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Elon Musk to create a site to battle fakes news, its name: PRAVDA

The creator of Space X and Tesla wants to battle fake news with “Pravda”

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Elon Musk is creating a website where “…the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication,” as he said in a tweet.

Interestingly enough, he plans on naming it Pravda.

When we hear the name Pravda, we think of many things; for Russian speakers, this means “The Truth”, however, it was also the name of a famous Soviet newspaper, which has survived in various successor forms. For example, Komsomolskaya Pravda, who wrote an article (in Russian) about Musk’s idea of the site.

Musk also created a poll, asking people to vote as to whether or not they felt this was a good and useful idea, and so far, according to RIA Novosti, 88% of the 68 thousand asked, supported the creation of Pravda.

Musk said the site should not only have protection from bots, but also work to expose anyone who uses them for misinformation. While we know little about the purposed site, based on the description, it seems to be highly community based, where people essentially “rate” as he said, articles, journalists, editors, publications, etc. This could possibly be similar to how Reddit is karma based, though on a much higher level, with “the public” leaving reviews of articles and those who publish them.

This is perhaps the most important aspect of his announcement, in this age of fake news, the idea of the public rating the “truth” of an article. This is an issue perfectly captured in RIA Novosti’s headline describing his idea, which said in Russian “Everyone has his own Pravda (Truth)”. The double entendre of the word Pravda in Russian made the headline so poetic, and so powerful in revealing the major implications of this website. Before we jump into these implications, it is worth noting something interesting about the word Pravda, that non-Slavic speakers may not understand.

While the word does indeed mean “Truth” in Russian, it can also have the connotation of meaning “Law” (which is technically Zakon), for example, Russkaya Pravda, the earliest code of Laws in Rus’ (which was far more progressive than western laws for its day, even outlawing capital punishment in the High Middle Ages). The word can also mean in a classical sense Justice, and Righteousness as well.

This is because, in the West, its understood that just as religion is separate from the state, and the individual from the collective; there is the notion that the law, in its current form may not necessarily be what is right or true. To the Russian Orthodox Soul, this is ridiculous. It does not mean Russians can’t recognize if this is a reality, but deep down, it’s hard for Russians to understand how the Law should not be Just or Right. This is because if Russians believe that which is right, should be law, and is always based on truth, and likewise, if something is wrong, whether morally, spiritually, or literally, it must ultimately be based on lies. It is interesting to take a moment and observe this difference in Russian mentality about the word “Truth”, and compare it to the western one, where Justice, Truth, and Righteousness are seen as three distinct things.

The issue with Elon Musk’s Pravda, however, is just as the RIA Novosti headline described it.

Everyone always has his own truth. As we have seen in recent years, with the unprecedented battles throughout the entire world over “fake news”, what is true, and what is fake has become not only blurred, but highly contested in fierce battles between states and leaders.

What often happens is when one side does not like what the other is saying, they accuse them of spreading “fake news’. While the idea of lying is quite ancient, the new focus on “Fake News” is different, as both states and mega-companies like Facebook, which essentially control as much private information as states, are cracking down on what they perceive to be fake news.

Elon Musk notably came into his own conflict with Facebook about the massive scandal over how they handle their user’s data. He shocked everyone when deleted his Facebook accounts. Bare in mind, alternative media was reporting on what Facebook has been doing for years, however, until recently, it was branded mostly as conspiracy theories. Now that the truth is out, there are, of course, no apologies.

Love him or hate him, no one can deny Musk is very powerful, and he has proven he can achieve amazing things; he’s one of the few people that can seemingly turn any random idea into instant success – his track record speaks for itself.

As a result, we should be aware that if his previous record of success continues, and he develops this website, it will almost certainly become a big deal, and therefore, it’s worthy of our attention.

And so this brings us back to Pravda. As RIA Novosti said, everyone has their own Pravda, everyone has their own truth. It’s the age we live in. The biggest concern is if everyone has their own truth – which truth will be represented at Pravda.

Fake news is everywhere, and the average person is not an expert on every subject. We’ve seen time and time again how fake news is most commonly believed by uninformed people. Fake news is often so successful due to the general ignorance of the population about the subject in question.

