IONIAN SCHOOL [Philosophy: 6th century BCE]
The Ionian School of ancient Greek philosophy (also known as the Ionic or Miletian school), arose in the city of Miletus which was a trading and cultural center of the ancient world located on the coast of Asia Minor. This was the earliest school of naturalistic materialism in the history of Greek philosophy, and is also considered to be the first school of scientific speculation about the nature of the world—i.e., one of the earliest sources of ideas which could be reasonably viewed as early scientific theories. Its most famous individuals were Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes.
Although they were materialists, the Ionians were what we would now view as very naïve materialists, and really had not much of any understanding of how mind and mental phenomena can be viewed as arising from an appropriate complex organization of matter (a brain). Instead, they were called hylozoists (those who “put life into matter”), and they seem to have believed that all matter itself, at least in an elemental way, is actually capable of what we would now call mental processes such as having feelings. In this way the Ionians could also be viewed as early precursors of something like the sort of dualism that Leibniz propounded, as much as true materialists in the modern sense. This, however, is often characteristic of naïve materialism in general.
“Ionian science was an endeavor marked by a strong interest in uncovering
fundamental laws to explain natural phenomena, a tremendous milestone in the history of
human ideas. Their approach was rational and in many cases led to conclusions supprisingly
similar to what our more sophisticated methods have led us to believe today. It
represented a grand beginning. But over the centuries much of Ionian science would be
forgotten—only to be rediscovered or reinvented, sometimes more than once....
“Scholars in ancient Ionia were among the first to explain natural phenomena through laws of nature rather than myth or theology....
“As the Ionian influence spread, there appeared others who saw that the universe possesses an internal order, one that could be understood through observation and reason. Anaximander (ca. 610 BC-ca. 546 BC), a friend and possibly a student of Thales, argued that since human infants are helpless at birth, if the first human had somehow appeared on earth as an infant, it would not have survived. In what may have been humanity’s first inkling of evolution, people, Anaximander reasoned, must therefore have evolved from other animals whose young are hardier.” —Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design (2010), pp. 18-20.
IPO (Initial Public Offering)
The first sale to the public of stock in a corporation. The company is thus transformed from one which is “privately held” into a “publicly owned” corporation, where it is supposedly slightly more closely regulated by the government.
Huge fortunes are often made during IPOs, not only by those who previously owned the entire company, but also by the investment banks who arrange the offering, and by stock brokers with inside connections who are allowed to buy the new stock at a low price and then sell it at a much higher price. This is yet another mechanism by which Wall Street financiers rip off small investors.
[To be added...]
See also: MOSADDEGH, Mohammad
A scandal during the Reagan Administration in which the U.S. imperialists used secret means to illegally (and immorally) try to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.
“[T]he attrocious misadventure known as the ‘Iran-Contra affair’ was represented in Washington as a domestic embarrassment for the Reagan administration rather than a conspiracy to bleed to death the Nicaraguan government, whose only threat was that of a good example. That countless innocent people were killed [by the U.S. and its agents] or denied the opportunity to free themselves from poverty, disease and illiteracy was never an ‘issue’. A subsequent ruling by the International Court of Justice distinguished the Reagan administration as the only government the court has ever condemned for ‘terrorism’, calling on it to pay the Nicaraguan government $17 billion in reparations. This was ignored and the matter long forgotten, for it was the slowest news [for the American media].” —John Pilger, Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire (2007), p. 2. [Pilger notes that, for the corporate media, news that they do not wish to report is considered “slow news”, i.e., fit for mentioning only when there is nothing else to talk about—if even then. —Ed.]
IRAQ — U.S. War Against (1991)
This U.S. invasion and war against Iraq occured in January-February 1991. It was the U.S. imperialist reponse to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait which occurred in August 1990. [More to be added.]
