past 15 years — are among the most damaging in U.S. history. No one storm can be attributed to any one cause. But repeated storms of greater force are the “predictable result” of catastrophic climate change, and they are a mild augury of what is likely to follow.

President Donald Trump has enforced climate denial in Washington. He has systematically sought to repeal even the inadequate steps the U.S. had taken to begin to address the problem. Last year he announced the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.

He’s geared up to repeal President Barack Obama’s executive orders on energy, climate and gas mileage. He’s opening up more public lands to mining and drilling and weakening environmental restrictions on coal, oil and natural gas, including most alarmingly, restrictions on the release of methane gas from natural gas pipes.

Web pages with climate change information have been removed or buried at the EPA and the Interior and Energy departments. The rest of the world vows to continue to deal with climate change, but with the wealthiest nation in the world scorning the effort, it is certain to be more inadequate than it already is.

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The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt

The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt

The Real Confrontation Is Yet To Come

There has been a spate of articles recently on the ten year anniversary of the financial collapse. We wrote about this anniversary two weeks ago, describing the cause of the collapse and the reasons why we are still at risk for another one. Now, we look at how the aftermath of the collapse is shaping current politics, people’s views on the economic system and the conflict that lies ahead to create an economy for the 21st Century.

The Aftershocks Of The Collapse Are Still Being Felt

Jerome Roos of ROAR Magazine writes that the response to the 2008 crash – bailing out the banks but not the people – led to unrest across the globe, beginning with the Arab Spring, and a growing anti-capitalist sentiment. He goes on to say, “It has recently begun to consolidate itself in the form of vibrant grassroots movements, progressive political formations and explicitly socialist candidacies that collectively seek to challenge the untrammeled power and privileges of the ‘1 percent’ from below.”

The stagnant economy, austerity measures and resulting increased debt have opened a space for people to search for and try out alternative economic structures that are more democratic. They have also created conditions for a rise of nationalism on the right. Roos concludes that the “real confrontation is yet to come.”

In the United States, the economic conditions have revived populist movements on both the right and the left. Gareth Porter explains the Democratic and Republican parties are aware of the great dissatisfaction with their failed policies and know they need to try to appease the public by trying new policies, but they don’t know how.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Power of the Anthropocene

The Power of the Anthropocene

Photo Source Doc Searls | CC BY 2.0

“So we are left with a stark choice: allow climate disruption to change everything about our world, or change pretty much everything about our economy to avoid that fate. But we need to be very clear: because of our decades of collective denial, no gradual, incremental options are now available to us.”

– Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

– Noam Chomsky

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.”

– Ursula K. Le Guin

“Let us wake up, humankind! We’re out of time. We must shake our conscience free of the rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy that will only assure our own self-destruction.”

– Berta Cáceres, Indigenous and environmental activist, murdered by a rightwing Honduran death squad.

At a certain point reality crashes headlong into toxic naivety. It is inevitable. One can only go on so long in denial before it intrudes. This is also true of societies. As I write, several “unprecedented”deadly hurricanes, typhoons and tropical storms are literally swirling around the world’s oceans. One of them has churned through the Carolinas. But this is a place where analysis of the threat of sea level rise was forbidden by a state determined to erase any public discourse on climate change in deference to its moneyed industries. Another one, the strongest on the planet, has devastated swaths of the Philippines and Hong Kong.

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Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing

Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing

Photo Source Lisa Abitbol/Nieman Foundation for Journalism | CC BY 2.0

The death of Robert Parry earlier this year felt like a farewell to the age of the reporter. Parry was “a trailblazer for independent journalism”, wrote Seymour Hersh, with whom he shared much in common.

Hersh revealed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the secret bombing of Cambodia, Parry exposed Iran-Contra, a drugs and gun-running conspiracy that led to the White House. In 2016, they separately produced compelling evidence that the Assad government in Syria had not used chemical weapons. They were not forgiven.

Driven from the “mainstream”, Hersh must publish his work outside the United States. Parry set up his own independent news website Consortium News, where, in a final piece following a stroke, he referred to journalism’s veneration of “approved opinions” while “unapproved evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality.”

