Ghost Dog's Journal
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Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 12:59 PM
Number of posts: 15,365
Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 12:59 PM
Number of posts: 15,365
Brit gone native. Cooperative member. Ecology. Cartography. Programming. Music production.
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So why does searching behind the throne feel so necessary to so many?
Notes on the Straussian in US policy
... There is a growing awareness that a reclusive German émigré philosopher is the inspiration behind the reigning neoconservative ideology of the Republican Party. Leo Strauss has long been a cult figure within the North American academy. And even though he had a profound antipathy to both liberalism and democracy, his disciples have gone to great lengths to conceal the fact. And for the most part they have succeeded... This picture of Strauss as the great American patriot, who was a lover of freedom and democracy is pure fabrication. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The trouble with the Straussians is that they are compulsive liars. But it is not altogether their fault. Strauss was very pre-occupied with secrecy because he was convinced that the truth is too harsh for any society to bear; and that the truth-bearers are likely to be persecuted by society - specially a liberal society - because liberal democracy is about as far as one can get from the truth as Strauss understood it.
Strauss's disciples have inherited a superiority complex as well as a persecution complex. They are convinced that they are the superior few who know the truth and are entitled to rule. But they are afraid to speak the truth openly, lest they are persecuted by the vulgar many who do not wish to be ruled by them. This explains why they are eager to misrepresent the nature of Strauss's thought. They are afraid to reveal that Strauss was a critic of liberalism and democracy, lest he be regarded as an enemy of America. So, they wrap him in the American flag and pretend that he is a champion of liberal democracy for political reasons - their own quest for power. The result is that they run roughshod over truth as well as democracy...
- Shadia B. Drury: Saving America: Leo Strauss and the neoconservatives
... This paper concentrates primarily on the 'why' questions concerning the neoconservative ascendency — questions of why it understands the world the way it does — of why it is committed to radically changing both liberal and (traditional) conservative approaches to US foreign policy and the traditional systemic order. The paper suggests that intrinsic to this understanding and commitment, for some of the most significant of contemporary neoconservatives, is the work and legacy of Leo Strauss (1898–1973). There is contention associated with precisely what Strauss' dense and (consciously) ambiguous writings sought to convey to his readers. In this paper, I propose that for Straussian inspired neoconservatives his meaning and its implications are clear enough, in the (interpreted) injunction to wrench political and cultural power from the (perceived) liberal establishment in the US, and to forcefully and unapologetically impose American power, values and hegemonic design upon the global system, for the long-term good of that system. More precisely, I argue, neoconservatives have drawn from Strauss a thematic agenda of sorts which emphasizes; the re-invocation of strong nationalism and cultural unity in modern western societies; the value of a simple religious and philosophical morality, and (ultimately) of a 'war culture' as the basis of maintaining such unity; the use of maximum force by the Western democracies in the face of endemic threat; and of a more general 'peace through strength' approach to foreign policy by the US, the political and ideological leader of modern Western civilisation. From Strauss too has come the notion that elite rule is crucial if post-Enlightenment liberalism is not to further threaten the (classical) democratic model of governance, and that the neoconservative elite has the right and indeed the obligation to lie to the masses in order that the 'right' political and strategic decisions be made and implemented...
