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Britain - Police State? II
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sherbetbizarreOffline
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PostPosted: 20-08-2013 01:40    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The Guardian Claims British Government Destroyed Their Hard Drives

Writing in response to yesterday's detainment of David Miranda, Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, revealed that UK security officials had destroyed hard drives at The Guardian's office at some point in the past month.

The Guardian, which employs Glenn Greenwald and has been a major publisher of leaks from both Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, had repeatedly been told by British intelligence officers to destroy the hard drives that held any leaks from Snowden.

Rusbridger said he received several warnings from UK intelligence, before they finally became fed up:

    The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."

Rusbridger repeatedly explained to UK officials that the hard drives contained information that was stored elsewhere across the globe, and could easily be reached by the Guardian. In fact, reporters for the Guardian had been flying across the world to safely deliver the information to other offices, without using the Internet (which, we can all safely assume by now, is being monitored). Still, UK intelligence came to the Guardian offices to destroy the hard drives anyway —

    And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.

Rusbridger reiterated that no matter what Miranda was caught with yesterday at Heathrow, the Guardian's reporting on the Snowden leaks will not stop. It simply will no longer be done in London, where the government has shown that it is now openly hostile to journalists.

http://gawker.com/the-guardian-claimes-british-government-destroyed-their-1169394383

The original article: "...the threat to journalism is real and growing"
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/19/david-miranda-schedule7-danger-reporters
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rynner2Online
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PostPosted: 25-08-2013 07:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's Left-wing prats who are defending our freedoms
The visit by national security agents to smash up computers at the Guardian newspaper is shocking, like something out of East Germany in the 1970s
By Janet Daley
3:36PM BST 24 Aug 2013

A few weeks ago, a British national newspaper was visited by a detachment of national security agents who demanded that its computers and hard drives be destroyed. The security men then stood over its staff while they smashed their equipment to pieces. In the peace-time history of a free country, this incident is about as shocking as it gets. And yet, a remarkable consensus has grown up, including – I’m sorry to say – many on my side of the political fence, to the effect that this is no big deal.

The reasons that this scene – which looks, on the face of it, like something out of East Germany in the 1970s – is apparently perfectly acceptable seem to be: a) the data in the computers was a threat to the national security of this country and to that of our American allies; b) this information was stolen from the US government and published illegally by people who are narcissistic/eccentric/of dubious political judgment, and c) the newspaper in question was the Guardian, which is full of annoying Left-wing prats. Let’s consider these points in order of importance.

Taking a hammer to the hardware in the Guardian’s basement will make scarcely any difference to the dissemination of this data since duplicates reside in other locations around the globe. So presiding over the physical destruction of the newspaper’s property could only constitute a form of rather theatrical intimidation.

The official excuse for getting rid of the equipment – even though the data was known to exist elsewhere – was that the paper’s system might be insecure, so obliterating it meant that at least one source of potential leaks was eliminated. This would be far more credible if the National Security Agency (whose mass surveillance programme had been exposed) was as diligent in carrying out its prescribed function as it is in vindictively pursuing anyone who reports its unconstitutional activities to the world.

It is now an established fact that the US security agencies – while they were presumably busy trawling through the email traffic and telephone records of the general population – ignored explicit warnings that the Tsarnaev brothers were potential terrorists. In spite of the Chechen pair being specifically identified by Russian security experts, these dangerous young men – living in plain sight – were allowed to prepare unmolested for the Boston marathon bombings.

And in addition to such serious lapses of concentration, the NSA has had moments of comic ineptitude: at one point, it seems it confused the international dialling code for Egypt (20) with the area code for Washington DC (202) and ended up hauling in the records of every phone call that went through the nation’s capital. Shocked Indeed, the fact that Edward Snowden, who was an employee of an outside contractor, had access to its top-secret data, suggests that the standards of security at the agency were pretty lax.

Which brings us to: b) the individuals who transmitted and received this information. The personalities of these people, however self-righteous or psychologically flawed they may be, are of no relevance.
What Snowden exposed was a gross abuse of power by a secret policing agency. What the NSA was (is) doing is strictly prohibited by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that the citizen shall be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” without probable cause. That is why the 2008 anti-terrorism law, which allows warrantless surveillance on domestic networks, specifies that this must be targeted at non-citizens abroad. (Reader, this means you if you have any digital or telephone contact with the US.)

