This newsletter was distributed by Danielle Smith.
I started my Western Standard show last week in the same week I was moderating a two-day conference for the Canadian Blockchain Consortium. So my shows last week were centred around trying to educate people as to what is cryptocurrency and Bitcoin, in particular, and how it is being used by regular people: such as when governments hyperinflate their currencies – like this story in Venezuela where people use it to buy food – or when countries fall apart like in Ukraine – where this man used the Bitcoin in the wallet on his phone to escape from the country before conscription came in.
As a side note, I can tell you I haven’t missed the cesspit of social media commentary. Part of the agreement with Western Standard is they broadcast on the social media channels so I get social media trolls shit posting me through the entire show. Delightful.
But I do take seriously those in our community who write me emails and approach me at events to express concerns.
Amanda is an example. She thanked me for the primers and said, “I was just chatting with a friend who said Poilievre needs to tone it down on that (cryptocurrency) because he is losing people like her because it is not well understood.” Others told me they wanted me to stop talking about Bitcoin also because they don’t understand it and they said I should just talk about freedom instead.
I wish I could stop the world so we could all get off.
I’d probably get off in the year 2005 – just when we had all the advantages of technology but none of creepiness. I could easily live in a world before iPhone. I loved my blackberry. My husband would probably choose the 1950s when we still had passenger rail service and men wore hats. He can do without technology completely.
But we are in the world of the Technocreepy (to borrow the phrase coined by professor Thomas Keenan) and, ironically, it is one where you will soon be able to fully immerse yourself in whatever world you choose. I’m just learning about the Metaverse, but the concept of it is to use virtual reality goggles to enter into a world of digital avatars and artificial intelligence to meet up with others in a constructed environment. “Meet you for a wine on the train from Calgary to Toronto in 1950” may one day be a weekend date for my husband and me.
Central Bank Digital Currency vs Cryptocurrency…
But the biggest uneasiness I’m hearing is around the concept of a central bank digital currency. Pierre Poilievre has said he is absolutely opposed to a central bank digital currency at the same time as he says he wants to make Canada the blockchain capital of the world and make it easier to receive payments in cryptocurrency. That should tell you right there that a digital currency (issued by a central bank) and a cryptocurrency (not issued by a central bank) aren’t the same thing. More on that in a minute.
I’m hearing from many of you who are feeling unease that you don’t want either one. You say you want to move to bartering or stay in cash.
You will always be free to barter goods but I would put it to you that it will be pretty limiting. There a remains a problem that most employers will still want to pay you in cash and most businesses will want to receive cash for your purchases. Anyone who has success in trading their baked bread and jars of chutney at the automechanic should let me know so I can be corrected. But I suspect you won’t find many takers.
I also don’t want our old dears thinking that the safest way to hold money is to withdraw cash from the bank and put it under their mattress. Holding cash in an environment where we have 10 to 15 per cent annual inflation is positively the worst advice anyone could give. Your money just loses its value year after year. That’s no way to preserve wealth either.
People say they want politicians to level with them. But now that I’m levelling with you about what is coming and how you can counter it, you are telling me you are too afraid to listen so I should just shut up about it.
I acknowledge your fears.
But I would ask you to soldier on and try to understand how the world is going to change. Because the World Economic Forum compendium document on digital currencies released in November 2021 shows a central bank digital currency is where the central bankers of the world are moving and it is has already started in China and Russia.
Here’s some background on where we already sit…
Bahamas was the first, but China rolled out its central bank digital currency called the renminbi last year and Time Magazine wrote about it last August in advance of the Beijing Olympics. The Chinese already have 96 per cent of their transactions taking place digitally with private options through Alipay and WeChat. Citizens like it. They simply flash a QR code on their smartphone screen to pay for everything they need: commuter tickets, lunch, convenience store items.
Chinese citizens are now voluntarily switching to the digital central bank renminbi – there are already more than 260 million individual users of the central bank digital coin. Also, 86 per cent of world’s central bankers (according to a survey by the Bank for International Settlements) are actively researching adopting their own.
Why do governments like the idea so much? Oh, so many reasons.
