AngryFrenchGuy

Conrad Black is a Blast!

with 34 comments

« Québec is a bore », writes Conrad Black in this Saturday’s National Post. Well I guess that it makes sense, then, that it would be on the mind of the probably very bored former press baron wasting the last days of his useful life in a Florida jail cell.

The « first rich man to go to jail in 300 years », as Black was called on the British sitcom The IT Crowd, now watches the game from the penalty box, well aware that if the clock doesn’t run out before he gets to go back on the ice, he certainly will be to old to be of any use. So, as all old men contemplating the end, the mind of the british lord now drifts back to the Golden age of his youth, in his case, Duplessis’s pre-Quiet Revolution Québec.

To National Post readers unfamiliar with contemporary Québec thought—a pleonasm if there ever was one—Conrad Black’s reading of Québec history, the idea that the old conservative nationalist premier Maurice Duplessis was « the saviour of Québec’s jurisdiction and the physical modernizer of the province » and that the Quiet Revolution was a dud, might seem bold and original.

In fact, Black is only repeating 20 year old ideas first articulated by Mario Dumont and the deep blue conservative movement he revived in the early 1990’s.

The soft-nationalist conservatives, the lucids, Québec’s deep blue core, is the holy grail of Québec politics. This supposed « silent majority » of nationalist, federalist, conservatives are the reason the Parti Québécois’ Pauline Marois is alienating her progressive base with identity politics and by offering Éric Caire, a neoliberal ideologue, a seat in her party. They are the reason Jean Charest hides his Anglo MNA’s on the back benches and carefully doses empty burst of indignation at Ottawa.

They are the ones Brian Mulroney rallied in his crushing 1984 victory against the Liberal Party of Canada. They are the ones Lucien Bouchard took away with him to the Bloc Québécois in 1990. They are the ones the Bloc started losing when Gilles Duceppe took over from Bouchard and the Bloc became, according to a leaked internal report, “too centered around Montreal and ethnics”.  They are the ones Mario Dumont briefly united for his surprise 2007 breakthrough and the ones who are behind the « Québec City Mystery » of the Conservative Party of Canada’s only Québec stronghold.

Québec’s deep blue conservatives are also very much Conrad Blacks true family. It’s certainly not a coincidence that Lucien Bouchard, Brian Mulroney and that Anglo-Catholic kid from Montreal, Conrad Black himself, are all alumni of Québec City’s Université Laval law school.

Québec’s Old blues are the classic prototype of the conservative movements enamoured with mythical origin stories, paternalistic theocracies and outdated ethnic definitions of nationhood that Black has consistently championed in his publications in Québec, Canada, the USA and Israel.

For example, Conrad Black shares former sovereigntist premier Lucien Bouchard’s preoccupation for “the white races that has the fewest children. »

« The birthrate has collapsed. » writes Black. « This should not be celebrated, but in the perversity of Quebec’s desorientation, it is. » (Because Québec, of course, is the only place in the world where increased education and economic prosperity should not lead to lower birth rates.) Haitians and North Africans « are being imported to replace the unborn ». (Which, apparently, is completely different from the situation in English-speaking nations like Britain and Canada where East and South Asians emigrate in search of economic opportunity and political freedom.)

So why does Black hate separatists so much if many of them share his conservative, free market, traditionalist views?  Because Québec nationalists should have been on his team, like they were in Diefenbaker’s time and Duplessis’s time. It should have been possible to buy their votes with a flag like Duplessis did in 1958 or with a bogus parliamentary motion on the Québec « nation » like Harper tried to do in 2006.

The issue of Québec’s independence has been the tragedy of an entire generation of Canadian conservatives. Québec conservatives can be as virulently anti-separatist as any West Islander after a bad burrito, yet, on the other hand, some, like Mario Dumont and Lucien Bouchard in 1995, have at times embraced the cause, if only temporarily

This fraternal split over a constitutional dispute is what has prevented Québec and Canadian conservatives from building the great coalition of oil interests and people who think Jesus spoke English that, in other countries, have lead to the great prosperous era of George W. Bush, Dubai and deregulated investment banking.

