Tag Archives: Vox

Damning: Johnson lied to Parliament about party attendance and police failed to fine him

How will the Met Police justify this? Boris Johnson is pictured toasting departing Downing Street comms chief Lee Cain at a leaving party on November 13, 2020, that the prime minister told Parliament he never attended.

Days after police decided not to fine Boris Johnson again for attending illegal Downing Street parties, we see that it is all a lie.

Johnson did attend at least one party beyond the birthday event in 2020 for which he was fined.

It was during a time of full lockdown in England – November 13, 2020 – when only two people from different households were allowed to mix indoors.

Questioned in Parliament on whether a party had taken place on that date, Johnson said, “No but I’m sure that whatever happened, the guidance was followed, and the rules were followed at all times.”

But images published by ITV News show at least eight people in a Downing Street room, meaning at least nine were there including the photographer. They were from many different households.

We can clearly see a table covered with bottles of substances including Champagne or Cava, wine and gin, and party cups – one of which is being hefted by Johnson as he gives what is clearly a party speech.

Excuses that this was a “works do” won’t wash, because a “works do” is still a party – and in any case, one person who attended this event to mark the departure of comms chief Lee Cain was fined for it.

Claims that Johnson was “just passing through” because his red box is visible, discarded nearby, are unconvincing because we have already heard that Johnson pays very little attention to the contents of his red boxes, which have been seen unattended outside his Downing Street flat (a blatant security risk) while the prime minister himself receives briefings on their contents via WhatsApp.

Perhaps that particular box was actually in the possession of one of the other people at the party, who had either already written a briefing for their lazy party-boy boss or was going to do it later.

So Johnson quite clearly and categorically lied to Parliament about his attendance at this party. Why haven’t the police fined him, then?

This Site has already discussed suggestions from a solicitor that Met officers may have been influenced by deference for Johnson’s position as prime minister, in contradiction of the requirement that everybody must be treated equally in the eyes of the law.

The same expert also suggested that Johnson had been able to afford to get “lawyered up” with expensive representatives whose services were beyond the means of the lower-paid civil servants who could not evade fixed penalty notices – another indication of preferential treatment.

So Metropolitan Police investigators have serious questions to answer.

The Met has “declined to explain” why Johnson was not fined for attending a party when somebody else was – indicating a guilty conscience, perhaps?

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has already been urged to investigate – by the Liberal Democrats (presumably Labour leader Keir Starmer has been asleep at the wheel again).

But the request is unlikely to be honoured because the IOPC usually investigates only the most serious cases, such as those involving a death or serious injury following contact with the police, and complaints can only be made by someone who has directly witnessed an incident or is directly affected by it.

Nevertheless, it seems the police will be forced to explain themselves as legal action is being initiated by others including the Good Law Project.

This Writer wonders if Sue Gray is frantically re-writing her report, that is due to be released to the public tomorrow (May 25), according to some sources.

Our predominantly right-wing media are telling us that Johnson is in no danger of being removed by his own Conservative MPs.

It seems they are hoping that public outrage at this flagrant abuse of his government’s own rules by the prime minister who announced them to the public will have peaked.

But, being Tories, they probably aren’t counting the human cost of Covid-19 and the effect this has had. Johnson was partying with his colleagues at a time when people were dying alone because he had ordered that their relatives and friends were not allowed to be with them at the end.

That causes the kind of pain that doesn’t go away when it is politically expedient.

And of course this is new evidence for the Commons Privileges Committee, that will investigate whether Johnson lied to Parliament about attending parties.

If he did, then the rules will demand his resignation. And this evidence shows – in no uncertain terms – that he did lie.

If he had any integrity at all he would resign now and save us all the annoyance of waiting for it. But his past behaviour tells us that he doesn’t, so he won’t.

