Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to witness the reality of disaster capitalism. He discovers how companies such as G4S, Serco, and Halliburton cash in on or­ganized misery in a hidden world of privatized detention centers, militarized private security, aid profiteering, and destructive mining.

Disaster has become big business. Talking to immigrants stuck in limbo in Britain or visiting immigration centers in America, Loewenstein maps the secret networks formed to help cor­porations bleed what profits they can from economic crisis. He debates with Western contractors in Afghanistan, meets the locals in post-earthquake Haiti, and in Greece finds a country at the mercy of vulture profiteers. In Papua New Guinea, he sees a local commu­nity forced to rebel against predatory resource companies and NGOs.

What emerges through Loewenstein’s re­porting is a dark history of multinational corpo­rations that, with the aid of media and political elites, have grown more powerful than national governments. In the twenty-first century, the vulnerable have become the world’s most valu­able commodity. Disaster Capitalism is published by Verso in 2015 and in paperback in January 2017.

Profits_of_doom_cover_350Vulture capitalism has seen the corporation become more powerful than the state, and yet its work is often done by stealth, supported by political and media elites. The result is privatised wars and outsourced detention centres, mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries and struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to witness the reality of this largely hidden world of privatised detention centres, outsourced aid, destructive resource wars and militarized private security. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? Profits of Doom, published in 2013 and released in an updated edition in 2014, challenges the fundamentals of our unsustainable way of life and the money-making imperatives driving it. It is released in an updated edition in 2014.
forgodssakecover Four Australian thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? Doesn't religion cause most of the conflict in the world? And Where do we find hope?   We are introduced to different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. And we gain insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.   Jane Caro flirted briefly with spiritual belief, inspired by 19th century literary heroines such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters. Antony Loewenstein is proudly culturally, yet unconventionally, Jewish. Simon Smart is firmly and resolutely a Christian, but one who has had some of his most profound spiritual moments while surfing. Rachel Woodlock grew up in the alternative embrace of Baha'i belief but became entranced by its older parent religion, Islam.   Provocative, informative and passionately argued, For God's Sakepublished in 2013, encourages us to accept religious differences, but to also challenge more vigorously the beliefs that create discord.  
After Zionism, published in 2012 and 2013 with co-editor Ahmed Moor, brings together some of the world s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed. Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine? Left Turn, published by Melbourne University Press in 2012 and co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.
The Blogging Revolution, released by Melbourne University Press in 2008, is a colourful and revelatory account of bloggers around the globe why live and write under repressive regimes - many of them risking their lives in doing so. Antony Loewenstein's travels take him to private parties in Iran and Egypt, internet cafes in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, to the homes of Cuban dissidents and into newspaper offices in Beijing, where he discovers the ways in which the internet is threatening the ruld of governments. Through first-hand investigations, he reveals the complicity of Western multinationals in assisting the restriction of information in these countries and how bloggers are leading the charge for change. The blogging revolution is a superb examination about the nature of repression in the twenty-first century and the power of brave individuals to overcome it. It was released in an updated edition in 2011, post the Arab revolutions, and an updated Indian print version in 2011.
The best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question - on Jewish identity, the Zionist lobby, reporting from Palestine and future Middle East directions - was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Another fully updated, third edition was published in 2009. It was released in all e-book formats in 2011. An updated and translated edition was published in Arabic in 2012.

New York Times finds a way to feel Israel’s pain

Mondoweiss would like to know why the American corporate press is structurally designed to love/defend Israel:

The New York Times’ Isabel Kershner reports more than 10 dead and then offers the following grotesque commentary: “The criticism [of Israel over the attack] offered a propaganda coup to Israel’s foes, particularly the Hamas group that holds sway in Gaza.”

A coup is a blow. Is it possible for the Times to see who has suffered a blow here? Is the Times capable of supplying disturbing information from Israel without seeking to couch it in criticism of others?

