Daily Archives: December 30, 2019

Jewel v. NSA: On to the Ninth Circuit: 2019 Year in Review – EFF

Posted: December 30, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Jewel v. NSA, EFFs landmark case challenging NSAs mass spying moved forward in 2019, setting up a crucial decision for the Ninth Circuit in 2020. Weve pursued this case for over a decade because we believe that mass surveillance, like all general search and seizure schemes, is both illegal and unconstitutional. The case arises from general seizures and searches conducted through three NSA surveillance programs: the NSAs current Upstream tapping of the Internet backbone, its past actions collecting Internet metadata and its discontinued mass telephone records collection, purportedly authorized by section 215 of the Patriot Act. Congress just shamefully kicked debate on reauthorization of section 215 until March, 2020, even though it was stopped in 2018 after concerns of massive overcollection by the secret FISA Court and has never helped catch a terrorist.

In 2019, we had bad news and good news on the litigation front.

The bad news came in April, when the District Court ruled that, despite the enormous amountof direct and circumstantial evidence showing our clients communications likely swept up by the NSA dragnet surveillance to establish legal standing,no public court can rule on whether this surveillance is legal. The Court agreed with the government that our claims were caught in a state secrets privilege Catch-22: no one can sue to stop illegal surveillance unless the court first determines that they were certainly touched by the vast surveillance mechanisms of the NSA. But the court cannot decide whether any particular persons email, web searches, social media or phone calls were touched by the surveillance unless the government admits it which the government will not do. This circular ruling matched an earlier ruling by the District Court under the Fourth Amendment, and, at long last, set both of these rulings up for review by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

We made three key arguments in our opening briefs, filed in September:

We didnt go to the Ninth Circuit alone, though. In early October six amicus briefs were filed in support of our case:

The governments responsive briefs are due in early December, with our final briefs likely due in January. Were hopeful that the Ninth Circuit will recognize the importance of the case and hold a hearing in the Spring.

This article is part of our Year in Review series. Read other articles about the fight for digital rights in 2019.


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NSA O’Brien on North Korea: ‘We Have a Lot of Tools in Our Toolkit’ – MRCTV

Posted: at 12:48 pm

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National Security Advisor Robert OBrien said Sunday the U.S. was closely monitoring developments in North Korea and was concerned about the situation, but also had a lot of tools in our toolkit and was able to bring more pressure to bear in the event of a provocation.

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NSA O'Brien on North Korea: 'We Have a Lot of Tools in Our Toolkit' - MRCTV

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FISA Court Warned Multiple Times For Years About FISA Abuse and Yet Did Nothing Until Now Proving It’s Another Obama Corrupted Institution – The Union…

Posted: at 12:48 pm

After the FISA report the FISA Courtroom lastly took some motion to deal with the rampant abuse throughout the FBI and DOJ that contaminated the Courtroom. Jeff Dunetz reported on the Lidblog the next:

After the Horowitz report was issued, Decide Collyer, head of the FISA Courtroom, ripped the FBI for the falsehoods used on purposes to wiretap former Trump marketing campaign aide Carter Web page. The choose ordered the company to undergo their FISA warrants to search out another abnormalities and advocate options to stop falsehoods from ever occurring once more, all by January 10th. However is Decide Collyer and the FISA courtroom simply as culpable because the FBI? The courtroom was supplied a number of warnings since 2016 that the warrant software course of, particularly within the case of Carter Web page.

Dunetz reminded readers that the primary warning the FISA Courtroom had was in October of 2016 shortly earlier than the 2016 election:

On October 24, 2016, NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers informed Decide Collyer of the FISA courtroom that there have been vital points with the way in which the NSA was complying with its minimization procedures. This was three days after Decide Collyer accredited the FISA warrant to spy on Carter Web page.

Admiral Rogers ordered an audit of the FISA course of and the outcomes had been shared with the FISA Courtroom in October 2016 with the report was launched with a number of redactions in April 2017. We reported in April of 2018 that the gorgeous April 2017 report lined outcomes of an investigation or audit into FISA searches made by Obamas NSA, FBI and DOJ throughout Obamas time in workplace.

The report acknowledged that James Clappers NSA had an institutional lack of candor. Additionally, the FISA Courtroom Ruling confirmed widespread abuse of the FISA mandate. Based on the report, Obamas FBI, NSAand DOJ carried out searches on Individuals that had been in opposition to their 4th Modification rights. This went on for years. One paragraph within the report states that 85% of the Part 704 and 705(b) FISA searches made in the course of thetime of the audit (just a few months in 2015) had been non-compliant with relevant legal guidelines and subsequently felony.

For some cause this report led to little motion from the FISA Courtroom. Based on Dunetz, in 2017,Landmark Authorized Basis, a Regulation Agency that has Mark Levin as Chairman tried to convey the difficulty to the Courtroom. Then in 2018 Rep. Mark Meadows despatched a letter to the Courtroom asking Decide Collyer to research FISA abuses.

Dunetz then reported that Rep. Devon Nunez wrote to the FISA Courtroom twice:

Kimberly Strassel of the WSJ reported that twice in 2018, Rep Devin Nunes despatched a letter to Decide Collyer in regards to the Carter Web page warrant. The primary time (Feb.), he requested the precise courtroom hearings in regards to the software for the warrant. 4 months later, Nunes despatched her one other letter. This letter informed the Decide that he uncovered proof that the DOJ could have supplied bogus info to the courtroom concerning the Carter Web page warrant software. Decide Collyer responded to every letter by blowing Nunes off.

Dunetz famous that Judicial Watch later decided what Collyer omitted from her response to Rep. Nunez, that there was no listening to of the Carter Web page FISA software.

To wrap up his publish, Dunetz acknowledged:

The reality is that Decide Collyer and the FISA courtroom is simply as culpable for placing the U.S. by way of the Russiagate nightmare because the FBI. Decide Collyer allowed Carter Web page to undergo three years of private hell, regardless of the very fact he was an trustworthy public servant. Was she biased, lazy, or simply defending her turf? Ultimately, it doesnt matter. Her job was to guard the liberty of Individualsshe failed.