Photographs cast doubt on Boris Johnson’s claims he was unaware of rule-breaking. | ITV National News

Source: Exclusive: Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured drinking at Downing Street party during lockdown | ITV News

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Covid HAS harmed online politics – but so have social media platforms that suppress alternatives

The Covid-19 pandemic and its lockdowns that forced so many of us online for our social interactions has polarised and poisoned political debate, according to some arguments.

But is it really the people reading and responding who are fouling the well, or the organisations dictating what they see and influencing how they respond?

This Writer’s experience is that people turned away from politics – hugely – during the lockdowns, and are now only slowly returning.

Vox Political had its highest-ever readership in March 2020 – nearly one million hits, and I think that was because I was reporting the failures of Boris Johnson’s leadership on Covid in an unbiased way.

Readership remained high during April and May, but then it suddenly and sharply dropped off during June.

It is certainly possible that some of this decline was due to the debate about Covid-19. In his article on the BBC News website, Richard Morris puts forward views that Dominic Cummings’s visit to Barnard Castle polarised the public, as did the debate on mask-wearing and the lockdowns themselves. I would add the debate on vaccination, also.

But who fuelled those debates? Suddenly the social media were full of “experts” we’d never heard of before, all screaming that their view was right and we were fools if we didn’t accept it.

Who promoted those views? Who gave them the space? Wasn’t it right-wing media outlets with an agenda to get people back out of their homes, never minding that they were in danger of death from the disease, and into work making money for rich industrialists again?

How many Tory MPs spent the whole of the crisis ranting about the economy when they should have been concerned with their constituents’ health?

And how many right-wing social media organisations minimised rational debate by using algorithms that push links to sites like mine down users’ notifications in order to starve us of followers and views?

I’m thinking of Facebook under Nick Clegg, and of Twitter, because those are main outlets of mine. Vox Political‘s following on FB has been static at 42,500 for years because of this mistreatment.

It’s a recordable phenomenon. I have lost count of the number of old readers who have contacted me to say they were amazed Vox Political was still going because they had not seen a link for (insert long time period here), despite having asked to be alerted when notifications are posted.

And sites like mine lose out on shares because people are afraid they will be criticised for supporting points of view that don’t conform with those of their more loudly-opinionated right-wing acquaintances who have only gained a platform because they have received preferential treatment.

None of this is properly addressed in the Morris article.

Instead we see information that five per cent of UK internet users are in a “left-wing echo chamber” and two per cent of them are in a similar position on the right.

We see an opinion that “it’s ‘only human’ for journalists, politicians and those in media to see extreme negative reactions to their posts online and for this to ‘colour your perception of the whole world the same way’, with no discussion of who is posting those reactions and why.

Do you remember the government’s Nudge Unit, which is now at least partly in private hands? It was a shady organisation David Cameron used to push the public into supporting his policies by subtly guiding us into decisions we would not have taken otherwise.

So, for example, people may have found themselves supporting the benefit policies that have killed thousands of good people for no reason, because they were “nudged” into believing that benefit claimants were all scroungers who were perfectly capable of work but were defrauding the system (tell that to the diabetes sufferer who could not keep his insulin at the right temperature because he could not afford to power his fridge – oh, but you can’t: he’s dead).

The article concludes by saying it may “take years to find out the lasting impact on society of what took place in the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021” – but I think it’s worse than that.

I think after those years have passed, we’ll be presented with a conclusion about what happened that suits the people in power now – because they will have used all the levers at their disposal, including manipulation of the social media by “nudging”, to make you believe them.

Call me paranoid if you like, but what did you think of mask-wearing and social distancing, of the lockdowns, of vaccinations before somebody told you they were wrong? How did that affect you? And how many people do you know who were swayed by these dangerous whispers?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Will Rachel Riley be as quick to comment on her own libel trial as Johnny Depp’s?

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp: Rachel Riley has spent years trying to keep details of her libel case against me away from the public, but seems to think it’s fine to publicise information about this ongoing litigation.

Rachel Riley can’t keep her mouth shut at the moment.