It is this split that prevented Stephen Harper from having a majority in parliament and Jean Charest from proceeding with his « reingeneering » of the state. Now Canada is stuck with one of the only properly regulated and stable bank systems in the Western world and Québec suffers the indignity of being one of the jurisdictions the least affected by the recession.

The sovereignty movement was a farce, accuses a bitter Black in the pages of the National Post, a bankrupt ideological and partisan newspaper that has never made a profit. The leaders of the independence movement were traitors, thieves and even murderers, writes from prison the man caught stealing millions of dollars from his investors.

Maybe Québec is a bore, Conrad, but watching you and your conservative world collapse sure is a lot of fun.

Written by angryfrenchguy

December 21, 2009 at 4:25 pm

34 Responses

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  1. “Though you’d think he has lots of time to check his facts, I picked up at least two errors in his article:

    – It is absurd to say that Quebec had a high level of literacy during the years of church and Duplessis rule. Quebec had one of the lowest literacy rates in the Americas and only began catching up in the years after the Quiet Revolution.

    – I believe the PQ minister who got caught shoplifting at Eaton’s was Claude Charron, not Claude Morin. Claude Morin was actually the RCMP mole.”

    To which we can add: “His government built 3,000 schools, all the universities except McGill…”

    …and UQAM, UQTR, UQAR (and the seven other UQ universities), nor the Loyola bit of Concordia University…

    angryfrenchguy

    December 21, 2009 at 6:41 pm

  2. The best part is when he argues that Quebec should have kept a social system run by the clergy because it cost much less. I wonder what this alternate reality would look like in 2010. I’m absolutely certain that Quebec would have always been able to recruit thousands of nuns and priests every year until now and that they would have trained a 21st century workforce…

    Guillaume

    December 21, 2009 at 8:08 pm

  3. I wouldn’t be so quick to celebrate the supposed discrediting of the conservative movement if I were you. The current economic crisis is due to the complete deregulation of financial markets. A regulated capitalism, which is what the economic centre-right advocvates for, is still the best economic system in the world.

    The economic right believes in efficiency and in high performance results. This is something that Quebec and the left should learn from.

    For example, if what Conrad Black says of this is true: “schoolteachers’ unions insisting on a complete separation of scholastic performance from teachers’ pay-scales”, then it is no wonder that there is a high drop-out rate in Quebec schools and poor results in Quebec students performance. This is because teachers are not compelled to teach effectively because they get the same pay regardless. Teachers, like every other profession, should earn their pay by basing it on quality of performance.

    I don’t like Conrad Black on most issues but I agree with him on his views on syndicats. Most modern syndicats and unions do very well and therefore don’t need more money and benefits.

    Antonio

    December 21, 2009 at 10:11 pm

  4. […] rest is here: Conrad Black is a Blast! « AngryFrenchGuy Tags: 300-years, and-outdated, back-on-the, blues-are, called-on-the, clock, first-rich, game, […]

  5. AFG:

    You are correct that it was Claude Charron who was the shoplifter but you are incorrect that Black said it was Morin.

    Reread the paragraph in question and you’ll see that there is a semi-colon after his phrase about Morin and then he goes on to mention “the parliamentary leader” who is a separate person from Morin.

    Tony Kondaks

    December 21, 2009 at 10:56 pm

  6. Antonio writes:

    The current economic crisis is due to the complete deregulation of financial markets.

    I completely disagree.

    The current economic crisis is due to regulation, not deregulation.

    1) The collapse of the mortgage market was due in large part to sub-prime lending to borrowers who were not financially capable of paying mortgages. Yet it was regulation and law that required banks — on threat of penalty — to lend to people who otherwise weren’t credit worthy. This created a huge wave of defaults of mortgages which contributed to the economic collapse.

    2) Credit rating agencies gave institutions such as AIG excellent credit ratings…right up until the economy collapsed because AIG couldn’t back up the Credit Default Swaps they sold in the trillions of dollars. The rating agencies had the imprimatur of regulation: the SEC had sanctioned them as official rating agencies. Thus, investors looked upon them as “infallable” and relied on their ratings. As officially sanctioned rating agencies, there was no incentive to create a free market of rating agencies which would, one hopes, have created a demand for truth in reporting.

    Tony Kondaks

    December 21, 2009 at 11:04 pm

  7. Tony : «I completely disagree.

    The current economic crisis is due to regulation, not deregulation.»

