My Mental Dumping Ground

An outlet to share things that interest or amuse me….

More flooding to come in Queensland

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January 5, 2011 Posted by | Australia, Environment | , , , , , | Leave a comment


Will the boom in natural gas drilling contaminate America’s water supply?

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June 27, 2010 Posted by | Environment, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A deadly bubble?

Think Mount St. Helens — underwater. Depth recorders have detected a gas bubble growing under the ocean floor, around the well head. If this potential bubble does not get controlled ASAP before it explodes, impending disaster could be awaiting millions of residents in the gulf states.

On Richard’s FB page his current headline :Last night on “Coast” I discussed a possible Gulf “armageddon scenario” — as the cap rock below the Deepwater Horizon’s BOP finally bursts, releasing an unstoppable tsunami which could kill hundreds of thousands! To prevent this, the BP “mud logs” for the Gulf must be made publicly available. And, a Gulf network of bu…oys must monitor the situation. E-mail the White House and demand that the President make it so!

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Richard Hoagland is a scientist who has been a long term critic of secrecy and fraud at NASA.

In this interview, Hoagland talks about the discovery of a massive gas bubble associated with the BP well.

Have I verified this information? No.

What I do know is this:

1. The mainstream new media is focusing on the leak at the drill site and ignoring the oil-leaking fissures surrounding the drill site.

2. They’re also ignoring the presence of vast quantities of toxic gas that are being released along with the crude oil.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Environment, Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

An Energy-Independent Future

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June 17, 2010 Posted by | Environment, Politics | , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Tango EV

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The world’s fastest urban car…The revolutionary Tango combines the speed and agility of a motorcycle with the security of a high-performance sports car.
Trade your boredom for freedom

The Tango’s ability to maneuver through traffic is second to none. Being 5″ narrower than many motorcycles, it can get through traffic like no other car in history. Where lane splitting is permitted (i.e., driving between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic), the advantage can be staggering. In extremely heavy traffic, a Tango or motorcycle can travel in 20 seconds the distance that cars travel in 20 minutes.




Help forge a congestion-free future
The Tango can fit in a 6-foot half-lane with more clearance than a truck has in a full 12-foot freeway lane. This virtual doubling of lane capacity can make the traffic jam a fading memory. It can also park perpendicularly to the curb like a motorcycle, allowing up to four Tangos in one parallel parking space.


Acceleration and top speed
With over 1,000 ft-lbs of torque starting at zero rpm and a 600 kW (805 hp) motor controller, the Tango accelerates from 0-60 mph in under four seconds, finishes the standing 1/4 mile in about 12 seconds at over 100 mph, and can reach over 130 mph with no gear shifting.


Safety and Stability
Don’t let the size of the Tango fool you . . . while it may appear small its FIA-certified roll cage is actually the structure required for race cars traveling over 200mph. It has 4 times more side protection bars, for example, than the largest SUV. Its 4-point harnesses, low center of gravity, and weight (comparable to a midsize sedan) combine to make the Tango extremely safe. With 2,000 lbs under the floor (mostly batteries), it is ballasted to achieve the rollover threshold of a sports car.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Auto Industry News, Environment, Technology | , , | Leave a comment

Moments in rightwingnuttery [Palin edition]

“The Hell With Sarah Palin” How Do Rural Alaskans Really Feel?

from by AKMuckraker

~~Chum salmon drying.  Emmonak, Alaska June 2009

Last week Governor Sarah Palin sent a series of messages from her favorite communication tool; her Twitter account. We’re often treated to little 140 character missives about the weather, or Trig’s first hair cut, or the latest score from the Anchorage Aces hockey game.

But this series of three rapid-fire messages were regarding the subsistence fishing situation in Western Alaska. Let’s face it. Not a subject that grabs the headlines like naughty monkey pumps, or the outrage du jour about somebody’s idea of a joke. But this is one of those stories that will not go away, and is doing more to erode support for the governor in much of the state, than any of her other blunders.

