“The List” Artwork of dead refugees and migrants disappeared or destroyed

02/08/2018
the-list-posted-in-amsterdam

Earlier versions of The List have been posted in other locations including Amsterdam. pic from the Guardian

An artwork featuring a list of the 34,361 refugees and migrants who have lost their lives trying to reach Europe has disappeared or been destroyed in Liverpool.

The List was created for World Refugee Day.  Compiled and updated each year by United for Intercultural Action – an anti-discrimination network of more than 560 organisations across Europe – The List traces information relating to the deaths of 34,361 refugees and migrants who have lost their lives within or on the borders of Europe since 1993.

Since 2007, in collaboration with art workers and institutions, Istanbul-based artist Banu Cennetoğlu has produced up-to-date and translated versions of The List using public spaces such as billboards, transport networks and newspapers.

The List was posted on hoardings outside a building site in Liverpool’s Chinatown as part of Liverpool Biennial art festival.  But now it has disappeared!  On Wednesday the festival tweeted this message:

liverpool-biennial-missing-list-tweet

The List was posted on hoardings on Great George Street with the permission of the site owners.  The city council has stated that it was not removed by its workers, whether deliberately or by accident – it had been suggested that council workers might have taken it down, misidentified as illegally fly-posted.  The council and the developers who own the site have been examining CCTV for clues as to who removed it on Sunday.

What is the List?

Since 1993, activists at the network United for Intercultural Action have made a record of every reported instance in which someone has died trying to migrate into Europe. In all, 61 deaths were recorded in 1993; 3,915 were recorded in 2017.

What sources did they use?

The small team, based in the Netherlands, drew on reports in the local, national and international press, as well as NGO records. Though the vast majority of people died during en route for Europe – most of them at sea – the List also points out that hundreds died in custody, and hundreds more took their own lives. Most deaths recorded on the List are anonymous.

How many deaths have been recorded?

As of 5 May 2018, the figure stood at 34,361. But activists acknowledge that the List is neither definitive nor comprehensive. The real number is likely to be far higher, as many thousands of people will have died without trace during sea and land journeys over the years.

[from the Guardian]

United for Intercultural Action, faced with a lack of official data, gathered newspaper articles, NGO records and coastguard reports to collect details of the deaths of migrants travelling to Europe since the early 1990s.  While most of the deaths happened at sea, more than 1000 happened in detention blocks, asylum units and town centres.  400 died at their own hand, over 600 violently killed by someone else. Cause of death is described quite graphically: such as “tortured by Turkish border guards near Iskenderun (TR) while trying to cross Syrian-Turkish border” and “drowned, bodies found in advanced state of decomposition 20 miles north of Zurawa LY)”.

In a statement the Liverpool Biennial said: “It is timely and important to make The List public during a global refugee crisis. We were dismayed to see it had been removed on Saturday night and would like to know why. The List has been met with critical acclaim and we are doing everything we can to reinstate it.”

To help assimilate The List across the internet, I have uploaded a pdf format copy of The list here. (The Guardian are also hosting a copy here – they’ve got a lot more available bandwidth than me, so it’d only be fair to try them first, but I’m here as a back-up if required!  Happy to help!)  Feel free to reproduce this link as widely as possible.  Please mention ihatehate.wordpress.com and www.unitedagainstracism.org.

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Is it antisemitic to hate Israel?

31/07/2018
jeremy-corbyn-3

Corbyn risks his party being torn apart if he can’t sort out this anti-semitism business (pic from the Independent)

What does anti-semitic mean?  The top three online dictionaries (of a Google search) say:

anti-Semitism discrimination against or prejudice or hostility toward Jews (www.dictionary.com)

anti-Semitism Hostility to or prejudice against Jews (oxforddictionaries.com)

anti-Semitism the strong dislike or cruel and unfair treatment of Jewish people (dictionary.cambridge.org)

Well, that seems simple enough, right?  Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.  Some people want the term antisemitic to cover a lot more than anti-Jewishism.  And it’s tearing the Labour party into strips when Britain badly needs a working Opposition to the Conservative government.