In reality, this programme now involves the indiscriminate mass monitoring of innocent communications on a scale that is unprecedented in history. What we should be concerned about are not the personal quirks of Mr Snowden or his opportunistic embrace by Vladimir Putin, but the significance of what he revealed with the help of some journalists.

So here we are at c) and the particular problem that some commentators have with the Guardian newspaper. As regular readers will know, I do not balk at any opportunity to ridicule the self-regarding Left-liberalism of the Guardian. Nor do I support its attempt to place legal limits on the activities of the press – the irony of which is not lost on those who are now unconcerned about its fate.

But that is neither here nor there. When James Rosen, the White House correspondent of Fox News, was being threatened by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice, he was defended in the most robust and uncompromising terms by none other than the New York Times (which has now entered an agreement with the Guardian to share the Snowden data).

So a newspaper that was the quasi-official Obama fanzine, and which detests Fox News with every fibre of its being, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Fox’s persecuted reporter against illegitimate bullying by the federal government. Neither his views, nor the political orientation of his employers, were of any consequence in the matter. That is how it has to be if freedom of expression is to survive these dangerous times.

And this is the justification of it all: that the dangerousness of the times means that we must temporarily suspend our basic freedoms and even our concept of private life. So let me make this clear. I recognise the unfathomable danger of a deranged, nihilistic enemy. If anything, the threat to civilian life seems greater now than during the Cold War, when both sides were quietly dealing all the time.

But where are we going with this? How much are we prepared to compromise with our idea of a life worth living in order to pursue the chimera of perfect safety?
An awful lot of people are saying that they don’t mind if their emails, Skype calls and mobile phone records are being collected. If that helps the state to protect them and their families, it’s OK.

Well, suppose we park a security officer at the door of every household to monitor who enters and leaves, who visits whom and how many hours they stay? The security men won’t actually enter the house, of course, unless they have reason to believe that there might be some activity taking place inside that could facilitate or incite terrorism – but they will keep records of all the comings and goings from every address. Will that be OK too?

The British degree of trust in their security agencies startles many other countries (like Germany and the US) where liberty is taken less for granted. An editor of the US National Review wrote last week of those “who steadfastly refuse to express anxiety unless they can actually hear jackboots”. Note: once you hear the jackboots, it’s too late.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10263356/Its-Left-wing-prats-who-are-defending-our-freedoms.html
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 25-08-2013 12:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

It does sound like 'security theatre', designed to intimidate. Dismantling every part of the computers was entirely unnecessary; all they needed to do was remove the hard drives. The other parts of the computer don't store any data. Barmy and OTT.
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 25-08-2013 12:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

It does sound like 'security theatre', designed to intimidate. Dismantling every part of the computers was entirely unnecessary; all they needed to do was remove the hard drives. The other parts of the computer don't store any data. Barmy and OTT.
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jimv1Offline
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PostPosted: 05-10-2013 09:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

A brilliant article on Britain as survellance state culminating in a call for a digital bill of rights. As it's quite long, just a couple of quotes...

Quote:
British reaction
And yet nobody, at least in Britain, seems to care. In the UK there has been an extraordinary disconnect between the scale and seriousness of what Snowden has revealed, and the scale and seriousness of the response. One of the main reasons for that, I think, is that while some countries are interested in rights, in Britain we are more focused on wrongs.

In Europe and the US, the lines between the citizen and the state are based on an abstract conception of the individual's rights, which is then framed in terms of what the state needs to do.

That's not the case in Britain: although we do have rights, they were arrived at by specific malfeasances and disasters on the part of the state.

Every right that limits the behaviour of the police, from the need for search warrants to the (now heavily qualified) right to silence to habeas corpus itself, comes from the fact that the authorities abused their powers.

This helps to explain why Snowden's revelations, perceived as explosive in American and Europe by both the political right and left, have been greeted here with a weirdly echoing non-response. In the rights-based tradition, the flagrant abuse of individual privacy is self-evidently a bad thing, a (literally) warrantless extension of the power of the state.