Decide Collyer resigned her place as presiding choose on the FISA courtroom as of Dec. She is going to stay as a Decide on the courtroom till her time period ends in March 2020. Based on studies, shes dropping the Presiding Decide tasks due to well being causes. Howeverproperlyyou determine.

At present solely 4 of the eleven judges on the FISA Courtroom had been Trump picks. The remaining seven members, together with Collyer, had been all Obama picks.

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Turkish Pro-Government Daily Yeni Akit: ‘The "Great Satan" [The U.S.] Is Occupying The World With Bases’ – Middle East Media Research…

Posted: at 12:48 pm

A December 26, 2019 article in the Turkish daily Yeni Akit, titled "There Is No Place Left That They Have Not Messed Up! The 'Great Satan' Is Occupying The World With Bases" read: "The U.S., which brings disasters to the places it sees with drunken shouts of 'we are bringing humanity!' and is turning the Middle East into a place of fire, has 800 military bases around the world." The article gives a list of the major U.S. military bases in the Middle East and elsewhere.[1]

Turkish media have been discussing the U.S. bases in Turkey following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan's statement in a December 15, 2019 interview that "if it needs to be shut down, we will shut down Incirlik [Airbase]. If it needs to be shut down, we will shut down Krecik [Radar Station]" (see MEMRI TV Clip No. 7661 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan: We Have The Authority To Shut Down U.S.-Run Airbase, Radar Station In Turkey; If Measures Such As Sanctions Are Taken Against Us, We Will Respond As Necessary, December 15, 2019).

Following is the text of the Yeni Akit article:

"There Are About 180,000 Military Personnel At These Bases, With 60,000 To 70,000 In The Middle East"

"In recent years, despite having bases covering regions including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, the U.S. has approximately 800 bases around the world, some of which are small radar stations, others are the size of cities. Maintaining these bases costs 200 billion dollars. According to data from the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. bases cost 749 billion dollars in 2018.

"The U.S. bases include all U.S. military structures connected to the Department of Defense, from enemy observation points to naval supply points, from training bases to radar bases. There are about 180,000 military personnel at these bases, with 60,000 to 70,000 in the Middle East. These numbers become more important when it is understood that they are found primarily in 17 countries that have permanent bases, and approximately 70 countries in total."

"In The List Of Countries With U.S. Bases, Turkey Comes Ninth With Nine Military Structures"

"It appears that the basic reason why the number of U.S. bases is so high is that the U.S. rarely abandons a base that it establishes in a country. The U.S.'s Ramstein base in Germany is an example of this. This base, which the U.S. established in 1949 after the Second World War, still serves the U.S. Air Force and, with 53,000 personnel, it is the U.S.'s largest base outside of its territory.

"Aside from Ramstein, the U.S. has 87 more bases in Germany. Germany is also the country, aside from the U.S., that has the most U.S. bases. After Germany comes Japan with 86, South Korea with 64, Italy with 29, and the U.K. with 16. In the list of countries with U.S. bases, Turkey comes ninth with nine military structures. Incirlik Airbase is the largest and most well-known military structure in Turkey. There are about 2,500 personnel and units belonging to the U.S. Air Force at the base, which was established in the 1950s after Turkey joined NATO."

"The U.S.'s Colossal Bases That Are Spreading Around The World Are Frequently Protested"

"The U.S.'s colossal bases that are spreading around the world are frequently protested, with 70,000 people demonstrating in Okinawa, Japan in 2018 and thousands of people in front of Germany's Ramstein Airbase. According to data from the U.S. Department of Defense, while the capacity of the existing bases is 21 percent more than the need, 30 percent of the infrastructure of these bases is weak or collapsing. The annual cost of only the unused bases is more than $500 million.

"The large, permanent bases around the world are as follows:

"Afghanistan: Bagram Air Base, Camp Dwyer, Camp Leatherneck, FOB Delaram, Kandahar Int. Airport, Shindand Airbase.

"Bahrain: NRCC Bahrain, NSA Bahrain.

"Belgium: USAG Benelux, USAG Brussels.

"Bulgaria: Aitos Logistics Center, Bezmer Air Base, Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Novo Selo Range.

"Cuba: Guantanamo Bay.

"Djibouti: Camp Lemonnier.

"Germany: Campbell Barracks, Landstuhl Medical Center, NATO Base Geilenkirchen, Panzer Kaserne, Patrick Henry Village, Ramstein AB, Spangdahlem Air Base, USAG Ansbach, USAG Bamberg, USAG Baumholder, USAG Darmstadt, USAG Garmisch, USAG Grafenwoehr, USAG Heidelberg, USAG Hessen, USAG Hohenfels, USAG Kaiserslautern, USAG Mannheim, USAG Schweinfurt, USAG Stuttgart, USAG Wiesbaden.

"Greece: NSA Souda Bay.

"Greenland: Thule Air Base, Guam, Andersen AFB, Naval Base Guam, Naval Forces Marianas.

"Iraq: Camp Baharia, Camp Banzai, Camp Bucca, Camp Fallujah, Camp Taji, Camp Victory, COP Shocker, FOB Abu Ghraib, FOB Grizzly, FOB Sykes, Joint Base Balad, Victory Base Complex.

"Italy: Aviano AB, Camp Darby, Caserma Ederle, NAS Sigonella, NSA Gaeta, NSA La Maddalena, NSA Naples.

"Japan: Camp Courtney, Camp Foster, Camp Fuji, Camp Gonsalves, Camp Hansen, Camp Kinser, Camp Lester, Camp McTureous, Camp S.D. Butler, Camp Schwab, Camp Zama, Fleet Activities Okinawa, Fleet Activities Sasebo, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Fort Buckner, Kadena Air Base, MCAS Futenma, MCAS Iwakuni, Misawa Air Base, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Torii Station, Yokota Air Base, Yontan Airfield.