So what is the problem?  Some people want the Labour party to adopt an “official” international definition of anti-semitism.  The definition they have chosen to push is that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).  Their definition is:

Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Even this definition isn’t too bad.  But the main problem is the examples that go with the definition.  These include “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour,” and “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”  Basically, criticism of the state of Israel should be viewed as anti-Semitism, as should any equivalence of their racist policies and those of Nazi Germany.

Why should criticising Israel be labelled anti-Semitic?  Generally it is accepted that anti-Semitism is wrong.  So now criticising Israel is wrong too?  That country can do no wrong?  And why is it wrong to point out that Israel’s foreign and domestic policies are racist?  I mean, those policies are racist, inasmuch as they are hostile to Palestinians.  And how exactly does pointing out this racism deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination?  Israel is denying Palestinians their right to self-determination… but to point that out is anti-Semitic?  My head’s starting to hurt.

The organisation that first drafted this definition, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, recognized it was contentious – it drafted but never adopted the definition.  And the UK government, which has adopted the “working definition” and the examples, was warned by the Commons home affairs select committee in October 2016 that in the interests of free speech it ought to adopt an explicit rider that it is not antisemitic to criticise the government of Israel, or to hold the Israeli government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent (the government sadly ignored this advice).

Unfortunately for the Labour Party and its leader, some party members and supporters of the leader have come out with some awful stuff on this subject.  Peter Willsman, for instance, has said some stuff that is just plain wrong and he needs to resign.  But the party should not adopt the IHRA definition.  And if supporters of Israel don’t like that country’s policies being criticised, maybe they should call for those policies to be changed.  To be made less racist.  Less likely to be compared to those of that old Nazi Adolf Hitler.

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an american idiot

20/07/2018
donald trump idiot google search

Don’t wanna be an american idiot? Too late Donald!

Ain’t it grand, how any idiot can game Google results and show the world who really is the idiot?

That’s what activists have been doing: do a Google image search for the word “idiot” and you get a fine selection of Donald Trump pictures!

This is how it works:

According to Inquisitr,  part of the reason for this result is that several English articles published last week included the Green Day song titled “American Idiot” in the headline in relation to Donald Trump and his trip to England; (protestors were actually using the song in the protests). This meant that images were likely titled to describe the article and used the terms “American Idiot” and Donald Trump as descriptives in the image metadata as well as in the article content. As a result, Google’s algorithm has paired these terms together, and with so many people reading and sharing these articles, it has pushed its relevance to the top of the search results.

When you type the word “idiot” into Google’s image search, Trump is the first returned result. This is partly because the Green Day song American Idiot was used by protesters to soundtrack his trip to London. But since then there’s also been a concerted campaign to capitalize on that association, and manipulate Google’s algorithm, by linking the word to the picture. Mostly this involved people upvoting a post containing a photo of him and the word “idiot” on Reddit. [from theguardian.com]

This trick has been used many times before.  For instance, there was a spate of hook-nosed caricatures posted with the single word “Jew”, which resulted in an Image Search for “jew” returning the hook-nosed caricature.

And it was used by Trump fans to associate the word “rapist” with pictures of Bill Clinton.

Many of these were rudimentary, almost meaningless. “RAPIST! RAPIST! RAPIST! RAPIST!” “Today this rapist turns 70. Happy Birthday, rapist.” Most originated from the notorious Reddit forum TheDonald, where fans of Trump congregated to spread his gospel of doing whatever you like, screw the consequences.

The forum moderators would pin a post to the top of the forum to encourage others to upvote it, and the swell of upvotes would push it to the front page of Reddit, which already styles itself “The front page of the Internet”, causing it to leap up to the top row of Google images.

They also did it with an image of Michelle Obama with features Paintshopped to look like an ape.  And the TheDonald team did it with the CNN logo and the words “fake news”.

