A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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The French once did a political purge of the military and look what happened to them

Moves continue in the US to remove “extremists” from the Military.  Though no one seems to know the definition of extremeist, nor what will happen to anyone identified as one.

Damage to the cathedral at Soissons, France, WWI (32648880256).jpg

Every illegal regime that comes to power by means of a coup lives in constant fear of the same thing happening to them. It’s their abiding characteristic and the reason they regularly have mass purges.

— The Pointman, How the Purge of the Military is Being Done

In 1899 the hard left gained power in France, and purged “the two main” conservative institutions — the church and the military. James S. Corum describes what happened and how 15 years later, it was a bloodbath in the first month of the war against the Germans, the French lost a quarter of a million men — fully one fifth of their field army.

When a Great Democracy Politicized the Military

James S. Corum,  American Thinker

Even without Facebook the French government still had ways to filter out their political opponents.

In their desire to remold France according to Jacobin principles, the Left Bloc decided that conservative officers had to go. The government announced in 1901 that promotions in the army would no longer be an internal matter of the military promotion boards but would be under the purview of the War Department, run by the political ministers.

Under General André, the War Ministry initiated a secret system of surveillance and informants to collect information on the political, social, and religious background of officers. A network of Freemasons, leftist government officials, and leftist officers send information on French officers directly to the War Ministry. A vast system of secret files was amassed, eventually amounting to files on 19,000 of the 25,000 regular officers. The War Ministry used the files to push the careers of officers known to favor the left, while adherence to Catholic practices or familial and social contacts with the old aristocracy, were enough to dead-end even the most competent officer’s career.

The effect on the troops was so predictable:

Morale plummeted when it was obvious the promotion system was rigged….

The politicization of the army in the decade prior to World War I had an enormous effect. Many good officers left the French army as politically correct mediocrities were promoted. The officer education standards fell dramatically as applications to the elite military academies of France, which mostly consisted mainly of officer cadets from conservative and religious families, fell dramatically. In 1897 there had been 1,920 applications to École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, France’s West Point. By 1907, however, the number of applicants was halved. In 1900, 42% of the artillery officers were graduates of the elite École Polytechnique. In 1913, only 13% of artillery officers were graduates. The average scores on the academy entrance exams also fell in proportion to the decline in applications. And not only the officer corps was demoralized, but the professional NCO Corps also abandoned the military. In 1900 72,000 NCOs had re-enlisted. In 1911 only 41,000.

And the cost was a quarter of a million men, and almost the entire nation of France.

More than a decade of politicization of the military resulted in a French army that went to war in August 1914 with appallingly poor leadership and training. The great social experiment of the Left Bloc was a bloodbath. In the first month of the war, the French army lost 250,000 casualties—20% of the field army. Faced with an existential crisis, the French government announced a truce between the left and the conservatives. For the duration of the war, with France’s survival at stake, meritocracy would be the only standard in the French army.

Meritocracy was always going to win in the end. But it might have been German meritocracy that won.

h/t David E. Another Ian.

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Weekend Unthreaded

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Massive Fires: far worse 4,000 years ago in Northern Australia

Arnhem Land, Australia, Map

Kenneth Richard at NoTricksZone, found some studies showing Fires are less common today than in the past — including a ripper of an Australian study.

Emma Rehn et al went to a small lake in far North Australia and dug up about 6m of sediment core from the bottom. They looked at charcoal deposits and a bunch of different minerals. They discovered that the top most recent layers had the worst fires for a thousand years. It had all the makings of a Great Climate Change advert. But to their absolute credit, they kept going down and further back and uncovered a story of four thousand long years of wild blazes.

Despite millennia of prehistoric infernos, no media outlets in Australia have shown any interest in this study which came out a month ago — showing Sensationalism is not all its cracked up to be, and not as much fun as Confirmation Bias.

Look at the current blip (left hand side) since European settlement, compared to the fires of 4,000 years ago (right hand side). As Mr Dundee would say, “That’s not a fire….  ”  

Carbon Flux, fires Arnhem land, paleolithic, Graph.

