The Power of a Few

Often, when the subject of climate change is discussed, people begin to feel highly motivated to take action. However, it is easy to get discouraged when it is soon realized that the change that is necessary to save our planet meets with heavy resistance from large and powerful corporations who are more concerned with profit margins than securing a viable home for future generations. After all, most of these high-salaried executives, board members and executives will be long dead by the time humankind is suffering the worst devastation of climate change. But the gringa says, “Don’t give up. You’re voice does matter.”

Much like how a drop of water slowly becomes, over time, a stalactite or stalagmite, or a river can, over eons, cut a gorge as impressive as the Grand Canyon,  community action, even if it’s only a handful of people, can also build something lasting and impressive. By keeping continued pressure upon the neck of a company, by consistently bringing your cause to their attention, by employing multiple calls to action such as petitions that accumulate the voices of all concerned citizens in the local community, a small collection of individuals who are persistent can either:

  • A. Wear down the opposition in a war of attrition; or
  • B. Eventually create so much local awareness that a company realizes it is in the company’s best interest to respond to their demands if they want to continue to enjoy profiting from the local community’s patronage; or
  • C. The best outcome, the company comes around to the same perspective, seeing the value not in the almighty dollar alone, but actually sees real value in the issue.

A perfect example of this can be seen in the videos below featuring a small group of young people representing the cause “Value the Meal” which is pushing for accountability by community leaders in their local pediatric medical community. Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas specializes in the healthcare of our most vulnerable population, our children. In this place of health and healing is a McDonald’s restaurant which aggressively markets their brand of food which is famous for its low nutrition value.

Linked to chronic health conditions like diabetes and obesity, it is hard to understand why physicians, who are endowed with public trust with regard to health, would be so irresponsible as to seemingly advocate for this kind of food, especially for children who are in recovery and even more vulnerable to a diet that woefully lacks anything that can contribute to strengthening them and improving their healing abilities.

Value the Meal rally at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

“Community health over corporate wealth”. Children’s hospitals shouldn’t have junk food brands like McDonald’s with contracted space in their facilities of health and healing.

No McDonald’s junk food poisoning recovering children patients at Texas Children’s Hospital.

They may not seem very powerful with numbers so small. But that is not where there power lies. There power lies in the “rightness” of their position, the persistence of their action, and the growing community support responding  as they continue to witness this same small group of committed activists maintain a voice and presence on one particular issue.

In your own community, whatever your noble cause, gather together whomever you can trust to remain committed and loyal, even if your numbers happen to be small. Because even one drop of water is powerful and you are much greater than a single drop of water.

Life In A Bubble

There are many different reasons to be interested in the science of climate change. Maybe you are a lover of nature, like the gringa. Maybe you are a doomsday prepper, anticipating worldwide failures of critical natural resources necessary for humanity’s survival. Perhaps you are a problem solver, interested in creating solutions to help us all survive. Or you could be an author of science fiction and fantasy and the realities of climate change provide a plethora of creative resources. Whatever the reason, then you will find the possibility of life in a bio-sphere bubble interesting to ponder.

Tucson, Arizona was recently host to an environmental event sponsored by One Young World, a group of leaders in innovative climate change survival solutions, particularly Biosphere 2 (Earth is #1).  The event featured experts in science, international diplomacy, political science and commercial industry who are all interested in humanity’s need for sustainable sources for food and energy. The speakers whom event attendees were, perhaps, most interested in were probably the former astronaut and individuals who have been living in Biosphere 2.

If a person was to take a tour of Biosphere 2, you might be expecting a sterile, technical, enclosed life support environment like the International Space Station. However, you will probably be pleasantly surprised to find a faux ocean the size of an Olympic swimming pool surrounded by a bamboo forest. As you continue exploration, you will stumble across a desert recreation complete with species of ants and cockroaches.

The Biosphere idea was birthed more than two decades ago. In 1991 the dream was realized when eight individuals, four women and four men, donned their uniforms and entered the three acre terrarium smack dab in the middle of an Arizona desert where they would live confined for twenty-four months.

