Links 3/30/2021

Endangered condors return to northern California skies after nearly a century Guardian (furzy)

The Louvre Just Put Its Entire Art Collection Online so You Can View It at Home for Free Travel & Leisure (Kevin W)

Researchers dumped tons of coffee waste into a forest. This is what it looks like now. UpWorthy (David L)

THREATS FROM GREENLAND ICE LOSS Climate Central. You can flip to the Antarctica map.

Scientists built a perfectly self-replicating synthetic cell LiveScience (David L)

Study finds carcinogen above FDA limit in several hand sanitizer brands CBS (Kevin W)

Shanna Swan: ‘Most couples may have to use assisted reproduction by 2045’ Guardian (furzy)

#COVID-19

Canada pauses AstraZeneca vaccine for under 55 ABC (Kevin W)

Tourism in Antigua and Barbuda Is Sending Covid Skyrocketing Bloomberg

Science/Medicine

Stanford Scientists Reverse Engineer Moderna Vaccine, Post Code on Github Vice (David L). Does this solve the “third world can’t get vaccines till 2023” problem? Not that Moderna is the best candidate for them, because cold storage. However, recall that our KLG said plenty of labs and manufacturers have the capability to make mRNA vaccines, including in the global South. Moderna could of course sue any infringers, but what if they are in places like Cuba that presumably don’t enforce US intellectual property laws? Comments on the practical aspects appreciated.

New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists Guardian. You heard it early at NC….

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are very effective in real-world conditions at preventing infections, the C.D.C. reported New York Times. Furzy highlights this section, rather at odds with CDC chief Rochelle Walensky’s remarks yesterday:

There also has been concern that variants may render the vaccines less effective. The study’s results do not confirm that fear. Troubling variants were circulating during the time of the study — from December 14, 2020 to March 13, 2021 — yet the vaccines still provided powerful protection.

The AstraZeneca Vaccine Crisis in Europe Wasn’t About Science at All The Wire

‘I’m empty.’ Pandemic scientists are burning out—and don’t see an end in sight ScienceMag. Consistent with the Financial Times story we quoted at some length in our Monday post on Covid (seemingly) forever.

UK/Europe

Third national lockdown looks inevitable for France in blow to Macron as cases rise sharply in wake of EU vaccine failure Daily Mail

US

Biden vows to expand vaccine access as CDC chief raises alarm Financial Times

Health-Care Workers Are Bragging on TikTok About Forging Vax Cards Daily Beast (furzy)

Unemployment benefits: Fraud victims getting tax bills — and major headaches CNN (UserFriendly)

Finance/Economy

US eating out and travel surge with vaccine MacroBusiness

CDC extends coronavirus eviction ban through June 30 The Hill (furzy)

China?

China’s SWIFT joint venture ‘defensive move’ against US refuted by former bank executive South China Morning Post (resilc)

China and Iran: A Major Chinese Gain in “White Area Warfare” in the Gulf Center for Strategic and International Studies (resilc)

America losing the future to China Asia Times (Kevin W)

Upcoming NATO Summit and the Great Game for the Asia-Pacific Antiwar (Kevin W)

No Longer Stuck Ship

Why the fallout from the Suez Canal blockage will take years to resolve Independent (Kevin W)

Brexit

EU wrestles for control of euro clearing after Brexit Politico (UserFriendly). Not a new issue. ECB +France tried pre-Brexit with euro derivatives clearing. Lost case in ECJ because ECB could not discriminate against a then EU member.

Old Blighty

Tories fear Welsh independence push if Labour loses power in May’s elections The Times. UserFriendly: “lol 51% of Welsh Labour support independence. I doubt this would pass but even getting a vote would be interesting.”

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Emmanuel Macron. Politico

New Cold War

Dear Joe Scarborough: Invite Me To Debate Your Network’s Putrid Russiagate Coverage Matt Taibbi

Syraqistan

Iran’s next hardline president coming into view Asia Times (resilc)

How a U.S.-Iran Deal Helps Red States Foreign Policy (Kevin W)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The hidden fingerprint inside your photos BBC (BC)

Personal Data: Instagram Is a Real Tattletale Statista (Micael T)

Imperial Collapse Watch

The F-35 Reportedly Has a New Capability: Shooting Itself Esquire (resilc)

The dark Prince Spectator (Kevin W). As in Erik Prince of what was initially called Blackwater.

Vast sums are wasted on high-tech warfare, while the lessons of failures in real wars are ignored Independent. Kevin W: “Infuriating section – ‘I remember an American combat engineer outside Ramadi in Iraq telling me that the US army had refused to let him see a textbook on mines and boobytraps used in the Vietnam War because this might suggest that the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts had a lot in common when it came to battlefield tactics. The soldier complained that he had had to buy a copy of the manual on the black market.'”

This USS Michael Mansoor Is About to Control Unmanned Ships and Aircraft Popular Mechanics (resilc)

The Three Factions of the American Left Ross Barkan. UserFriendly: “Can’t say I agree with all of this but it’s interesting.”

The States Where Efforts To Restrict Voting Are Escalating FiveThirtyEight

Mitch McConnell Working With Kentucky Legislature on Senate Exit Strategy Intercept (UserFriendly). Presumptuous up to the very end. AG Daniel Cameron is top of the list, so the denouement could also affect Mayberry v. KKR.

Ghislaine Maxwell: Fourth alleged victim added to charges BBC

Black Injustice Tipping Point

911 dispatcher testifies officers pinned down George Floyd for so long she thought her video feed had frozen NBC (Kevin W)

The Memo: Nation relives Floyd death as Chauvin trial begins The Hill. Here in Alabama, one of the free to air networks (“Ion Plus”) was replaced with Court TV, which is giving gavel-to-gavel coverage

Our Famously Free Press

Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Self-Victimize to Bar Criticisms of Themselves Glenn Greenwald

Nike sues over ‘Satan Shoes’ with human blood Yahoo (furzy). This will be an interesting case. Nike is fabulously aggressive. My guess is re-selling the bloodied shoe isn’t a problem (because purchased) but the video might be. I love MSCHF and hope they prevail. They gave us the robot dog shooting up an art gallery.