After throwing shade on transgender activists and the makers of Strictly Come Dancing, she’s now taking the side of Amber Heard in that celebrity’s libel trial against Johnny Depp.

The trial isn’t over, so some might see Riley’s decision to tweet a thread containing the allegations of abuse by Depp against Heard, while saying she wouldn’t wish him on her worst enemy, as prejudicial; there seems to be no balancing evidence about what Heard is alleged to have done to Depp.

Of course, that trial is in a foreign country with different laws so, to answer the question in the headline, I don’t think she would comment on her own case while it is ongoing. That’s her case against This Writer – see this page for many details and to donate to my crowdfunded defence.

It’s a shame she can’t restrain herself from showing others that courtesy, though.

Her comments reminded me of a conversation with friends in which they asked me if I have any new evidence left to present to the judge in Riley’s libel trial against me, after all the updates I have published on my CrowdJustice page.

In fact, the only evidence mentioned there has been information that came out in previous court hearings and is now public knowledge. I have plenty more to divulge.

And I wonder whether Riley will be so keen to have such information in the public eye when it refers to her and not an American movie star.

There is only one way to ensure my evidence is heard, though, and that – as always – is to make sure my defence against her is fully funded. Will you help?

You can do that several ways:

Make a donation via the CrowdJustice page. Keep donating regularly until you see the total pass the amount I need.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

Use other social media in the same way.

We’re getting close now; I reckon we have less than £6,000 – of more than £200k – to raise until the case is funded – barring the unexpected.

Let’s get there – so you can all find out, at long last, what Riley’s own lawsuit has really been about.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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By-elections: For a country suffering Long Tory disease under Boris Johnson, Change Is Good

Boris Johnson: his MPs may have given up on kicking him out but it seems the rest of us all think it’s time for him to go.

Boris Johnson is facing a double-defeat more deadly to his premiership than Partygate as the public turns against him in two by-elections.

People in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, together with Tiverton and Honiton in Devon, seem certain to turn against the Tories over the cost-of-living catastrophe, at the ballot box next month.

At a focus group in Wakefield, the problem was clearly identified as Boris Johnson. Only one voter said they would stick with the Tories; the others vowed to support Labour or abstain from voting altogether.

The vitriol directed at Johnson over Partygate was real. “Can I call him a wanker?” asked Keith.

Rishi Sunak’s star had definitely fallen too. “They’re totally out of touch, particularly those two, born with silver spoons in their mouth,” said Janet, who is on Universal Credit for the first time in her life.

Luke Tryl, director of More In Common, said: “For most, the biggest problem with Johnson and Sunak is that they were seen to be totally out of touch and unable to understand the struggles of people’s everyday lives. This is a telling reversal from last summer and beyond when in similar groups you’d hear people using phrases like ‘Our Boris’ and the sense he was one of them.”

The people mentioned in the source article don’t show any real interest or enthusiasm in Keir Starmer’s Labour – they just want a change from a Tory government that has lost ideas and appeal over its 12 years in office: Long Tory disease.

Tom added: “Change is good.”

How ironic. Johnson used the same line when he had to replace a policy chief who had spoken unwisely about Starmer.

The PM was quoting the Lion King movie, seemingly oblivious to the film’s plot of a duplicitous ruler being found out eventually.

It seems Johnson has been found out. And with no attempt being made to halt the cost-of-living crisis, it seems he may soon be voted out.

Source: Tory MPs may still be backing Boris Johnson, but focus groups are showing that voters are done with the PM

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The UK is supposed to have no institutional racism – so why are POLICE apologising for ‘racism, discrimination and bias’?

All white: look at the police faces behind Boris Johnson at this speech he made in 2019 – not one of them is from an ethnic minority.

Remember when the Tory government released a report claiming that the UK is an “exemplar” of racial equality in all its institutions?

Now members of one of those institutions – the police – are having to apologise for “racism, discrimination and bias”. Bit of a contradiction there, don’t you think?

