Friday, June 24, 2011

News items and comments

Gillard a failure but we must not forget how bad Rudd was

Piers Akerman – Thursday, June 23, 11 (07:23 pm)

IT’S A-Day in Canberra. Not A for Australia, but A for Assassination.

She was touted as a policy machine and given many ministries. However she used to leave the work to faceless bureaucrats who may have been good at executing policy but not at making it. She was able to appear in control by her use of ideology, which wasn't policy. She fooled journalists who wanted to believe. Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt were impressed with her ability to be able to talk about detail without notes. However, I skewered her on the issue of Industrial Relations and nobody noticed. They didn't want to. - ed.

What was she thinking?

Miranda Devine – Thursday, June 23, 11 (02:19 pm)


THE extraordinary endorsement by Julia Gillard of a hard left socialist party in Canada is another bombshell to the government’s credibility.

What was she thinking?

David Daniel Ball It is easy to overstate support or opposition of an advocate for a cause. Lord Monckton compared Garnaut to Nazi Fascists, in accordance with Godwin's law on debate. But it doesn't make the advocacy wrong. But it makes the judgement suspect. Schopenhauer noted this while listing 38 ways to win an argument which you have already lost.
Monckton was right to label the behavior. The same behavior is also something that might be labelled as dictatorial, communist, socialist and many other bad words besides. Monckton later apologised and corrected his extended criticism.
Gillard's judgement on this issue is deservedly suspect. It shows a lack of leadership and intelligence,but a strong leaning to ideology which is supposed to be sidelined by responsible leaders. It doesn't mean Gillard is a socialist. It means Gillard is a fool.

At lunch yesterday, Tom Palmer mentioned to me a 1956 essay by the late Ludwig Lachmann entitled “The Market Economy and the Distribution of Wealth.” It’s in a collection of Lachmann’s essays, edited by Walter Grinder, that I’ve owned now for more than 30 years and read cover-to-cover long ago – but, I confess, I had no recollection of the essay when Tom mentioned it to me yesterday (and none when I re-read it just now).

But, oh my, what a splendid piece of analysis! Here again is a link to it, with my strong encouragement that you read it carefully. It’s quite short, yet original and deeply profound.

In this essay Lachmann argues that the market is constantly redistributing wealth far more productively and fairly than any government efforts on this front. But that’s not the really profound part.

What’s most profound is Lachmann’s clear and compelling explanation of just why it’s the case that wealth in a market economy has constantly to be created and re-created; that it’s never fixed – never an inexhaustible fund that pays out goodies to lucky passive owners.

I’ll perhaps write more about Lachmann’s 1956 essay later; for now I want to further reflect on it, digest it more completely, and share it with you.


Bryan Caplan has been most appropriately and eloquently singing the praises of Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant to America. (And I love Bryan’s apt term “meritocracy without borders.”) (I add also that Bryan and I are both undocumented immigrants; neither Bryan nor I personally received prior official approval from the government of the state of Virginia to move here – me from Louisiana via New York, Bryan from California via New Jersey.)

George Selgin ponders the advantages and disadvantages of formal (here meaning, mathematical) modeling in economics. Here’s a key paragraph:

The point is that both mathematical economics and the verbal kind have their place; neither is intrinsically better than the other; and each can serve as a useful test of the other. A formal model can reveal deficiencies or omissions in a verbal argument; but a few well-chosen words are just as capable of exposing an absurd argument or false assumption lurking in some seemingly innocent equation. The claim that “it takes a model to beat a model” would be just plain goofy were it not so effectively employed by mathematical economists anxious to insulate their work from criticisms by persons who know less math—but perhaps more economics—than they do.

Division of Labour‘s Art Carden reviews Nelson Lichtenstein’s book on Wal-Mart.

Lots of excellent stuff in the Summer 2011 issue of PERC Reports.

Papering over what Arnold Kling might call patterns of unsustainable specialization and trade is not good policy – a truth that Robert Lenzner reminds us that Hayek pointed out. (HT Matt Cheney)

My Canadian friend Gerry Nicholls has a great new website: FreedomForum.

Here’s Independent Institute President David Theroux on Nicholas Kristof’s infatuation with organizing society much as the military is organized.

