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State-sponsored intimidation, or when FARA goes too far

The US government is blatantly violating the most basic tenets of its purportedly “sacred” ideology of “human rights” and “free speech” by egregiously overstepping the bounds of FARA to engage in the same type of state-sponsored intimidation that it regularly accuses its geopolitical opponents of for far less.

Andrew Korybko

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Originally published in Oriental Review

Yahoo broke the story earlier on Monday that the FBI questioned former Sputnik employee Andrew Feinburg following his public complaints to the media about how the company is supposedly being run, and this reportedly came after another former employee, Joseph John Fionda, allegedly contacted the FBI on his own initiative to share “a big packet” of information accusing Sputnik of breaking the law. The legislation at the center of this scandal is the “Foreign Agents Registration Act” (FARA), a 1938 law originally passed to expose Nazi influence operations inside of the US. It’s since been used for registering anyone who works as a “foreign agent”, which stereotypically refers to Congressional lobbyists hired by foreign governments but is nowadays being proposed by some US voices to apply to Sputnik and RT as well.

The basis for this move is that both companies are publicly funded by the Russian government, and that this therefore supposedly makes them “propaganda” because it’s assumed by the American authorities that all of their employees lack “editorial independence” from the Kremlin. As could have been expected, the same forces pushing for Sputnik and RT to register as “foreign agents” under FARA aren’t interested in equally applying these expanded “standards” to other publicly financed international media outlets such as Al Jazeera and the BBC.

Using the same criteria as is being applied against these two companies, one could rhetorically question the “independence” of US Congressmen and American government-connected “think tanks” to the “deep state”, which is another word for its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies that hold disproportionate influence over policymaking decisions.

In any case, what’s important to focus on is the difference between publicly financed institutions and those which are “government-run”. The first one simply means that taxpayers are paying the bills, whereas the second refers to government employees being the final decision makers on all matters. All government employees work for publicly financed institutions, but not all employees at publicly financed institutions are government employees. Sputnik, for example, is a publicly financed media platform where the editors always have the final say as decision makers in what is a globally recognized industry-wide hierarchical standard. This doesn’t indicate “censorship” or a “cover-up” – it’s just plain journalism.

If Washington-funded media platforms happen to accuse Sputnik and RT of being “government-run”, then it might possibly be that they’re falsely projecting their own unstated but widely assumed internal arrangements onto their Russian counterparts.

Moreover, just because two disgruntled employees seem to have experienced communication issues with their superiors and failed to resolve – or in some cases, even address – them prior to continuing with their given assignments doesn’t mean that there’s a “Kremlin conspiracy” because their bosses were displeased with their overall work at the company as a result. Outcomes like that happen in those situations. It’s life – nothing more, nothing less – and should be used as a personal learning experience, not as someone’s “15 minutes of fame” driven by their desire to more easily land a new job elsewhere, whether in the same industry or the “think tank” one. It’s natural for people to have divergent views on any given subject, especially when it’s related to politics, but editors always have the final say when it comes to the journalism industry, and employees are supposed to respect that.

One of the more popular fake news claims going around about Sputnik and RT is that the two outlets were heavily biased in favor of Trump during the 2016 election, but that’s frankly not true, as anyone would know by listening to Sputnik’s radio programs from that time, watching RT’s shows, or reading both of their websites’ archives. Both platforms lean closer to the liberal-progressive side of things as opposed to the conservative one. Simply reporting on the many unfavorable stories surrounding Hillary Clinton and not blindly fawning over her candidacy doesn’t qualify as “institutional bias”, though in largely controlled systems such as the American one where most of the media openly back the Democrats, then the Overton window concept would suggest that Sputnik and RT’s balanced reporting and analyses would understandably stand out as attention-grabbing and exemplary.

In addition, it should never be forgotten that it was the on-the-fence population of the Rust Belt who surprisingly turned the election in Trump’s favor. One would presume that the liberal-progressive masses in the solidly Democratic states on each coast would be Sputnik and RT’s core audiences given how these two outlets’ more leftist-leaning stance on many matters overlap with the prevailing preferences there, so it’s ridiculous to believe that these Russian companies somehow convinced voters to want to “Make America Great Again” in the more stereotypically nationalistic heartland with their liberal-progressive messaging. In fact, it’s uncertain how many people in that part of the US listen to, watch, or read Sputnik and RT in the first place when Fox NewsCNN, and Rush Limbaughdominate those media markets, and whether these Russian companies are even capable of making any difference at all in those swing states.