Carbon Flux showing the intensity of fires in Arnhem land for the last 5000 years.

The authors took mineral samples, looked at the different sizes of the charcoal particles. They decided that there were cycles of intense fires every 450 years in the era around 3 – 5,000 years ago largely driven by the climate. (Which climate models explain those cycles?)

There was also more rain around 4,000 years ago, which — rather than reducing fires — may have fueled the biomass growth that led to intense wildfires.

In the last 2,500 years ago, things got drier and more variable, and people who liked to eat a lot of mudflat shellfish moved into the area. Apparently they did more local fire management too. They appear to have been lighting more smaller fires. That, and the drier conditions meant there wasn’t the bulk biomass lying around to fuel the infernos we’ve come to expect from the modern Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

The z-scores graph brings out the highest intensity fire periods.

The present is on the left (again).
Arnhem Land Fires, Graph

Arnhem Land Fires were far worse 3,000 to 5,000 years ago and once had cycles of high intensity every 450 years.

Map, Fires Study, NT

Marura, NT

Then a strange thing happened around 900 years ago when there was hardly any charcoal in the mud sediments. The people at the time ate less shellfish and appeared to wander around more. The fires seem to be small regular patchwork fires.

Then in the last 200 years, European people arrived, mucked up the neat patterns and big fires came back again for the first time in a thousand years. Though the top layers of mud were stirred up in the little lake, so actual dates are blurry. But historical records describe what happened.

We knew the fires were big, we just didn’t realize how unusual they were.

Of course even bigger and stupider fires occurred in the last twenty years far away on the East coast of Australia. Experts  decided they would protect koalas and spotted quolls by stopping all the small fires and grazing cows. Thus letting an incendiary tonnage of fuel build up so they could generate proper pyroclastic infernos that sterilize the Earth.

The new genius plan is to use solar panels and windmills to ward off Dem’ Big Climate Apocalypsy.

Stone Age science is so much more advanced than Politically Correct Science.

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Red pill #1: The “Armed Insurrection” was entirely unarmed

When is an Armed Insurrection an Unarmed Protest?

Armed with arms and legs?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Red-pill the West. No guns were found on any of the protesters who went into the US Capitol on January 6th. The most important part of this message is not about guns, or the lack of. It’s about The Media. People need to know they are being sold elite propaganda every night on TV — fake news that serves the Upper Class Swamp.

What are the odds that a group without a single gun would be able to overturn the US Government?  And on one of the most important sitting days in the history of Capital Hill, with possibly the largest rally in history happening at the same time, all known weeks in advance. Clearly Capitol Hill would be well protected. Clearly we would expect they had tighter security than normal. Oh wait…?

What does this say about the people in charge of Capitol Hill security — which was Nancy Pelosi.

What does it say about the intent of the protesters. Were they there to overthrow the government, or were they just citizens who want free and fair elections?

If they’d had bows and arrows they would have been a bigger threat.

FBI Counterterrorism Official: No Firearms Recovered During Jan. 6 Capitol Breach

Jack Phillips, Epoch Times

An FBI official on Wednesday testified at a Senate hearing that she has no knowledge of any guns being recovered from suspects who were arrested during the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.

When asked by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) about whether firearms were recovered or if any suspect was charged with firearms offenses, FBI counterterrorism official Jill Sanborn responded: “To my knowledge, none.”

But in the hearing, Sanborn also said that before the Jan. 6 incident, “We knew they would be armed, we had intelligence that they would be coming to DC, but we did not have intelligence that they would be breaching the Capitol.”

“I believe that the only shots that were fired were the ones that resulted in the death of the lady,” Sanborn also testified, referring to the officer-involved shooting of Ashli Babbit.

So the FBI “knew” they would be armed, but no one thought to add extra security or to tell Capitol Police not to let them walk into the building? Five people died and all of them were Trump supporters. The policeman, Officer Sicknick was fine on the night of the protest, but died, possibly of a stroke (his family think) the next day.