Ford stops sales of its home charging station The Verge (resilc)

The US Is Real Close to Screwing Up Electric Vehicle Charging Forever Vice (dk). This is so American. We can’t set a friggin’ standard? No, because carmakers.

Fridges, microwaves fall prey to global chip shortage Reuters

One of World’s Greatest Hidden Fortunes Is Wiped Out in Days Bloomberg

Rising Market Power—A Threat to the Recovery? IMF Blog. UserFriendly: “Even the IMF is on the antitrust bandwagon. Making good points too.”

Confronting the Hazards of Rising Leverage IMF Blog. UserFriendly: “AND they figured out private sector debt is the key to booms and busts!!”

Fed won’t keep interest rates low so Washington can cheaply finance record debt, Waller says MarketWatch (resilc). No, they’ll keep them low for the reason we saw during the 2014 taper tantrum: the Fed is afraid to tank asset prices. Look at the blowup above. Even if no lenders suffer, plunging stock prices are a bad look.

Guillotine Watch

Prince Harry’s New Fake Mental Health Care Job Is a Farce New Republic. US press finally starting to take the gloves off.

Class Warfare

Biden stocks cabinet with prep school grads New York Post. UserFriendly: “Hell just froze over. The Post quoted Chomsky and Jacobin approvingly while making an excellent point!”

Financial Capitalism: The Endgame Renegade Inc (Chuck L)

Beyond the Sprouts of Capitalism Monthly Review. Anthony L warns that it’s long!

The minimum wage would be $44 per hour if it had grown at the same rate as Wall Street bonuses Business Insider

Volkswagen Workers Talk Wildcat Strike Following Narrow Defeat in Chattanooga Amid Unionbusting Mike Elk

Amazon’s anti-union campaign is part of a long history of employer opposition to organizing Economic Policy Institute. Shame they don’t mention past lynchings.

Antidote du jour. I managed to miss this chick from CV early this year….so you can pretend it’s an Easter Chick:

A bonus:

And another bonus (dk):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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102 comments

  1. Miami Mitch

    “The US Is Real Close to Screwing Up Electric Vehicle Charging Forever”

    Isn’t this the fundamental problem of capitalism?

    I think the proprietary network makes sense from an individual company perspective— providing exclusive amenity access to their customers is part of the value proposition,” said Carnegie Mellon University civil and environmental engineering professor Costa Samaras. “But I don’t think it’s great from a societal perspective or an EV-adoption perspective, this is like having separate unleaded 87 octane gasoline pumps for Fords and Hondas.”

    It is my belief that capitalism wastes much more than it produces. It took a civil war and a lot of economic pressure to unify track gauges in the U.S., but I am afraid with all the free money around now there is no economic pressure for these car companies to standardize. And like the Betamax vs VHS battle, sometimes the market makes the worst choice. Sony made the mistake of not sharing the Betamax technology. Will Elon Musk make the same mistake?

    Reply
    1. Chas

      We’ve had a fully electric Nissan Leaf for two years and love it. Mostly we charge it at level one, which is 120 volt AC (regular house current). It takes about 30 hours to charge the car battery to 100 per cent from zero charge, but we never drain the battery to zero. So, charging the battery at level one for 12 hours overnight usually provides all the power that will be needed the next day and then some. Also, from our experience and from what we’ve learned on the Leaf blogs it’s best for the battery to keep its charge level at between 30 and 80 per cent. We don’t use the high voltage CHAdeMO charging system because of reports on the blogs that it is harmful to the car battery and results in the battery accepting less and less charge over time.

      Reply
        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          He drives home – without stopping for gas – plugs his car in and goes inside. He comes out the next morning and drives. He has more juice than he needs regardless. How is that “a lot” of effort? The time he spent reading about best practices on a blog is likely less than every ICE car driver spends getting oil changes.

          Reply
          1. Miami Mitch

            I wish everyone was as smart and you and Chas. And I don’t feel I am bashing electric cars, but it seems a lot of the work is pushed off on the customer. I should not need to know anything about batteries or charging levels or look at blogs. So maybe it is more about the engineers building these cars and the expectations they put on their customer base. I see this happening all the time and I am tired of it. It is not customer service at all but for some reason we are all just accepting it. It’s like package shrinking.

            I would assume you are mostly stuck to charging your car at home. That seems limiting as well. I am wondering if Chas has two cars as well. Plus I drive home all the time without stopping for gas so no idea what that was about.

            Reply
            1. Basil Pesto

              Ever familiarised yourself with the user manual of your ICE car? This is material that all drivers probably should be familiar with, but largely aren’t. Such familiarity asks a lot more than learning a bit about your car’s long term performance from fellow owners on blogs. Of course, the former are not exclusive to ICE cars, and the latter isn’t behaviour exclusive to EV owners either. Both are optional in either case. If you don’t want to think too much about the underlying mechanical complexities of the device getting you from A to B under any circumstances, maybe a bicycle is the way to go? or a skateboard?

              Reply
      1. Pablo Sanchez

        Chaz- We also own a Leaf (about two years) and came to the exact same conclusion about charging.
        Fast and ultra fast charging will cause premature battery degradation especially in the hot weather (think Texas, AZ and New Mexico).
        We almost exclusively use the 120 Volt slow charging and haven’t needed anything faster. If we are going on trips over 70-75 mines round trip, we simply use our gas powered car. For those that are curious, we do love our Leaf though and find it very capable.

        Reply
        1. SteveW

          Isn’t that the problem? A second car is needed for even a modest trip. Not everyone wants to have or can afford 2 cars. If a commuter EV could be priced down to 10k level, then it is viable as such.

          Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              How crashworthy are they? How long-lived?

              How much are the workers paid? How much “social security costs” do they have? Does environmental protection and etc. cost as much in China as it does in America? etc.?

              Reply
        2. Chas

          I live way out in the country and also have a 4 wheel drive pick-up truck with a snow plow. The Leaf replaced a 4wd Subaru. A nice surprise with the Leaf is that it is very stable and balanced in the snow, running studded snow tires. It’s a good car in the snow. Unfortunately the heater is a serious drain on the battery so wintertime range drops significantly. I’m not commuting so I don’t have to rely on it.

          Reply
          1. Jack Parsons

            Yeah, the subcompact EVs can put battery packs in exactly the right places around the floor of the car. Also cars today have computerized assistance for handling problems.