Here in the UK, because we've been given no specific instances of specific wrongs having been committed, the story has found it hard to gain traction. Even if there were such instances – just as there were 2,776 rule violations by the NSA last year alone – we wouldn't know anything about them, because the system of judicial inspections at GCHQ is secret.





Quote:
New society
What this means is that we're moving towards a new kind of society. Britain is already the most spied on, monitored and surveilled democratic society there has ever been. This doesn't seem to have been discussed or debated, and I don't remember ever being asked to vote for it. As for how this trend appears in the GCHQ documents, there is something of a gap between how the spies talk in public and how they can occasionally be found to talk in private.

It is startling to see, for instance, that the justification for the large-scale interception of everybody's internet use seems to be a clause in Ripa allowing interception of "at least one end foreign" communications. Whack on to this a general purpose certificate from the secretary of state, and a general warrant, and bingo, this allows full access to traffic via companies such as Google and Facebook – because their servers are located overseas. I can't believe that that was the intention of the people who drafted Ripa, who were surely thinking more of people taking phone calls from moody bits of Waziristan, rather than your nan searching for cheaper tights.



The whole article is well worth a read...

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/03/edward-snowden-files-john-lanchester
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 11-10-2013 12:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
'ScareMail' seeks to confuse NSA programs with nonsense
http://rt.com/usa/scaremail-nsa-tool-nonsense-957/
Published time: October 10, 2013 01:44 Get short URL
Reuters / Toru HanaiReuters / Toru Hanai

An Illinois man has developed a Gmail browser extension designed to randomly insert fake, nonsensical stories into the signature of every email one sends to confuse the NSA’s surveillance operations.

Benjamin Grosser says “ScareMail” takes keywords from an extensive US Department of Homeland Security list used to troll social media websites and utilizes them “to disrupt the NSA’s surveillance efforts by making NSA search results useless.”

The buzzwords include the likes of “Al-Qaeda” and “Al-Shabab,” yet also more mundane terms like “breach,” “threat,” “death” and “hostage,” among many others.

Documents released by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA uses the “selector” terms to sift through Internet data it collects via a tool known as “XKEYSCORE.”

“If every email contains the word ‘plot,’ or ‘facility,’ for example, then searching for those words becomes a fruitless exercise. A search that returns everything is a search that returns nothing of use,” Grosser says.

Grosser, 43, said the extension tool, which took him about three weeks to build, is a form of protest in that he hopes it will overwhelm or frustrate the agency’s programs with superfluous information.

For example, he shows on his website how a typical ScareMail sentence could begin: "Captain Beatty failed on his Al-Shabaab, hacking relentlessly about the fact to phish this far, and strand her group on the wall-to-wall in calling suspicious packages...."

Not only is ScareMail designed to combat NSA spying, but it is a project aimed at exploring the relationship between words and surveillance. He writes on his site, the “ability to use whatever words we want is one of our most basic freedoms, yet the NSA’s growing surveillance of electronic speech threatens our first amendment rights… ScareMail reveals one of the primary flaws of the NSA’s surveillance efforts: words do not equal intent.”
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Pietro_Mercurios
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PostPosted: 11-10-2013 13:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

ramonmercado wrote:
Quote:
'ScareMail' seeks to confuse NSA programs with nonsense
http://rt.com/usa/scaremail-nsa-tool-nonsense-957/
Published time: October 10, 2013 01:44 Get short URL
Reuters / Toru HanaiReuters / Toru Hanai

An Illinois man has developed a Gmail browser extension designed to randomly insert fake, nonsensical stories into the signature of every email one sends to confuse the NSA’s surveillance operations.

...

... one of the primary flaws of the NSA’s surveillance efforts: words do not equal intent.”

