News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

'Russia did it' racket is now Too Big to Fail because everyone's making too much money. 'Allegations' aren't 'facts' but no one complains. It wasn't 17 agencies or even 1, just "hand-picked" advisors. Clapper lied under oath to congress, intel 'community' are historic liars. (Who's going to stop them?) Even Jimmy Carter says US is now an oligarchy-Consortium News, Rick Sterling, "Ten Problems with Anti-Russian Obsession"

CrowdStrike, valued at $1 billion, is central to helping US political establishment achieve its #1 goal which is endless foreign wars, especially "regime change" in Russia. (For whatever reason, they don't gin up war against countries that promote Islamic terrorism which blows up people all over the world). Not that US "wars" today are ever "won." They're money laundering operations financed by global slaves, ie, US taxpayers.

July 9, 2017, "Ten Problems with Anti-Russian Obsession," Consortium News, Rick Sterling

"Many anti-Trump Americans see the Russia-gate “scandal” as a way to derail Donald Trump, but this political opportunism has fed a dangerous anti-Russian hysteria and led Democrats to ignore why they really lost, says Rick Sterling."

"The U.S. mainstream media and Democratic Party politicians have built a major “scandal” out of accusing Russia of “meddling” in the U.S. election to help Donald Trump win the presidency and possibly even colluding with his campaign to do so. The charges began as “allegations” but now are routinely asserted as facts. 

The Washington Post recently ran a long article claiming all the above plus saying the operation was directed by Russian President Putin himself and implying not enough has been done to “punish” Russia. The July-August 2017 edition of Mother Jones magazine features an article headlined “We Already Know Trump Betrayed America. Collusion? Maybe. Active Enabling? Definitely.”

Is this effort to indict Russia and condemn Trump based on facts or political opportunism? Does it help or hurt the progressive cause of peace with justice? Following are major problems with the “anti-Russia” theme, starting with the lack of clear evidence.

1) Evidence from CrowdStrike is dubious. 

Accusations that Russia stole and released the Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails are based on the findings of the private company CrowdStrike. The DNC did not allow the FBI to scan the computers but relied on a hired private company which claims to have found telltale Russian alphabet characters (Cyrrilic) in the computer memory. However, CrowdStrike is known to be political biased, to be connected to the Clintons and to make false accusations such as this one documented by Voice of America. Recently, the Wikileaks “Vault7” disclosures revealed that the CIA has developed software which purposely leaves foreign language characters in memory, casting further doubt on the CrowdStrike evidence.

2) The Steele Dossier looks fictitious.

The accusations of Trump-Russia collusion and Putin’s personal involvement are significantly based on the so-called “Steele Dossier,” a 35-page compilation of “opposition research” on Trump by a former MI6 officer Christopher Steele. The research and reports by Steele first were contracted by anti-Trump Republicans in the primary race and then by Clinton supporters in the presidential race.

There is no supporting evidence or verification of the dossier’s claims; the reports are essentially that a Kremlin source says such-and-such. It has since been revealed that Steele was not in direct contact but collected the information via Russians in the U.K. who in turn received it from supposed Kremlin insiders.

The reports were viewed skeptically by media, politicians and the intelligence community through the summer and fall of 2016. But elements of the dossier became public prior to the election, and it was published in full in the days before Trump’s inauguration, including sensational stories of golden showers" by prostitutes urinating on Trump to “defile” the bed in Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel where the Obamas previously slept.

Is the Steele dossier accurate or was it a P.R. dirty trick designed to damage Trump? The latter seems at least if not more likely. This Newsweek article, Thirteen things that don’t add up in the Russia-Trump intelligence dossier,” lists some of the reasons to be skeptical.

3) The “assessment” from several (not 17) Intel Agencies gives no evidence and seems politically biased."...

[Ed. note: It's not even one "agency," it's "hand-picked" analysts from 3 agencies: "Clapper further acknowledged that the analysts who produced the Jan. 6 assessment on alleged Russian hacking were “hand-picked” from the CIA, FBI and NSA.