Another point that’s often brought up in the course of this conversation is that individual writers, analysts, and presenters might be “biased”, but human beings are unique and have their own way of understanding and relaying information, which in the media field leads to them expressing their individual viewpoints and perspectives in their work. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it should be celebrated that people feel comfortable enough in their professional environment to express themselves as they see fit, though provided that they’re not obnoxiously – and perhaps even deliberately – doing something to cross the line of the editorial standards which vary according to the media outlet. The Sputnik and RT employees that are in the public limelight sometimes have opinions that are just as passionate as their counterparts in The Washington Post and The New York Times, though the latter two are rarely – if ever – condemned for their zeal by the US government.

The double standard that’s being applied when it comes to Sputnik and RT should be clear for all to see, and it’s that the American “deep state” doesn’t tolerate foreigners having an opinion about the US unless they present it on a US-based media platform or on one of Washington’s allies’. Otherwise, as the witch-hunting “logic” now goes, they’re “foreign agents” possibly “spreading propaganda”, and their outlets need to be registered as such with the intimidating “scarlet letter(s)” of FARA if they’re foreign-funded. Even worse, the hysterical zeitgeist has now peaked at such a point that Americans are unable to talk about American-related issues (whether domestic or foreign) on non-American international media outlets publicly funded by a foreign government without potentially having to register as a “foreign agent” in their homelands, whether they still live there or emigrated already.

This is nothing less than state-sponsored intimidation, since Washington is implying that the Americans who work for and comment on these platforms might be “national security threats” because of their supposedly undeclared “foreign agent” status.

If Russia implemented the same media version of FARA that the US is seriously considering and decided to decree that its citizens working for publicly funded American information outlets both in the country and abroad are “foreign agents” that are forced to register with the Kremlin, then the US government would instantly condemn it as state-sponsored intimidation and political oppression, possibly even extending political asylum and an expedited path to citizenship for those said nationals who might be working in the US and are too afraid to ever go home again. Frighteningly, however, it’s not Russians who have to fear the long arm of their government in this respect, but Americans, though it’s “politically incorrect” for anyone to say so.

In the Twilight Zone of the New Cold War, Russia could plausibly – and with full ethical and legal backing behind it –contemplate granting its Russian-based American employees political asylum and potential citizenship because of the state-sponsored intimidation that they might become reasonably subjected to back home just because they decided to “Tell The Untold” and “Question More”. If the US government demands that Sputnik and RT employees register as “foreign agents” under FARA but selectively ignores enforcing this new “standard” against other publicly financed international media companies and their employees, then it’s not unrealistic to imagine that Edward Snowden might end up sharing a toast with some fellow American political refugees in Moscow before too long.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 

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Voltaire
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Voltaire

The FSB in Russia should start interrogating US journalists in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia, treating them as spies…

As well as employees of US “NGO”s (CIA front organizations)…

Two can play at these games…

Donald Shake (Neon)
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Donald Shake (Neon)

Excellent article! Thank you for this coverage. Although not stated as such in this article, my takeaway concludes that this apparent hypocrisy strongly suggests–and adds strength to the argument–that my American government is in extremely rapid decline, which explains why it has become so paranoid of any media with a dissenting viewpoint.

KateAJones
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KateAJones

Boost your earnings on Google & make $99/hour by working from a home computer.
on friday I bought a gorgeous Chrysler when I got my check for $9277 this munth. it’s actualy the most comfortable job Ive ever had . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away got over $99, per/hr . check
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john vieira
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john vieira

Plain and simple ‘they want to control the ENTIRE narrative’…any dissenting views are not to be tolerated and any one presenting ‘facts’ that run contrary to the ‘official’ version ‘of things’ do so at their own risk. The ‘powers’ that be are not interested in ‘truth’ and ample examples of their ‘discolouration’ of same by the mainstream media proliferate, especially in the last couple years.

Debbie Beane
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Debbie Beane

Today, for the first time I visit RT and see that the viewer comment section is invisible to me. Yet, people are commenting, as I also saw a few indicators appear at the bottom of my screen. I guess maybe the inability to view comments are an indicator of pending FARA determinations described above? And more, such as:

“DHS orders departments & agencies to remove Kaspersky products over ‘Russian intelligence ties'”
https://www.rt.com/usa/403231-dhs-issues-directive-remove-kaspersky/

This, after Kaspersky had offered to share its source code with US govt. last July:
https://www.rt.com/usa/395148-kaspersky-source-code-us/

Freethinking Влади́мир
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Freethinking Влади́мир

Believe no one. Only way.

ecald12
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ecald12

Right on, Andrew! Your ratiocination is incontrovertible. The motivation behind the proposals to require RT and/or Sputnik to register has all to do with diminishing their appeal to foreign audiences, limiting their ability to compete in the arena of public media, and has nothing to do with their journalistic ethics and behavior.

