Miscellany 25.11.2018

This is another omnibus edition of 3,000+ words. But it’s broken up for you to enjoy in instalments.

So take your time, and savour it properly.

ROCKIN’ TO THE RIGHT

Back in September I put out a tweet linking to this report about yet another planning application for ‘holiday cabins’. I was amazed – nay, shocked and appalled – to get the following response from a Shane Baker of Nebo, just outside Caernarfon.

I’m only just getting over the shock, that’s why it’s taken me so long to write about it.

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Naturally, I got to wondering who Shane Baker is, and why my elegant prose might have annoyed him. And so I went a-Googling. The first thing I learnt, from his Twitter account, is that he is a “Film and TV extra”.

His Facebook page header leaves you in no doubt as to his political sentiments and loyalties which, when added to the recent retweets of support for Tommy Robinson, suggest an English nationalist of the far right, or barging towards that destination.

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The same source provided photos of Shane Baker at work. It seems he likes to dress in leather and romp around with men similarly attired. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m sure it’s been legalised.

In fact, it seems to be strictly crowd scenes for Shane Baker. You can almost hear his agent advising him,‘Shane, baby, ya gotta face that would look just great at the back of a crowd!’.

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He should have listened to his agent, but no, for in addition to fancying himself as a medieval mobster, Shane is a vocalist of the Rock ‘n’ Roll genre, with a band called Kabinrock, based in Bath. I’m sure you’ve heard of them, they’ve played all the big venues – Twerton Liberal Club, St Margaret’s Hall (Bradford on Avon), Frys Club (Keynsham).

Here’s a video of Shane performing at a wedding (36 views after 6 years) After watching it you’ll realise why his best option is to lose himself in a crowd.

But enough of his showbiz career, the real question is, why did this latter-day John Bull recently move from his belovéd England to a Welsh-speaking locality? Why did he walk away from both Kabinrock and his other career as a glowering peasant?

Is this yet another example of white flight? Or is it that perverse imperial impulse that propels some English people into Wales despite them being hostile towards just about every manifestation of Welshness?

Or might there be some other reason?

Answers on a post card please. First correct answer pulled from the sack next Friday will receive a video of Shane and Kabinrock performing live at a Tommy Robinson is Innocent (of everything) concert at Scrotum Parva village hall. (Not to be confused with Scrotum Magna.)

‘(SWIVEL) EYES RIGHT!’

I have been informed of a new BritNat political party that might interest Shane Baker, that bargain basement Baldrick. It’s called the Democrats & Veterans Party.

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Though it’s an odd combination, democrats and veterans. And looking at the qualifications demanded, I’m patriotic, I hate the EU, I’m a tidy bloke, and while I don’t ‘love’ our armed forces I have no real problem in that direction.

The problem arises with, “Those that hate this nation or want to split our nation up need not apply”. Because here the DVP believes there is a British nation and confuses this mythic nation with the multi-national UK state. I do not want to split up my Welsh nation but I do want to split up the UK.

Terminology aside, it’s strange how veterans are used to make a claim on our emotions by the extreme right and the UK state, yet that state almost completely ignores veterans once they’ve served their purpose, leaving them to be politically exploited by the far right.

The relationship is almost symbiotic.

Shades of 1920s Germany. With the difference being that a bankrupt Germany lacked the resources to adequately care for millions of WWI veterans, whereas the UK state is more than capable of discharging its duties to a few thousand desperately needing help.

Anyway, a dickey-bird tells me that Wales is fortunate in having a co-ordinator of its very own for this new party, a Stan Robinson, though that name does not yet appear on the DVP website.

I suspect it’s this guy, who certainly fits the bill, having served in the Royal Observer Corps, after which he worked for the Ministry of Defence, and he’s been a poppy seller since 1985. He now claims to be ‘Chairman of the Family Housing Trust’, but Googling that name only brings up Family Housing Association (Wales) Ltd. Based, as is Robinson, in Swansea.

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Robinson doesn’t appear among the trustees or the management of FHA, making me suspect that he’s claiming to be a consultant. I guess it would be the same with the NHS.