            I really liked how the Smart EV felt on the freeway.

            Reply
    2. Grebo

      Sony made the mistake of not sharing the Betamax technology. Will Elon Musk make the same mistake?

      No, he already released 200 Tesla patents free for public use in 2014, including ones for their superchargers.

      Reply
      1. Miami Mitch

        When it comes to Elon Musk, always read the fine print…

        Why Other Car Companies Don’t Use Tesla Superchargers

        Without an ironclad deal to secure rights to the patents in perpetuity, Tesla’s “open patents” come with a lot of liability. An automaker basically has to agree to let Tesla have full access to all its intellectual property, whether it applies to EVs or something else. All of this to build EVs based on technology controlled by a competitor, to which access can be revoked. The way the agreement is written, the terms make it unpalatable to any automaker.

        Probably why no one else is using them?

        Reply
    3. Procopius

      For many years there was no way for DOS/Windows computers to read files created on Apples. Woz, for reasons I never learned, designed a special chip for recording to floppy disks. This is like having Every brand of computer have a different power cord design, or several different companies having their own USB socket design.

      Reply
  2. zagonostra

    > Hell just froze over. The Post quoted Chomsky and Jacobin approvingly while making an excellent point!

    More like Hell must be tepid these days than it “froze over.”

    Many of his top cabinet officials come from money and attended ritzy private schools that serve as the traditional breeding ground for the American elite of both parties.

    “Democrats abandoned the working class many years ago,” Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at MIT and iconic left-wing thought leader told The Post when asked to assess the Biden leadership lineup.

    It seems to me that Chomsky is being rehabilitated by the establishment these days. Someone once called him the “gatekeeper” of the Left. For someone how was weaned on his books and lectures, below interview is painful. His advocacy of voting for HRC in 2016 and Biden in 2020 seems to run counter to his earlier statements that only a viable third Party would bring desperately needed help for the majority of people. Below is a quote from an answer that was put to Chomsky on what he thought of the Biden Stimulus bill.

    Noam Chomsky: Better than I’d anticipated. Considerably so. The stimulus bill has its flaws, but considering the circumstances, it’s an impressive achievement.

    https://truthout.org/articles/chomsky-bidens-early-agenda-gives-hope-but-activist-pressure-must-not-cease/

    Reply
    1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      “considering the circumstances, it’s an impressive achievement.”

      My dad is an aging intellectual about Chomsky’s age, and this is his attitude about almost everything. Chomsky has nothing to gain at this point in his life, although teleology is definitely not my area of interest.

      Old people are like this.

      Reply
    2. km

      Chomsky bitterly criticizes Team D, but when push comes to shove, he falls right in line. Every single time.

      Pro Tip: it doesn’t matter why you voted the way you did, whether it was because you were all in for Team D or if you only voted Team D to make your spouse happy, because you hated Team R more, or whether you held your nose as you filled out the ballot and crossed your fingers behind your back as you drop your ballot in the box, then complain how much you just hate Team D all the way to the nearest bar where you proceed to drown your sorrows in cheap alcohol.

      Each vote counts exactly the same.

      Reply
    1. Basil Pesto

      article’s final paragraph:

      However, it’s not clear whether the ‘Vaxzevria’ name change was motivated by the bad publicity, as the trademark application for the drug dates back to December.

      “it’s not clear” is some pretty impressive pseudo-equivocation by the RT editors

      It seems less like a renaming and more of a, well, naming

      Reply
    1. zagonostra

      From the your link:

      There is no path to victory on Medicare for All that doesn’t involve organizing a powerful, grassroots movement of people. In this fight, we are up against one of the wealthiest industries in human history, and they’ll spend every dollar they have to stop us. We must offer what they will never have: people power. When enough of us come together to demand health care justice, there is little that can stand in our way.

      All the goals and efforts outlined in the articles are laudable, but I’m not sanguine. We may have “People Power” but we have no charismatic and effective leadership nor a conduit/platform for organizing and focusing that power. Without that, the enemy will keep us going from one skirmish/battle to the next while hundred of thousands will die or go bankrupt. Mass distraction will trump mass mobilization, if M4A every becomes a serious threat to MIC_2, I fear MIC_1 will start another war.

      This country is irredeemable, in my eyes, until a sane single payer is implemented. What we have now is an immoral, predatory healthcare insurance/big pharma system that is the envy of no one.

      Reply
  3. Gc54

    I highly recommend the new documentary movie Atomic Cover-up that can be viewed for $3.99 at creatics.org/cinejoy but only through today. Astonishing suppressed footage that was edited under US supervision into a whitewash US Army film called The Effects of the Atomic Bomb, now told properly here

    Japanese and US film crews documenting hiroshima and nagasaki civilian footage on color and B&W film stock. Treating injuries, panning over devastation. Narrated from memoirs.

    Reply
    1. jm

      The real cover-up is of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria at the end of the war. When Stalin received the news of Hiroshima, rather than waiting to see whether it might bring a prompt Japanese surrender, he to the contrary phoned his commander in the east and demanded he attack at once. Told that was impossible, he accepted attack at the earliest possible time of 00:01 August 9 — a time at which Premier Suzuki at Hirohito’s command had already scheduled meetings later that day of the cabinet and the Supreme Council for Direction of the War to end the war with no further effort to obtain conditions softer than those of the Potsdam Proclamation.

      The end result of this was about 300,000 deaths in Manchuria, 240,000 of them Japanese non-combatants, significantly more than the (likely inflated) toll of 200,000 from the atomic bombings. Fortunately, because the atomic bombings had already provided Hirohito and his chief political adviser Marquis Kido Koichi with the tool they needed to get the military to acquiesce to surrender, the combat in Manchuria was cut short by orders from Tokyo to cease resistance. The plan had been for the Japanese army in Manchuria to conduct a fighting retreat into a bastion in the mountains northeast of the Korean border and fight to the death (abandoning the million-plus Japanese colonists to the tender mercies of the Soviet veterans brutalized in combat against Germany and the Manchurians who were taking revenge on the Japanese colonists who had stolen their land and oppressed them).