"Kosovo: Camp Bondsteel.

"Kuwait: Ali Al Salem Airbase, Camp Arifjan, Camp Buehring, Camp Doha, Camp New York, Camp Patriot, Camp Spearhead, Camp Virginia.

"Kyrgyzstan: Transit Center at Manas.

"The Netherlands: Joint Force Command, USAG Schinnen.

"Peru: Naval Medical Research Unit Six.

"Portugal: Lajes Field, Porto Riko, Fort Buchanan.

"Qatar: Al Udeid Air Base.

"Saudi Arabia: Eskan Village Air Base, King Abdul Aziz Air Base, King Fahd Air Base, King Khalid Air Base, Riyadh Air Base.


"South Korea: Camp Carroll, Camp Casey, Camp Castle, Camp Eagle, Camp Hovey, Camp Humphreys, Camp Market, Camp Red Cloud, Camp Stanley, Fleet Activities Chinhae, K-16 Air Base, Kunsan Air Base, Osan Air Base, USAG Daegu, USAG Yongsan.

"Spain: Morn Air Base, Naval Station Rota.

"Turkey: Incirlik Air Base, Izmir Air Base.

"United Kingdom: RAF Alconbury, RAF Croughton, RAF Fairford, RAF Lakenheath, RAF Menwith Hill, RAF Mildenhall."

[1] Yeniakit.com.tr/haber/karistirmadiklari-yer-kalmadi-buyuk-seytan-dunyayi-uslerle-isgal-ediyor-979714.html, December 26, 2019.

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The Decline of the Intellectual Dark Web – Merion West

Posted: at 12:47 pm

(George Skidmore / Wikimedia)

if one truly believes that the better argument can and should win the day, more formidable ammunition will be needed on the part of the Intellectual Dark Web.


Few movements were as interesting and culturally impactful in 2018 as the Intellectual Dark Web (IDW). Profiled in a much debated May, 2018article in The New York Times,many saw the IDW as a cohesive and fresh movement that was pushing against stale political correctness and puritanism on behalf of free speech, open debate, and other liberal virtues. Of course, this interpretation produced a great deal of criticism, with many damning the dark web for its perceived ties to the far-right; however, later commentators defended it as a fundamentally neutral or even a mostly progressive group of intellectuals who were simply pushing back against a dangerous but trendy variant ofpost-modern leftism. But as 2018 gave way to 2019, the criticisms became fiercer, and the tensions became more prominent. Sympathetic outlets such as Quillette began running pieces criticizing major IDW figures for not taking the Left and its arguments sufficiently seriously. Conservative outlets like The Federalist described the IDW as collapsing under its contradictions. Then came several embarrassing revelations and take downs, from Jordan Petersons quasi-admission thatdespite being a consistent critic of some vague position called post-modern neo-Marxismhe had not read Marx for a very long time, a revelation notably explored by writers such asBen Burgis. Then, there was Ben Shapiros disastrous interview with Andrew Neil. Finally, there were a number of studies and articles released, which suggested thatcontrary to the IDWs professions of ideological neutralitymany of its members served as gateways to far-right literature. This is, of course, not necessarily their fault; IDW members, after all, have no direct control over algorithms moving viewers and readers from Dave Rubin to Stefan Molyneux. Heterodox Academyanother IDW-friendly outletexplainedthis phenomenon, while unpacking its own study on how Jordan Petersons viewers often gravitate to more extreme positions:

For instance, Peterson wants us to remember the horrors of the communist regimes of Stalin and Mao in order to prevent us from repeating said horrors. He worries that many popular strains of leftist ideology predispose adherents, whether they recognize it or not, towards forcibly imposing their will on others via the state, suppressing dissent, etc. These are defensible arguments to make. Yet there is probably a way to do that without directly analogizing those one disagrees with to Stalin or Mao (which is also a popular tactic on the alt-right). Peterson et al. might similarly consider avoiding dismissive and derogatory labels like SJW or regressive left. This kind of language is extremely common on the alt-right. Indeed, opposition to social justice warriors seems to be one of the main associations people in that arena draw between themselves and Jordan PetersonGranted, Petersons opponents readily brand himand his colleaguesas racist, sexist transphobic, etc. It can be difficult not to villainize or caricature them in turn. Yet Peterson et al.explicitlyaspire towards a higher level of discourse and rationality than they perceive among many of their interlocutors. Embodying and modeling these alternative forms of discourse, even in the face of such attacks, may help Peterson be more successful in his aim of pulling people away from the fringes instead of towards them.

The consequence of these varied developments is impossible to predict, but there is little doubt it has not proven beneficial to the IDW. While claims by some commentators that interest in the IDW is declining should be greeted with skepticism until further research is conducted, the deepening criticism even from sympathetic analysts suggests it is worth looking at where things have gone wrong with the IDW. In this short article, I will present a few of the ways I believe the IDW undermined itselfor strayed from having the sort of impact many of its members aspired to.

1. Narrowness of Focus

Many have struggled to define the IDW and specify who belongs in it. One of the reasons for this difficulty is the lack of a shared political or philosophical program among its members. Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro tend to support more social conservative policies, while Sam Harris, Stephen Hicks, and Christina Hoff Sommers tend to support deepening liberalization and even anti-traditionalism. There are post-modern conservatives like Dave Rubin (analyzed by me here) whose pastiche-like set of beliefs seems to evolve from interview to interview. And there are even self-professed progressives like Bret Weinstein. As has been expertly observed by Nate Hochman inNational Review,about the only thing that unites the various members of the IDW is an opposition to a certain strand of leftism. This is often vaguely defined at the theoretical levelbeing variously described as the post-modern, intersectional, radical feminists, Marxist, cultural Marxist, or even post-modern neo-Marxist. But it is highly specified concretely, with all members of the IDW taking issue with all forms ofpolitical correctness and perceived (and real) threats to freedom of speech.