Yet, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion."...]


(continuing): "On Jan. 6, the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released a 14-page document titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.” The report says Russian President Putin ordered a campaign including cyber activity along with “overt efforts” to influence the election through official media (RT) and social media. Half of the report (seven pages) is devoted to describing the effectiveness and growth of the Russian-sponsored news outlet known as “RT,” including faulting RT for sponsoring debates among third-party U.S. presidential candidates in 2012 and for covering the Occupy Wall Street protests.

The report gives no solid evidence that the Russians did covertly interfere with the U.S. elections in 2016, acknowledging that the report “does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods.” The report further admits that its “judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.
Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

So, should this report be accepted uncritically? Not if you consider past performance. The CIA has a long history of deception and disinformation, including “politicized intelligence” to support the goals of presidents and other senior officials. One clear example was the false claims about Iraq’s WMD that led to the U.S. invasion in 2003.

In addition, the intelligence leadership has been known to lie under oath. For example, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who issued the Jan. 6 report, lied in testimony before Congress regarding the extent of the National Security Agency’s monitoring of American citizens’  private communications. The truth was later revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing Clapper to retract his statement.

In short, there is no good reason to uncritically accept the statements and assertions of the U.S. intelligence community. Plus, the oft-repeated claim that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred in the Russia assessment was never true. There was no community-wide assessment, which would have required some form of a National Intelligence Estimate or NIE and would have included dissents as well as consensus judgments.

In raising the Russia meddling allegation last October — before the presidential election — Clapper simply claimed to be speaking for the Intelligence Community and that was then falsely interpreted to mean that all 17 intelligence agencies agreed. A formal assessment – though not an NIE – was not undertaken until December leading to the Jan. 6 report, which was the work of what Clapper later described as “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies: CIA, NSA and FBI.

On June 29, The New York Times ran a grudging correction to one of its stories that had repeated the false claim about the “17 intelligence agencies” although that canard continues to resonate on cable news channels as way to shut down any questioning of what has become the new groupthink believing in “Russian meddling.”"...

[Ed. note: After only 1 day, NY Times backed out of the spirit of its "correction:" "Despite the correction, the Times soon returned to its pattern of shading the truth regarding the U.S. intelligence assessment. On June 30, a Times article reported: “Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the unanimous conclusion of United States intelligence agencies that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 race.” [6/29/17 (6/30 print ed.), "Trump to Meet With Putin at G-20 Gathering Next Week," NY Times, Julie Hirschfield Davis]

The Times’ phrase “unanimous conclusion” conveys the false impression that all 17 agencies were onboard without specifically saying so, although we now know that the Times’ editors are aware that only selected analysts from three agencies plus the DNI’s office were involved.

In other words, the Times cited a “unanimous conclusion of United States intelligence agencies” to mislead its readers without specifically repeating the “all-17-agencies” falsehood. This behavior suggests that the Times is so blinded by its anti-Trump animus that it wants to conceal from its readers how shaky the whole tale is.... 

The pain began on June 8 when ex-FBI Director James Comey testified that a sensational New York Times article declaring that “members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials” was “in the main…not true.”"...]

(continuing): "Another reason to be skeptical is the fact that Trump and elements of the Intelligence Community have clashed and some senior intelligence officials may be looking to pay back the President. 

Even Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer warned Trump about the dangers of bucking the CIA and other agencies: “They have six ways to Sunday at getting back at you.”

What better way of getting back at Trump than shining a bright light on the Steele dossier by including a summary of its contents as a classified annex to the Jan. 6 report, thus giving credence to the third-hand accusations and giving news organizations a peg for publishing the salacious allegations?"...