“On 2 August , the second day of the Iraqi invasion [of Kuwait], [U.S. Army General] Norman Schwarzkopf had mused aloud that his science adviser should investigate the feasibility of exploding a nuclear weapon in a high-altitude airburst over Iraq at the outset of a war to generate an electromagnetic pulse to short out Iraqi communications and missile launch controls. The Joint Chiefs would soon decide not to move nuclear weapons into the Persion Gulf, writes the intelligence analyst William Arkin—in any case, there were nuclear bombs stored at an American air base in southern Turkey, well within range of Baghdad—‘but a variety of military organizations quietly began to examine nuclear options. Led by the “special weapons branch” in the Operations Directorate and the office of the Scientific Advisor at Schwarzkopf’s headquarters, the Army staff, Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA), Strategic Air Command (SAC) and the Department of Energy’s national laboratories all contributed ideas and proposals.’” —Richard Rhodes, The Twilight of the Bomb (2010), pp. 30-31. [It is important to understand that U.S. imperialism is trigger happy, even with regard to using nuclear weapons in its endless small regional wars. They always think about doing so, even if so far they haven’t done it yet. —Ed.]
IRAQ — U.S. War Against (2003-11)
The U.S. imperialists, together with their junior partners including the British imperialists, have attacked and invaded Iraq several times in recent decades, in order to seize better control of its oil resources and to establish a military center for U.S. control of the whole Middle East. The second and largest war and invasion, also known as the Second Gulf War, began on March 20, 2003, and finally more or less came to an end in late 2011. (However, it was then soon followed by yet another U.S. war in Iraq beginning around 2014, this time focused against the Islamic State (ISIS) forces.)
It is estimated that up to 1.2 million people have died as a result of the 2003-2011 war, from both the direct results of the invasion and occupation, and from the sectarian conflict that then erupted between Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and other sections of the population. This figure apparently does not include the previous hundreds of thousands of deaths, especially of Iraqi children, during the severe blockade of Iraq during the 1990s and up until the 2003 invasion. In the photo at the right, 5-year old Samar Hassan screams in terror, and is covered in her innocent parent’s blood, after U.S. troops fired on their car and killed them in Tal Afar, Iraq, on the evening of Jan. 18, 2005. They were merely taking their other child, Samar’s sick brother, to the hospital.
The stated goal of this war by the American and British imperialists was to liquidate the threat to their interests posed by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s supposed arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction” (chemical, biological and, “potentially” it was claimed, nuclear weapons). Despite exhaustive seaching, no such weapons or weapons programs were found in Iraq after the invasion, and it became obvious that this was a mere pretense, which perhaps the imperialists convinced themselves existed because they needed some excuse to invade Iraq.
The real primary reasons for the attack and invasion were quite obvious. Iraq is second only to Saudi Arabia in the Mideast in its proven oil reserves. The U.S. State Department, in a memorandum as far back as 1945, termed the Mideast as a “stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history”. In addition it was necessary to move the U.S. military forces in the region out of Saudi Arabia (after the violent attacks by Saudi militants in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001). What better place to move them than Iraq, with its huge oil resources, and—as a plus—right next door to Iran, which the imperialists also expect to attack at some point. There were also a number of less important additional reasons, such as their need to slap down Saddam Hussein, a tyrant they had put in power in the first place, but who had grown too big for his britches (too independent) in their eyes.
From the point of view of actually promoting the interests and goals of U.S. and other foreign imperialism, this Iraq war and invasion has been a major and extraordinary expensive failure. Far from quickly seizing control of Iraq and the surrounding area, this imperialist intervention has further destabilized the entire region. The offical figure for the U.S. funds spent or allocated on this war (as of Nov. 2010) was already more than $900 billion. Much of the actual cost, however, has been hidden in the general military and other federal government budgets. The final tally, including all the expenditures for health care for veterans, replacement of war materials used up in this war, etc., will be at least $1.5 trillion, and some estimates run as high as $3 trillion. At a time when the U.S. and world capitalist economic crisis is intensifying as never before, this war has obviously been an extremely foolish one, even from the point of view of the interests of the imperialists themselves!
“Whatever the merits or demerits of earlier US policy might have been,
Washington’s occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2011 proved a catalyst for chaos, first for
the country itself and then for the wider Middle East where the political balance was
tenuous at best. After the US invasion of March 2003 captured Baghdad in just three
weeks, Washington’s empowered envoy L. Paul Bremer made a series of decisions for his
occupation government that ranged, in the words of the New York Times, from the
‘deleterious’ to the ‘calamitous.’ First, he fired eighty-five thousand members of the
ruling Baath Party, producing ‘the instant impoverishment of entire clans and tribes.’
