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The Local World: Mutualism Is Required

From:: Geoffrey Dobbs' The Local World Part III

May 2008

"Cheerful in the face of Armageddon" was the headline of Decca Aitkenhead's March 2008 interview with noted scientist James Lovelock, Guardian Weekly 28/3/08. Mr. Lovelock, 88, alarmingly predicts that "80% of the human race will be wiped out by 2100." Reading the scientist's gloomy expectations sent me back to an essay by Geoffrey Dobbs on the man and his GAIA Hypothesis: "Gaia - Goddess, Organism or Association?" * which first appeared in the Home Quarterly, Autumn 1989.
Geoffrey Dobbs' balanced approach to such a broad range of issues is most helpful as we try to discern truth from error and fact from propaganda in today's world.
The purpose of re-presenting the following passages from his lengthy article is to point the reader to the evidence of the mutualism and co-operation, Dobbs, as a biologist, philosopher and social crediter, observed in the world around him. It was his conclusion that wherever healthy growth, development, sustainability and continuity of living groups can be observed, the increment of the association based on mutualism, is evident.
He writes:

Mathematics: handmaid of the sciences:
"My father (a Cambridge wrangler) used, in his humble way, to describe mathematics as "the handmaid of the sciences," with the implication that even the best servant becomes a tyrant 'when he (or she) ruleth.' But that is just what happened. When the mathematical aspect directs the research and is applied to matters other than those naturally quantitative, it becomes a religion which inevitably eliminates belief in all things personal.
Even so, the most rabid mathematical automatist cannot live by maths alone. Being human he is bound to use a verbal language which can no more avoid the personal than mathematics can handle it, and this is bound to have its effect. Indeed, life is impossible without some sort of belief in personal qualities. In the end many of them find it necessary to seek refuge in a sort of pantheism in which Nature has indeed become their God (or their Goddess).

This brings us back to James Lovelock and his Gaia Hypothesis - a concept based largely upon physical and chemical studies of the atmosphere and the oceans, the most fluid and continuous parts of the Earth's surface. It gives us a more comprehensive view than before of the planet and its biosphere which if rightly interpreted can be of immense value, and if wrongly, can be disastrous."
Lovelock, an independent scientist has been working from his one-man laboratory in an old mill in Cornwall since the mid-1960s. Dobbs considered him a remarkable man who didn't depend upon a salaried post and career, but supported himself and his family by the income from his own inventions, the best-known in 1989 being the electron-capture detector. This invention enabled the detection of extremely minute traces of substances, such as pesticides, in the atmosphere and elsewhere, and the discovery of the widespread pollution of the environment.

The GAIA Hypothesis:
According to Dobbs: "James Lovelock and his GAIA Hypothesis, exerted a major influence on the Green Movement and such financial independence when combined with a scientific reputation of sufficient magnitude to secure election as a Fellow of the Royal Society, and some participation in the American Space Programme, conferred a freedom of mind which enabled him to launch an hypothesis - at the time so far-fetched and imaginative it was bound to be rejected at the outset by the Scientific Establishment and by the major journals.

"Not that the idea of the Earth as a living entity was anything new. It was not unknown in space fiction, and Lovelock himself pays tribute to some of his scientific predecessors, e g. the Scottish scientist James Hutton in 1785, and the Ukrainians Korolenko and Vernadskv. But when Lovelock took it up he transformed it into a serious scientific hypothesis for which he adduced much evidence, though by its nature absolute proof must be impossible. The concept as applied to the Earth appears to have originated with his involvement in designing instruments for the detection of life on Mars. It seemed to him that the direct attempt to find organisms or their products similar to those on Earth was the wrong approach. If Mars has a biosphere it must affect its atmosphere and therefore the sensitive analysis of the planet's air would provide the best evidence. Failing such evidence the search for living organisms in a few samples of its surface must be useless."

Lovelock challenged view of earth as a mass of inorganic material:
"The concept of the biosphere - the surface zone of the Earth inhabited by living organisms - had to precede that of Gaia, the whole living planet including its rocks, its air and its oceans as a self- regulating organism, maintained by the active feedback processes of its biota, the total collection of life-forms in the biosphere. While this might seem an obvious extension of thought to the ecologist (but not till after it had been made!) it was in fact a great leap of the imagination, challenging the established view of the Earth as a mass of inorganic material which happened to have provided a home for living organisms. It is its unique, shining atmosphere with its high oxygen content which gives away the secret of life on the third planet from the Sun. But is it just on it; or is life an essential property of the whole planet, transforming and distinguishing it from all the others ?

