“Something has happened in the motorcade route”

“Something has happened in the motorcade route”

Friday November 22, 1963 Sam Pate, a reporter for KBOX Radio describing President Kennedy’s motorcade

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I was struck by recent tweets from Australia’s most troublesome, and arguably troubled, antivaccinationist.

In a splendid example of the transcendental world view that conspiracies are everywhere Meryl Dorey retweeted and commented on a pro-chemtrail tweet. Not just any pro-chemtrail tweet. This came from an account so packed with conspiracy tweets it’s almost suffocating to read. Ample antivaccine waffle, false flags, a comment on the strange absence of accents from Orlando shooting witnesses, the Sandy Hook “actors”, GMO, depopulation, etc, etc.

“TheMatrix” hashtag worked overtime and happened to accompany the tweet that caught Ms. Dorey’s eye.

Dorey_chemtrails2

This prompted a number of replies criticising the lack of thinking behind the chemtrail conspiracy theory. Meryl offered one critic:

Dorey_chemtrails

Understanding conspiracy theorists and the role implausible fallacy plays in their thinking is not as simple as accusing them of being crackpots. As individuals, they come from any age, race, socioeconomic status, education level, occupation, gender, political viewpoint. Uscinski and Parent wrote the 2014 book American Conspiracy Theories. They note on page 11 that laboratory experiments that induce loss of control and anxiety prompt subjects to draw conspiratorial explanations and see nonexistent patterns.

Such agenticity and patternicity are intuitive human qualities. Left unchecked they are qualities that steer one toward justifying the world as filled with interconnected events. Events that happen for a reason. Despite the evidence void, intuition can shape transcendental conspiracy thinking to believing the reason behind such events is generally one of malignant control.

Empiricism lacks the intuitive quality of transcendentalism. The empiricist accepts that coincidence and random events are part of reality. Any belief thus requires evidence. In this way skeptics are not prone to conclude based upon unchecked intuition. A simple but worthy example is the well used truism that correlation is not causation. For so many claims of the antivaccination movement (say, so-called vaccine injuries as opposed to genuine injuries) there is no evidence – just a claim based upon correlation.

These claims resonate with intuition. But subject to empirical examination and scientific skepticism we find these injuries (as opposed to genuine injuries) do not exist. The evidence supports another cause. With no evidence to the contrary and the inability to accept reality, we find the antivaccine lobby will cry conspiracy. Indeed there are a great many false claims kept in circulation by this lobby that are defeated with scientific evidence. Rather than accept the consensus the group cries conspiracy.

In March ABC Minefield produced Is the truth still out there? Why do conspiracy theories still exist? It’s an excellent episode. Hosts Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens discuss the persistence of conspiracy theories with guest, Patrick Stokes. Enjoy.

© ABC

Vaccines and autism: A thorough review of the evidence

The following post is an exceptionally detailed review of the evidence, and scientific consensus, specific to the persistent claim of a link between vaccination and autism.

Those familiar with the integrity of the scientific method and its value in examining this particular issue will be grateful for both the quality and extent of this review.

Use of the seven tiered Hierarchy of Scientific Evidence provides an excellent device by which to gauge the value of evidence, and as such, introduces one to a reliable tool for similar endeavours.

I trust you find the article a valuable resource.

Hierarchy of Scientific Evidence

© thelogicofscience.com

The Logic of Science

One of the most common concerns that people have about vaccines is that they might cause (or exacerbate) autism. This idea is perpetuated by celebrities and innumerable websites, and it has become one of the cornerstone arguments of the anti-vaccine movement, but is there any truth to it? Perhaps unsurprisingly, both sides claim a superiority of evidence. Indeed, you can find numerous websites presenting lists of papers that they claim provide evidence that autism is caused by vaccines (such as “124 research papers supporting the vaccine/autism link“). Conversely, those who support vaccines also have lists of papers which they present as evidence that vaccines do not cause autism (for example, here and here). So which is correct? The internet is full of misinformation on this topic, so I want to cut through that crap and talk about the actual studies themselves rather than simply tossing lists around…

View original post 17,466 more words

Audio: Examining the anti-vax movement

Preamble…

Recently with the decision by Robert De Niro to pull the dangerous and fraudulent film “Vaxxed…”, from the Tribeca film festival, antivaccinationists have been amusingly “outraged”.