This is his Facebook page, where we learn he’s “English to the core”. His counterpart in Scotland, Ian Pritchard, has no stronger connection with Braveheart and the Bruce than that, “he has been living in Scotland for more than 20 years”. Reminding us – as if we need reminding – that these proliferating BritNat parties are fundamentally about England, with just a Celtic tinge.

With Robinson being based in Swansea it’s no surprise to learn that a branch was formed in the city in April under the leadership of one Stephen ‘Reeco’ Rees. (Don’t be fooled by the flag, it’s not the one they really care about.) Though Robinson doesn’t appear to be in the photograph, maybe he hadn’t joined at that stage.

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Rees has been involved in the ‘Exploit-veterans-to-promote-the-BritNat- agenda’ for some time, having previously being involved with an outfit called SA1ute (geddit!). In fairness, ‘Reeco’ also rescues old dames with heating problems, (though some of the comments suggest a different narrative).

In the picture accompanying the article about the freezing old woman you’ll see Carl Vickers. His attempt at crowd-funding on behalf of SA1ute should be used to explain how not to go about it.

One who enlisted early in the DVP was James Cole. You may remember the name from an earlier incarnation as a Ukip spokesman. Here he is in a video from 2013 warning that the Welsh will be a minority in their own country “within the next fifteen to twenty years” due to immigration . . . but he’s not talking about English immigration.

Cole reminds us that the picture on the far right is almost a mirror image of the far left, not only in being detached from reality, but also with the constant movement of individuals between groups, and with these groups and parties breaking up and new ones forming all the time.

If the Democrats & Veterans Party is genuine, then rather than attacking the EU, immigrants, Islam, or the SNP, they will target the UK state and the British Crown, both of which are directly culpable for the condition of the ex-service personnel the DVP claims to care so much about.

Failure to do this just makes them right wing extremists exploiting desperate people.

Image courtesy of BBC, click to enlarge

To end on a lighter note, the fuhrer leader of the Democrats & Veterans Party is lantern-jawed John Rees-Evans, who was Ukip candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth in 2015.

After coming fourth in one of the many recent Ukip leadership contests Rees-Evans went off to form a new party called Affinity, which presumably morphed into the DVP.

You may remember that he hit the headlines with the claim that a gay donkey had tried to rape his horse.

Make Britain great again, and safe from gay donkeys – vote DVP!

LAMMAS: TROUBLE IN A FEUDAL PARADISE?

Others living in a world of their own are the hippy aristocracy of Lammas, of whom I have writ more than once. Now news reaches me that all may not be well in this settlement ruled by King Tau-Paul Wimbush and his Queen Hoppi.

To understand the ‘thinking’ behind Lammas and similar projects you must have some understanding of the collective stupidity and gullibility of Labour and Plaid Cymru politicians. For Lammas links with the promotion of One Planet projects which wants us to believe that Wales will reduce her carbon footprint by attracting into the country more wood-burning hippies.

The One Planet bollocks is yet more ‘Welsh’ legislation that is of no benefit whatsoever to Wales or the Welsh, but obviously of benefit to England and sections of the English people. But as I never tire of reminding you, this is how colonialism operates.

My sources tell me worrying tales from Lammas.

The first centres on the 999-year lease under which the peasantry live. (It must be a very healthy lifestyle.) Most wish to be freehold, perhaps in order to sell; others simply want to be independent of the Wimbush monarchy – so these putative republicans have had their water cut off, or life is made difficult for them in other ways.

Among those suffering in this way, I hear, is a Welshman from my neck of the woods, perhaps the only Welshman at Lammas, his Finnish wife and their trilingual children. I feel he should be supported.

Similar things happen to anyone foolish enough to ask to see what it’s claimed are the secret accounts of the company running the show, Lammas Low Impact Initiatives Ltd.

This document I dug out – which might have been superseded – names three individuals as founding members of the company: Paul Wimbush (inevitably), Dr Larch Maxey and Dr Mark Edwards Dyson. Who are these other two?