Although journalism was always a loose extension of establishment power, something has changed in recent years. Dissent tolerated when I joined a national newspaper in Britain in the 1960s has regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal capitalism moves towards a form of corporate dictatorship. This is a seismic shift, with journalists policing the new “groupthink”, as Parry called it, dispensing its myths and distractions, pursuing its enemies.

Witness the witch-hunts against refugees and immigrants, the willful abandonment by the “MeToo” zealots of our oldest freedom, presumption of innocence, the anti-Russia racism and anti-Brexit hysteria, the growing anti-China campaign and the suppression of a warning of world war.

With many if not most independent journalists barred or ejected from the “mainstream”, a corner of the Internet has become a vital source of disclosure and evidence-based analysis: true journalism.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy

Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy

Photo Source futureatlas.com | CC BY 2.0

Today’s financial malaise for pension funds, state and local budgets and underemployment is largely a result of the 2008 bailout, not the crash. What was saved was not only the banks – or more to the point, as Sheila Bair pointed out, their bondholders – but the financial overhead that continues to burden today’s economy.

Also saved was the idea that the economy needs to keep the financial sector solvent by an exponential growth of new debt – and, when that does not suffice, by government purchase of stocks and bonds to support the balance sheets of the wealthiest layer of society. The internal contradiction in this policy is that debt deflation has become so overbearing and dysfunctional that it prevents the economy from growing and carrying its debt burden.

Trying to save the financial overgrowth of debt service by borrowing one’s way out of debt, or by monetary Quantitative Easing re-inflating real estate, stock and bond prices, enables the creditor One Percent to gain, not the indebted 99 Percent in the economy at large. Therefore, from the economy’s vantage point, instead of asking how the banks are to be saved “next time,” the question should be, how should we best let them go under – along with their stockholders, bondholders and uninsured depositors whose hubris imagined that their loans (other peoples’ debts) could go on rising without impoverishing society and preventing creditors from collecting in any event – except from government by gaining control over it.

A basic principle should be the starting point of any macro analysis: The volume of interest-bearing debt tends to outstrip the economy’s ability to pay. This tendency is inherent in the “magic of compound interest.” The exponential growth of debt expands by its own purely mathematical momentum, independently of the economy’s ability to pay – and faster than the non-financial economy grows.

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Everything is AwesomeThe Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump

The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump

Once upon a time, there was a little-known energy company called Enron. In its 16-year life, it went from being dubbed America’s most innovative company by Fortune Magazine to being the poster child of American corporate deceit. Using a classic recipe for book-cooking, Enron ended up in bankruptcy with jail time for those involved. Its shareholders lost $74 billion in the four years leading up to its bankruptcy in 2001.

A decade ago, the flameout of my former employer, Lehman Brothers, the global financial firm, proved far more devastating, contributing as it did to a series of events that ignited a global financial meltdown. Americans lost an estimated $12.8 trillion in the havoc.

Despite the differing scales of those disasters, there was a common thread: both companies used financial tricks to make themselves appear so much healthier than they actually were. They both faked the numbers, thanks to off-the-books or offshore mechanisms and eluded investigations… until they collapsed.

Now, here’s a question for you as we head for the November midterm elections, sure to be seen as a referendum on the president: Could Donald Trump be a one-man version of either Enron or Lehman Brothers, someone who cooked “the books” until, well, he imploded?

Since we’ve never seen his tax returns, right now we really don’t know. What we do know is that he’s been dodging bullets ever since the Justice Department accused him of violating the Fair Housing Act in his operation of 39 buildings in New York City in 1973. Unlike famed 1920s mob boss Al Capone, he may never get done in by something as simple as tax evasion, but time will tell.

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The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessa

The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary

Photo Source Xavier | CC BY 2.0

This week marked 10 years since the harrowing descent into the financial crisis — when the huge investment bank Lehman Bros. went into bankruptcy, with the country’s largest insurer, AIG, about to follow. No one was sure which financial institution might be next to fall.