Other stories about the Capitol Hill storming and corruption in US politics: 

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David Archibald speaking in Perth Saturday: Pro coal, pro choice for vaccination

FYI for Perth readers:  There’s a protest at the WA Parliament on Saturday for those who think Western Australia needs coal power and free choice about medical procedures. Shouldn’t citizens be able to decide what gets injected?

10am – 11:30am, Saturday 6th March,  Parliament House Perth, Western Australia. Click for more information.

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How about a Duty of Care to keep electricity cheap and teach teenagers real science?

A group of teenagers want to stop the expansion of a coal mine in Australia. They have taken a class action out against the Government because we all know Governments are supposed to manage the weather better.

Well you’d be cross too, if you thought careless old folk were going to bring you slightly warmer weather!

A duty of care’: Australian teenagers take their climate crisis plea to court

The Guardian

Eight teenagers and an octogenarian nun head to an Australian court on Tuesday to launch what they hope will prove to be a landmark case – one that establishes the federal government’s duty of care in protecting future generations from a worsening climate crisis.

If successful, the people behind the class action believe it may set a precedent that stops the government approving new fossil fuel projects.

Because the last thing you’d want is democratically elected Ministers to chose how we use national resources.

As with any novel legal argument, its chances of success are unclear, but the case is not happening in isolation.

So it is an ambit claim, backed by someone with money.  Who? This could be a form of lawfare, and we all know who the beneficiaries would be if this case “gets lucky”.

The case is a response to a proposal by Whitehaven Coal to extend its Vickery coalmine in northern New South Wales. The expansion of the mine could lead to an extra 100m tonnes of CO2 – about 20% of Australia’s annual climate footprint – being released into the atmosphere as the extracted coal is shipped overseas and burned to make steel and generate electricity.

“The decisions that they make right now will impact us in the future. We’re the ones who are going to have to live with the decisions, we’re going to have to raise the next generation under those decisions, and we just want a future that is guaranteed to be safe for us,”…

So teenagers want a future that is “guaranteed safe”, but think they should be able to make heating and air conditioning unaffordable for senior citizens, right now? There’s another Duty of Care here.

The case hinges on the idea that if we stop digging up our coal, other nations will copy us. Otherwise if we keep our coal underground, all we are doing is creating great reasons for other people to dig up their coal and sell it to our customers.

One Guardian commenter, Sandra says the climate crisis cannot be entrusted to political players. Ideology, vested interests, political donations and fear of losing seats means that the Australian Government is compromised and decisions made are invalid.” Climate must be depoliticised she demands! Too true.  But she wants totalitarian rule by PhD: “It [control of the weather] must be given completely over to the climate scientists.”

Depoliticize climate science says Jo? Yes please. But who gets to pick the people who call themselves “a climate scientist”? We can’t leave that to Vice Chancellors who will sack any professor that threatens the money flow and sends a satirical email. But hey, these are big decisions with many stakeholders. So let’s ask the voters. They can pick representatives…. we could call that  “Parliament”?

The Duty of Care Method for ruling a country could get right out of hand. Old folk could sue Governments for risking their health, then young workers could sue the government for destroying their jobs.

Croakey — for those who want a little more information on the legal side:

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Thursday Unthreaded

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The West is not yet awake to Political Warfare: to win without fighting

Hmmm. What one thing might unite the polarized sides of the USA?

Prof Kerry K. Gershaneck  is a former US Marine who has worked in Thailand and Taiwan in academia and military intelligence. He writes that the West thought they defeated communism in 1990. They assumed China would play nice, but they were very wrong. Instead China studied the West and Russia, and is waging a Political War. There is a whole PDF book linked under that book image.

Democracies still don’t understand CCP’s political warfare: Kerry Gershaneck

The SundayGuardianLive

Prof Kerry K. Gershaneck

Political Warfare

Political Warfare: Strategies for Combating China’s Plan to “Win without Fighting” by Kerry K. Gershaneck

China is an expansionist, hyper-nationalistic, militarily powerful, brutally repressive, fascist, and totalitarian state. It is essential to understand each word in that indisputable description. The CCP poses an existential threat to the freedom and democracy that India and the US represent. Failure to understand the nature of the CCP regime undermines our countries’ ability to fully understand the danger the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) PW poses and to build our capacity to combat it.