The problem with this lack of theoretical precisioncombined with a hyper-attentiveness to concrete sinsis that it seriously narrows the shared focus of the IDW. About the only thing all members of the IDW agree on is that a certain species of college activism is annoying and (apparently) constitutes a major threat to liberal freedoms in the 21st century. This may be of continual fascination to a certain type of conservative personality who, as David Frenchput it, is embedded in the right-wing outrage machine. But for everyone else, there is a limit to how informative the hundredth story mocking 20-somethings at elite campuses marching for Womyns rights and so on is. This might not be a problem if these one-sided anecdotes were complemented by a more sustained and rigorous analysis of the philosophies or cultural conditions engendering political correctness and wokeness. But what one tends to get is often highly superficial: from books that skim over immensely challenging philosophical controversies in a few scantly referenced paragraphs tototalizing accounts that ignore all the diversity and serious conflicts within liberal leftists and radical circles. This brings me to my next point.

2. Neutrality and Freedom of Speech

Another problem is a claim made by the movements defenders that the IDW is somehow a politically neutral movement of concerned intellectuals who simply want to defendfree speech. First, this ignores the fact that disputes over free speech have never been purely neutral. Indeed as Jordan Peterson himself wisely points out, it took millennia of agitation and cultural change to merely establish the political conditions where freedom of speech was thinkable on a mass scale. For much of human history, the working assumption was that considerable restrictions on speech were permissible to prevent immoral, disruptive, or anti-dogmatic behavior. Even in liberal societies today, there are serious restrictions imposed on freedom of speech. Many of these are uncontroversial such as prohibitions on the spread of child pornography or slander and libel laws. Then, there are more complex cases going back through the 20th century. Is it permissible to place restrictions on the spread of Communist ideas, such as during the McCarthy era? Should pornography produced by consenting adults be restricted, as both social conservatives and radical feminists like Catharine MacKinnon have argued from very different political standpoints? Should women be allowed to publicly accuse men of sexual harassment in online forums without going through legal channels? There is no easy answer to some of these questions, and different communities will come up with different solutions. But there remains no context where limitless speech was ever permitted, so the claim that the neutral position is somehow to support freedom for all forms of speech is simply wrong.

More to the point, though, the IDW can be accused of focusing relentlessly on threats to freedom of speech from one end of the political spectrum. This relates to the narrowness of focus I discussed above. As an engaged leftist (described by me here), I emphatically agree with the IDWs insistence that our freedom to say and criticize whomever we wish must be defended and even expanded. If members of the political left pose a threat to that freedom, it should be criticized even by other leftists. But the Left hardly holds a monopoly on that front. Various post-modern conservatives such as Viktor Orbnand Polands Law and Justice partyhave gone well beyond a little campus activism, and they are actively using the states power to restrict speech rights. Donald Trump has of course threatened to sue journalists and other critics repeatedly, while his allies have insisted that forms of religious and political speech from unwelcome minorities can be quashed. Some have even pointed out, ironically, how campus speech is under threat from the Right. These are serious concerns about powerful figures using their authority to quash freedom of speech, and the IDW has paid relatively little attention to them. There are some admirable exceptions to this, which are to be commended. But a failure to take note of these issues from both sides of the political spectrum seriously undermines the claim that the IDW is simply a neutral movement of concerned citizens.

3. Intellectual Pretensions and a Failure to take the Other Side Seriously

The last and most varied point is that the IDW often has pretensions towards academic seriousness but falls short of the standards required. As I have already discussed this pointelsewhere, I will just briefly summarize here. Some members of the IDW are highly intelligent and accomplished scholars and deserve to be taken seriously; Jordan Peterson, the subject of our forthcoming book, comes to mind. Others mostly seem to be winging it and may feel that if they appeal to complex-sounding but mostly empty neologisms like post-modern neo-Marxism or cultural Marxism that these terms can stand in for serious analysis. But a common problem with both the serious intellectuals and the pretentious wannabes is that they do not engage with the arguments of their opponents very effectively. Oftentimes, their claims consist of anecdotal appeals, broad generalizations about nuanced theoretical and historical traditions, or specious arguments that the Lefts claims are having a devastating effect on society. The last is an especially common trope and was well-deconstructed by the Spanish Christian philosopher Miguel de Unamuno in his classic book The Tragic Sense of Life. A common IDW argument against so called post-modern or Marxist theory runs that it has a damaging effect on society and its moral certainties. Ignoring the fact that post-moderns and Marxists are often badly misinterpreted by the IDW, let us say that this was accurate. Even if these arguments are morally and socially damaging, it says nothing about whether the claims of post-modern or Marxists theorists are right or wrong. An argument may be morally devastating to our most cherished convictions and, nevertheless, be true. Actually showcasing why Derrida, Foucault and so on are incorrect would mean going well beyond just highlighting their influence on a bunch of cynical campus activists. Instead, it would be necessary to demonstrate why their claims about language, power, existence, and so on are flawed. If it turns out that Derrida, Foucault, and Judith Butler actually make compelling arguments against our convictions, then we really only have two options with any integrity. Either retreat into dogma or come up with a better set of convictions.

This is not to say that the arguments of the IDW all fall into this category. Some of their claims about the need for meaning in life, social stability, and order have currency and warrant being taken seriously. There are even some leftists, such as ContraPoints, who have taken up the call for an engaged left that argues systematically against the positions of conservative and classical liberal thinkers. But the IDWs influence on broader cultural debates will always be limited if it does not up its game intellectually, especially when it comes to political and theoretical arguments operating at a high level of sophistication and precision. The thinkers of the IDW may be convincing a few people who are already predisposed to support their positions, but so far that is about it. So if one truly believes that the better argument can and should win the day, more formidable ammunition will be needed on the part of the Intellectual Dark Web.

