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More than 7,000 news items!


[Resource Depletion]: from The Conversation, via TruthOut, Wed Aug 20 2014:
The Way the Wind Blows May Not Be Enough to Prevent Ocean "Dead Zones" From Growing
The world's oceans are plagued with the problem of "dead zones", areas of high nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) in which plankton blooms cause a major reduction of oxygen levels in the water. Sea creatures need oxygen to breathe just as we do, and if oxygen levels fall low enough marine animals can suffocate. This commonly happens around coastlines where fertilisers are washed from fields into rivers and the sea, but also mid-ocean, where currents trap waters in gyres (large systems of rotating ocean currents). To date most studies have shown that these dead zones have been growing with global warming. But a recent study published in Science by Curtis Deutsch and colleagues suggests that the ocean's largest anoxic zone - where there has been a total depletion of oxygen - in the eastern tropical North Pacific, may in fact shrink due to weakening trade winds caused by global warming.... Warming also encourages water stratification, where the water separates into layers based on temperature or salinity, creating a physical barrier that prevents oxygen reaching deeper waters. Previous studies have predicted a weakening of trade winds in tropical areas, but have also forecasted changes to low-pressure weather fronts over coastlines that would lead to stronger winds, sufficient to replace any upwelling effect lost by weaker trade winds.

Well, generally, caloric upwelling is 'generally well' and well displayed (but alas not comprehensive). Next question?
[Read more stories about: dead zones, faster than expected, toxic water]
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[Climate Chaos]: from Ecowatch, Tue Aug 19 2014:
July Ocean Temperature Hits Record High--Again
Last month, Earth's ocean surfaces tied the previous record for the hottest July during the 130 years the U.S. government has been compiling data. The National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the average temperature was 62.56 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.06 degrees above the 20th-century average. The ocean surfaces also reached that temperature in July 2009. It's the third straight month this year that ocean surface temperatures set a record.

Anybody up for a fish boil?
[Read more stories about: ocean warming]
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[Biology Breach]: from Associated Press, Tue Aug 19 2014:
Less shake from artificial quakes, fed study says
Man-made earthquakes, a side effect of some high-tech energy drilling, cause less shaking and in general are about 16 times weaker than natural earthquakes with the same magnitude, a new federal study found. People feeling the ground move from induced quakes -- those that are not natural, but triggered by injections of wastewater deep underground-- report significantly less shaking than those who experience more normal earthquakes of the same magnitude, according to a study by U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Susan Hough.

Frackquakes are more lubricated.
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[Climate Chaos]: from Bloomberg, Tue Aug 19 2014:
Many Republicans Privately Support Action On Climate
In stark contrast to their party's public stance on Capitol Hill, many Republicans privately acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity is at least partially responsible for climate change and recognize the need to address the problem.... Most say the reluctance to publicly support efforts to address climate change has grown discernibly since the 2010 congressional elections, when Tea Party-backed candidates helped the Republican Party win control of the House, in part by targeting vulnerable Democrats for their support of legislation establishing a national emissions cap-and-trade system. However, they see little political benefit to speaking out on the issue, since congressional action is probably years away, according to former congressmen, former congressional aides and other sources.

The ApocaTea Party wields the Great Hammer of Denial.
[Read more stories about: deniers, climate impacts, global warming]
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[Biology Breach]: from Rodale News, via TruthOut, Tue Aug 19 2014:
New GMO Poised for Approval Despite Public Outcry
Despite its own admission that it will cause an up to sevenfold increase in chemical pesticide use, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is poised to approve a new type of genetically engineered seed built to resist one of the most toxic weedkillers on the market. Now, total approval hinges on the Environmental Protection Agency. If that federal body approves the new GMO, farmers will be free to plant corn and soy seeds genetically manipulated to live through sprayings of Dow's "Enlist Duo" herbicide, a chemical cocktail containing both glyphosate and the antiquated, toxic chemical 2,4-D. Ironically, in the 1990s, chemical companies said the development of GMOs would eliminate the need to use older, more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D. But as GMO use ramped up over the last few decades, chemical use increased, and many weeds are no longer responding to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup and the current chemical of choice for GMO farmers. This has created a "superweed" crisis, resulting in millions of acres of U.S. fields' being infested with hard-to-kill weeds.

