Alison Despathy: Blood elements, blood power and blood money

This commentary is by Alison Despathy, a resident of Danville. She has a clinical nutrition practice in St. Johnsbury.

Electric vehicle purchases are surging as many seek transportation they feel holds a positive environmental impact and saves money. Steep incentives are available and heavily advertised. Car manufacturers are rapidly shifting over to electric vehicles and many Vermonters are jumping on board.

The use of cobalt and lithium in these vehicles poses serious ethical problems. The abuse of people forced to labor in these mines must be stamped out. Supporting an industry built upon slave labor, child labor, and utter devastation of environments, ecosystems and communities is completely unacceptable. Horrifically, this is the reality.

Corporations and governments are not stepping up to protect people and environments from this abuse. We the people, the consumers, must demand resolution of these issues and consider not supporting this industry responsible for causing so much devastation. The boycott of sugar helped the abolition of slavery. Is this what it will take to end these heinous practices? Many do not grasp the depth of despair and damage that humans and ecosystems in Africa and South America are suffering.

Currently 60% of cobalt is mined in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with a majority involving exploitation of people. In 2019, a lawsuit was filed against Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla by families of Congolese children who were injured or killed while mining. They argued these companies received significant financial gains due to illegal mining of cobalt by children. The companies denied allegations and promised to uphold responsible sourcing and human rights.

Children have died, communities literally caved in and China secured a strong hold on mining due to flooding communities with money so they could move to stable lands after villages turned into sinkholes because of unregulated mining practices and environmental destruction.

Lawsuits, human rights’ violations and increases in market prices led to reductions in cobalt use. Tesla shifted half of its production to cobalt-free by using a lithium iron-phosphate battery. This chemistry heavily decreases range and does not address the lithium issue- the element essentially required for all electric vehicles and the major driver of environmental destruction justified by green energy policy.

Lithium demands are predicted to rise 2.4 million metric tons per year in the next decade — four times the current use. Australia is the primary lithium supplier but due to green energy needs, global mining corporations have descended like parasites on the Lithium Triangle (Argentina-Chile-Bolivia) home of more than half of the world’s lithium dissolved in ancient underground water. Water that is essential to the lives and environments of indigenous communities in the Andes.

On September 19, 2022, Fred Pearce wrote an article for Yale Environment 360 entitled, “Why the Rush to Mine Lithium Could Dry Up the High Andes.”

Pearce discussed that a mobile phone requires a tenth ounce of lithium compared to 130 pounds in electric cars. Lithium is typically extracted via evaporative mining — for every ton of lithium, about a half a million gallons of water evaporates — bringing risk of drought to the Andes and indigenous communities.

The Andes hold unique, diverse and intact ecosystems — salt flats, wetlands, pastures and lakes. Hydrologists warn lithium extraction will result in desertification. This green vehicle drive intended to fight climate change sacrifices environments, indigenous communities and water sources that nourish life.

Does any of this sound like real green policy or an effective and ethical solution? Is destroying delicate ecosystems, precious water supplies, and indigenous communities justified in order to ‘save the earth’? Destroying the earth, depleting water supplies, wrecking communities, abusing humans and hoarding minerals defines environmental and social injustice. Is this what we support?

This level of destruction is criminal and counterproductive to the goal. Due to minimal regulations and protections, there are approximately 50 mining projects licensed in Argentina alone. This is an abusive corporate drive for massive resource extraction as demands, incentives, and propaganda regarding green energy and electric vehicles are promoted and marketed to the people, politicians and industry.

There is also a controversial plan to mine metals in deep ocean seabeds. The damage potential is unknown and scientists like Douglas McCauley from Ocean Initiative, University of California are sounding the alarm. The Intergovernmental Seabed Authority has approved 28 mining contracts covering 360,000 square miles of ocean floor. Over 90 Non-Governmental Organizations have demanded a moratorium on ocean mining until impacts are understood.

This entire situation is hypocritical. I implore Vermont to reconsider this overwhelming and all encompassing drive to lock into an electric future and to stand up to the corporations and governments responsible for this gross abuse of humans and the environment. We are aiding and abetting an industry with unethical, destructive and cruel practices. This is impulsive, ideological policy. This is not leadership or responsible action — this is domination and exploitation.