Matt McManus is Professor of Politics and International Relations at Tec de Monterrey, and the author of Making Human Dignity Central to International Human Rights Law and The Rise of Post-Modern Conservatism. His new projects include co-authoring a critical monograph on Jordan Peterson and a book on liberal rights for Palgrave MacMillan. Matt can be reached atmattmcmanus300@gmail.comor added on twitter vie@mattpolprof

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The Decline of the Intellectual Dark Web - Merion West

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I thought to raise a feminist daughter I needed to raise a tomboy. But now we both love Frozen – The Guardian

Posted: at 12:47 pm

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I naively imagined that I would soon have a small person I could completely mould. I imagined us having all the same interests and being able to guide her in choosing fun and interesting hobbies.

And then I gave birth to this tiny person who, from the minute she was born three weeks earlier than expected, had her own ideas about when and how she would do things. Eventually I came to realise that as much as I believed I would hold this incredible sway over her tastes and interests, many times she is the one influencing me.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with the Disney phenomenon Frozen. When my daughter was younger, I smugly judged other parents at playgrounds as their daughters struggled to climb up the stairs to the slide, tripping on the hem of their Elsa dresses. I proudly told everyone that we had never seen Frozen, that my daughter didnt even know who Olaf the snowman was.

But Frozen is so much a part of the collective consciousness of todays children that slowly she started coming home from childcare with snippets of knowledge about Elsa and Anna until, before I knew it, Frozen was intimately woven into the fabric of our lives.

First there was a snowflake-shaped dinner plate, then a colouring book, closely followed by pyjamas. And then a neighbour brought over a hand-me-down Elsa dress and the whole, terrible thing was complete. We were as good as citizens of Arendelle, and Queen Elsa was our benevolent dictator.

Falling in love with Frozen was a journey that I didnt even realise I was undertaking. It crept up on me slowly, but when I discovered I was willing to spend an entire three-hour car trip between Sydney and Canberra listening to the soundtrack on repeat, and when I hit play on the movie for the 46th time and didnt start screaming, I realised if this isnt love, what is?

With the sequel having just come out Ive found myself seeking out new trailers and watching them even when my daughter isnt around. I madly refreshed the page to get us tickets to the Broadway musical adaptation of the movie when it comes to town next year. And as much as I tell myself that this is all about connecting with my daughter, the truth is that it has become part of who I am too.

I realised my initial resistance had been this innate belief that to raise a feminist daughter, I had to raise a tomboy who eschewed the traditionally feminine notions of princesses in flowing ball gowns. Ive since come to understand the power in femininity.

When Elsa reaches the North Mountain, she can finally stop bottling up all the powers that she is too afraid to use for fear of hurting someone. So she builds herself a giant ice castle thats a bit of an engineering marvel in itself, but she also makes a brand new sparkly dress. Cynics may tell us thats as much about merchandising opportunities as it is about displaying powerful femininity, but Im choosing to see it my way.

At a time when society celebrates little girls who play with trucks and women are told to lean in, theres the old ingrained belief that traditionally masculine interests and pursuits are inherently more serious and noteworthy than traditionally feminine things.

For a long time, I didnt get it, but my daughter did. She feels powerful in a tutu because no one has ever told her that people who wear tutus arent powerful. She runs faster in sparkly ballet flats than she does in Nikes because she feels cool and unstoppable.

Theres a moment in the original movie when Queen Elsa tells her more impulsive younger sister You cant marry a man you just met! Unprompted, my daughter will now come out with this line every time she encounters a traditional fairytale where there is love (and marriage) at first sight. Its not groundbreaking activism, but it has taught her to look at stories more critically and challenge traditions.

Naturally no Disney movie is without its problematic elements. From removing female characters from source material The Snow Queen in the adaptation to the fact that its protagonists are white, thin and royal, its hardly breaking down great societal barriers. On the other hand, Jordan Peterson thinks its deeply propagandistic, so its at least doing something right.

I never expected to fall in love with Frozen, but in doing so Ive learnt a lot about myself. While Im not about to let it become a guidebook for life for me or my daughter, it has taught me, among other things, that sometimes you just need to let it go.

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My Friend the Gay Humanist | Esther O’Reilly – Patheos

Posted: at 12:47 pm

The other week, I had the distinct pleasure of recording a radio dialogue with Justin Brierley and best-selling British author/journalist Douglas Murray for the Unbelievable? program. We were very fortunate to catch Douglas and pin him down, coming off one of his routinely long legs of travel (we last found him in Mexico, I think) and still juggling a nightmarish schedule that kept us on our toes up to the early morning of recording. Thankfully, all was well in the end, and with Douglas adequately tanked up on coffee, followed by more coffee and then another cup of coffee, we enjoyed a very fast-paced 75-90 minutes together. Our goodbyes were warm but of necessity brief, to all our regret. While my readers wait for the program to air on January 3rd, here are some after-thoughts as a preview of coming attractions.

I first discovered Douglas in the summer of 2018 when preparing to write what would become a viral hit piece about Jordan Petersons dialogues with Sam Harris,Sam Harris Asks Questions Jordan Peterson Cant Answer.It was only the second or third thing I wrote after joining Patheos, but it would take on a life of its own and launch me into the circle of commentary on Jordan Peterson and the wider phenomenon known as the Intellectual Dark Web. Primarily famous in the UK and European pond, Douglas Murrays name rang no bells when I first saw that he would be moderating/joining the UK leg of the dialogues. By the time I came to write the piece, I had already familiarized myself enough with Douglas to know that he was far more than a third wheel in the debate and devote some space to his contributions.

Douglass body of work and thought quickly proved a much richer mine of material than I expected, on an impressively wide array of topics political and non-political. In fact, while he is best known for the former, it was some of the latter that interested me most. And among his areas of political focus, it was not necessarily his signature issues of immigration and Islam that drew and kept my strongest interest. Rather, what struck me most in getting to know Douglas through his various books, articles, speeches, etc., was the sense that I had stumbled onto one of the worlds last old humanists. (Well, that plus the sense that this guy and I would have been thick as thieves in high schoolbook thieves, natch. Any man who self-confessedly upgrades his favorite books from soft to hard-back, only to be stuck with two copies because he made notes in the soft copy so he cant get rid of that now, is a man after my own heart.)