In a new race plan, to be launched next week, the National Police Chiefs Council and College of Policing will state:

“Many people believe policing to still be institutionally racist and have grounds for this view.

“We accept that policing still contains racism, discrimination and bias. We are ashamed of those truths, we apologise for them and we are determined to change them.

“[The] need for change is evident. Policing lags behind almost every part of the public service as an employer of choice for Black people. Confidence levels are much lower, and our powers are disproportionately applied to Black people. In some crimes, victimisation rates are higher.”

The plan avoids admitting institutional racism but declares that police chiefs are “ashamed” about racism remaining in law enforcement.

One chief constable who supports accepting policing is institutionally racist said: “All the figures show it still is.”

There will be a consultation on the plan, so it may change.

I wonder if the Tories will try to remove the admissions of racism from it, to conform with their Big Lie?

Source: Police chiefs to apologise for ‘racism, discrimination and bias’ in race plan

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Chaotic scenes at Education Department as civil servants outnumber desks

Jacob Rees-Mogg, making a gesture that well defines him.

Is this Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comeuppance after he went around leaving nasty notes on empty civil service desks, for them to see after they returned from home working?

In notes left for civil servants, he wrote: “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.”

Nadhim Zahawi took Rees-Mogg’s demand for a return to the office seriously, and told officials at the Department for Education to “immediately” return to “pre-Covid working” after an audit found that the DfE had the lowest attendance of any Government department, at a quarter capacity.

Well, unless pre-Covid working took place in corridors and canteens, he didn’t get his wish!

It turns out that, before the pandemic, the DfE only had an occupancy rate of 60 to 70 per cent because of the department’s flexible working policy.

And changes to the department’s estate, such as giving up space at the DfE’s London headquarters, has meant there are fewer desks than previously – 4,200 to accommodate 8,009 staff.

So after the department’s top civil servant, permanent secretary Susan Acland-Hood, was joined by ministers to tell officials to work 80 per cent of their week in the office, chaos ensued:

Civil servants at the Department for Education have been forced to work in corridors and canteens.

Whole teams have been turned away from some offices because of overcrowding.

According to Schools Week, staff were sent home from the department’s Sheffield office after a mass return earlier this month, despite some staff already working from the canteen.

Online meetings were also forced to take place with staff perched on the end of shared seating because meeting rooms were full.

The Tories have insisted that having more people than desks was the practice at the department.

Were they saying that chaos is supposed to be the practice at the Department for Education and that it was the intended result of Rees-Mogg’s interference. How revealing!

And isn’t it curious that, while DfE staff – and presumably other civil servants – scrabble for desk space, another government department looks set to spend £20 million on a luxury townhouse for a single, privileged representative – so she can hold lavish parties?

Source: Department for Education descends into chaos as civil servants can’t find desks after returning to office

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Partygate: should we be asking if Boris Johnson spent public money on lawyers?

Money, money, money: a lawyer has claimed Boris Johnson could have escaped a second Partygate fine by getting ‘lawyered up’ – but if so, who footed the bill? And shouldn’t all these cases have been handled in the same way – the way in which the lowliest civil servant was treated?

A criminal defence lawyer has suggested that Boris Johnson, and possibly other senior Tory politicians, escaped Partygate fines because they employed expensive lawyers to rubbish the evidence.

And Lucinda Nicholls told the I that the Metropolitan Police may also have been swayed by the fact that Johnson is the Prime Minister – putting the lie to the claim that everybody in the UK is equal in the eyes of the law.

Stressing that she could not “state categorically” the reasons for the Met’s deicsion, Lucinda Nicholls, told i: “I think what probably happened is they [the Met] were more susceptible to receiving the information about the circumstances because he was Prime Minister, which would never have happened if you were a member of the public.

Ms Nicholls… added: “I am sure and I know that every single person with the Government, all of the ministers, that were part of the investigation were lawyered up.