And if you doubted that the Wimbush dynasty are in it for the money, then there’s King Tau-Paul’s £70 an hour planning consultancy. While Queen Hoppi has her own skin care brand. Other money-making schemes include bed and breakfast, with Tau-Paul also selling plots of land at Lammas and elsewhere, which means acting as an unregistered estate agent.

Then there are the courses, extending to, as one source put it, ” . . . witchcraft and fanny worship courses . . .”

I assure you, in the many articles I’ve written about Lammas I have never mentioned ‘fanny worship courses’. And I have no idea what they involve. I was tempted to ask, but thought better of it.

A course you’ve missed, run by Queen Hoppi herself, was, ‘Upcycle Waistcoats with Wenchwear’. ‘Wenchwear’! If I used the term ‘wench’ the assorted loonies of the left who follow this blog would call me a patriarchal, misogynistic, transphobic, etc., etc., bastard. (Which they do anyway. Bless!)

No, this is no rural idyll of hippies growing organic vegetables and selling them at a street market, this is unadulterated greed.

More mundane concerns are whether the water quality is up to standard, and whether planning permission is being adhered to with new buildings.

On the matter of water quality, it is the responsibility of the county council – in this case, Pembrokeshire – to test the water annually. For some reason Pembrokeshire County Council stopped checking, but resumed doing so this year, after an enquiry from a concerned member of the public.

If we look at planning permission there is no escaping the major project at Lammas, the Earth Centre, for which money is now being raised. Confusion arises because permission was given for a dwelling.

The suspicion is that that’s exactly what it will be – King Tau-Paul and Queen Hoppi’s palace. But it may be easier to crowd-fund a communal building.

But then, lack of water testing, departure from planning consent, is par for the course that has seen officialdom at all levels bend over backwards to help Paul and Hoppi Wimbush prosper in their feudal demesne.

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Above you see a recent picture from a Lammas Facebook page showing planning inspector Andrew Poulter, and his wife, paying a visit just a week or so ago. This is the man who gave Lammas planning permission, and, no, he hasn’t retired, he’s still a planning inspector . . . and might therefore be called on to adjudicate on some future Lammas application.

Isn’t it all so ineffably bourgeois, so frightfully cosy? So . . . Acacia Avenue goes rustic. With nothing to tell you that this is happening in Wales.

UPDATE 29.11.2018: I put out a tweet a few days ago which got an answer from Planning Inspectorate. But Poulter’s Linkedin profile suggests he now works for the ‘Welsh Government’, from where I have heard nothing.

GONE WITH THE WIND

A couple of weeks ago, in Corruption in the Wind?, I looked at three wind farm developments: Bryn Blaen, near Llangurig; Rhoscrowther, near Milford Haven; and Hendy, near Llandrindod. Here are some updates.

First, I’m told that despite having been completed almost a year ago, not a blade has turned at Bryn Blaen. It seems there were problems when attempts were made – involving considerable traffic disruption – to connect the site to the Bryn Titli development just down the A470. Did it blow a fuse?

Another source sent me news of the Hendy site, so recently given the go-ahead by Lesley Griffiths, when she over-ruled her own planning inspector. (All explained in the earlier post.)

This source told me, “The Hendy bunch of crooks are already sneakily getting large machinery onto the proposed site, illegally using access points to and onto the Common land there.”

Perhaps these are some of the  ‘allegations’ the developers refer to in the article below, from Saturday’s Llais y Sais.

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Bottom line: The developers know they can get away with anything because Powys County Council is afraid to act, and that’s because the developers have political support at a higher level.

The priority at Hendy now is to get the turbines hooked up to the grid so they can start raking in the money. Whether the damn things generate any electricity is a matter of no importance to anyone involved in this scam.

What a system!

BIKE PARK WALES

I’ve written before about this venture near Merthyr, which has seen a large tract of publicly-owned land leased to a company called Bike Park Wales, which then threatens locals with on-the-spot fines for ‘trespassing’.

You can catch up with it by reading the original article.

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When this was queried, the first response, either from the departed CEO of Natural Resources Wales, or a ‘Welsh Government’ minister, stated that there were no public rights of way on the land leased to Bike Park Wales.