    And we all know the Illuminati had a hand in it, don’t we…

    Raman

    December 22, 2009 at 2:17 am

  8. Hold on to your hats folks.

    Yet another sign of where things are heading – the 1960s and 70s all over again…

    http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/ethique-et-religion/279914/des-pretres-inquiets-du-bilinguisme-de-l-eglise

    Acajack

    December 22, 2009 at 10:14 am

  9. “You are correct that it was Claude Charron who was the shoplifter but you are incorrect that Black said it was Morin.
    Reread the paragraph in question and you’ll see that there is a semi-colon after his phrase about Morin and then he goes on to mention “the parliamentary leader” who is a separate person from Morin.”

    There may be no way to prove it now but I believe the online version of the article may have been corrected since I first read it.

    Acajack

    December 22, 2009 at 11:04 am

  10. “There may be no way to prove it now but I believe the online version of the article may have been corrected since I first read it”

    Conrad left his email. Perhaps someboy should send him the question or maybe he wants to take part in this commentary. :)

    ABP

    December 22, 2009 at 1:41 pm

  11. Acajack:

    I don’t doubt for a minute that it was changed. The National Post should tell us when it makes changes from one online version to the next.

    Slate.com is very good about that. Every time they make a change to an article they’ve published online you’ll find a notation to that effect at the end of the article.

    Tony Kondaks

    December 22, 2009 at 5:44 pm

  12. In case anyone hasn’t read it, here’s the link to the Conrad Black article:

    http://tinyurl.com/yedhx3q

    .

    Tony Kondaks

    December 22, 2009 at 5:54 pm

  13. He Quebecois.

    Here is your chance to emancipate yourself from the ugly anglo (polluters, capitalists and people with no class as the ROC). Go for it as even Captain Canada, Charest himself, is against Ottawa and the ROC. GO FOR IT. Time is of the essence. You might not have another opportunity such as this. Give him your full support. Higher taxes will be just a by product. In advertising, they would say, don’t miss out on this one time offer that only comes once in a lifetime.

    http://www.thecanadianpress.com/english/online/OnlineFullStory.aspx?filename=n122287A&newsitemid=223642725&languageid=1

    ABP

    December 22, 2009 at 9:25 pm

  14. Flash to separatists.

    It would appear you now have the Roman Catholic church on your side.

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2009/12/22/bilingual-church-complaint.html#socialcomments

    Down with bilingualism in the Church. The RC Church of Quebec should only serve those that speak french, at least, according to some. I would suppose all the anglos are destined for a pass “go directly” to purgatory. Anglos, Repent and speak french for salvation of your souls ;) Damn thos pesky bilingual newsletters from the diocese…they should be burned as wicked instruments of the infidels.

    ABP

    December 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm

  15. Tony Kondaks,

    “1) The collapse of the mortgage market was due in large part to sub-prime lending to borrowers who were not financially capable of paying mortgages. Yet it was regulation and law that required banks — on threat of penalty — to lend to people who otherwise weren’t credit worthy. This created a huge wave of defaults of mortgages which contributed to the economic collapse.”

    There was no such law that required banks to lend to people. The collapse of the mortgage market was mostly caused by careless high-risk lending to people. It was greed, not law or regulation, which caused them to issue more high-risk lending because “investors were clamoring for even higher yields, which would require more aggressive bets on riskier mortgage-related securities and significantly higher levels of borrowed money, or leverage, to bolster returns.”http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/23/business/23bond.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

    There are now calls for more regulation in order to restrict future subprime lending. There was no such law that forced them to do this as you claim. Provide a link to prove your claim. Furthermore, the collapse of the mortgage market is only a small part of the economic crisis.

    Don’t believe me? Ask Alan Greenspan himself, the poster child for laissez-faire and free-market advocates. He admitted that deregulation is the primary cause of the economic crisis. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ah5qh9Up4rIg

    As for your second point, I don’t know what you are talking about except to say that credit rating agencies were ALREADY in the free-market and in competition with each other. They did nothing to prevent the financial crisis. Perhaps a regulation of how credit agencies function and behave is also required.