The film appears to be a collation of misleading to bogus claims, deceptively produced to appear as a “documentary”, with the aim of selling the ludicrous claim by one Brian Hooker that CDC scientist William Thompson had blown the whistle on CDC fraud. The fraud purportedly being an increase in autism in African-American boys receiving MMR “on time”. This nonsense brings us to the final card that the film’s director, Andrew Wakefield, is not only innocent of the fraud that saw him deregistered but an ethical hero “working to make vaccines safer”.

The hilarity of deceit at play here requires length and focus. The facts are examined here, here and here. This blog’s Wakefield tag is here. What has been predictable is the conduct of the anti-vaccine lobby. The film’s producer Del Bigtree reached new heights of conspiracy laden fallacy in an interview on USA’s ABC. It was “censored” (it wasn’t) because Big Pharma didn’t want “you” to see it. To accept that, one must accept the whole global Pharma-vaccine conspiracy.

Supporters believe this rot without seemingly questioning a jot. But why? How do they reach a state of intellectual helplessness and gullibility? Why are they incapable of discerning reputable information? As it turns out there are many sources discussing conspiracy theory mindsets, cognitive bias, distrust of authority and more. But for now I’ll avoid such in favour of the audio narratives below. I’m sure I’m not alone in musing about the conduct of antivaccinationists, particularly the similarities in spreading deception and abusing those who hold them to account for such dishonesty.

Here in Australia last January saw the acceptance of a PhD thesis from antivaccinationist and conspiracy theorist Judy Wilyman, by the University of Wollongong. This has rightly attracted wide criticism with respect to academic rigour as the work advances a conspiracy theory by advancing incredulous and debunked claims, citing criticised authors and works.

What is of note here is the contribution of her supervisor Brian Martin who has written that Wilyman has been unfairly attacked by critics. This is not an accurate portrayal of the intellectual and academic challenges Wilyman was met with by any means. Martin goes on to accuse Stop the Australian (anti) Vaccination Network (SAVN) of making complaints to “official bodies” and of seeking to prevent anti-vaccine talks.

This is quite true but I note that SAVN has never been so much as cautioned for vexatious conduct. Complaints are made with good reason and can only take shape thanks to the irregular conduct, or worse, of those complained about. Preventing the abuses of free speech that opponents of evidence based medicine and antivaccinationists engage in is essential to the defence of sound public health.

So what would drive an educated individual to work to enable the scurrilous conduct of his student, rather than encourage critical thought and intellectual honesty? This got me thinking of a worthy production.

Audio…

In August 2015 the BBC broadcast an inquiry, What’s behind the ‘anti-vax’ movement? [© BBC] It could dig a little deeper if we consider the abuse of grieving parents and vile threats that pepper social media. However I think the building blocks of such anti-vax conduct is presented.

  • Listen with the player below…

The four part programme features Dr. Dyan Hes, Brian Deer, Juniper Russo and Heidi Larson. The producers take the view that the so called debate surrounding vaccination has not only been settled, but in view of Andrew Wakefield’s fraud, is a misleading claim. Thus the programme is introduced with the promise that false balance will not be entertained.

Be sure to catch Juniper Russo (Part 3 – The Crunchy Mom) at the 11:15 mark. Juniper was the ideal nature loving mom from Tennessee, convinced Big Pharma had conspired to silence Wakefield. She was wired into the online anti-vax movement and chose to keep vaccines, and other awful medicines, away from her daughter. Juniper’s vaccine beliefs changed when her daughter was diagnosed with autism.

Juniper now takes an evidence based approach to lifestyle and is the author of the blog, Back From Nature.

Enjoy.

Anti-vaccine Zika virus conspiracy fails to surprise

It was an event so impossible to predict it is absent from the highly respected Before It’s NewsWhat Did Nostradamus Predict For 2016? Or the Top 10 Nostradamus Predictions for 2016. Yet anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists reckon neonatal microcephaly associated with maternal infection with the mosquito-borne Zika virus, is actually due to… a vaccine.