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Ehud Barak says that Israel’s navy is in tip-top shape

Israel’s PR strategy: blame the victims, use the word “terrorism” excessively and praise the noble IDF:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that the organizers of the flotilla to Gaza were responsible for the deadly Israel Defense Forces raid of the ships, which left at least 10 pro-Palestinian activists dead and dozens injured. Speaking at a joint press briefing with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Navy Commander Eliezer Marom, Barak said, “We express our regret over the injuries, but the sail’s organizers and its participants are fully responsible.”

He added that a violent incident took place on only one of the six ships involved in the sail. “The State of Israel appealed to the organizers before the ships set sail and during the sail and invited them to arrive at the Ashdod Port and transfer the aid to Gaza after security checks,” he said. “All of our appeals were turned down. The soldiers were attacked after arriving at one of the ships. Some were injured by serious physical violence on the part of the protestors.

“I am familiar with these types of operations and their possible developments, and I am familiar with the units which operated and with their commanders. They are the best of our people,” the defense minister explained.

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New Zealand takes notice of Israeli actions

The following was released today by Auckland’s Palestine Human Rights Campaign:

The Palestine Human Rights Campaign  is calling upon the New Zealand Government to condemn  Israel’s killing of civilian activists on board the peace flotilla carrying humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip.

“The New Zealand government should call in its newly credentialed Israeli ambassador to  lodge a protest. The government never tires of condemning the Palestinian militancy but accommodates blatant breaches of international laws and this act of deadly piracy in international waters is the latest example” says PHRC spokesperson Janfrie Wakim. By failing to defend the high seas from Israeli government piracy, our government is acquiescing to degradation of international law regarding the freedom of navigation,’ she adds.

The flotilla of ships carrying citizens from 30 countries, was carrying supplies that Israel has barred from entering Gaza, including educational supplies, cement and other building materials, electric-powered wheelchairs, prefabricated homes and water purifiers.

“It is important to note that John Ging, the head of the United Nations in the Gaza Strip, has called upon the international community to defy Israel’s blockade of Gaza to bring humanitarian aid to the territory. The murdered activists were only answering this call and were of no conceivable threat to Israel’s security” Ms Wakim said.
“If this government remains silent over this act of piracy, it will signal that the government intends to maintain a ‘business as usual relationship’ and, as far as New Zealand  is concerned, that means Israel can literally get  away with murder.

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Gush Shalom condemns Gaza flotilla massacre

The following press release was just sent out by Israeli group Gush Shalom:

Uri Avnery: this night a crime was perpetrated in the middle of the sea, by order of the government of Israel and the IDF Command
A warlike attack against aid ships and deadly shooting at peace and humanitarian aid activists
It is a crazy thing that only a government that crossed all red lines can do

“Only a crazy government that has lost all restraint and all connection to reality could something like that – consider ships carrying humanitarian aid and peace activists from around the world as an enemy and send massive military force to international waters to attack them, shoot and kill.

“Noone in the world will believe the lies and excuses which the government and army spokesmen come up with,” said former Knesset member Uri Avnery of the Gush Shalom movement. Gush Shalom activists together with activists of other organizations are to depart at 11:00 from Tel Aviv to protest in front of the prepared detention facility where the international peace activists will be brought.

Greta Berlin, the spokeswoman for the flotilla organizers located in Cyprus, told Gush Shalom activists that the Israeli commandos landed by helicopter on the boats and immediately opened fire.

This is a day of disgrace to the State of Israel, a day of anxiety in which we discover that our future was entrusted to a bunch of trigger-happy people without any responsibility. This day is a day of disgrace and madness and stupidity without limit, the day the Israeli government took care to blacken the name of the country in the world, adding convincing evidence of aggressiveness and brutality to Israel’s already bad international image, discouraging and distancing the few remaining friends.

Indeed, today a provocation took place off the coast of Gaza – but the provocateurs were not the peace activists invited by the Palestinians and seeking to reach Gaza. The provocation was carried out by Navy ships commandos at the bidding of the Israeli government, blocking the way of the aid boats and using deadly force.

It is time to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, which causes severe suffering to its residents. Today the Israeli government ripped the mask of its face with its own hands and exposed the fact that Israel did not “disengage” from Gaza. Real disengagement from the area does not go together with blocking the access to it or sending soldiers to shoot and kill and wound those who try to get there.

