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Did Ebola Escape Back To Africa
In An ‘Orphan’ Lab Chimp?

By Yoichi Shimatsu
Exclusive to Rense


Fear grips West Africa as angry Monrovia slum dwellers wreck an ebola quarantine center in rebellion against the pharmaceutical industry and biowarfare programs. In a lame attempt to shift the blame for the pandemic onto taxpayers in Western countries, the corrupt and inept World Health Organization (WHO) is responding with damage control by sending its publicity staff to television shows in appeals for more donations.

Ebola is out of control with even the WHO admitting that the death toll is far higher than reported. One bit of news lost in the panic is that American eco-tourists returning from the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR) report that a band of 80 gorillas was recently wiped out by a viral outbreak.

This essay is the fourth in a series of exposes that has uncovered ebola research by the pharmaco-military complex in Britain, the US and France. So far, suspicions of human error as the cause of outbreak are focused on a possible act of biological warfare in a neocolonialist struggle to control resource-rich Africa or, alternatively, illegal ebola-antidote testing on humans during a vaccine campaign involving a major French pharmaceutical company. Fact is stranger than the fiction of John LeCarre’s novel “The Constant Gardener” with its theme of illegal drug trials in Africa.

In this essay, the birthplace of virology and biological warfare, Germany, is scrutinized for its relationship to the current contagion. Nazi science was the origin of virus-centered biowarfare programs in Britain and the US. Soon after the end of World War II, a committee of Allied weapons-technology experts known as Project Alsos arranged a reprieve for the Nazi regime’s top virologists, who were secretly sent to American and British laboratories under Operation Paperclip. As shown in the evidence presented here, German pharmaceuticals and the Max Planck Institute are still deeply involved in biowar virology in secret cooperation with the US military, cloaked as medical research in microbiology, evolutionary studies and veterinary science.

Germany as Suspect

Contrary to the naive belief that postwar Germany abandoned weapons of mass destruction, its rebuilt pharmaceutical industry was the first to conduct monkey trials on an African filovirus similar to ebola, which was named after the city of Marburg. Just prior to the present West African outbreak, German microbiology had a role in ebola-focused lab trials on a cohort of chimpanzees at an NIH primate-testing facility in Louisiana. The New Iberia trials, one of the last using chimpanzees at a federal-funded laboratory, involved a German drug company and the US Army’s biowarfare institute.

The public sponsor of the vaccine trials was a courageous team of field researchers, associated with the Max Planck Institute, who struggled mightily for a vaccine to prevent an imminent extinction of Low Land gorillas in Central Africa. The science-based strategy to protect wild apes with a potential vaccine was opposed by a primate-liberation movement led by Brigette Bardot and Aliette Jamart, sponsors of a project to reintroduce “orphan” lab animals into the wilds of Africa.

The 2011 testing for antibodies in primates was fiercely opposed by animal-welfare advocates Jane Goodall and the Humane Society, then lobbying Congress for passage of the Great Apes Protection Act. This conflict among primate experts may have led to the abduction and transfer of an ebola test subject or its newborn child to a chimpanzee sanctuary in the Guinea uplands, which was later the epicenter of the West African ebola outbreak in the human population.

If ever the road to hell was lined with good intentions, ethical wreckage litters the highway from a Dixieland bayou to the rain-forest of Upper Guinea. A comedy of errors turned out to be the grimmest of tragedies for apes, including ones in trousers.

Closing the Circle

As a contribution to renewed efforts to prevent ebola pandemics, the last section of this essay lays out information from microbiologists with a Hong Kong-based medical information team, of which this writer was a part. The innovative bioscience team provided seminars for Thailand’s top veterinary experts at the height of the Asian avian influenza crisis. Those discussions offer penetrating insights on how the ebola virus could be transmitted between species and factors for why contagions recur in tropical Africa.

The solution to the ebola mystery lies not in any wonder drug but in the inter-species cycle of cross-infection. Without a better understanding of how tropical diseases are transmitted to wild apes, it will be well nigh impossible to stop ebola in humans. .

Gorillas in the Risk

The Cajun Chimp Caper arose from the second-greatest disaster suffered by Congo gorillas, both of which were abetted by the modern drug industry. The worst impact on once thriving tribes of big apes has been a steady loss of natural rain-forest habitat due to agricultural encroachment.