      As the Russians had scaled their medical facilities for an anticipated 540,000 casualties among their 1.5 million striking force (more than 160,000 dead), and the Japanese plan was to fight for their 700,000 troops to fight to the finish as at Okinawa, the combatant death toll would have exceeded 800,000 had the atomic bombings not brought the early end to the fighting.

      Note that as Japan had scrupulously maintained neutrality in the Soviet-German conflict (much to Hitler’s distress) and was already moving to surrender, the Soviet attack was not only quintessentially an act of aggression, it was also a disgraceful risk of Red Army soldiers’ lives, because Japan had been attempting to enlist the Soviet Union as a quasi-ally in peace negotiations, offering to give the Soviets as a bribe nearly all they got through the invasion.

      Because so many Japanese troops unexpectedly survived the fighting, Stalin hastily improvised and had 594,000 transported to labor as slaves for years in Siberia under conditions so appalling (esp. for the first winter) that 60,000+ died. Note that this was a flagrant violation of the Potsdam Proclamation’s terms.

      But you won’t see any documentaries about this, because it was neither as photographable nor as photogenic as Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No Japanese or US film crews were admitted into Manchuria to document what happened there, and hardly any Americans are sufficiently fluent in Japanese to read the accounts of those who survived the Soviet attack and/or Siberian slave labor, and are so blissfully unaware of those events they’ve made no effort to employ translators or interpreters to learn what happened in Manchuria.

      Alas, although the first two volumes of Marquis Kido’s diary (for the prewar and intra-war years) were partially translated for use in the Tokyo war crime trials, the third volume written while he was in prison post-war has never been translated, so only those who like me can read it in Japanese can be aware that he stated quite clearly in an interview circa 1950 that he and Hirohito saw the atomic bombs as the means they had been waiting for to convince the military to accept surrender, as it would enable the military to save its honor by claiming to have been defeated not by America’s military but by its science. He also clearly stated that if something like the Potsdam Proclamation had been issued in April or May it would likely have encouraged not surrender but rather have had the opposite effect, as a sign of US war-weariness and weakness (as in fact it did even when issued in July, per a statement by Premier Suzuki in an cabinet meeting three days before Hiroshima, when he was told that a cabinet advisory council had recommended immediate acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation).

      It’s tragic that the completely unjustified Soviet invasion of Manchuria has been overshadowed by the more photogenic and easily accessible horrors of the atomic bombings.

      Reply
      1. Maxwell Johnston

        The Soviet attack on Japan was agreed upon with the Allies at the Teheran and Yalta conferences. FDR wanted their help in finishing off the Japanese, and Stalin both gave his word and kept it. Historians are still arguing as to whether the Japanese in early August 1945 were preparing to surrender, or if the two atom bombs pushed them over the edge, or if it was the Soviet attack that finally was the last straw. The evidence is mixed, IMHO.

        Reply
        1. jm

          @Maxwell Johnston
          Though your first two sentences are completely correct, as far as they go, those facts do not justify Stalin’s advancement of the attack date. Because the terms of the Potsdam Proclamation dictated limitation of Japanese sovereignty to the home islands, Manchuria would have reverted to China and southern Sakhalin and at least the northern Kuriles to the Soviet Union if Japan’s leaders had accepted the Potsdam Proclamation per Hirohito’s wishes as expressed to Foreign Minister Togo and Premier Suzuki on August 8 (leading Suzuki to order Chief Cabinet Secretary Sakomizu to schedule Supreme Council and Cabinet meetings for the 9th, actions which Sakomizu completed before the Soviet attack).

          Although it’s possible that without the Soviet entry into the war Japan’s leaders would have tried to attach to their acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation additional conditions which the US would not (and should not) have accepted, because some of them would have continued to cherish the hope that they could play the Soviets and democracies off against each other (anticipating the inevitable disintegration of their alliance), a simple clear rejection of their “peace feelers through the Soviet Union” initiative might well have countered that as effectively as the actual invasion.

          It’s essential not to lose sight of the facts that the Red Army believed they needed a force of 1.5 million to defeat Japan in Manchuria, had put in place medical facilities to deal with more than half a million casualties, certainly would have faced horrific losses had Japan’s Kwantung Army fought as it had planned, and in the end suffered 30,000+ casualties with about 13,000 dead even though Tokyo ordered capitulation when it finally accepted the Potsdam Proclamation on August 15.

          The issue is: Why did Stalin subject his army, which had suffered so horribly in defeating German, to likely additional losses by commanding his army to attack before its preparations were complete? His commitment to FDR was to enter the war against Japan as soon as his army could complete its preparations, which he estimated would require about three months after the defeat of Germany; it was not to attack exactly three months later, and in fact his army’s preparations were not complete. The answer is, of course, that he feared the atomic bombs would cause Japan to surrender before he could conquer Manchuria by force, and though that would result in Russia regaining all the territory it had lost to Japan in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, it would not enable him to strip Manchuria of the billions of dollars worth of industrial assets the Japanese had built there (which rightfully belonged to China). Nor would it have enabled him to enslave whatever remained of the Kwantung Army after the fighting. Stalin’s entry into the war was not a matter of fulfilling promises to FDR, it was naked aggression against a prostrate nation in clear violation of the Soviet Union’s neutrality treaty with Japan, which remained in force until April 1946. It was followed by totally unjustified theft of billions of dollars of assets to which the Soviet Union had no right, the merciless oppression of more than a million non-combatant Japanese colonists for more than a year, the enslavement of more than half a million surrendered Japanese soldiers for multiple years, and the death of 180,000 colonists plus 60,000 of the enslaved soldiers. Yet though on every anniversary of the atomic bombings you’ll read criticisms of Truman for not waiting to see whether the pending Soviet attack might bring Japanese surrender without use of the atomic bomb, you’ll see none of Stalin for not only not waiting to see the effects of the bombings, but actually rushing to invade. Nor will you see any criticism of his rapacity after the victory. This is the true cover-up.

          Reply
    1. Carla

      My mother used to chop banana skins very fine and mix them into the potting soil she used for houseplants. And she had quite the green thumb with indoor plants. Banana skin tea could be a good idea.