The State of Israel promised in the Oslo Accords 17 years ago to enable and encourage the establishment of a deep water port in Gaza, through which Palestinians could import and export freely to develop their economy. It’s time to realize this commitment and open the Port of Gaza. Only after the Gaza port will be open to free and undisturbed movement, just like the Ashdod and Haifa ports, will Israel really have disengaged from the Gaza Strip. Until then, the world will continue – and rightly so – to consider the Gaza Strip under Israeli occupation and the State of Israel as responsible for the fate of the people living there.

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Gaza flotilla massacre is Israel’s Kent State?

In the midst of today’s madness by Israel, it’s welcome to read a sensible analysis by Moshe Yaroni at Realistic Peace (thanks to Sol Salbe for the tip).

Ultimately, he writes, this incident has the potential to massively damage Israel’s reputation (what, I hear you say, it still has some?) and reveal further to the world the true face of the Zionist state:

We begin with the point that these were civilian ships and Israel boarded them with commandoes—soldiers who are disposed toward combat situations and are not meant to police unarmed civilians. They’re fighters, that’s their purpose. But the IDF claims that an assortment of international activists deliberately provoked a violent confrontation (using potentially deadly weapons, but which still leave them ridiculously overmatched) against heavily armed and trained soldiers in order to “lynch them.”

Does that seem remotely credible? It only seems so if you believe the activists on board these ships were willing to risk and actually sacrifice their lives in order to create a scandal for Israel. Of course, Israeli hasbara (propaganda) is well-practiced in casting all Arabs and Muslims as suicidal lunatics, aided by the suicide bombers who represent an infinitesimal percentage of those populations. But this collection of international activists, including many Jews, Americans and Europeans, apparently are also willing to give their lives, and rather cheaply, according to this story.

No, the IDF version of these events doesn’t begin to pass the laugh test.

When I first heard confirmed reports of this massacre, I thought of the Kent State shootings in 1970. That horrific tragedy, like this one, was the result of a government using ridiculously disproportionate force against civil disobedience.

But at Kent State, the shootings resulted from high tensions and one person losing control, causing others to follow his lead. Was that the case here? I suppose one must allow the possibility, but the quick response of the government certainly gives the appearance that it was not that simple.

The bottom line is that Israel raided these ships with commandoes, and the end result was a great deal of needless bloodshed. And apparently, according to the IDF spokesperson, as reported by journalist Gregg Carlstrom, they couldn’t even wait to do it until the ships had passed out of international waters, which makes it, if no explanation is forthcoming, an act of piracy as well.

Israel crossed a line today, in a way not dissimilar (though certainly of a much smaller scope, thankfully) to the line they crossed in their massive attack on Gaza in 2008-09. Whatever Israel’s detractors have said over the years, this incident, like Operation Cast Lead, was far beyond anything Israel has done in the past.

This was a shocking massacre, and there’s no way to pretty that up. These were people engaged in direct action of civil disobedience. True, the siege on Gaza should simply be lifted, but being that it’s there, yes, Israel can be expected to take action to stop the flotilla. But this doesn’t just go above and beyond and justification, it zooms light years past it.

It is now up to the international community, and especially the United States, to take action. If the Obama Administration is to have any credibility left on this issue at all, it must forcefully denounce this action and call for an end to the siege of Gaza. The latter is not likely to happen, but the former is an absolute must. Without it, Obama will begin to be seen throughout not only the Arab and Muslim world, but also by Europe as little different from his predecessors on the Middle East issue.

No doubt as well the leaders of AIPAC, the ADL, AJC and similar groups will be quick to support the IDF’s absurd story here. The Jewish telegraphic Agency offers portent by simply parroting the IDF line and framing the incidents as “Protesters on ship bound for Gaza killed in rioting.”

We can do better, and we must. If there is to be any hope of stopping Israel from committing to this suicidal and murderous course it is on, and bringing its supporters around the world down with it, incidents like this must be denounced firmly, with calls for real accountability. This was a serious crime and it cannot be tolerated or excused away.

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Israel says al-Qaeda was related to the Gaza flotilla (yes, seriously)

Boarding a ship in international waters and arriving with commandos from helicopters. Yes, Israel clearly made a defensive move.