Some find false comfort in the supposed trade agreements intended to protect the workers and the ecosystems. But words are not actions and until fundamental human rights, communities and ecosystems are protected and children are not forced to suffer a life in a mine, we have no business promoting or ‘gently coercing’ these policies for fake climate justice in Vermont. We have an ethical and moral obligation to take the right action. The propaganda and incentives are hard to resist but until these issues are resolved, it is up to the people to stand up and refuse to support an industry entirely built upon social and environmental injustice.

Image courtesy of Burlington Electric Department

25 thoughts on “Alison Despathy: Blood elements, blood power and blood money

  1. NYC Electric Garbage Truck Plans Hit Wall After Trucks “Conked Out” Plowing Snow After Just Four Hours

    In a move that absolutely nobody could have seen coming, New York City is scrapping its brilliant idea for electric garbage trucks after finding out the truck simply “aren’t powerful enough to plow snow”.
    The pipe dream of converting the city’s 6,000 garbage trucks from gas to electric, to limit carbon emissions, (because there’s no other problems that need to be dealt with in New York City right now) is “clashing with the limits of electric-powered vehicles,” Gothamist wrote this week.
    The city’s current trucks run on diesel and can be fitted with plows in the winter.
    Eric Adams should go on Vacation in St Croix and stay there!!
    Despite the shortcomings, the city Department of Sanitation’ has already ordered seven electric rear loader garbage trucks, custom-made by Mack, the report says. Those trucks cost an astonishing $523,000 each and are to be delivered this spring.
    Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch told the NYC city council earlier this month: “We found that they could not plow the snow effectively – they basically conked out after four hours.
    We need them to go 12 hours. Given the current state of the technology, I don’t see today a path forward to fully electrifying the rear loader portion of the fleet by 2040.”
    “We can’t really make significant progress in converting our rear loader fleet until the snow challenges are addressed,” she continued.

    Many other cities don’t use their garbage trucks to plow snow, the report notes. Places that get a lot of snow, like Denver, have their own committed light duty trucks outfitted with plows, which operate more efficiently.
    New York City, however, has committed to plowing each street and doing so by putting the city’s 2,100 trucks to work to clear the “equivalent of 19,000 miles of street lanes”.
    In addition to…well, not being able to get the job done, charging has also been a holdup with electric trucks, Tisch said: “..this charging infrastructure requires additional space and often new electrical utility connections that can require substantial capital investments.”
    Harry Nespoli, the president of Teamsters Local 831 union representing sanitation workers also isn’t sold on the idea: “How much power do they have? Can they run 12-hour shifts without a charge? I don’t know.”
    Sanitation spokesperson Vincent Gragnani concluded: “​​With current technology, full electrification isn’t possible now for some parts of our fleet, but we are monitoring closely and really hope it will be.”
    Let us know how that turns out, Vinny.
    Keelhaul the bastards who foisted this expensive folly onto New Yorkers

    • Well Vinny look no further then your very own Resident Socialist AOC and her band of green weenies. Yup that brilliant bar tender who has all the answers and none of the brain cells to see the effects of going green.

  2. When will the sheep wake up to the fact that the environmental harm to the earth from ev battery production far outweighs any supposed co2 decline. (there is no reduction in co2 over the lifetime of a ev). While the US now is imposing all kinds of restrictions on mining materials needed for the highly polluting ev batteries I guess the greenies are ok with destroying other countries lands to swap out fossil fuel for non sustainable lithium fuel. lefties never were to bright and this is proof in the pudding…

  3. Dictates from above…from our enlightened betters exasperate us and usually fail. Without a consensus from the constituency, initiatives are usually felt as intrusive One can only hope that our legislators will see the folly of this..

  4. When electric vehicles are reliable, convenient and cost competitive they will supplant other vehicles – as the gasoline engine displaced horses for personal transportation. That didn’t happen suddenly, either. My grandfather and the production automobile were born on the same year, 1886. He didn’t see one ’til he was fourteen. Buttigieg’s five billion for coast-to-coast charging stations? That’s not how we got nationwide gas stations, Pete. Competitive private enterprise responds to market. It gives people what they want and does it unsubsidized. It’s what built this nation. And I don’t want to pay for your car – which I cannot afford. As far as “Supporting an industry built upon slave labor,” the Democrats have profited from this before.