So it’s kind of fitting that the trick has now been turned on Trump and his idiotic fans!

So is there a moral to be learnt from this story?  Of course not!  The internet is utterly amoral, as are those of us who spend too much time in it. Who knows who will be belittled and demonized next?  And that’s probably the best thing about it – he who demonizes today may be demonized tomorrow.  The internet giveth and… well, it don’t giveth anything but it demands its pound of virtual flesh!

trumps-an-idiot

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Trump claims Montenegro a bigger threat than Russia

19/07/2018
NATO-heads-of-state-2018

NATO heads of state all looking at one thing – except Trump, who has something something else in his sights. As usual, eh!

In between rounds of golf and tea with the Queen, US president Donald Trump has told the world that he considers Russia as a more valuable ally than NATO and has called into question whether the NATO mutual defense agreement still stands.

Trump launched his assault on his NATO “partners” immediately, criticising Germany’s reliance on Russian natural gas, and other members’ failure to commit adequate funding for their membership.  He made it clear that he prefers Putin and Russia over some of his “allies”, and even called into question the doctrine of mutual defense.  In a Fox News interview, newsman Tucker Carlson asked the Prez why the U.S. should protect a country like Montenegro, which joined NATO last year; and Trump replied that he has asked himself the same question.

“Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people,” Trump said. “They’re very aggressive people, and they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III. But that’s the way it was set up.”

NATO summit--Trump-shoves-Markovic

Trump shoves Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of his way at NATO summit

When Montenegro joined NATO, Russian president Putin didn’t like it at all.  So really it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that Trump doesn’t like it either.  He declared that Russia did not pose any kind of danger to the US, contradicting everything he has been told by his military advisors.  The White House tried to put a different spin on it, but the facts are clear: Trump has got a very “special” relationship with Putin – more “special” than the “special relationship” US and UK leaders are supposed to have enjoyed at least as far back as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher back in the 1980s.

This also shouldn’t really be a surprise: in London Trump made it clear that his favourite thing in the British government was Boris Johnson, former Foreign Secretary who has quit his job over Brexit.  Trump said that prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans have scuppered any chance of a post-Brexit trade deal between the US and UK.  So Trump clearly wants May out of office and Johnson in.  Then the special relationship can be resurrected.

So, what did Trump achieve on this trip to Europe?  He offered the hand of friendship to Vladimir bloody Putin and Boris bloody Johnson.  He belittled or ignored his allies in NATO.  He undermined the British prime minister.  He called into question the principles on which NATO was founded.  And he had tea with the Queen.

All in all, a profitable few days.  Thanks Mr Trump!  Come back soon!

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Welfare Minister Esther McVey is a liar shock horror!

04/07/2018
esther-mcvey-welfare-secretary

Esther McVey, Welfare Secretary – she needs to be careful or she might end up seeing how Universal Credit works from a claimant’s point of view!

Well what a surprise: a politician has told lies!

Sorry, all you honest politicians out there!  I really shouldn’t imply that all politicians are liars.  Of course that isn’t the case.  I know there must be politicians out there who have never told a lie, ever.  If you are one of these politicians, please leave me a message – in Comments below or the contact form here.

Anyway, Esther McVey appears to be a liar liar pants on fire.  And it isn’t some lone kook making the allegation – it is the National Audit Office (NAO): “an independent Parliamentary body in the United Kingdom which is responsible for auditing central government departments, government agencies and non-departmental public bodies” (from Wikipedia).  Would a Parliamentary body with such an important remit knowingly make accusations like this if those accusations were untrue?  Would a government minister tell lies to cover her own ass and that of a bumbling Tory government?  Hmmm…

Sir Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, wrote to McVey on the “misleading statements” (aka lies – why are civil servants and politicians so civil and polite when they are trying to kill each other?) because he had not been able to make an appointment to meet her face to face.  And this frustration has led to him making public the content of his letter – the first time that Morse has released personal correspondence with a minister, and is a reflection of the tension between the DWP and the NAO over McVey’s statements.