The habitat was constructed thanks to the generosity of a wealthy Texan who wants a place of safe retreat when the Apocalypse crashes down around our ears. He shelled out about $150 mill to recreate miniaturized versions of South America’s rainforest, the African Savannah, and a single ocean. The Biosphereans worked for two years to determine if this earthly microcosm would interconnect, survive and become a self-sustaining world producing oxygen and food.

Beneath the multiple geodesic domes of steel, glass and plastic transplanted nature began to fail the moments the doors were sealed. Precious oxygen was leaking and making its escape to the outside world. Despite the threat of suffocation, the Biosphereans soldiered on. They planted crops near the ocean. A sophisticated underground bellows system created wind. But small crops of oxygen producing plants and man-made breeze were not enough to make the habitat a survivable, much less pleasant, environment. For the sake of science the Biosphereans persevered through two years of oxygen deprivation yet finally called it quits when survival was only possible by pumping in outside-sourced oxygen.

But was this experiment really a failure? Of course not. It was a very valuable learning experience. Think of all the research that was accomplished on learning how vegetation, geography, water and air movement, and fresh water sources can all be successfully recreated and the knowledge of certain mistakes not to repeat in the process.

The Biosphere 2 is not a total physical loss either. The University of Arizona will continue studies on how to succeed in a biosphere lifestyle. Part of the property will be open to the public and re-christened “Land Evolution Observatory”. The university will launch a project that, over the span of a decade, will attempt to perfect the methods the Biosphereans began. The gringa considers these self-sacrificing and brave Biosphereans to be the pioneers of the Millennia.

The Biosphere story also has a romantic twist. The gringa, madly in love with her caveman, loves a good romance and is happy to learn that two of the individuals fell in love during their confinement together and married as soon as they had regained their freedom to the outside world. The couple, speaking to the Tucson audience, explained how profound their sense of inter-connectedness to their environment became. Daily they tracked carbon and oxygen levels, strongly aware that their survival depended on the right balance.  They felt aware, moment by moment, of each breath they took and each CO2 exhalation they made. The reality of the co-dependence the humans, plants, animals and insects all had with one another was always at the forefront of their mind.

When former astronaut Ron Garan addressed the audience, he discussed his six month stint enclosed in the self-sustained environment of the International Space Station. It was a profound experience that increased his environmental awareness and how tiny, fragile and singular our Earth is. His individual life perspective was completely changed as he worked beside the two Russian cosmonauts he shared duties with. Upon his return to Earth, he dedicated himself to collaboration with projects that will promote the survival of humans and the planet we call home. The only planet, mind you, that we have.

He recounted one of his most poignant experiences. It was the moment he returned to Earth. He peeked out the window of the capsule, saw a landscape of rocks, flowers and grass. His immediate mental and emotional response was, “I’m home” despite the fact that this American was actually in Kazakhstan. Once you’ve been off world, any square inch at any spot on the globe is home, regardless of politics, religion, nationality or ethnicity. The gringa finds this philosophy beautiful and inspirational. And I hope that we all figure it out together, how to save our home.

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The Big Mac Boot

The gringa’s oldest son is doing her proud. Like many millenials, my son has a strong desire to make the world a better place. He has aspirations of doing this by becoming a community organizer and rallying people around important issues of social justice, working together to bring about public awareness and positive change. He has taken his first steps toward achieving his goal by volunteering with a local organization and participated in a press conference.

As a proud and supportive parent, and a bit of a rabble-rouser myself, I simply had to devote a post sharing the good work this organization is doing. Please see their press release below. Links are provided to other media coverage or research documents for your own browsing pleasure!


Doctors, dieticians, parents call on Texas Children’s, Ben Taub hospitals to give McDonald’s the boot

Coalition announces campaign to eliminate junk food marketing in hospitals

HOUSTON –Today, as part of coordinated actions in five cities nationwide, doctors from the Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, and Texas Children’s Hospital joined more than 35 health professionals and community organizations to demand that McDonald’s and other junk food corporations end all marketing inside Texas Children’s and Ben Taub hospitals. The coalition is calling on the CEOs of Texas Children’s Hospital and Harris Health System, which oversees Ben Taub Hospital, to close on-site McDonald’s stores, citing health concerns.