- Jim George: Leo Strauss, Neoconservatism and US Foreign Policy: Esoteric Nihilism and the Bush Doctrine
I have been working for many years on the aetiology of commander in chief power in American politics, and in particular, the influence of pro-Nazi lawyers and philosophers, Carl Schmitt and Martin Heidegger, via Leo Strauss (an acolyte of Heidegger’s) on the neo-cons. The vehicle for this was especially Robert Goldwin, Strauss’s confidante – and a man operating behind the scenes. Most Americans have not heard of Bob Goldwin. Goldwin was eulogized, however, by Donald Rumsfeld as a “one man think-tank who transformed the Republican party” particularly on executive power - and through Goldwin (Rumsfeld's "special confidante" in Goldwin's words), President Gerald Ford and chief of staff Dick Cheney. Many political Straussians - those who seek reactionary public influence - have echoed Goldwin’s thought. Michael Malbin and Gary Schmitt, students of Herbert Storing and Walter Berns (the latter were students of Strauss), were also influential in the Iran-Contra minority report for Congressman Richard Cheney – Malbin wrote it; they, too, assert the necessity of so-called commander in chief power to undergird Reagan’s illegalities. Gary Schmitt and Bill Kristol were to become two of the three principals of the Project for a New American Century which gave America the aggression in Iraq. And Kristol, who in the Weekly Standard, now dottily hopes Netanyahu will bomb Iran and "save the West," drones on...
... As the first non-Straussian admitted to the Strauss archive in Regenstein in 2008, I discovered much striking correspondance which shows how Strauss and Goldwin networked for segregation against Brown v. Board, for taking out Cuba after the Cuban missile crisis (the likely result would have been nuclear war and extinction) and strengthening “prerogative” or arbitrary executive power...
... Perhaps one might take note because America has fought so many long-lasting and morally bankrupt aggressions - strengthening Iran, its supposed enemy. But the last shift of a scoundrel, fortunately abandoned by Obama, is to invoke "commander in chief power." This paper spells out how this tyrannical, self-destructive, and isolating - internationally and domestically - doctrine had been taken up not only by Bush, but by Obama. There is now, however, a chance, with Russia, Iran and Syria to move in a different direction. Ordinary people have been pressing for this from below.
The establishment is divided but still mainly and sickeningly wants to assert America’s power, as the supposed “good guys” to intervene anywhere in the world. Ask who wants American power asserted in this way – do the British people who stopped Cameron from intervening? Do we Amerians, Barack, support you and Samantha Power in trying to right the world’s wrongs by a force which often has other purposes (even Obama spoke too baldly yesterday about an alleged core "national interest" in stealing Middle East oil – "keeping the oil lanes open." This brief statement was far too near an explicit cause of the aggressions/preemption in Afghanistan and Iraq – an imperial one, the elephant, along with military bases, in the room – and one which does the US no honor...
- Alan Gilbert: 'Leo Strauss, executive power and the Bush-Obama "regime,"'
... Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing.
All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.
We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me...
... Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up, and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.
Inside the flat a fruity voice was reading out a list of figures which had something to do with the production of pig-iron. The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely...
- George Orwell: 1984
Abram Shulsky is a neoconservative scholar who has worked for U.S. government, RAND Corporation, and the Hudson Institute. Shulsky served as Director of the Office of Special Plans, a unit whose function has been compared to the 1970s Team B exercise. In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Shulsky approved OSP memos with talking points about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. Shulsky is critical of the traditional intelligence analysis, which is based upon the social-scientific method, and of independent intelligence agencies. Shulsky favors a military intelligence model which can be used support policy as, in Shulsky's words, "truth is not the goal" of intelligence operations, but "victory"...
- Wikipedia: Abram Shulsky
... Shulsky received his doctorate from the University of Chicago studying under Strauss, who attracted a cult following of neocons with his theories about politics and human nature. Shadia Drury, author of several books on Straussian political philosophy, said that Leo Strauss believed that "truth is not salutary, but dangerous, and even destructive to society--any society." ...
According to Shulsky and Schmitt, for the United States to operate with good intelligence, it should stop being a naïve player in a very cruel world. Given that adversaries aim to deceive, these two Straussian intelligence analysts warned that astute intelligence experts "can rarely be confident of the solidity of the foundations on which they are building; they must be open to the possibility that their evidence is misleading." Hence, effective intelligence should rely more on analysis of the intentions of adversaries rather than on details and uncertainties.
In her book Leo Strauss and the American Right, Shadia Drury elaborates on Strauss' view that a political aristocracy must necessarily manipulate the masses for their own good. The Straussian worldview, according to Drury, contends that "perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them."...