Officials in democracies such as India and the US have been too easily deceived about PRC’s political warfare for several key reasons. When the Soviet Union collapsed around 1990, many in our countries naively believed there would be no more expansionist, totalitarian threats. They were wrong, of course. Chinese communists still quietly harboured plans for regional (and ultimately global) hegemony. As PRC rulers proclaimed China’s “peaceful rise”, they built massive economic and military strength and engaged in global political warfare operations to subvert the democracies.
Meanwhile, the US and other democracies dismantled their Cold War political warfare capabilities and foolishly assumed the PRC would join the community of nations as a “responsible stakeholder”…

All’s fair in love and political warfare:

Symbol China Map.From the CCP perspective, PW is total war—it is unrestricted warfare using every means just short of large-scale military combat. The PRC’s form of political warfare is generally standard worldwide: it uses the same playbook to achieve its political, economic, and military objectives globally without having to fight conventional wars. Tailored strategies and tactics, however, are adapted for each region and country.

It’s important to understand that PRC’s PW—this unrestricted warfare—is designed to get others to do what the CCP wants them to do. The PRC says unrestricted warfare means “the battlefield is everywhere” and there are no boundaries between “war and non-war, and between military and non-military affairs”. In essence, the PRC says that everything, legal or illegal, is permissible in order to achieve its ends. Specific examples the PRC gives of how to conduct its unrestricted warfare include biological and chemical warfare and terrorism, means particularly pertinent to note and consider in the Covid-19 era.

The list of weapons the PRC employs is long. It includes propaganda, psychological warfare, media warfare, disinformation, corruption, economic and sexual enticement, and coercion. It also includes active measures such as hybrid warfare, proxy armies, assassination, kidnapping, and brutal physical attacks. The PRC’s PW doctrine also includes concepts such as lawfare (using international and national laws, bodies and courts to shape decision making in the CCP’s favour), cyberattacks, terrorism, espionage, bribery, censorship, deception, subversion, blackmail, enforced disappearances (kidnapping, abduction), attacks by criminal gangs, and hybrid warfare.

The CCP’s Troll Factory and 300,000 workers:

A noteworthy recent addition to this list of PW weapons is social media warfare. The PRC uses social media to amplify its psychological warfare, intimidation, coercion, and propaganda. With social media, the CCP floods societies with propaganda and disinformation to weaken people’s faith in democracy and create political instability. In pursuit of social media dominance, the PRC has established a PLA cyber force of perhaps 300,000 soldiers as well as a netizen “50 Cent Army” of perhaps 2 million individuals who are paid a nominal fee to make comments on social media sites supporting CCP propaganda and coercion.  In conjunction with the PLA Strategic Support Force, many of these so-called “netizens” use social media to intimidate and coerce multinational corporations, celebrities, foreign governments and organizations, and critics of PRC genocide and expansionism.

This is all part of the CCP’s totalitarian thought control.

In general, the PRC’s rulers wage political warfare for three key reasons: (1) to achieve regional and global hegemony; (2) to maintain absolute control over China’s subjects internally; and (3) to co-opt or coerce other nations into becoming vassal or tributary states and to destroy states perceived as adversaries.

Download a free copy of Political Warfare: Strategies for Combating China’s Plan to “Win without Fighting by Kerry K. Gershaneck 

Prof Kerry K. Gershaneck  was a Visiting Scholar (Ta

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Wednesday Unthreaded

Where did Tuesday go?

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Finally, instead of lefty globalist collective marxists: just call them “upper class”

We’re in a Culture War, and there has been no name to label the group who are driving this war. The old Left-Right canard isn’t working. The DINO-RINO’s are one and same Swamp-creatures. The  left-leaning Bernie fans got screwed by the Upper Class as much as the Trump fans did.

It’s not about the rich versus the poor either: Donald Trump is a billionaire but he isn’t upper class. Green hippies in XR Superhero-Monk costumes needn’t be wealthy, but they aspire to be in the popular upper class. It’s about status and the pecking order. The same is true of the high school students who lecture grown ups on climate change. They might be poor but they’re aiming to climb class rungs.

