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Nederlog

Friday, Jan 27, 2017
Crisis: Stopping Trump, TPP, Military Cesspool, Trump's Lies, War on Facts
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Could We Have President Pence? Donald Trump Can Be
     Deposed, Even Without Impeachment

2. Trump's Decision to Leave the TPP Was to Protect One Faction
     of the Super Rich

3.
A Violent Cesspool of Our Own Making
4.
Trump’s Ego-Driven Lies
5.
The War on Facts is a War on Democracy
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, January 27, 2017. (I now started including the day of the week.)

Summary: This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the - presently academic - question how Trump could be made to stop as president; item 2 is about Trump's stopping the TTP (and is interesting); item 3 is about how the USA very much militarized after the fall of the Soviet Union; item 4 is about Trump's extra- ordinary many lies (and was disappointing to me); and item 5 is about the war on facts from a scientist, who does not have the evidence I have and who doesn't seem to know
that most academics are academics because of their salaries and not because of their deep care for science or truth.
As for today (January 27, 2017): I have meanwhile attached a message to the openings of both of my sites which points out that for somehing like a year now both of my sites more or less systematically, but unpredictably, show the wrong date and the wrong files, indeed going so far back as 2015, and as if I did not write anything since then.

Today the Dutch site was wrong again, but now the Danish site was right... (yesterday the other way around, and this has been going on for
a year now).

Somebody really wants you not to read my sites.

More about this later, probably in the weekend.
1. Could We Have President Pence? Donald Trump Can Be Deposed, Even Without Impeachment

The first item today is by Heather Digby Parson on AlterNet:

This starts as follows - and I grant from the beginning the possibility sketched in the title at present looks unlikely. But since I am a psychologist who thinks Trump is not sane, which also makes him really different from sane people, also quite regardless of their actual beliefs and desires, I do take up the possibility:

Donald Trump is in over his head. This comes as no surprise to the millions of people who could see that he was unprepared and unfit for the job of president of the United States and voted against him. He’s basically a celebrity heir to a fortune who was so entitled that he believed his privileged existence proved he was competent to run the most powerful nation on Earth. That’s the attitude of an aristocrat who ascended to the throne without having any idea what it actually takes to rule. History’s full of such men.

It doesn’t often work out well.

Actually, no. I am a psychologist, and I have had long dealings with really mad people and it is this that makes me especially wary of Trump [1]:

The main problem with Trump is not that he is intellectually and morally incompetent to hold the job of president, which indeed has happened a lot before, but that he is not sane, and indeed gave plenty of evidence for this in the first week of his presidency, e.g. about the size of his applauding crowds that were smaller than for Obama, which Trump just refuses to admit because he is a genuine megalomaniac.

But here is some more, that does go in the right direction:

Those voters did not see what millions of others felt instinctively and that explains the shocked reaction and immediate resistance to his election: Trump’s incessant bragging, his lack of empathy or remorse, his pathological lying and even his bizarre appearance have been signs of an unstable personality. It was obvious to many of us that something was not right.

Yes and no, and the problem is that Digby (as she seems to like to be called) is not a psychologist: These are signs of psychological disorder, but then these therewith are (equivalently) signs of an unstable personality, and indeed especially in being unpredictable - does he do some sane thing, or is he on one of his insane paths, trying to satisfy some of his fantasies?

Here is some more:

He didn’t seem to have a clue that he was being inappropriate. He compounded the bad impression by sending out his press secretary Sean Spicer to insist that the crowd for his inauguration was bigger than any in history. When Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer by saying he had simply offered “alternative facts,” members of the media were stunned. It’s not that they assume officials always tell the truth. But they were clearly shocked that the White House would chastise them for reporting something that was obviously correct.

Yes, but if the "members of the media were stunned", the main reason is that they have not had many dealings with people who are not sane, and never with a president
of the USA who is not sane.