The call comes on the heels of Cleveland Clinic’s decision in August and Allina Health/Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s decision in December to sever ties with the burger giant, due to concerns for their patients’ health. It also amplifies the voices of more than 3,000 health professionals and advocacy organizations like Corporate Accountability International who have called on McDonald’s to stop marketing to kids and 12,000 physicians of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine who have urged hospitals, including Texas Children’s Hospital, to go “fast-food-free.” Increasingly, hospital administrators are equating McDonald’s in hospitals to the tobacco industry’s tactic of selling cigarettes in hospital gift shops decades ago.

“In the midst of an epidemic of diet-related diseases, it makes no sense for kids to be treated on one floor of Ben Taub and Texas Children’s and see a McDonald’s on another—it sends the wrong message,” said Rosalia Guerrero, president of Healthcare for All Texas.

Texas Children’s and Ben Taub hospitals would become the twelfth and thirteenth to sever ties with McDonald’s since 2009, joining the ranks of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Truman Medical Center, Vanderbilt Medical Center, and others.

“I was shocked and disappointed to find McDonald’s in the world’s largest medical center,” said Azeen Anjum, first year Baylor College of Medicine student and member of Choosing Healthy, Eating Fresh (CHEF). “McDonald’s symbolizes the toxic dieta ry climate that contributes to America’s current epidemic of diet-related illness. It should not be allowed to continue damaging health in hospitals that serve our community’s most vulnerable populations.”

Siting stores in hospitals is one of the many ways McDonald’s attempts to “nutriwash” its brand.   Increasingly, health professionals are linking the skyrocketing rates of diet-related diseases like Type 2 diabetes to pervasive junk food marketing. Research from the Institute of Medicine and the National Bureau of Economic Research has found that ending kid-targeted junk food marketing could benefit the health of millions of children.

Dietitians from across Houston also weighed in on the issue.

“We are learning more every day about the roles of preservatives, refined sweeteners, oxidized fats and their role in diabetes, blood pressure, cancer, obesity and more” said Ali Miller, RD, LD, CDE author of Naturally Nourished: Food-as-Medicine for Optimal Health. “As a nutrition expert I am confident in saying processed fast food like McDonald’s has been shown to have harmful deleterious effects not neutral.”

This week, hundreds of people in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and Tampa are also calling on McDonald’s and other junk food corporations to end targeted marketing through schools and other institutions. The groups are organizing to support of school boards and hospital administrators to strengthen existing policies and sever ties with junk food corporations.

In the coming months, the Houston coalition will continue to build community support for Ben Taub Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital to prioritize its patients’ health over corporate profits.


Improving The World Has Gone Glam… GEOGlam That Is

Food security in the world is critical to the security of the world in general. When populations become vulnerable due to famine and food shortages, terrible things can happen. Things like wars, massive migrations, malnutrition related disease epidemics, etc. With climate change posing a real threat to the future of food security worldwide, what the heck is being done about this problem?

The international community has come together to go “glam”. No, there is nothing glamorous about hunger. Rather, a group of government leaders, as well as NGO leaders, have formed and call themselves the Group on Earth Observation’s Global Agricultural Monitoring, or, to avoid saying that mouthful, GEOGLAM. They plan to take full advantage of Earth images provided by NASA’s satellites, along with data provided by the space agencies of other nations, to monitor weather and how it will affect the security of crops.

Satellites are not the only hi-tech hardware being put to use. While out in the field, GEOGLAM workers collect data on smartphones and relay it via the internet to GEOGLAM partners. This makes data collection much more efficient and stream lined. No more need to do all that pesky paperwork. The gringa likes that. The gringa likes even better the name for this mobile system of data collection, “MAGIS”. The gringa looks at her smartphone, smiles, and says, “It’s MAGIS!”

Rice is first on the list of crops GEOGLAM monitors. It is the staple grain for not only the largest portion of Earth’s population, but also it’s most vulnerable populations. And it is no easy grain to cultivate. Flood or drought could cause a worldwide starvation catastrophe. Other key crops being monitored are wheat, corn (maize), cotton and sugarcane.

Orbiting satellites provide thermal images of crops that enable GEOGLAM agricultural experts to determine if crop stress is occurring. These hi-tech images can relay such details as moisture and temperature levels of the surface of the land the crop is planted in. This can help create models to protect the viability of critical crops.