The kindest thing to say is that this was a mistake. The new CEO of Natural Resources Wales has conceded that public rights of way are involved. So my source has now asked his AM to:

(a) Request Welsh Ministers, as landowner, to write to BPW to immediately remove the £50 fine threat from their terms and conditions.

(b) Request the local authority to erect signage “Llwybr Cyhoeddus/Public Footpath” from start and end points of this public right of way within the lease footprint.

(c) Remind BPW that a temporary closure order need be obtained from the local authority, should this be required for future corporate events using this public right of way.

(d) Not to enter into any further lease arrangements that prevent unfettered public access to the estate owned by the Welsh Government anywhere else in Wales.

Natural Resources Wales has in recent years been out of control, so God only knows how many other such arrangements this dysfunctional body has entered into with our assets.

COLEG HARLECH

A lifetime ago I spent some happy years at Coleg Harlech, and so I repeat verbatim the sad message I received last week.

“Jac, I don’t know if you’re aware that the college buildings have recently been put up for sale by Adult Learning Wales. It’s a sad end for the college that for many was the gateway to a better life.

I was a student there between 1984 and 86, and gained an awful lot form my experience. I believe the fundamental ‘last straw’ was the change in government thinking on HE and the rise of FE university access courses that were deemed to offer the same the CH offered. The truth of course is something different.

I know that the college was ‘re-branded’ from HE to FE, though of course the academic standard at CH was always, in the two year Diploma days at least a demanding second year undergraduate standard. That of course changed in the mid 90s, and CH soldiered on, until the merger in 2001 with WEA (N) when things started to unravel badly.

The rest is history, but it puzzles me why nothing was done by those in Cardiff Bay about the colleges plight. It was a unique Welsh institution, which although internationalist in outlook, was at its core essentials an institution with its focus very much on Wales. indeed, the course of study I followed there was entirely focused on Wales.

To be quite honest, I’m just gob-smacked that the financial and managerial incompetence of Coleg Harlech WEA (N) went unchallenged.

And recently we read of another case of apparent incompetence and mismanagement at Theatr Ardudwy, where there was a hole in the roof that compromised health and safety with a repair bill of £150k – a hole like that doesn’t appear overnight, and it would have been known about prior to the installation of state of the art digital projection and sound equipment.

In neglecting to mend the hole in the roof put not only the audiences in danger, but also an investment that, if used properly, could have generated much needed income for a badly needed community and regional resource.

I don’t suspect corruption in either the case of the college, or the theatre, but it’s hard to avoid thinking that there was an amazing level of incompetence at play or a suspicion that all this might have been planned, as over time the college was stripping itself of the very assets it needed to survive as a viable entity.

I don’t know if you would be interested in doing what you do best and dig up the dirty on all the tribulations affecting the college. It’s almost tragic that we, as a nation, are losing what was a very special national institution, and I think it’s a story that should be told.”

There was indeed something uniquely Welsh about Coleg Harlech, so is there anyone out there who can fill in the details?

CAROLYN HARRIS MP AND SOUTH WALES POLICE

Carolyn Harris is the Labour MP for Swansea East, who has been involved in the worthy cause of reducing the damage done by Fixed Odd Betting Terminals, for which I congratulate her.

But like all of us – even me! – she is not without fault.

Many of you will be aware of the saga involving the assault on co-worker Jenny Lee Clarke for being a lesbian, widely reported in the London prints. Almost certainly in retaliation for this embarrassment Harris, by now an MP, accused the assault victim of theft.

Carolyn Harris MP (left) and Jenny Lee Clarke, click to enlarge

This was resolved in a court case in July when Ms Clarke was found not guilty of the alleged theft and Harris, now shadow spokesperson on equalities, came under fire for her homophobia.

Throughout this saga Ms Clarke has been trying to get South Wales Police to charge Carolyn Harris with assault. The response has been prevarication and obstruction. Insult was added to injury when, on Friday, November 16, BBC News reported that the assault allegation against Carolyn Harris had been ‘dropped’.