Sarah Palin

AKGovSarahPalinGood update re Rural Advisor John Moller’s recnt Emmonak trip, great news he reports; we’ll twitter assuming press won’t pick up good news.about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry

The snark is unmistakable. She assumes the media won’t report the “great news” simply because it’s “great,” and she knows and you know that the media has no interest in reporting the facts. They’re just out to get her.

John Moller is Sarah Palin’s rural advisor. He took over the role when her last rural advisor quit amid rumors that she couldn’t get any face time with the governor. Moller was in the Western Alaskan village of Emmonak to discuss the topic on everyone’s mind these days – salmon. Salmon are the primary subsistence food, and the commercial salmon fishery is the primary income source for residents of the villages of the Lower Yukon River.

Catastrophic problems exist, which start with the mismanagement of a fishery that allow tens of thousands of coveted king salmon to be tossed overboard as “bycatch” by large commercial pollock trawlers from Washington state. Not enough fish last summer meant not enough food last winter, and not enough income for heating and cooking fuel, supplemental food and supplies during the long, harsh winter. Luckily food drives, donations from around the country, support from churches and the blogging community were enough to keep the villages of the Lower Yukon from total disaster.

Palin, after almost eight weeks of inaction, and tons of media pressure, finally flew out to one of the villages. She arrived with two evangelical preachers, one of whom was Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham, boxes of private sector food with religious messages inside, and a plate of homemade cookies for effect.

Anchorage videographer Dennis Zaki, who contracts with CNN, visited the small village of Emmonak last winter, during the crisis, to document the plight of rural Alaskans that came as a direct result of last summer’s disastrous fishing season. He wanted to go back this summer to follow up, and get a sense for how things might be looking for the winter ahead He made this trip on his own, funded entirely, as the last one was, by donations from private citizens. People were moved by the heartbreaking story of fellow Americans having to choose whether to keep their children and elders warm or fed, because they didn’t have enough to do both.. They became informed of the situation and donated to send Zaki to Western Alaska through a host of Alaskan progressive blogs. Only because of these efforts, the story went from isolated Alaskan rural villages, to the national media. CNN picked up the story last winter.

Fishing season is upon us, and Alaskans were shocked to see what came across the Twitter wires just minutes after the previous tweet.

Sarah Palin

AKGovSarahPalinJohn Moller just returned from Emmonak, reports 50% of residents have subsistence needs met already, others confident they can do the same.about 3 hours ago from web

It was a miracle! 50% of residents had their subsistence needs met already? Others confident? This was quite unexpected, and good news indeed. Thiese reports came in from the governor while videographer Dennis Zaki was still in Emmonak, a village with a total population of only about 750 people. This report would be pretty easy to verify. The story Zaki tells, after hearing about the governor’s tweets is this.

Last week Palin Tweeted that Emmonak had 50% of their subsistance quota [of king salmon]. I’ve heard all around town that that was false. So this morning I took a poll around town. Out of 66 people polled, 5 said they have met their quota. 51 said they have less then 50% of their quota. The limited time of the openings are making it hard to fish.

Half of Emmonak residents do NOT have their subsistance quota, and according to nearly all of the residents I’ve spoken to, they have no idea if they can get their quota. Tribal leaders are angry at this false statement by John Moller.

There is a high level of anxiety because the Y1 district could close to fishing at any time. According to Fish & Game, 75% of the kings this year have already made it upriver from here, so any chance of making money off them is slim to none again this year. Kings go for over $5 a pound, chums go for 50 cents. You can see why fishermen are not in a good mood. With only a 4 hour opening tonight for chums the fishermen that make their living from the sea, which is nearly every family in town, are going to only be able to catch just a small amount of fish. And that’s assuming there will be fish there tonight. There could be no fish.”

These people get pissed when I tell them what Moller said about 50% having their quota.
In a culture where the people are rarely outspoken in a negative way, came “The Hell with Sarah Palin,” from one angry resident.

Frustrations are running high, and village residents are fearful of what the coming winter will bring. Instances of civil disobedience are being reported from the village of Marshall, where fishermen have been reported tonight out on the river, taking salmon illegally, to be assured that they will have enough to feed their families this winter. Questions arise about what this will do to the salmon returns next year, to villages farther upstream, and to our international treaty with Canada in which we guarantee a certain number of fish will make it across the border.