Images also provide data that help scientists predict weather patterns. This enables measures to be taken to protect crops in the event of the approach of severe weather. Although it is fine to love your local weatherman who reminds you to take an umbrella with you to work, GEOGLAM’s weathermen are the weathermen that are helping to save the world. The gringa holds them high upon the meteorological pedestal.

GEOGLAM’s eyes in the skies have begun their rice monitoring projects in the nations of Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Java. In the U.S., Arkansas, and agricultural areas such as Sacramento Valley in California, are also being watched because their water resources are rapidly being depleted. Data processed by GEOGLAM is used to create growing season plans as well as help farmers in these areas manage their local resources, primarily the precious resource of water that is used to irrigate the crops.

A visit to GEOGLAM’s website puts a smile on the gringa’s face. There’s nothing the gringa likes more than solutions. The gringa’s a fixer, a problem-solver, a get ‘er done kind of gal. It’s okay to complain but then you’ve got to get off your bum and FIX IT!

GEOGLAM officially launched in Paris, 2011, with the participation of 20 Agricultural Ministers from the world community. This group is setting out to monitor regions that “… are responsible for over 80% of global crop production…”. As data is gathered regarding these areas, GEOGLAM uses proven scientific methods to analyze weather and other evidence to create consensus based models that work toward the most favorable outcome of crop production and yield.

Although many countries have their own agricultural monitoring systems, GEOGLAM aims to lead the way into the global era. This is the future. Nations no longer live as islands but, rather, as part of a world community. Data is shared. Technologies are shared. Standardized methods are being implemented. It is the recognition that one nation’s food security is the concern of every other nation. The gringa loves this philosophy.

Never before has the world needed scientists and agricultural experts like it does today. These are the fields philanthropic, young students should be encouraged to pursue. If your child wants to change the world, encourage them to be a farmer or meteorologist!


Sources: and

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GMO’s And The Power Of The Consumer

Over the past several months, I have engaged in discussions regarding GMO crops and food products. I am most definitely not a scientist so I will not write from that perspective. I will put in my two cents worth as a consumer. The first thing I will say is, “Consumers, DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE YOUR POWER!” As a consumer, if you do not want to purchase and consume GMO products, that is your right as a consumer. If manufacturers of products containing GMOs do not want to label their products, do not be disheartened. If your local grocer does not stock many products that are labeled “certified non-GMO”, you have the power to change this!

I believe every consumer has the right to be an informed consumer and spend their money on exactly the type of product they desire. If a person is endeavoring to purchase food products to support an organic diet or simply wants to exercise their own personal preference not to consume GMO products, that is what living with freedom and liberty is all about.  The gringa is FOR the consumer.

That being said, dear readers, please remember that America is a capitalist society. Big GMO companies have the capital to pay for influence when it comes to legislative response when consumers are crying foul. It’s in the best interest for GMO industry profit to get Americans to buy their products that have been rejected by Europe. America is their only large market. They know labeling will lose sales so they will use whatever influence they have in Washington to avoid having to label their products.

More success may be found if consumers begin a letter writing and petition campaign on a grass roots level with local grocers to supply consumers with products that are certified NON-GMO. Consumers have to think from a capitalist perspective rather than a civil rights perspective on this one. The local grocer, if inundated with requests for Certified NON-GMO products, is more likely to respond than Congress, who very well may be in the back pocket of powerful GMO companies that have the means to fund special interest groups that can lobby Congress and also make sizable contributions to the campaign funds of politicians.

In a capitalist system, certain methods are more effective than others, especially if a person, or group, lacks the wealth that greases the wheels in a capitalist system. Take back your power. Write a letter and meet with your local grocer. Take all your friends with you. Then, drop the gringa a note and let me know how it went! I’m dying to know!

Please feel free to copy the following form letter. Mail or, better yet, hand deliver it to your local grocery manager. I assure you they will be willing to stock what they know the customer wants. They are in business to make money. Make many, many, many copies of this letter and share with your other non-GMO friends.