Then there is this:

According to an article in The Washington Post, Trump’s inner circle is overwhelmed by power struggles and internecine battles while the president fulminates over every criticism. The New York Times has reported that his staff is concerned about his “simmering resentment” at what he thinks is unfair press coverage. Politico has reported that aides are trying to minimize his incessant TV viewing, and according to a report by Axios, Trump is running his administration almost entirely in reaction to what he sees in the media. He sounds as if he is unable to handle the stress and is using avoidance mechanisms.

Yes: I regard "his “simmering resentment” at what he thinks is unfair press coverage", "his incessant TV viewing", and his "running his administration almost entirely in reaction to what he sees in the media" as signs of his - megalomaniac aka narcissistic - personality disorder.

Now we get to some details about what to do about presidents who turn insane in some sense (as happened to Reagan at the end of his presidency, due to the beginnings of Alzheimer):

So what happens if President Trump cannot pull himself together and continues to psychologically unravel? There is a remedy other than impeachment. Even conservatives like David Frum have been talking about it for a while:

Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. Article 4. We’re all going to be talking a lot more about it in the months ahead.

More specifically:

Section 4 is about something else entirely:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

This is also why this will take a while, if it ever happens: it requires "a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide", and that may be quite slow in coming as long as Trump keeps signing executives orders that help the very rich (and he will).

Here is the last bit I'll quote, that shows again fundamental confusions about psychology:

It’s obvious that Trump has a narcissistic personality, which in itself is not disqualifying. He’s not the first president to have one; nor will he be the last. But his issues seem to run deeper than that. Some observers have suggested that he shows the characteristics of classic psychopathy. And there are plenty of people who see his behavior as blatantly self-destructive.

He is not just "a narcissist": his narcissism is pathological, and pathological people should not be presidents. Ever. Anywhere. And especially not in the USA, for this makes a madman the most powerful person in the world.

But OK: Trump may be - eventually - forced out of office, also legally. It's nice to know this is possible, but for the moment it is not likely to happen.

And this is a recommended article (which is not written by a psychologist).

2. Trump's Decision to Leave the TPP Was to Protect One Faction of the Super Rich

The second item is by Vijay Prashad on AlterNet:

This is from near the beginning:

The exit of the United States from the TPP should be understood along two axis – one merely about U.S. politics and the other about a new strategy to revive flagging U.S. power in the world.

If Trump were serious about an exit from "globalization" he would have simultaneously made noises about a host of other trade deals – Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and the U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty. But he did not. Nor did he fire the 500 U.S. trade advisers, who, as Lori Wallach of Public Citizen wrote, represent corporate interests in the framing of such trade agreements. He does not want to rock the globalization boat. That is not his real interest.

I think this is quite interesting, simply because I asked myself the same question: Why is Trump against the TTP, if the TTP gives the legal framework in which the multi-national corporations can dominate states and elected democracies?!

Vijay Prashad sketches an answer:

What has dented this workforce is the logic of capitalism, the drive by firms in competition with each other for lower wages and for machines to replace humans. The false trade wars and threats of force as well as sanctions are no answer to the dynamic that displaces humans on behalf of profit. The only answer on offer from the establishment, including Trump, is demagogy. The endemic jobs crisis deserves serious solutions: social control over the surplus to improve the quality of people’s lives, a shorter workday, better social services, and richer cultural lives. None of this is part of our conversation.

There is more there, and it ends up as the title says: Trump is a demagogue and meant
to help himself and a few rich men.

I'll leave that to your interests, and select two more passages that explain "the global economy" that in fact was realized through deregulations, for it were the deregulations that allowed the rich to transport their factories and the jobs these offered to the poor nations from the rich nations:

Why have jobs disappeared, not only in the United States or the West, but also, according to the International Labour Organization, worldwide? Two processes have debilitated the world’s workforce, and both to the advantage of global capitalism:

1. Global Labor Arbitrage, namely taking advantage of the massive wage differentials when the IMF forced countries of the Third World to make their workers available to global capitalism after the 1980s debt crisis. The addition of Chinese labor and labor from the former USSR and Eastern Europe by the early 1990s was also a death knell for the more expensive Western workforce. Specifically for the US workforce, social benefits withered in this period as the rich went on strike and refused to pay taxes to fund these programs. Workers now have to bear many social costs (education, health care, pensions), which they had partially enjoyed through unions and through social democratic policies. Without social subsidies, the US workers are far more expensive than workers elsewhere. In this context, investment firms such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley drove an agenda of asset stripping, tearing down industrial plants in the US and selling them to other countries, while allowing towns and rural areas to rust into the despair of opioids and other social maladies.