The banking system started to freeze up. Banks typically extend short-term credit to one another for a few hundredths of a percentage point more than the cost of borrowing from the federal government. This gap exploded to 4 or 5 percentage points after Lehman collapsed. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke — along with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Timothy Geithner — rushed to Congress to get $700 billion to bail out the banks. “If we don’t do this today we won’t have an economy on Monday,” is the line famously attributed to Bernanke.

The trio argued to lawmakers that without the bailout, the United States faced a catastrophic collapse of the financial system and a second Great Depression.

Neither part of that story was true.

Still, news reports on the crisis raised the prospect of empty ATMs and checks uncashed. There were stories in major media outlets about the bank runs of 1929.

No such scenario was in the cards in 2008. Unlike 1929, we have the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIC was created precisely to prevent the sort of bank runs that were common during the Great Depression and earlier financial panics. The FDIC is very good at taking over a failed bank to ensure that checks are honored and ATMs keep working. In fact, the FDIC took over several major banks and many minor ones during the Great Recession. Business carried on as normal and most customers — unless they were following the news closely — remained unaware.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

American Fascism

American Fascism

Photo Source Alan Turkus | CC BY 2.0

From Whence ‘We’ Came

Fascism is a loaded topic for Americans. The term is usually put forward as oppositional, as the flip side of representative democracy, e.g. authoritarian. Left unaddressed is whose interests’ American representative democracy represents. Twenty years of research by political scientist Thomas Ferguson strongly supports the conclusion that it is monied interests (a/k/a the rich) that determines public policy. And while this isn’t the authoritarian leader alluded to with the charge of fascism, neither does it contrast with it in the sense implied.

In the American iconography, slavery and genocide against the indigenous population took place from the so-called founding forward under this system of representative democracy. Phrased differently, there is nothing intrinsic to representative democracy that precludes slavery and genocide. The social, economic and political repression and exploitation they represented had economic taking as their motive and they were systemic in structure— no single authoritarian leader, no Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini, created them as social facts.

The way that slavery and genocide functioned as American institutions was through oppositional definitions of the polity and not-polity. The assignation of slaves as three-fifths a human being in the Constitution was to accrue political representation to slave owners, not partial representation to slaves. Any geographic definition of the polity would have included slaves and some proportion of the indigenous population. One can argue the details of ‘the progress of history,’ but from the founding to the present, with ‘restorative’ interregnums, American representative democracy has meant class rule.

The class relations of American political economy are antithetical to the notion of a unified public interest. The point isn’t to suggest that this or that authoritarian leader isn’t authoritarian, but rather to sketch in the political backdrop to argue that the lived experience of social, economic and political repression is lived experience, not academic theories or bourgeois fantasies.

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How to Keep Going by Knowing the Apocalypse is Now: a Lesson From the Pig Farm

How to Keep Going by Knowing the Apocalypse is Now: a Lesson From the Pig Farm

“Yet one thing I fight for, tooth and nail, all the time. And that is my bit of inward peace, where I am at one with myself.”

– D.H. Lawrence, “What Would You Fight For?”

“We’ve been hearing from shamanic healers for decades about “connecting to spirit,” but their message sidesteps industrial capitalism… and open, public, radical changes flowing from spiritual work.”

– Dave Hanson, Shamanism, Anarchy & the End of the World, Fifth Estate (2008)

…the real reason why a European of bourgeois upbringing, even when he calls himself a Communist, cannot without a hard effort think of a working man as his equal.  It is summed up in…The lower classes smell.