[Ed. note: "Golden Showers" anti-Trump dossier author Steele is being sued in UK court by internet business owner Aleksej Gubarev who has a residence in Florida, for making false statements about his companies including claiming his company hacked DNC emails: "The lawsuits were brought by XBT Holdings, a Cyprus-based company owned by Russian tech magnate Aleksej Gubarev. Lawyers for his firm filed complaints Friday in London against the former spy [Steele] and his company, and against BuzzFeed and its editor in chief, Ben Smith, in Broward County Circuit Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where XBT’s subsidiary Webzilla is headquartered.The dossier included libelous, unverified and untrue allegations regarding XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev. The lawsuits seek yet undetermined compensation for the damages suffered by XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev as the result of the publication of the dossier,” a statement said....The British lawsuit against Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence Limited charges that they “deliberately and without consent” claimed that the plaintiffs had hacked into the emails of the Democratic Party, “and had used such unlawful access to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and alter files and programs.” The dossier suggested that several Trump campaign aides were aware of the Russian hacking scheme, allegations that Trump dismissed as “garbage.”"...2/3/17, "BuzzFeed sued over its publication of uncorroborated Trump dossier," McClatchy, ]

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article130659399.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article130659399.html#storylink=cpyThe British lawsuit against Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence Limited charges that they “deliberately and without consent” claimed that the plaintiffs had hacked into the emails of the Democratic Party, “and had used such unlawful access to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and alter files and programs.” Gubarev operates at least 40,000 servers across the globe and said he would have received real-time information if there had been hacking or illicit activity tied to his businesses. There is no evidence of that, he said, adding that neither the FBI nor any other U.S. authority has contacted him.]

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article130659399.html#storylink=cp
]

(continuing): "Finally, it is significant that the NSA would only grant “moderate confidence” to the accusation that “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances.” Page 13 of the Jan. 6 report explains that moderate confidence means the information is “plausible but not of sufficient quality or corroborated sufficiently to warrant a higher level of confidence.”

In an apparent reference to those NSA doubts, The Washington Post reported on June 25 that “Some of the most critical technical intelligence on Russia came from another country, officials said. Because of the source of the material, the NSA was reluctant to view it with high confidence.”

Though the Post did not identify the country, this reference suggests that another key element of the case for Russian culpability was based not on direct investigations by the U.S. intelligence agencies, but on the work of external organizations with checkered histories.

Given the Intelligence Community’s history of deception and politicization – and especially given the false assumption about the 17-agency consensus – there is every reason to be skeptical and to demand credible and verifiable evidence about the core charge that Russia did “meddle” in the U.S. election. 

4) The counter-evidence seems stronger and more factual. 

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), including William Binney, a former technical director of the NSA, asserts that the DNC email release was caused by a leak not a “hack.” 

The distinction is important: a hack is done over the Internet; a leak is done transferring files onto a memory stick with little or no record. VIPS believes the emails were taken by an insider who transferred the files onto a thumb drive. If the files had been transferred over the Internet, the NSA would have a record of that since virtually every packet is stored.

In addition, the publisher of the DNC and Podesta emails, Wikileaks, says it did not receive the emails from Russia. Also, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has offered a reward for the discovery of the murderer of Seth Rich, the young DNC Director of Voter Expansion [said to have been a Bernie Sanders supporter] who was mysteriously murdered on July 22, 2016. 

When asked if Seth Rich was the source of the DNC emails, Assange does not reply directly but it is implied.

Since Trump’s November victory, there also have been accusations of “Russian interference” in European elections. But in each case, subsequent investigations showed the opposite. In Germany, France and the U.K., security services found no evidence to support the initial allegations. The French security chief dismissed the claims of the Macron campaign saying the hack “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.” 

5) The purported “crimes” have been wildly inflated. 

The leaking of DNC and Podesta emails has been inflated into an “attack on US democracy” and an “act of war.” Not to be outdone in the hyperbole department, The Washington Post article calls this “the crime of the century.” It’s quite astounding; even if Russia were guilty of hacking the DNC servers and the emails of Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, the information was truthful, not “fake news” or disinformation as some mainstream media outlets have suggested. The idea that disclosing truthful and newsworthy information amounts to an “act of war” is preposterous, and indeed dangerous. [And if you don't like it, you're a treasonous "Kremlin-lover."]