My GMU colleague (over in the School of Public Policy) Jack High reflects on the role that the rise of big business in late 19th- and early 20th-century America played in the development of economic theory.


Here’s another letter to the Washington Post:

Applauding the NLRB’s attempt to stop Boeing from buying lower-priced labor in South Carolina, Kate Bronfenbrenner writes that “If the NLRB did not take on such cases, it would cede to employers unilateral control over a large swath of the U.S. workplace” (“A good case against Boeing,” June 23).


Does the absence of a government agency empowered to stop grocery shoppers from buying lower-priced groceries at competing supermarkets cede to grocery shoppers unilateral control over a large swath of U.S. supermarkets? Of course not.

In a dynamic market with tens of thousands of employers competing for labor, the notion that even a large employer such as Boeing has “unilateral control” over the labor market unless reined in by government bureaucrats is ridiculous.

Donald J. Boudreaux


Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Re Kate Bronfenbrenner’s claim that Boeing’s plan to build some jetliners in South Carolina violates federal regulations (“A good case against Boeing,” June 23): whatever is Boeing’s motivation for expanding its operations in lower-wage South Carolina rather than in higher-wage Washington state, its expansion in South Carolina would modify a trend that you frequently insist is unraveling America’s social fabric – namely, growing income ‘inequality.’

By increasing the demand for lower-wage non-unionized workers while decreasing the demand for higher-wage unionized workers, the difference between the annual incomes of each of these groups of workers shrinks. Incomes in America thereby become less ‘unequal.’

As if led by an invisible hand, Boeing is helping to reduce income ‘inequality.’

Donald J. Boudreaux


… is from page 107 of Jacob Viner, Studies in the Theory of International Trade(1937):

A constant note in the writings of the merchants [in early- and mid-18th-century Britain] was the insistence upon the usefulness to the community of trade and the dignity and social value of the trader, and in the eighteenth century it appears to have become common for others than the traders themselves to accept them at their own valuation.

Here we have more evidence for Deirdre McCloskey’s thesis of the “bourgeois revaluation” as explained in her 2010 book Bourgeois Dignity.



Tim Blair – Friday, June 24, 11 (08:30 am)

One year after Kevin Rudd’s big booting, and the situation remains much as it was in 2006 …




Tim Blair – Thursday, June 23, 11 (11:01 am)

Her electricity bill keeps increasing, but Elizabeth Farrelly enjoys the pain:

My usage hasn’t changed. It’s the price that has almost doubled …

My power bill now packs enough of a wallop to make me consider solar. Even counting subsidies, unreliable as they are, it would still take a decade to break even. But it’s good pain, since the upside is knowing I’m doing my bit for the planet.

Which is precisely Ross Garnaut’s argument for a carbon tax. It’s behavioural change stuff. Shifting to renewables is like losing weight or stopping smoking or having your eyebrows waxed or the cellulite ironed out of your thighs. No pain, no gain.

But how is the planet “gaining”? As Elizabeth writes, despite the price increases, her “usage hasn’t changed”. She’s apparently able to make the planet feel better simply by giving more money to electricity companies. It’s all about the symbolism – except for people who might lose their jobs, not that another leftoid cares:

There are about 11.5 million people working in Australia.

About 150 000 of them work in the mining sector.

If half of the miners lost their jobs, Australia wouldn’t notice a thing.

Well, 75,000 miners and their families might notice something – like the fact that they’ve been driven out of work in the name of a carbon reduction scheme that won’t make any difference to the global environment. Still, it’s “good pain”.

UPDATE. “Mate, I’m so glad you picked up on Loopy Lizzy’s latest,” emails James Morrow. “Every single par has a howler.” This one is brilliant:

If the median Australian house price is $470,000, $6000 is a mere 1.2 per cent. Lose one (of four) ensuite bathrooms, a quarter of a home theatre or one (of three) car spaces and you’re done.

As James asks: “Where, pray tell, are you getting four bedrooms with ensuites for $470k?”



Tim Blair – Thursday, June 23, 11 (10:54 am)

A thrilling new trend takes off in the Daily Telegraph newsroom – planking in a burqa:


Sadly, we can’t credit the staffer involved, because nobody knows who it is.