      Reply
    2. ddt

      Yep, they mention in the article that bananas are full of phosphorus and potassium (the P and K of any N, P, K fertilizer). I’ve also chopped up blackened banana peel and stuck it in the garden, much like coffee grounds (see article re: coffee waste promoting forest growth in Costa Rica)

      Reply
  4. Bill Smith

    “The F-35 Reportedly Has a New Capability: Shooting Itself”

    This (shooting itself) has happened a number of times before in other aircraft.

    Zuni rockets almost sunk an aircraft carrier. A Japanese F-4E? took several shots at a school bus when the gun was turned off. Many other stories along those lines.

    Needless to say these things are dangerous.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think the problem with the F-35 is these incidents demonstrate the F-35 can’t be used as a fighter as opposed to pilot error or lack of maintenence. If that is the case, it’s just a poorly made bomber. It sort of reminds me of an earlier air force…

      Reply
    2. David

      To be fair, this was an ammunition problem, not an aircraft problem, and which would probably not have been reported if it had happened to another aircraft.

      Reply
    3. RMO

      Still not as impressive as the Bristol Brigand which could really shoot itself down. Long bursts from the four 20mm nose mounted cannons would build up gas in the long blast tubes, gas would ignite, that would burst hydraulic tubes causing the fluid to spray everywhere and catch on fire and the airplane would go down. This is one of those things that one would think would be discovered and corrected in testing but it wasn’t until it went into action during the Malayan “emergency” that it was found.

      Reply
  5. Isotope_C14

    “Canada pauses AstraZeneca vaccine for under 55 ABC (Kevin W)”

    They did it here in Germany *again*. First I got an email saying that it was suspended for women under 55 from work. Now it’s been paused again for everyone under 60 (In German):

    https://www.spiegel.de/gesundheit/coronavirus-berlin-setzt-impfungen-mit-astrazeneca-fuer-menschen-unter-60-jahren-aus-a-b79e99fb-79f7-4ef0-8b0b-f01e1ff10686

    All of my co-workers have had a single dose, who knows now if they will get a second.

    They also across the board had pretty awful side-effects lasting multiple days. Usually the following day was bad, and for some the awful feeling lasted up to 5 days.

    Reply
    1. Count Zero

      There have been many studies of the after-effects of all the Covid vaccines. The consensus seems to be that side-effects tend to be slightly worse for the Astra-Zeneca first dose. But the side-effects of the Pfizer second dose tend to be significantly worse. So it would seem to balance out.

      Why this tendentious stream of anti-AZ comments today? Are people oblivious to some of the political shenanigans in play in the EU representations of vaccine safety? And in the US the successful roll-out of the cheap AZ vaccine would lose Pfizer millions of dollars for their extremely expensive and profitable product.

      Reply
      1. c_heale

        I don’t think this is okay. Posting a link to an book when it is still in copyright, the author is still alive, and he states on his website that he needs financial support to run it.

        Reply
  6. rowlf

    I am finding the post today on ivermectin fascinating to follow as to me the Covid-19 vaccines have turned into a belief system that is not to be questioned by common people, yet another Cake-Or-Death discussion and having doubts will keep you from going to heaven. I still suggest keeping an eye on Thailand as they have government pharmaceutical production and may have less of a research-for-profit incentive in their Covid-19 treatment studies. (The Thai government pharmaceutical production had been targeted in the TPP negotiations that fortunately got derailed.)

    Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    “The AstraZeneca Vaccine Crisis in Europe Wasn’t About Science at All”

    This article is right. It is not about Science but about public trust. And to nobody’s surprise the more neoliberal a government, the less trust there is. It has been noted the reluctance to take up the vaccine in France and now they are heading into another lockdown. But there may be reasons behind the people’s distrust of modern medicine there. Like this one.

    So a French big pharma firm killed about 2,000 people by selling a diet drink which ended up being used as an an appetite suppressant. They were aware of serious side effects since the 1990s but continued anyway. After an 18 month trial there was a bunch of fines but not one executive went to jail. So if you lived in France, how much trust would you have in pharma companies when you see them being able to kill thousands of people and basically get away with it?

    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/519531-big-pharma-vaccine-deaths-fine/

    Reply
  8. Toshiro_Mifune

    From retaildive;

    Banks reportedly seize equity stake in Mall of America

    It looks like the Triple Five Group which owns Mall of America has some serious financial issues both in the wake of COVID but as part of the general retail bust as well. Triple Five is also the group behind the American Dream mall (aka Meadowlands Mills, Meadowlands Xanadu, the dumbest mal project ever) here in the NYC area which has been in various stages of building and development for almost 20 years now.

    Reply
    1. Larry Y

      The Meadowlands “American Dream” is mostly mostly done. I know the ski slope and water park are open. The only thing that I know of that isn’t open yet is the H-Mart (upscale Korean-American market and eatery, also serves Chinese and Japanese community). More of a theme park… not sure how the H-Mart fits in there.

      The most idiotic part of it is the mass transit (or lack there of…).

      Reply
  9. philnc

    Stanford Scientists: Technically not “code”, but two copies of a research paper _containing_ genetic code that were apparently converted from DOCX to PDF format. For those interested in archiving in preparation for the inevitable takedown notice, here’s the URL for the repo:

    https://github.com/NAalytics/Assemblies-of-putative-SARS-CoV2-spike-encoding-mRNA-sequences-for-vaccines-BNT-162b2-and-mRNA-1273.git

    Can’t help but point out that if they’d pushed this up in markdown, or pretty much any text-based format (instead of a binary format like PDF), they could avoid generating a whole new document for each revision and instead rely on git’s versioning (and have the ability to see diffs between versions). Of course that wouldn’t have helped with the binary format illustrations…

    Reply
    1. philnc

      The README actually is actually the whole text of the paper in markdown, although not formatted (there’s a pending pull request by someone else to fix that). Progress!

      Reply
      1. HenryK

        “…Dred Scott decision, which denied personhood to slaves…”
        Not only slaves but all persons of African origin, whose ancestors were brought to America as slaves. This included free Blacks, mulattoes, white people who had any known Black ancestry under the “One Drop Rule.”
        The 1973 Roe v. Wade and companion Doe v. Bolton denies the rights of human beings to human beings not yet born. Dred Scott did not endorse impunitive murder of Blacks. Roe endorses murder of unborn human beings with impunity. It is a great step back into barbarism.