“And I know that the amount of money these particular lawyers would have cost, they would have ensured that there was some sort of senior personnel within the police that would have been dealing with this.

“He [Mr Johnson] has the funds available to him to engage with the authorities in order to minimise the risks and negotiate the process. Joe Bloggs on the street doesn’t.”

Does that strike any of you as hugely unfair? If it’s accurate, I think it would be.

It’s also more than a little suspicious, considering how strapped-for-cash Johnson always claims to be.

Should I be making a Freedom of Information request to find out if any public money was spent defending Johnson? And should the police be probed to find out if they really were impartial in their handling of Partygate suspects?

Source: Partygate: Why Boris Johnson escaped with just one fine for Covid breach, according to a legal expert

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Partygate: Boris Johnson may be getting no more fines, but he’s a long way from getting away with it

Boris Johnson at a party: this one was in Christmas 2020, apparently, but the police aren’t fining him for it. Hmm…

Never mind the rumours that Boris Johnson met Sue Gray to discuss how to “manage” her report on the Covid-19 lockdown-busting Downing Street parties; he’s not likely to affect her verdict.

Apparently they only met to talk about whether she should publish images in her report – and he said it was a matter for her to decide on her own.

At the moment, it seems she is pushing for clearance to name the so-called ringleaders of the Partygate scandal, discussing with Civil Service human resources and legal teams, as well as trade unions, how explicitly she can point the finger.

That’s not the behaviour of someone who has taken orders not to rock the boat.

Indeed, avid scandal-watchers are bulk-buying popcorn in time for next week’s publication of her report, which promises to issue scathing criticism of senior political and Civil Service figures, calling into question why illegal social gatherings were allowed to take place.

But the real scandal appears to be the possibility that the Commons Privileges Committee is unlikely to report on whether Johnson intentionally misled Parliament over these parties until September.

The Committee has not yet met to decide who will chair the inquiry, after Labour’s Chris Bryant recused himself over [an] accusation of bias.

It is also unlikely to conclude its investigation before Parliament breaks up for summer recess in July, raising the prospect of Mr Johnson waiting until September at the earliest until the final verdict is delivered on Partygate.

The net result of all this delay has been to diffuse the strength of the scandal.

Ms Gray was originally set to publish her expected-to-be-damning report in January, less than two months after claims came to light that Tory ministers and civil servants took part in illegal parties over a period of more than a year.

But she was delayed after Johnson’s fellow Balliol College, Oxford, alumnus Cressida Dick commissioned a Metropolitan Police inquiry into the allegations that has delayed matters for four months.

And in the meantime, MPs decided to hold their own inquiry into whether Johnson had broken the Ministerial Code. It is known that he repeatedly provided false information to the Commons about whether parties took place but the important question is whether he did so, knowing that his words were not true.

It is this inquiry that may push Johnson out of Downing Street, because knowingly misleading Parliament is a breach of the Ministerial Code for which the penalties go as far as expulsion from that assembly.

But if the verdict won’t be known until September, who will care?

Source: Boris Johnson to wait months for final ‘Partygate’ verdict on whether he misled Parliament

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Why is the Foreign Office buying £20m New York townhouse to subsidise art dealer’s court case?

Liz Truss: she’s not a serious politician. Look at that vapid grin and you’ll understand exactly why she’s spaffing away public money like it was newly-ensewaged water.

While the rest of us face a cost-of-living crisis, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is apparently planning to spend £20 million buying a luxury New York townhouse so the UK’s UN representative can have big parties.

Not only that, but the money would be paid to an art dealer who is currently facing trial for a £500 million tax fraud in France.

Should the UK’s government really be subsidising a possible fraudster’s court representation? And does the UK’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations really need a massively expensive building, just so she can host lavish parties?

The memo on the proposed Manhattan purchase argues that ‘the Sutton Square townhouse would provide a high-quality entertainment space close to the UK mission to the UN [and] comfortable accommodation for VIPs’.