Anyhow, humanism is a word now fraught with baggage in Christian circles, with some good reason. Many self-identified humanists proudly associate it with an aggressive rejection of the Christian faith. Nevertheless, it is a word I have argued Christians should be stealing back for themselves. I steal it back unblushingly on my own profile with the description Christian humanist. Ive developed my own philosophy of Christian humanism at some length in my contribution to the forthcoming anthology Myth & Meaning in Jordan Peterson (Lexham, March 2020the essay is entitled The Image of Christ: Peterson as Humanist). But if someone were to ask me for the short version, my new favorite short version is a riff on something Roger Scruton once said: I see the world, and the individual people in it, as lovable.

In context, Scruton was originally criticizing post-modern culture, specifically the way it desecrates the human person through art deliberately made orthogonal to beauty. This kind of art typifies a loveless culture, a culture that does not see the world as lovable. It is fundamentally anti-human. Thus, the task of the true humanist, to be a lover of mankind, is essentially counter-cultural. I would assert that it is also essentially Christian.

Why, then, do I find such a kindred spirit in Douglas Murray, who, despite my best efforts, didnt leave our conversation rushing to reaffirm the lost Anglican faith of his youth? (He was, in fact, rushing to meet his publisher for a last-minute late lunch, with humblest apologies for causing such a nuisance.) Its because I believe we each in our own way have taken up the humanists task. In a recent interview with Scotlands The Herald, he says that he doesnt love nations in the abstractEngland in the abstract, Scotland in the abstract. Rather, I love people. I love things about the people.

We both of us also recognize the Christian essence of the humanists task, even though Douglas still does so as a self-described Christian atheist. He takes this moniker both as a recognition of his abiding love for Christian language/liturgy/culture and a recognition of the Judeo-Christian bedrock that makes him wonder out loud whether human life would still be sacred in an atheist world. Douglas recognizes that he cant escape this bedrock underlying his basic instinct that while human beings are manifestly not equal in a host of outward characteristics, they are still equal in value.

As he discusses in this dialogue with Jordan Peterson (transcript here), it is this instinct that leads him to back away slowly when the odd fan asks him why he never talks about the IQ question. He urges anyone who shows an unhealthy curiosity in this area to join him. Agreeing together, both he and Peterson broadly condemn the pernicious conflation of difference in economic worth with difference in intrinsic worth. Here Douglas borrows a line from novelist Iain McEwan that hes used more than once, which is that we most of us eventually come to realize the nicest person we know may never have read a book. (Theres something about the fondness with which Douglas always lingers on this line that makes me wonder whether perhaps, for him, it might be more than hypothetical.) He wonders uneasily whether, best-selling books by Steven Pinker notwithstanding, we havent really progressed so very far beyond the 20th centurys blood-stained pages.

Douglas also has an instinct which he described to me as not just an instinct, but a drive to affirm the essential meaningfulness of life. Like Whitman, he replies to the question Oh me, oh life of the questions of these recurring, what good amid these oh me, oh life? with the answer That you are here. That life exists. Or, to quote one of his favorite lines from Rainer Maria Rilke in translation, Being here means so much. In a testy, must-read Easter debate about euthanasia with a far more calloused colleague at The Spectator, Douglas unapologetically embraces and repeats that simplest, least ironic of catch-phrases: Choose life.

I highlighted a case study from his latest book,The Madness of Crowds, about a young Belgian woman who first mutilated and then killed herself as she tried to become a man and only found that she had unlocked new depths of misery. The Belgian state was by her side the whole way, holding her hand even to the grave. Its impossible to read Murrays account of this case and not sense from him a deep sadness, an instinctive protective motion of the heart towards a soul who needed help to live and found only help to die. Its an instinct that quietly suffuses much of his commentary, inspiring me to give him the honorary title equal opportunity humanist in my review of the book. When we talked, he shared his particular burden for the listless and depressed, whom he constantly wants to encourage like Edgar encourages his blind father Gloucester in King Learas the old man falls to what he thinks is his death. Despite the fact that he has only a few more minutes of life, it is in those last few minutes that, as Douglas puts it, he discovers everything. If Douglas could leave people with one message, it would be the message that thats worth hanging around for, if you would only just hold onfor a few minutes more, hold on.

What, then, does it mean, this instinct, this drive? Douglas sees and accepts it by the natural light, like Auden in Precious Five accepts that he must bless what there is for being. What else are we made for, agreeing or disagreeing? But the question remains, to what might this point? To what, to be Augustinian about things, might this tend?

I had far too little time to discuss with Douglas where I think it tends. (For this dialogue at least, though he has graciously left his door open for more in the future.) The final third of our conversation turned to questions around Christianity, as he briefly reviewed his archetypally Victorian crisis of faith while I briefly encapsulated how I was raised to view faith and reasonas dancing partners, not enemies. When our host asked Douglas what it would take for him to make his way back, he told us only half-jokingly that he would need to hear a voice.

This challenge was a left turn, to say the least. But Douglas took pains to explain that he doesnt intend to trap Christians with it. He is quite serious: If youhave heard a voice, he would very much like to know about it. To the milquetoast politically correct Anglican who responds to the challenge with a Come come, my dear fellow, dont tell me youre actually asking about an actual voice from heaven, Douglas would say Why not? He would like to know. He would like to listen. Even if you honestly cant fake it and say youve heard a voice, at least putsomethingdown on the table. At least put some damn skin in the game, like the persecuted Christians in Africa and the Middle East, or the Christians in the American black church who dare to forgive their killers, whom Douglas regards with reverent awe. Otherwise, whats the point of it all?

There was limited time to convey that I understand what he means. I understand, I think, what hes looking for. I hope I began to nudge him towards it. I had the foresight to bring along a few of my dead friends in glorious 19th-century binding and briefly wave them at Douglas as we said our goodbyes, and to remind him of C. S. Lewiss warning that a young atheist cant be too careful of his reading material. (It amused me to realize that Ive been a Christian for over 20 years, longer than Douglas has been an atheist.) He seemed quite touched.