Norman
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Norman

American crazy has no equal in this world. The smell of their fear stinks up the whole whole world.

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Foolish French President Macron tests Trump’s patience (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 149.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump was ridiculed for his nationalist agenda by the very unpopular, globalist French President Emmanuel Macron, in a very public display of disrespect towards the United States and its president.

Macron, in front of world leaders brought together to commemorate the end of World War I, thought it wise to chastise Trump for his ‘America first’ policy, stating that nationalism was “tearing the world apart.”

Trump did find Macron’s smart ass tone to his liking, tweeting out his feeling the minute he landed stateside by reminding his European peers who pays the bills to keep the peace on the continent.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris reflect on Macron’s diplomatic gaffe, which Trump is unlikely to forget anytime soon.

Macron showed his boyish diplomatic skills, for which a man like Trump will make sure a heavy price is paid. The French President will certainly be at the receiving end of a very public and embarrassing dressing down at the hands of Donald Trump.

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Via Zerohedge

What was supposed to be a solemn visit to honor the 16 million soldiers who died during World War I alongside a coterie of world leaders in Paris was overshadowed by a mini-scandal surrounding President Trump’s missing an Armistice ceremony at an American military cemetery for purely cosmetic reasons (Trump reportedly didn’t want to get his hair wet during the ceremony which was held in pouring rain, though the White House maintained that he missed the beginning of the ceremony for security purposes).

Given the media’s focus on Trump’s purported vanity at the expense of nearly every other detail from Trump’s visit, it’s hardly surprising that the president has returned to the US rather agitated, and decided to lash out at his European partners in a series of tweets Monday morning.

While he said that his meetings with fellow world leaders were productive, Trump noted that it’s “never easy” to raise the issue that the US foots most of the bill for military protections in Europe thanks to its outsize shouldering of the cost burden of funding NATO.

Adding insult to injury, the US is paying “hundreds of billions of dollars” for the privilege of “losing hundreds of billions of dollars” with these countries on trade. Trump demanded that, going forward, the US must be treated fairly on military spending and trade.

It is time, Trump said, for these countries to either pony up, or find a way to start protecting themselves.

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Midterm Elections: A Disaster Denied, and What is Coming

The Democrats intend to mount a non-stopping offensive against the President.

The Duran

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Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces ) via SHTFplan.com:


Before the 2016 Presidential Election, and both before and after the inauguration, I wrote specifically about how important the midterm election would be, and the results if the President should lose even one House of Congress.  That happened: the Republicans just lost the House of Representatives. Now that the Democrats control it, not one piece of legislation will pass that is on the President’s agenda. In the supreme act of denial, the Republican party claims the “Blue Wave” was not successful; even the President declared a “victory” with the midterms.

Nothing could be further from the truth, on either count.

The Democrats intend to mount a non-stopping offensive against the President. First, they are going to demand that Mueller go on the attack again. They are already demanding the President’s tax returns. On Thursday, 11-8-18, thousands of people marched in Times Square in New York City in protest of Jeff Sessions’ departure from the White House…although Sessions was the one who tendered a letter of resignation. The mob of protesters carried mass-produced “No one is above the law” placards and signs.

Not one of those Marxists carried those signs when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton resigned after Benghazi, where a U.S. Consular Outpost of the United States was destroyed, and the U.S. Ambassador and four of his staff murdered.

“Happy Veterans’ Day” is coming up, with the cliché eternal: “Thank you for your service.”

Nobody really cares about it, except the vets. Those who have to work receive time and a half for their pay, and Hallmark makes about another $50 million or so on the cards and gifts…about $10 million of that for the Government to “re-ingest” with the taxes….another day on the endless cycle:

The cycle of spending of disposable income, an indispensable part of the economy and all of the governmental employees on paid federal holiday, solemnly dispensed of at the expense of (to paraphrase Metallica) the government’s “disposable heroes.”

Where were the protests in the streets after Benghazi? Everybody was hidden, because at the time we were under Obama. When Donald Trump was elected President, a “hiatus” was granted from the nonstop march toward socialism/communism that reached a zenith as never before. Now that hiatus is shrinking, as the Communists and Marxists begin new offensives under their playbook “Rules for Radicals,” offensives targeting every area of the society.