The Earth's Control System:
"The presence of oxygen has commonly been accounted for by the loss of hydrogen to space from water in the outer atmosphere under the influence of solar radiation, leaving the heavier oxygen behind; but this, perhaps once a major factor, is considered to be so no longer. How then does the Earth's atmospheric content of oxygen remain so constantly at 21 % - about the maximum which will allow vegetation to grow without being eliminated by fires ? What is the control system ? The answer suggested is that it is the production of methane in the anaerobic muds of marshes, lake and river sides, coastal sea-beds, estuaries, etc. This gas would take up oxygen by being oxidised to CO2 and water, while some of the carbon which does not form methane is buried in these anaerobic layers, thus leaving more oxygen free. This could provide a method of cybernetic control over the amount of oxygen in the air.

"In his first hook ("GAIA," 1979, and 1982, 1987 as Oxford Paperback), Lovelock gives a diagram illustrating this oxygen and carbon cycle. He also suggests a somewhat similar control mechanism which maintains the salt concentration in the sea at a level compatible with life. With the run-off from the land pouring into the sea continually, its salt content should have risen far above present levels were it not for the deposit of salt by evaporation in land-locked bays and lagoons.
These are but two examples of the many control systems at work in the planet. It is one of the virtues of the GAIA hypothesis that it constantly suggests these questions concerning homeostatic systems which we expect to find in living organisms, often with most revealing results.

Speculative History of Earth:
"In his second book: "The Ages of Gaia" (Oxford 1988), Lovelock gives us a speculative history of the Earth that starts off according to current theory. This requires a supernova explosion to provide the heavier elements found in the planets for which the Sun's hydrogen fusion process is inadequate. The early years of planetary existence are very largely unknown, but an atmosphere rich in CO2 with methane and with some hydrogen present, is now thought probable. (It used to be mostly ammonia). The oceans would have been laden with iron and other elements and compounds which could exist only in the absence of oxygen. In this anoxic environment the raw materials of life, compounds such as amino acids, nucleosides and sugars, described as 'organic' because they were formerly imagined to be exclusively the products of life, are thought to have accumulated, until one day a living, reproducing organism appeared.

Current Speculative Genesis Story:
"This primaeval molecular soup which arose under the action of solar radiation and perhaps also Earth's own heat and residual radioactivity, is now an established part of the current Genesis myth of science. The next great leap to the living cell is taken for granted, and once this has occurred natural selection can be held responsible for its survival and rapid spread. Only when the new form of microbial life had spread all over the planet's surface could Gaia be said to have been born.

Lovelock passes rather easily over these early stages, while admitting that they are all speculative. Being himself primarily a physical scientist rather than a biologist he relies largely upon the writings of others, especially on Professor Lynn Margulis's picture of early life on the planet. Plausible explanations as to how the molecular 'protolife' might have arisen are not lacking, and after that it is considered 'reasonable' that "life started from the molecular chemical equivalent of eddies and whirlpools. At first these living cells must have fed upon 'the abundant organic chemicals lying around," but at some early time some organisms must have "discovered how to tap the abundant and inexhaustible energy of sunlight" by the process of photosynthesis. This liberates oxygen, which at first would have been instantly absorbed by the anoxic environment, but at some time must have begun to accumulate in the air until it reached its present proportion of 21% of the atmosphere, at which level it is maintained by the homeostatic processes of the biosphere.
We are invited to visualise the Archaean as an age of anaerobic bacterial domination of the biosphere, ending with an Ice Age which may have marked the appearance of free oxygen in the atmosphere, attributed to the growing activities of photosynthesisers. It is suggested that the remnants of this Archaean biosphere survive to-day in the muds, swamps, oozes and sediments, wherever oxygen is excluded, and even in our own guts, playing an important part in the feedback processes which maintain the Earth in viable equilibrium.