Take for example the Ukraine Crisis; an article at the Washington Post found that less than 20% of Americans could locate Ukraine on the map, and the least informed among them (those who could not find it) was the group which most strongly supported military intervention in Ukraine.

About one in six (16 percent) Americans correctly located Ukraine, clicking somewhere within its borders. Most thought that Ukraine was located somewhere in Europe or Asia, but the median respondent was about 1,800 miles off … locating Ukraine somewhere in an area bordered by Portugal on the west, Sudan on the south, Kazakhstan on the east, and Finland on the north….The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily.

This would also imply these uninformed people, who couldn’t locate the nation, yet somehow felt their country should start a war there, believed the lies about a “Russian invasion”. They certainly can’t speak Ukrainian and/or Russian, or know anything about the culture for that matter. This is the issue with crowdsourced fact-checking. If the fact checkers are the general populace, they may be capable of speaking as to what is happening right before their eyes, but how are they informed enough to fact check stories about events in a distant country?

The public cannot be expected to be an expert on every subject. This is why there is no such thing, and likely never will be, an absolute direct democracy, where all matters are decided on by the people. Almost every form of large-scale human government and organization has a dedicated class of leaders. In Monarchies, the Sovereign is believed to be appointed by God, in representative democracies and republics, the people vote to elect leaders, who then represent them and make decisions on their behalf.

Even under the officially communist Soviet Union, and other socialist states, which had the official the goal to make all working people equal, it is still accepted there must be a dictatorship of the proletariat, to guide the people on the way to achieving communism. Without getting into a debate on the meaning and forms of Democracy, the fact remains, there is no practical system in which a majority vote can decide all matters.

One the one hand, it can lead to dangerous ochlocratia (Mob rule), in which there exists a tyranny of the majority, for example, 51% of the population voting to deprive the other 49% of their rights. On the other hand, individuals simply can not be considered capable of making high-level decisions on all major issues.

This is why we have doctors to help us with issues of our physical health, Clergymen to help us with our spiritual health, a military to defend us, economic experts to advise on these matters, lawyers on to council on legal issues, etc. So for example, continuing with the Ukraine crisis, say there is an article speaking about the major persecution of the canonical Orthodox Church occurring in Ukraine.

Ukrainian politicians want to DEMOLISH Kiev church lead by former US Navy chaplain

If people who believe the fake news about a “Russian invasion” hear the story, and find the Church belongs to the Moscow Patriarchate, they may assume the so-called Kiev Patriarchate is the legal Ukrainian church, whereas the former is under Russian influence. They may assume any news in favor of a Ukrainian Orthodox Church “of the Moscow Patriarchate”, must be biased in favor of Moscow, and so they can vote on the story as fake news.

These people are not clergymen or educated lay people, aware of the fact that the Church under Moscow is the only Orthodox Church in Ukraine which is recognized by the international Orthodox community, and supported by the majority of Ukrainians, as shown in this comparison below. They’re also not lawyers practicing Ukrainian law, and they don’t understand what is legal or not in Ukraine. How then, are they qualified to speak on issues in Ukraine, or Syria, or any distant country.

This is a potential danger of having the public vote on the truth of articles. It could be a good idea, but the scrutiny of a court of law could easily be thrown out in favor of a court of public opinion. Case in point, there was a very interesting poll by the very popular comment site Disqus, which we use on Duran (feel free to say hello in the comments and I will try to reply).

Disqus created a (now closed) poll, that asked users across all the many sites which use their comment service why they choose to downvote comments (Disqus users can upvote or downvote comments).

Here are the most common reasons Disqus observed about why people downvote comments:

  • The comment does not contribute to the discussion
  • You disagreed with the comment
  • You don’t like the user
  • You think the comment should appear lower in the discussion thread

The most common reason they found, for why people downvote, is that they disagree with the comment.

While this is not definitive, as they could disagree because they think a comment is factually wrong, they could also disagree simply because they don’t like it. Very often, in this era of fake news, humans make decisions as to what they believe and what they don’t, based on their preexisting biases.

Many don’t actually listen to hear all the viewpoints and make their own decision, but they enter into a story with a preconceived notion of what they believe, and they are essentially listening to confirm their biases. If they don’t agree with what they hear, they will label it as fake news. As a result, not only can the general public be misinformed, but they can also downvote a story simply because they don’t agree with it, considering their feelings to be the truth.