When Ms Clarke complained to the BBC she was told that this was what the police had told them . . . but of course the police denied this.

As I’ve explained to Jenny, the police have lost one case when she was acquitted of theft, which means that to charge Carolyn Harris with assault, and risk getting a conviction, would further expose the cock-up they’ve made of the whole affair. A cock-up exemplified by somehow ‘losing’ the only eye witness statement to the assault.

I find it so sad that I have to write in such a vein. People might think I’m a cynical old bastard, and that would never do. Would it?

Unless I receive earth-shattering intelligence that I must immediately impart to an unsuspecting world the next post will be Weep for Wales 11.

So if anyone has more news on Paul and Rowena Williams – get in touch!

♦ end ♦

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18 thoughts on “Miscellany 25.11.2018

  1. Wynne

    All interesting posts again Jac. A few observations below.

    Rockin’ to the Right
    I can confirm that Shane’s video has now received 37 views in 6 years. The best part of the video is where he has his back to the camera.

    Lammas
    Enquiries have been directed to the Council’s Planning and Building Regulation departments regarding the Temple [greenhouse] now under construction. Will keep you informed of developments.

    1. Jac

      Shane really does love to be in front of the cameras. I’m surprised he didn’t get a bigger role.

      As for Lammas, to believe the publicity machine, everything in the assorted gardens is just rosy. It’s up to people like you, me and a few others to get at the truth.

      1. Wynne

        Abstract below from the Council’s standard acknowledgement letter when planning enforcement action is requested.

        “As soon as practicable after the completion of the investigation and the Council arriving at a decision, you will be notified of the final outcome. The Council will not provide progress reports but if more than three months have elapsed please email enforcement@pembrokeshire.gov.uk to obtain an approximate timescale within which we expect the investigation to be completed.”

        By the time an enforcement investigation has been completed the building or structure is often erected. I think the 3 month timeframe is quoted in the hope that complainants give up and the investigation can then be quietly closed.

  2. Gruff Williams

    Wales is letting people build their own eco-homes in the countryside. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿The red dragon is going green.☘️🍀🌳🌱🍃Cre: World Economic Forum#lovewales#1sttheworld 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

    Posted by Love Wales on Wednesday, 21 November 2018

  3. YBarddCwsc

    The destruction of Coleg Harlech is a great tragedy.

    I was there a month or so ago, when the contents of the library were being sold, a pound a book. It was heartbreaking .

    The buildings still retain their charm, though I was told substantial repairs are needed.

    If someone tried to close down Ruskin College, Oxford (which had a similar remit to Coleg Harlech), there would be an national outcry in England.

    But, in Wales, it seems no-one cares much. There has been hardly any comment in the moribund Welsh press. The AM for Meirionnydd helped himself to another brandy, and made some bland and noncommittal comments.

    Like your correspondent, I would very much like to know the inside story of what happened.

      1. YBarddCwsc

        The AM for Meirionnydd seems to have been a Director of the Coleg till 9 January 1998, when he resigned.

        He is the decayed residue of whatever he once was and he once believed in. He needs the voters of Meirionnydd to put him out of his misery.

        He is quoted in the Cambrian News as saying he “hopes the Welsh Government will fund a feasibility study into future use of the site.”

        They’re the fighting words of a man who means business.

        1. He’s standing down at the next election to concentrate on the House of Lords. He should have done the honest thing and stood down when he left Plaid Cymru, soon after getting elected as the Plaid AM.

          1. CambroÚiDúnlainge

            If he had I do wonder who would have replaced him. Maybe LSR will take to the Senedd in 2021? The past Plaid leadership may well have tried to parachute Mari Arthur in the event of a by-election which would have undoubtedly blocked anyone else standing in the future.