And this is what has been happening in a systematic regularized (!) process
of deregulation ever since the early 1980ies or indeed the late 1970ies
(for Carter also was a deregulator):

The sources of riches for both the rich and the poor, which were the factories, were closed by the rich and transported to the poor nations because this was more profitable, and that this implied "allowing towns and rural areas to rust into the despair of opioids and other social maladies" is not problematic to the rich in any way: Poor men are losers, and losers get what they deserve: Nothing. [2]

Here is the other reason, which may soon make most jobs cheaper to fill by a robot than by a human individual (who is a loser anyway, and see the end of the last paragraph):

Robotics. The economist John Maynard Keynes wrote of ‘technological unemployment’, where machines replace human workers and leave them redundant. This process was visible to Karl Marx in the 19th century, who suggested that the logic of capitalist accumulation would turn towards the substitution of humans by machines. This is precisely what has already occurred in several key high-tech sectors, not only in the manufacture of automobiles but also in the making of computers. The US, since 1979, has lost over seven million factory jobs and yet, factory production has doubled in this period.

And it will lose very many more jobs by better robotics. And instead of sharing the wealth, the rich people assign the wealth to themselves, and as little as they can to any non-rich person  they push into poverty.

There is considerably more in this article, which is recommended.

3. A Violent Cesspool of Our Own Making

The third item is by William J. Astore on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows, and shows how extremely aggressive the United States is and how it sells vastly more arms than any other nation:

Today, when it comes to building and exporting murderous weaponry, no other country, not even that evil-empire-substitute, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, comes faintly close.  The U.S. doth bestride the world of arms production and dealing like a colossus. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, U.S. arms contractors sold $209.7 billion in weaponry in 2015, representing 56% of the world’s production.  Of that, $40 billion was exported to an array of countries, representing “half of all agreements in the worldwide arms bazaar,” as the New York Times put it.  France ($15 billion) was a distant second, with Putin’s Russia ($11 billion) earning a weak third.  Judged by the sheer amount of weapons it produces for itself, as well as for others, the U.S., notes Forbes, is “still comfortably the world’s superpower—or warmonger, depending on how you look at it.” Indeed, under President Obama, in the five-year period beginning in 2010, American arms exports outpaced the figures for the previous Bush-Cheney years by 23%.

I say, and no: I did not know most of the above (that also shows yet another reason not to like Obama). And incidentally, the second nation that sells arms sold less than 10% of what the USA sold, while Russia sold just over 5% of the amount of arms that the USA sold.

And what holds for the arms that were sold, holds for the military:

Not only has the U.S. come to dominate the arms trade in an almost monopolistic fashion over the last two decades, but it has also become the top exporter of troops globally.  Leaving aside the ongoing, seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. continues to garrison the globe with approximately 800 military bases, while deploying its Special Operations forces to a significant majority of the planet’s countries annually.  As TomDispatch’s Nick Turse reported recently, “From Albania to Uruguay, Algeria to Uzbekistan, America’s most elite forces—Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets among them—were deployed to 138 countries in 2016.”  Think about that: last year, U.S. Special Operations troops were sent to more than two-thirds of the approximately 190 countries on the planet.  While some of these deployments were small, others were more impressive—and invasive—and often enough dovetailed with efforts to sell weaponry (which even has its own military acronym: FMS, or foreign military sales).

That is, the USA has military men - sometimes a few, often a lot - in 2 out of 3 of the countries in the world.

There is a lot more in this interesting article by a former U.S. military man, and it ends thus:

How did America’s ideals become so twisted?  And how do we regain our nobility of purpose?  One thing is certain: the current path, the one of ever greater military spending, of border walls and extreme vetting, of vilification of the Other, justified in terms of toughness and “winning,” will lead only to further violence—and darker (k)nights. 