"The invention and use of the electron microscope revealed a new world of fine structure which also revolutionised our classification of living organisms. It confirmed that the bacteria (now classed as prokaryotes) have a simpler cell structure than the other organisms (eukaryotes).
In prokaryotes the genetic material, now known as the DNA, is diffused in the cell, not contained in a nucleus or other organelle bounded by a membrane as in eukaryotes.
But it also was found that the blue-green algae (Cyanophyceae) differed from all the other algae in being prokaryotes like the bacteria, as well as containing chlorophyll and thus being able to photosynthesise as do all the other, enkaryotic algae. In fact, Lovelock refers to them as Cyanobacteria. He asserts that they must have been the first photosynthesisers to arise on Earth and to have been responsible for the first stage in oxygenating the atmosphere.

This next step, from the less-organised cell of the prokaryote to the more complex and organised cell of the eukaryote, opened the way for the development of all the organisms known to us, large and small, above the bacterial level : though it is still true that the bacteria play a much greater part in the ecology of the planet than is realised by those who think of them mainly as pathogens. The question as to how this great advance, from pro- to eu-karyote, can have taken place is an intriguing one, to which J. E. Lovelock's associate, Professor Lynn Margulis has suggested a most imaginative and stimulating answer in the form of the endo-symbiosis hypothesis.

Muck, Magic, Mutualism and Money:
"Symbiosis is a word which means simply 'living together,' but in practice and long usage it has come to refer to the intimate association of dissimilar organisms to their mutual advantage and interdependence : and thereby has arisen much argument.
For a long time the biological Establishment considered the idea of mutual benefit between organisms as in some way 'soft,' sentimental and 'unscientific,' and, indeed, to be ranked with the same sort of 'crankiness' as composting and organic farming - generally derided (especially at Rothamsted, the pioneers in chemical-industry farming) as 'muck and magic.'
One might retaliate by saying that the Establishment was non compost mentis before the present artificial vogue for every sort of 'green' thinking turned the tables on it (or them) ! Even now, 'microbes' and 'germs' are still thought of mainly as disease organisms, and fungi as nasty poisonous things or plant pests. As a result our whole culture is disease-orientated.* Hence also the distortion of popular Darwinism as expressed in the quotation : "Nature red in tooth and claw" and the current emphasis on everything perverse, lethal, fearful, criminal, violent or catastrophic.

"Comparatively few people yet realise the true situation : namely that symbiosis and innumerable less intimate forms of intricate mutualism and association, including commensalism (feeding together) and successionalism (one form following another) constitute the main basis of the biosphere, while parasitism and predation, are marginal and secondary phenomena, though important as limiting and eliminating factors.
You cannot have a parasite without a host, but you can have a 'host' without a parasite, and a 'disease' has no existence except as an abnormal condition of an organism."

Endo-symbiosis for all ?
"But to return to Professor Lynn Margulis and her endosymbiosis theory of how the more complex eukaryotes could have arisen from the simpler prokaryotes. Every cell of a eukaryote contains a number of distinct small bodies known as 'organelIes,' some of them not unlike bacteria, with their own definite walls and DNA resembling in some cases that in bacteria. Examples are the 'mitochondria,' energy-giving bodies found in all eukaryote cells including our own, and the chloroplasts which contain the chlorophyll which enables green plants to photosynthesise and obtain energy from sunlight and restore oxygen to the atmosphere - both now quite vital to life on this planet.
The suggestion is that these organelles originated as bacteria which had been taken into the larger cells some time during the period of prokaryote dominance of the biosphere, and instead of being swallowed, or parasitising their hosts, they had become symbionts (inside or endo-symbionts) so intimate that they had become essential components of the cell. This theory, like the Gaia hypothesis itself, was once regarded as far-fetched, but is now treated with respect as the widespread nature of symbiosis is increasingly realised, though still subject to criticism.

