NARTH-affiliated doc lobbies against “special right” to be equal for trans people, calls them “deluded, psychotic.”

From Dented Blue Mercedes:

By Mercedes Allen
January 16, 2013

Reposted with permission.

Joseph Berger is a past Chairman of the Toronto district of the Ontario Medical Association, and past President of the Ontario branch of the American Psychiatric Association.  He was also affiliated with NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, an organization formed specifically to “cure” people of being gay), although his bios scrub this fact and it’s not certain if he is presently affiliated with the group (He was a Scientific Advisory Committee member in 2006, and a speaker on behalf of NARTH in 2010).  While a scientific advisor, Berger garnered notice when he recommended bullying as a solution to gender diverse youth (original now offline):

“I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex – but not counselling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.

“On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world.

“Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.”

At the request of Gwen Landolt of R.E.A.L. Women of Canada, he sent a submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (JUST) to oppose the trans human rights Bill C-279.  ARPA Canada has now forwarded this submission to every sitting MP, in anticipation of Third Reading of the bill.

Berger urges MPs to oppose C-279, because according to him, trans people don’t exist:

Scientifically, there is no such a thing. Therefore anyone who actually truly believes that notion, is by definition deluded, psychotic.

He then goes on to explain that what trans people experience is “just unhappiness,” as if risking losing everything — family, spouses, children, employment, friends, assets — in order to make a whole life change is simply the path of least resistance for unhappy people.

He takes some special pains to assert that he is “speaking now about the scientific perspective – and not any political lobbying position that may be proposed by any group, medical or non-medical.”  So he’s putting aside his role as a champion of ex-gay therapy, as he presents a scientific argument that contains absolutely zero authoritative citations.  Ironically, he concludes:

As a psychiatrist, I see no reason for people who identify themselves in these ways to have any rights or privileges different from everyone else in Canada.

I say ironically, because that is not what the Canada Human Rights Act does.  Despite Berger’s often-repeated reference to C-279 as granting “some special allowances or attitudes or possibly even ‘rights’,” what it would actually do would be to assure that trans people can’t be denied employment, housing and access to services simply because of who they are.  Which would put them on the same level as everyone else in Canada.


It was pointed out that on the submission, contact info was retained.  Be aware that abusing that info will simply feed a neo-conservative’s persecution complex and give them the opportunity to spin the response as proof that we’re “psychotic.” I really do recommend that people keep the response public, professional and responding to the ideology, not the person.  This is important.

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Why I’m trans … and a feminist

From The Guardian UK:

In the light of this week’s row between two prominent feminists and the trans community, we asked four trans writers to reflect on what feminism means to them

, , , and, Friday 18 January 2013

Paris Lees: ‘At college, most people thought feminist meant man-hater’

There were plenty of feminists on TV in the early 90s, and I always sided with these tough ladies, the ones that didn’t see men as their superiors. Raised by my mum, my gran and my aunty and bullied by a father I despised, child-me was certain that women couldn’t be the inferior gender. Teenage me wondered why there even have to be an inferior gender – or, in fact, gender at all. Couldn’t we all just do our own thing and be nice to each other? At college, most people thought feminist meant “man-hater”. This excluded men from feminism, including me, because, at the time, I looked like a boy.

It was a figurative kick in the teeth being born male – but when I was younger, I also got actual kicks in the face for “acting girly”. Feminists have long fought to protect women from violence and I wish more of those with big platforms would discuss the very real abuse trans people suffer, often daily.

Early into my transition, I read Germaine Greer’s The Whole Woman. It contained polemics about trans women in female toilets; suggesting we were men pretending to be women, trying to invade women’s spaces. It’s good to read authors one disagrees with. Greer caused me to question my identity, and form a more complex one. She was right: I am not a woman in the way my mother is; I haven’t experienced female childhood; I don’t menstruate. I won’t give birth. Yes, I have no idea what it feels like to be another woman – but nor do I know what it feels like to be another man. How can anyone know what it feels like to be anyone but themselves? Strangely, thanks to Greer, I now know that I am happiest as me.