I have called Douglas the gay humanist in the title of this piece for purposes of clickbait (you did click, didnt you?) but Im afraid now that Ive got you all to click and read to the end I have no great reward in store. This is because it turns out I actually dont particularly care, and neither does Douglas. This was a source of some slight hilarity at one point in our dialogue, in which I waved about the woman card I never use while Douglas reflected on The Guardians mysterious reluctance to say Hey, lets give Douglas a good write-up, hes gay!

In fact, I do like to think of Douglas as a gay humanist in another and older sensethat is, the sense of men who go gayly in the dark. With such men, I will gladly walk arms linked, for only by such men is darkness pushed back one day more.

The week I recorded our dialogue, I went with a few friends to sing carols at an out-of-the-way country nursing home where an old neighbor friend of ours is spending her last days. I still had Douglass voice in my head as we walked around with our tidings of comfort and joy while the residents listened, some more responsive than others. A friends daughter walked around distributing candy canes. At one point, she came to one woman lost in Limbo. The girl wasnt sure what to do, so my father helped her. The woman eventually did take the candy.

Douglas, of course, was not there in person. Still, I shouldnt have thought it strange to turn and find him smiling over my shoulder, leaning forward to whisper, Thats worth hanging around for.

C. S. Lewis said that friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another What? You too? I thought I was the only one! Like Rick Blaine at the end of Casablanca, I believe this is only the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Health and wellness fads 2019: What were the trends and what’s to come in 2020? – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: at 12:47 pm

2019 saw collagen powder, hemp, and perineum sunningedge into collective consciousness. What other fads did we endure this year, and what are experts predicting for the year to come?

We're all aspiring toward wellness - we download apps to help us breathe and meditate, more of us are opting for plant-based diets, and we're sticking all sorts of needles into our faces all in the name of beauty.

Social media has becomea never-ending stream of revolving trends, with some things in-and-out of favourso quickly it can give you whiplash.

We revisit some of the most popular health and wellness trends of 2019, and anticipate what might come next.


In November, a self-described Instagram "healer"uploaded a series of photos exposing her bum to the sun as part of her "daily rising routine".

Metaphysical Meganclaimed thatby sunning her perenium (the area between the anus and vulva)for five minutes a day, shehad better sleepand increased energy, libido and creativity.

Touted as an ancient Taoist practice, perineum sunning went viral in the final weeks of the year, much to the dismay of medical professionals, who rubbished the claims.Will it endure into 2020? Who knows!


Collagen additives for coffee and breakfast foods became popular this year.


If you're a woman between 18 and 100 years old, it's likely you've come across an influencer flogging collagen online in recent months.

Collagen itself is nothing new - it's the most abundant protein in your body - but this year saw an influx of collagen products hit shelves, including coffee creamers, capsules and powders.

If nothing else, collagen-lovers will be seeing in the new year with strong hair and nails.


Skincare and appearance industry insiders at Caci Clinic say 2019 was all about microneedling, which improves texture and skin elasticity, reducing signs of aging or acne.

It works by using tiny microneedles to penetrate the skin, triggering the body's wound-healing response. This is said to boost collagen production, making skin stronger and firmer than before.

Caci insiders expectthe next big things in beauty will be retinol and vitamin-based skincare, as well as customised skin health.


Turns out milk doesn't just come from a cow, a soy bean or an almond.


If you've gone out for brunch this year it's likely you've been inundated with obscure, trendy alternative milk options - oat, hazelnut, cashew, quinoa, flax - you name it.

Plant-based milks are really having a moment, havingcome a long way since soy milk was for'hippies' only. Demand for non-dairy milks is increasing, and more creative options are popping up as a result.

Keep your eyes peeled for chia and hemp milks, which experts suggestcould be the next big thing.


While much of the rest of the worldopened its arms to CBD oil in many different shapes and forms this year,New Zealand law has so far prevented the same happening here.

However, that hasn't stopped cannabis sativa'strendy cousin hemp from popping up all over the show.

Once only a nichehealth-store find, 2019 saw hemp nowin the milk aisle, in pancakes and cookies, and dusted on lattes in the shapes of hearts.


Have an ailment or issue? There's an app out there for you.


From Headspace, meditation and mindfulness made easy, to period-tracking apps such asClue or MyFlo and WaterMinder, trackingyour H2O intake,wellness apps were everywhere this year.

Most of us can admit to living largely sedentary, stressed-out lifestyles. We work too hard fortoo long and move, sleepand relax too little.

Fortunately, there's no shortage of wellness apps to help us get our lives on track. We predict meditation apps will continue to reign supreme into the new year.


Performed on what looks like a torture device, reformer pilates has been a fond celebrity favourite for some time, but is still relatively new to New Zealand.

The rowing machine-like contraption, built from a "carriage"uses weighted arm straps and springs to toneandstrengthenmuscles, and even correctposture.

With classes popping up all over the country, you're sure to be able to find one - or its newer,slightly scarier cousin the Megaformer - near you.


All meat or no meat - both were popular this year.


This year, the Carnivore Diet- a close relative to keto - took the world by storm. Instead of keto, where you eat very few carbs, the Carnivore diet is zero-carb,consisting of only meat and high-fat animal products.

Last year, controversial academic Jordan Peterson raved about the diet on Joe Rogan's popular podcast, claiming it helped him lose 50 pounds, stop snoring and even cured his auto-immune diseases.

2019 also sawthemono diet (limiting food intake to one group or individual food per day), charcoal detoxes (fasting or consuming tea or juices containing charcoal) and time-restricted diets (a period in the day when you're 'allowed' to eat), have their moment in the sun.


Gone are the days where the thought ofReady To Drink (RTD) alcoholic drinksconjures up nothing but (best forgotten) memories of our youth.

2019 ushered in a kind of RTD renaissance, with Kiwi companies like Part Times Rangersand Master of Ceremonies' Pals entering the market and taking Instagram by storm.