    • But, in fairness, the American auto industry has been government supported for a hundred years – the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921, the New York Parkway system, and the granddaddy of them all, Eisenhower’s Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 creating the interstate system that wasn’t completed until 1992. The argument for this government involvement was, of course, the constitutional interstate commerce authority. Today its ‘climate change’.

      But who knows… if the government hadn’t intervened, what would market driven transportation be like today. Bullet trains. Drones. The Jetsons. Star Trek transporters.

      Beam me up Scotty.

  5. Thanks Allison for this commentary. There is no silver bullet that will help us live more in line with the earlth’s limited resources. This issue requires a good deal of thought and consideration. We need to be particularly wary of those who have a vested ecoomic interest in a particular outcome.

    • Re: “We need to be particularly wary of those who have a vested economic interest in a particular outcome.”

      Wary of who?

      Speaking of ‘silver bullets’ and ‘the earth’s limited resources’ – perhaps Mr. Freitag is cautioning us about the people in Vermont’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action program (IDEAL), and the Leadership Office of Racial Equity, and the Office of Racial Equity’s education and outreach program, mentioned in a previous commentary by John Klar as the perpetrators of ‘woke work’ recently funded with $220,000 of taxpayer monies.

      Or the VPIRG guys who founded SunCommon as a non-profit, took it private, and sold it for $40 million. Never mind the Agency of Education’s recent parental outreach program to justify CRT, transgenderism, and restorative justice in our public schools. Or the recent recipients of the Leahy/Sanders omnibus earmarks, or just about anyone working in or with our Vermont government. Don’t they all “… have a vested economic interest in a particular outcome.”

  6. How about we address what has happened to people today- that they are so needy, such Empty Vessels Of Stupid- that they’ve been filled with this baloney and cannot get enough pats on the back!!
    They are fully addicted to the pats on the back because THAT is what makes them think they are good people.
    Good Grief, WHEN do we talk about that?
    Because look at where it’s leading us too..
    We’ve got people now that have been completely indoctrinated, propagandized, sucked fully into the cult, Mass Formation, they strive to move up their social credit score! whatever you want to call this- it’s what we’ve got -and look at the fallout of this!

    Climate Change is not about the weather, it’s about destroying capitalism.
    There is videos all over the internet of that woman explaining this at a meeting in Belgium.
    I mean wake the heck up people and see what is really going on!

    When I read this article above, all I can think of is that this is what my grandmother calls “Being sent off on a wild goose chase”.
    ALL of this industry is being created based upon a pile of lies.
    It’s a wealth transfer! We’ve been sent off on a massive goose chase to transfer wealth!!
    It’s moving the money made on gas and oil over to solar panels, wind turbines and batteries!

    A whole lot of really bad stuff is happening based upon LIES and dummies that don’t see the lies.

    Steve MacDonald has a great article to read after you are here.
    “Zimbabe bans Lithium exports!”
    I’m trying not to laugh.. now what are these climate freaks going to do???
    There is a stunning picture here of what the damage from this mining looks like.

    • Years ago, there was a stunning photo of where wind turbines go to die. The “non-biodegradable” toxic metal blades ande non-recyclable parts are buried in the ground….the burial pits are football fields wide and long. Of course, to get the blades and parts to these pits takes cranes, bulldozers, and tractor trailer trucks. So awesome for the environment right Climate Council? Liars and deceivers…the green new deal is green in their pockets and none in ours.

      • A lot of these wind turbines are abandoned and the towns cannot even find the owners.
        Apparently, they get sold, they fall into decline and the companies fold and bail.
        The towns where they are wind up on the hook for the mess..

        The pendulum is going to swing back the other way, it always does.
        The money it’s going to cost to do these cleanups is going to far outweigh whatever money they made.
        Those of us that have been around for a while have seen what this all looks like.
        Same program- different product- rinse and repeat..
        Afterall, NH is full of old granite quarries.. how interesting that they shut it all down when it’s in their own backyard but when it’s in Africa or China, that is another story.