    Antonio

    December 22, 2009 at 10:42 pm

  16. Antonio writes:

    There are now calls for more regulation in order to restrict future subprime lending. There was no such law that forced them to do this as you claim. Provide a link to prove your claim.

    The law that many observers point to as being a factor in the economic collapse is the Community Reinvestment Act. See the following for an interesting analysis by one observer:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-cra-debate-a-users-guide-2009-6

    On the second point regarding the regulation that made certain rating agencies “official” and, therefore, reduced or eliminated competition in the “industry” of rating agencies, my source for this is economist Thomas Sowell who talked about it at around the 15:20 mark of the following video (sorry I couldn’t come up with a shorter, more direct citation, Antonio):

    http://fora.tv/2009/06/29/Thomas_Sowell_The_Housing_Boom_and_Bust

    Tony Kondaks

    December 23, 2009 at 12:18 am

  17. Antonio:

    Interesting article you linked to, above.

    I found the following passage of note:

    Greenspan said he was “partially” wrong in opposing regulation of derivatives…

    Without conceding that greater regulation is necessary in the area of derivatives — and I’m referring specifically to the Credit Default Swaps (CDSs) — I will concede that if there is to be regulation, it is always done better on more local levels rather than on the federal level. In this instance, I refer to the states who have jurisdiction over insurance.

    AIG’s trading of CDSs was unregulated. Although AIG is known as “an insurance giant” because of the many insurance companies it owns, it was the parent company that traded in the CDSs and which caused the economic problem. But CDSs fall under federal jurisdiction. If they were considered “insurance” they would have fallen under state jurisdiction and would have been subject to the strict investing rules that insurance products fall under; that is, safe investments, such as bonds, for all of the policies that a company sells.

    No such requirement was made for the sale of CDSs and AIG effectively sold hundreds of billions of ’em without backing them up with securities in case the market went against them, which it did.

    So I am still of the mind that less regulation is needed; however, I will concede that if there must be regulation, keep it away from the behemoth known as the U.S. federal government and give the job to the states who have proven effective in regulating the insurance industry where very few insurance company failures over the past 75 years have led to very few consumers losing their money.

    Tony Kondaks

    December 23, 2009 at 12:55 am

  18. “Here is your chance to emancipate yourself from the ugly anglo (polluters, capitalists and people with no class as the ROC). Go for it as even Captain Canada, Charest himself, is against Ottawa and the ROC. GO FOR IT. Time is of the essence. You might not have another opportunity such as this. Give him your full support. Higher taxes will be just a by product. In advertising, they would say, don’t miss out on this one time offer that only comes once in a lifetime.”

    Not likely to happen. Jean Charest, like other Liberal premiers of Quebec before him, will huff and puff but his heart still lies with Canada. In the post-Meech era, legendary Quebec Liberal Robert Bourassa even hinted at calling a referendum on independence (which he could have fairly easily won according to the polls) but he never did.

    All parties, including PQ, do this: huff and puff about certain issues to impress the audience but then never do anything concrete about them.

    Acajack

    December 23, 2009 at 9:17 am

  19. “All parties, including PQ, do this: huff and puff about certain issues to impress the audience but then never do anything concrete about them”

    Are you telling me they are bluffing ACJ. Who would have thought? :)

    Joyeux noel et bonne nouvelle annee a vous et ta famille.

    ABP

    December 23, 2009 at 10:06 am

  20. Acajack writes:

    i>Not likely to happen. Jean Charest, like other Liberal premiers of Quebec before him, will huff and puff but his heart still lies with Canada.

    I think you’ve got your analogy wrong; it isn’t Charest’s “heart” that lies with Canada, it’s his wallet.

    Acajack also writes:

    In the post-Meech era, legendary Quebec Liberal Robert Bourassa even hinted at calling a referendum on independence (which he could have fairly easily won according to the polls) but he never did.

    Actually, Acajack, Bourassa did more than “hint” at calling a referendum on independence, he passed a law that specifically called for the holding of a referendum on independence. It was made quite clear by Bourassa that if certain conditions and occurances were not forthcoming from the government of Canada that the referendum would be held. Do you not recall that Pierre Trudeau at the time referred to this as “blackmail”?