Okay, so what has McVey been lying about?  In June the NAO released a report about Universal Credit, the Conservative government’s flagship welfare “innovation”, which squeezes 6 other benefits into one, and is supposed to make it easier for unemployed people to get back into work.  It is paid monthly (while other benefits are normally paid fortnightly), and all claims and enquiries are handled online.

McVey claimed that the NAO report said Universal Credit is being rolled out too slowly, that it was working successfully in those areas where UC has been introduced, and that any criticism of UC was because the report had failed to take into account recent improvements in the payment of benefits.

Sir Amyas Morse said McVey has “misinterpreted” the report “to make it look as if the new welfare system is working well.”

Does the report say that Universal Credit is being rolled out too slowly?  Sir Amyas says No!!  In fact the report recommended that the DWP should ensure it was working properly before transferring any more people from previous benefits.

Did the report say that Universal Credit is working?  Sir Amyas says No!!  In fact the report says Universal Credit has not been proven to work.

Did the report fail to take into account recent improvements in welfare administration and payment timeliness?  Sir Amyas says No!!  He wrote to McVey:

Our report was fully agreed with senior officials in your department [on 8 June]. It is based on the most accurate and up to date information from your department … it is odd that by Friday 15 June you feel able to say that the NAO “did not take into account the impact of our recent changes.”

Although Morse didn’t say “You’re a liar,” that is clearly what was meant.  So, will McVey survive this assault on her credibility?  Of course she will.  For those who refuse to vote Conservative, McVey and her colleagues lost their credibility a long time ago, if they actually had any credibility to start with.  For those who are willing to vote for those awful people, McVey automatically is seen as the victim.

McVey apologised for her “misinterpretation” of the NAO report just hours after the release of Morse’s letter.

“The NAO report did not say that [it wanted Universal Credit to be rolled out more quickly] and I want to apologise to the House for inadvertently misleading you. What I wanted to say was that the NAO said there was no practical alternative,” she said.

She also told MPs she was “working on setting up a meeting with the NAO” about other matters, but that she stood by her claims that the auditors’ report did not take into account recent changes to universal credit. “The impact of these changes are still being felt and therefore, by definition, couldn’t have been fully taken into account by the NAO report,” she said.

So really her apology is meaningless as it makes no real difference.  Fundamentally she stands by her previous statements.

She is expected to face further parliamentary scrutiny over the debacle after Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions committee, asked the Speaker, John Bercow, for an urgent question as early as Thursday.  Field said to the Guardian: “The secretary of state needs to be questioned about the three mega-Trumpisms which the NAO says are untrue.”

Of course he wants her to go, as does every other opposition MP and some Tory colleagues.  But will that mean anything?   I suppose it comes down to this: does prime minister Theresa May need a blood sacrifice?  If she does, McVey is finished.  If not, this story will be forgotten soon enough.  At the end of the day, no one in power cares about benefit claimants.  The welfare minister least of all.

sir-amyas-morse-nao-chief-july-2018

National Audit Office chief Sir Amyas Morse has called Esther McVey on her “misinterpretation” of the NAO report on Universal Credit

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Won’t let us play with your multi-billion dollar satellite system? We’ll build our own!

25/05/2018

The UK chancellor Philip Hammond has announced that if the European Union refuse the UK access to the Galileo satellite navigation system, the UK will create its own system – a move that will add billions more to the Brexit bill.

From the Guardian:

EU is insistent that the UK had agreed in 2011 as an EU member state on the rules on blocking non-EU countries from access to secure elements of the project.

A senior EU official said, following some fraught negotiations this week, that it had become clear the UK “would like to transform Galileo from a union programme to a joint EU-UK programme, and that is quite a big ask for the EU”.

“They want to have privileged access to the security elements of PRS (the encrypted navigation system for government-authorised users) and to be able to continue manufacturing the security modules which would mean that after Brexit the UK, as a third country, would have the possibility to turn off the signal for the EU,” the official said.