The 9,600 sq ft Manhattan townhouse, which has views over the East River, would be used mainly by Dame Barbara Janet Woodward, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Described by the property agents as ‘a grand and iconic residence for the new gilded age’, Dame Barbara… would enjoy the use of a huge kitchen, sauna-like showers, parquet de Versailles wood floors and a filigreed spiral staircase.

The documents leaked to The Mail on Sunday make the argument that despite already owning three residences in New York, in addition to the embassy and ambassador’s house in Washington, the new property is required to help the UK to pursue ‘soft power’ diplomacy through drinks and canapes.

These things are not good for the UK’s diplomats. Apparently there was a huge row when it was revealed in 2020 that Antonia Romeo, now Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, had been investigated over allegations that she had ‘terrorised’ staff who criticised her extravagant lifestyle and reportedly lavish spending when she was Britain’s Consul General in New York.

But the good news is that, as the building is in a “highly desirable” area of New York, it will likely hold or increase its value in the long term. So it’s a good investment. But how will the people of the UK benefit from this extravagant spending.

Ultimate authority over the deal will lie with airheaded Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who doesn’t seem to understand that spaffing our money – yours and mine, not hers – on things that aren’t vital for the nation is offensive to the people of the UK.

She’s also clueless about the new policy of cutting the number of civil servants in the Foreign Office by 900.

Apparently she’s happy to throw away “people whose skills we no longer need” (charming!) but then wants to take on enough new personnel to create a net increase of 1,000.

It would be okay if we knew that more than 1,000 jobs will be going to people who really need them – but you know Truss is just going to dish them out to more Tory cronies. I await proof that my assertion is false.

It seems clear that, not only is Truss a danger to the safety of the UK, with her sabre-rattling comments about Russia – but she can’t be trusted with money either.

Source: Liz Truss faces row over purchase of £20m New York ‘partyhouse’

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Cost-of-living crisis: Tories demand clampdown on people who steal to eat

Tory Kit Malthouse: his party has inflicted poverty on millions and now he is determined that if anybody is driven to steal food, just so they can eat, police should prosecute them with the full force of the law rather than exercise their discretion to deliver justice.

The Tory government has opened up a rift with the new Chief Inspector of Constabulary over people who steal to eat because of the cost-of-living crisis.

“The impact of poverty, and the impact of lack of opportunity for people, does lead to an increase in crime. There’s no two ways about that,” Andy Cooke, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said.

He said officers should use their “discretion” when deciding whether to prosecute people who steal in order to eat: “What they’ve got to bear in mind is what is the best thing for the community, and that individual, in the way they deal with those issues.”

But he insisted he was not advocating an amnesty for people who commit crimes of poverty, nor “giving a carte blanche for people to go out shoplifting”. Instead, he advised officers to make sure such matters of law enforcement are “dealt with in the best way possible”.

The Guardian found at least one police representative who agreed with this approach:

One chief constable whose area includes pockets of poverty agreed with Cooke. “There is a difference between a first-time offender who steals bread, cheese or milk to eat, and someone stealing to feed an addiction,” they said. “Police are there to help people in extreme need, that’s why we joined. We can signpost them to a food bank or help like that.”

But the Tory government takes a different view – Policing Minister Kit Malthouse wants to crack down hard on the people his party’s policies have driven into poverty.

On Thursday’s (May 19) morning interview round, he told LBC: “I wrote to chief constables just a year or so ago saying they should not be ignoring those seemingly small crimes.

“We first of all believe the law should be blind and police officers should operate without fear or favour in prosecution of the law.”

What did you expect? Tory policy has been to privatise the prison service, remember.

Perhaps they want to fill those prisons for their private business cronies.

And one more thing:

Isn’t it hypocritical for the Tories to want harsh action against people suffering as a result of their policies – but think it is hardly worth mentioning when their own leader ignores their policies in order to have a big party?

Source: Officers should use discretion over stealing to eat, says police watchdog | Police | The Guardian

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