Then, he abolished the Iraqi military, largely controlled by the Sunni minority,
dismissing ‘hundreds of thousands of men ... with both military training and access to
weapons.’ Finally, the US military under his command gave ‘little thought to the arsenals
and munitions depots ... scattered about the country’ that were soon ‘systematically
looted, sometimes under the gaze of coalition soldiers who did not intervene.’
“Under what the New York Times called the collective ‘weight of these blunders’ the US occupation erupted in a violent insurgency within a year. After auditioning a succession of diffident allies, the United States finally settled on the Shia sectarian leader Nouri al-Maliki, whose eight years of corrupt, repressive maladministration (2006-14) were crowned by the disastrous ISIS offensive of June 2014. For nearly a decade, the United States had spent $25 billion building a modern Iraqi army with the full panoply of armor, infantry, and special forces. Within a week, however, just five thousand Sunni guerrillas routed a hundred thousand of these Iraqi (largely Shia) troops, capturing billions of dollars of advanced weaponry, cities with five million people, and a full third of Iraq’s sovereign territory. It would take two full years to rebuild this army sufficiently to retake many of these captured cities, and even then sectarian troops—Shia militia and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters—did much of the fighting.
“In retrospect, the critical variable for this imperial misadventure in Iraq was Washinton’s inability to find an effective ally as surrogate for its exercise of power. In its last years, the shockwaves from this bungled American occupation and the sustained jihadist resistance were soon felt across this volatile region.” —Alfred W. McCoy, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (2017), pp. 74-75.
[As a liberal historian, sympathetic to the proclaimed goals of the “American empire”, McCoy puts the emphasis here on the “bungles” the U.S. made in selecting its agents and puppets and in governing Iraq after its conquest in 2003. He is unable to correctly analyze just why U.S. imperialism is so prone to making such mistakes, and why they are more and more common. (Hint for Mr. McCoy: It has something to do with the growing determination of the people of the world to get foreign imperialist rulers out of their country!) —Ed.]
IRAQ — Weapons of Mass Destruction
It is customary for American liberals to ridicule the notion that Iraq, during the reign of Saddam Hussein, had any weapons of mass destruction. And, indeed, it did not have any such weapons or weapons programs when the George W. Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003 on this pretext. However, earlier, during the 1980s and until around 1991, Iraq did have chemical weapons, and programs attempting to create both biological weapons and nuclear bombs. However, after the U.S. invasion of 1991 Hussein decided to end all these programs and destroy what materials they had already produced. For more details on all this (with regard to nuclear weapons), see: Richard Rhodes, Twilight of the Bombs (2010), the first four chapters.
See also: PAKISTAN—Nuclear Weapons [2nd Rhodes quote]
India Reserve Battalion. This is one of the many government paramilitary forces seeking to destroy Naxalites (Maoist revolutionaries) in India.
IRON RICE BOWL
A reference to the de facto lifetime guarantee by the revolutionary government of China during the Mao era that every person would have employment at a living wage—and thus be guaranteed of sufficient food. Once conditions in China had settled down after the revolution and transformation of the economy into socialism, and after a few initial missteps (such as during the Great Leap Forward), this “Iron Rice Bowl” guarantee was solidly in place until the revisionists (under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping) seized power after Mao’s death. The new bourgeoisie in power was able to smash even this iron rice bowl.
The theory that scientific investigation and rational thinking are not the correct paths to truth and understanding, but rather that the correct path lies in some inexplicable or mystical means such as intuition (see intuitionism). Of course it is inconsistent (and rather incoherent) to attempt to provide a rational argument for irrationalism, but many people with religious impulses have nevertheless tried to do so.
See also: Philosophical doggerel about irrationalism.