“We were ready to make a statement. We were ready to send a message to the fishery managers, to the governor, and to big business – meaning the trawl fishery. That you waste, you know, you’re allowed to waste all this fish. We only take a small fraction of the runs,” said Nick P. Andrew Jr., a Marshall fisherman and member of the Ohagamuit tribal government.

Andrew was one of six fisherman who took 100 king salmon from the river, despite the state’s closure of the fishery.

But the bottom line is that the tens of thousands of fish being taken and discarded as waste by the factory trawlers are causing the bulk of the problem. As it stands now, there is no legal limit to the number of salmon that can be taken and thrown overboard dead, as bycatch. They can waste as much as they want, while Alaskans who have lived for thousands of years in the areas that these fish are headed, face hunger and poverty.

The harsh reality is that winter is only a couple months away in this area of the world, and every fish that swims past the villages, and every Seattle factory trawler that dumps its salmon bycatch overboard, brings Emmonak and villages like it one step closer to economic and subsistence collapse.

Right now, there is civil disobedience on the Yukon, there is disaster coming this winter and seasons beyond, and the leadership that is necessary to take Alaska’s fisheries back for its people is nowhere in sight.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the Commissioner of Public Safety and the Head of Wildlife Troopers were in meetings today. The head of the Department of Fish and Game was unreachable for comment. John Moller, the governor’s Rural Advisor is now on personal leave. And what about the governor herself?

Really, I’d love to be able to get Palin on the phone to talk about this stuff. Haven’t interviewed her about it since February.

Meanwhile, from the governor’s Blackberry, all’s well in the land of magical thinking.


June 30, 2009 Posted by | Environment, Politics, WTF Mate? | , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Ethanol Scam

More than one major transportation-based industry in America besides Detroit is on the ropes. For the fourth time in our history the ethanol industry has come undone and is quickly failing nationally. Of course it’s one thing when Detroit collapsed with the economy; after all, that is a truly free-market enterprise and the economy hasn’t been good. But the fact that the ethanol industry is going bankrupt, when the only reason we use this additive is a massive government mandate, is outrageous at best.

Then again, the ethanol lobby and refiners have a solution to ethanol’s failure in America: Hire retired General Wesley Clark as your point man and lobby the government to increase the amount of ethanol in our fuel to 15%. The problems with that proposition are real—unlike ethanol’s benefits.

Where’s the Logic?

First, the primary job of the Environmental Protection Agency is, dare it be said, to protect our environment. Yet using ethanol actually creates more smog than using regular gas, and the EPA’s own attorneys had to admit that fact in front of the justices presiding over the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1995 (API v. EPA).

Second, truly independent studies on ethanol, such as those written by Tad Patzek of Berkeley and David Pimentel of Cornell, show that ethanol is a net energy loser. Other studies suggest there is a small net energy gain from it.

Third, all fuels laced with ethanol reduce the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, and the E85 blend drops gas mileage between 30% and 40%, depending on whether you use the EPA’s fuel mileage standards ( or those of the Dept. of Energy.

Fourth, forget what biofuels have done to the price of foodstuffs worldwide over the past three years; the science seems to suggest that using ethanol increases global warming emissions over the use of straight gasoline. Just these issues should have kept ethanol from being brought back for its fourth run in American history.

Don’t let anybody mislead you: The new push to get a 15% ethanol mandate out of Washington is simply to restore profitability to a failed industry. Only this time around those promoting more ethanol in our gas say there’s no scientific proof that adding more ethanol will damage vehicles or small gas-powered engines. With that statement they’ve gone from shilling the public to outright falsehoods, because ethanol-laced gasoline is already destroying engines across the country in ever larger numbers.

Got a Spare $1,000?