This ecological imbalance between forest and farm was accelerated by ever-increasing human immunity to zoonosis (diseases transferred from animals) due to vaccination. As countryside populations lost their fear of “spirits”, or pathogens from a modern viewpoint, settlers pushed deeper into the forests and mountains. Some wildlife researchers correlate ebola outbreaks with the rising pressure on wildlife habitat from economic activities of road-laying, deforestation for farming and tourism funded by Western aid and the consequent expansion of hunting to earn cash.

The serious impact on wildlife occurred between 2002 and 2007 with the ebola-caused deaths of one-third of remaining lowland gorillas in the Central African nations of Gabon and Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). An estimated 5,000 individuals died in an ebola contagion over just two years.

In the Shadow of Man

For primatologist Peter Walsh, a California-born and Yale-educated lecturer at Cambridge and researcher with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the viral outbreak in gorillas was a call to battle against the lethal virus. His expertise in quantitative anthropology contributed to the scientific assessment that resulted in two sub-species of gorillas, Western Lowland and Cross River, being added to the UN list of endangered species.

Epidemiologists are puzzled by the mystery of how the ebola virus can reemerge after decades of dormancy inside some unknown repository organism or “reservoir”. Every affected species has been found to be a temporary host for the opportunistic virus, as is the case for fruit bats and humans. If the reservoir, which acts as permanent home of ebola, is ever identified, then controls on that species could eliminate or suppress future outbreaks. Repeated setbacks in the hunt for a reservoir convinced Walsh that immunization is the only practical strategy for preventing the extinction of great apes.

In the quest for a vaccine defense against ebola, Walsh and his closest associates formed a non-profit group called Apes Incorporated. The team includes veterinarian Chris Whittier and Julio Benavides, who challenged conventional medical opinion about zoonosis by showing that many diseases in humans are transmitted to animals, and not just vice versa.

Apes Inc. members based their computer modeling of epidemic pathways on field research in some of the toughest conditions on the planet. Over many years in hot and humid lowland jungles, they tracked gorilla foraging habits, while still showing the scientific curiosity to pause and examine other intriguing behavior like social interactions among fire ants. This hard experience forced “out-of-the-box thinking” along with realism about raising funds through a business strategy.

One of their ongoing studies was on the affects of tourism, especially so-called eco-tourism, related to great apes. The soft, cuddly approach of leading figures in primate conservation, notably Jane Goodall and the late Dian Fossey, was making gorillas less wild and, worse, completely exposed to human diseases. (To drive home this point in support of their argument, many cities would be absent of dogs and cats were it not for rabies vaccine.)

Here some very convincing quotes from Walsh reveal the stark realities of gorilla survival:

- “The ape conservation community has long been non-interventionist, taking a ‘Garden of Eden’ approach to modern medicine for wild animals, but we ended Eden by destroying habitats and spreading disease.

- “Half of deaths among chimps and gorillas that live in proximity to humans are from our respiratory viruses. For us it’s a sore throat ; for them it’s death.

- “We need to be pragmatic about saving these animals now before they are wiped out forever, and vaccination could be a turning point. But (African national) park managers are adamant, and rightly so at this stage, that all vaccines are tested on captive apes before deployment in the wild. This means access to captive chimpanzees for vaccine trials.”

In the war against extinction, the jungle fighters of Ape Inc. took the next logical step of planning veterinary trials on captive chimpanzees to test a prospective ebola vaccine. There is a cautionary tale about zeal. Although the weapons are similar and the foe sometimes the same, soldiers and mercenaries are untrustworthy allies for warriors. Prompted by fears of imminent doom, these Jedi of ecology stepped into the dark side.

Nazi Science Revival at Marburg

German microbiologists are well acquainted with filoviruses due to the mid-1960s outbreak of ebola-related Marburg virus in its namesake city, located near Frankfurt. The reported cause of the outbreak that killed seven people was infected Ethiopian monkeys called grivets, used in lab experiments at the Behringwerke facility of Hoechst. The pharmaceutical was prior to the war a major participant in the wartime IG Farben consortium of German drug companies.