And I thought the Zionist lobby keeps on telling us that Gaza is no longer occupied.

Here’s the latest Israeli government spin, predictable and pathetic (perhaps they should claim that Bin Laden was on the Gaza flotilla):

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said on Monday that the organizers of the Gaza aid flotilla have connections to international terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Al-Qaida, and called the aid convoy a violent and provocative attempt to break the blockade on Gaza.

Ayalon, speaking at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry, said that Israel found weapons onboard the Gaza flotilla, which were used against IDF troops.

The deputy foreign minister said that the Gaza flotilla did not heed Israel’s calls to halt its movement toward Gaza on Monday morning, and stressed that no sovereign country would have allowed such a provocation to take place.

“We couldn’t allow the opening of a corridor of smuggling arms and terrorists,” said Ayalon.

The deputy foreign minister told reporters that Israel does not want to fight with any country, but that the incident on the Gaza flotilla is not yet over.

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Zionist colonists smear Gaza flotilla

Fundamentalist Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Israel, from the group Women in Green, just sent out this statement to show how much they love the IDF (unless, of course, these soldiers ever remove illegal colonies):

The People of Israel are united in their support of the IDF’s necessary action to stop the provocation and the fraud of the Arabs and the extreme left activists on the boats.

Their preparations and the violence they used against our IDF soldiers, using weapons such as knives, gas, metal bars and some even say live ammunition, all prove that we are not talking about “peace” activists but rather about war agitators who desire to destroy the very existence of the State of Israel.

Finally the government of Israel stopped its dangerous road of capitulation and concessions.

Chazak Ve’ematz (Strength) to our dear soldiers and refuah shleima (quick recovery) to the soldiers who were wounded.

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What those inside Gaza are saying about Israel’s massacre

A just-released statement from the One Democratic State Group:

We Gaza based Palestinian Civil Society Organizations and International activists call on the international community and civil society to pressure their governments and Israel to cease the abductions and killings in Israel’s attacks against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla sailing for Gaza, and begin a global response to hold Israel accountable for the murder of foreign civilians at sea and illegal piracy of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza.

We salute the courage of all those who have organized this aid intervention and demand a safe passage through to Gaza for the 750 people of conscience from 40 different countries including 35 international politicians intent on breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade. We offer our sincerest condolences to family and friends who  have lost loved ones in the attack.

By sailing directly to Gaza, outside of Israeli waters, with cargo banned illegally by Israel, such as the 10,000 tonnes of badly needed concrete, toys, workbooks, chocolate, pasta and substantial medical supplies, the flotilla is exercising international law and upholding article 33 of the Geneva Convention which clearly  states that collective punishment is a crime against humanity.

The hardships of Israel’s closure of Gaza have been well documented by all human rights groups operating, most recently by Amnesty International in their Annual Human Rights Report concluding that the siege has “deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law.”  The United Nations continuously states that only a fraction of the required aid is entering the Strip due to what it calls ‘the medieval siege’, with John Ging the Director of UNRWA in Gaza specifically expressing the need for the Flotilla to enter Gaza. The European Union’s new foreign affairs minister Catherine Ashton has just reiterated its call for, “an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza.”

The people of Gaza are not dependent people, but self sufficient people doing what they can to retain some dignity in life in the wake of this colossal man-made devastation that deprives so many of a basic start in life or minimal aspirations for the future.

We, from Gaza, call on you to demonstrate and support the courageous men and women on the Flotilla and join the, many now murdered on a humanitarian aid mission. We insist on severance of diplomatic ties with Israel, trials for war crimes and the International protection of the civilians of Gaza. We call on you to join the growing international boycott, divestment and sanction campaign of a country proving again to be so violent and yet so unchallenged. Join the growing critical mass around the world with a commitment to the day when Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as any other people, when the siege is lifted, the occupation is over and the 6 million Palestinian refugees are finally granted justice.