The biggest change of money since the gold standard…
According to Time, “It’s the biggest change in money since the end of the gold standard.”
The reason political leaders like digital coins is because there are “tremendous new functionalities.” For example:
Transfer “tokens” could be created to instantly transfer homes and property. You could own a “token” for a fractional share of any asset including vacation property, precious gems, art or other collectibles. It will reduce cross border transaction fees and costs to the financial services industry, which currently amount to $350 a year for each person in the world. It will make the SWIFT banking system – the one the Americans have used to cut off Iran and Russia – obsolete. And governments will be able to see all financial transactions rather than having to ask banks to provide it. It will also allow 1.7 billion people who have no bank accounts to get access to money.
But there is a dark side too…
There is also a reason authoritarian regimes like China like it too. From the Time article:
“In the Chinese pilot program, money has an expiration date of a few weeks because authorities are hoping to drive consumption in an economy trying to recover from the pandemic. Cash can be customized for other purposes. If the government is trying to stimulate the hospitality industry in a certain area, for example, it can program money to be used for meals and drinks but not for, say, petrol or power tools… Linked to China’s social credit system, it could see citizens fined in a split second for behaviors deemed undesirable. Dissidents and activists could see their wallets emptied or taken offline.”
So why does Poilievre oppose central bank digital currency and yet support cryptocurrency, the most important of which is Bitcoin? This article in the National Telegraph describes the differences well.
“Bitcoin as a currency functions as an anti-CBDC in a lot of ways. Where CBDCs are completely controlled by a central authority, Bitcoin is 100 percent decentralized, no one can mess with the system. CBDCs can have built-in controls so they can discriminate based on age, sex, wealth, race, or whatever other categories the government wanted, Bitcoin, on the other hand, has no control built-in so discrimination is impossible. While every CBDC transaction can be tracked and recorded Bitcoin transactions can be done peer to peer and are untraceable to a specific person. CBDCs are a windfall for bankers who love to print money and run up inflation, Bitcoin is a deflationary asset that less and less of can be mined every four years.”
Bitcoin is essentially an antidote to central bank coins.
A new geopolitical realignment…
There is a law of the universe: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The Americans throwing their weight around by excluding countries from the SWIFT system has accelerated the move from using the US dollar as an intermediary for global transactions and contracts. This will change the US dollar from being the de facto international currency and all the geopolitical shifts that implies.
Will it be good for us, tied as we are to the Americans?
I’m not sure yet, which is why I am following this closely. This article in the Algora blog site believes the change signals the end of Western domination and that we are going to find ourselves isolated from the rest of the world. According to them we are witnessing the end of globalization and the world is being split in two with the US, Europe and its allies (10 per cent of the world population) in one corner and the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – BRICS partners – representing 90 per cent of the world population on the other side.
“Reacting swiftly, Russia has convinced its BRICS partners to stop trading in dollars and to eventually create a common virtual currency for their exchanges. Until then, they will proceed in gold. This currency should be based on a basket of BRICS currencies, weighted according to the GDP of each member state, and on a basket of commodities listed on the stock exchange. This system should be much more stable than the current one.”
So if I were a guessing person, I would imagine this is going to be the model for how a new common digital currency will emerge for us.
Canada would develop its own central bank digital currency. Then we would opt in to a common virtual currency that includes the US, Europe, Australia and anyone else who wants to join us based on a basket of our currencies weighted according to GDP and (maybe?) a basket of commodities on the stock exchange.
The reason I think this is inevitable and that it will happen before Pierre Poilievre gets elected in 2025 and gets a chance to stop it, is because the momentum to do something to address our damaged currency is already too great.
The Great Money Printing Crusade of the last two years has rendered western currencies increasingly valueless. Printing money only works in the short term. Eventually you outpace the ability of the economy to keep up with producing goods and it causes inflation. Canadian inflation was 6.7 per cent last month – the highest it’s been in 30 years.
The Central Bank has already started raising rates to rein in spending and rate hikes are expected to continue.
I can imagine a few ways that shifting to a central bank digital coin could bail the government out of the mess it has created.