  7. A gallon of gas has the energy equivalent of 80 slaves. Using an internal-combustion-powered vehicle to move myself around is the equivalent of someone hiring me to tote around a 5-lb. bag of sugar. (Using a bicycle to do the same is like hiring someone to tote around a ton of sugar.) Unless electric vehicles’ infrastructure is less damaging than ICP’s is, we are still just fouling our own nest even though we don’t want to. Such is addiction…

  8. Hey… let them go EV. The shrinking demand for gasoline and diesel will lead to lower prices and make my F-350 diesel truck more affordable to operate.

  9. Tesla Owner Stranded at Supercharger Station On Christmas Eve After Cold Weather Paralyzes Battery

    Besides freezing door handles, Tesla owners who braved the cold this Christmas weekend were met with ‘winter range anxiety.’

    As we explained last week, cold weather will degrade battery performance. At least one video went viral on Christmas Eve of a person whose Model S wouldn’t charge in the cold at a Supercharger station.

    Domenick Nati, 44, a resident of Lynchburg, Virginia, rolled into a Supercharger station Saturday afternoon with 19 miles left of charge.

    The Tesla’s dashboard showed outside temperatures were 19 degrees Fahrenheit. He made a video about his awful experience over the last 24 hours. 

    In a video posted on TikTok, Nati said battery issues began on Friday when his Tesla wouldn’t warm up so it could charge.

    He tried charging at his house, and a Supercharger station, but nothing seemed to work.

    In a last-ditch effort, he went to Supercharger station on Christmas Eve, where he experienced the same issues. 

    Nati shows in the video that a Tesla alert pops up when he plugs the car into a Supercharger stall. It reads, “Battering is heating — Keep charge cable inserted.” 

    See image by opening article URL

    He time-stamped the moment he plugged in the vehicle at 1:11 pm.

    One hour later, he showed the same message with 19 miles range, which meant the car didn’t charge.

    Then two hours later, he showed the same alert and no charge again. 
    “Two hours went by and not much changed. 
    “It was very slow and the numbers got lower as the temperature dropped. Eventually, it stopped charging altogether,” he told Bussiness Insider. 

    Nati abandoned the Tesla at the Supercharger station, fearing it would run out of juice.

    He canceled his Christmas plans, because it was the only car he had, and adding Tesla customer support and or roadside assistance wasn’t to help him troubleshoot the problem.

    The short video had more than 5,000 comments and went viral on TikTok with thousands of likes. 





    • Willem, in fairness, the freezing door handles are one of the only common concerns with a Tesla. I have two charging stations here at my house… because my two kids drive Teslas and they can’t visit me here in the sticks without charging up. The Teslas seem to do just fine in the winter… so far at least (three years running). Yes – when they charge up, my average daily electric bill increases from $5 a day (winter rate) to $25. And yes, a statistician would point out that’s a 400% increase in electricity costs. But paying $10.00 (3 gallons of gasoline equivalent) for each vehicle to drive 2 hours to their homes isn’t a bad deal. Especially when Dad is paying to ‘fill the tank’. 🙂

      • So wait a minute, Daddy who is here constantly pointing fingers at this or that has two charging stations at his house for his well to do children? Do as I say, not as I do brings new light to those who ask what will you do about it. What I won’t do is support a system for my children then complain about all the other wrong things in this state that aren’t affected by my children if they don’t live here. It appears that Daddy is not in the same financial category as many of us who can’t afford charging stations so our woke children will visit. Yes, beam me up Scotty!

        • Oh my, Dano, … excuse me for a second while I bite my tongue …your insecurity is showing. Why don’t you tell us what you really think?

          I didn’t buy anyone’s Tesla. I didn’t pay for the charging stations either. My kids did, bless their hearts. And no – they don’t live in my basement doing drugs and receiving unemployment benefits. And while I do pay for my electricity, I’ve threatened a couple of times to meter it.

          But given that my kids, who work very hard to raise their own wonderful families, visit me only once every couple of months, shelling out $15 when they visit their old man (err.. I mean their ‘Daddy’) is the least I can do, even on my meager social security income. After all, I only have to drive about 5000 miles a year in my 15-year-old car because they come to visit me instead.

          Of course, according to your logic, I should disconnect from the grid and stop driving entirely because I’m ‘supporting a system for my children’. God forbid.