Tim Blair – Thursday, June 23, 11 (10:15 am)

On the occasion of his historic sackiversary, Kevin Rudd cops a gentle question from Julie Bishop:



Tim Blair – Thursday, June 23, 11 (09:29 am)

Julia Gillard loves Canadian commies, as Miranda Devine reports:

The extraordinary endorsement by Julia Gillard of a hard left socialist party in Canada is another bombshell to the government’s credibility.

What was she thinking?

Dressed in red, and against the backdrop of Parliament House, the Prime Minister wishes the New Democratic Party a happy 50th birthday “on behalf of your friends in the Australian Labor Party and indeed all Australians”.

My personal favourite NDP policy: Fix Ottawa!


Still an Adelaide every three years

Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (07:01 am)

Australia’s become very expensive for overseas students, which may be one explanation:

The Bureau of Statistics reports that net migration was just 171,000 in 2010, down sharply from 316,000 in 2008, and the lowest since the bureau changed its measuring system in late 2006.

Australia’s population growth fell to 325,500 in 2010, down from 467,300 in 2008.

That’s still a huge increase each year - about the population of Adelaide every three years.

A spokeswoman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said the sharp decline in net overseas migration reflected immigration reforms that had tackled the potential abuse of student visas and shifted the focus to high-value occupations.

But Age reporter Tim Colebatch prefers to smell bigotry:

The figures suggest that the anti-immigration rhetoric of the ALP and the Coalition in the 2010 election campaign has influenced either the way immigration applicants are being assessed, or overseas interest in coming in the first place, or both.


Liberals find another way to have a brawl

Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (06:45 am)

This is getting ugly:

SENIOR Liberals last night accused the party’s four vice-presidents of treachery after they sent out a stinging open letter claiming president Alan Stockdale had failed the party and called for change…

The Australian understands neither Mr Stockdale nor his challenger, Howard government minister Peter Reith, has a clear majority of delegates from any of the eight divisions of the party, other than the ACT, which appears firmly behind the incumbent.

The party’s vice-presidents - former foreign minister Alexander Downer, Victorian businessman Tom Harley, Queensland QC David Russell and West Australian business identity Danielle Blain - took the extraordinary step of trying to influence the outcome yestserday in an open letter.

In their letter, the quartet says: “We know our party can be a great deal stronger and is capable of far better performance. This requires change.”

The letter raises a string of concerns, including governance and the operation of the Liberal federal executive and other party bodies…

Senior Liberals hit back last night, accusing the vice-presidents of treachery and trickery, and challenged their claims. They say the letter was only sent to Liberals after nominations for party positions had closed, and if they had released it earlier they would be facing a rival ticket.


Done deal, monopoly created

Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (06:17 am)

Has any Australian government spent so much to create a monopoly by destroying the competition?

Under a long-anticipated deal announced yesterday, the government will pay Telstra $11 billion to shut down its ageing copper wire network over the next decade and transfer its customers to the NBN.

Optus, Australia’s No. 2 telco, will also receive up to $800 million from taxpayers for dismantling its cable network and moving its 500,000 fixed-line customers to the NBN.


BUSINESS leaders have warned Labor that the National Broadband Network could choke off competition after it was revealed Telstra had agreed it would not promote wireless internet services as a substitute for the $36 billion fibre network for the next 20 years, under an agreement with the government…

Paul Broad, the outgoing chief of the head of the nation’s third-biggest telco, AAPT, said that not being able to promote wireless for a telco was “like asking someone to play football, but telling them they can’t tackle"…

A government-commissioned review of the NBN warned the growing popularity of wireless internet could have a significant impact on the project because some customers would sacrifice speed for the convenience of mobile platforms…

Telstra chief executive David Thodey said the company wanted to “sell to every home firstly fixed broadband voice service and wireless broadband”.

“What we have agreed to do is not to actively promote wireless broadband as a direct substitution for fixed broadband,” Mr Thodey said.

The Government has claimed that wireless, more convenient, is no real substitute for fixed broadband because the demand will exceed the spectrum available, making the service too slow for many users. If that’s so true, it would rely on market forces to limit the competition. not this regulation.