IS-OUGHT [In Ethics]
ISKRA [“The Spark”]
The first All-Russian illegal Marxist newspaper, founded by Lenin in December 1900. It had to be published outside of Russia and smuggled into the country. It became a rallying center and focus for establishing Marxist revolutionary groups in a number of Russian cities, and facilitated the real establishment of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (at the so-called “Second Party Congress” in July-August 1903). In late 1903, after Plekhanov went over to the side of the Mensheviks, Lenin left the Iskra editorial board. Plekhanov then co-opted a number of Mensheviks onto the editorial board and it became an opportunist Menshevik newspaper.
More details about the formation of Iskra, and the struggle within the RSDLP over it, can be found in footnote 5, LCW 5:533-535.
One of the major religions in the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of South and Southeast Asia.
See also: POLITICAL ISLAM
ISLAMIC STATE (ISIS)
“Indeed, the largest of American prisons, Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, became the training ground for the most radical of the jihadists, the future leaders of the Islamic State, or ISIS. By the time that prison closed in 2009, some hundred thousand detainees had passed through its barbed wire, including the main founders of the Islamic State—notably its head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, detained there for five years, and the nine members of his top command. ‘We had so much time to sit and plan,’ a senior member of the Islamic State recalled. ‘It was the perfect environment. We all agreed to get together when we got out. The way to reconnect was easy. We wrote each other’s details on the elastic of our boxer shorts.’ Released in 2009 and soon reunited, the Islamic State leaders expanded their movement steadily until 2013 when their militant followers attacked Abu Graib prison, fostering a mass breakout of five hundred inmates, including ‘senior jihadists.’ As the Islamic State seized cities and towns across northern Iraq in early 2014, the Baghdad government estimated that seventeen of its top twenty-five leaders had spend time in US military prisons.” —Alfred W. McCoy, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power (2017), p. 144. [Yet more proof that the endless U.S. imperialist “War On Terror” generates many more terrorists than it kills. —Ed.]
As Lenin often remarked, due to the complexity of most situations, and modern society as a whole, it is always possible to find isolated facts to “prove” any theory whatsoever. The truth arises not from isolated facts, but from an analysis developed from a comprehensive evaluation of all the most important facts. Those who try to understand complicated situations or structures on the basis of isolated facts and very limited investigation will virtually never succeed.
“In order to depict this objective position one must not take examples or isolated data (in view of the extreme complexity of the phenomena of social life it is always possible to select any number of examples or separate data to prove any proposition), but all the data on the basis of economic life in all the belligerent countries and the whole world.” —Lenin, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” (1916), LCW 22:190. [Lenin is explaining here how the true class nature of the inter-imperialist war then in progress had to be determined.]
“To make the picture a graphic one, to obtain a real picture instead of a heap of disconnected, disjointed, and isolated facts and incidents, to put a stop to the endless and senseless arguments over particular votings (who voted for whom and who supported whom?), I have decided to try to depict all the basic types of ‘divisions’ at our Congress in the form of a diagram. This will probably seem strange to a great many people, but I doubt whether any other method can be found that would really generalise and summarise the results in the most complete and accurate manner possible.” —Lenin, One Step Foreward, Two Steps Back: The Crisis in Our Party (1904), LCW vol. 7, online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1904/onestep/n.htm. [In this example Lenin illustrates how a more comprehensive analysis than just “isolated facts” is necessary in order to understand what had really happened at the Second Party Congress of the RSDLP, who the different forces were, and so forth.]
“The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries call themselves socialists, but they are actually abettors of the counter-revolutionaries, abettors of the landowners and capitalists. This was proved in practice not only by isolated facts, but by two big periods in the history of the Russian revolution: (1) the Kerensky period, and (2) the Kolchak period. Both times the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, while professing to be ‘socialists’ and ‘democrats’, actually played the role of abettors of the whiteguards. Are we then going to be so foolish as to believe them now they are suggesting we let them ‘try again’, and call our permission a ‘united socialist (or democratic) front’?” —Lenin, “Apropos of the Victory Over Kolchak” (Aug. 24, 1919), LCW vol. 29, online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1919/aug/24.htm. [In this example Lenin illustrates how only a comprehensive evaluation of other political forces can allow a correct decision to be made about whether to form an alliance with them.]