Be respectful in your efforts. Try not to “evangelize”. There are many American consumers who don’t give a hoot what they ingest. This is not about interfering with such a consumer’s right to ingest GMO food products. This is about the non-GMO consumer having the right to express to their food supplier the products they want. Just as you don’t want your food consumption rights interfered with, please don’t interfere in the rights of others. That being said, please share this letter with as many friends and grocers as you please. Happy Consumer Activism!

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a loyal grocery customer. As a customer, I would like to let you know that I appreciate the fact that you have a responsive customer service department. At this time, I would like to share some of my personal grocery needs in the hopes that you will stock these types of products that I would most earnestly purchase.

I am a conscientious consumer and have become aware of the controversy surrounding GMO food products. Considering that the GMO food industry has not responded favorably to consumers expressing their desire to know what they are consuming and label products that contain GMO ingredients, I look to another solution. I wholeheartedly support products that are labeled “certified non-GMO”. I understand that you, as a grocer, are in a retail business whose aim is to make money. I also understand these new “certified non-GMO” labels may increase the price of these foods as they have the new expense of registering these products and creating new labels. These higher prices may discourage you from stocking them in favor of a lower priced food that may possibly be a GMO food. I assure you that I most definitely will choose a certified “non-GMO” food over the same food product that is unlabeled. I will reject the unlabeled product due to the suspicion that it may be a GMO food.

I am aware that more than 20 European and Asian nations have banned or restricted GMO crop cultivation and/or imports. The scientists of these communities have concluded that their agricultural industries are unable to maintain crop purity and risk contamination by GMO crops. Upon their recommendations, their respective governments enacted legislation to ban or restrict GMOs. Because of this, United States companies that have invested heavily in GMO products now have only the American grocery market as their largest market place in which to generate a return for their investors. As a conscientious consumer, my loyalty lies with what is better for the environment, rather than what is better for the scientists and investors of the GMO industry. That is why I would be a loyal customer who would purchase the “certified non-GMO” products you would stock.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



You may wonder if this will really work. I assure you it will. I have personal experience in just such a thing. When my oldest son was a toddler he had some serious dietary allergies. There was a specific milk substitute that tasted great but was not on the shelves of our local Kroger. I asked the manager if he could get this product. Not only did he assure me that he would, but he asked me if there were any other products I was interested in. I then named off a few snacks and treats that I was trying to duplicate in my own kitchen because they did not stock them. He began to stock not just the items I requested, but many more products made by these same companies. He did all of that simply by the request of one, single customer.

The gringa believes that non-GMO consumers may very well be the next up and coming niche market that the food industry producers of non-GMO foods will eventually pounce upon. Non-GMO food producers are realizing consumers are willing to absorb the added cost of qualifying for the “certified non-GMO” label. I believe it will be found that, just as “organic”  and “gluten-free” became popular, profitable foodie trends, “certified non-GMO” will be the next foodie trend. There are plenty of consumers out there who don’t care one way or another what they eat, but there are niche markets that are very particular, very loyal, and willing to pay a premium to get exactly what they want. If GMO producers refuse to label their products, the gringa says, “Who cares!” I’ll just support another solution. The gringa will support non-GMO producers that proudly label their products. By supporting these products with your purchase, eventually, more companies will follow suit, jump on the bandwagon, and label their products “certified non-GMO” because they want your money, too.

In discussing the GMO issue, remember, it really is a consumer issue. When GMO supporters or scientists get hostile, remember, your criticism of their product threatens profits that are being demanded by investors. It also threatens funding of research that scientists may have invested a lifetime in. This threat creates a level of frustration that blinds them to the fact that the product they have developed was never guaranteed to be wanted by a consumer. This can sometimes result in a reaction that seems very arrogant and condescending because they do not understand that consumers are not obligated to want their product no matter how much science may prove it is superior. Such people need to be reminded that if consumers don’t want your product, the fault is not with the consumer.

Another thing GMO supporters forget, especially the scientists of this industry, is that there are plenty of people who do not trust the credibility of scientists in a country that operates as a capitalist model. Many people understand about corporate greed and corporate corruption and are suspicious. Especially when GMO’s have been rejected in Europe in countries that are non-capitalist models. That is the biggest elephant in the room when arguing with GMO supporters, the fact of GMO rejection by a large bloc of European and Asian countries. European and Asian scientists have done their own research and many have recommended rejection of GMOs to their respective governments who respected the wisdom of their scientists and acted accordingly.