Just sounds like a lot of spam generator programmes, to me. They spin all sort of plausible buzzwords into nonsense, to get past spam filters.
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 11-10-2013 17:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why would you be including all those words in a "normal" e-mail anyway? Sounds a bit unnecessary, unless he's one of those people who has a need to be awkward and thinks he's more important than he is. Or has a need to be important and thinks he's more awkward than he is.
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rynner2Online
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PostPosted: 14-10-2013 08:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a vigorous, voracious press that keeps our country honest
Regulating the media would undermine its ferocious ability to highlight wrongdoing, writes Boris Johnson
By Boris Johnson
8:07PM BST 13 Oct 2013

Good for Fraser Nelson. It strikes me that he is 100 per cent right. The editor of The Spectator has announced that his ancient and illustrious publication will have nothing whatever to do with any new system of press regulation. He will neither bow nor truckle to any kind of control. He will not “sign up”. He will politely tell the new bossyboots institution to mind its own beeswax, and he will continue to publish without fear or favour.

I think the whole of the media should do the same. Stuff all this malarkey about the Privy Council and a Royal Charter. Who are the Privy Council, for goodness’ sake? They are just a bunch of politicians, a glorified version of the government of the day. We are on the verge of eroding the freedom of the press. We are undermining the work of everyone from John Milton to John Wilkes – men who fought for the right to say and publish things of which politicians disapproved.

Why are we embarking on this monstrous folly? Because of a string of essentially political embarrassments that led to the Leveson Inquiry – and at the beginning of it all was the expenses scandal, and the sense among MPs that they had been brutally treated by the press.

It is true: they were mercilessly kicked for what they thought was a venial sin – padding out their pay with expenses claims that did not stand up well to scrutiny. But then it should have occurred to Parliament – collectively – that they were not being entirely frank with the public about the way the system worked. They were allowing the world to think their salaries were relatively modest, when in fact they had found ways of inflating them – and some of those ways were innocent, some were baroque, and some were criminal.

Yes, it is true that many good and honourable people (and their spouses) were made to feel like lepers. But you could not seriously argue that the story should have been suppressed, or that the actions of the media were in any way improper, or invited some new legislative curb. That was the political context in which Leveson was called into being, with MPs seething for revenge. It was the hacking cases that gave them their pretext, the deep public revulsion against what appeared to have been done in the case of Milly Dowler by the News of the World – and the sensational potential implications for the No 10 spokesman, Andy Coulson, a former editor of that paper.

A public inquiry became inevitable, and before that inquiry there trooped a succession of famous people who felt that the media had been not so much wrong as plain beastly; just horrid in the way they behaved, the kinds of questions they asked, the appalling things they wrote. By the end of the whole fandango – and it was a long time coming – it was obvious that we would have some kind of attempt at regulation; and it was also obvious that any such regulation was a nonsense.

We already have abundant law against obscenity, or breach of official secrets. We have laws against libel and defamation, against bugging, hacking, theft, bribery of public officials. We have a growing tort of breach of privacy. We have no need of some new body backed by statute, or the Privy Council, and it is wrong in principle. You either have a free press or you don’t. You can’t sell the pass, and admit the principle of regulation – because it is in the nature of regulation that it swells and grows. You can’t be a little bit pregnant. Twisted Evil

Every day I see signs of investor confidence in London – and why do international companies and individuals want to put their money in the British capital? It is not just because of our bikes and our beautiful new buses. It is because of the rule of law, the absolute certainty over title, the virtual absence of corruption. They know that the British system is as transparent and honest as any on earth, and I am afraid that is not just because of the natural purity of the British soul: it is because we have a vigorous, voracious and sometimes venomous media. And that is why the ruling classes don’t dare bend the rules, in the way they do in other countries; because no one wants to be dangled before that great media beast and look into its bloodshot yellow eyes and feel the hot carnivorous breath of its displeasure.

I am afraid it is inevitable that a vigorous media will cause occasional heartache, and dish out the odd uncalled-for insult. It strikes me that Ed Miliband was well within his rights to stick up for his father, for instance. But you can’t regulate the press just because they are insulting, or subversive, or find stories in tainted sources. We need someone to tell us that we are all being spied on by the American security services – that strikes me as being an invaluable bit of news, if hardly surprising. And if papers are genuinely at risk of compromising our national security by their revelations, then we have the D-notice system – to which all editors subscribe – to keep them in order.

The last and most powerful point against any new regulation of papers is that it is so completely pointless. We live in a world in which vast quantities of news can be instantly disseminated across the internet, and by companies way beyond any conceivable reach of parliament or government.