It’s not spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito they warn. This truth of course, is being suppressed by a conspiracy.

A few days ago I wondered what potions, cures or other nonsense homeopaths might be selling to save the world from Zika. As it turned out I happened upon an article entitled Zika Virus. Are we being told the truth? The hosting blog, Homeopathy Safe Medicine is concocted by Steve Scrutton. Steve is also upset that the BBC aren’t playing ball with the CDC whistleblower fallacy that there is indeed a link between MMR and autism (also suppressed by a conspiracy)  – “particularly with black children”, and is happy enough to publish a final email exchange.

A little more searching would save Steve ample time on this point. For example Orac at Respecful Insolence, Rene’ Najera at Science Based Medicine and an even earlier article at SBM yield facts.

Or of course one may visit Snopes.

CDC_whistleblower_snopesSo Steve’s a conspiracy theorist. Anyway, to get back on track, you may have already guessed Steve’s answer to that title question above on Zika virus. From there we’re introduced to a fine upstanding crock of a site named The Unhived Mind III.

Here Steve alerts us to the delicate title Brazilians not buying Zika excuse for babies with shrunken brains. Charming, no? The author of this article, Jim Stone, applies the Judy Wilyman theme of logic. Namely that morbidity and mortality are not high enough for all this fuss. Jim quotes the BBC:

Zika is generally mild and only causes symptoms in one in five people. It is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and chikungunya.

And adds himself:

My comment: Ok so a do nothing virus is going around that only makes one in five people get mildly sick, with no symptoms in 4 out of 5 people.

Had he continued quoting the BBC we’d have read more on this “do nothing virus”:

Brazil is experiencing the largest known outbreak of Zika.

President Dilma Rousseff, visiting Recife in the worst-affected north-east of the country, said Brazilians needed to engage in the fight against the virus. […]

Forty-nine babies with suspected microcephaly have died, Brazil’s health ministry says. In five of these cases an infection with Zika virus was found.

Jim Stone has his own tortuous conspiracy ramble site including an utterly ridiculous piece on the Zika virus. Jim advises his poor readers:

The claim is that a mosquito naturally carried this disease across almost all of South and Central America in only six months. This defies all logic because mosquitoes have a life cycle that is too long for immediate propagation and won’t fly more than a mile from where they hatch, which would limit the movement of a totally new disease to a mile or so a month, not 30 miles a day.

Jim gets pretty worked up about reports on the Wikipedia Zika virus page suggesting the carrier can “just rip across continents to all corners in months, faster than a bush tribesman could travel. It really is that way, Wikipedia said so!”. Well, no not really. What Wikipedia did note but Jim didn’t is:

The global distribution of the most cited carrier of Zika virus, A. aegypti, is expanding due to global trade and travel. A. aegypti distribution is now the most extensive ever recorded – across all continents including North America and even the European periphery. […]

Jim has also conveniently ignored the impact of human travel. Like many who seem happy to blame the Tdap vaccine, Jim is worried that the association between microcephaly and Zika virus has not been made before. It was initially identified in rhesus monkeys in 1947 then in humans in 1952, in Uganda.

Conspiracy theorists fail to grasp that the first documented outbreak of Zika virus in a human population was in 2007 and 2013 in the Pacific (Yap and French Polynesia, respectively), and later in the Americas in 2015 (Brazil and Colombia) and Africa (Cape Verde) [WHO Zika Fact Sheet]. ( Edit: The possibility of sexual transmission {2} is being investigated ). It is believed to have arrived in Brazil in 2014, and spread slowly. The outbreak in Columbia was reported by the WHO on October 21, 2015.

These relatively recent initial outbreaks are exactly why little is known about complications associated with the disease. Experts, including the WHO are not yet certain a causal link has been established between microcephaly and Zika virus. However health officials are operating under the assumption there is one.

Should this be the case it appears that infants born to mothers who had the virus during the first trimester are at an increased risk of microcephaly. The failure of the Tdap conspiracy theorists is partially evident in their inability to produce any data beyond a crude correlation. The Tdap vaccine is being offered in the third trimester (28 to 32 weeks). In the US and UK when there is a suspicion of foetal microcephaly where pregnant women have returned from Latin America, ultrasound screening will be offered from 20 weeks every 2 to 4 weeks.