- Leo Strauss and Intelligence Strategy
... Just as conservatives were contracting their Alinsky obsession, liberals were getting over a remarkably similar obsession with our own intellectual bogeyman: the philosopher Leo Strauss... The similarities between the Alinsky and Strauss fixations can tell us a great deal about Americans’ conflicted relationship with intellectuals in politics, our common suspicions of the presidency, and how (and how not) to be a constructive opposition party.
The fixations do start from a kernel of truth. Alinsky did preach an influential brand of activism founded on realpolitik, not appeals to idealism: As he was fond of reminding his students, “You want to organize for power!” Obama practiced and taught Alinsky’s methods as an organizer in Chicago; Hillary Clinton made Alinsky the subject of her undergraduate thesis. On the other hand, a well-connected network of Straussians (including William Kristol; Paul Wolfowitz, a former student; and Abram Shulsky, a Strauss scholar who led the Bush Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans), rose high in neoconservative circles. A number of liberal thinkers, such as Alan Wolfe, managed to intelligently explore Strauss’s influence without descending into hysteria.
In their partisan parodies, however, both thinkers are painted as masters of deception, authorities who bless lies of every kind. References to Alinsky or Strauss may add an empty show of intellectual sophistication to the usual talking points, but they can almost always be crossed out with no damage to the argument. In one typical case, an Obama critic uses a mention of Alinsky to make the mundane sound sinister: “An Alinskyite’s core principle is to take any action that expands his power”—as if all politicians aren’t concerned with expanding political capital, and as if Alinsky himself were out for nothing more than personal power. On the other side, the last decade saw claims that Bush’s habitual use of terms like “regime” and “tyranny” were directly traceable to Strauss’s influence. But that’s hardly proof that Bush was invoking an entire philosophy every time he used those words.
As entertaining an exercise in self-righteousness as it can be, the search for hidden influences is a distraction from an opposition party’s strongest possible case. Liberal complaints about esoteric Straussians were themselves an esoteric exercise, and they did little if anything to strengthen the case against war. Inflating the power of sinister thinkers behind the throne is not just anti-intellectual. It turns the thinkers in question into flat caricatures and wipes away the complexity that makes any thinker worthy of the name—ignoring, for instance, that Alinsky was a strong critic of “big government” from the perspective of bottom-up organizing, or that Strauss was deeply skeptical about America’s ability to promote democracy abroad. The image of two Jews exerting a shadowy power over the powerful also plays into some uncomfortable stereotypes.
So why does searching behind the throne feel so necessary to so many? I’d argue that it has to do with a sense that our leaders are unaccountable, that the decisions that matter are made somewhere out of sight, subject to pressures we can see only hazily...
- Rob Goodman: Behind the Throne: Alinsky, Strauss, and the Paranoia of Influence
Posted by Ghost Dog | Mon Dec 30, 2013, 08:07 AM (9 replies)
Concentrate creative human energies right here, on the heart of the matter. This is the future. Corporations must, at the end of the day, at least not work against the interests of the collective whole, as represented by the so-called 'State', the workings of which also require fundamental revision.
Posted by Ghost Dog | Mon Dec 30, 2013, 04:59 AM (0 replies)
( The Incredible String Band - Empty Pocket Blues (Live 1970) ):
Posted by Ghost Dog | Fri Dec 27, 2013, 11:36 PM (0 replies)
in the world and the first in the UK, from the then Plymouth Polytechnic 1973-76, 2.1 Honours CNAA now Open University, then spent two years researching at the U. of Bath in relation to 'environmentalism' in the areas of sociology and philosophy of science and of knowledge and the associated economics and politics (before finding my finance withdrawn for radicalism, meeting a French woman on the ferry leaving Ireland one evening and dropping out for a couple of years, then becoming an analyst programmer in London with an MSc from Essex); so although I've never been employed in that field I've been following, and thinking, and preaching to deaf ears for a long time.