The idea purposed by Elon Musk may require a group of professional fact checkers, in addition to the public voting. This would ironically be not unlike Facebook, who announced they would work with “Third Party Fact Checkers” on news stories. Musk’s Pravda could face the same issues, as FB’s program, which allowed the mainstream media to fact-check themselves.

If one has no issue with the narratives pushed by the corporate media, this may not be an issue for them, but for those who consider the corporate media to be a key source of Fake News, this is naturally an issue. The “anti-fake” website could become subject to mob rule, where people vote based on their opinions rather than facts, and curated by the same people pushing the fake news.

Of course, there is also the biggest elephant in the room, given the name, is Pravda about obtaining the truth, or will it be another mainstream site directed against Russia and “Russian hackers”, as part of the general #Russia-gate story?

While the idea of Pravda could potentially be great, there can be major concerns with the execution. In all honesty, it will hinge on what Elon Musk specifically feels about the issue of fake news, and where it’s coming from. Everyone has their own “truth”, but the only one that will matter in on this website, is Musk’s.


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Maria Butina, her crime: A love of the NRA and being Russian (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has communicated to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Russian national Maria Butina must be set free and allowed to return to Russia, after she was arrested by US officials on dubious spy charges.

Lavrov said that the US should immediately release the Russian gun activist, who is being held in the US on espionage charges, after a phone conversation with his US counterpart.

Lavrov called the charges levied against Butina “fabricated.”

In his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, “Lavrov stressed that the actions of the US authorities that arrested Russian citizen Butina on fabricated charges are unacceptable.”

In an official statement the Russian Foreign Ministry called for her “immediate release.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the oddly timed, out of the blue arrest of Maria Butina, who is being held by US authorities for what they claim to be a violation of the FARA act.

In reality Maria Butina’s crime is much more troubling than simply failing to register as a foreign agent.

Maria made the double mistake of being in the United States of America as a Russian citizens who loves guns, at a time when racism and bigotry against Russians and NRA supporters is surpassing McCarthyite levels.

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Via RT

The Foreign minister raised the issue during phone conversations that were made at the request of the US and aimed at “further normalization of the US-Russian relations” following the summit between the US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, as well as the situation in Syria.

The 29-year-old Russian student and a gun activist was arrested in the US about a week ago and charged with acting as a foreign agent without registering her activities with the authorities. Butina has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On July 16, a DC Federal Court rejected Butina’s bail plea and ordered her to be placed in custody pending trial over fears that she could flee or contact Russian intelligence officials. Her lawyer says the trial is being politicized and Russian embassy staff were only allowed to visit her in jail on Thursday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called Butina’s arrest politically motivated, adding that it could have been aimed at disrupting the Helsinki summit between Putin and Trump. On Thursday, the ministry also launched a campaign hashtagged #FreeMariaButina on Twitter to raise awareness of her case.

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Ugly breakup at FBI: Lisa Page throws ex-lover, Peter Strzok, under the bus (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 60.

Alex Christoforou

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While Peter Strzok’s testimony put a face on the deceptive and secretive Deep State, GOP lawmakers who were present at Lisa Page’s closed-door deposition said they learned a lot of new information from the ex-FBI lawyer, and ex-lover of Peter Strzok.

Lisa Page confirmed to GOP lawmakers that the text messages sent between her and her lover Strzok “meant exactly what they said,” contrary to Strzok’s testimony.

According to The Gateway Pundit, one damning text message in particular sent from Strzok on May 19th, 2017, just two days after Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, intrigued investigators and the public alike.

“There’s no big there there,” Strzok texted.

According to investigative reporter, John Solomon, Lisa Page confirmed that text from Peter Strzok did indeed refer to the Trump-Russia case.

Strzok knew it was a nothing-burger yet he forged ahead.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou, RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle, and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how Peter Strzok’s testimony has undoubtedly contradicted Lisa Page’s cooperative deposition, as the ex-FBI lawyer is preparing to save herself, while throwing her ex-lover under the bus.

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Via The Epoch Times

Representatives John Ratcliffe and Louie Gohmert of Texas recently shared their observations of the closed-door testimony of former high-ranking FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which concluded on July 16.

One of the major questions regarding the testimony was whether it would match the one given by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.