Thus foetal microcephaly due to maternal infection with Zika could be evident 2 – 3 months before the vaccine is even offered. Essentially the conspiracy coincidence is vanishingly small and demonstrably false.

It would thus seem there is an opportunity to identify the time of malformation or the absence of genetic material of the Zika virus in placental tissue, to advance the case of the conspiracy theorists. Their case could do with real hard evidence as opposed to yet another vaccine timing coincidence.

The Internet is of course teeming with rubbish sites pushing the lie of vaccine induced birth defects. The Zika virus gives them something to exhaust the correlation gambit on. A nice twist that appears on No Vaccines Australia evokes The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The release of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes by a British biotech’ company they fund, named Oxitec has come under scrutiny. However a critical 2010 Science article suggests the Foundation had not funded a 2009 project that saw release of the mosquito on the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman. In a very recent article on the Zika virus the authors give the same GM project the thumbs up.

They write under There must be a better way to control mosquitoes?

Not yet but they’re in the works. A British biotech called Oxitec—which was recently purchased by Intrexon, a U.S. synthetic biology company—has developed A. aegypti mosquitoes containing a gene construct that will kill their offspring before they reach adulthood. When massive numbers of male individuals of this strain are released in the wild, they will mate with local females, producing offspring that are not viable, which has been shown to make a dent in the population.

For now I can offer the below press releases.

To wind up we can turn back to Steve the homeopath to realise that like Nostradamus he’s had a bash at predicting the future.

He writes:

If there is any truth in this, conventional medicine will have to act quickly and effectively.

  • They will have to denounce this as a ‘conspiracy’ theory.
  • They will have to convince us that it is mosquitoes, and not Big Pharma, who have caused this microcephaly.
  • They will have to move quickly to defend mandatory vaccination, especially the vaccination of pregnant women.
  • They will have to convince us that the TDAP vaccine is different to the DPT vaccine that they have been giving our children for decades.

And perhaps most difficult of all, the pharmaceutical industry, and conventional medical doctors, will have to convince us that this time they are telling the truth about this matter!

In fact if there were a conspiracy under way the amount of work needed to pull it off would simply dwarf Steve’s list. More so all evidence suggests it is impossible to convince such minds of the truth – regardless of evidence.

Regrettably this is just another opportunistic and disturbing effort by predictable conspiracy theorists.

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The madness of the anti-medicine movement

Long term anti-vaccine lobbyist, Judy Wilyman recently had one of her standard attacks on HPV vaccination republished on the site of the ambitiously named The New Zealand Journal of Natural Medicine.

The same page on which Wilyman’s piece appears has a link to the New Zealand 3D Investigative TV3 report on the types of injuries and even deaths Wilyman contends are firmly associated with the HPV vaccine Gardasil. The programme, entitled Cause or Coincidence? aired on November 9th 2015.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre based at The University of Auckland have responded directly to claims raised in the programme. Three NZ girls have become ill and two girls have died after receiving the HPV immunisation. The IAC provided a comprehensive response, which included:

There is absolutely no evidence that the Gardasil® vaccine has caused death, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), or any other related fatigue syndromes.

Just because these conditions occurred after vaccination it does not mean that they were caused by the vaccine.

It was also stated in the programme that fatalities of this nature and illnesses of this type are occurring at rates that they would had their been no HPV immunisation programme.

In no way can The New Zealand Journal of Natural Medicine be called a “journal”. It constantly hits the peak of the very worst deceptions peddled by paranoid pushers of alternatives to medicine. Certainly there are advertisements for a cornucopia of unproven concoctions promising to improve or cure a host of mild to moderate ailments. Yet articles seem to follow a pseudo-binary opposite theme. A browse through some available samples is most revealing.

If something is in the realm of science based medicine it is not just useless, but harmful. Not only is this publication in the style of Natural News, but it heavily republishes articles from Adams’ anti-science hysteria website. A typical example is, Why won’t Big Pharma ever cure cancer? Because “the cancer industry is probably the most prosperous industry in the United States”. Exactly why “Big Pharma” should bear this manufactured blame when cancer research continues apace in various research institutions isn’t made clear. Readers are supposed to swallow the tired line that profit from treating cancer is what ensures the “cure” never surfaces.