Put like that, the EU’s position makes perfect sense.  Why would they put a third country in a position where it can switch off the EU’s system?  And the fact that the UK was instrumental in formulating the rules under with third countries – like the UK is about to become – are not allowed access to the system, well that’s kind of ironic really.

But of course that isn’t how the UK government sees things.  They want Britain to have some special status again.  Called “having your cake and eating it too.”  Again.

Hammond told reporters: ““We need access to a satellite system of this kind. A plan has always been to work as a core member of the Galileo project, contributing financially and technically to the project.”

Yes, that was the plan.  And that would still be the plan, if we hadn’t decided to leave the EU.  But we did decide to leave and now we need to renegotiate all of the deals that we enjoy as members of the EU.

 


OMG! How dare women go to the beach with their clothes on?

28/08/2016

As everyone knows, people go to the beach to leer at scantily-clad folk, or to be leered at while scantily-clad.  So how dare anyone go to the beach without flashing their bits at everyone?

burkini1

The burkini is obscene and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere!  At all!

burkini2

Wow, that burkini is really offensive!  It’s got a hood.  And it covers the woman’s legs.  How obscene…

Ok, so burkinis look stupid.  But lots of clothes look stupid, should they be banned?  Like those caps with cupholders so you can drink through a straw without having to carry the can in your hand.  Shall we ban them too?

cup-holder-caps

Spot the dickhead

(Actually, maybe we should ban the cup-holder cap.  And French people.  If we just banned France and fizzy pop, all the world’s problems would be solved, in one (two?) fell swoop.

Now, if you wear clothes on the beach, it’s absolutely appropriate for the police to come and make you strip.  In public.  At gunpoint.

burkini-ban-on-beach-cops

I know France is all tense and stuff after the terrorist crap going on there.  But when terrorists attacked the London Tube did the British government ban hijabs and turbans and white baggy trousers?  Answer: No.  Cos although the Brit government is really really stupid, reactionary and anti-human rights, it wasn’t that  really really stupid, reactionary and anti-human rights.  (I hope our present government hasn’t got that stupid yet…).

 

Oh yeah… don’t forget that the thought police know what you’re thinking:

olivia-thirlby-as-anderson-1

Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson: the acceptable face of thought crime control…

 

 


Freepost address for the Conservative Party

10/02/2016

If you want to contact the Conservative Party about anything, but didn’t want to buy a stamp for the letter (maybe because you don’t earn a living wage, or your benefits have been sanctioned…), fear not!  On Facebook I found a Freepost address so you can send mail to the Tories without worrying about the cost of postage.  You still have to provide writing paper and envelope yourself… but every little bit helps, doesn’t it?

The address is:

Freepost RTHS-TLXL-XKXK
The Conservative Party
4 Matthew Parker Street
LONDON
SW1H 9HQ

I haven’t actually tried it myself, as I only just discovered it.  I think it would be great if anyone who writes to the address reports the success or failure of their attempt; so if the Freepost no longer works I can edit this blog post accordingly.  Similarly, if anyone knows of other Freepost addresses, or 0800 phone numbers so we can call them for free, I’ll gladly add them to this post.  Information sets us free.  And there’s something extra satisfying about sending an actual letter through the post rather than emails, don’t you think?

Please don’t use this address to send the government any offensive or hate mail.  That would possibly be a crime, and in no way do I encourage you to do so!  Thanks.

cameron-face-palm

Send the prime minister a letter today!  I’m sure Dave is looking forward to a robust conversation with the British electorate!


The Tories won the election; but our true political ruler is still in charge – the Queen!

13/05/2015

I’ve always thought that the UK’s status as a “constitutional monarchy” meant that political decisions were made by our elected government and parliament, and that the Queen’s job was to attract the tourists and to rubber-stamp legislation with her truly ceremonial “Royal Assent”.