When the European subject comes up, the GMO supporter may try to change the subject and make some claim that GMO product rejection is just silly because we’ve all been consuming them for decades anyway, we just didn’t know. The gringa is then reminded of many harmful drugs that were used for years and finally banned when cancers and the like showed up twenty or thirty years later. Also, the fact that consumers may have been consuming these products for years is irrelevant to putting the consumer’s mind at ease. In fact, a consumer who is already skeptical will probably only have their suspicions reinforced if they believe they have been eating corn on the cob for twenty years, erroneously believing it was the same, old corn on the cob grandma used to make and the scientific community never informed the public what they were doing. The reason suspicion becomes heightened is because the average person will think, “If it’s so great, why, then, hide your light under a bushel? What have you got to hide.”

The GMO supporter may also argue that the European ban is because of a few loud-mouth interest groups who have loads of money to gain by people joining their cause or logging on to their website. South Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, France, Madeira, and Switzerland have all banned or restricted GMO crops and/or imports. It is not anti-GMO rhetoric from a few individuals and companies that has this issue in the headlines. This issue is in the headlines because educated consumers are speaking out about legitimate concerns based on the rejection of GMO’s by many European countries whose testimony, reports and research contradict what America’s GMO industry claims.

These are technologically advanced, well educated nations with well respected scientific communities whose research resulted in the governments of these nations adopting legislation that effectively banned or restricted GMO crop cultivation and/or import. These scientific communities evidently do not agree with the science of American companies. As far as many informed consumers are concerned, the American scientific community is in the minority in their published opinions supporting and promoting GMOs when compared to the combined scientific communities of these twelve scientifically advanced European nations. And these twelve nations do not stand alone in their position on GMOs. The gringa has decided for reasons of space and word count to stop the list at these twelve.

Some GMO supporters will disrespect the scientists of these European and Asian nations by blaming environmental interest groups like Greenpeace for influencing the outlaw of GMO’s in these countries. They are not being honest at all. Below are just three examples illustrating what really motivated GMO bans:

  • GMOs were outlawed in Tasmania over a decade ago after genetically altered canola escaped from trial crops at secret sites around the state.
  • In 2006, a large part of the U.S. long-grain rice crop was contaminated by an experimental strain from Bayer CropScience , prompting import bans in Europe and Japan and sharply lowering market prices. The company agreed in court in 2011 to pay $750 million to growers as compensation.
  •  Preventing contamination by GMO crops motivated New Zealand to reject GMO’s. A government public statement regarding the premise for banning GMO’s is recorded as, “The  New Zealand economy relies on its agricultural purity…”
  • In 2008, in Germany, a “Council of Environmental Scholars weighed in on this debate, holding that a total avoidance of pollution from GM planting is technically not feasible. The Council sees the risks of GMOs as a threat not so much to human health as to the environment, citing the risks of contaminating natural areas and non-GM crops, dissemination through vertical and horizontal gene transfers, toxic effects on non-targeted organisms, and effects possibly resulting from changes in agricultural practices.” This quote is available in the United States Library of Congress. Germany does not want crop contamination and also does not want GMOs spreading like invasive weeds and taking over natural green areas, therefore, no GMO’s. This was the result of reports from their respected scientific community, not small interest group influence.

The gringa would never insult the scientific communities of these nations and diminish the contribution of their hard work by attributing to any environmental group as being the influential factor that motivated the decisions of their respective governments. These governments were responding to the will of the people, whose desire was to protect their own agricultural industry from GMO contamination. Their decisions were based on many hours of pain-staking research and were made in the best interest of their populations.

GMO companies, investors and scientists seem to be banging their fists on boardroom conference tables demanding a return on their investment. Now they are mad because their market is no longer global and the only market left to them, the American consumer, is rejecting their product. They are mad because rather than make the bank, they may only be left with dusty, unwanted products in dusty warehouses. If GMO supporters ever want to make the bank, they really need to rethink their marketing strategy because, so far, they have only pissed off their potential consumer market with bully tactics and arrogant, patronizing attitudes.



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