Their plan should be obvious: to keep the President “backpedaling” and the economy faltering, in order to set the stage for the 2020 election. All of this I have written about before, and it came to pass with the Midterm elections. If they keep the President on the defense and keep pushing the “social issues,” it will render his administration ineffective…not delivering the change back toward the right that the voters wanted to see in 2016.

The Wall Street Journal published a piece on November 9 entitled Democrats plan to pursue most aggressive gun-control legislation in decades.” They have been receiving plenty of help on this one, with the Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, and the recent murders by a former Marine last week. Here they come again! All of the legislators…with armed protectors paid for by you, mind you…clamoring for the guns. Here’s a piece of it for you:

Democrats say they will pass the most aggressive gun-control legislation in decades when they become the House majority in January, plans they renewed this week in the aftermath of a mass killing in a California bar. Their efforts will be spurred by an incoming class of pro-gun-control lawmakers who scored big in Tuesday’s midterm elections, although any measure would likely meet stiff resistance in the GOP-controlled Senate. Democrats ousted at least 15 House Republicans with “A” National Rifle Association ratings, while the candidates elected to replace them all scored an “F” NRA rating. “This new majority is not going to be afraid of our shadow,” said Mike Thompson, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “We know that we’ve been elected to do a job, and we’re going to do it.”

Now of course the argument to this rationale will be that the Senate is needed before a law passes. Yes, we all watched “Schoolhouse Rock” and learned about the three-party system of checks and balances. The problem?  Nothing was accomplished when the Republicans held both houses of Congress, and the Reds and Blues counter one another, and more:

The Democrats’ strategy is not to pass any laws: it is to stir up public controversy, win support of the “Zero” generation, and either force actions through the “tyranny of the majority,” or make it so horrible an arena that it detracts from or prevents any positive efforts and actions from the administration…setting the stage for the 2020 election.

Ocasio-Cortez just entered the House of Representatives at the “sage/sagacious” age of 29, and she is a self-described “democratic socialist” who favors single-payer healthcare, gun control, abolishing border controls, and declared that she would support the impeachment of the President. She was also part of Bernie Sanders’ campaign movement in 2016.

Lenin espoused some “gems” that should be considered. Here is one that falls in line with the “newly discovered wonderful possibility of socialism” the Zero-generation and twenty-somethings have fallen in love with hook, line, and sinker:

“The goal of socialism is communism.”

New York just placed a “democratic socialist” in the White House…a declared socialist, among all of the hidden Marxists camouflaged under the “progressive” or “democratic” monikers.

Gun control, coming at us once again, and once more, a quote from Lenin for you:

“Disarmament is the ideal of socialism. There will be no wars in socialist society; consequently, disarmament will be achieved. But whoever expects that socialism will be achieved without a social revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat is not a socialist. Dictatorship is state power based directly on violence. And in the twentieth century – as in the age of civilization generally – violence means neither a fist nor a club, but troops. To put “disarmament” in the program is tantamount to making the general declaration: “We are opposed to the use of arms.” There is as little Marxism in this as there would be if we were to say: “We are opposed to violence!” – Lenin, “The Disarmament Slogan,” from October of 1916

The next two years should be interesting, to say the least. Keep in mind: the President is not throwing in the towel, however, he has one more year to turn the tide…before he has to campaign. There is still another way, though: I mentioned it in the last article that I wrote. Bush Jr. used this technique successfully when he was trailing Kerry in the polls. Margaret Thatcher used this technique when she was about to be shown the door, and turned it around, remaining in office.

The “technique” is a war, whether a “quickie” (such as the Falklands War…Malvinas, if you prefer), or a protracted one (Iraq “II” where victory was declared within months of started, and it was achieved…with the decades and a half of Military Industrial Complex contracts…and the transition of the United States into a Surveillance and Police State).

The technique is a war, and if you keep abreast of what is going on, you will see that Russia and China are gearing up for a war, the nations are “decoupling” themselves incrementally from the dying fiat-backed Petrodollar, and North Korea is once again raising itself as a nuclear threat (on its own, or encouraged by one or more nations). A war could either suspend elections, or propel the incumbent into a victory based on the populace’s perception of what they need. Remember this last quote from Lenin, and let it sink in good:

“A standing army and police are the chief instruments of state power.” – Lenin, State and Revolution, 1917

The ultimate truth: the elections are akin to the Stock Market, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average. It doesn’t matter how many shares are bought or sold, as long as there are fluctuations and flux. The winners are the brokers, who pocket their commissions on every trade…a sell or a buy. The same exists here. The blue donkeys versus the red elephants. The “tribalism” of men, and their needs of a social order…a cohesive social grouping that reflects what they believe in…is exploited to its maximum advantage. All the while, the paradigm shifts almost imperceptibly, until before you know it….twenty years have elapsed, and you are not looking at the same country anymore.