I do feel sorry for some of the feminist old guard, though. That fire they had in their bellies, that righteous indignation… it must be a shock to find they’ve joined the ranks of a chattering establishment, complicit in the oppression of others. I’m sure they never planned it.

I’m trans and feminist. Most of my female friends in their 20s are feminist too, though few call it that. We see ourselves as equal to others, even if they don’t. We struggle to earn the same as our male peers, to be heard as much, to see as much of ourselves in public and political life. But we’ve progressed, through feminism and the idea that people should be treated equally despite what fate pops between your legs at birth. Who wouldn’t support that? As Dale Spender so eloquently puts it:

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Observer’s readers’ editor says ‘it was wrong’ to publish transphobic slurs

From Pink News:

18 January 2013

The Observer’s readers’ editor, Stephen Pritchard, has issued his full response into the paper’s decision to publish a transphobic article by Julie Burchill.

Writing on, the website of the Observer’s sister paper, on Friday afternoon Pritchard said: “Some of the language was gratuitously offensive; to repeat it here would be to add insult to injury.”

Julie Burchill wrote the article in defence of her friend and fellow writer Suzanne Moore – who had also caused offence in the trans community with some of her remarks in an article which was published first in the New Statesman and then in the Guardian.

This, argued Burchill, led to Moore being “monstered” by a lobby.

In the 24 hours after the article was published, Pritchard received over 1,000 emails and 2,952 comments were posted online, most of them highly critical.

Referring to the controversy, Pritchard said: “The ensuing storm was notable both for its vociferous nature and for its individuality. A controversial issue will often bring a blizzard of identikit protest of apparently confected anger but while clearly this lobby was organised most of the emails and letters we received were personal and heartfelt.

“And they were not only from trans people. Concerned readers with no connection to the trans lobby felt hurt that a minority that could expect to be protected by a liberal publication was being attacked in an extremely insulting manner.”

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Feminism shouldn’t be about telling trans women they’re not female enough

From The Guardian UK:

At a young age, I briefly had cause to question my gender. For me, it passed. For others, it doesn’t – and feminists should be fighting for their liberation, too

The Guardian, Saturday 19 January 2013

I remember, many years ago, reading about women who’d had mastectomies after breast cancer, and had been sent home with little bags of sand that they’d been told to place in their bras. It devastated them that this was considered an adequate substitute for a breast. Happily, things are different now, and every effort is made to incorporate whatever breast reconstruction is possible as an integral part of breast cancer treatment.

However, delighted as I am that this is the way things are now, it wasn’t what I chose for myself. I opted out of reconstruction after I’d had breast cancer. I’d had enough of hospitals, clinics and surgery. But it wasn’t an easy decision. Perhaps, in the future, I will have it. But it won’t be because it will help me feel more like a complete woman again.

Frankly, if my entire body was removed, and only my head remained, somehow attached to machines that kept me alive, I’d still feel entirely female, just as I felt as a child, before my breasts had developed, before I even knew I had a vagina or a womb.

I have a memory of when I was very young. I remember trying to persuade myself that perhaps little girls grew up to become men, and little boys grew up to become women. Even at that age, I knew it was impossible, that of course it didn’t work that way.

I know, too, exactly what inspired that strange wish. My father had bought my mother a new iron for her birthday, and my mother had been really upset. She had told my dad how insulted she felt, how awful it was that he imagined that this was some sort of treat for her.

My dad was bamboozled. “But you said you needed a new one.” She told him what it was like, being stuck at home, while he went out to work, seeing other people, being in the world. She told him she resented that even though she was at home all week, he still left her at home on a Saturday morning while he went to play golf. I thought that sounded miserable. I didn’t want to grow up and get an iron for my birthday, instead of being able to saunter off to the golf course to swing one.