Henry Ergas is astonished:

...paying Telstra, and it appears, Optus, to cease providing high-speed data services over their hybrid fibre coax networks is nothing more than the NBN buying itself a monopoly....Far from avoiding needless duplication, the deal merely prevents the fullest use of scarce capital.

Even more appalling is the prohibition on Telstra “promoting wireless services as a substitute for fibre-based services for 20 years”. ... This clause, along with others aimed at preventing those services from competing with the NBN, will therefore not only cement NBN Co’s market power but also impede our access to cutting-edge technologies…

NBN Co will be a government-owned monopoly. Freeing it from competitive disciplines means allowing inefficiency and cronyism to flourish. That the initial sites chosen for the NBN’s deployment are largely marginal electorates is merely a sign of things to come… Billions of dollars have been committed without even the semblance of a cost-benefit analysis, legitimating wasteful public spending decisions more widely…

Even worse, the deal includes break clauses forcing any government that reversed those decisions to make huge payments to Telstra… And to aggravate matters, they make rent-seeking more profitable by obliging future governments to honour their predecessors’ tainted promises

And now those taxpayer billions are committed for good:

Once the ACCC and shareholders tick off on the deal, we will have passed the point of no return for the NBN.

Not in construction terms but in financial. It would simply be too expensive for the opposition in government to unwind or even just to stop at the point it had reached.


Obama pulls out faster than his soldiers say is wise

Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (06:13 am)

Obama was warned that this pullout was too much, too fast:

The top US military officer has said President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is “more aggressive” than he had advised.

Adm Mike Mullen said leaving troops in place was “the safer course”, but added he supported the president’s decision…

President Obama’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, General David Petraeus, echoed Mr Mullen’s remarks on Thursday…

The ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation in terms of the timeline than what we had recommended,” Mr Petraeus said, adding that he would stand by the president while he remained commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.


Convenient crash for some

Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (06:11 am)

We’re told there’s no official suspicion of foul play ....

The five nuclear experts killed in a plane crash in northern Russia earlier this week had assisted in the design of an Iranian atomic facility, security sources in Russia said on Thursday.


Liberals dominate in WA

Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (06:02 am)

WA Premier Colin Barnett keeps the Liberals well ahead of Labor in the latest Newspoll:

The primary vote reveals a considerable gap between the Coalition - 49 per cent to Labor’s 30 per cent - while on a two-party-preferred basis the Coalition retains a 57 per cent to 43 per cent leadover Labor.

Tony Barrass:

COLIN Barnett’s best weapon is Eric Ripper’s recurring nightmare - and her name is Julia Gillard....

Compounding his inability to seriously challenge Barnett in the polls on any local issue, (Opposition Leader) Ripper is also fighting a losing battle against the federal Labor brand, which is generally seen in the west as bordering on incompetent. Bungled attempts to introduce mining taxes and knee-jerk bans on live exports do little to endear them to West Australian voters, who traditionally view Canberra with suspicion and ill will.


“We will eat your flesh”

Andrew Bolt – Friday, June 24, 11 (12:05 am)

Burqa-wearing Carnita Matthews, who had her jail sentence quashed after a judge said he couldn’t be sure who’d been under all that cloth, has a charming husband:


His Facebook page, with the profile picture of a bloodied fist replaced yesterday by a handcuffed figure in a burqa, has messages from supporters such as: “Allah akbar, may all the pigs burn in hell inshallah”.

It features videos of Osama bin Laden, slurs against infidels and “Kufaars” (non-Muslims), “American pig savages” and “Zionist dogs”.



A video also appears with the title “8 US soldiers killed in Iraq” and the message from Ibrahim: “Keep them Comming (sic)”. Another video, since removed, said: “WATCH THE AMERICAN PIGS THE AUSSIE PIGS THE BRITISH PIGS SOLDIERS RAPING YOUR MUSLIM SISTER”.


THE state government is seeking advice on new laws that would extend police powers to ask traffic offenders to remove a face veil for identification....

The Islamic Council of NSW said yesterday ... all Australians, regardless of ethnicity or faith, were required to respect and abide by the law.