          Well, for your information, I use 99.99% of electricity here for lighting, refrigeration (to store the food I grow), and to run the fan motors on my wood boiler that heats my entire house and all of my hot water, while burning the wood I harvest from my own wood lot, with my 20-year-old Husqvarna 365 chain saw, a recently refurbished wood splitter, and my 40-year-old tractor. My water supply is gravity feed, no pump required. And I’ve been living this way, here, in the same place, for 45 years.

          Of course, you also missed the entire point of my commentary in your misguided fit of self-righteous indignation. Specifically, while electric vehicles aren’t all that bad, government intervention into free enterprise is likely to be a technological disadvantage, be it Eisenhower’s interstate system or Vermont’s incestuous Public Utilities Commission. Who knows how we might get from point A to point B otherwise?

          You, on the other hand, obviously wouldn’t know a ‘financial category’ if it bit you in the behind. But if you must know, I’m one of those Vermonters in the 36% cohort described as living at poverty income levels. And I don’t take any public assistance. I’m not complaining. I’ve learned to live very comfortably, regardless. I enjoy the work. And my kids visit me from time to time. It can’t get any better than that.

          How about you, Dano? Can you match my carbon footprint?

          • You’re really hurting my feelings, please stop. You are are the hollier than thou always pointing out the minor details. You are triggered very easily I see. Did you mention in your comment that your children paid for the charging stations and please point out where I said that you bought your children Teslas. I said your “well to do children”. All of a sudden you are a defender of electric vehicles because your children have them and you claimed that you paid for their charges when at your house. From all of your comments on here I would think that if you live so remotely that your children can’t make it there and back (a two hour drive you said) you would convince them that maybe gasoline vehicles are safer and more reliable to travel into Vermont with. Tesla vehicles cost at a minimum of $55,000.00 dollars and up. I really could care less about your financial status and this sentence in your reply to me could very well apply to you also, “Of course, you also missed the entire point of my commentary in your misguided fit of self-righteous indignation”.

          • It’s the implicit dishonesty of your post, Dano (whoever you are), that concerns me… not to mention your cowardly ad hominem attack on my children. If you didn’t care about ‘financial status’, why did you bring it up? I didn’t.

            And I didn’t ‘defend’ electric vehicles. I said that despite concerns over freezing door handles, “Teslas seem to do just fine in the winter… so far at least “.

            But you are correct in that my children are doing well, as I pointed out in my subsequent post. They work very hard at it, and I’m proud of them.

            And yes, my kids paid about $55K for their Teslas. That’s about average for a new car these days. Not a bad purchase given that a used 2022 Subaru Outback goes for more than $35K. But the Subaru doesn’t have anywhere near the warranty coverage of the Tesla. Or they could have bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee, for example, that can cost more than $80K these days.

            So, what’s your point, Mr. Dano? Before I called out your cowardly nature, what did I say, specifically, that offended your sensibilities? Was it the smiley face? Or do you just want to continue with the ‘holier than thou’ name calling?

          • Re: “What I won’t do is support a system for my children then complain about all the other wrong things in this state that aren’t affected by my children if they don’t live here.”

            And what ‘things’ might those be? Sir?

  10. Vermont Has Much Better Options Than Expensive Wind/Solar/Battery Systems


    A state-wide building code, which would require new buildings to be highly sealed, highly insulated so they could easily be energy-surplus buildings, or be entirely off-the -grid. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, etc., have had such codes for at least a decade.

    Vermont should be replacing run-of-the-mill, old houses, with up-to-date, energy-surplus, off-the-grid, new houses, at a rate of at least 5,000 houses per year. There would be 150,000 such houses by 2050.

    Dabbling at weatherizing, at $10,000 per house, is politically attractive, but a gross waste of money. The goal should be energy conservation and high efficiency. Their combined effect would reduce CO2 at the least cost.

    Energy efficiency measures to reduce energy consumption, CO2, and energy costs, such as by:

    1) Exchanging traditional light bulbs for LEDs
    2) Insulating and sealing energy-hog housing and other buildings
    3) Increasing the mileage of existing gasoline vehicles

    Such measures would cost $50 to $200 per metric ton, much less than the $2,100/Mt of electric school buses.


    Gas Guzzler Fee

    Instead of RE folks fantasizing about banning gasoline vehicles, it would be far less expensive for Vermont to immediately enforce a gas-guzzler code to impose a fee on low-mileage vehicles. The fee would be collected at time of registration.