The “art” is to make the people think they will be getting what they want…dupe them into believing it is something good, when it’s not. It took the blood of heroes to form and defend this nation.  The downfall is precipitated by traitors from within…bleeding the nation white by circumventing existing laws and replacing them with the greatest injustice and threat to personal liberty of all. What is that greatest threat? A foreign enemy? A spontaneous collapse of everything?

No. The greatest threat is the acceptance of the people of the illusion of “social justice,” that really translates into something for nothing by taking from those who have earned, and giving it to those who live within the entitlement cesspool of their own sloth. Such a mentality pervades our society today. In order to save the United States, we have to return to our fundamental values and become an ass-kicking, straight-shooting people who fear God and care for their families, neighbors, and nation once more. If we do this, we may emerge from the coming night as a nation once more. Ready your NVGs, and steel your hearts for the challenge before it arrives…now…at the twilight’s last gleaming.

May Veterans’ Day bring remembrance to your mind, may your heart find peace, and may any who serve in your family be safe and sound.


Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne).  Mr. Johnson is also a Gunsmith, a Certified Master Herbalist, a Montana Master Food Preserver, and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape).  He lives in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with his wife and three cats. You can follow Jeremiah’s regular writings at SHTFplan.com or contact him here.

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Russia’s Next Weapon: A Church

The Russian military plans to build a military church to bolster the spiritual values of its armed forces.

The Duran

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Authored by Michael Peck via The National Interest:


Meet Vladimir Putin’s newest weapon: a church.

The Russian military plans to build a military church to bolster the spiritual values of its armed forces. Construction will soon begin of the Main Church of the Armed Forces, to be erected in Patriot Park outside Moscow, according to Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, deputy defense minister and chief of the armed forces’ Main Military-Political Directorate, a new organization responsible for political education of the troops.

The “new church will be one more example of the people’s unity around the idea of patriotism, love, and devotion to our Motherland,” Kartapolov told Russian journalists.

To say the church, dubbed by some as the “Khaki Temple,” will have a martial air would be an understatement.

“The walls of the military church are really made in the color of the standard Russian missile system and armored vehicle,” according to the Russian newspaper The Independent [Google English translation here ] “…From the inside, the walls are decorated with paintings with battle scenes from military history and texts from the Holy Scriptures. The projected height is 95 meters [104 feet] and is designed for 6,000 people.”

“Kartapolov is convinced that the modern Russian serviceman cannot be shaped without shaping lofty spirituality in him,” Russian media said. “Speaking about ideology, the deputy head of the military department pointed out that this will be based on knowledge of the history of our Motherland and people and on historical and cultural traditions.”

“Even though the Russian constitution states that ‘no ideology may be established as state or obligatory,’ the Kremlin continues to search for a unifying set of beliefs,” notes the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office.

Religion has long played a role in Russian military life, first through the Russian Orthodox Church in Tsarist times, and then—in a secular way—through Communism in Soviet times. “In late imperial Russia, when they began to build garrisons, every regiment sought to build a regimental church, but not a synagogue or mosque,” Roger Reese, an historian at Texas A&M University who has written books on the Tsarist and Soviet armed forces, told the National Interest. “In Putin’s Russia, the Orthodox Church seeks every opportunity to represent itself as the national religion and tie itself to the state as it had under the tsars, so this act represents continuity broken temporarily by the Soviet years. Of course the Soviet regime did not build churches for the army, but it did build the ‘House of the Red Army,’ shaped like a star, in Moscow dedicated to the use of the Red Army and its soldiers.

In some respects it was analogous to a USO [United Service Organization that supports American soldiers] building. So Putin’s dedicating one particular building to the use of the Russian Army soldiers for purposes of morale—and morals—is in line with that.”

While the thought of a military church will be distasteful to some, Russia is hardly unique in linking the military and religion.

Many armies, the United States and Israel included, maintain chaplains who wear uniform and hold military rank. Chapels are common on military bases, and soldiers are given time for – and sometimes pressured to – attend religious services. While a Russian military church is likely to favor a specific denomination – Russian Orthodoxy – even that isn’t unique: non-Christian members of the U.S. military have complained of religious discrimination , especially by Christian fundamentalists.

What’s interesting is how little things change. Be it the Tsar’s conscripts, or the Red Army’s draftees or the volunteers who comprise much of modern Russia’s military, some spiritual reinforcement is deemed necessary to get soldiers to fight.

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