As we’ve seen in China, if it were implemented as a pilot project I suspect a large number of Canadians would simply sign up. We saw through COVID that at least 90 per cent of the public (or more) will do whatever the government tells them to do. So I suspect there will be a high uptake of the digital coin.
So yes, while I think we have reason to be gravely concerned that the federal government will want to use our transactions to micromanage our affairs, nudge us, monitor our ESG profile, and potentially punish us, I think we should also consider that the real reason for the global desire to suddenly go digital is so government can profit from the digital coin.
How Debt Jubilees Work…
Lyn Alden has done a wonderful write up of the historical experience with debt jubilees, which date back 4000 years. It began because farmers would be severely indebted to their lenders after a harvest failed and to avoid debt servitude, slavery or land seizure, the rulers from time to time (every 50 years or so) would just declare a debt jubilee so that all was forgiven. In the absence of this periodic forgiveness, more and more money would concentrate in the hands of the few, more and more would be pushed into poverty and there would be a popular uprising that would result in more than a few beheaded leaders.
No one in power ever wants that to happen.
And so we find ourselves in a familiar debt trap.
As Alden says, now that we have divorced our currency entirely from gold, we have created a banking ouroboros that makes it (nearly) impossible for central banks to forgive debt. In the past you could simply rebase your currency relative to the price of gold. Now we have a circular system: “Commercial banks store their cash at the central bank, which are assets for the commercial banks and liabilities for the central bank. In turn, the central bank holds government debt as its primary collateral assets. Government debt is backed up by the government’s ability to tax its citizens, and in practice, by having the central bank create new bank reserves to buy its government debt when needed. We can’t just remove one piece of it, like government debt from the central bank balance sheet. The monetary base is collateralized by government debt, and government debt is supported by expanding the monetary base when needed. It’s basically an ouroboros.”
So with inflation kicking in, interest rates rising, private debt in the stratosphere, government debt in the mesosphere, and no ability to cancel it all, what is a central banker to do?
One, they can do some “debt restructuring” and convert government bonds into 100-year zero coupon bonds, making the debt no longer relevant but allowing the central bank to raise rates for you and me while protecting themselves.
Two, they can hold interest rates below inflation, and let high inflation rates “burn debt away”, even though it will affect you and me in our purchasing power for the goods we need to buy on a daily basis. You can pay off your debt more easily then, but it will cost more to buy food and electricity.
Three, they could just steal it directly by doing a bail in, like they did in Cyprus in 2013, where the government taxed bank deposits up to 9.9 per cent and issued worthless equity certificates in exchange for the theft.
I’m wondering if a central bank digital coin offers a fourth way?
What about a Financial Transactions Tax?…
If it is indeed the case that the financial services industry costs $350 per person per year, it seems to me a digital currency is a way for the government to capture some of this revenue.
If you consider that the dollar from 1971 until today has been a petrodollar based on the flows of oil and natural gas denominated in the US currency, if we are moving to a digital dollar based on the amount of GDP and flow of financial transactions, what new revenue generating possibilities does that open for government?
I remember reading years ago about a proposal from Green Party Leader Elizabeth May for a financial transactions tax. The idea was to levy a tax on all sales of stocks and bonds and other financial holdings, to stick it to the rich but to also discourage speculative trading. In the US, they calculated charging 0.2 per cent ($2 on every $1000 in trade) would generate $777 billion over 10 years. Canada, with half the size, might expect to generate a $77 billion over 10 years.
But what if the concept was expanded to generate a fee for all transactions in Canadian dollars, equivalent to the transaction fees already being paid in the cryptocurrency markets? And what if all governments collaborated to make sure everyone charged the same tax so it couldn’t be avoided?
In Bitcoin, transactions under $10,000 carry a fee of 0.5 per cent. Canada’s Gross Domestic Product is $1.643 Trillion compared to a world GDP of $84.71 Trillion.
So if $1.7 trillion Canadian digital dollars trade hands each year, and the government could generate $5 for every $1000 spent, that would be $8.5 billion a year. But why stop there?
Banks often charge etransfer fees of $1.50 a transaction. At the top end, Visa and Mastercard charge 3.4 per cent on transactions. If the Bank of Canada were to charge rates that high on all Canadian dollar transactions they’d generate $58 billion a year.