Words matter. People can unite behind an idea that has no name, but the movement is fragile, prone to fragmenting. But here, in a rather scathing blast from someone who isn’t Republican and doesn’t even like them is a suggestion that’s got a lot going for it. Bring back a new version of the class war, against the Upper Class, and a war on classism. It is something that can unite the Deplorables, the workers, the minorities, and even the Occupy and Bernie Sanders fans.

A Modest Proposal For Republicans: Use The Word “Class”

by Scott Alexander on Astral Codex Ten

Dear Republican Party:

I hear you’re having a post-Trump identity crisis. Your old platform of capitalism and liberty and whatever no longer excites people. …   You seem to have picked up a few minority voters here and there, but you’re not sure why, and you don’t know how to build on this success.

So here’s my recommendation: use the word “class”. Pivot from mindless populist rage to a thoughtful campaign to fight classism.

It’s not about economic class warfare, it’s about cultural class warfare.

Trump won by being anti-establishment “but which establishment”?

Trump stood against the upper class. He might define them as: people who live in nice apartments in Manhattan or SF or DC and laugh under their breath if anybody comes from Akron or Tampa. Who eat Thai food and Ethiopian food and anything fusion, think they would gain 200 lbs if they ever stepped in a McDonalds, and won’t even speak the name Chick-Fil-A. Who usually go to Ivy League colleges, though Amherst or Berkeley is acceptable if absolutely necessary. Who conspicuously love Broadway (especially Hamilton), LGBT, education, “expertise”, mass transit, and foreign anything. They conspicuously hate NASCAR, wrestling, football, “fast food”, SUVs, FOX, guns, the South, evangelicals, and reality TV. Who would never get married before age 25 and have cutesy pins about how cats are better than children. Who get jobs in journalism, academia, government, consulting, or anything else with no time-card where you never have to use your hands. Who all have exactly the same political and aesthetic opinions on everything, and think the noblest and most important task imaginable is to gatekeep information in ways that force everyone else to share those opinions too.

(full disclosure: I fit like 2/3 of these descriptors)

Aren’t I just describing well-off people? No. Teachers, social workers, grad students, and starving artists may be poor, but can still be upper-class. Pilots, plumbers, and lumber barons are well-off, but not upper-class. Donald Trump is a billionaire, but still recognizably not upper class. The upper class is a cultural phenomenon.

Trump attacked the Swamp, and one of his most popular phrases in the 2016 debates was when he responded to the baiting questions by ignoring the bait, and saying “we have too much political correctness”. But  “Politically Correct” doesn’t roll off the tongue, nor bring out a historic class war.

The coalition of Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, concerned citizens are being played and divided by semantic word games. They need to identify the target and unify against it.

There is some broad appeal to fighting against the Upper Class: (it’s not exactly a new idea, is it?)

It could appeal to poor people who just want to get jobs. Point out how DC Democrats passed a law saying all child care workers must have college degrees, and how this is just a blatant attempt to take jobs away from working-class people in order to give them to upper-class people instead. Tell them that this is class warfare, that their side is losing, but that if you are in power they will win.

It could appeal to small-government libertarians. Argue that the Democrats and the government are a jobs program for the upper class. All those Institutes For X and Public Service Campaigns For Y, all those regulations that require two hundred lawyers just to move a potted plant, all those laws that mean every company needs fifty compliance offers working full time just in order to not get sued, they’re all a giant jobs program for college-educated people who refuse to work with their hands.

Alexander has some great material, though as great as this idea is (the War on College) it needs a lot of fleshing out. Colleges need to be razed and rebuilt, but — again — without a free media, the parasitic grant-getting machines known as “universities” will ultimately always serve their gatekeeping funders — Big Government. We have to change those incentives or the parasitic phoenix will just rise again:

1. War On College: As it currently exists, college is a scheme for laundering and perpetuating class advantage. You need to make the case that bogus degree requirements (eg someone without a college degree can’t be a sales manager at X big company, but somebody with any degree, even Art History or Literature, can) are blatantly classist. Your stretch goal should be to ban discrimination based on college degree status. Professions may continue to accept professional school degrees (eg hospitals can continue to require doctors have a medical school degree), and any company may test their employees’ knowledge (eg mining companies can make their geologists pass a geology test) but the thing where you have to get into a good college, give them $100,000, flatter your professors a bit, and end up with a History degree before you can be a firefighter or whatever is illegal. If you can’t actually make degree discrimination illegal, just make all government offices and companies that do business with the government ban degree discrimination.