Last July was bad enough for motorists on a budget—gasoline prices had shot up to more than $4 a gallon. But for some the pain in the pocketbook was about to get worse. At City Garage in Euless, Tex., for example, the first of numerous future customers brought in an automobile whose fuel pump was shot. A quick diagnosis determined that that particular car had close to 18% ethanol in the fuel. For that unlucky owner, the repairs came to nearly $900. The ethanol fun was just beginning.

City Garage manager Eric Greathouse has found that adding ethanol to the nation’s gasoline supply may be a foolish government mandate, but it has an upside he’d rather not deal with. It’s supplying his shop with a slow but steady stream of customers whose plastic fuel intakes have been dissolved by the blending of ethanol into our gasoline, or their fuel pumps destroyed. The average cost of repairs is just shy of $1,000.

It gets better.

Scott Morrison is the owner of the City Garage chain in North Texas and he related the story of his technical director’s run-in with ethanol; in December he filled up his E85 Flex Fuel Chevy Suburban at the Exxon station in Ovilla, just south of Dallas. His Suburban died on the spot, because even an E85-equipped vehicle will not run on the 100% pure ethanol that Exxon station was pumping that day. In that case it was not Exxon’s fault but a mistake at the distribution center, and Exxon (XOM) quickly made good for the cost of repairs.

On Jan. 16 of this year, Lexus ordered a massive recall of certain 2006 to 2008 models, including the GS Series, IS and LS sedans. According to the recall notice, the problem is that “Ethanol fuels with low moisture content will corrode the internal surface of the fuel rails.” In layman’s terms, ethanol causes pinpoint leaks in the fuel system; when leaking fuel catches your engine on fire, that’s an exciting way to have your insurance company buy your Lexus. Using ethanol will cost Toyota (TM) untold millions.

An Unpublicized Trend

Though the media is ignoring it, one can easily find many stories on BMW (BMWG.DE) blogs relating similar problems with fuel systems damaged by the use of ethanol. Certainly that was the case with Christi Jordan and her 2007 Mini. For weeks it was difficult to start; Moritz BMW in Arlington, Tex., inspected it and found severe carbon buildup inside the engine. On her second trip to the mechanics they decided to test the ethanol content of Christi’s fuel and found it was much higher than the federally mandated limit of 10%. This time the fuel pump had been destroyed by the ethanol. The repair bill came to $1,200: As in all cases where vehicles are damaged by ethanol, legally the factory warranty no longer applied.

Jim Keppler, Moritz’s fixed operations director, said he’s had at least 10 other cases of ethanol poisoning in Minis over the past six months. Christi was one of the lucky ones; Moritz covered her repairs. But there’s no telling how many motorists across the nation have had to pay for fuel pumps, or fuel systems, that ethanol damaged. Most were probably unaware of the real culprit behind the breakdown, because virtually no repair shop tests the level of ethanol in the gasoline when these fuel system problems occur.

And there are active lawsuits from boat owners; ethanol broke down the resins in their fiberglass gas tanks, destroying their marine engines. Additionally, those who deal in small gas engines for lawnmowers, edgers, and weedeaters have quickly learned that, as Briggs & Stratton’s (BGG) Web site warns, “Ethanol-blended gasoline can attract moisture, which leads to separation and formation of acids during storage. Acidic gasoline can damage the fuel system of an engine while in storage. B&S strongly recommends removing ethanol-blended fuels from engine during storage.”

Like motorists, if landscaping tool owners put gasoline with more than 10% ethanol in their small engines, that immediately voids any factory warranties. In the case of the Lexus recall, using just a 10% ethanol blend was found to be destroying many of these engines also.

Another Government-Mandated Mistake

It now appears that in just a few years since the government forced ethanol use on the country, engine and fuel system failures caused by ethanol are causing major damage to more and more new and used vehicles. This means the hapless owners are not only paying for snake oil in lower fuel efficiency and more smog, but pay again when it damages their vehicles and lawn mowers.

We seem to have forgotten, but the promise of turning over farmland for fuel production was to reduce our nation’s demand for imported crude.

But until this massive economic slowdown, as Gusher of Lies (PublicAffairs, 2008) author Robert Bryce pointed out, even while the ethanol mandate was being ramped up we were increasing our imports of foreign oil.