Press Contacts:

Dr Haidar Eid: One Democratic Sate Group and University Teachers’ Association +972-0599441766

Dr Mona El Farra: Middle East Children’s Alliance, Gaza 00.972(0)598.868.222

Adie Mormech: International Solidarity Movement 00.972(0)597.717.696

Max Ajl: Gaza Freedom March 00.972(0)597.750.798

Signatory Organisations:

The One Democratic State Group

University Teachers Association

Arab Cultural Forum

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Info

Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements

International Solidarity Movement

Palestinian Network of Non-Governmental Organisations

Palestinian Women Committees

Progressive Students Union

Medical Relief Society

The General Society for Rehabilitation

Gaza Community Mental Health Program

General Union of Palestinian Women

Afaq Jadeeda Cultural Centre for Women and Children

Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children

Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children

Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth

Ghassan Kanfani Kindergartens

Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah

Rafah Olympia City Sisters

Al Awda Centre, Rafah

Al Awda Hospital, Jabaliya Camp

Ajyal Association, Gaza

General Union of Palestinian Syndicates

Al Karmel Centre, Nuseirat

Local Inititiative, Beit Hanoun

Union of Health Work Committees

Red Crescent Society Gaza Strip

Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre

Al Awda Centre, Rafah

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Australian call to condemn Israel’s massacre on the Gaza flotilla

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And now Israel will pay a price for its brutal actions

And now the fall-out:

Turkey’s foreign ministry on Monday denounced as “unacceptable” an Israeli attack on an aid convoy bound for Gaza which killed at least 10 people, summoning Israel’s ambassador to discuss the incident and bringing already tense relations between the countries to new levels.

The ministry said that Israel had violated International law and  must now carry the consequences.

“[The interception on the convoy] is unacceptable … Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behavior,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Murat Mercan, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party, said: “I was expecting an intervention. I was not expecting bloodshed, the use of arms and bullets.”

“Israel is engaged in activity that will extremely hurt its image,” he said.

Following the events, the Turkish government called emergency meetings, Channel 10 reported.

And:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering the cancellation of his imminent trip to the United States, in wake of the deaths of at least 10 people after Israel Navy troops boarded a flotilla of ships heading to the Gaza Strip carrying aid.

And:

Turkish police blocked dozens of stone-throwing protesters who tried to storm the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul over reports of an Israeli attack on at least one aid ship in international waters on Monday, news channels reported.

CNN-Turk and NTV showed dozens of angry protesters scuffling with Turkish police guarding the consulate in downtown Istanbul.

“Damn Israel,” the protesters shouted.

And:

Hours after the takeover of the Gaza aid ships, Israeli ministers are trying to subdue the flames. Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke with the Turkish defense minister, foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the Turkish ambassador to Israel.

Barak, who held an emergency meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, also spoke with Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently on an official visit to Canada, is receiving updates on the situation.

In addition, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who is currently in Qatar, told Ynet, “It was obvious to all that this was a media provocation, aimed at reaching a confrontation with Israel. Anyone who didn’t realize this – did not know what they were talking about. We are not Shiite suicide attackers, and it is the soldiers’ duty to defend themselves.”

And:

Just in case you weren’t sure of the miracle that is Israel, here’s French writer Bernard-Henri Levy speaking at a Tel Aviv conference in the last days:

I’ve covered many wars, and I’ve never seen an army that asks itself so many questions related to morals. There is a demonization campaign against Israel all over the world. In a region where dictatorships and truly fascist regimes rule, Israel represents an island of democracy. Zionism is the only movement that has not failed and turned into a caricature. It is the only movement that has preserved its spirit. Israel is a miracle because since its inception it has been in a constant state of war, yet it never gave up on the democratic values at its core.

His comments are laughable, not least because the occupation simply doesn’t exist in his lexicon. Perhaps he should read the Free Gaza Twitter feed to get a nice sense of Israeli democracy.

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2SER radio interview about Israeli/Australian relations

Here’s my interview on Sydney’s 2SER Radio last weekend discussing Australia’s relationship with Israel after the passport forgery scandal (and note the embarassing comments before me by a Zionist lobbyist who essentially says Israel has the right to murder any “terrorist” they want).

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The act of piracy is a serious crime

Let’s not forget that Israel attacked the Gaza flotilla in international waters.

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