Now we are talking some real money…
At the Blockchain conference this week, the keynote fireside chat was with Jeff Booth, author of The Price of Tomorrow: Why Deflation is the Key to an Abundant Future. In the video below he talks with Real Vision Finance about the pattern of inflation we have seen throughout history and how it creates a predictable pattern of behaviour in government to keep getting elected.
First they create internal division to distract people to stay elected, and when that stops working they blame another country. We have a structural change that is happening in the country, he says, and everything we are talking about is two orders of magnitude away from the first principles we should be talking about.
So I know this is uncomfortable. I know you don’t want me to talk about it. But we must. Because money affects everything.
So now you are thinking, if Canada is moving toward a central bank digital currency, and the WEF is championing central bank digital currencies, and if governments can use it to develop social scores (like China) to punish and reward its citizens, how can you escape the system?
How can you get the equivalent of cash that can’t be centrally controlled, monitored, devalued or turned off?
Now you understand why so many of us are interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.
How you can help…
If you want to support me personally there are three ways to do it.
Book me to speak at your event: If you want me to do an event or coffee party in Livingstone Macleod I am happy to line it up. Just email [email protected] and my executive assistant will book it. If you are not in the constituency of Livingstone Macleod and want me to speak about The Future of Alberta and The Alberta First Initiative, my fee is $500 and you can book me by emailing me at [email protected]
The Danielle Smith Show: The Danielle Smith Show launched April 18. I did three 30 minute news monologues on Bitcoin during the week and a weekend long form interview on Saturday with Gord Tulk on health care spending accounts and radical idea to reform confederation. You can tune in live at 9 am or listen on podcast. Send me an email at [email protected] if you want to discuss sponsorship or advertising.
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The Livingstone Macleod campaign …
My campaign website is http://daniellesmithucp.ca
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Donate by Mail: Make Cheques out to the Danielle Smith Campaign and send to 5548 Station Main, High River, Alberta, T1V 1H2.
Upcoming Events and Appearances…
April 25 Seminar to the CPAA on The Future of Alberta
April 27 AEG Calgary Event
April 27 Zoom telephone town halls for Livingstone Macleod
April 28 Crownest Pass Responsible Coal Association town hall
April 30 Civitas
May 4 Lethbridge Event with UCP Members
May 7 Airdrie Event with UCP Members
May 12 Canada in Question with Peter McInnon
May 18 High River Event with UCP Members
May 19 Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre Gala
The Danielle Smith Podcast is now available.
Danielle Smith warns Trudeau gov’t she’s going ahead with natural gas projects despite regulations
‘We’re not going to sit and wait while they break the law, drag their feet, make us take them to court, spend years creating economic uncertainty for our investors’
After Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault brushed off Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s invocation of the “Sovereignty Act” as being merely “symbolic,” the Alberta leader warned him that her province will be building new gas-fired power plants regardless of his new “clean energy” rules.
“Well, he [Guilbeault] will learn that if he does not back down from his outrageous and unconstitutional targets of 2035, it’ll be more than symbolic,” said Smith Tuesday after being asked by a reporter about Guilbeault’s comments.
“We’ll proceed with developing our baseload power on natural gas with the best available technology.”
Smith said that the use of the Sovereignty Act, which was invoked on Monday for the purpose of shielding Alberta from future power blackouts due to federal government overreach, will help the province “make sure that we are able to shield any corporation from any kind of criminal liability.”
“Whether that means that we have to de-risk it by being the generator of last resort or we have to purchase some of those plants so that we operate them ourselves, so that we’re able to continue on with having a reliable power grid,” she said.
The Sovereignty Act resolution calls on Alberta’s cabinet to “order all provincial entities not to recognize the constitutional validity of, enforce, nor cooperate in the implementation of the CERs [Clean Electricity Regulations] in any manner, to the extent legally permissible.”
Guilbeault on Monday came out with a statement concerning Alberta’s invocation of the Sovereignty Act, claiming that its use will “create fear and uncertainty over collaboration and positive results for Albertans.”
He also later claimed while speaking to reporters that Smith’s action using the Sovereignty Act is just “symbolic.”