    The more below 40-mpg, the greater would be the fee.
    Vehicles with greater than 40-mpg, such as the 54-mpg Toyota Prius, would be exempt.


    RE folks would have everyone drive UNAFFORDABLE, MATCHBOX-SIZE, IMPRACTICLE EVs, that would not reduce much CO2 compared with EFFICIENT gasoline vehicles.

    On a lifetime, A-to-Z basis, with travel at 105,600 miles over 10 years (10,560 miles/y), the CO2 emissions, based on the present New England grid CO2/kWh, would be:

    NISSAN Leaf S Plus, EV, compact SUV, no AWD, would emit 25.967 Mt, 246 g/mile
    TOYOTA Prius L Eco, 62 mpg, compact car, no AWD, would emit 26.490 Mt, 251 g/mile
    SUBARU Outback, 30 mpg, medium SUV, with AWD, would emit 43.015 Mt, 407 g/mile
    VT LDV mix, 22.7 mpg, many with AWD or 4WD, would emit 56.315 Mt, 533 g/mile

    The above shows,

    A NISSAN Leaf, a compact SUV, would have CO2 reduction of 30.3 Mt over 10 years (3 Mt/y), if compared with the VT LDV mix, which contains small and big vehicles.

    A NISSAN Leaf would have CO2 reduction of 16.3 Mt over 10 years (1.63 Mt/y), if compared with my 30-mpg Subaru Outback, a vastly more useful vehicle

    • The above 105,600 miles over 10 years is invalid, in the real world, because EVs are driven about 9,000 miles per year, on average, and the batteries last at most 8 years, so the comparison should have been on 72,000 miles.

      That means EVs would barely outdo efficient gasoline vehicles regarding CO2 emissions, on an A-to-Z basis, including hazardous waste disposal.

  11. General Comments Regarding EV Battery Systems

    Grid-scale battery systems are entirely different from the mass-produced battery packs in electric cars, which operate about 700 hours per year, are warranted to have a loss of no more than 30% of capacity, at end of year 8, in case of Tesla

    The cost of a 60-kW replacement battery is about $15,000, or $250/kWh, plus about $2,000 for labor, etc.; 2022 pricing

    The cost of EV battery systems may decrease, due to more mass production, but likely will increase, due to: 1) increased inflation rates, 2) increased interest rates, 3) supply chain disruptions, which delay projects and increase costs, 4) increased energy prices, such as of oil, gas, coal, electricity, etc., 5) increased materials prices, such as of tungsten, cobalt, lithium, copper, etc., 6) increased labor rates.

    Who, of rational mind, would replace a battery, at a $17,000 total cost, in an 8-y-old car?

    As the Mar 30, 2022 price of tungsten was $320,000/ metric ton, prices of EV battery packs are likely to increase, rather than decrease

    The purchase price of Tesla EVs (AWD, long range, no extras) are Model 3 ($57,990) and Model Y ($65,990)
    Includes various price increases till June 2022.
    Excludes state sales taxes, dealer preparation and documentation, and federal tax credits, starting in 2023.
    Amortizing $65,990 at 5.3%/y over 8 years would far exceed any annual fuel cost reduction

    EVs cost much more to own and operate, and are less capable, especially in colder climates, than equivalent gasoline vehicles.

    Such price levels are out of reach of 90% of US households, i.e., the EV subsidies and EV charger subsidies, paid for by government benefit mostly upscale households.

    China is the world’s biggest market for EVs with total sales of 1.3 million in 2020, more than 40% of global sales that year.
    China is the dominant battery pack producer, including anodes and cathodes, which require energy and raw materials , such as lithium, nickel and cobalt, and rare earth metals.

    NOTE: Lithium carbonate price was $41,060/metric ton, or $41/kg, on Jan. 3, 2022, about 5 times higher than in Jan. 2021

  12. Considering the statewide and nationwide power outages commencing December 23, 2022 and power companies commencing rolling power outages, it appears no matter the lies they tell, Mother Nature has the final word. Without lineman who put their lives at risk working in the worst of conditions to restore power, the EV sits still, no lights, no heat, no water. It is time to stop the lies and obvious corruption of the climate change hoax.

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