    Reading the first article of the bill in conjunction with its preamble it was quite clear of the intention of the bill: if the results were a majority “yes” that this would lead to independence one year later. Bourassa went far beyond what even the PQ had ever attempted up to that point. The 1980 referendum was the weak-kneed mandate to negotiate sovereignty-association; this was a claim to declaring UDI.

    This was the infamous Bill 150 passed by the Liberal government in the National Assembly in 1991. All Liberal MNAs voted for it except one: Russell Williams of Nelligan.

    You can read the pertinent parts of the law at the following link:

    http://www.whycanadamustend.com/Chapter%204.htm

    Tony Kondaks

    December 23, 2009 at 11:44 am

  21. “The law that many observers point to as being a factor in the economic collapse is the Community Reinvestment Act. See the following for an interesting analysis by one observer:”

    Yes, the Community Reinvestment Act, passed in 1977, brought down the world economy in 2008. I guess that means that the money from the Reagan tax cuts will finally trickle down sometime around 2012.

    The vast majority of risky subprime loans were made by institutions that weren’t even subject to the CRA. They made incredibly risky bets because they knew they could pass the risk onto unsuspecting investors using fancy financial instruments.

    More tellingly, much of the financial crisis stemmed from a massive bubble and now a resulting foreclosure crisis in the commercial real estate sector, which is completely unaffected by the CRA.

    Conservative ideology can’t own up to the fact that markets don’t discipline themselves, and unfettered banks nearly brought down the entire world economy through their irresponsible actions, so they went to their usual standby and blamed the whole mess on black people, and amazingly… the Carter Administration.

    It’s a theory so lame it’s like conservatives aren’t even trying anymore, and they’re just rehashing strategy memos from the early 80s. I would have thought for sure they’d work in a few gays as well as the Hollywood Elite.

    dstr

    December 24, 2009 at 5:08 am

  22. “Actually, Acajack, Bourassa did more than “hint” at calling a referendum on independence, he passed a law that specifically called for the holding of a referendum on independence. It was made quite clear by Bourassa that if certain conditions and occurances were not forthcoming from the government of Canada that the referendum would be held. Do you not recall that Pierre Trudeau at the time referred to this as “blackmail”?
    Reading the first article of the bill in conjunction with its preamble it was quite clear of the intention of the bill: if the results were a majority “yes” that this would lead to independence one year later. Bourassa went far beyond what even the PQ had ever attempted up to that point. The 1980 referendum was the weak-kneed mandate to negotiate sovereignty-association; this was a claim to declaring UDI.
    This was the infamous Bill 150 passed by the Liberal government in the National Assembly in 1991. All Liberal MNAs voted for it except one: Russell Williams of Nelligan.
    You can read the pertinent parts of the law at the following link:
    http://www.whycanadamustend.com/Chapter%204.htm

    If you read the books Le Tricheur and Le Naufrageur by Jean-François Lisée you will find that Bourassa never really intended to hold a referendum. Even the Bill 150 was more of a bargaining ploy. A knife at the throat, as Léon Dion would day. Even Bou-bou himself admitted it publicly at the end of his life.

    Acajack

    December 24, 2009 at 9:09 am

  23. ““All parties, including PQ, do this: huff and puff about certain issues to impress the audience but then never do anything concrete about them”
    Are you telling me they are bluffing ACJ. Who would have thought? :)
    Joyeux noel et bonne nouvelle annee a vous et ta famille.”

    ABP: Though I do think they are bluffing on stuff like low-balling (big time) the amount of the Canadian federal debt an independent Quebec would responsible for, I don’t think the PQ are bluffing at all when it comes to independence. I know lots of people in the ROC think that, but I don’t believe it is the case.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours as well ABP.

    Acajack

    December 24, 2009 at 9:11 am

  24. Acajack writes:

    If you read the books Le Tricheur and Le Naufrageur by Jean-François Lisée you will find that Bourassa never really intended to hold a referendum. Even the Bill 150 was more of a bargaining ploy. A knife at the throat, as Léon Dion would day. Even Bou-bou himself admitted it publicly at the end of his life.

    Uh, yes, that’s often what blackmail comprises.

    We can guess and speculate all we want as to the intentions or ploys that may have been in Bourassa’s mind. Nevertheless, the bill is what it says it is and can’t be denied.