Yes indeed, and this is a recommended article (that contains a lot more than I reviewed).
4. Trump’s Ego-Driven Lies

The fourth item is by Paul R. Pillar on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

We are less than a week into the Trump presidency, and it is apparent that one of the more disturbing practices of Mr. Trump’s campaign he intends to continue while in office.

The practice involves the President’s disdain for truth, but it is not just a matter of the volume of lies and how he has built his political career on falsehood, as disturbing as that is. Rather it is the more specific technique of unrelentingly repeating a lie so often and with such apparent conviction, while ignoring all contrary evidence and refutations, that through sheer repetition many people are led to believe it to be true.

The technique has been demonstrated by authoritarian regimes elsewhere. Many results of modern opinion polling suggest that now, in the post-truth era, there is even greater potential for making the technique work than for dictatorships of the past. Even a fact-checking free press cannot stop it; the fact-checking gets shoved aside amid the repetition.

Yes and no: I agree that Trump has a total disregard for the truth, in that he believes his own fantasies are true much rather than any real facts that contradict them, which
he in turn believes because he is not sane (as indeed shown by his total refusal to
believe the real fact that he drew fewer people at his inauguration than Obama did in 2008: it hurts his megalomania aka grandiose narcissism).

I think this should have been mentioned, if only because Trump's lack of sanity by now has been noticed by quite a few psychologists and psychiatrists.

And what also should have been noticed is that repeating and repeating and repeating
an obvious lie only convinces a population that is not intelligent and not knowledgeable aka stupid and ignorant: If this convinces "
many people" "through sheer repetition" it is because they are not intelligent and don't know much.

Anyway... Here are two consequences. The first is this (according to Pillar):

As Rachman observes, “If the Trump administration now destroys American credibility, it will have handed the Russian and Chinese governments a victory of historic proportions. The cold war was a battle not just about economics or military strength, but also about the truth. The Soviet Union collapsed, in the end, partly because it was too obvious that it was a regime based on lies.”

Again yes and no: While it is true that the Soviet Union was "based on lies", I think it is a mistake (which is merely suggested and not stated, I agree) to believe that the USA was not "based on lies". They were different lies, and served a different kind of persons but many of the supposed facts asserted by the USA's governments also were not true.

Here is the second consequence (
according to Pillar):

Another consequence of directing the big lie to domestic audiences is that this audience will become that much worse of an ill-informed constituency, incapable of engaging in the kind of well-informed debate that serves as a check against ill-advised foreign policies and can muster solid support for well-advised ones.

The difficulty in generating that kind of well-informed discussion is hard enough amid fake news and post-truth nonchalance about accuracy. Willing and relentless use of lying by those in power makes the difficulty even greater.

No, I don't think so. First, there are more than 300 million people alive in the USA. Second, at least 150 million of them have an IQ of maximally 100. These probably all may be deceived by - well-crafted, repeated - lying. But "well-informed debate that serves as a check against ill-advised foreign policies" always was the preserve of the
academically educated
, and there are tens of millions living in the USA of these as well.

This article ends with another point:

It is surely no coincidence that in this first week of Donald Trump’s presidency, George Orwell’s 1984 rose to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. We have not yet heard of any proposed government reorganization to create a Department of Truth.  We already have, however, gag orders to keep truth-telling public servants (especially, it appears, those who might have facts related to climate change) from interfering with messages from the top, including any messages that take the form of big lies.

Hm. As it is "no coincidence" that Marx's "Capital" was much more popular in the beginning of 2009, and that Piketty's work on inequality was much more popular a few years ago. But nothing came of that, and I am sure that the increased interest in Orwell (<-Wikipedia) - which I like, for I am admirer of him - will not lead to any visible political changes either.

But Pillar is right that Trump's presidency may very well get known as the presidency of the big lies.