Spirits mixed with sparkling water and cannedrosspritzers areset to only become more popular as the days get longer. Watch this space.


Lash lifts saw a modern version of the perm come back in style, just not for the hairs on your head.


Forget just shredding, cutting or getting gains, fitness this year was all holistic "wellness",according to Les Mill's head of fitness Ish Cheyne.

While exercise is often centred around high-intensity interval training, trainers were alsostarting to play with the "recovery wellness space",such as introducing stretch classes,he said.

Cheyne predicts trainers will move into more "wellness-centred coaching spaces" next year, with a special emphasis on life outside of the gym - particularly sleep.

On the other hand, the rise of group fitness - such asF45 - is likely to continue in popularity, he said.


Recovery - such as stretch classes - are set to become a bigger part of our approach to fitness next year, experts say.

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CAT Score and SGRQ Definitions of Chronic Bronchitis as an Alternative | COPD – Dove Medical Press

Posted: at 12:46 pm

Joon Young Choi,1 Hyoung Kyu Yoon,2 Kyeong-Cheol Shin,3 So-Young Park,4 Chang Youl Lee,5 Seung Won Ra,6 Ki Suck Jung,7 Kwang Ha Yoo,4 Chang-Hoon Lee,8 Chin Kook Rhee9

1Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, St. Vincents Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, Suwon, Republic of Korea; 2Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Yeouido St Marys Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea; 3Division of Pulmonology and Allergy, Regional Center for Respiratory Disease, Yeungnam University Medical Center, Daegu, Republic of Korea; 4Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Konkuk University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea; 5Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Chuncheon Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University Medical Center, Chuncheon, Republic of Korea; 6Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Ulsan University Hospital, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Ulsan, Republic of Korea; 7Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University Medical School, Anyang, Republic of Korea; 8Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea; 9Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul St. Marys Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Correspondence: Chin Kook RheeDivision of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul St. Marys Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, 222 Banpodaero, Seochogu, Seoul 06591, Republic of KoreaTel +82 2 2258 6067Fax +82 2 599 3589Email chinkook77@gmail.com

Purpose: Previous studies have used various definitions to classify chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients into chronic bronchitis (CB) and non-CB patients. This study was performed to identify differences among three definitions of CB based on the classical method, St. Georges Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), and the CAT (COPD Assessment Test) score.Patients and methods: We extracted data from the multicenter Korea COPD Subgroup Study (KOCOSS) cohort, for which patients recruited from among 47 medical centers in South Korea beginning in April 2012. Patients were classified according to three different definitions of CB: 1) classical definition; 2) SGRQ (using questions regarding cough and sputum); and 3) CAT score (comprising cough [CAT1] and sputum [CAT2] subscale scores).Results: A total of 2694 patients were enrolled in this study. The proportions of CB were 10.8%, 35.8%, and 24.0% according to the classical, SGRQ, and CAT definitions, respectively. The three definitions yielded consistently significant differences between CB and non-CB patients in modified Medical Research Council dyspnea scale CAT score, SGRQ score, number of moderate-to-severe exacerbations per year and forced expiratory volume in 1 second. By three definitions, CB consistently predicted future risk of exacerbation. The kappa coefficient of agreement between the classical definition and SGRQ definition was 0.29, that of the classical definition and CAT definition was 0.32, and that of the SGRQ definition and CAT definition was 0.44.Conclusion: Patients with CB according to the new definitions based on SGRQ or CAT score showed similar clinical characteristics to those defined according to the classical definition. The new CB definitions may be used as alternatives to the classical definition.

Keywords: chronic bronchitis, CAT score, SGRQ score, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, KOCOSS database

This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License.By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

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Alternative therapy: France to lower homeopathy reimbursement on 1 January – RTL Today

Posted: at 12:46 pm

Traditional medicine vs homeopathy has been a battle occupying France for the past two years and is soon reaching its conclusion. As of 1 January, the reimbursement rate will drop before reaching a rate of no reimbursement in a year's time.

Currently, homeopathic products in France are reimbursed up to 30% by social security services, a rate due to drop to 15% as of Wednesday. In 2021, homeopathy will be completely delisted from social security reimbursement in France.

The decision, made official over the course of several decrees in October and November, was announce on 9 July. The announcement came as a conclusion to a long and controversial debate. The move will affect some 1,200 homeopathic products, some of which are well known in France (like Gelsemium, purported to help again anxiety).

The notorious Oscillococcinum, which allegedly treats flu symptoms, is not on the list of products due to be delisted, as the product was never initially on the list of products to receive a partial reimbursement.

To come to the decision, French Minister of HealthAgns Buzyn referred back to a report provided by the Health High Authority (HAS) in June. The institution concluded that homeopathic products do not have sufficient scientific proof to justify reimbursement.

The transition period ahead of homeopathic products being delisted in 2021 will allow time for education amongst patients and allow manufacturers to organise themselves, the minister explained in July.

The new year will not bring the end of this decision, as the laboratories that produce homeopathic products have taken steps to dispute the decree. Two laboratories (Boiron and Lehning) have submitted complaints to the state council.

Over the past years, the debate experience a spectacular high point in March 2018 when the newspaper le Figaro published a strong letter against homeopathy and other alternative medicines. The letter was signed by 124 health professionals who consequently founded a collective named Fakemed.

Although the fate of homeopathy and its reimbursement has been decided, some of those professionals who signed the letter have been subject to disciplinary procedures in the medical order. The National Syndicate of Homeopathic Doctors (SNMHF) accused the signatories of not adhering to a medical brotherhood. The complain was addressed to around 60 doctors working throughout France. 20 verdicts have been made, varying depending on the region. Eight doctors received warnings, three complaints were dismissed, and one was released.

Fakemed expects remaining decisions to be pronounced mid-January. The collective is concerned that some doctors could be suspended.

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Alternative therapy: France to lower homeopathy reimbursement on 1 January - RTL Today

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