Readers are of course not alerted to the advances cancer research has delivered, leading to full remission in cases where this was once unheard of. Or treatments that have improved both the quality and duration of life for patients across a range of cancers. Gerson cancer treatment gets a plug. Vitamins C,D,E, Chinese herbs, Ayurvedic herbs, selenium, turmeric and high protein diets which increase the immune system’s ability to kill cancer cells also feature. Homeopathy improves quality of life for cancer patients, and is in fact “extremely helpful” at doing so.

This is just a snippet of cancer treatments. Of course, you must be wondering why we have never heard of this. Simple.

You see “the early Rockefellers” thought up the “business plan of our current medical system”, and “gained control” of most medical schools in the early 20th century.

The plan was to create all sorts of diseases, say with vaccines (e.g. autism, cancer, etc), fluoride, pesticides, junk “food” and the like, and then invent drugs to manage said diseases for the life of the patient, all the while getting gobs of taxpayers’ hard earned dollars to pay for said drugs and management.

Never, ever, ever actually CURE any disease, as that would not be profitable, but get ever increasing increments of cash to “manage the disease” and continually “LOOK FOR” the cure.

Then get nice little old ladies and school kids with freshly baked cookies to raise money for “charity” societies, like cancer, diabetes, heart stuff of all kinds, birth defects, autism, ad infinitum.

Most if not all of which societies are linked to the very same corporations that helped create the diseases in the first place, e.g. cancer societies being funded by pesticide manufacturers.

Call your brand of medicine “scientific” and “evidence-based” while disparaging anything that comes from beyond the pale as “unproven” or worse, “anecdotal”.

When someone comes along with an actual cure, disparage them, ensure their funding gets revoked (if by some miracle it happened in the first place), and in extremis have them imprisoned or murdered.

Hey, nothing personal. It’s just business.

However, millions of people are now waking up, albeit more slowly that one would hope, although it’s sometimes amazing that there are people “out there” who are still thinking for themselves at all.

And, as long as it lasts, the Internet is at your service, where everyone can do their homework.

Oh, my. Murdering those who have an “actual cure”. Ongoing perusal of this esteemed “journal” reveals a Natural News piece informing us that certain medications causally increase our potential to murder up to 200% in the case of anti-inflammatory painkillers. Opioid painkillers “increase the risk by 92%”. Antidepressants – 31%. Tranquilizers – 45%.

The Finnish study, published in June this year in World Psychiatry deals with association between the medications and murder. Yet the study is misrepresented by Natural News/NZ Journal of Natural Medicine under the heading Certain Medications cause people to commit murder…

This has a sub-heading Homicide risk increased by 31% to 200%… 100 million Americans take these drugs. It goes on to claim that the study:

…found that several classes of prescription medications – including antidepressant drugs, tranquilizers and anti-inflammatory painkillers markedly increased the chances of someone murdering another human being.

Which, like the sub-heading, is highly misleading because the study concludes (bold mine):

These results – which may probably be generalized to other developed and stable societies that have a low to medium homicide rate, although not necessarily to countries with higher rates of organized and premeditated crime – imply that the use of antidepressants should not be denied to either adults or adolescents due to a presumed risk of homicidal behavior. The surprisingly high risk associated with opioid and non-opioid analgesics deserves further attention in the treatment of pain among individuals with criminal history.

It can’t be ignored that the study itself notes “non-scientific” organisations blame psychotropic medications, especially antidepressants for large scale shootings in the USA, citing the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Colorado: a front shop for Scientology’s anti-psychiatry propaganda and lobbying. A 2011 issue of the NZ publication asks on its cover, “Is Psychiatry A Hoax?”

The NZ Journal of Natural Medicine targets a number of areas where conspiracy meets evidence based medicine. Fluoride and how to detox from it, is accompanied in various issues with all the pseudoscientific horrors that are caused by this “poison”.

Predictably since the proposed Australian No Jab No Pay legislation gained increasing media coverage over 2015, this was picked up in NZ. The image below is from Issue 17, May – August 2015.