Symbiotic relationships little known even yet:
"For a long time the heavy use of fertilizers in nurseries and many experimental plots suppressed and obscured the almost universal presence of mycorrhizas (fungus-roots) on the roots of most green plants growing in natural soils, to the mutual advantage (as many studies have now shown) of both plant and fungus. The example of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the roots of leguminous plants is well known; but the supreme example of a symbiotic association so intimate and permanent that the product behaves like an autonomous organism has long been known as a lichen.
Indeed, throughout human history up to the late nineteenth century lichens have been known and studied simply as a sort of plants, and the discovery of their dual nature : a fungus thallus incorporating cells of green (or blue-green) algae, usually in a distinct layer, was at first rejected with withering scorn.
There are innumerable cases also of symbiosis involving bacteria (for instance those in the rumen of cattle which enable them to digest cellulose), but how widespread bacterial symbiosis with larger organisms may be is so far little known or studied. Similarly with the small, unicellular green algae, such as for instance, those which inhabit the bodies of some small animals, e.g. the common polyp Hydra viridis, thus giving them the benefits of photo-synthesis while sharing in their other food intake.

Hypothesis into Religion:
"No doubt these discoveries had to await the development of the light microscope to a point where the green cells, formerly known in lichens as 'gonidia,' could be recognised as algae. In the same way, Margulis's hypothesis had to await the development of the electron microscope to the point where the fine structure of bacteria and of organelles could be studied in the light of our knowledge of the structure of DNA. But if we accept the current evolutionary genesis story of the creation of life on this planet, including its early prokaryotic Age, it is hard to see how otherwise the eukaryotic cell with its vital organelles, which is now the basis of all larger life-forms, including ourselves, could have arisen. And in that event every living thing above the bacterial level is not a simple organism but a co-operative far more ancient and intimate than the lichens.

"As with the Gaia hypothesis itself, we are here still dealing with a hypothesis, not with something which can be proven, now or perhaps ever. But it fits in well with most of the known facts, is mentally stimulating and suggestive of further lines of enquiry, and has all the signs of a constructive and valuable advance in thinking. Moreover, no equally convincing alternative has so far been suggested.
What James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis together seem to have achieved is to round off and pull together the recent trend towards ecological understanding in a way which is bound to influence the direction of biological thought for generations, probably as much as have evolutionary theory and molecular biology. What is to be hoped is that, unlike these, the Gaia concept will not be erected into a religion.

A belief in creation and a Creator has been the normal and almost universal basis of human reason and understanding of the Universe for as long as we have any record. Though it came to a realistic and practical point with the Christian faith in the Incarnation from which arose the inspiration of modern science, in all the major religions including those which worshipped many gods or innumerable local spirits, there was nearly always, behind and beyond them all, the great and ultimate Creator; and it was not until the Greek philosophers had cast aside the gods of Olympus for the one God who created and maintains the Universe that they could begin to make sense of it…

Viewing the Planet as a whole:
"On the other hand, the true language of physical science, namely mathematics, though capable of indefinite expansion on the one plane of number and quantity, is totally incapable of dealing with the personal, with will, purpose, mind, love, or God…. It has been said that the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth, and 'viewing the planet as a whole' can well increase the already excessive tendency to evade tackling every awkward problem by enlarging it to global size, and then looking for global action by a global power to 'solve' it - ignoring the fact that it is mainly centrally imposed activities on a global scale which are the chief threat to human life on the planet.

"Lovelock's description of the Earth as 'living' is quite consistent with his belief that it is maintained in a state suitable for life by the homeostatic processes of the living organisms of the biosphere. But his description of it as an 'organism' is carrying an analogy too far.
An ecological association is not an organism, though it shares some of the properties of life with the organisms of which it consists. But these are not analogous with the cells of an organism, which possesses a unity derived from the identity of the DNA in every cell brought about by sexual fusion followed by cell division, as well as the contact of every cell membrane with its neighbours, through which a controlled exchange occurs throughout the body. In contrast, the constituents of an association are all different, by no means always in continuous contact, but are moulded together into a living entity by mutuality, the whole being defined by the eliminating factors of the environment, and of competition, death and disease.

A Mutuality, not an Organism or a God:
"Gaia, if we must call it that, is an incredibly complex association of associations of living beings. It survives by its immense variety, its homeostatic properties, its mutuality, and complementarity. Any attempt at central control by one kind of its constituent organisms is contrary to its nature, and is simply asking for the offender to be eliminated. But how many of the people who now call themselves 'ecologists' and talk about 'saving the planet' understand this ? Identifying the living planet with the ancient Earth-Goddess first of all suggests it is a single organism, secondly invites the conversion of a scientific theory into a primitive pagan cult - an aspect indeed, of the nature cult, and thirdly endows the Earth with feminine gender.