5. The War on Facts is a War on Democracy

The fifth and last item
today is by Jonathan Foley on Common Dreams:

This is from near the beginning:

Already, in the opening days of his administration, Mr. Trump’s Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, willfully ignored clear, empirical evidence about the size of the inauguration crowds, and bristled at the suggestion experts said they were smaller than in years past. He seemed almost paranoid, and insinuated that a media conspiracy—rather than simple arithmetic—was trying to embarrass his boss. And the Trump Administration continues to claim, without any evidence, that widespread voter fraud cost Mr. Trump the popular vote, even though this has been thoroughly debunked by numerous, bipartisan sources—including his own lawyers.

Even more bizarrely, Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor to Mr. Trump, has offered up the notion that “alternative facts”, rather than actual truth, were in play now. I don’t know what “alternative facts” are, but I think my parent’s generation would have called them “falsehoods” or even “lies.”

But it’s not just absence of facts that’s troubling, it is the apparent effort to derail science and the pursuit of facts themselves.

Well, "alternative facts" are clearly lies. But otherwise I agree, and I also remark that Jonathan Foley is the Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences, but speaks for himself in this article.

Then there is this:

Facts, and the pursuit of facts, don’t seem to matter to this White House. Or, worse yet, they matter a lot and are being suppressed.

“Fact checking” the Trump campaign was always a surreal exercise, but we all knew that he came from the world of entertainment, and that shoot-from-the-hip, I-say-what-I-think style was part of his charm, part of his brand. People fed up with regular politicians loved his brash style. It was refreshing to many.

But now that Mr. Trump is in power, this is no longer about ratings and entertaining television. It’s about ensuring the fundamental legitimacy and credibility of the world’s most powerful office. If we can’t trust the “facts” being discussed in the White House, what can we trust?

Hm. First, I must remember Mr Foley of a quote from I.F. Stone that I had for several years as a motto of Nederlog:

"All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed."
I.F. Stone (<-Wikipedia).

This does not mean that all governments always lie, but it does mean that everything a government says (that is important) must be checked by people who know about these facts, and who are not beholden to the government but to truth.

It follows that Mr Foley does not have a strong grasp of what truth means in the
context of governmental policies
, for otherwise he would never have written the extremely naive "
If we can’t trust the “facts” being discussed in the White House, what can we trust?"

Indeed, the answer to the last question also is obvious: Real scientists are more trustworthy than governmental politicians, although these too may be mistaken and should be checked.

Here is Foley's ending:

So, to Mr. Trump, I would say this:

If this is all just a series of missteps, caused by over-zealous mid-level managers during a confusing presidential transition, so be it. Say so. Fix it. Get out on the public stage and affirm your commitment to facts, to truth, and to the independent pursuit of science without political interference. The vast majority of your fellow Americans would applaud you for this. It would be brave. It would be wise. And it would show some class.

But if this is actually part of your governing philosophy, I would give you a warning on behalf of my fellow scientists: Do not mess with us. Do not try to bury the truth. Do not interfere with the free and open pursuit of science. You do so at your peril.

Americans don’t look kindly on bullies, people who try to suppress the truth, or people who try to intimidate scientists and the press. In the long run, this always backfires. The dustbin of history is full of people who have tried, and failed. You will too.

The next time you visit the CIA headquarters, I hope you will take a moment to notice their unofficial motto, etched in the walls of the lobby. It says, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John VIII-XXXII.)

It does. And scientists like me, and Americans of all backgrounds, will always fight for it.

I am sorry, but it is totally impossible for me to believe this.

The main reason is as follows: I have been trying for forty years now to explain to the Dutch academic elite, who work in Dutch universities, that the utterly false lie that I first heard in august of 1978 (!!!!!) that

Everybody knows that truth does NOT exist

is a sick, degenerate lie that also was totally fascistic in denying that WW II truly existed, in denying that concentration camps truly existed, denying that six million Jews were truly murdered for racial reasons and so on and so forth... [3]

In reply, I was many tens or several hundreds of times called "a dirty fascist" by many (usually quasi-communist or postmodernist) students, who almost never knew anything about me. I was replied to positively by precisely two professors, one of whom was not Dutch.

Apart from these two persons, and around 1 in 20 students, I got no replies whatsoever in 40 years, although I also started a student-party that was elected in the University-parliament, and am supposed to be a very good writer and speaker.