PreviewScreenSnapz008

Heavily laced with USA-centric articles this edition also included a piece entitled The Government Knows It’s A Medical Killing Machine, as its Health Freedom highlight. Although published in late 2013 the piece rattled off many figures we’ve been fed here by Meryl Dorey pushing the line that the medical system kills hundreds of thousands per year. Vioxx, Avandia, Paroxetine is apparenty ample evidence that peer reviewed publication peddles fraud. Also readers enjoyed this well known image:

PreviewScreenSnapz009

The article following this the incredible “Forced Vaccination At Gunpoint”. This is the same article word for word at Natural News, published November 19 2007 by Mike – Health Danger – Adams. Yep. By the time the NZ Natural Medicine “journal” published it it was 7, 1/2 years old. This image was added:

PreviewScreenSnapz010

Broaching the topic of No Jab No Pay in Australia comes The War Against Vaccine Refusers, written by an editor:

Make no mistake, there is a war hotting up against people, who for want of a better name I will call “vaccine-refusers” – people who choose not to be vaccinated (or allow their children to be vaccinated) or people who may agree to one or more vaccinations but don’t want to have every new vaccine that Big Pharma brings to market injected into them or their children.

In Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott recent announcement that the government planned to remove the “conscientious objection” category from vaccination exemptions from January 1, 2016 is especially worrying. Families who do not vaccinate their children (who do not belong to the Church of Christ, Scientist, and/or cannot obtain a medical exemption from vaccination) would lose their eligibility to the “Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement)”. The loss of these benefits could cost a family approximately $15,000 per child.

[…]

If the pro-vaccine lobby is successful in inculcating in the general public the belief that people do not want to be vaccinated (or parents who choose not to vaccinate their children) are “irresponsible” or “free- loaders”, the social conditions in which a coercive or even compulsory vaccination policy can be instituted will have been created.

If you take into account all the recent news from the USA (including the forced vaccination of children detailed elsewhere in this issue), the many bills before different US State governments, and the announcement by the Australian PM and the recent promotion of compulsory vaccination by Dr. O’Sullivan in NZ, it becomes clear that Big Pharma and its minions are obviously unhappy that there may be anyone refusing to be vaccinated – even if vaccine-refusers are only a small percentage of the population.

In fact as we know members of the Church of Christ, Scientist were not required to abuse their children by denying them the protection of vaccine induced immunity. Only medical exemptions are valid reasons to not lose access to benefits.

I can’t possibly comprehend why Judy Wilyman would want her name associated with a magazine populated with such varied deception and conspiracy. There is one small piece in this same issue some of you may have read before. There is very little original – or up to date – material in this so-called “journal”. As such they have chosen to publish the utterly insane, amusing as it is offensive piece from the Journal of Public health and Epidemiology, 2014; 6: 271-86.

This has been republished across the Internet, even starring in What Doctors Don’t Tell You. So I’ll publish it in full below:

 

Autism ‘Caused By MMR Using Human Fetal Cell Lines’ October 16, 2014

The explosion in autism has been caused by the introduction of human fetal cell lines in the manufacture of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccines, a major new study has concluded.

Before 1987, when the vaccines were produced with animal cell lines, autism cases were relatively low. Today, it’s been estimated that 1 in 50 children has autism.

Stem cell researcher Theresa Deisher and others say that the correlation between the sudden explosion in autism cases and the introduction of the new MMR vaccines is too strong to ignore – although, as the old maxim goes, correlation doesn’t prove causation.

The ‘change point’ – when the numbers of autism cases rose sharply – happened in the UK in 1987, just when the new MMR vaccine, using human fetal cells, was introduced. A similar correlation was seen around the same time in Denmark, while the autism change point in the US was 1980 to 1981 after the introduction of the new MeruvaxII and MMRII vaccines in 1979. Both vaccines used human fetal cells [as a culture medium for the rubella viruses in the vaccine – Ed] for the first time.

WI-38 and MRC-5 human diploid cell lines are used in the production of hepatitis A, rabies, rubella, varicella and Pentacell DTaP-IPV/Hib as well as MMR.

The article Vaccines Contain No Aborted Fetal Cells looks at the bogus claims of fetal cells in vaccines.

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