The Zionist state which has been built, with the major support of British and U.S. imperialism, through theft of Palestinian lands and “ethnic cleansing” and genocide directed against the Palestinian people. [More to be added...]
See also below, and: PALESTINE, IMMIGRANTS—Deportation Of, SUEZ CANAL
ISRAEL — Creation Of — American Role In
[Creating Israel on land already inhabited by Palestinians would]
“imperil not only American but all Western interests in the Near East”. —Dean
Acheson, Undersecretary of State, 1947. Quoted on the cover of the book Against
Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the U.S. was used to create Israel
(2014), by Alison Weir. Acheson’s biographer, Robert Beisner, also wrote that
Acheson “worried that the West would pay a high price for Israel”, as indeed it has
with the 9/11 attacks and in many other ways including a central reason why the whole
perpetual War on Terror has come about. [Dean
Acheson: A Life in the Cold War (2006), p. 215.]
[This is yet another example of how so many of the troubles of U.S. imperialism are self-inflicted because of their arrogance and foolishness even about what their own true long-term interests are! —Ed.]
ISRAEL — Nuclear Weapons
Israel has had a stock of nuclear weapons for decades. As of 2016 it was estimated that it had at least 80 of them. [See: NUCLEAR WEAPONS—Current Arsenals] Among these weapons are not only hydrogen bombs designed to be used in genocidal attacks against cities, but also tactical nuclear weapons including nuclear artillery shells designed to be used against army formations (but which might then lead to more general nuclear war). At least one successful test (and perhaps three) of a nuclear artillery shell was carried out in the southern Indian Ocean with the cooperation of the South African aparteid regime in 1979. Israel has refused to abandon its nuclear weapons or join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and has received little if any criticism for this from the U.S. and the other Western imperialist powers which back Israel.
“And a joint South African-Israeli test, as it turned out, was indeed what the U.S. Vela satellite had recorded on 22 September 1979. Seymour Hersh broke the story in his 1991 book The Samson Option, quoting ‘former Israeli government officials’ who told him ‘that the warhead tested that Saturday morning was a low-yield nuclear artillery shell.’ The Vela satellite event, his sources also told him, ‘was not the first but the third test of a nuclear device over the Indian Ocean.’” —Richard Rhodes, The Twilight of the Bombs (2010), p. 169. [Rhodes says another “well-informed” source confirmed most of this report to him, though he claimed that there was only one such test, and that South Africa’s participation was limited to supplying the island test site. —Ed.]
ISRAEL — and South Africa
“By the mid-1980s, Israel’s military and security association with South Africa had become an acute embarrassment in a world increasingly active in opposing apartheid. Besides the 1979 nuclear test [jointly engaged in by Israel and South Africa—see entry above —Ed.], the two countries had collaborated on developing a variety of conventional arms and other military materiel. ‘We created the South African arms industry,’ Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, told the British journalist Chris McGreal in 2006. ‘They assisted us to develop all kinds of technology because they had a lot of money. When we were developing things together we usually gave the know-how and they gave the money. After 1976, there was a love affair between the security establishments of the two countries and their armies. We were involved in Angola as consultants to [the South African] army. You had Israeli officers there cooperating with the army. The link was very intimate.’” —Richard Rhodes, The Twilight of the Bombs (2010), p. 170. [Thus it has generally been; evil forces find it highly expedient to ally with each other. —Ed.]
ISRAEL — War Profiteering Of
[Speaking of the situation during the long Iraq-Iran War (1980-1988):] “Israel, which had been selling arms to the Iranians, also offered at that time [c. 1984] to assist Iraq. (‘I do not remember even one discussion about the ethics of the matter,’ an Israeli defense ministry official told the Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman about the sales to Iran. ‘All that interested us was to sell, sell, sell more and more Israeli weapons, and let them kill each other with them.’) [Howard] Teicher, the NSC [U.S. National Security Council] staff person, testified that he attended the meeting in Jerusalem at which the Israeli foreign minister, Yitzhak Shamir, briefed [Donald] Rumsfeld [later U.S. Secretary of Defense] on the offer, as well as the meeting in Baghdad when Rumsfeld passed the offer along to the Iraqi foreign minister, Tariq Aziz. Aziz was horrified, Teicher recalled: ‘Aziz refused even to accept the the Israelis’ letter to Hussein offering assistance, because Aziz told us that he would be executed on the spot by Hussein if he did so.’” —Richard Rhodes, The Twilight of the Bombs (2010), p. 14.