So I hope the press will tell the Privy Council to stick it in the privy; and if you are bothered by those nasty people from the media, and they won’t go away, and they continue to sit outside your house asking questions to which you have already told them the answer, may I recommend that you do as my children and I once did years ago. We imitated Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop, and we stuffed bananas secretly up the reporter’s tailpipe, and I remember us laughing helplessly at her air of puzzlement as she kaboing-ed up the road. Far better than regulation. Cool

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10376382/Its-a-vigorous-voracious-press-that-keeps-our-country-honest.html
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Pietro_Mercurios
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PostPosted: 14-10-2013 08:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Barclay Brothers have spoken!
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Ronson8Offline
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PostPosted: 14-10-2013 09:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pietro_Mercurios wrote:
The Barclay Brothers have spoken!

Filthy Lucre!
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Quake42Offline
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PostPosted: 14-10-2013 10:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Every day I see signs of investor confidence in London – and why do international companies and individuals want to put their money in the British capital? It is not just because of our bikes and our beautiful new buses. It is because of the rule of law, the absolute certainty over title, the virtual absence of corruption


Except that the main reason that Leveson etc blew up the way it did was the failure of large swathes of the press to obey the law and a lack of will on the part of the police to enforce it. Had newspapers followed the law and police and prosecutors taken action when they did not, all of this Royal Charter stuff could have been avoided.
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rynner2Online
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PostPosted: 04-11-2013 12:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leicestershire Police criticised after disciplining schoolboy who flicked elastic band at another boy
Mother says her son was left in tears when two officers turned up at their home while the family were watching X Factor
By News agencies
9:32AM GMT 04 Nov 2013

A mother has criticised police after two officers were sent to discipline her 12-year-old son for flicking an elastic band at another boy at school.
Angela Brightwell thought teachers had dealt with the minor incident outside the schoolgates two weeks earlier.
Her son told her the band accidentally shot out of his hand and hit a younger boy in the face and he had apologised.

However, Ms Brightwell said her son was left in tears when two officers turned up at his home while he was watching Saturday night TV with his family.
Ms Brightwell, 42, said she opened the front door to find two PCs demanding to see her son.

The schoolboy, who does not want to be named, was then given a dressing-down on the doorstep in view of neighbours and told his behaviour was "bullying" and "not acceptable", said Ms Brightwell.

The police admitted the other boy had not been injured but said he was "traumatised" by what had happened a fortnight earlier.
And after hearing the 12 year-old's version of events the officers left after five minutes and said they would take no further action.

Ms Brightwell said: "I am very angry. I cannot believe the police would investigate something like this - even if he had a mark I still can't believe they would investigate.
"I just want to know why the police were investigating a 12-year-old boy on a Saturday evening. I cannot get over it really. My son is not a bully. I'm really shocked.
"I am horrified they would waste resources on it all."

Ms Brightwell said the rubber band accident happened at the beginning of October outside her son's secondary school in Leicestershire.
He was playing with the elastic when it shot out of his hand and hit a younger boy on the head.
Her son said he immediately ran up to the other lad, who he did not know, to apologise and both were taken into school to be dealt with.

Ms Brightwell said: "My first concern was that the other boy had been badly hurt but they told me that he was fine, just traumatised.
"My son had told me the school had sorted it out. I didn't think it was a big deal, it was an accident, he was playing with it, it flicked out of his hand and accidentally hit the boy.
"He apologised straight away to the boy and thought that was the end of it."

Leicestershire Police said they acted after the younger boy's mother reported the incident to officers.
A force spokeswoman said: "The mother of an 11 year-old boy reported that her son had been flicked in the face with a rubber band by another child.
"Officers attended both families and advice was given. No crime was committed and therefore no investigation was launched."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10424529/Leicestershire-Police-criticised-after-disciplining-schoolboy-who-flicked-elastic-band-at-another-boy.html
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Quake42Offline
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PostPosted: 04-11-2013 12:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm. I can't help thinking that there is rather more to this story than is being reported and I'm rather unconvinced by the "it just flew out of my hand by accident" protestations.
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PostPosted: 04-11-2013 15:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the poor sole was traumatised by an elastic band, I hate to think what horrors life may through at him in future.
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