2,4-D and RoundUp? Nature doesn't stand a chance!
[Read more stories about: GMOs, corporate malfeasance, herbicide runoff, corporate farming]
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[Resource Depletion]: from Washington Post, Mon Aug 18 2014:
West's historic drought stokes fears of water crisis
When the winter rains failed to arrive in this Sacramento Valley town for the third straight year, farmers tightened their belts and looked to the reservoirs in the nearby hills to keep them in water through the growing season. When those faltered, some switched on their well pumps, drawing up thousands of gallons from underground aquifers to prevent their walnut trees and alfalfa crops from drying up. Until the wells, too, began to fail. Now, across California's vital agricultural belt, nervousness over the state's epic drought has given way to alarm. Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up in many parts of the state, and now the aquifers -- always a backup source during the region's periodic droughts -- are being pumped away at rates that scientists say are both historic and unsustainable.

Waiter, there's fur in my aquifer!
[Read more stories about: drought, food crisis, aquifers depletion]
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[Resource Depletion]: from TED, Mon Aug 18 2014:
Beautiful and Sad GIFs that Show what's Happening to the Ocean
Scientist Sylvia Earle (TED Talk: My wish: Protect our oceans) has spent the past five decades exploring the seas. During that time, she's witnessed a steep decline in ocean wildlife numbers -- and a sharp incline in the number of ocean deadzones and oil drilling sites. An original documentary about Earle's life and work premieres today on Netflix.... Below, four ocean infographic then-and-now-gifs from the film. What happened to the coral reefs? -- What happened to tuna, sharks, and cod? -- The number of ocean deadzones then and now -- The number of Gulf Coast oil drilling sites then and now...

"Then" is as much "now" as "now" was "then," if any future is presaged by a past. That means that, ergo, it's clear there is no need to complicate matters with comparisons. No need to pay attention to change, or to the present. Carry on.
[Read more stories about: faster than expected, anthropogenic change, hunting to extinction, ocean warming]
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[Biology Breach]: from PhysOrg, Sun Aug 17 2014:
Mexico acid leak leaves orange river, toxic water
Yesenia is one of 20,000 people left without water since a massive sulfuric acid leak last week at the Buenavista copper mine in northwestern Mexico, one of the largest in the world. She waited in the sweltering heat with her mother and two daughters for water brought into the town of Arizpe by a tanker truck, but left empty-handed after the truck ran dry, unable to meet the demand from the seven affected towns.... An estimated 40,000 cubic meters (10.6 million gallons) of sulfuric acid, which is used to dissolve copper from ore for processing ,leaked out of a holding tank at the mine, owned by leading Latin American mining company Grupo Mexico. The spill happened on August 6, but the authorities say the company only informed them 24 hours later.... Juan Rebolledo, Grupo Mexico's vice president for international relations, downplayed the impact. "The content of these acids is not toxic in itself," he said on radio network Formula. "There's no problem, nor any serious consequence for the population, as long as we take adequate precautions and the company pours lime into the river, as it is currently doing." The mine has dumped 100 tonnes of lime into the Sonora to neutralize the acidity, according to the state government.

We've carefully calibrated our response to ensure that neither overalkalinity or overacidity results. There is no problem.
[Read more stories about: contamination, toxic leak, toxic water, short-term thinking, rights of nature]
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[Species Collapse]: from BBC, Fri Aug 15 2014:
Giant prehistoric Amazon fish 'locally extinct' due to overfishing
A 10ft (3m) long fish which used to dominate the Amazon river has been fished to extinction in a number of areas, scientists have revealed. Arapaima populations were found to be extinct in eight of the 41 communities studied, and extremely low on average.... Previously, bio economic theory predicted that fishing does not cause extinctions because fishermen inevitably move away from depleted resources. Scientists, led by Dr Leandro Castello, from Virginia Tech, US, wanted to know how healthy the arapaima populations in the Lower Amazon region were. They also wanted to find out whether these fisheries supported bio economic predictions, or the alternative fishing-down theory which predicts that large, high-value, easy-to-catch fish will be fished to extinction.... Almost a quarter of the fishermen in each community fished arapaima regardless of the population's status. The research team say the results contradict conventional economic thinking and instead support "fishing-down" predictions.

Bio-economics: The dismal bioscience.
[Read more stories about: hunting to extinction, sixth extinction, overfishing]
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[Climate Chaos]: from Financial Review, Wed Aug 13 2014:
Coal always wins and will stay No. 1, says carbon king Boyce
Peabody Energy chief executive Greg Boyce is calling on coal producers to spend more time and money fighting "symbolic" movements against the industry and is confident China will not adopt a cap on carbon emissions. As the anti-coal collective gathers more mainstream backers, St Louis-based Mr Boyce says the industry needs to do more to counter the attacks, particularly the global fossil fuels divestment campaign. But he is confident that "coal always wins out".