The near simultaneous Marburg virus outbreak in Belgrade, then capital of the socialist Yugoslavia federation, indicates that the filovirus was being weaponized by the Federal Republic of Germany and Yugoslavia on opposite sides of the Cold War. The Marburg virus originated in the Great Lakes region of East Africa, near the former German colonies of Burundi, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and Rwanda. The range of the Marburg filovirus, more recently shifted to Kenya and Uganda, is relatively close to the Zaire ebola zone.

Subsequently, the University of Marburg and two branches of the Max Planck Institute became leading centers of microbiology research into filoviruses Marburg and ebola. No attempt has even made to explain why Hoechst was conducting a major animal study in filovirus, if not for biowarfare purposes. (note: Hoechst was an acquisition target by the Rothschild Group and integrated into Sanofi Pasteur, a player in Part 3 of this series.)

The Max Planck Institute (MPI), with its involvement in filovirus research, has close connections with biotechs and pharmaceuticals involved in ebola research. Locked doors were thus opened for Walsh’s vaccine proposal.

At the Leipzig Zoo pathology lab, Walsh organized a 2007 project with MPI colleagues to develop a fruit-flavored lozenge as an oral vaccine delivery method for chimpanzees. Aimed to lure the sweet-tooth of apes, the pill was created by IDT Biologika, the contraction of Impfstoffwerk Dessau-Tornau, which produces drugs for farm and companion animals.

The creation of an oral delivery method was necessitated by the US Chimpanzee Health and Protection Act of 2000, which forbids injections or invasive surgery on lab primates.

On Virus Island

A pioneering virus research center, IDT’s prewar moniker was the Anhaltien Serum Institute of Dessau (ASID). German virology was at least a generation ahead of US and British medical science. Many of the early discoveries were made in equine fevers at Reims Island, safely isolated in the Greifswald Bay on the Baltic Sea. Horses were a primary mode of road transport in the inter-bellum economy when petrochemical production was insufficient to fuel vast numbers of automobiles and trucks. The Spielberg movie “War Horse” provides a glimpse of horse power in action.

Trained at the Rockefeller medical institute in Princeton, New Jersey, Dr. Erich Traub became the SS chief of biowarfare research at Reims, organizing experiments in viral diseases cholera, hepatitis and anthrax. After the defeat of Germany in World War II, the island was renamed the Friedrich Loeffler Institute, after the lab’s founder, but is called by local residents “Virus Island.” One of top biowarfare researchers at Reims, deputy health minister Kurt Blome was captured by US Army counter-intelligence officers, who invited him to resume his research into biotoxins at Fort Detrick, Maryland, and at the notorious military veterinary lab at Plum Island.

IDT, curiously, has recently opened a research branch at the Loeffler Institute on Reims island. The city of Dessau, location of IDT headquarters, is best-known for the IG Farben-Bayer laboratory implicated in Nazi chemical-warfare research. Details of the wartime history of IDT, a subsidiary of the Klocke Group, has been expunged from the historical record.

The next step was to select a candidate vaccine for ebola-infected apes. This led to the door of Boehringer Ingelheim, a pharmaceutical that produces drugs for human medication and for animals. Boehringer’s involvement in ebola research is focused on RNAi, or ribonucleic acid interference, using virus particles that can trigger immune responses in human cells, a method similar to the antibody-based approaches of ZMapp.

Here is another German pharmaceutical whose biowarfare work for the Nazis has been erased. Its connection to the war effort was indicated by the 1954 hiring of Fritz Ernst Fischer, urgical assistant to Karl Franz Gebhardt at the Ravensbruck concentration camp. One of the most distinguished physicians of the Nazi era, Gebhardt refused to treat shrapnel wounds with sulfa drugs, which figured in the battlefield death of SS field commander Reinhardt Heydrich. One of the clues to Gebhardt’s refusal was the split between bacteriology and virology. Gebhardt was firmly in the camp of virus theory.

Convicted by an Allied tribunal of heinous medical experiments on prisoners, Gebhardt died on the gallows. Also found guilty of war crimes, his disciple Fischer worked in virology at Boehringer Ingelheim until retirement and died peacefully at age 90. Boehringer kept cordial relations with the US Army then and now.