– George  Orwell, Wigan Pier

What D.H. Lawrence fought for, we should all fight for.  Nothing is more wanting today,  a time when strength is equated with “manly” might and militarism, than  individuals who fiercely protect the inner flame of their genius, who by their example can imply to the rest of us that we should all be so unmanly as to have each his own deeply experienced truth deemed worth fighting for.   D.H., unlike so many contemporary bourgeois practitioners of eastern and indigenous spiritual practices, knew that the  equanimity necessary to develop character, integrity, individuality, vision and strength is not an entitlement, but a fight.  Though many are the calls since the 60’s to achieve inner serenity and clarity of mind – which sound pretty attractive to the average stressed and fearful man or woman today,  few and strange to the ear are calls to be here now in the catastrophic human reality – with its necessary political struggle – an act of human  presencewe should be fighting for, not fleeing from

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The Elite World Order in Jitters

The Elite World Order in Jitters

According to a brand new book by Peter Phillips, the world is now controlled by a handful (actually several handfuls) of powerful/rich elites via interlocking capital exchanges spanning the globe.

This ultra small coterie dictates world events and expects results. However, they are painfully aware that forces from down below are growling, growing restless, very restless indeed!

Thus, Phillips’ riveting story of world domination by elites, a thoroughly researched analysis from A-to-Z: Giants – The Global Power Elite (Seven Stories Press, 2018)

Phillips forewarns on behalf of ninety-nine percenters (99%):

“There is growing concern among reformist elements of the transnational elite that unchecked inequality threatens the stability of global capitalism and that there must be some sort of redistribution. These elites have been scrambling to find ways to reform the system in order to save capitalism from itself and to undercut more radical challenges from below.” (p. 18)

Meantime, and along the way according to Phillips, wealth concentration has gone ballistic like a moonshot! In January 2016 only 62 people held as much wealth as one-half of the entire world, but within one year, by 2018, that figure narrowed to 8 people with as much wealth as one-half of the entire world. Stop and think about the implications. Is something about that awry, amiss, or maybe nonsensical?

“Wealth concentration is happening so rapidly that it is feasible that someday soon one man will hold more wealth than half the humans in the world.” (p. 21) Wow-Wow!

Is capitalism starting to “stink up the place” with wealth cumulation madness? Can the world community live with this or will there be an uprising as the elite’s bold rapaciousness increasingly turns into a public image of the Wicked Witch of the East?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction

From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction

Photo Source Becker1999 | CC BY 2.0

While the Trump administration swirls around in a vortex of Tweets, lies and Russiagate, one thing is for certain, while we are all distracted and perplexed by the daily mayhem, Trump and his fossil fuel buddies are getting away with environmental plunder.

It’s not a surprise, really, given that Trump believes man-made climate change is a bunch of stale chow mein, as he notoriously tweeted:


The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.


Unfortunately, Trump has moved beyond his wacky conspiracy theory and sparked a full-on assault on the environmental laws, science and regulatory apparatus which act as our best hope to curb greenhouse gas emissions. In documents uncovered by the New York Times earlier this week, the paper revealed the Trump gang is going to announce a proposal that will make it far easier for oil and gas companies to release methane into the atmosphere. Trump’s gaseous rollback would allow these polluters to stop monitoring and fixing leakage that originates from their pipes.

Leaking methane is catastrophic, and by some estimates the gas accounts for one-third of all warming from greenhouse gas emissions. In the US, leaks account for approximately 32 percent of the industry’s total methane pollution. While methane doesn’t stick around as long as carbon, it has a much more immediate impact and is considered 84 times more potent than CO2 in the first twenty years after being released. Obama did not go nearly far enough in halting the fossil fuel polluters; nonetheless, Trump’s administration is dismantling every meager roadblock Obama’s EPA erected.

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Obama’s Imperial Presidency

Obama’s Imperial Presidency

Photo Source The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0

Could Donald Trump already be the worst of all American presidents?  In less than two years his record on the world scene has been frightening enough: U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accords, scuttling of the Iran nuclear treaty, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, unjustifiably punitive sanctions against Russia, Iran, and Venezuela, terror bombing of Mosul and other Iraq cities, bombastic threats against friends and enemies alike – not to mention a $54 billion gift to the Pentagon and stepped-up nuclear “modernization”.  Hard to imagine much worse.