Now I watch my back and help to build local community and make music: http://aridisland.com/records
Glad to see you too putting your thinking-cap on, cilla4progress, thank you.
Posted by Ghost Dog | Thu Dec 26, 2013, 10:29 AM (1 replies)
without provoking such as a 'nuclear winter'. Finding a way to control volcanic activity, for example.
And some way, also controllable, to adjust chemical balances in the ocean.
This would come, presumably, after having tackled the main problem and having achieved a radical socio-political and economic-financial transformation of all 'globalised' cultures, for as the article says, in the words of McPherson:
... “There’s not much money in the end of civilization, and even less to be made in human extinction.” The destruction of the planet, on the other hand, is a good bet, ... “because there is money in this, and as long as that’s the case, it is going to continue.”...
Edit: Also, I see the Arctic Methane Emergency Group suggest cloud-making or 'cloud cooling' as they call it, as seen eg. here: http://geo-engineering.blogspot.com.es/2013/05/electrostatic-nanocone-ion-gun-vortex-separated-ideal-drop-size-saltwater-cloud-cannons.html and here: http://www.theengineer.co.uk/in-depth/interviews/leading-wave-energy-pioneer-prof-stephen-salter/1014047.article
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sun Dec 22, 2013, 11:44 AM (2 replies)
Make no mistake: what we are witnessing here is an attempt to undo all the progress of the 20th century - the century where for the first time in history ordinary people were given equal political, social and economic rights - and where, after World War II, countries were given equal rights too. The New Advocates of Inequality want to take us back to the middle of the 19th century and accept a world where a small number of countries - and a tiny, fabulously wealthy elite within those countries, have all the power.
It’s an incredibly reactionary and undemocratic project, yet it poses as a modern, democratic one. We can’t say we weren’t warned. At the 1975 Labour Party conference, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson remarked on the extremist policies the Conservative Party under their new leader Margaret Thatcher, were adopting.
At the time, Britain was enjoying the lowest levels of inequality in its history.
Internationally, things were positive too, with the Helsinki Accords signed that year between the USSR and other communist countries and the west, marking the high-water mark of détente. It was the Age of Equality between nations and within nations, but some wanted to change it.
“The political philosophy of a once great Party has now been asserted,” Wilson said of Thatcher’s Conservatives. “Not a claim to unite the nation, but a policy to divide it. We have been told, on impeccable and undeniable authority, that the pursuit of inequality for its own sake is now to become an end in itself. It is now to become the altar, the deity, before which they seek to prostrate themselves - and the country.”
Alas ‘the pursuit of inequality for its own sake’ hasn’t just affected Britain, but many other countries in the world too.
For the sake of the future progress of mankind, we urgently need to return to the democratic, egalitarian and genuinely progressive path we were travelling down before those elitist, reactionary ideologies - neoliberalism and neo-conservatism - took over...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sat Dec 14, 2013, 01:27 PM (0 replies)
(Excerpt GEAB 75 (May 2013) - BoJ, Fed, ECB : with different methods, contrasting futures):
Actually, the US economy only holds together thanks to the Fed. That’s why it can’t withdraw its support. Because without it there would no longer be enough US Treasury Bond buyers at current interest rates, which would climb to unsustainable levels as a result. Without the Fed, real estate would resume its downward spiral. Without the Fed, the stock exchange would plunge.
Therefore, only external events would cause the Fed to bring this policy to an end. A relapse into recession in the United States will weaken the dollar just like in 2007- 2008 (see chart below) and, if the fall is too hard, will require a halt in the accommodative policies to fix the currency: in fact, the United States’ biggest fear is that the dollar loses its reserve currency status and has to submit to the same rules as other currencies (40), which was about to happen in 2008 when the whole world started to doubt the dollar’s solidity.