A Muslim woman was permitted by Islam to remove her face covering in the presence of a male officer for the purposes of identification, the council said.


Wilders acquitted

Andrew Bolt – Thursday, June 23, 11 (07:20 pm)

It’s a crime that the case even went to court, and much damage is already done:

Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been acquitted by a court in Amsterdam where he was on trial for inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.

Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, has described Islam as a “fascist ideology”, comparing the Quran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. He was acquitted on all five charges that were pressed against him.

The judge on Thursday said that Wilders’ statements were “rude and condescending” but not a criminal offence according to Dutch law.

“The bench finds that your statements are acceptable within the context of the public debate,” the judge told Wilders, who has been on trial in the Amsterdam regional court since last October.

Wilders has said he has a “problem with Islamic tradition, culture, [and] ideology; not with Muslim people”.

The judge interpreted Wilders’ remarks as challenging Islam as an ideology, which is not a criminal offence in the Netherlands.


Surrendering the moral high ground

Andrew Bolt – Thursday, June 23, 11 (04:08 pm)


Lord Monckton has embarrassed himself and damaged his cause by this offensive attack:

A British politician has called the Australian Government’s chief climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, a fascist.

Footage has been posted on the internet of a speech Lord Christopher Monckton gave to a conference in Los Angeles earlier this month.

In it he displayed a Nazi swastika next to a quote from Professor Garnaut.

Lord Monckton compared statements made by Adolf Hitler to Professor Garnaut’s suggestion that people should accept the mainstream science of climate change.

“That again is a fascist point of view, that you merely accept authority without question. Heil Hitler, on we go,” he said.

Monckton is right to warn against the surrender to argument-by-authority. He is right to warn against the surrender of sovereignty to international bodies claiming to work for “the planet”.

But he’s gone too far in this deeply personal attack and an apology is in order. Without one, it will be unwise for other sceptics to associate themselves with him on his Australian tour.


Monckton apologises:

Let me begin with an unreserved apology. In a recent lecture, I should not have described the opinions of Professor Ross Garnaut, the Australian Government’s climate economist, as “fascist”. I apologize humbly. Will there be similar apologies from those who have called us “climate deniers” or “denialists”, or who say we should be tattooed with our opinions, or imprisoned, or barred from Australia, or tried for “high crimes against humanity”?

But Labor and the media try to convict Tony Abbott through guilt by association, in a transparent attempt to shut down and delegitimise debate:

THE federal government has used question time to stage an attack on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s links to prominent climate change denier Christopher Monckton…

Lord Monckton will speak at the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) conference in Perth next week - an event that will be opened by Mr Abbott.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet on Thursday said all respected scientists agreed climate change was a threat. (False - Ed.)

He labelled Lord Monckton an extremist.... “It is unbefitting of a political leader in this country to hold these views and these associations."…

Labor MPs on Thursday called on Mr Abbott to withdraw from the conference but the Liberal Party leader said that while he found Lord Monckton’s comments “offensive and over the top” he would still be attending.

Greens leader Bob Brown said Mr Abbott should “reconsider” his attendance and he called on AMEC to take action....

But AMEC’s CEO Simon Bennison said on Thursday that the conference was hosting a wide range of speakers including those putting the case for action on climate change.

We live in witch-hunting times, and your freedom to speak and dissent is under serious threat.


Two wars risk ending with a whimper from the West

Andrew Bolt – Thursday, June 23, 11 (03:23 pm)

A terrible sign of a weakness of will and even greater weakness militarily:

Italy broke ranks with Nato yesterday and demanded an urgent halt to hostilities in Libya.

Franco Frattini, the foreign minister in Rome, called for an ‘immediate suspension’ of military operations to allow humanitarian aid to be brought to the wartorn country.

He also said military leaders should provide more details about Nato bombing raids following mistakes which led to civilians being killed.

His demand for a ceasefire echoed comments by Arab League Chairman Amr Moussa on Tuesday.

And another retreat, or so it will seem to some:

(President Barack) Obama will announce in a televised address at 8 p.m. EDT (midnight GMT) a plan to pull out 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by year’s end, followed by about 23,000 more by the end of next summer, congressional aides told Reuters.