Ape Incorporated’s next move was to recruit a top molecular biologist with deep experience in pathogen-related clinical trials. Educated in immunology at the University of Mainz, Germany, Dr. Mohammad Javad Aman was the ideal man for the task. President of Integrated BioTherapeutics (IBT) in Germantown, Maryland, Aman did a 7-year stint on vaccines for ebola and Marburg at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (AMRIID) at Fort Detrick. After launching IBT, he developed RNAi inhibitors of ebola for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

Cuddly Warm Vs. Cold Hard

For Apes Inc., it was a race against time to run vaccine testing on captive chimps because the Humane Society, with support from Jane Goodall, was proposing legislation to shut down primate testing in the US. With funding from Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, the ebola vaccine research in primates moved ahead.

Backed by his anthropology department at Cambridge University, Walsh turned to the last federal-funded animal-testing facility not yet shut down by the US Fish and Wildlife Service under growing public pressure. The Obama White House was eager to please liberal constituents horrified by a Humane Society video of chimpanzee lab conditions. The momentum for passage of the Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA) of 2011 seemed unstoppable until the revised version was blocked the following year by Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden who is known to be a “Wall Street senator.”

The NIH New Iberia Research Laboratory, on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, was getting ready to move its 100 chimps out of cages into a luxury retirement home called Chimp Haven. Ape Inc. therefore had to move quickly.

The chimpanzee trials were conducted by Dr. Amad and his colleagues Kelly Warfield and Hong Vu (both former Army biowarfare researchers) at Integrated BioTherapeutics. The biowarfare research team from Biosafety Lab Level 4 at Fort Detrick-based USAMRIID included: Gene Olinger, Jr., Mary Beth Kasda and Julia Biggins.

A leading ebola expert, Olinger had developed the MB003 antibody and was participating in an ongoing 10-year study by USAMRIID on the monoclonal antibody (Mab) cocktail called ZMapp, which was famously rushed to missionary doctor Kent Brantly. (Of the four known recipients, only the two missionary doctors survived while the Spanish priest and Saudi tourist died, resulting in a strike-out record of 50 percent.)

San Diego-based Mapp BioPharmaceutical is headed by microbiologist Larry Zeitlin, who came out of Epicyte-Biolex, a company that researched the production of human drugs inside plants. ZMapp is produced inside genetically modified tobacco plants. Linked to Monsanto, Epicyte-Biolex conducted research on the sterilization of sperm. It happens that ebola virus is concentrated in primate-human sperm. The African fears of genocide campaign involving ebola does have a scientific basis.

Coat of Arms

Now with Army researchers nestled inside the Apes Inc. vaccine project, the NIH, press releases announced the chimpanzee trials involved “virus-like particles” (VLS), when in fact the protein coat of the filament-shaped virus was used. Through an electron microscope, the sample looks like a hollow tube with speckles, many of them used to seek out docking points on host cells and to insert viral RNA.

If as claimed, only the protein coat were introduced without the virus RNA strands, the lab chimpanzees could not have been infected with ebola. However there were four points of vulnerability to transmission of an intact ebola virus, including: accidental infection from gorilla stool samples gathered by Apes Inc.; an undetected ebola virus in the VLS batch; and deliberate use of ebola in some of the primates in a covert Army experiment.

The fourth route is the most probable, however, cross-infection from ebola-injected lab mice used in the latter part of the experiment. The antibodies from the New Iberia apes were collected, isolated and then injected into ebola-infected mice. Researchers who injected the mice could have inadvertently carried the virus back to the primate center.

If by accident or design, ebola was possibly spread to captive chimpanzees, how then could the virus make its way across the Atlantic Ocean back to Africa?

Animal Rights, Science Wrongs

The introduction of Great Apes Protection Act to Congress in 2011 put militant animal-rights activists on good behavior as a public-relations ploy. Over past decades, reckless lab break-ins to release animals risked the escape of contagious diseases into wildlife and pets, not to mention the human populations of North America and Europe. Threats against the lives of researchers, including an attempted car bombing, were made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and various “animal liberation” extremists.