"On the other hand, he takes seriously the greenhouse effect, the destruction of tropical rainforests, and the growth of human population, but is well aware of our lack of sufficient knowledge to place these into the time-scale of the Earth's natural, astronomical and atmospheric changes. Nevertheless, Lovelock has some of the limitations of his mathematical-physical-chemical view of life.
One of his somewhat maverick suggestions (New Scientist 23-9-89) is that : "We should get industry to synthesise foodstuffs so that we can give back the land, keeping ourselves in cities."
"This seems quite inconsistent both with his life-style and with his main thesis in the Gaia books, namely that we ourselves are a part of the living Earth, not an alien life upon it, and having our vital part to play as members of the biosphere, we cannot cut ourselves off from it."
Geoffrey Dobbs finishes his article with these words: "But if that inconsistency strikes me as a distinctly naughty hobgoblin, at least it is not the hobgoblin of a little mind !"

Nineteen years later James Loveleock warns in his latest book, "The Revenge of Gaia" that everything being done about 'climate change' is wrong and finishes the interview with these words: "… eventually we'll have a human on the planet that really does understand it and can live with it properly."

Owen Barfield in "History in English Words," explains:
"Environment, evolution, development, instinct, species, spontaneous, variation are some of the words, whose modern meanings, if we look at their semantic history, are found to bear the unmistakable stamp of Darwinism, and we ought perhaps to add ooze and slime.
To Darwin we should have to attribute the tendency of evolution to lose its etymological suggestion of a vegetable growth, an unfolding from the centre outwards."

* Geoffrey Dobbs' full article on James Lovelock is on the League website: >www.alor.org/Race/Culture/Nation/The Local World Part III<.
Further reading. "Thy Kingdom Come," by Ralph Laslett Duck $7.50 posted; "What is Social Credit?" by Geoffrey Dobbs $5.50 posted.

 

THE GROWTH OF THE SOCIAL CREDIT

From: "Extraordinary Times, Intentional Collapse, and Takedown of the U.S.A." by Richard C. Cook

People such as Richard Cook of America, having studied C.H. Douglas' writings, have come to grasp the fundamental importance of a nation's money system. He is now very active among his own people warning and teaching them of what to expect if radical changes are not made to the core problem - the present fraudulent money system and who should control it.
In the latest article to appear online: "Extraordinary Times, Intentional Collapse, and Takedown of the U.S.A." Global Research 30/4/08, he tells us he is often asked for personal financial advice which was:.
"... to invest in yourself and in other people. Plant a robust home garden. Learn new skills. Start community food co-ops that buy local products. Establish local currencies and barter networks. Join or form a union. Raise bees. Put kids through school. Get out of debt. Pray and meditate. Become politically active. Demand change.…"

Individualism as opposed to Individuality:
I have to say, having been involved in the League of Rights for over forty years, it is my experience, that the wish for financial advice to save themselves is a typical response from people wrapped up in their own self-centred, egotistical lifestyle. When it dawns on them that their own well being is in peril, their first thought is to 'save themselves'. How many of these people have given much thought to those whom 'the system' has discarded? It is typical of modern man and his individualism - who thinks he is an island unto himself. He uses the products of other men's industry, public highways, education systems, the public hospitals, etc. without comprehending these systems and institutions grew out of the efforts of the whole community, or the whole nation! He is a privileged beneficiary of the community's inheritance, the whole community's past efforts. The time will come when it will (hopefully) dawn on him such a fraudulent financial system cannot be morally, environmentally and mathematically sustained. Hopefully he will become just as concerned for his neighbours' well-being as for his own. That is what it means to 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. While writing for and to his fellow Americans, it behoves us all to get involved and demand change of the corrupt financial system:

"Extraordinary Times, Intentional Collapse, and Takedown of the U.S.A."

"A national monetary system should reflect the treatment of credit as a public utility and thereby make possible responsible economic activity and the fair distribution of wealth. Some of the measures which should be implemented are contained in the American Monetary Institute's draft American Monetary Act. (www.monetary.org/) The resulting currency could be issued, not in the form of debt instruments like Federal Reserve Notes, but silver-backed Treasury certificates as in President Kennedy's program of 1963.