Likewise, the War on Experts — good idea. He’s hunting for a way to get accountability of Expert Predictions. I’m not sold on this, but it’s a tough task. Should we, could we, sack Professors who can’t out-predict the mass prediction markets?

I’d rather pick winner based on public debate. Call it free speech…

2. War On Experts: Argue that you love and support legitimate experts, but that the Democrats have invented and propped up a fake concept of expertise as a way of making sure upper-class people who can game admissions to top colleges control the discourse. Your solution will be prediction markets. Yes, really. Repeal all bans on prediction markets and give tax breaks for participating in them, until they have the same kind of liquidity as the S&P500. You’ll get a decentralized, populist, credentialism-free, market-based alternative to expertise. When the prediction markets outperform 75% of experts, fire them …

But once upon a time Experts had a reputation and if they kept getting it wrong, the throngs would laugh at them and their reputation would crumble. Can’t we get back to that?  What we really need is free speech and a competitive media.

Instead we get Tim Flannery and years after his predictions failed dismally, he’s awarded Australian of the Year. The problem is The Media. The problem is also that the government can create Instant Experts with every new QANGO.

Alexander has a plan for The Media too:

3. War On The Upper-Class Media: This is your new term for “mainstream media”. Being against the “mainstream media” sounds kind of conspiratorial. Instead, you’re against the upper-class media, which gains its status by systematically excluding lower-class voices, and which exists mostly as a tool of the upper classes to mock and humiliate the lower class. You are not against journalism, you’re not against being well-informed, you’re against a system that exists to marginalize people like you. Tell the upper-class media that if they want your respect, they need to stop class discrimination.

67% of US families watch the Super Bowl – what percent of New York Times editors and reporters do? 20% of Americans go to religious services weekly – how many of those work for the New York Times? How come 96% of political donations from journalists go to Democrats? Your job is to take a page from the Democratic playbook and insist there is no reason any of this could be true except systemic classism, that any other explanation is offensive, and it’s the upper-class media’s moral duty to do something about this immediately.

And the free speech battle:

Insist that working-class people have the right to communicate with each other without interference from upper-class gatekeepers. Make sure people know every single fact about @Jack and what a completely ridiculous person he is, and point out that somehow this is the guy who decides what you’re allowed to communicate with your Twitter friends.

There’s an emptiness in the quest to get to the top of the pile no matter how many bodies are on the staircase. Some beautiful phrases here:

4. War On Wokeness.    …wokeness is a made-up mystery religion that college-educated people invented so they could feel superior to you. Why are they so sure that “some of my best friends are black” doesn’t make you any less racist? Because the whole point is that the only way not to be racist is to master an inscrutable and constantly-changing collection of fashionable shibboleths and opinions which are secretly class norms. The whole point is to make sure the working-class white guy whose best friends are black and who marries a black woman and has beautiful black children feels immeasurably inferior to the college-educated white guy who knows that saying “colored people” is horrendously offensive but saying “people of color” is the only way to dismantle white supremacy. You should make it clear that this is total balderdash, you could not be less interested in it, and you will continue befriending colored people of color regardless.

Great finale:

There’s a theory that the US party system realigns every 50-or-so years. Last time, in 1965, it switched from the Democrats being the party of the South and the Republicans being the party for blacks, to vice versa. If the theory’s right, we’re in the middle of an equally big switch. Wouldn’t it be great if the Republicans became the racially diverse party of the working class? You can make it happen!

Read it all. Be a part of hammering out the solution.

We only have a small window to get a new narrative and give it flight…

h/t David E

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