But while Ratcliffe said he found a mismatch, Gohmert wouldn’t go so far.

Page and Strzok played major roles in the investigations on both 2016 presidential candidates: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. During the same period, Page and Strzok had an affair and exchanged thousands of text messages expressing a strong bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton.

“When I questioned Lisa Page on Friday about the anti-Trump text messages that were sent between herself and Peter Strzok, there were significant differences in her testimony and Strzok’s as it relates to what she thought some of these text messages meant,” Ratcliffe said in a July 16 tweet, shortly before the second round of questioning.

“Page gave us new information that Strzok either wouldn’t or couldn’t, confirming some of the concerns we had about these investigations and the people involved in running them,” he wrote.

On July 17, Ratcliffe expanded on his further statements about Page’s testimony. Radcliffe told Fox News…

“There are differences in their testimony.”

“In many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say, as opposed to agent Strzok, who thinks that we’ve all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative.”

Via The Epoch Times

In one of the texts, Strzok vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president. In another, the two discussed having an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely” event that Trump would win the election.

Strzok, who gave a closed-door testimony on June 27 and a public one on July 12, said the first message meant he and the American people would stop Trump. The second, he said previously, meant he wanted to pursue the Russia investigation aggressively, in case Trump won.

GOP lawmakers were furious with Strzok’s attitude and unwillingness to answer questions. In a scathing monologue, Gohmert even linked Strzok’s credibility to the fact that he was unfaithful to his wife.

President Donald Trump repeatedly called Strzok’s testimony a “disgrace.”

The lawmakers said Page was comparatively more cooperative.

“There were times the FBI lawyers would be reaching to the button to mute her comment, and she would answer before they could mute her comment,” Gohmert told Fox News.

He said Page didn’t contradict Strzok “so much,” but “has given us insights into who was involved in what.”

“I think she’ll be a good witness,” he said.

Page ditched her first testimony appointment on July 11, prompting GOP lawmakers to threaten her with contempt of Congress. She then agreed to appear on July 13, which gave her the opportunity to review Strzok’s public testimony before giving hers.

The lawmakers are probing the FBI’s and Justice Department’s decisions before the election, suspecting they were influenced by political considerations.

Texts between Strzok and Page suggest that the FBI initiated an offensive counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign as early as December 2015.

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Russia makes MASSIVE progress on its ‘super-weapons’

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle moves into serial production, nuclear-engine powered cruise missile tests continue, and more as Russia continues to outdo all Western military tech

Seraphim Hanisch

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On July 19th and 20th, The Russian Defense Ministry announced several milestones of progress in its advanced weapons systems programs. These programs were revealed to the world in March of this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the State of the Russian Federation speech.

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While at first the Western onlookers did not believe the amazing announcements of hypersonic weapons and nuclear-powered cruise missiles with unlimited range, subsequent releases and concurrent observation by the American military experts has shown these developments to be as real as Mr. Putin claimed they are.

TASS, the Russian News Agency, released information on these weapons systems in separate reports:

Kinzhal

The Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Squadrons of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles should enter combat duty in the Black Sea region and at other Russian fleets and flotillas, said Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Besides, a squadron (between 12 and 16 aircraft) of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles entered combat duty in the Caspian Sea region in April.

“I think at least one squadron of those complexes should be deployed at any fleet, in other words – at all regions where we have fleets and flotillas. We need to deploy them in the regions of the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Northern Fleet. The Pacific region also should not be forgotten,” Murakhovsky said.

He said that such systems can become a “good instrument” against not only vessels equipped with high-precision weapons, but also for countering carrier attack groups.

“We know how expensive a carrier attack group can be. By employing this asymmetric method, which is unbelievably cheap in comparison with building a carrier attack group, we can neutralize this threat almost completely,” the expert said.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile trials:

The Burevestnik is an entirely new cruise missile, powered by a nuclear engine. This gives the missile unlimited range. In theory, such a missile could be launched at a target and spend days or weeks in hidden flight using advanced guidance systems, and then close on its target at the optimal time to assure destruction of that target with maximum surprise. The TASS piece goes on to say:

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was preparing to test upgraded test prototypes of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile with an unlimited range.

According to the expert, it is highly likely that the prototype of the missile “has already made a flight.”