News that Obama will pull the entire ‘surge’ force he sent to Afghanistan in 2010 caps weeks of speculation about the future of U.S. involvement there and could increase friction between Obama and military advisors who have warned about the perils of a hasty drawdown.

Nearly 10 years after the September 11 attacks that triggered the war, U.S. and NATO forces have been unable to deal a decisive blow to the insurgent Taliban. The Afghan government remains weak and notoriously corrupt and billions of dollars in foreign aid efforts have yielded meager results.

The same could happen to an Australian because our government is incompetent.
SAUDI Arabia has apologised for failing to inform Indonesia about the beheading of a maid convicted of murder.
Overland was a disgrace as police chief.
THE Ombudsman is investigating why Simon Overland and Victoria Police refused to release two independent reports on violent crime and public safety only days before last year's cliff-hanger state elec...
Gillard was never competent, but her performance cannot be hidden as leader.
JULIA Gillard has faced a question time attack over her decision to "assassinate'' her predecessor Kevin Rudd one year ago this week.
Another ALP fad destroys homes.
SOLAR panels in 12,000 NSW homes could be defective and at least two house fires were caused by incorrect wiring from the installations, energy company audits have found.
So far it sounds like he was doing his job. Is there some history to suggest otherwise? Tragedies happen.
A POLICE officer who allegedly sped through an intersection and crashed into a car, killing a woman, appeared in court yesterday charged over her death.
Eight months is a very long time to make a routine decision.
TARDY councils will be forced to report building approval rates every quarter in a bid to speed up new housing developments, Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said yesterday.
A contract system is cleaner than the current set up. At the moment incompetent Principals get away with a lot. This can be very bad for their schools.
PRINCIPALS would be forced on to five-year contracts as a trade-off for gaining greater control of school budgets and staffing, according to the NSW Secondary Principals' Council.
We can't be sure Jefferies isn't married to the woman under Islamic law.
A 23-year-old Justice of the Peace who thought he was witnessing Muslim woman Carnita Matthews' signature on a legal document said he never asked her to remove her full black niqab but had simply "ass...
Is there anything she is honest about?
IT began as a question of identity: Who was the woman behind the burqa? Yesterday it developed into a mystery about who's who in Carnita Matthews' life.
Democrats don't know how to use troops. They like to drop bombs. Obama is like all the preceding incompetent Democrats.
US President Barack Obama has moved to bring the war in Afghanistan to an end with immediate plans to withdraw 10,000 troops, starting a new era in which America will no longer take the lead role in m...
Smith is ridiculous, but it will hurt the military. He needs military barracks for boat people. Note, under ALP, soldiers are dying regularly.
THE nation's top brass were frozen out of a review that could lead to the biggest military transformation in decades.
It isn't about marginals when core seats won't endorse it
VOTERS in key marginal seats have forgiven Kevin Rudd and are clamouring for him to return to the Labor leadership.
Richo lacks judgement. Gillard was never competent
LABOR kingmaker Graham Richardson has declared his hand in Kevin Rudd's political assassination and says he would do it all over again.
And still no deaths from accident.
TESTS on a shipment of 800 cars from Japan show no signs of radiation contamination, Australia's nuclear agency said yesterday.
ALP couldn't do it, but there has to be a way of protecting the public from gangs
THE state government has been ordered to pay former Hells Angel bikie boss Derek Wainohu $300,000 in legal fees after he successfully challenged legislation aimed at breaking up bikie gangs
Fools are ingenious.
LAST Saturday was a typical afternoon at Sydney's Central station - until the actions of a flustered train driver turned into a near-disaster.
Glad someone was awake
A TRAIN guard averted a potential disaster at one of Sydney's busiest railway stations after a driver mistakenly entered an incorrect train and set off on a collision course in the wrong direction.
Liked on
It's a parody of "I'm a Believer" written by Neil Diamond and performed by the Monkees. This version was written by Elmer Beauregard and Brian D. Smith and performed by Elmer and the M4GW players. This song is in honor of all the new Republican...
12 hours ago via YouTube · ·

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