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A Future Beyond Formal LGBT Equality

From Gay City News:

BY Chuck Colbert
January 16, 2013

If the LGBT movement is, at its core, a progressive struggle for justice and equality, then shouldn’t the gay rights agenda include issues of economics, race, class, and gender? In other words, is there more to gay rights and liberation than simply securing passage of non-discrimination laws and gaining the right to marry?

Longtime activist and LGBT community leader Urvashi Vaid certainly thinks so. For years now, she has been urging mainstream movement leaders to take up a broader economic rights and racial justice program.

In a 1996 book, “Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation,” Vaid argued a larger vision for the movement, with social justice as a window into the future.

And now in a new book, “Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class, and the Assumptions of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Politics,” Vaid offers pointed criticism of the movement’s shortcomings on that score.

“We need a movement that is conscious of economic realities that real people are facing,” she explained recently during a wide-ranging, hour-long telephone interview. “And our movement must address and change the serious lack of representation of people of color in its leadership and racial justice priorities in its agenda.”

Urvashi Vaid lays out the case for a broader, more ambitious agenda

Vaid was referring to a decade’s worth of economic demographics, data from the Williams Institute and other think thanks, which show many LGBT people are seniors, on Medicaid, and unemployed at the same time others are struggling to support themselves and their families on fixed incomes.

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Sleazy “Sugar-Daddies” Site Boasts That Soaring Tuition Rates Are Making More Women Desperate to Be Sex Workers

From Alternet:

Company gloats at the exploitation potential for women looking for a source of financing something that used to be the government’s responsibility.

By Amanda Marcotte
January 18, 2013

Soaring tuition rates are causing a number of reactions from the public: concern for young people saddled with ever-growing debt, anger at governments for cutting back on education instead of taxing the rich appropriately, calls for system-wide reform to help restore America’s global competitiveness. But some see it as an opportunity to market sexual services to men who find the idea of college women in dire economic straights to be arousing.

The leading company in this market recently sent out a glowing press release — heavy with sexist, outdated terms like “coed” — applauding the explosion of desperate college students and letting its customers know that the pool of available sex workers had grown tremendously. It particularly recommended universities in California as a place where the market is flooded with young women who are willing to pretend to like having sex with you in exchange for the kind of financial relief that used to be the government’s responsibility.

For example, UC Berkley experienced a 67% growth and UC Davis experienced a 220% growth, earning them spots among the “Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools of 2012.”

Now, obviously one should take statistics offered by “sugar daddy” businesses with a grain of salt. They are trying to convince potential customers that the market is flooded with young women, alluring them both with a larger array of choices and the opportunity to use the more competitive market to pay each sex worker less for her services.

That said, it’s no big surprise that California would lead the pack. California’s budget cuts have led to an astounding 21 percent rise in tuition at public universities like Berkeley and Davis. Berkeley estimates that it cost the average resident student between $28,000 and $32,000 last year to attend, between tuition, housing and cost-of-living expenses. For this year, UC Davis also puts the cost between $28,000 and $32,000.

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German Priests Carried Out Sexual Abuse for Years

From The New York Times:

Published: January 18, 2013

BERLIN — A report about child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, based on victim accounts and released by the church this week, showed that priests carefully planned their assaults and frequently abused the same children repeatedly for years.

The report, compiled from information collected from victims and other witnesses who called a hot line run by the church from 2010 until the end of last year, includes the ages of the victims, the locations of the assaults and the repercussions they have suffered since. The accounts were provided in 8,500 calls to the hot line; they are not representative of abuse cases over all and cannot be individually verified. The church said the report contained information from 1,824 people, of whom 1,165 described themselves as victims.

Germany’s bishops have vowed a thorough and impartial investigation into the abuse. Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier, who is looking into abuse cases for the German Bishops’ Conference, told reporters after the report was released on Thursday that it served as an example of that intention.