In fact, coal will even vanquish us.
[Read more stories about: coal issues, carbon emissions, capitalist greed, economic myopia, deniers, global warming]
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[Biology Breach]: from Los Angeles Times, Wed Aug 13 2014:
Oil companies fracking into drinking water sources, new research shows
Energy companies are fracking for oil and gas at far shallower depths than widely believed, sometimes through underground sources of drinking water, according to research released Tuesday by Stanford University scientists.... "Thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and millions of gallons of fluids containing numerous inorganic and organic additives were injected directly into these two formations during hundreds of stimulation events," concluded Dominic DiGiulio and Robert Jackson of Stanford's School of Earth Sciences... they point out that there is no way of knowing the effects of fracking into groundwater resources because regulators have not assessed the scope and impact of the activity.

It's only water!
[Read more stories about: contamination, economic myopia, fracking, water issues, toxic water]
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[Biology Breach]: from Scientific American, Tue Aug 12 2014:
BPA-Free Plastic Containers May Be Just as Hazardous
... recent research reveals that a common BPA replacement, bisphenol S (BPS), may be just as harmful. BPA is the starting material for making polycarbonate plastics. Any leftover BPA that is not consumed in the reaction used to make a plastic container can leach into its contents. From there it can enter the body. BPS was a favored replacement because it was thought to be more resistant to leaching.... Nearly 81 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their urine. And once it enters the body it can affect cells in ways that parallel BPA. A 2013 study by Cheryl Watson at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that even picomolar concentrations (less than one part per trillion) of BPS can disrupt a cell's normal functioning, which could potentially lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity, asthma, birth defects or even cancer.

From now on, I will only drink from the palm of my hands.
[Read more stories about: contamination, endocrine disruptor, health impacts]
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[Biology Breach]: from Center for Effective Government, Tue Aug 12 2014:
GAO Report Finds Problems with EPA Groundwater Protection Program
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequately monitoring more than 172,000 wells used to enhance oil and gas drilling and dispose of drilling wastewater, according to a July 28 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report, based on two years of research, identified several significant problems with EPA's program to protect groundwater from drilling chemicals and wastes. Since millions get their drinking water from groundwater, these problems raise significant questions about how effectively and consistently we are protecting public drinking water.

Who cares? It's underground.
[Read more stories about: contamination, health impacts, fracking, governmental idiocy, water issues]
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[Resource Depletion]: from Mother Jones, Mon Aug 11 2014:
Bottled Water Comes From the Most Drought-Ridden Places in the Country
Bottled-water drinkers, we have a problem: There's a good chance that your water comes from California, a state experiencing the third-driest year on record. The details of where and how bottling companies get their water are often quite murky, but generally speaking, bottled water falls into two categories. The first is "spring water," or groundwater that's collected, according to the EPA, "at the point where water flows naturally to the earth's surface or from a borehole that taps into the underground source." About 55 percent of bottled water in the United States is spring water, including Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead. The other 45 percent comes from the municipal water supply, meaning that companies, including Aquafina and Dasani, simply treat tap water--the same stuff that comes out of your faucet at home--and bottle it up. (Weird, right?) But regardless of whether companies bottle from springs or the tap, lots of them are using water in exactly the areas that need it most right now.

Everybody wants their little piece of California.
[Read more stories about: water issues]
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[Resource Depletion]: from Associated Press, Mon Aug 11 2014:
Codfish numbers at key fishery hits all-time low
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- The level of codfish spawning in one of the most critical fisheries in the Northeast U.S. is at an all-time low, putting more pressure on a fishery already dealing with declining catch and dramatic quota cuts. National Marine Fisheries Service scientists say the amount of cod spawning in the Gulf of Maine is estimated to be 3 to 4 percent of its target level. That number declined from 13 to 18 percent three years ago.

Is there a God for cod?
[Read more stories about: food crisis]
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[Climate Chaos]: from Los Angeles Times, Mon Aug 11 2014:
Keystone XL could mean more carbon emissions than estimated, study says
Building the Keystone XL pipeline could lead to as much as four times more greenhouse gas emissions than the State Department has estimated for the controversial project, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change that relies on different calculations about oil consumption.