Translation: The entire politically stated purpose of using ethanol had already been proven to be a false one before the program even got fully under way.

No surprise there. The premise that ethanol could give America the freedom to one day stop importing oil has always been fraudulent. Another fun fact: If we outlawed gasoline and diesel, thereby removing every last car, truck and SUV from our highways—no vehicles anywhere on any road in the country—America would still have to import oil because we would still use more crude than domestic production can supply.

Why is that? Crude oil is also used to make fertilizers, aviation fuel, home heating oil, and many other products. Not to mention polyester suits for car salesmen.

Comment Now, Public!

Pushed into it by the corn growers’ and ethanol refiners’ lobbying organizations, today the EPA is starting to go through the public comment phase on increasing the level of ethanol in our gasoline from 10% to 15%. Time and time again we have heard from these groups, who now claim that there is zero scientific evidence that a 15% blend of ethanol would do any damage whatsoever if the mandate for ethanol were raised. As with all statements made by vested interests, few outsiders have actually taken the time to look and find out whether this statement was true.

In fact, it’s false.

Not one mechanic I’ve spoken with said they would be comfortable with a 15% blend of ethanol in their personal car. However, most suggest that if the government moves the ethanol mandate to 15%, it will be the dawn of a new golden age for auto mechanics’ income.

One last thought: Most individuals who have had to repair their fuel systems in recent years never had the gasoline tested to see if the ethanol percentage might be the problem. Today most repair shops and new-car dealers are still not testing for ethanol blends. They’re simply repairing the vehicles and sending their unhappy and less wealthy customers on their way. But, where dealer and repair shops are testing the gasoline, ethanol is becoming one of the leading culprits for the damage.

Sadly, when a truly bad idea is exposed today, Washington’s answer is to double-down on the bet, mandate more of the same, and make the problem worse. Only this time around motorists will be able to gauge the real cost of ethanol when it comes time to fix their personal cars.

Originally post at BusinessWeek.

May 25, 2009 Posted by | Economics, Environment, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Insane Republicans [Michelle Bachmann Edition]

Be careful, this might just make your head explode.

Michelle Bachmann: Water Is Natural, You Can’t Drown In It!

Stephen Colbert’s job is in danger:

BACHMANN: But people talk about cap and tax and they aren’t sure exactly what we’re talking about. Let’s get back to step one. What is the problem? Why do we have to have this tax in the first place?It’s about water carbon dioxide.

Well, what is water carbon dioxide? Let’s just go to a fundamental question.

Water Carbon dioxide, Mister Speaker, is a natural byproduct of nature.  Water Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth. It is a part of the regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can’t even exist without water carbon dioxide. So necessary is it to human life, to animal life, to plant life, to the oceans, to the vegetation that’s on the Earth, to the, to the fowl that – that flies in the air, we need to have water carbon dioxide as part of the fundamental lifecycle of Earth.As a matter of fact, water carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful! People say you can drown in it! They even say that thousands of people drown in it every year!

But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows water carbon dioxide is a harmful liquid gas. There isn’t one such study because water carbon dioxide is not a harmful liquid gas, it is a harmless liquid gas. Water carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is part of Earth’s life cycle.

Okay. Okay.

And yet we’re being told that we have to reduce this natural substance and reduce the American standard of living to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occuring in the earth. Well we’re told the crux of this problem is human activity. It’s humans that are creating more carbon dioxide!Is that true, or is that false?

Well, carbon dioxide is a natural part of Earth’s atmosphere. The carbon dioxide is perhaps three percent of the total atmosphere that’s in the Earth. So if you take a pie chart, and you have all of Earth’s atmosphere, carbon dioxide is perhaps three percent of that total.

What part of human activity creates carbon dioxide? If carbon dioxide is a negligible gas and it’s only three percent of Earth’s atmosphere, what part is human activity?

Human activity contributes perhaps three percent of the three percent. In other words, human activity is maybe 3 percent contributing to the 3 percent of carbon dioxide that’s in Earth’s atmosphere. It’s so negligible – it’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent – that it can hardly be – be quantified.