The new Chimpazee Haven, a retirement home for lab primates, was therefore a tempting target for kinder, gentler animal abductions by the militant defenders of primates funded by celebrities like Brigette Bardot, who supports also Wildlife SOS and Projet Primates, both of which provide refuges for orphaned monkeys. Aliette Jamart, a French businesswoman residing in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) is an advocate for freeing captive chimpanzees confiscated from bushmeat hunters.

Baby chimpanzees born from at least one parent in the NIH-Army vaccine trials at New Iberia would have been eyed for unlawful“adoption”. The timing between the closure of the New Iberia primate labs allowed for the birth of so-called “orphan” chimpanzees before the outbreak.

The reintroduction of captive chimpanzees are done at the Chimpanzee Conservation Center (CCC) inside the Haut Niger National Park, near Faranah, Guinea. The CCC is funded by the Brigette Bardot Foundation.Faranah prefecture of Guinea was one of two of the earliest outbreak zones in West Africa in December 2013, and the first site mentioned by many local experts.

Gueckedou, a more developed region on the border with Sierra Leone, has a large hospital and, therefore, a better reporting system, A New York Times article by Denise Grady and Sheri Fink claim that Gueckedou was the site of Patient Zero, a 2-year-old girl who died on December 6, 2013. The death of so young a child excludes primate meat as the probable source of ebola. Fruit, contaminated by infected primates, is the more probable cause.

Faranah, however, is more convincing epicenter. Teeming with released chimpanzees, t is located on the headwaters of the Niger River, which winds eastward across West Africa before passing through Nigeria to reach the Atlantic. Gueckedou sits on the next tributary just downstream from Faranah. It is therefore physically possible for ebola to have been transmitted by migrating apes, fruit collectors or bushmeat hunters to Gueckedou.

An FBI investigation into the acquisition methods for “orphan” primates by Projet Primates in France and the US is urgently required to determine whether reintroduction programs were the pathway for Zaire ebola to enter Guinea. Worsening her case as a suspect, Bardot has encouraged activists to join her self-righteous international network of smugglers under the cover of a charity, which probably has done more harm than good for wild apes, if indeed ebola was released from lab animals into the wilds of Africa.

Brigette Bardot flaunts her disregard of the basic principal that human welfare has ethical precedent over beasts, so long as casual cruelty is not committed. It can only be hoped that the star of “And God Created Woman” is not guilty of the horrific deaths of more than 1,000 fellow human beings and the spread of ebola into the wild primate population.

Reservoir Bogs

Tropical biology has been desperately searching for the missing chapter of the ebola story known as the “reservoir”. The virus opportunistically infects great apes (which includes homo sapiens) and fruit bats. The reservoir, or natural home of ebola virus during its many years of dormancy, has never been discovered. The failure to identify the permanent host is probably because biologists have been searching in the wrong place, among mammals, reptiles and even insects.

The missing link is also a question for research on avian influenza, which crosses over between infected birds, pigs and humans without establishing a permanent home in any of these temporary hosts. The mystery of the reservoir was cracked in the 2004 Asian bird flu crisis, when a team of microbiologists, herbal-therapy experts and a chemical engineer visited the pathology laboratory of one of the world’s biggest poultry producers.

In a scary lab space dominated by large freezers stuffed with the frozen carcasses of chickens that had died of bird flu, the corporate vice president fired the first and quite unexpected question: “What does chlorinated water have to do with bird flu?”

Without hesitation our chief microbiologist, who has done research for NIH, CDC and other major institutes, shot back with the following answer. “The virus travels between migratory fowl to chickens inside of a one-cell host (the reservoir). It can lay dormant (as a replicon) for years inside that host, which is usually a flagellate. When the reservoir microorganism comes into contact with chlorinated water, as for example in a farm’s drinking water supply, the flagellate starts to die because its cell membrane disintegrates. In response, the virion’s RNA escapes through the holes in the cell membrane, becoming stretched like an elastic band on its way out.”

“What happens as the virus escapes into chorinated water, bits of the RNA are often broken off before a new “skin” or covering can be generated. In other words, the virus mutates. This stress on the virus causes it to become more active and more contagious because it must find a temporary host. The escapee virus has no intention to kill us or even stay inside us, but only exploits our cells in this emergency in order to replicate itself. Unfortunately, the host does not always survive. If every one of the hosts dies as a result of infection, the virus will find itself at a dead end. Therefore, after the early phase of a contagion, viruses will mutate back to a less harmful form after entering a reservoir.”