In brief, what I learned about Dutch academics (all of them, employed anywhere between 1977 and 2017 in any Dutch university) is that almost all of them are traitors to science who much rather protect their own academic salaries and their own academic privileges than speaking the truth or speaking for science as soon as that threatens that they may loose their academic jobs.

So forget it. Forty years of my experiences with academics (and I do hold an academic degree that is almost certainly better than Foley's) taught me that academics are mostly not morally responsible: They will posture all you please about anything, but nearly all of them will shut up as soon as they risk loosing their jobs. [4]

---------------------------------
Notes
[1] In fact, I did not start studying psychology because I wanted to become a clinical psychologist (who are concerned with neurotic and mad persons) but because I wanted to know more about human reasoning.

But it so happened that in the beginning of 1986 I fell very much in love with a redhead, who briefly after that was given a mixture of cocaine and speed by a friend of her, that triggered a severe schizophrenic psychosis, that also had to do with her mad parents and mad education.

The brief of it is that shortly after I met her she had no house, no job, no study, and lived in a hole in the ground trying to stop nuclear arms, and that within two years she
studied psychology, which she terminated with a Ph.D., indeed after leaving me as soon
as I could not be anymore of service to her.

So in effect I lived for several years with a schizophrenic mad woman (also according to doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists) and had to cope with nearly all her problems.

I did so successfully, and learned a lot about madness, even though - after the fact - I should not have done so, and did do so only because I loved her (which also was a mistake).

Most people have very little experience with genuinely mad persons, indeed also if they are psychologists or psychiatrists, for these see their clients only periodically, for half an hour to an hour. I lived with one, and she was definitely quite mad in 1986 and 1987.

And while I am very sorry that I ever cared for her, simply because she was totally unworthy of it, I did, and what I did for her I did rationally and well, and helped her a lot.

[2] And I think this is a fundamental conviction of most rich men and of Donald Trump: Losers are better of dead.


[3]
This is another note than was here originally. It got reduced to the following:

The University of Amsterdam was in the hands of the students from 1971/2 till 1995. In these days, until ca. 1983, the students who were members of the Dutch Communist Party had very much power, and these were in turn directed (ordered even), according to themselves, in 1992, around the 1980ies by the Amsterdam branch (by far the biggest) of the Dutch CP.

From 1983 till 1995 most who studied or worked in most faculties of the UvA were postmodernists, indeed probably till the early 2000s, but I know less about this, since
I got my M.A. - at long last, indeed - in 1993.

This means that for 25 years at least the UvA - that is: most who studied there, and most who taught there (not: all) - did not believe in facts, nor in truths:

The majority first either believed in Marx or pretended to (and this also motivated the first time I was called "a fascist" in 1977 because I sincerely said I knew Marx but liked Peirce better as a philosopher - to me: a son and grandson of real communists who had been very brave in the resistance, whose parents had been communists for 45 years) and then in postmodernism, I take it in the case of the students because both beliefs made it a lot easier to take degrees. (You could get an M.A.-degree in philosophy in the 1980ies in the University of Amsterdam by ... taking part in (leftist) demonstrations or in squatting, I was told in 2002, by persons who had done so.)

In brief, the truth I learned about academia (which my father also knew, but that I originally did not believe) is that the vast majority of academics care much less for
science or for truth than for their own academic incomes and academic status.

And you will find this as soon as the academics cannot pretend anymore, but must choose:

Ninetynine out of a hundred choose for their salaries and their status. I have seen that for forty years now, and it is the sad truth, that only may be made a little more palatable by the observation that the same holds for virtually everyone who works: They work not because they enjoy their work; they work for the money. It is precisely the same with academics, except that they have often more to loose in money than those who did not go to university.

[4] Finally: There are some exceptions, and one of the best known is Noam Chomsky. Then again, Chomsky does - these days: it was different in the seventies - rarely appear on TV, and is rarely reviewed in the news, simply because his political ideas are rejected by those in the mainstream media. It is the same with almost anybody else who is a real leftist radical: They are systematically discriminated by most. (As indeed I am, as well.)

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