Of course, as the Wonk Room notes, she’s only off by two orders of magnitude.  It’s 0.04 percent of the atmosphere, and it used to be 0.03 percent a century ago.  So, wrong in so many ways it makes your head hurt. Unless, of course, you laugh to relieve the pressure.

And they include this rebuttal:

BLUMENAUER: My good friend, the gentlelady from Minnesota, doesn’t think there are any problems with the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It’s interesting to listen to her say that something that was naturally occurring simply couldn’t be harmful, ignoring the fact that we have the highest concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 2/3 of a million years.The consensus of the scientific community – not people making things up on the floor of the House – is that this has been profoundly influenced by human activity, starting with the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, where we started consuming huge quantities of coal, burning fossil fuels, accelerating that over time. The consensus of the scientific community is that this is in fact a serious problem.

But, really, that’s all too logical.  I think that trying to reason with folks like Bachmann only serves to puff up the illusion that they’re remotely close to being rationale.

I really think that the Democrats ought to devote just one day to talking utter gibberish the entire day, and have their press people give the media a handout documenting the greatest hits of the utter foolishness the Reps have spewed over the past few years, explaining that Democrats felt morally compelled to try to catch up–no matter how impossible that might actually be.

p.s. Of course carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.  Not as harmful as carbon monoxide, to be sure.  But both CSI and Law & Order: Criminal Intent have featured episodes in which carbon dioxide was used to murder people.  So, I can only guess that Bachmann thinks of carbon dioxide as if it were some sort of species of gun.  You know, carbon dioxide doesn’t kill people.  People kill people.  That kind of thing.

April 26, 2009 Posted by | Environment, Ha!, Politics, WTF Mate? | , , | Leave a comment

Green Power [Power Lines Edition]

Reid Offers Power Grid Plan, Starts States’ Rights Debate

WASHINGTON — The Senate’s top Democrat on Thursday proposed new federal authority to build special power lines that carry renewable energy _ like solar and wind power _ from remote places.

The Federal government would be able override states and direct where the lines would go and who would pay for them.

In unveiling the proposal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said an increased federal role in locating power lines was needed to encourage greater availability of electricity produced from wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources.

“Reforming our energy policies to build a cleaner, greener national transmission system _ an electric superhighway _ must be a top national priority,” Reid said in a statement.

His proposal was expected to become part of a broader energy bill the Senate plans to take up in the coming weeks.

Reid’s measure would give the president authority to declare “renewable energy zones” that have great potential for generating electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar but which have no high-voltage transmission lines to bring that power to consumers.

While states and the federal government would jointly develop “green” transmission plans for such areas, the proposal gives final say to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to take land under eminent domain and issue construction permits if a project is determined to be stalled or killed by state action.

Reid’s proposal is likely to unleash a states’ rights debate in the Senate over the federal government’s role in locating transmission lines, a role that traditionally has been the bailiwick of state regulators _ and with considerable involvement by local communities.

Attempts by Congress in recent years to allow the federal government to locate transmission lines has prompted strong opposition from states. The Energy Department now has authority to declare transmission areas of national importance and for FERC to intervene in those areas if a power line project is at an impasse. But a federal court recently limited FERC’s involvement in such cases.

State utility regulators responded cautiously to Reid’s proposal.

Frederick Butler, chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, said in a statement that the group hopes to work with Reid on the issue. “We are optimistic that our continued dialogue will produce a better outcome for consumers and the environment,” he said of the proposal.

The green power lines are aimed at boosting development of solar, wind and geothermal energy projects otherwise cut off from the nation’s electric grid. It’s also a proposal that Reid acknowledged would give “an enormous boost” to his own state of Nevada, where companies are eyeing large solar projects.

For a power line project to be under the new federal siting authority it must make available 75 percent of its transmission capacity to electricity from renewable energy sources, although in some cases that might be reduced to maintain line stability.

March 8, 2009 Posted by | Environment, Politics | , , , , | 2 Comments


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