Plus, the Wikileaks-related stories were secondary problems for the Clinton campaign, far less important than the FBI closing and then re-opening the criminal investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server for her official business as Secretary of State or her labeling half of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.”

And, blaming RT for reporting on shortcomings in the U.S. democratic process and faulting the network for allowing third-party candidates to have a forum – as the Jan. 6 report does – amount to an absurdity  Even former U.S. President Jimmy Carter questions whether the U.S. is a still democracy, sayingNow it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence.” [2015 interview]

6) The anti-Russia hysteria has reduced resistance to reactionary changes in domestic policy.

For progressives, the anti-Russia hysteria has not only bordered on McCarthyistic challenges to people’s patriotism but has diverted time and attention from the need to build opposition to Trump policies including the loss of net neutrality, increased military spending, reductions in environmental protection, plans to slash health-care for the poor to permit more tax cuts for the rich, and reduction in other budgets for education and social programs.

Further, the “blame-Russia” and “hate Trump” campaigns have reduced the credibility of liberals and progressives and make it harder to reach out to white working-class Americans who voted for Trump, in part, because they felt ignored and disrespected by the national Democratic Party. 

7) The DNC and Podesta leaks were not bad; they were good.

If one is to take The Washington Post’s new slogan seriously – “Democracy Dies in Darkness” – you’d have to agree that shedding light on the secret machinations of the DNC and the Clinton campaign was a service to democracy, not an attack on democracy. 

The leaks exposed how the DNC was violating its mandate to remain neutral during the primaries. Instead, the DNC leadership conspired to boost Clinton’s candidacy and frustrate a successful challenge by Sen. Bernie Sanders. If there was an “attack on democracy,” it was by the DNC leadership, not from the public release of authentic emails. And, as for the Podesta emails, they revealed the contents of (Hillary) Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street, which she had sought to hide from voters, and exposed some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.

8) Social media criticizing Clinton was not bad; much of the criticism was accurate.

While short on actual evidence of a Russian hack, the Jan. 6 report blames Russia for undermining “public faith in the US democratic processby denigrating Clinton and harming “her electability and potential presidency.” The report suggests that Russia was responsible for anti-Clinton online messages, tweets, Facebook posts, etc.

Yet, it was predictable that Hillary Clinton would generate a lot of opposition during the presidential campaign since she has long been a magnet for right- and left-wing criticism. She is strongly disliked by many progressives for a number of reasons, including her warmongering foreign policy. So, it should come as no surprise that social media was alive with tweets, pages, posts and campaigns against Clinton – as it was with harsh criticism of Donald Trump.

It is self-deception to think this opposition was initiated or controlled in any substantial way by Moscow. Without doubt, the overwhelming majority of the criticism directed at Hillary Clinton – and at Donald Trump – was sincere and home-grown.

9) The anti-Russia hysteria distracts from an objective evaluation of why the Democratic Party lost.

Instead of doing an honest and objective assessment of the election failure, the Democratic Party has invested enormous time and resources in promoting the narrative of Russian “meddling” and collusion with Trump. If the Democrats want to regain popularity – and gain congressional seats in 2018 as well as the White House in 2020 – they need to look in the mirror and undertake reforms, including a shake-up of leadership which has changed very little in over 15 years. 

The Democrats must confront the reality that many working-class Americans view the party as elitist and lacking a deep concern for the economic suffering of average people.

By concentrating so much energy on blaming “Russia, Russia, Russia,” the DNC also ignores that it tilted the primary race in Clinton’s favor while Sanders might well have been a much stronger candidate against Trump. In that sense, the Democratic Party’s leaders have nobody to blame but themselves for Trump’s victory.

10) The anti-Russia hysteria reduces resistance to neoconservative forces pushing for more war.