“I found particularly devastating the perpetrators’ lies to their under-aged victims that their actions were an expression of a loving bond with God,” he said Thursday. Claudia Adams, who said she was assaulted as a child in a preschool run by the church in a village near Trier, works through her trauma by blogging about the abuse scandal. The priest who abused her “told me that I was now ‘closer to God,’ ” she said in a telephone interview on Friday from her home near Trier.

The church’s credibility regarding its commitment to an impartial investigation suffered a fresh blow last week when the bishops canceled an independent study into the abuse scandal amid allegations by the independent investigator, Christian Pfeiffer, that the church was censoring information.

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Why The TSA Targets Women And 5 Ways To Cope

From Huffington Post:


On her last four trips through U.S. airport security, Anita Nagelis says she’s been pulled aside and subjected to a more thorough search by TSA agents, including an aggressive pat-down.

Nagelis, who works for a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., doesn’t know why. She never set off a metal detector, isn’t on a no-fly list and no suspicious items are ever discovered in her luggage.

“It’s so odd,” she says. “I don’t fit the profile.”

Or does she?

Even though the TSA and other organizations that handle transportation-related security claim they don’t engage in profiling, they are known to single out certain passengers, a vast majority of which pose zero security threat.

One of their favorite targets are womenattractive women.

The most famous incident happened in April 2011, when former Miss USA Suzie Castillo was subjected to what she described as an invasive pat-down by TSA agents that reduced the beauty queen to tears.

The issue gained prominence last month when another female passenger, Hyunjoo Kim, struck back at a TSA agent after experiencing an “enhanced” pat-down in Orlando. The South Korean woman reportedly was upset about the manual screening and allegedly slapped an agent. She was arrested and charged with two counts of battery on transit agents.

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Taking Action: Making Roe Real for All Women

From RH Reality Check:

by Kelly Blanchard, Ibis Reproductive Health
January 18, 2013

January 22, 2013, will mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark US Supreme Court decision that established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. While we celebrate that Roe has enabled millions of women to safely decide whether or when to have a(nother) child, in 2013 many women face significant barriers to accessing safe abortion care. The increase in restrictions on abortion services and providers over the last two years is making it more difficult, if not impossible, for many women, and low-income women in particular, to exercise their fundamental right to make decisions about their futures and their families.

At Ibis Reproductive Health, we conduct original clinical and social science research focused on uncovering gaps in the evidence and identifying new ways to improve women’s reproductive health and choices. We work with advocates, health care providers, and policymakers to use research results to change policies and health care services so that they better meet women’s needs. Some of our recent findings highlight how barriers to accessing abortion harm women; our results also show ways we can improve women’s access to the services they need today, while we continue to fight to eliminate restrictions that do not serve women’s rights or health.

Restrictions on abortion coverage in publicly-funded health insurance programs make it difficult for many women to obtain care, including women enrolled in Medicaid and in the US military. Our work shows that even the minority of women who are legally entitled to Medicaid coverage for their abortion face challenges using their insurance, forcing them to come up with money they do not have—often at great cost to themselves and their families—to pay for their abortion out of pocket. US servicewomen overseas also face significant challenges accessing care. Abortion care is generally not available at military health facilities and is not covered by military insurance, except in limited cases. Women in our studies have reported that a decision to have an abortion can have an impact on a woman’s military career, and the need to request leave from her superiors and travel to undergo the procedure cost time and money, and sometimes lead to breaches of a woman’s confidentiality. We are heartened that the Shaheen Amendment, which extends military insurance coverage of abortion to cases of rape and incest, was included in the recently passed defense bill, but this still leaves many women without access to care.