Dollar exchange rate in Euros (USD/EUR), October 2005 – August 2008. Source : La Tribune.
It could also be domestic policy, with strong scepticism over the Fed’s policy, which could call the printing press into question. Or Ben Bernanke’s successor (whose term of office comes to an end in January 2014) who may consider that, over time, the risks of continuing this policy are too high.
Finally, there could be pressure from the international community wishing to reform the international monetary system in which a weak currency can’t play an important role: yet in continuing its policy once the dollar became a currency just like any other, the Fed would weaken it excessively so it couldn't claim to retain a major role.
Fed support is thus a drug hiding American problems whilst they are getting bigger and will cause the fall to be even more painful. It can’t continue indefinitely without putting the American economy in danger. It’s only a matter of time before it comes to a painful end. The recession which is about to begin, the end of Bernanke’s term of office and the increasingly lively discussions over international monetary system reform; all these factors are coming together to announce the end of US quantitative easing at the beginning of 2014 at the latest.
... Edit to add (from your source, DemReadingDU):
-Financial editor Jeff Berwick: "If they allow interest rates to rise, it will effectively make the U.S. government bankrupt and insolvent, and it would make the U.S. government collapse. . . . They are preparing for a major societal collapse. It is obvious and it will happen, and it will be very scary and very dangerous."
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sat Dec 14, 2013, 10:16 AM (1 replies)
... In his November investment commentary for bond giant Pimco, Mr. Gross asks the "Scrooge McDucks of the world" to accept higher personal income taxes and to stop expecting capital to be taxed at lower rates than labor. As for the IMF, its latest Fiscal Monitor report argues that taxing the wealthy offers "significant revenue potential at relatively low efficiency costs..."
Read the report here (.pdf) (This is from the 'executive' summary):
... Taxation is always a sensitive topic and is now more than ever at the center of policy debates around the world. The key challenges are: How can taxation best help bring down debt ratios in advanced economies and respond to mounting spending needs in developing countries? And how can equity concerns be balanced—especially in hard times—with the efficiency that is needed to secure long-term growth?
In practice, consolidation so far has been more reliant on revenue measures than was initially planned. But the options most often chosen have been guided by expediency rather than by a desire to build stronger and fairer tax systems, and they may be storing up problems for the longer term. Tax rates, for instance, have been raised when it would have been preferable to broaden the tax base and introduce new taxes to address environmental concerns or correct financial sector inefficiencies. With a large share of adjustment already behind in many countries but growth prospects still dim, policy design should now focus on addressing long-standing tax distortions and buoying potential growth.
Can countries tax more, better, more fairly? Results reported here show that the scope to raise more revenue is limited in many advanced economies and, where tax ratios are already high, the bulk of adjustment will have to fall on spending. Nonetheless, many (including some with the largest consolidation needs, like the United States and Japan) could still mobilize significant amounts while limiting distortions and adverse effects on growth. Broadening the base of the value-added tax ranks high in terms of economic efficiency (as new findings tend to confirm) and can in most cases easily be combined with adequate protection for the poor. In emerging market economies and low-income countries, where the potential for raising revenue is often substantial, improving compliance remains a central challenge. Recognition that the international tax framework is broken is long overdue. Though the amount is hard to quantify, significant revenue can also be gained from reforming it. This is particularly important for developing countries, given their greater reliance on corporate taxation, with revenue from this taxation often coming from a handful of multinationals.
Scope seems to exist in many advanced economies to raise more revenue from the top of the income distribution (and in some cases meet a nontrivial share of adjustment needs), if so desired. And there is a strong case in most countries, advanced or developing, for raising substantially more from property taxes (though this is best done when property markets are reasonably resilient). In principle, taxes on wealth also offer significant revenue potential at relatively low efficiency costs. Their past performance is far from encouraging, but this could change as increased public interest and stepped-up international cooperation build support and reduce evasion opportunities. Reforming international taxation will be harder, as it must go beyond the control of tax-minimizing tricks to address more fundamental aspects such as the allocation of tax bases across countries and finding better ways to realize mutual gains from closer cooperation in tax matters.