  4. Wrexhamian

    It would be interesting to know if the definitive map for Merthyr Tydfil footpaths still includes rights of way over ‘Beic Parcio’ [sic] land. Only the local authority, not the WAG, can legally close a path. Beic Parcio certainly can’t. Any Merthyr resident can email the council to check the definitive map.
    Email address: rightsofway@merthyr.gov.uk

    Those of us outside Merthyr might find something useful on the following html:
    http://www.rowmaps.com/datasets/MT/

    All Welsh county councils have (or should have) a footpaths officer (or rights of way officer) who has the remit to put up Llwybr Cyhoeddus signs and to ensure that a footpath is not blocked. The best course (and the correct one), if the signs are missing, would be to email Merthyr on: https://www.merthyr.gov.uk/do-it-online/report/rights-of-way/
    and ask them to instruct their rights of way officer to investigate. No need to write to the Assembly, and no point – unless Merthyr Council have closed the paths and you want them re-opened.

    If the paths across the bike park are still on the definitive map, then as long as a walker stays on the path, they are not trespassing, and Beic Parcio have no more right to fine or ban people than they would if they tried to fine or ban car-drivers from using the M4. The paths are a public highway.

    1. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Merthyr council had surrendered rights in that area, or chosen to ignore what Bike Park Wales is doing.

      1. Wrexhamian

        Probably the latter, Jac. But we won’t know until somebody’s seen the definitive map. If the paths are still on that map, then the council can’t get round its obligation to make them walkable, signposted, and free from harassment of walkers by Beic Parcio bullies, etc. Failure to act leaves Cyngor Merthyr open to legal action, eventually involving the Local Government Ombudsman.

      2. Wynne

        It is a very lengthy legal process to close a public footpath if the path is shown on the Councils “definitive map”: a legal document. As part of the process the public are normally given an opportunity to comment during a local public inquiry. Anyone wishing to close [or divert] a public footpath would need to demonstrate that it was in the wider public interest to do so and not in the narrow interest of any landowner or developer. A public footpath is an extension of the public highway network where the surface of the path is “vested” in the local highway authority.

        1. Wrexhamian

          Which strengthens my belief that the council is ignoring the situation. It will be aware of its legal obligation to maintain any footpaths on the site, irrespective of who owns the land.

    2. Brychan

      There are ‘definitive rights of way’ and ‘permissive rights of way’. The council records will only include the former. Large sections of the ‘national cycle routes’ and ‘national footpaths’, like the Pembrokeshire Coast Path are permissive. This is where the landholding was established by an Act of primary legislation, like MoD land and railways. Withdrawal of permission like closing dangerous level crossings or closure orders at times of military activity does not have to go via the local authority.

      There is a particular issue in the ‘valleys’ in that the cycle trails, mainly along closed mineral lines are not actually ‘rights of way’. They are subject to ‘permissive’ rights that can be withdrawn by the landowner or by arrangement of a lease. This is the issue in Merthyr, where the ‘Trevithick Trail’ on the eastern flank and the ‘Taff Vale Cycle Route’ on the western flank of the valley. The Bike Park Wales case is significant, as they have chosen to ‘fine trespassers’.

      It has set precedence for ‘toll houses’ on such routes. How long will it be before the Snowdon Mountain Railway imposes a fee for using the Llanberis path up Yr Wyddfa, or the National Trust imposes a footpath fee at Bosherston? The Parc Slip trails near Tondu operated by the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust is another example. If Bike Park Wales can deploy marshals is yellow vests to collect the cash or escort ‘trespassers’ off the footprint, what’s stopping other ‘leaseholders’ doing likewise?

  5. DiEnw

    It’s worse than Jac thought at Lammas

    He has completely understated the self proclaimed status of the formally known Paul Wimbush, carpenter from Llanycefn. He calls himself “Tao” not Tau
    Tao is sort of translated as “The Way” in Taoism
    It is a bit like calling yourself God (if Taoism had an almighty God)
    So to refer to Tao and Hoppi (https://hoppiwimbush.com/) as a monarchy is belittling them as surely they are a DEITY and therefore completely justified in requiring a temple (lammasearthcentre.co.uk/tao-hoppi/) for the worship of the great Lammas creator and his fanny, the high-priestess.

    1. Wynne

      I note, from “Eco to Essence” 3 month life transformation journey that all successful applicants will be gifted with a free private 1:1 half hour session with Hoppi. Bargain of the month. I assume a debit or credit card will be required thereafter.

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