“Clearly, it was something like the pop-up trials of Sarmat – a launch without the nuclear-powered engine, in other words, with an ordinary missile booster, conducted in order to assess the possibility of a launch, aerodynamics and the operability of the entire system in general,” [Murakhovsky] said.

Further reporting from TASS had this to add about the Burevestnik program:

Russia is getting ready for flight tests of the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile, an official at the Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.

“The missile’s component makeup is being improved based on clarified requirements, while ground tests continue and preparations are being made for experimental flight tests of the improved missile,” the official said.

According to the Defense Ministry, “work on an unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.”

“In the meantime, launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon – a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear powered missile,” the ministry official noted.

[The head] of the 12th Central Research Institute at Russia’s Defense Ministry Sergey Pertsev, in turn, said that the tests of the new cruise missile equipped with a small nuclear power unit had confirmed the accuracy of the technical decisions that Russian researchers, engineers and designers had made. In addition, the tests enabled the researchers “to receive valuable experimental data necessary for specifying a number of requirements.”

“A low-flying and low-observable cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and capability to bypass interception lines is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

A further use of the nuclear engine technology is also expected in the Poseidon underwater drone, Mr. Murakhovsky stated that separate systems for the craft have been successfully tested. He further noted that the next task is to design the entire layout, build a test model and begin testing the whole platform.

The Avangard Hypersonic Missile

While the Kinzhal is a Mach-10 capable hypersonic system that can be launched from a fighter, the Avangard is a Mach-20 capable system that has intercontinental reach. There is almost no footage of this system released to the public, but the concept videos show how the system works. TASS reports this status:

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force is preparing a position area for accepting the Avangard hypersonic missile system for service as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s military security, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

“The Russian defense industry has completed developing the Avangard missile system with the principally new armament – the gliding cruise warhead. Industrial enterprises have switched to its serial production,” the Defense Ministry said.

“A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation,” it added.

The development of new strategic weapon systems “is aimed at increasing Russia’s defense capability and preventing any aggression against our country and its allies,” the Defense Ministry stressed.

The infrastructural facilities of the large unit’s position area have already been prepared for the missile system’s operation, the ministry said.

“The position area has been prepared in geodesic and engineering terms to accommodate the missile system. Work is underway to build new and reconstruct old facilities to provide for the operation and the combat use of the system. Technical and utility supply lines are being modernized and electric power, communications and command and control cables are being laid. Work has been arranged to train personnel and prepare armament, military and special hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Deputy Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force for Armament Sergei Poroskun has said that the Avangard hypersonic missile system features combat capabilities that “make it possible to reliably breach any anti-missile defenses.”

The Okhotnik attack drone

The Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is now being viewed as a prototype for Russia’s “sixth-generation” fighter plane. TASS describes this in more detail:

According to [a defense industry] official, although the sixth generation fighter jet project “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known.”

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

TASS was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Another defense industry source earlier told TASS that the prototype of Okhotnik (Hunter) was ready and would start test flights this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour.

Peresvet laser weapons systems

TASS reported that the Russian military forces are now training for the use of the Peresvet combat laser system:

Russian Aerospace Force has accepted for service the laser complexes Peresvet and the military are now taking drills that involve the novel combat technologies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Peresvet laser complexes have been placed at sites of permanent deployment,” the report said. “Active efforts to make them fully operational are underway.”

“To ensure their proper functioning, the necessary infrastructures and specialized facilities for housing the complexes and duty crews have been built,” the ministry said.

The crews assigned to the Peresvets have taken upgrader courses at the Alexander Mozhaisky Military-Space Academy in St Petersburg.

The Russian military strategy of “asymmetric response.”

The overall defense strategy is termed an “asymmetric response”, and Mr. Murakhovsky explained the principle in this way:

“This is an asymmetric response, in which new classes of weapons are created, instead of new types within the framework of the existing systems. Other states are not expected to have anything of this kind [in the near future],” he said.

The expert described this response as “quite an efficient one, all the more so because it requires no additional investment – all the works are being carried out within the framework of the state procurement program.”

He added that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia avoids being dragged into a direct arms race and searches for cutting-edge solutions instead of simply increasing the number of weapons.

“The development of counter-weapons to those arms [may be possible] in distant future, but it does not mean that they can be created at all,” Murakhovsky added.

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