Political constraints can trump even the best-designed tax reform. History shows that meaningful, long-lasting tax reforms have most often been implemented in good times, when buoyant revenues can be used to compensate losers. But they can happen in lean times, too, if carefully attuned to a particular country’s institutional setting and supported by extensive political consensus building and a broad communication strategy. They are certainly increasingly needed in the current, taxing times...
And see much 'rightist' outrage:
... On page 49, the authors said, "The sharp deterioration of the public finances in many countries has revived interest in a 'capital levy' — a one-time tax on private wealth — as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability."
Let’s be clear: That tax would apply to all private wealth on the planet. And it wouldn’t balance budgets but would only bring them down to a slightly more manageable level so that government borrowing and spending could continue without interruption. The levy would have to be implemented rapidly, before the wealthy could react and move their assets, or themselves, out of harm’s way: "The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance is possible … distort behavior..."
... In a wide-ranging speech on the outlook for the continent delivered to the European Economic and Social Committee, Ms Lagarde said a failure to revive investment and employment would not bode well for the future.
"There is a palpable sense of optimism in some quarters that the European crisis is over,'' she said.
"But can a crisis really be over when 12% of the labour force is without a job? When unemployment among the youth is in very high double digits, reaching more than 50% in Greece and Spain? And when there is no sign that it is becoming easier for people to pay down their debts?''
As European finance ministers held a simultaneous meeting to try and reach a way forward on the complex issues surrounding a pan-European banking union, the IMF chief said growth rates and output levels remained well below what they should be.
She said the only durable solution was in "jump-starting'' growth, setting out four priority areas including reviving credit, supporting demand, reducing debt and fostering growth friendly labour markets. "The goal of reform is to break down barriers to growth," she said...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sat Dec 14, 2013, 08:52 AM (0 replies)
A useful list in the comments to this piece on the Sheldon Adelson 'EuroVegas' withdrawal/defeat:
so I'm sharing here (with my comments added).
14 December 2013 9:37am
"The problem with the Spanish economy is fixation on tourism and construction"
What does Spain make?
Well, amongst other things (and it should be emphasised that all these are export products and/or are markets in which Spanish companies operate internationally):
- Spain today is the world's eighth largest producer of automobiles and its car market stands among the largest in Europe (I've read that only Germany manufactures more cars than Spain).
- Automobile components and tires
- Home electronic products/domestic appliances (ovens, hobs, fridge/freezers, etc.)
- Major civil and military aviation components (and a large arms industry in general)
- Aeronautical engine and gas turbines
- Complex (including aerospace, space, medical, scientific) systems (e.g. INDRA)
- Ships and boats
- Apparel (e.g. ZARA, Jooma, etc) (some of the sexiest clothes designs in the world)
- Foods and beverages (including olive oil and wine) (and much, much more, including a rapidly-growing 'organic' food ('ecological' it's called here; quality is strictly controlled) sector)
- Metals and metal products
- Machine tools
- Clay and refractory products (tiles, porcelain wash basins, toilets, etc.)
- Parmaceuticals, and medical equipment.
- Petroleum, gas, alternative energy generation
- Public works / Infrastructure development (roads, bridges, etc.) (all over the world)
- Trains (trains and carriages) (e.g. CAF, Talgo) (and entire (including high-speed) rail infrastructure projects, all over the world)
- Tourism and Hospitality Industry (not jut located in Spain) (Large and small Spanish companies operate in these markets worldwide)
- Entertainment, art, culture (World class, of course)
Etc. etc. etc.
Spain even manufactures and exports snowmobiles and golf carts (and, no doubt, personal mobility vehicles).
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sat Dec 14, 2013, 07:18 AM (0 replies)
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