By obsessing on Russia-gate, Democrats and liberals are playing into the hands of neoconservatives and the Military Industrial Complex, which are pushing for another war in the Middle East and an expensive New Cold War with Russia. The immediate flashpoint is Syria where the Syrian government and allies are making slow but steady progress defeating tens of thousands of foreign-funded extremists.

In response, the U.S. and its allies have escalated their intervention and aggression trying to prolong the conflict and/or grab territory to block a Syrian government victory. The expanding U.S. military role in Syria also is threatening to bring about a direct clash between United States, which is operating inside Syria in violation of international law, and Russia, which has come to the aid of the internationally recognized government.

The Democratic and liberal hysteria around Russia has confused huge numbers of people who now have been led to believe that Russia is America's "enemy" and must be confronted militarily aorund the world. Leading liberals are allying themselves with the CIA and war hawks, while also alienating peace voters, another important voting bloc.

Looking back over the eight months since the election, the obsession with Russia-gate may have started from shock over Trump’s election and then morphed into a resistance to his presidency (including the unlikely hope that the “scandal” would lead to his impeachment), but the hysteria has contributed to significant mistakes by those who have embraced it.

The mainstream news media jettisoned any pretense of objectivity as it joined the “hate-Russia” and “get-Trump” movement. Many Democrats and liberals also opportunistically and uncritically accepted and promoted the anti-Russia demonization, including McCarthyistic attacks on Americans who balked at the political/media stampede and questioned the accusations as either lacking in evidence or exaggerated.

Meanwhile, Trump finds himself getting pressured by Democrats and liberals [and the entire War Industry] to adopt even more warlike stances – to prove that he’s not Putin’s puppet – including a slide toward a new war in the Middle East and a step onto the slippery slope that could lead to nuclear annihilation."

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Added: The word "allegedly" disappears:

June 16, 2016, "‘Allegedly’ Disappears as Russians Blamed for DNC Hack," fair.org, by

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Added: Ohio Democrat voters say the national Democrat Party is still ignoring the people who could have helped them defeat Trump. Mahoning County leader says Hillary lost all credibility with working class voters-Washington Post, 4/5/17 (Comment: Good luck to Ohio Democrat voters. We know what it's like. The Republican Party has no interest in Republican voters either.)

4/5/17, "Democrats are still ignoring the people who could have helped them defeat Trump, Ohio party leaders say," Washington Post, William Wan, Youngstown, Ohio.........

"The dinner was supposed to be a Democratic strategy session for an upcoming county election. But the mood grew darker as conversation turned toward the future of their party.

One by one, members of the Mahoning County Democratic Party poured out their frustrations: Just months after the presidential election, they felt folks like them were being forgotten — again.

The party’s comeback strategy was being steered by protesters, consultants and elitists from New York and California who have no idea what voters in middle America care about. 

But worst of all, they said, the party hadn’t learned from what they saw as the biggest message from November’s election: Democrats have fallen completely out of touch with America’s blue-collar voters. 

“It doesn’t matter how much we scream and holler about jobs and the economy at the local level. Our national leaders still don’t get it,” said David Betras, the county’s party chair. “While Trump is talking about trade and jobs, they’re still obsessing about which bathrooms people should be allowed to go into.” 

Others around the restaurant table nodded. 

Since the election, Democrats have been swallowed up in an unending cycle of outrage and issues that have little to do with the nation’s working class, they said, such as women’s marches, fighting Trump’s refugee ban and advocating for transgender bathroom rights. 
..........
Mahoning Cty, Ohio
The party’s national leaders have focused on decrying Trump, opposing his Supreme Court pick and tying his administration to Russia. That approach — trying to defeat Trump solely by attacking him and his policies — already has failed once, many at the dinner said. 

Meanwhile, they think few are talking about issues that really matter to people in places such as Youngstown: Stagnant wages, vanishing jobs and sputtering economies. Even the Democrats’ recent success in blocking Trump’s attempt to repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act matters little in the face of those core interests, local party leaders said. And unless the party begins addressing those blue-collar issues, they said, there will be real and dire consequences in states like theirs.