But it seems that I, and just about everyone else, have been misled.  The Guardian has reported that the Queen has powers of veto that are stunningly far-reaching.  One small example is the Queen vetoing the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, a private member’s bill that sought to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament.  In effect, it’s the Queen who decides whether to take military action or not, and there is nothing the government can do about it!

Downing Street did what it could to keep all this secret – we only know about it now because of a court order to release details of an internal Whitehall pamphlet was only released following a court order and shows ministers and civil servants are obliged to consult the Queen and Prince Charles in greater detail and over more areas of legislation than was previously understood.

The new laws that were required to receive the seal of approval from the Queen or Prince Charles cover issues from higher education and paternity pay to identity cards and child maintenance.

In one instance the Queen completely vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, a private member’s bill that sought to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament.

She was even asked to consent to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 because it contained a declaration about the validity of a civil partnership that would bind her.

In the pamphlet, the Parliamentary Counsel warns civil servants that if consent is not forthcoming there is a risk “a major plank of the bill must be removed”.

“This is opening the eyes of those who believe the Queen only has a ceremonial role,” said Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, which includes land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales’ hereditary estate.

“It shows the royals are playing an active role in the democratic process and we need greater transparency in parliament so we can be fully appraised of whether these powers of influence and veto are really appropriate. At any stage this issue could come up and surprise us and we could find parliament is less powerful than we thought it was.”

This power of veto has been described by constitutional lawyers as a royal “nuclear deterrent” that may help explain why ministers appear to pay close attention to the views of senior royals.

The guidance also warns civil servants that obtaining consent can cause delays to legislation and reveals that even amendments may need to be run past the royals for further consent.

And of course, how is the government supposed to do away with this remnant of absolute monarchy?  If a bill was voted through parliament to do away with the royal power of assent, the Queen would simply veto it – and the veto would probably remain secret, just as it has for so long!

The concept of Royal Assent has always been considered as a quaint anachronism that allows the UK to be both a functioning democracy and a monarchy.  Now we know that’s a lie.  The question is: what the hell are we going to do?

British dictator for life Queen Elizabeth II.  Don't mess with this bitch!"  Picture stolen in the interests for freedom from http://guardianlv.com/

British dictator for life Queen Elizabeth II. Don’t mess with this bitch!” Picture stolen in the interests for freedom from http://guardianlv.com/


UK’s TEMPORA eavesdropping programme could be worse than USA’s PRISM

13/07/2013

I don’t know what I’ve been doing for the past month, but it isn’t very effective. I thought I’d been keeping an eye on the Edward Snowden/PRISM situation, but I only just found out about GCHQ’s eavesdropping programme TEMPORA.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the UK eavesdropping service GCHQ’s ability to access the internet’s fibre-optic cables has made it “an intelligence superpower”.

TEMPORA stores the intercepted data for 3 days, and the meta-data for 30 days. The data includes actual recordings of phone calls, the contents of emails, Facebook activity, and anyone’s browsing history. That’s right: anyone’s data is collected and stored, not just terrorist suspects.

300 analysts from GCHQ and 250 from the NSA are sifting this data, in what must be the biggest fishing operation to date. TEMPORA was first trialled in 2008, and has been fully up and running since 2011. Lawyers for GCHQ said it would be impossible to list the total number of people targeted by Tempora because “this would be an infinite list which we couldn’t manage”.

We only know about this horrific violation of our privacy because NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked documents about it. Snowden told the Guardian that illegal state-sponsored eavesdropping “is not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight. They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.” The documents’ titles show how huge TEMPORA is: “Mastering the Internet” and “Global Telecoms Exploitation”. GCHQ are intercepting the communications of absolutely anyone, anywhere. The UK may be the leading member of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

So, I’ve been indignant that the USA might be violating my privacy with no legal reason or oversight – and now I’ve learnt that my own country is doing the same! Nasty spooks are getting their sticky hands on my personal business, the thought makes me shudder!

Oh, and no “It couldn’t happen here” bollocks. It’s happening now, it’s been happening for years, and it’ll keep happening until we force the nasty pigs to back off!

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