        Reply
    2. Michaelmas

      Regarding ‘Stanford Scientists Reverse Engineer Moderna Vaccine, Post Code on Github’ —

      So, no. AFAIK, engineering the mRNA is not the difficult part of the mRNA vaccines in 2021. Though it doesn’t hurt to have the sequence out there.

      Anybody with access to automated DNA/RNA synthesis can create the mRNA that goes into the vaccines.

      With one proviso: many labs aren’t big enough or don’t bother to have in-house DNA synthesis capability, and just place their orders with a synthetic DNA house and get the oligos delivered by FedEx the next day. But RNA is far less stable than DNA, so presumably the mRNA vaccine makers need to keep synthesis on-site.

      The real difficulty — and secret sauce — in making the mRNA vaccines was and is the microfluidics engineering necessary to manufacture the lipid nanoparticles that are the delivery system that keeps the mRNA together long enough for it to be placed where it needs to be in your system.

      Engineering those nanoparticles is something that currently only a very few facilities can do. The nanoparticles for the Pfizer BionTech vaccine currently all come from a factory in the UK, which is one reason why the EU quieted down in its recent face-off with AZ (and the UK).

      To give you a further idea about the difficulties, the EU has now ordered construction of three plants within EU territory (in Germany, I think) that will manufacture the nanoparticles. They’re not projected to be ready before Christmas.

      That’s because the microfluidics technology itself requires further very specialized, difficult technology to manufacture it — in other words, there are tools to build the tools — and there’s very little of this technology in the world, and what there is is being scaled up as rapidly as possible just to meet Pfizer BionTech and Moderna’s needs.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Reader KLG has said pretty much what you are saying, the technically demanding of the mRNA vaccines isn’t the mRNA but the lipid nanoparticles.

        Reply
        1. Michaelmas

          I hadn’t seen that. Pelle Schultz posted an even better summary than both of us below at Tuesday 1:15 PM, covering some important technical specifics. I really recommend it

          Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “This Destroyer Is About to Control Unmanned Ships and Aircraft”

    ‘The Zumwalts may finally have a real mission: spying with drones’

    Looks like the ship in search of a role has finally been assigned one. They were supposed to have built thirty-two ships of this class but after building only three, they gave up and canceled the other 29. Costing $4.25 billion per ship they could hardly use them for target practice and the whole program has already cost over $22 billion which in the end delivered only three destroyers. In reading this article, the idea seems to be that this ship will be in the middle of a bubble of drones to protect it from missiles, aircraft and submarines.

    The flaw is that as soon as one of these drones has been detected and identified by the oppo, then they would immediately realize that there will be a ‘mother ship’ out there controlling them which makes that ship target number one. And that is why the emphasis on low visibility. To increase that ship’s chances of survival. Good luck with that. Probably though this is being done on an experimental basis to see what works with this concept and what does not and they figured that they may as well use a Zumwalt while they have them.

    Reply
    1. Tom Stone

      Rev, The US Navy can only be described as obscenely corrupt in its procurement and day to day management, remember fat Leonard?
      Little crappy ships?
      The Ford class sarcophagi.
      The list is a long one.
      Navy brass has zero concern for the lives of its sailors.

      Reply
      1. topcat

        I remember reading a report on the auditing of the Pentagon in which it was stated that the army actually lost several large buildings. I believe that the navy also lost ships, but compared to the army that seems a pretty good record.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          IIRC, about thirty-five years ago, the army found a warehouse full of pre civil war rifled, flint lock muskets. These became obsolete when percussion caps replaced flint in around 1855-1860 or so. I am guessing that they were stored early in the Civil War after enough new, “modern” rifled muskets were available. So forgotten from 1863 to 1985 maybe? Or over a century.

          I wish I could go get the original article, but I have completely forgotten where it was published.

          Reply
          1. Jack Parsons

            Those would have been very valuable on the antique market, and someone who knew about the warehouse would have snuck a few out. This means the place was locked up and forgotten about? It does happen.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              From what I remember, the weapons’ existence were completely forgotten about as well as the entire building that they were stored in. Maybe they just lost the records?

              Reply
      2. henrysk

        Surface warships are useful only for projecting the presence of the nation’s power. They are magnets for a hail of missiles from above the surface and torpedoes and underwater launched missiles. A substantial warhead detonation under the keel will either break the back or burst the bottom of any surface ship.

        Reply
    2. a different chris

      Even we fall into their trap, they spew so much garbage (which is the new way, they used to suppress people but now they just talk louder and more continiously)

      >Costing $4.25 billion per ship they could hardly use them for target practice and the whole program has already cost over $22 billion which in the end delivered only three destroyers.

      In a sane society we would divide 22 billion by 3 to find the “cost per ship”….

      Reply
      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Well, if the original plan was to build 32 ships, a final grand total cost of $136 billion would work out to $4.25 billion each.

        If the first three ships wound up costing $22 billion, the last 29 ships would have cost the other $114 billion. That could mean overhead/start-up cost of about $10.2 billion plus $3.93 billion per ship. (So if only three ships were built, they’d each be allocated about $3.4 billion from the start-up.)

        Reply
  11. WobblyTelomeres

    FWIW, just returned from a blood draw as part of the ongoing Pfizer vaccine trial. Was informed that there is a booster currently being offered to the phase 1 volunteers (I am phase 3) that addresses the South African variant. I may be offered it in September…

    Just a data point.

    Reply
    1. anonymous

      From what I’ve read, Pfizer has plans to test a third dose of its same vaccine (on the theory that the reduction in neutralizing antibody efficacy can be overcome with higher levels of antibody), and is only in discussions with the FDA and European authorities regarding a variant-specific booster. Moderna is testing both a third dose of its original vaccine and a booster specifically reformulated for the South African variant.
      https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/05/how-the-different-covid-vaccines-will-handle-variants.html https://www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/pfizer-and-biontech-initiate-study-part-broad-development

      Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Self-Victimize to Bar Criticisms of Themselves”

    Seeing something similar with some politicians. So a YouTuber will criticism one on their channel whereupon because of the criticism, that politician will declare that the YouTuber was using ‘violence’ against them. I would suspect that this is in the hope that YouTube would then suspend or ban that YouTuber on this charge. Even a senior politician like Nancy Pelosi takes criticism from the media very badly and just shuts them down in disdain. But in this case the reporter will just meekly retreat and not complain about their treatment as she has power and an ordinary person doesn’t.

    Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “China and Iran: A Major Chinese Gain in “White Area Warfare” in the Gulf”

    This article is quite correct. This is a major change in the middle east and the repercussions have started already. The Chinese just threw Iran a lifeline. When the Israelis found that there was a provision for intelligence-sharing between China and Iran, they hit the panic button as that alone could be a game changer for the Iranians. Even in the US, Biden was putting together a proposal to Iran for them to scale back some of their nuclear activity in exchange for the removal of some – not all – sanctions. The Iranians, with the Chinese in their corner, have told him not to bother as unless he removes all sanctions which was part of the original deal, then they aren’t interested. They didn’t quite tell him to go fly a kite but I am sure the message was there. After all, what is the point spending months and a huge sum of money scaling back their nuclear activities when the US/EU can slap back sanctions overnight. They learned that lesson from Obama and them more so with Trump-

    https://www.rt.com/news/519564-iran-nuclear-deal-biden/

    Reply
    1. Lee

      I particularly like the closing sentence:

      “Put simply, it is a serious warning that China may be playing three dimensional chess while the U.S. is attempting to win at checkers.”

      Reply
      1. Wellstone's Ghost

        Biden’s foreign policy team is not off to a good start. They are looking more foolish by the day.
        Why wouldn’t Iran take China’s support? The Iranians are experienced players, they know how to play chess.
        How long before Team Biden starts blaming Trump on the foreign policy front?
        Good thing most Americans could care less.

        Reply
  14. Tom Stone

    Condors are not pretty birds, they look like oversized turkey buzzards and they are quite awkward on the ground.
    However, when you see them soaring it’s a different matter.
    Now we need to bring back Grizzly bears, to Marin County.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      “Now we need to bring back Grizzly bears, to Marin County.”

      So that they can eat the rich. I’m in and an adjacent county, so I could then quit having to drive a thousand miles to watch them do their thing in Yellowstone. It’s a win win!

      Reply
    2. Dan Katzman

      I have always dreamed of doing a practical joke of posting an announcement on the Pt Reyes Station notice board claiming that the Restore Natural California Coalition had just released two families of grizzlies in the area and could everyone not put out their garbage until the morning of collection day.

      I would love to see the local reaction up to that announcement.

      Reply
  15. Laputan

    RE: The Three Factions of the American Left

    Can’t say I agree with all of this either. Most of what’s used to describe the “moderate left” sounds a bit specious and folkloric:

    The moderate voter is not more fiscally conservative, in a classic sense, than even the socialist voter, but the moderate retreats from certain left signifiers. Unlike the socialist, the moderate is proudly pro-capitalist. Unlike the liberal, the moderate does not treat patriotism or religion as an embarrassing or ironic vestige of a lost world. Many moderates earnestly embrace nationalism and American iconography. They go to church on Sundays and, if they live in small towns, might organize their lives around religious institutions. Secularism is the default in both the socialist and liberal left; moderates are far more likely to turn to religion to give meaning to their lives.

    That’s not a description of a significant portion of the American left. The overwhelming majority who fit this profile are republican; dems are a rounding error in comparison.

    The so-called “liberal” left might espouse the same policy goals as a progressive or socialist, but it’s a hollow commitment at best. See Lebowitz’s position on Sanders, she wants to get behind a candidate who supports a single-payer system but she just can’t get beyond her hatred for Bernie because he’s….loud? So what’s the point of a distinction between “liberal” and “moderate” if people like her or Krugman choose a candidate based on their establishment credibility than their supposed policy alignment?

    Reply
  16. David

    For once, the Anglo-Saxon press gets something about France reasonably correct. Both the Daily Mail (!) and the Politico stories are basically accurate, though the tone of each is questionable.
    We are awaiting the very probable announcement of a third lockdown before the end of this week. This is something Macron has desperately tried to avoid, although arguably it should have been done earlier in the year. Recently, Macron has been trying to defend his decision to introduce only partial lockdowns in certain areas, but in a way that suggests he’s a bit rattled.
    Macron is absolutely fixated on the May 2022 elections, and desperate to avoid losing. He has no local power-base, no party (his was created around him: it’s more of a fan-club) and no real future if he loses. Who wants a defeated Presidential candidate in his mid-forties with no real experience outside politics? There have always been worries about his judgement, but it’s fairly clear now that he’s taking decisions about the virus more-or-less exclusively in the light of the elections.

    Reply
    1. km

      Keep in mind that, if Macron, aka “Napoleon Dingledorf”, were to be forced to resign, or if he were simply weakened in the runup to the presidential elections, there is a very real chance that his replacement will be someone unacceptable to the French and European elites (*cough* Marine LePen *cough*).

      Therefore, Macron will be allowed to do whatever it takes to hang onto power.

      Reply
      1. David

        There are procedures for getting rid of a President but they are laborious and complex, and would require constellations of forces that don’t exist at the moment. There is no way that Macron will resign otherwise, and if he were to be forced out, there would have to be an election. There is no vice-President in France, and no mechanism for a caretaker President for longer than it takes to organise an election. For the election next year, it’s effectively impossible to say what will happen.

        Reply
    2. Michaelmas

      David: Who wants a defeated Presidential candidate in his mid-forties with no real experience outside politics?

      What?!! You’re completely discounting his illustrious career at Goldman Sachs!

      I’m pretty sure that when the time comes Macron will disappear into the same realm David Cameron has .

      Reply
      1. David

        Well, it was a couple of years at Rothschild’s …. but yes he did go into the private sector to make enough money to start a political career. He effectively sold them his address book. But Macron wanted to be President from the time he was a student, at least and he has an ego the size of the planet, so I doubt if he would quietly settle down to being a banker.

        Reply
  17. Pelle Schultz

    “Stanford Scientists Reverse Engineer Moderna Vaccine, Post Code on Github”

    Posting the mRNA sequence is of virtually no consequence, as sequence data for all the SARS-CoV-2 variants is widely available and there are few changes (really almost none) that can be made to any mRNA if one wishes to express it effectively in human cells.