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Noam Chomsky: The responsibility of privilege

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Rebel Towns

From The Nation:

Barry Yeoman
January 16, 2013
The 600 residents of Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, have done a laudable job of keeping the vulgarities of modern life at bay. There are no fast-food restaurants, no neon signs. Instead, the former iron-mining town has rambling country inns and a main road lined with Victorian and Arts and Crafts houses. Locals gather for breakfast, as they have since 1938, at Polly’s Pancake Parlor, which grinds its own corn and wheat and uses syrup from the sugar maples that give the town its name. With tourism driving the economy, the village’s biggest assets are its fall foliage, fields of lupines and uninterrupted views of the snow-capped White Mountains.Each March, Sugar Hill’s voters gather at the white meetinghouse—a converted church built in 1830 with a trio of gold-leaf clocks on its steeple—for their annual town meeting. Anyone who collects enough signatures can place an item on the agenda to be voted into law. That New Englander impulse toward self-government, combined with the feistiness that led Sugar Hill to secede from a neighboring town in 1962, might explain its residents’ sweeping response when they learned in 2010 that an international electric consortium has proposed a high-voltage transmission line that would slice through the village like a giant zipper.

The Northern Pass, if built, would enter New Hampshire at the Canadian border and bisect some of the state’s most intact forestland as it connects Quebec’s hydroelectric dams with New England’s power grid. Steel towers, some exceeding thirteen stories in height, would line the 180-mile route, which snakes through ten miles of protected national forest and seven miles of Sugar Hill. Conservationists say the project is unneeded and could degrade waterways and fragment wildlife habitats.

But what New Hampshirites fear most is that the Northern Pass will disfigure the state’s visual landscape. “It could destroy our economy,” says Dolly McPhaul, a lifelong Sugar Hill resident. “If people don’t build their second homes here, where are the builders going to get their money? The plumbers? The grocery store that feeds these people?” McPhaul and her neighbors were particularly disheartened to learn that the Northern Pass required federal and state permits—but no local permits at all.

“You’re shocked to find out you have no say,” says Nancy Martland, a retired child-development researcher who moved to Sugar Hill in 2007. “Even your whole town. Even at town meeting. Even your Select Board. You have no power. People in New Hampshire—maybe everywhere, I don’t know—we want to stand up for ourselves.”

So they did. Last year, Martland and McPhaul campaigned for a local ordinance that would ban corporations from acquiring land or building structures to support any “unsustainable energy system.” The ordinance stripped those corporations of their free-speech and due-process rights under the Constitution, as well as protections afforded by the Constitution’s commerce and contract clauses. Judicial rulings that recognized corporations as legal “persons” would not be recognized in Sugar Hill. Any state or federal law that tried to interfere with the town’s authority would be invalidated. “Natural communities and ecosystems”—wetlands, streams, rivers, aquifers—would acquire “inalienable and fundamental rights to exist and flourish,” and any resident could enforce the law on their behalf. “All power is inherent in the people,” the measure stated.

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Whole Foods threatened with boycott by liberal customers after CEO compares Obamacare to ‘fascism’

From The Daily Mail UK:

By David Mccormack
17 January 2013

Organic supermarket chain Whole Foods is facing a backlash from many of it’s more liberal customers after founder and CEO John Mackey compared Obamacare to ‘fascism’ in a radio interview on Wednesday.

In an interview to promote his new book, Mackey was quizzed about an article he had written in The Wall Street Journal in 2009 that liken Obamacare to socialism.

‘Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism,’ Mackey told NPR. ‘Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production but they do control it. And that’s what’s happening with our health care program with these reforms.’

 His remarks have sparked an outcry among Whole Foods’ customers. The supermarket chain has a reputation as a mecca for fans of fresh vegetable and organic produce and health food fanatics.

Whole Foods’ Facebook page was quickly bombarded with comments, almost overwhelmingly speaking out against Mackey, with many saying they wouldn’t shop at the store while he remains CEO.

Having alienated a large section of his customer base, Mackey has since issued a statement saying he regretted his ‘poor word choice,’ but remains critical of the president’s health care reform law.

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Guess Who’s Behind New ‘Findings’ That It’s Healthy to Be Overweight?