One article of faith among liberals and the corporate media is that Trump’s presidency stands alone as a house or horrors, unprecedented in its fascistic authoritarianism, crazy pronouncements, and ideological blend of xenophobia, racism, sexism, and sheer extremism.   Those in the “resistance” know that pretty much any alternative (Bill Maher, LeBron James) would be far better, though specifics — beyond Trump’s mortal sin of partnering with Putin — are rarely mentioned.   But precisely what alternatives?   Bernie Sanders?   Well, the Democratic National Committee never gave him much chance.   Obvious comparisons are Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, and his competitor, Hillary Clinton.  Obama was in charge of U.S. foreign policy for the preceding eight years, so his legacy (with plenty of help from Clinton) might be worth considering.

Obama, it turns out, was among the most militaristic White House occupants in American history, taking the imperial presidency to new heights.  It has been said that Obama was the only president whose administration was enmeshed in multiple wars from beginning to end.   His imperial ventures spanned many countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia along with proxy interventions in Yemen and Pakistan.

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The US Need Not Inevitably Descend into Violent Chaos If and When Disaster Strikes

The US Need Not Inevitably Descend into Violent Chaos If and When Disaster Strikes

Liberal opponents of serious, aggressive action on climate change like California Governor Jerry Brown are the strange bedfellows of right-wing survivalists on one thing: Both are quick to warn darkly that if environmentalists have their way and impose strict cuts on oil, gas and coal production or on mileage standards for automobiles and pollution controls on power plants, or in the case of right-wingers, if the banking system is allowed to continue to run US economic policy and the Fed isn’t audited, the irate citizens of the US will descend into an orgy of anarchic violence and mayhem.

The argument is that if Americans are told they can no longer drive gas-guzzling automobiles and blast their air conditioners at will, or if the US financial system again collapses as it did in 2008 leading to the Great Recession, the people of this country will essentially go mad and a lawless chaos of dog-eat-dog, kill thy neighbor for his food, will ensue.

“It will be like the Great Depression all over,” I read in one account of a recent report by one JP Morgan Chase analyst who is predicting a dramatic market crash of over 40% followed by armageddon. (I learned about this little report of impending disaster from a former cop friend who advised me to get a gun and plenty of ammo and to stock up on food to be able to protect my family.)

But this is truly ignorance regarding what actually happened when everything did collapse back in the Great Depression and Dust Bowl.

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Hurricane Florence, 9-11 Climate Change Terrorism

Hurricane Florence, 9-11 Climate Change Terrorism

Hurricane Florence. Image: NOAA.

NEW 9-11 TERRORIST ATTACK!!

Yes, it’s true! On 11 September 2018, terrorists based in Washington D.C., and sponsored by the dinosaur bones mining, pumping and burning industries, have relaxed rules restricting methane emissions from mines and oil and gas wells (for privatized profits at socialized costs), which will result in enhanced hydrocarbon atmospheric pollution that will accelerate Global Warming.

AND JUST IN TIME!

Because Hurricane Florence, currently a Category 4 hurricane (and possibly strengthening toward the maximum possible, Category 5) is barreling down on North Carolina (a good choice, they voted for Trump), and 1.5 MILLION people have been urged/ordered to evacuate from coastal areas.

Hurricane Florence is being amplified by Climate Change (Global Warming) because:

1) the sea level is now higher (by about 1 foot in the western Atlantic near the Carolinas) because of previous ice cap melting and runoff (and heat-induced expansion of seawater), so the “storm surge” (like an extra super duper high tide) flooding of coastal lowlands, swept in by the hurricane, will be more extensive (i.e. worse); and

2) because the ocean is warmer (by Global Warming) and thus has much more energy (heat) available to pump up wind speed/energy in hurricanes, and so they have more capacity to destroy structures and infrastructure (like telephone and power poles, and fallen power lines start fires; also to uproot trees, smash houses and lift off roofs); and

3) because Global Warming/Climate Change has altered the path of the Jet Stream —

the high-latitude, high-speed, high-altitude, west-to-east ring of wind current that normally pushes Atlantic hurricanes eastward back out into the Atlantic Ocean, away from the US East Coast —

(has altered the path of the Jet Stream) farther to the north, so it now DOES NOT push Atlantic hurricanes toward the east, away from the US East Coast.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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