(Following this forensic advice, the Thai poultry industry ended the bird flu pandemic by filtering water instead of chlorinating it.)

If ducks and pigs share the same river or bog, it is easy to identify the medium of the flagellate/reservoir to be fresh water. What could be the medium for the reservoir microorganism for ebola? The problem is that most mammals in the African rain-forest spend most of their time not on the ground or lakeside but up in the canopy or tree tops.

A clue lies in existing research findings from several areas, including: the feeding habits of the Egyptian rosette, more commonly known as the African fruit bat; and the Apes Inc. field study that shows gorillas can transmit ebola through half-eaten fruit on wild trees.

The answer is, therefore, fruit, and probably the flowering system and sap of fruit-bearing trees. Wild fruit and tree sap happen to be the host of flagellates known as trypanosomatids. Different types of these tree-inhabiting flagellates inhabit four different arbol regions: some in fruit and flowers, and others is latex sap or palm juice. Flagellates are the preferred microoganism for filamentous viruses like ebola due to their motility, or ability of spontaneous move, collecting new raw materials or “food” for the virus to cherry-pick and by providing a means of escape.

Now to transfer the example of chlorine as a source of stress in fresh water, the sweeter parts of trees can be affected by a wide range of impacts from drought, forest fires, insect infestations, fungal infections and other plant diseases. When confronted by an increasingly hostile environment, the flagellates enter into death throes.

The long tubular filoviruses inside the dying flagellate then shed their skins or containers. The seven long strands of RNA separate to slip out through different holes. To complete their escape, each strand breaks off at the rear. Outside, in the fruit pulp or the sap, the seven strands regroup and then form a new skin. The biological term for a virus that nestled inside a microorganism is a “phage”, as in bacteriophage.

In urgent need of a safe medium, the escaped and unprotected viruses are sucked up inside the gut of a visiting fruit bat while it gorges. The bat then flies off to other trees, and deposits the viral load as guano. The virus, if lucky, finds a new reservoir at another grove of trees.

If an ape, hairy or alternatively clad in fibers, happens to nibble on infected fruit or sips the palm toddy, the bipeds can suffer a tragic fate, ending up as fertilizer on the forest floor or a pile of ashes in town.

In the larger biological community, viruses benefit life-forms by making mistakes when its RNA is reconfigured. The rewriting of RNA then results in changes in plant or animal DNA, driving the evolution of species. That is another and longer story.

Since it is impossible to directly destroy flagellates without potentially disastrous consequences to the environment, what can be done to knock out ebola at the source? If its reservoir is found in the figs of te ficus family, nothing can be done short of leveling the rain-forest. The reservoir microorganism is probably not inside fig tree due to the fruit’s powerful enzymes and the overwhelming presence of yeast, which crowds out flagellates from access to sugar.

If, instead, the flagellate’s host tree happens to be a relatively scarce species, it can be cut down inside ape sanctuaries and around villages. No reservoir, no trypanosomatid, no ebola, it’s that simple. Long Live the Planet of the Apes.

Postscript: This writer later conveyed the facts about the viral-promoting aspects of chlorinated water to WHO officials, who showed absolutely no interest in such analysis. In their conventional viewpoint, chlorine is sacrosanct as the main method for sterilization of water and hospital rooms worldwide. The WHO shipments of vast amounts of chlorine to Africa could be promoting viral mutation and consequent infections rather than suppressing the epidemic. The first modern outbreak of Zaire ebola, as discovered by Peter Piot and his colleagues, was near Bumba, the terminus of a rail line, where the water supply was chlorinated and the local Catholic clinic used chlorine to sterilize its facilities. The conclusion is simple: water should instead be treated with filtration, reverse osmosis and nano-tech photocyde to lower the probability of viral outbreaks.

In the next installment of this series on ebola, the role of Monsanto in RNAi research in virology, including ebola, and the undisclosed risks of this new type of genetic modification, will be examined.

Yoichi Shimatsu, a Thailand-based science writer and environmental consultant, organized a team of microbiology experts who provide innovative responses to the SARS and avian influenza outbreak.


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