From Alternet:

With so much profit to be made from keeping people overweight, the public is not hearing the truth about obesity.

By Jill Richardson
January 17, 2013

Did you hear the news? Now it’s healthy to be fat! It turns out that your smug skinny friend who eats broccoli and runs marathons should have been eating fast food and watching TV this whole time. Right?

Well, maybe not. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has made headlines because it found that overweight people have lower mortality rates than people with “healthy” weights and that even moderate obesity does not increase mortality.

This means that an overweight 5’4” woman weighing between 145 and 169 pounds ( Body Mass Index of 25 to 29) has less chance of dying than a woman of the same height who weighs less. If she gains weight and falls within the lower obese range (174 to 204 pounds, BMI of 30 to 35), she is equally likely to die as a woman with a “healthy” BMI of 18.5 to 25. Only once her weight exceeds 205 pounds does her risk of mortality increase.

The study made waves when a recent New York Times op-ed proclaimed that “baselessly categorizing at least 130 million Americans — and hundreds of millions in the rest of the world — as people in need of ‘treatment’ for their ‘condition’ serves the economic interests of, among others, the multibillion-dollar weight-loss industry and large pharmaceutical companies.”

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Whole Foods CEO calls climate change ‘perfectly natural and not necessarily bad’

From Raw Story:

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, January 18, 2013

The CEO of Whole Foods is on a roll: less than a week after telling National Public Radio (NPR) that he thinks the Affordable Care Act is “fascism” (instead of “socialism,” as he previously described it), an interview with Mother Jones published Friday quotes him calling climate change “perfectly natural and not necessarily bad.”

“Contrary to what has been written about me I am not a ‘climate-change skeptic,’” John Macky reportedly said. “Climate change is clearly occurring, and based on what I have read global temperatures have increased about 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past 150 years. We’ve been in a gradual warming trend since the ending of the ‘Little Ice Age’ in about 1870, and climate change is perfectly natural and not necessarily bad.”

Mackey said that he believes humanity will “adapt” to climate change, and possibly even thrive. “What I am opposed to is trying to stop virtually all economic progress because of the fear of climate change,” he added. “I would hate to see billions of people condemned to remain in poverty because of climate-change fears.”

NASA’s top climate scientist has a different view of the crisis. Dr. James Hansen has been warning for years that climate change will cause a mass extinction on Earth the likes of which humanity has not seen.

“If we continue with business as usual this century, we will drive to extinction 20 to 50 percent of the species on the planet,” he told Current TV host Eliot Spitzer last August. “We are pushing the system an order of magnitude faster than any natural changes of climate in the past.”

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Shell’s plans in Arctic at risk as Obama advisers call for halt to oil exploration

From The Guardian UK:

After several equipment failures and safety and environmental lapses, Shell’s drilling plans now under review

, US environment correspondent, Friday 18 January 2013

The entire future of Shell’s drilling plans in the Arctic was put in doubt on Friday after two of Barack Obama’s most trusted advisers called for a permanent halt to oil exploration.

In a piece for Bloomberg news, Carol Browner, who was Obama’s climate adviser during his first two years in office, and John Podesta, who headed his 2009 transition team, said they now believed there was no safe way to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Their opinions come at a critical time for Shell, which has invested six years and nearly $5bn trying to gain access to the vast undersea reserves of oil and natural gas in the Arctic ocean.

The Obama administration this month launched a high-level review of Shell’s plans for the Arctic, after a series of equipment failures and safety and environmental lapses.

The company is also struggling to repair or replace its Kulluk oil rig, which ran aground over the New Year, in order to return to the Arctic when the drilling season re-opens in July.

Now two of Obama’s advisers are suggesting Shell and other companies should not be operating in the Arctic at all.

“Developers and Barack Obama’s administration assured us these operations would be safe, thanks to strict oversight and new technology. Now it seems that optimism was misplaced,” Browner and Podesta write in a piece for Bloomberg View.

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