In more than a dozen interviews, party leaders across Ohio — from local precinct captains to the handful of Democrats who remain in Congress — said they are deeply worried.

“Every time Trump so much as sneezes, we as a party are setting our hair on fire and running around like it’s the end of the world,” Betras said as the dinner wound down. “Most people around here don’t care. They are living paycheck to paycheck, just trying to hold on. After everything that’s happened, if we as a party still aren’t speaking to them, then we are never getting them back.”...

Blue collar issues... 

Ohio’s Democratic Party has launched kitchen-table conversations to reorganize its agenda around economic concerns. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown recently unveiled a 77-page proposal for populist, pro-worker initiatives that could serve as a blueprint for the national party.

But the most forceful move came in U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s failed attempt to wrest control of the House minority leadership from Nancy Pelosi. In his pitch to fellow Democrats, the Ohio lawmaker argued that there is something fundamentally broken in the party’s relationship with the workers who once made up its base....
........
Most acknowledge the need for a stronger economic message, but there has been pushback against the idea of chasing white working-class voters to the detriment of minorities and social issues.... 

“It’s a false choice to say we have to decide between economic issues and civil rights. They’re all part of the larger problem of inequality that we should be fighting against,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, which is bringing together party luminaries in May for an brainstorming conference."...

[Ed. note: Why do you "have to decide between economic issues and civil rights?" Who says you can't have both?]

(continuing): "At a bar on the hollowed-out edges of Youngstown, Betras slid a memo dated May 12, 2016, across the table. It was then that he saw the wave of anger coming and tried to warn Clinton’s campaign. 

“I know I am just a chairman but I am a chairman in the trenches,” Betras wrote in the three-page memo, begging Clinton to focus on jobs. 

In Mahoning County — a Democratic stronghold decimated by the manufacturing industry’s decline — Betras was seeing GOP yard signs suddenly popping up. During the primaries, he learned that 18 of his own Democratic precinct captains had crossed party lines to vote for Trump. Some areas had to print extra Republican primary ballots just to keep up with the demand.

“That’s when I knew something was wrong,” he said. 

He warned Clinton that she had lost all credibility with working-class voters by waffling on trade and offering tepid solutions. He urged in his memo that she talk about infrastructure instead. 

The workers we’re talking about don’t want to run computers, they want to run back hoes, dig ditches, sling concrete block,” he wrote. “They’re not embarrassed about the fact that they get their hands dirty. ....They love it and they want to be respected and honored for it.” 

He sent his memo to Clinton’s top campaign adviser in Ohio and other senior party officials. But Betras never heard back. 

Months later, he said he thinks his party leaders still haven’t gotten the message.... 

In recent decades, Democrats have relied on a new base, a diverse mix of minorities, millennials, women, LGBT and college-educated voters — who had turned out in droves for Obama but not for (Hillary) Clinton.... 

For now, the Democratic future in Ohio looks bleak. Trump not only flipped the state but also won by the largest margin of any presidential candidate since 1988.

Lou Gentile, 37, was among the Ohio casualties in November. A rising local Democratic star, he lost his state Senate seat in a district struggling with coal mining declines in the Ohio Valley. 

“It’s tough getting caught in this thing you have no control over,” he said while driving home after lunch with his former legislative aide in Columbus, the state’s capital.... 

The party’s losses have made it difficult to cultivate a strong bench for future elections, he said. It also has allowed Republicans to redraw Ohio’s districts, making it even more difficult for Democrats to claw their way back to relevancy.

“I’m worried about the party,” Gentile said. “If anything good comes out of this last cycle, I hope it’s that our national leaders finally get the message about what’s going on in places like this. We have to go back to basics — jobs, wages, the things that actually make a difference to people out here.”"
.............................. 

7/18/2016, "Outside Cleveland, thousands of Democrats are becoming Republicans," CNN, Mahoning County, Ohio




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