ISRAEL LOBBY (in the U.S.)
The very important and influential pro-Zionist, pro-Israel, political lobby in the United States focused on promoting ever greater political, military and financial support for Israel by the U.S. government. Of course the primary reason for such huge and long-standing support for Israel is not because of any such lobby, but simply because Israel and its role in the Middle East strongly serves the interests of U.S. imperialism there. But the Israel lobby seeks to further extend and intensify that U.S. support for Israel. It should also be noted that by no means all American Jews back this pro-Israel lobby or support Zionism. And, quite ironically, probably the most rabid participants in the Israel lobby in the U.S. are Christian fundamentalists, whose religious fanaticism derives from Biblical “prophecies” about “End Times” (and the supposed “return” of Jesus)!
“[C. J. Polychroniou:] In many circles, there is a widespread impression
that the Israel lobby calls the shots in US foreign policy in the Middle East. Is the power
of the Israel lobby so strong that it can have sway over a superpower?
“[Noam Chomsky:] My friend Gilbert Achcar, a noted specialist on the Middle East and international affairs generally, describes that idea as ‘phantasmagoric.’ Rightly. It is not the lobby that intimidates US high-tech industry to expand its investments in Israel, or that twists the arm of the US government so that it will pre-position supplies there for later US military operations and intensify close military and intelligence relations.
“When the lobby’s goals conform to perceived US strategic and economic interests, it generally gets its way: crushing of Palestinians, for example, a matter of little concern to US state-corporate power. When goals diverge, as often happens, the lobby quickly disappears, knowing better than to confront authentic power.”
—In Noam Chomsky, Optimism Over Despair (2017), p. 13. [It is also true, however, that there are secondary differences within the U.S. bourgeoisie over exactly how accomodating to be to Israel, and all bourgeois parties and politicians sell their services to the rich (and the Israel lobby does have lots of money). For reasons such as these, some U.S. administrations, such as that of Donald Trump, are quite noticeably more under the influence of the Israel lobby than are others. —Ed.]
See also below and: CHRISTIAN DEMOCRACY
ITALY — 1920 WORKER’S UPRISING
“In September 1920, Italian steelworkers occupied their mills on the
initiative of their trade union, which was in conflict with the association of
industrialists. The movement started in Turin and Milan, then spread through Piedmond
and Northern Italy across the country, from the metallurgical industry to other
industries and to agriculture. In Sicily and in other areas peasants occupied the
land. The scope of the movement jeoparized the capitalist regime, but the reformist
leaders of the Socialist Party and the trade unions, terrified by the political
character of the movement, adopted a decision to confine it to within the trade unions
and prevent it from developing into a revolution. They also decided to start
negotiations with the industrialists.
“This was a hard blow at the Italian workers’ movement and showed the leaders inability to lead the mass forces. Fascism used the confusion within the working class to start its armed offensive in Italy.” —Endnote 131, LCW 32.
“The revolution in Italy will run a different course from that in Russia. It will start in a different way. How? Neither you nor we know. The Italian Communists are not always Communists to a sufficient degree. Did a single Communist show his mettle when the workers seized the factories in Italy? [This refers to the events mentioned in endnote 131 above. —Ed.] No. At that time, there was as yet no communism in Italy; there was a certain amount of anarchism, but no Marxian communism. The latter has still to be created and the masses of the workers must be imbued with it by means of the experience of the revolutionary struggle. And the first step along this road is a final break with the Mensheviks, who for more than twenty years have been collaborating and working with the bourgeois government.” —Lenin, “Speech on the Italian Question” (at the Third Congress of the Communist International, June 28, 1921), LCW 32:465.
See: INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD
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