After announcing Monday that she has had “enough” of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s extreme environmental rules, Smith said her province has no choice but to assert control over its electricity grid to combat federal overreach.
Unlike most provinces in Canada, Alberta’s electricity industry is nearly fully deregulated. However, the government still has the ability to take control of it at a moment’s notice.
A draft version of the federal government’s CERs introduced by Guilbeault projects billions in higher costs associated with a so-called “green” power transition, especially in the resource-rich provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, which use natural gas and coal to fuel power plants.
Business executives in Alberta’s energy sector have also sounded the alarm over the Trudeau government’s “green” transition, saying it could lead to unreliability in the power grid.
‘We’re not going to sit and wait while they break the law’
While speaking to reporters Tuesday, Smith noted how Alberta will proceed with ensuring its power grid is stable and secure, and that the province will not “sit and wait” around for the Trudeau government to continue breaking “the law.”
“So, there’s this is just the indication that we’re moving on this. We’re not going to sit and wait while they break the law, drag their feet, make us take them to court, spend years creating economic uncertainty for our investors,” said Smith.
“We’re going to start commissioning those plants now because we need them now.”
The Smith government said that while it does not like the route of taking back power production under state control, it says this is the only way the province can keep the current Liberal government, or any other future government, from interfering in provincial power production.
Two recent court rulings dealt a serious blow to the Trudeau government’s environmental activism via legislation. The most recent was when the Federal Court of Canada on November 16, 2023, overturned the Trudeau government’s ban on single-use plastic, calling it “unreasonable and unconstitutional.”
The Federal Court ruled in favor of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan by stating that Trudeau’s government had overstepped its authority by classifying plastic as “toxic” as well as banning all single-use plastic items, like straws, bags, and eating utensils.
The second victory for Alberta and Saskatchewan concerns a Supreme Court ruling that stated that Trudeau’s law, C-69, dubbed the “no-more pipelines” bill, is “mostly unconstitutional.” The decision returned authority over the pipelines to provincial governments, meaning oil and gas projects headed up by the provinces should be allowed to proceed without federal intrusion.
The Sovereignty Act resolution calls on Alberta’s cabinet to “order all provincial entities not to recognize the constitutional validity of, enforce, nor cooperate in the implementation of the CERs in any manner, to the extent legally permissible.”
It also orders that the province investigate the “feasibility of establishing a provincial Crown corporation for the purpose of bringing and maintaining more reliable and affordable electricity onto the grid in the event that private generators find it too risky to do so under the CERs.”
The Trudeau government’s current environmental goals – in lockstep with the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” – include phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.
The reduction and eventual elimination of the use of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has also been pushed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the globalist group behind the socialist “Great Reset” agenda – an organization in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved.
Alberta’s projected surplus balloons: Mid-year budget update
Mid-year update: Keeping Alberta’s finances on track
Alberta’s government continues to manage the province’s finances responsibly with the future in mind.
Alberta continues to lead the nation in economic growth and is forecasting a surplus of $5.5 billion in 2023-24, an increase of $3.2 billion from Budget 2023. The province’s fiscal outlook continued to improve in the second quarter of 2023-24, boosted by strong bitumen royalties and higher income tax revenues.
However, volatile oil prices, continued inflation challenges and uncertainty due to slowing global growth could still affect the province’s finances going forward. Debt servicing costs will be higher than previous years due to higher interest rates, reinforcing the importance of the government’s commitment to balance the budget.
“Alberta continues to stand out as a leader when it comes to fiscal stability and economic resilience in the midst of so much global uncertainty. Our second-quarter fiscal update is another positive report, showing strength in Alberta’s finances and economy and positioning us for future growth and prosperity.”
The government continues to spend responsibly, maintaining its commitment to keep funds in the province’s contingency for disasters and emergencies. The government’s new fiscal framework requires the government to use at least half of available surplus cash to pay down debt, freeing up money that can support the needs of Albertans for generations. The government continues to reduce the province’s debt burden and will pay down a forecasted $3.2 billion in debt this fiscal year.