    Then there’s the question of honesty. Let’s say you were a separatist at the time, someone who for whatever reason genuinely wanted Quebec to separate and become an independent country. And here’s someone — Bourassa — who it turns out was toying with your lifelong goal.

    How do you think that would make that person feel knowing that this important and dear concept was part of a ruse, a ploy to score some political booty?

    Do you think that would endear that separatist to federalists? Make him think that they were honorable people?

    Tony Kondaks

    December 24, 2009 at 11:37 am

  25. dstr writes:

    The vast majority of risky subprime loans were made by institutions that weren’t even subject to the CRA. They made incredibly risky bets because they knew they could pass the risk onto unsuspecting investors using fancy financial instruments.

    You do not specify which “fancy financial instruments you are referring to. If you are referring to Credit Default Swaps (CDSs) then I suggest that the use of them was very responsible on the part of the institutions that bought them. Why? Because they were to serve as a “hedge” or a kind of insurance policy for the bundled mortgage packages that they were trading in if the market turned against them. The problem was that the market did turn against them and the CDSs turned out to be useless because they weren’t backed up by any actual assets and therefore couldn’t do the job they were supposed to do.

    If by “fancy financial instruments” you meant the actual bundled mortgages themselves, again, they may have been risky as you say but the CDSs were supposed to cover them.

    AIG sold many of the CDSs and they didn’t have the assets to back them up.

    But why then did the government-sanctioned rating agencies give companies like AIG a clean bill of health? If you were a financial institution, such as a bank, trading in the mortgage bundles and counted on the CDSs to do the job because Moody’s told you they were backed by a triple A company, were you not being responsible?

    Irresponsibility would have been trading in mortgages without also purchasing the CDSs and I don’t think this was done much, if at all.

    As for your comment that many mortgages — including commercial ones — don’t fall under CRA and therefore it can’t be blamed…well, no one said the CRA was entirely to blame, certainly not me. If you read what I wrote I said it was a factor, not the only factor.

    But the CRA did create a culture and environment in which risky mortages became common…and this tendency then spread into other, non-CRA sanctioned mortgages. But, again, who cared how risky a purchase of mortgages may have been if you hedged your position?

    As for your comment they went to their usual standby and blamed the whole mess on black people, could you please show me instances in which black people were blamed for the crisis? I have never heard nor seen this theory before and don’t know how I missed it. However, since you seem to blame the entire Conservative movement for making this claim, you must have many examples of where it was said by Conservatives. Therefore would you be kind enough to reproduce, say, 3 or 4 instances in which Conservatives specifically said this?

    Thanks, I await your reply.

    Tony Kondaks

    December 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

  26. TK:
    > Do you think that would endear that separatist to federalists? Make him
    > think that they were honorable people?

    Don’t you mean “[d]o you think that would endear that federalist to separatists?”, Tony?

    Obelix

    December 25, 2009 at 3:05 pm

  27. Never mind TK, I figured out what you meant. I misunderstood “to endear”.

    Obelix

    December 25, 2009 at 3:07 pm

  28. 2009-2010

    In retrospective to all that’s been said here,
    Montreal is the game :
    –Is it going to be «Montréal», or is it going to be «Mount-ree-awl» ?

    I say,
    The onslaught of English against French-North-America is ruthless, and it will never stop;
    until French-North-America settles in onto itself and starts defending itself,
    or until it lets itself die into English folklore

    So we should have no qualms throwing all we’ve got against that assault

    Our feeble laws will always pale in comparison to their will;
    their will that we should go away

    But our laws will always be the conscious will of a people
    A will to survive in generations,
    descended from a whole generation of survivors

    Joyeux Noël
    Et une bonne année
    À tous !

    Raman

    December 26, 2009 at 2:20 am

  29. Yes Raman. It is all about Montreal. Always has been.

    Both solitudes consider the city to be theirs.

    The problem for francophones is that as goes Montreal, as goes the rest of Quebec (eventually).

    Acajack

    December 26, 2009 at 8:52 am

  30. I would be pleased to see Montréal (or Mun-tree-awl) be the neutral meeting place for all its cultures to show respect and appreciation to one another.

    God bless us every one.

    Joyeuses fêtes à tous.

    Edward

    December 26, 2009 at 10:37 am


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