Like, nobody's perfect.
[Read more stories about: climate impacts, carbon emissions]
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[Recovery]: from Guardian, Sat Aug 9 2014:
Sales of shark fin in China drop by up to 70 percent
... The trade in shark fins, a symbol of wealth in China and other parts of Asia, has led to the decline in some shark populations by up to 98 percent in the last 15 years. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year with up to 73 million used for their fins. China became the world's largest market for shark fin due to its rising wealth and desire for luxury goods. However, sales of shark fin have fallen from 50-70 percent, according to a report by WildAid, a US-based organisation focusing on reducing demand for wildlife products. According to data collected by WildAid, sales of shark fin in Guangzhou, considered to be the centre of the shark fin trade in China, have dropped by 82 percent. The report complied data from a number of different sources including news reports, online surveys, undercover interviews with traders in China and trade statistics from Hong Kong, once considered to be the global hub for trade in shark fin.... “The more people learn about the consequences of eating shark fin soup, the less they want to participate in the trade,” said Knights. Pressure from conservationists has also influenced big businesses. A number of large hotel chains have stopped serving shark fin soup and more than 20 airlines have agreed not to transport it. Last year, it was reported that the owners of factories that process sharks in Puqi, a seaside town in Zhejiang province blamed such awareness campaigns for a drop in their business.

That's tantamount to asserting that humans can use knowledge to predictively avoid catastrophe. I mean, come on.
[Read more stories about: predator depletion, hunting to extinction, lived experience, people rise up]
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[Recovery]: from The Register-Guard, Fri Aug 8 2014:
Goals for carbon reduction become law in Eugene
The Eugene City Council voted Monday to put some teeth into previously approved goals to reduce the city's fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. The so-called "climate recovery ordinance," which passed on a 6-2 vote, seeks to cut communitywide fossil fuel use by 50 percent by 2030, compared with 2010 usage. It also calls for city government operations to be entirely "carbon neutral" by 2020, either by reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions or by funding local emission reduction projects.... Mayor Kitty Piercy responded that "science" was the motivation for the ordinance. "What's the cost of not doing something?" she asked.

The scientific revolution, now hundreds of years in the making, continues.
[Read more stories about: carbon emissions, climate impacts, health impacts, global warming, people rise up]
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[Recovery]: from Holland Sentinel, Thu Aug 7 2014:
GVSU's MAREC incubator develops commercial-scale solar technology
The company that developed a solar energy panel that addresses one of the major limitations of solar energy has developed a commercial-scale version at Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, according to an Aug. 6 news release. Solar24, introduced in October 2013 by MAREC incubator client Energy Partners, is a device that collects solar energy during daylight hours, storing it in a built-in, lithium-ion battery pack that allows it to discharge energy 24 hours a day, unlike traditional solar panels.

I can fix my bedtime smoothie!
[Read more stories about: sustainability, technical cleverness, renewable energy, climate impacts]
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[Biology Breach]: from CBC, Thu Aug 7 2014:
Tailings pond breach in BC threatens pristine deepwater lake system, sockeye salmon; state of emergency declared
A local state of emergency has been declared in an area where a B.C. tailings pond wall collapsed, sending millions of cubic metres of mine waste water and metals-laden sand into local waterways.... The breach sent 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of metals-laden sand out into local waterways, scouring away the banks of Hazeltine Creek and sending debris flowing into Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake, which rose 1.5 metres.... A summary of the material dumped into the tailings pond last year was filed with Environment Canada. It said there was 326 tonnes of nickel, over 400,000 kilograms of arsenic, 177,000 kilograms of lead and 18,400 tonnes of copper and its compounds placed in the pond last year.

That was last year. Old news. What's done is done, so let's just move forward in trying to reestablish trust.
[Read more stories about: toxic leak, toxic water, heavy metals, contamination]
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[Resource Depletion]: from George Monbiot, Thu Aug 7 2014:
The Pricing of Everything
... Problem Two is that you are effectively pushing the natural world even further into the system that is eating it alive. Dieter Helm, the Chairman of the Natural Capital Committee, said the following in the same report I quoted from just a moment ago. "The environment is part of the economy and needs to be properly integrated into it so that growth opportunities will not be missed."(9) There, ladies and gentlemen, you have what seems to me the Government's real agenda. This is not to protect the natural world from the depredations of the economy. It is to harness the natural world to the economic growth that has been destroying it. All the things which have been so damaging to the living planet are now being sold to us as its salvation; commodification, economic growth, financialisation, abstraction. Now, we are told, these devastating processes will protect it. (Sorry, did I say the living planet? I keep getting confused about this. I meant asset classes within an ecosystem market.)... Among the most famous of these was its valuation of mangrove forests. It maintained that if a businessman or businesswoman cuts down a mangrove forest and replaces it with a shrimp farm, that will be worth around $1,200 per hectare per year to that person. If we leave the mangrove forest standing, because it protects the communities who live on the coastline and because it is a wonderful breeding ground for fish and crustaceans, it will be worth $12,000 per hectare per year(12). So when people see the figures they will conclude that it makes sense to save the mangrove forests, and hey presto, we have solved the problem. My left foot! People have known for centuries the tremendous benefits that mangrove forests deliver. But has that protected them from being turned into shrimp farms or beach resorts? No, it hasn't. And the reason it hasn't is that it might be worth $12,000 to the local impoverished community of fisher folk, but if it's worth $1,200 to a powerful local politician who wants to turn it into shrimp farms, that counts for far more. Putting a price on the forest doesn't in any way change that relationship. You do not solve the problem this way. You do not solve the problem without confronting power. But what we are doing here is reinforcing power, is strengthening the power of the people with the money, the power of the economic system as a whole against the power of nature....