    What cannot be easily replicated (and is to some degree proprietary) is the lipid delivery system. As with all nucleic acid-based (potential) therapeutic agents, the major bottleneck is in first getting the molecules into the cell and then dissociating them from the carrier (lipid vacuole, Ab, various small molecules etc) so they can be effectively utilized. Based on some of the talks I heard at the CSHL Nucleic Acid Therapies meeting (including one from Moderna) last week, getting more than 1% of the introduced mRNA to remain intact and be processed properly is a massive hurdle. It’s remarkable than the tech works as well as it does for vaccines, but this is almost certainly a consequence of having a relatively small number of cells that need to be ‘hit’ and are relatively accessible (i.e. in the circulatory system). Using such therapies for other applications such as modulating the expression of endogenous genes (the holy grail) is still not practical.

    Reply
  18. juno mas

    Re: Coffee waste to Trees

    This is likely to be most applicable when applied to tropical soil types where coffee trees are grown. Creating conditions similar to the prevalent ecological setting helps restart the process. Leaving a site clear-cut (bare land) doesn’t necessarily restart past ecological progression. Using coffee tree by-product as mulch on non-tropical soil may be a mistake. This has occurred where eucalyptus bark chips have been used as mulch in California– the oils in the bark chips can impede re-growth of any kind. A positive if you want to suppress growth but a negative if you want to improve soil health.

    Reply
  19. lyman alpha blob

    Re: the Satan shoes

    Not a lawyer, but this seems like a frivolous suit from Nike. I don’t think you could be sued by the manufacturer for buying a van, giving it a custom paint job and re-selling it, so why would shoes be any different?

    That being said, I had just asked my kid the other day about Lil’ Nas X since she used to like his Old Town Road song, and was informed that nobody in the middle school set listens to him anymore. When I saw the Satan shoe thing yesterday and saw he was promoting it, I thought maybe he has a new song my kid will like so I gave the video a watch.

    This from today’s link –

    In the heavily stylised video, he slides down a stripper pole from heaven to hell before dancing provocatively with Satan, then snapping his neck and stealing his horns.

    -does NOT do it justice at all. It’s quite a bit more graphic than that once Old Nick makes his appearance, only slightly less than some pretty hard core pornography. Maybe it’s because the artist seems so young, but it comes off as more than a little exploitative. And yet anyone can view it on youtube – no proof of age required (even as useless as that is), no helpful warning from google, no mention of graphic content. I guess that’s reserved for questioning the reliability of voting machines and Hunter Biden’s laptop.

    Reply
    1. RMO

      Ferrari sent a cease and desist letter to Deadmau5 for his customized Ferrari 458 “Purrari” with a cat logo on it. Gibson is trying to trademark a few of their guitar shapes from the 50’s – which had design patents taken out on then when new that have long since expired and which have been used by many other companies for over 40 years now – and place a lawsuit against another manufacturer for producing a similar shape. FCA/Jeep went to court and won against an Indian manufacturer for selling a 4WD (not even highway legal in the US!) because it had a slotted grille, flattish hood, and separate front fenders and removable doors – and the Jeep design originated with Bantam under orders from the US government who then gave it to Willys and Ford saying it was US government property! Never underestimate the extreme levels of vicious grasping companies will go to when they think they might get an “intellectual property” win.

      Reply
  20. rjs

    any thoughts on systemic risk arising from the implosion of Archegos Capital Management? a raft of banks are reporting big losses tied to derivatives as a result…

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Banks can eat some losses. Total equity derivs market of dimly similar types only $282 billion. Subprime loans were $1.3 to $2.1 trillion, depending on how you defined “subprime” and CDS based on the worst tranches were 4-6X that level.

      Reply
  21. Lynne

    About that Prince Harry article, I didn’t read it as starting to take the gloves off at all. The author credulously accepts whatever was said in the Oprah interview, that despite Harry’s long-standing concern and advocacy for mental health, he is so ignorant of treatment options that his wife was left floundering after human resources said she should seek private help because she wasn’t an employee. No, the only criticism, soft as it is, it that poor Harry and Meghan are being coopted by the tech barons, as opposed to the old-style barons in England. If only she was still been in a union, all would be well!

    Reply
    1. Pat

      The article is all over the place. The author wants to believe them, but has had to twist themselves into a pretzel to do so. They have settled on accepting that Harry is too dim to call his godmother or any of his other therapists. And despite his obvious short comings, an avaricious tech company expanding from corporate life coaching sees him as a patsy to front for their expanded self help mental health expansion, useless though it is. The Sussexes do not realize there is no there in his new job but have embraced it as a natural addition to his/their drive to advance acceptance of mental health treatment. This means ignoring that being added to the C Suite in a start up approaching going public probably comes with a hefty benefit of a lucrative insider percentage for the IPO, thus underestimating the compensation they have grasped for a do nothing but provide publicity job.

      It certainly isn’t as devastating as it should be, but it is part of the drip drip drip eroding the narrative. Thank god it isn’t taking as long as it is taking for the competence of Obama to be shredded., well unless the dripping stops.

      Reply
  22. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have read about efforts to dry out the otherwise discarded coffee cherry-pulp ( after getting it off the beans) and grinding it up into an edible product called coffee flour. It hasn’t taken off yet, but I am sure efforts are still being made.

    https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/coffee-flour-new-superfood-for-baking-taste-test-article

    Of course the grinds left over after soaking the “coffee” out of the grinded up beans themselves is in itself a low-grade low-protein seed meal and could be used in gardening, composting, etc.

    Reply
  23. The Rev Kev

    “Dear Joe Scarborough: Invite Me To Debate Your Network’s Putrid Russiagate Coverage”

    Speaking of Joe Scarborough. Here is his words on vaccination passports-

    ‘“They’re being stupid, they’re following conspiracy theories… they don’t understand because maybe they’re such morons,” he thundered. “If they don’t want to take the vaccine and they want to die, that’s their right as Americans. They can live in ignorance and stupidity.”

    “Our government, our sports teams, our concert promoters damned well better put together something where you can show your vaccine receipt,” he said.

    “This anti-science idiocy, you know, let them do that under a rock or in their caves,” he added, concluding that “the time to try to reason with these people has long passed.”’

    I don’t know about you but I’m convinced-

    https://www.rt.com/usa/519626-msnbc-joe-vaccine-passports/

    Reply

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