Alberta’s government is turning its focus to developing next year’s budget, so it supports Albertans’ needs and the province’s economic growth while maintaining the government’s commitment to responsible spending within the fiscal framework. Budget 2024 consultations are open and Albertans are encouraged to share their feedback to help set the province’s financial priorities.
- Revenue for 2023-24 is forecast at $74.3 billion, a $3.7-billion increase from Budget 2023. The increase is due to increases across different revenue streams. In addition, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil is forecast to average US$79 per barrel over the course of the fiscal year, in line with the Budget 2023 forecast.
- Personal and corporate income tax revenue is forecast at $21.8 billion, $1.8 billion higher than at budget.
- Bitumen royalties are forecast at $14.4 billion, an increase of $1.8 billion from budget.
- Overall resource revenue is forecast at $19.7 billion, $1.3 billion higher than the budget forecast.
- Beginning in 2024, Alberta’s government will continue to offer fuel tax relief when oil prices are high, even as the province transitions back to the original fuel tax relief program, which is based on average quarterly oil prices.
- Albertans will save some or all of the provincial fuel tax on gasoline and diesel when oil prices are $80 per barrel or higher during each quarter’s review period.
- Although oil prices have been below $80 in recent weeks, Albertans will continue to save at least four cents per litre on the provincial fuel tax in the first three months of 2024 as the tax is phased back in.
- The government’s fuel tax relief efforts, which include the pause to the end of 2023 and additional savings over the first three months of 2024, are forecast to reduce other tax revenue by $524 million in 2023-24.
- Expense for 2023-24 is forecast at $68.8 billion, a $481-million increase from Budget 2023.
- Capital grants are up marginally from Budget 2023, but down from the first-quarter forecast, mainly due to funding schedules for Calgary and Edmonton LRT projects.
- Debt servicing costs are forecast to increase $309 million from budget, a reflection of ongoing high interest rates and inflation.
- Total expense has increased by $1.9 billion, $0.5 billion is directly offset by revenue and $1.4 billion is absorbed by the $1.5-billion contingency.
- In total, $123 million of the 2023-24 contingency remains unallocated.
- $1.2 billion in disaster and emergency costs are forecast for the current fiscal year.
- $750 million for fighting wildfires in the province
- $165 million for AgriRecovery to support livestock producers affected by dry conditions
- $253 million to provide financial assistance to communities for uninsurable damage from spring wildfires and summer flooding
- $61 million for evacuation and other support
- The operating expense forecast has increased by $319 million, including an additional:
- $301 million for Health
- $48 million for Advanced Education
- $48 million for Energy and Minerals
- $33 million for Mental Health and Addiction
- $30 million for Education
- $14 million for Indigenous Relations
- Offset by decreases of $187 million for lower-than-expected program take-up of affordability payments and re-profiling of TIER spending to 2024-25.
Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund
- The Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund’s market value on Sept. 30, 2023, was $21.4 billion, up from the $21.2 billion reported at March 31, 2023.
- The Heritage Fund returned 0.9 per cent over the first six months of 2023-24.
- Over the five-year period ending on Sept. 30, 2023, the Heritage Fund returned 5.9 per cent, which is 0.5 per cent above the return of its passive benchmark. While the Heritage Fund is outperforming its benchmark return, it is below the long-term real return target of 6.9 per cent, again a result of interest pressures.
- The Heritage Fund generated net investment income of $1 billion in the first half of the fiscal year.
- Alberta’s economy continues to be resilient, with continued growth projected over the three-year forecast.
- Alberta’s real gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow 2.8 per cent in 2023, in line with the Budget 2023 forecast.
- Despite interest rate increases, high prices and slower global economic growth, Alberta’s economy is forecast to keep expanding. The pace of growth, however, will be slower compared with the last two years when the province was recovering from the pandemic.
- The amount of surplus cash available for debt repayment and the Alberta Fund is determined after a number of required cash adjustments have been made. For 2023-24, this includes $5.1 billion from the 2022-23 final results to start the year.
- The Alberta Fund contribution for 2023-24 is forecast at $1.6 billion.
- Money in the Alberta Fund can be used toward additional debt repayment, the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, or one-time initiatives that do not permanently increase government spending.
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