George Monbiot may be the worldwide ecosystem's Oscar Wilde, itemizing neoliberalism's price of everything, while showing it values nothing.
[Read more stories about: economic myopia, wisdom, lived experience]
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[Climate Chaos]: from Washington Post, Wed Aug 6 2014:
Scientists may have cracked the giant Siberian crater mystery -- and the news isn't good
...By now, you've heard of the crater on the Yamal Peninsula. It's the one that suddenly appeared, yawning nearly 200 feet in diameter, and made several rounds in the global ...
[Recovery]: from Call Newspapers, Wed Aug 6 2014:
Mehlville board to consider resolution against coal energy
If hundreds of Oakville residents who have written to the Mehlville Board of Education get their wish, the board could become the first elected body in Missouri to adopt a ...
[Biology Breach]: from Columbus Dispatch, Wed Aug 6 2014:
Ohioan gets prison after workers dump toxic drilling brine
The owner of a northeastern Ohio business that collected and stored toxic fluids from oil- and gas-drilling operations was sentenced yesterday in Cleveland to 28 months in ...
[Climate Chaos]: from Cliff Mass Weather Blog, Tue Aug 5 2014:
Will the Pacific Northwest be a Climate Refuge Under Global Warming?
As global warming takes hold later in the century, where will be the best place in the lower 48 states to escape its worst effects? A compelling case can be made that the ...
[Climate Chaos]: from London Guardian, Mon Aug 4 2014:
World's top PR companies rule out working with climate deniers
Some of the world's top PR companies have for the first time publicly ruled out working with climate change deniers, marking a fundamental shift in the multi-billion dollar ...
[Resource Depletion]: from Washington Post, Mon Aug 4 2014:
Water utilities charge more to offset low-flow toilets, faucets and shower heads
Federally mandated low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets are taking a financial toll on the nation's water utilities, leaving customers to make up the shortfall with ...
[Climate Chaos]: from Stanford School of Engineering, Mon Aug 4 2014:
Wildfires and other burns play bigger role in climate change
Research demonstrates that it isn't just the carbon dioxide from biomass burning that's the problem. Black carbon and brown carbon maximize the thermal impacts of such fires. ...
[Climate Chaos]: from University of New South Wales, Mon Aug 4 2014:
Atlantic warming turbocharges Pacific trade winds
Rapid warming of the Atlantic Ocean, likely caused by global warming, has turbocharged Pacific Equatorial trade winds. This has caused eastern tropical Pacific cooling, amplified ...
[Biology Breach]: from Washington Post, Mon Aug 4 2014:
As more male bass switch sex, a strange fish story expands
...In the latest study, smallmouth bass and white sucker fish captured at 16 sites in the Delaware, Ohio and Susquehanna rivers in Pennsylvania had crossed over into a category ...

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The ApocaDocs try to make fun of the horror of environmental collapse by locating a handful of news items every day, and giving each a punchline. The stories are categorized into five main topics: Species Collapse (ecosystem interrelationships, invasive species, the sixth extinction, pesticide effects, and more); Resource Depletion (peak oil, peak phosphorus, overfishing, topsoil loss, aquifer declines, and more); Biology Breach (toxic runoff, radiation, GMOs, pharmwater, contamination, and idle destruction); Climate Chaos (global warming, weather extremes, ocean warming, and more); and Infectious Disease (pandemics, viruses, antibiotic resistance). To avoid deep depression, we also include stories of Recovery (alternative energy, innovations, species restoration, better policies, social change, and the like). For more information, see About The ApocaDocs.
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