Features of a new monetary system could be as follows:
A guaranteed income, followed by a National Dividend, should be paid directly to citizens from a Treasury credit account without recourse to either taxation or government borrowing. (C.H. Douglas's theory of the National Dividend as the monetization of the net appreciation of the productivity of a modern industrial economy is set forth in this author's Global Research article entitled, "An Emergency Program of Monetary Reform for the United States," April 26, 2007.)
The National Dividend, currently estimated at over US$12,000 per capita annually, could be distributed in a variety of ways, in addition to a subsistence stipend. This could include price subsidies for consumer purchases, taking over existing Social Security payments, universal health insurance, or payments to women with young children. Another way to issue a National Dividend would be to monetize food production, whereby anyone who delivers food products to wholesalers receives a government payment as a producer's subsidy, thereby discounting food at the consumer point-of-sale. This would work in a similar fashion to farm parity pricing programs of bygone days.

As explained by Wallace Klinck, "Social Credit policy is to compensate retail prices at the point-of-sale. It is not, however, to subsidize production which would be subject to consumer choice and fully supported by consumers having at all times financial income adequate to fully liquidate the costs of production. That is, production policy is to be determined essentially by consumers - this being the Social Credit concept of genuine economic democracy with maximum decentralization, or dispersion, of power over production policy.
Price controls under the present financial cost-accountancy system, where continued economic activity is dependent upon an inflationary expansion of credit to meet rising costs arising consequent to flawed accountancy, is demonstrably impossible. Price regulation, however, would appear to be both necessary and realistic under a self-liquidating Social Credit system of finance. Although not generally recognized, prices are 'controlled,' (or manipulated) under the present system of finance in a most deleterious manner."

The government should also spend money directly into circulation, as it did with Greenbacks in the 19th century, both for operating expenses and for infrastructure projects at the federal, state, and local levels. A national infrastructure bank could be capitalized by state and local infrastructure bonds without any impact on the federal budget. Such spending would again be without recourse to borrowing or taxation. Infrastructure spending could be either through grants or low-interest loans. As with Congressman Dennis Kucinich's current proposed infrastructure bank legislation, the program could specify that a requisite proportion of funding be spent on American-made products such as steel.

We should reform banking by eliminating the catastrophic privately-controlled fractional reserve system. Instead, the government should lend money at a low rate of interest to banks, then use the proceeds to help pay for legitimate government expenditures in the areas of regulation or services. Use of the proceeds, combined with the new Greenbacks and savings from no longer having to pay interest on an unnecessary national debt, would eliminate the need for the federal income tax, allowing the 16th Amendment to be repealed. In fact, under a monetary system such as the one described herein, probably three-fourths or more of the current societal tax burden could be eliminated.

In order to clear the way for these reforms, bankruptcy reorganization of the entire $50 trillion of existing debt in the U.S. should be undertaken, with debt being restructured and paid down over time or simply written off. Bank lending for speculation, such as for mergers and acquisitions, equity and hedge fund speculation, and purchase of securities on margin has been explosively enabled through bankers' ability to move massive amounts of funds electronically. These leveraging practices should be outlawed, as they are abuses of the public interest. (According to the London Times, one John Paulson made $3.7 billion in hedge fund trading last year. "Mr. Paulson's firm, Paulson & Co, made a fortune from shorting America 's sub-prime mortgage markets.") A national fuel conservation program with real teeth should also be instituted. And at least half of the U.S. military budget should be eliminated, with half of the remainder devoted to energy R&D and domestic public works. Employees of the military-industrial complex will find many new career opportunities as the domestic economy revives.

As these measures are taken, the United States will no longer be dancing to the financiers' tune. We would be helping prepare a future where man's inhumanity to man as expressed through war and financial exploitation is no longer glorified. Such a future would be a milestone in the eventual enlightenment of the human race. But these are measures that must be implemented now, before it is too late."

Richard C. Cook is a former U.S. federal government analyst, whose career included service with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, NASA, and the U.S. Treasury Department. His articles on economics, politics, and space policy have appeared on numerous websites. His book on monetary reform is entitled We Hold These Truths: The Promise of Monetary Reform and will be published by Tendril Press. His website is at www.richardccook.com. Questions, comments, or contributions may be directed to economicsanity@gmail.com.

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